Q. In various answers you’ve spoken of tribulation saints of Rev. 7:9-17 and Rev. 20:4-6. Are you saying the tribulation martyrs (Rev. 20;4-6) are different then those believers who come out of the great tribulation (Rev. 7:9-17)? Would I be assuming correctly that Rev 7 tribulation people are those who survived through the tribulation and Rev 20 are those who died during the tribulation? If they are the same, then why do you say that the tribulation believers of Revelation 7:9-17 are never called priests? Are they not called “priests” in Revelation 20:6>
A. I believe that, for the most part, Revelation is meant to be taken chronologically. That means the tribulation believers who show up in Heaven in Rev. 7:9-17 will have lost their lives before the Great Tribulation begins. Revelation 7 takes pace after the Seal judgments of Rev. 6 but before the Trumpet judgments of Rev. 8-9 begin. The Great Tribulation begins in Rev. 13 with Satan’s expulsion from Heaven and includes the Bowl judgments of Rev. 16.
The confusion arises from the English translation of Rev. 7:14, “These are they who have come out of the Great Tribulation.” The English translation makes it sound like they will be martyred during the Great Tribulation, but the Greek word translated “out of” means “out of the time and place” of the Great Tribulation. In effect, it means before the Great Tribulation begins.
The martyrs of Rev 20:4-6 are described as those who will have been beheaded by the anti-Christ during the Great Tribulation and resurrected after it ends.
Therefore we have the spirits of tribulation believers arriving in heaven before the Great Tribulation begins to serve God in His Temple, but are never called priests. Then we have a group of tribulation believers who will be martyred during the Great Tribulation and resurrected after it ends to reign with the Lord, but aren’t called kings. By distinguishing them from each other this way, and assigning them different roles, I think John was saying the two groups are not the same.