Who are the “great multitude” that John saw in Revelation 7 between the sixth and seventh seal?

By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©1996
Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.


Who are the “great multitude” that John saw in Revelation 7 between the sixth and seventh seal?

Dr. Renald Showers: In the second half of Revelation 7, John said that he saw a great multitude up in Heaven. We read in Revelation 7:9, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues stood before the throne and before the Lamb clothed with white robes and palms in their hands and cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb.’ And all the angels stood round about the throne and about the elders and the four beasts and fell before the throne on their faces and worshipped God saying, ‘Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be unto our God forever and ever. Amen.’ And one of the elders answered saying unto me, ‘What are these which are arrayed in white robes and whence came they?’ And I said unto him, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation [the Greek says literally “out of the great tribulation”] and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Some claim that this great multitude from every tongue, tribe and nation who obviously are up in Heaven are the Church which has just been raptured out of the world to Heaven as one body in between the breaking of the sixth seal and the breaking of the seventh seal. And some would say, “See, the sixth seal is the forewarning that the day of the Lord is about to begin but then after the breaking of the sixth seal the Church is removed from the earth by Rapture and then with the breaking of the seventh seal you have the day of the Lord beginning with God’s wrath starting to be poured out upon planet Earth.”

But, is “the great multitude” that is in Revelation 7 the Church? It really can’t be. Let me explain to you why we would say that. Please note that the Apostle John clearly stated that all these people who make up this great multitude came out of the great tribulation. In other words, every one of these persons was living here on the earth during at least part of the future Great Tribulation and then come out of that to Heaven. If this is the Church, then you’re forced to conclude this would be a partial Rapture of the Church or a part of the Church being raptured out of the world. Only that part of the Church which would be alive on the earth during the Great Tribulation of the second half of the 70th week of Daniel.

Where would be all the rest of the Church that has lived and died in the centuries preceding the Great Tribulation and who as a result of dying in preceding time will never be here on the earth during the Great Tribulation and therefore do not come out of the Great Tribulation?

When you look at the Rapture passages, it clearly indicates that all the Church is raptured together at the same time as one group. In light of that, if this is the Church, this is a partial Rapture of the Church, but that goes completely contrary to the clear teaching of the Rapture passages in the Bible.

In addition, when one of the 24 elders said to John, “These are they which came out of the great Tribulation,” the verb translated “came” is in the Greek present tense, and again, the normal significance of the present tense, unless the context indicates otherwise—which it doesn’t do here—the normal significance of the Greek present tense is continuous action. So that in essence, the elder is saying to John, “These are they who are coming out continuously, one after another, from the Great Tribulation to Heaven.” How? Through death—through martyrdom, or through natural death.

Interestingly, Dr. A. T. Robertson who has been regarded as the foremost Greek scholar of America in the twentieth century, talking about the significance of the present tense of this exact verb here in Revelation 7:14 says it’s indicating continuous action. And again, what it’s stating is, these saints are coming out of the Great Tribulation one by one by one by one as they’re experiencing death, either through martyrdom or natural death throughout the course of the second half of the Great Tribulation. By contrast, the Rapture passages indicate that the Church is not raptured one person and then another person and then another person, but the Church is raptured in one lump sum, one group, at the same time caught up from the earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and taken to the Father’s house in Heaven to live in the mansions there that Jesus is preparing for His Church right now.


  1. dean on August 1, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Not what’s new

  2. John lategan on May 23, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    The great multitude are the unbelievers
    They are dead in sin and are in the grave (Hades)
    Hades is the great tribulation
    “Do not be amazed at this ”
    The dead shall hear His voice and come out
    The dead will stand before the throne and be judged
    Those who have done good unto the resurrection of life
    They wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb
    He is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world
    Those who have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.

    • Jespere Hopeman on February 21, 2021 at 11:58 pm

      The great tribulation is not hades. The great tribulation is the great tribulation period. And the bible shows that, that time will come in the second half of the 7 years of the antichrist. Now before that time the church (the believers living for the Lord) will raptured.
      The great multitude are those who will be left behind. It includes christians who were not living for the lord who now will be awaken and conscious because of the rapture plus the unbelievers who will now come to believe in Jesus from every tribe and nation and tongues. The preachers in those days will be the left behind Christians and the jews who have come to believe (the 144000 sealed)
      And because the are now believers they will be washed in the blood of the lamb just as we have believed and our sins were washed away

  3. investiguesi on May 23, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    However, the great crowd makes sacred service in God’s temple [gr. naos] in the heavenly realm. If the saints of tribulation are continually taken one by one in the heaven, then who are the ones who will populate the earth when it is known that the rest are considered lost and condemned?

