Reigning With Christ

Q. In Revelation 7:15 the Angel tells John that the great multitude who is worshiping God and the Lamb are those who came out of the Great Tribulation (Martyrs).  They are then serving God in His temple day and night.  I believe you have mentioned that they have a different destiny than the Church, who will reign with Christ.  But when we get to Rev 20, that same group of martyrs comes to life, and then we see them reigning with Christ also (Rev 20:4).

We know that this second group is the same as the first group, because John mentions that they didn’t take the mark or worship the beast, so they are clearly Tribulation martyrs, just like in Rev 7.  Can you reconcile the differences?  I was under the impression that only the Church will reign with Christ, but here we see non-Church members also reigning with Christ.

A. People on Earth are not required to take the mark of the Beast until Rev. 13:10.  This is too late for the group that arrives in Heaven in Rev. 7:9-17.  So while both this group and the one from Rev. 20:4 are composed of post Church believers, the Bible is not giving us two views of the same group.

The confusion on timing comes from the phrase “they who have come out of the Great Tribulation” in Rev. 7:14.  The Greek word translated “out of” is ek and it means out of the time as well as the location of an event.  In effect it means they will have arrived in Heaven before the Great Tribulation begins.  John used the same Greek word in Rev. 3:10 where it’s translated “from”, meaning the Lord will keep the Church from both the time and location of the End Times judgments.

There’s a line of distinction between the Church, who are called kings and priests (Rev. 5:10), the multitude of Rev. 7:9-17, who serve the Lord in His Temple  but are not called priests, and the martyrs of Rev. 20:4, who reign with the Lord but are not called kings (Rev. 20:4).  To me this looks like a hierarchy of rulership with the Church in the superior position.

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