Rob Dalrymple, «These Are the Ones», Vol. 86 (2005) 396-406
The thematic features relating to John’s depiction of the righteous in the
intercalations of Rev 11,3-13 and 7,1-17 as well as how these features might
affect our understanding of Revelation 7,1-17 are examined. Four foci pertaining
to the righteous are explicitly present in the account of the Two Witnesses (11,3-
13). All four foci, also, materialize in the description of the 144,000 (7,1-8) and
the Great Multitude (7,9-17). However, when we examine Rev 7,1-8, we find that
John only incorporates the first two of the four foci (Divine Protection and
Witnesses) while in the account of 7,9-17, only the latter two appear (Enduring
Persecution and Vindication of the Righteous). If, however, we read Rev 7,1-17
as the account of one group, then the thematic parallels with the intercalation of
Rev 11,3-13 are retained.
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These Are the Ones â€¦ (Rev 7) 405
Given, then, the relationship of the great multitude to the martyrs in 6,9-
11, one may extend the application of Dan 7 to both of these passages, since
the Great Multitude entails persecuted saints.
These connections, however, cannot be established with certainty in the
limited scope of this essay. Thus, in consideration of the four foci of this
essay, we must conclude that though the suggestion that the righteousâ€™
presence in heaven connotes their suffering martyrdom is appealing in light of
the whole of the Apocalypse â€” which often portrays the righteous as
martyred â€” it cannot be fully justified from the context of Revelation 7,9-17
alone. That Revelation 7, however, conceives of the righteous as those who
have endured persecution, is derived from the fact that they have come out of
the â€œgreat tribulationâ€. Whether this entails martyrdom, which seems
reasonable, cannot be fully determined.
d) Focus #4: Vindication of the Righteous
The presence of the righteous in heaven, before the throne of God,
implies their vindication. This is supported by the fact that those before the
throne (7,15) are â€˜the ones who have come out of the great tribulationâ€™ (7,14).
This thought, however, is encapsulated with only a brief description (54), and
is incomplete unless it is compared to the account of the Two Witnesses in
Revelation 11,3-13 (and the 144,000 in Revelation 14,1-5 as well). In both of
these passages, especially the former, the resurrection of the righteous in the
presence of their enemies and their place in heaven seemingly proclaim their
vindication (55). However, if Revelation recapitulates certain themes and
events, and if indeed it tends to expand on them when it recapitulates, then
understanding the presence of the righteous of 7,15-17 in heaven may well
indicate their vindication.
At this point, we should reiterate that of the four foci pertaining to the
righteous, each of which was clearly present in the account of the Two
Witnesses (11,3-13), only the first two were present in the portrait of the
144,000. Moreover, in the account of the Great Multitude only the last two
were present. If, then, we were to read the accounts of the 144,000 and the
Great Multitude as a unity, the depiction of the righteous in terms of the four
foci accords with the account of the Two Witnesses. In light of Revelationâ€™s
proposed literary habit of making explicit features that were previously only
implicit, it is not surprising that each of the four foci is more explicitly present
in the latter account.
Thus, a thematic analysis of Johnâ€™s depiction of the righteous in
Revelation 11,3-13 â€” the account of the Two Witnesses â€” lends support to
the thesis that the 144,000 and the Great Multitude of Revelation 7 should be
viewed as encompassing the same group.
(54) Hendriksen suggests, â€œA few verses are devoted to a description of the Church
triumphant after the final judgmentâ€ (Conquerors, 35).
(55) Cf. Rev 11,11-12.