Revelation 6:9
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;

King James Bible
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

Darby Bible Translation
And when it opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held;

World English Bible
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had.

Young's Literal Translation
And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony that they held,

Revelation 6:9 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And when he had opened the fifth seal - notes at Revelation 5:1; Revelation 6:1.

I saw under the altar - The four living creatures are no longer heard as in the opening of the first four seals. No reason is given for the change in the manner of the representation; and none can be assigned, unless it be, that having represented each one of the four living creatures in their turn as calling attention to the remarkable events about to occur, there seemed to be no necessity or propriety in introducing them again. In itself considered, it cannot be supposed that they would be any less interested in the events about to be disclosed than they were in those which preceded. This seal pertains to martyrs - at the former successively did to a time of prosperity and triumph; to discord and bloodshed; to oppressive taxation; to war, famine, and pestilence. In the series of woes, it was natural and proper that there should be a vision of martyrs, if it was intended that the successive seals should refer to coming and important periods of the world; and accordingly we have here a striking representation of the martyrs crying to God to interpose in their behalf and to avenge their blood. The points which require elucidation are:

(a) their position - under the altar;

(b) their invocation - or their prayer that they might be avenged;

(c) the clothing of them with robes; and,

(d) the command to wait patiently a little time.

(1) the position of the martyrs - "under the altar." There were in the temple at Jerusalem two altars - the altar of burnt sacrifices, and the altar of incense. The altar here referred to was probably the former. This stood in front of the temple, and it was on this that the daily sacrifice was made. Compare the notes on Matthew 5:23-24. We are to remember, however, that the temple and the altar were both destroyed before the time when this book was written, and this should, therefore, be regarded merely as a vision. John saw these souls as if they were collected under the altar - the place where the sacrifice for sin was made - offering their supplications. Why they are represented as being there is not so apparent; but probably two suggestions will explain this:

(a) The altar was the place where sin was expiated, and it was natural to represent these redeemed martyrs as seeking refuge there; and

(b) it was usual to offer prayers and supplications at the altar, in connection with the sacrifice made for sin, and on the ground of that sacrifice.

The idea is, that they who were suffering persecution would naturally seek a refuge in the place where expiation was made for sin, and where prayer was appropriately offered. The language here is such as a Hebrew would naturally use; the idea is appropriate to anyone who believes in the atonement, and who supposes that that is the appropriate refuge for those who are in trouble. But while the language here is such as a Hebrew would use, and while the reference in the language is to the altar of Burnt sacrifice, the scene should be regarded as undoubtedly laid in heaven - the temple where God resides. The whole representation is that of fleeing to the atonement, and pleading with God in connection with the sacrifice for sin.

The souls of them that were slain - That had been put to death by persecution. This is one of the incidental proofs in the Bible that the soul does not cease to exist at death, and also that it does not cease to be conscious, or does not sleep until the resurrection. These souls of the martyrs are represented as still in existence; as remembering what had occurred on the earth; as interested in what was now taking place; as engaged in prayer; and as manifesting earnest desires for the divine interposition to avenge the wrongs which they had suffered.

For the word of God - On account of the word or truth of God. See the notes on Revelation 1:9.

And for the testimony which they held - On account of their testimony to the truth, or being faithful witnesses of the truth of Jesus Christ. See the notes on Revelation 1:9.

(2) the invocation of the martyrs, Revelation 6:10; And they cried with a loud voice. That is, they pleaded that their blood might be avenged.

continued...

Revelation 6:9 Parallel Commentaries

Library
God's Dealings with the Earth During the Tribulation Period.
The interval of time which separates the removal of the Church from the earth to the return of Christ to it, is variously designated in the Word of God. It is spoken of as "the day of vengeance" (Is. 61:2). It is called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). It is the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world" (Rev. 3:10). It is denominated "the great day of the Lord" (Zeph. 1:14). It is termed "the great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21). It is the time of God's "controversy with the
Arthur W. Pink—The Redeemer's Return

An Awful Contrast
"Then did they spit in his face."--Matthew 26:67. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away."--Revelation 20:11. GUIDED BY OUR TEXT in Matthew's Gospel, let us first go in thought to the palace of Caiaphas the high priest, and there let us, in deepest sorrow, realize the meaning of these terrible words: "Then did they spit in his face." There is more of deep and awful thunder in them than in the bolt that bursts overhead, there is
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 42: 1896

Messiah Worshipped by Angels
Let all the angels of God worship Him. M any of the Lord's true servants, have been in a situation so nearly similar to that of Elijah, that like him they have been tempted to think they were left to serve the Lord alone (I Kings 19:10) . But God had then a faithful people, and He has so in every age. The preaching of the Gospel may be compared to a standard erected, to which they repair, and thereby become known to each other, and more exposed to the notice and observation of the world. But we hope
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

In Reply to the Questions as to his Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) Subdivision C. Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. ^A Matt. XXI. 33-46; ^B Mark XII. 1-12; ^C Luke XX. 9-19. ^b 1 And he began to speak unto them ^c the people [not the rulers] ^b in parables. { ^c this parable:} ^a 33 Hear another parable: There was a man that was a householder [this party represents God], who planted a vineyard [this represents the Hebrew nationality], and set a hedge about it, and digged a ^b pit for the ^a winepress in it
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Cross References
Genesis 4:10
He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.

Exodus 29:12
"You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; and you shall pour out all the blood at the base of the altar.

Leviticus 4:7
'The priest shall also put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense which is before the LORD in the tent of meeting; and all the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering which is at the doorway of the tent of meeting.

John 16:2
"They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.

Hebrews 12:23
to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

Revelation 1:2
who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

Revelation 1:9
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

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