The First Tribulation Martyrs

Q. I have been wondering about the statement in Revelation 6:9 for long time. In this verse John said, “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God…”.

What got to me is, John only mentioned “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God” and he did not see the souls of other believers who had died due to old age, sickness or killed by accidents, etc. And too, how about the souls of people like Noah, Abraham, Job, David, Samuel, etc. etc. Aren’t they supposed to be under the altar as well?

A. The souls John referred to in Rev. 6:9 are the first of the Tribulation Martyrs. I’m not aware of any place that says people who die of other causes will also petition the Lord for vengeance in this way. And the believing dead from the Old Testament are not seeking vengeance for their death. They’re awaiting their resurrection which will come at the time of the 2nd Coming (Daniel 12:2).

In Rev. 6:11 these martyrs are told to be patient until the number of all those who would be killed as they had been was completed. This confirms that John had Tribulation Martyrs in view here.

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