Q. I have a couple of questions regarding Revelation 6:9-11. Slain souls were under the alter crying out for God to avenge their blood. I read a commentary on this passage and they thought the souls under the alter was the blood of the slain. But in the next verse they are given white robes which to me means that they were more than just blood. Second question, in verse 11 there is a full number to be slain. Is there any significance to this number other than God knows the number?
A. I believe the martyrs in Rev. 6:9-11 are the first post-rapture believers, and you’re right, it isn’t just their blood under the altar. It’s the immortal part of them, soul and spirit, as it is with all believers who die and go into the presence of the Lord.
Rev. 6:11 is like Romans 11:25 in that in both cases the English phrase “full number” is assumed by the translators. But in the Greek language the phrasing of the two verses is slightly different.
In Romans 11:25 a Greek word that referred to the number of crew members required for a ship to set sail was used, and is translated “fullness” or “full number.” But a different form of that word was used in Rev. 6:11 to indicate that all the martyrs who would be killed had been. It means “fulfill, complete, or end.”
Therefore Rev. 6:11 doesn’t mean there is a predetermined number, it’s more like God was telling the first martyrs to wait until the killing of martyrs has ended.
Of course God knows the number, but the significance of that number is not the same as in Romans 11:25.