And one of the elders answered, saying to me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and from where came they?…
I. THE CONDITION OUT OF WHICH THE REDEEMED HAVE COME.
1. They came out of a state of tribulation. "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."(1) Disease, perhaps, sows its poisonous seeds in his frame.
(2) Death bereaves him of those who were the desire of his eyes.
(3) Adverse providences involve him in disappointment and indigence; the malice of men, in vexation and disgrace; and his own errors and imprudence in inextricable difficulties.
(4) Existence itself may become a burden through a complication of calamities.
(5) It is generally thought, however, that there is here an allusion to those sorrows which are peculiar to Christians. Like Stephen, they winged their way from martyrdom to the presence of God.
2. They came out of a state of impurity. The earth on which they dwelt is one wide scene of disobedience and rebellion against the Majesty of the universe. The taint of moral pollution adheres to all its intelligent inhabitants, and introduces disorder into its very frame.
II. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE REDEEMED HAVE BEEN ADVANCED TO GLORY.
1. By washing their robes, and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, they acquired a title to be before the throne.
2. By washing their robes, and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, they acquired a meetness to be before the throne. They are freed from their inability to love and enjoy God; they are blessed with an incipient and growing meetness for heaven.
III. THE NATURE OF THE FELICITY TO WHICH THEY ARE EXALTED.
1. They are raised to an exalted station. Those before the throne of God witness His glory in its brightest manifestations, and enjoy the most intimate communion with the Father of their spirits. The near sight which they obtain of God gives them more distinct apprehensions of His nature — produces more complete assimilation to His image, and fills with livelier joy. The servants who stood in the presence of Solomon must have caught something of the wisdom of their master; and those who are before the throne of God, cannot fail to advance in everything heavenly and divine.
2. They are engaged in the most exalted employments.
3. They are freed from all the infirmities, imperfections, and sufferings of the present life.
4. They make continual advances in the knowledge and enjoyment of God.
(J. Kirkwood, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?