Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXI)

July 13, 2010

Upon reflection, I have realized that I am in no position to draw my conclusions about “the heaven-dwellers” in Revelation until I go back and more clearly establish in my thinking how “the heaven-dwellers” and the martyrs relate to each other.  Given that I wrote the “Martyrdom” entry for The Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, which IVP published all the way back in 1997, I am fully aware that I should have taken the time to figure this out long ago.  However, it simply did not occur to me that it is as significant as issue as it “feels” like to me at the moment, as I am seeking to put these puzzle pieces of the Apocalypse together more comprehensively and carefully than I ever have before.

So, where are the various passages dealing with the martyrs found in Revelation?  Here’s a quick overview:

1)      2:13- Antipas, the only martyr mentioned in the churches to that point

2)      6:9-11- The souls under the altar in heaven, who appeal to the Lord for swift justice on “the earth-dwellers” who killed them

3)      7:14- Part of the “great multitude which no one could count” taken to heaven to serve the Lord in His heavenly sanctuary

4)      11:7- The two witnesses (i.e., martyrs, in the end) who die at the hands of the beast

5)      11:18- “Your servants the prophets” and “the saints,” who will be rewarded at the time of judgment

6)      12:12- Those on earth when the Devil is thrown down from heaven who “do not love their lives unto death”

7)      13:6- The “saints” who die at the hands of the beast because they refuse to worship him/his image

8)      14:1-5- The 144,000, who apparently have died and are now with the Lamb (Christ) on the heavenly Mt. Zion

9)      16:7- A voice from the altar (see 6:9-11) praising God for His true and righteous judgments (in this case, the bowls of wrath)

10)  17:6- The blood of the saints and the witnesses (martys) to Jesus, upon whose blood Babylon the Great, the great whore, is drunk

11)  18:20- The rejoicing of heaven, as well as the saints, apostles and prophets there, because of the judgment of Babylon the great

12)  18:24- The blood of prophets and saints, as well as all martyrs on earth, is found in Babylon the Great

13)  19:2- The innumerable multitude singing “Hallelujah” to the Lord for the judgment of Babylon, related to the blood of His servants (see 6:9-11, etc.)

14)  20:4- The souls of those killed for the Lord, because they did not worship the beast or his image, who are raised and reign with Christ for 1,000 years

There are two other passages which may or may not relate to the martyrs: the mentions of “the prayers of the saints” in 5:8 and 8:3, 4.  Because it is not immediately obvious to me how “the saints” in these passages relate to the martyrs, I am going to consider them also in this wider study, before proceeding on to my overall conclusions.

These are the “building blocks” of this important study.  I will discuss how they fit together in my next post.  Sorry for the delay on getting to my overall conclusions about “the heaven-dwellers!”  But, I will get to those soon enough and they will be much better thought-out as a result of looking more closely once more at the martyrs in Revelation.

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