Q. I have a question about the people who will be saved during the tribulation, but who die from the plagues, not necessarily from being killed for their faith, beheaded, etc. Will these people be considered martyrs? We see the reference to those who were slain for the word of God, in Revelation 6:9, the souls under the altar. What about the ones who died from disasters or natural causes during the Great Tribulation, but who have not taken the mark? Are those under the altar they who have died in the Great Tribulation, or from previous times?
A. Although the Greek word translated “martyr” can mean anything from a witness or spectator to those who undergo a violent death to prove the genuineness of their faith, it’s this last definition we usually think of when we hear the word. Therefore I don’t think people who die for other reasons during the end times judgments will be considered martyrs.
However, everyone who comes to faith during the end times judgments and subsequently dies, regardless of the cause, will participate in the resurrection to eternal life. We can see an example of this in Rev. 7:9 where a great multitude that no one could count arrives in heaven. They are not the raptured church and they are not called martyrs. They are tribulation believers who have died for whatever reason and gone to be with the Lord.
As for the martyrs of Rev. 6:9-11 the Bible doesn’t give us any information as to their place in time. I think the fact that they are just then given white robes, and told to wait a little longer, indicates they are tribulation believers who will have been put to death because of their faith during the recent seal judgments.