  4. Vicki on October 19, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    I don’t think anyone really knows. The Two Witnesses are thought to be giving their message from the very beginning of the tribulation , and there is going to be a great apostasy before the antichrist sets up the abomination or sits in the temple claiming to be God. The fifth seal shows people showing up in Heaven who have been killed for their faith. There could be a great multitude killed for their testimony.

  5. Curt schneider on November 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Why does revelation start with a rapture and then a tribulation? Are we raptures before the tribulation no because people make it out of the great tribulation why can’t they tell the story in order of events?

    • The JA Show Staff on November 17, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      The Bible clearly teaches Jesus will come back for His followers (John 14), but some disagree about the way this will take place. Our ministry teaches Jesus will return at any moment at an event called the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) followed by the seven-year tribulation and then the return of Jesus to earth with His followers described in Revelation 19.

      We have a lot of material on Bible prophecy to help in this area. We especially recommend our series The Last Word of Jesus that investigates the book of Revelation with three of today’s top prophecy scholars, available at https://jashow.org/resources/the-last-words-of-jesus-the-book-of-revelation.

  6. Lewis Harrison on January 23, 2021 at 8:58 am

    If you were to read scripture for the very first time in your life and not been poluted with different theories of the rapture from christians of the past. There would be no way you could come away believing in a pre-trib rapture. It is tough for christians to see it for what it clearly says because 90 percent of the preachers are teaching what has been drilled into them on the rapture from when they were children in church. This is the big deception. There will be a rapture at the end of the seven years, there will be many christians slaughtered during the tribulation. Its sad that christians will pretty much not discuss any other way other than the pre-trib teaching. They are like the climate change people and shut down debate because it is already settled. Its sad and not many want to hear this as one person told me “you are taking my joy away” God says He is coming back a second time and every eye shall see Him. Just understand the Christians that are alive during the tribulation will not suffer God’s wrath but will suffer severe persecution. Why not be ready as Paul says to train your body as a boxer would or a long distance runner so you will be ready if we have to suffer persecution because it would be better to be trained rather than say I want suffer God is going to take me out of here and shield me. Remeber the words of Christ “If you live for me you will suffer persecution” “If they hate me they will crtainly hate you.” It would be better to be trained to take up your cross and follow Jesus than live our lives for the next Netflix blockbuster or series. It is a sad state in America…living our lives as a worldly American Christian. Don’t even worry about a rapture when we live our lives for pleasures of this world. God help us to crucify our flesh daily instead of live for vacations, food, television shows and still say I’m one of the few warriors for God. If that is our life we will be left behind. Be ready, we are on a journey on that narrow path. Do not divert down a different trail that leads to the broad road whose sign also points to heaven. For that road says you can live as you want with all the worldly passions that makes our bodies feel wonderful. But it leads to death. God bless you all just be ready. As Christ told the rich young ruler. “It will cost you everything to follow me. count the cost” Jesus is coming back, be ready and train yourself as well as myself to be able to face persecution because it is coming to America not just china and in the congo. He is purging the church of worldly christians and in America, it is the worldly church. But there is always a few in every church that is not soiled themselves with the world. God help us, stay strong Jesus is coming soon.

    • Jespere Hopeman on February 22, 2021 at 12:14 am

      Brother Lewis please study very well. The church will be raptured before the great tribulation. Christians are already suffering tribulation all around the world but that is not the great tribulation yet. The great tribulation will come at the second half period of the 7 years of the antichrist, that is the 70th week of Daniel. The people left behind who will now fight through that time, not giving up their faith will also be saved from the great tribulation and that is the subject being discussed here. Be before that time. In the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead in Christ will rise first and we that are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the lord in the air the Bible says. That’s different from the second coming of the Lord when all eyes will see Him. In the case of rupture, we will meet Him in the air. The world will not see Him. 7 years after the tribulation on earth that I just talked about, He will show up and in fact with the church coming down from heaven, and NOW all eyes will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And He will destroy the antichrist by the breath of His mouth and start the 1000 reign called millennial reign of Christ on earth. So much more to say about this. But yes there is a rapture of the church prior the great tribulation. All I’ve just said is in your Bible

  7. Mary on April 7, 2021 at 8:37 am

    Does Rapture happen when the temple of David is rebuilt the 3rd time?

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