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

    • Rodney Higgins on May 27, 2023 at 6:00 am

      First I would say I’m no scholar by any just a simple witness and by the spirit of the Lord I know that it the Israelites that went thru tribulation for their faith in God. Now you say the great tribulation but say bible tribulation you added the not supposed to do that. Second they serve God , now everyone knows that Israel is the servens of God, the Gentile’s are called bride. People would also say that the Jews didn’t go thru tribulation but history shows they have been going thru tribulation from the beginning.
      Please I’m not trying to argue with anyone. But there’s only one tru revelation and that must come from God or we’ll continue to have religion and not God.

    • Virginia on November 27, 2023 at 3:08 pm

      I have come to the conclusion that the tribulation consists of the first and second part. The first part begins with the words of Jesus at the beginning of Revelation when He states to John, that the things John sees will happen shortly, and progress to intensity throughout the centuries until the final part which is the great tribulation. Now if this is not the case, then Jesus is a liar when He says it’s all going to kick of shortly. This began with the first horse riding out. This interpretation I have never heard before, but makes absolute perfect sense in sequential order. So, the tribulation began in the first century, the birth pangs increase, until all five seals have been broken, and the saints are currently waiting for the fulfilment of the sum total of the church martyrs. The tribulation martyrs are not the church martyrs. Then we are now awaiting the sixth seal, when things really kick off with the rapture and the saints appearing in heaven in Rev. 7. I have come to no other conclusion but this interpretation, and I am convinced the Holy Spirit has revealed this to me.

  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

    • Tom Gray on June 30, 2023 at 12:53 am

      Unbelievers do not go to heaven to be judged, all the unbelievers are resurrected together after the millennium on earth where Christ is. Rev 20:11-15

  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

      • LaShunda C. on June 28, 2023 at 10:17 am

        Thank you for that summation of scripture. I have always believed this outline to be true. The rapture or the catching away of the Believers falls in line with the Jewish custom of the catching away of the bride. This catching away is going to be the event the sets everything in motion for the tribulation. The church is not going to go through the tribulation not because the church is weak, but because of Christ’s love for her. He is going to remove his bride (the ones who believe him at the time of the rapture) because of love. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” To sanctify means to set her apart, to purify her by his own blood. This is happening now where the true Believers are being set apart in preparation for the catching away because they believe in the blood and the finished work of Christ. John 14:3, Jesus said to his disciples, ” And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and RECEIVE you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” To Receive, to rapture, to catch away. One of the definitions of receive is to acquire or to take from the weight of something. After the catching away, the world will be thrown into chaos and left entirely with non-believers. All who come to faith after the bride is gone will have an opportunity to make it into heaven during the tribulation. Many will die of natural causes, yet many will die for their faith as is the case now for our brothers and sisters who are dying for their faith in multiple countries. Their physical bodies only are asleep awaiting the resurrection.

        • Steve on September 28, 2023 at 8:43 am

          Hi LaShunda, this is the same psyop we’ve been fed all our lives. It’s not exactly true.

          Pls read Luke 21, Matt 24, Rev 13: 7, Rev 7, 1 Cor 15:52, and you will quickly come to a different conclusion. Even Jesus said, unless those days were shortened no flesh would be saved even the elect, does that not make you question your rapture theory? So who are these elects Jesus spoke about if they were already raptured pre-tribulation?

          By the way, why didn’t you wonder, if the rapture take place when you said it will- pre trib, how come these people in Rev 7 are still around. Did they miss the rapture or what? I mean it’s just a simple deduction. Something is very wrong with the rapture timing the church has fed all these years.

          I really fear and worry many will be disappointed when they find themselves in the tribulation and will wonder why didn’t Jesus come as they were told. It’s gonna turbulent, but he promised to keep us.

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

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

  8. Jack Oakes on December 14, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Lewis, I believe that you miss the fact that the seven years is when God is back to dealing with Israel as in Danials 70th week. He’s back to finishing the covenant to Israel so there’s no reason for the church to be on earth. God does not deal with Israel and the church at the same time as we read in Acts. As far as the great multitude, it’s makes no sense that it’s people being saved during the tribulation because God IS dealing with Israel and there are only about 15 million Jews in the world today. Hardly a number which no man can count. Plus there will not be a second chance for people who heard the gospel and rejected Jesus so that leaves relatively few people on earth to make up this great multitude.

    • joyce merkle on December 20, 2022 at 3:36 pm

      Jack Oakes, thanks for your information. Most don’t realize Yahweh is only dealing with Israel. Wish more could understand this!!!

      • nothanks on July 17, 2023 at 2:12 pm

        yeah that isn’t true. God has nothing to do with modern secular Israel

  9. Tom Crandall on January 13, 2023 at 4:46 am

    The great multitude is not the ekklesia; the ekklesia is not ressurected nor raptured; it is an earthly vessel–the “called out” people of God on the earth at any time, starting at Mt Sinai, for the purposes of God.

    The great multitude is the resurrected and raptured saints–all saints in salvation history. The “Israel of God,” made perfect together (Hebrews 11:39-40) to serve as a royal priesthood in the millennial reign of Christ. Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the Coming One, who will return in glory to be…

    – King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:38)
    – King of Israel (John 1:49, John 12:13, Matthew 27:42, Mark 15:32)
    – King of the nations (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 11:15, Revelation 15:4)

    Does anyone need help understanding this?

    Blessings in Christ…

  10. Steve on May 11, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    It comes down to whether or not the tribulation is tied to the 70th week of Daniel. I’ve seen no passage that associates the two. In Mt 24 the Messiah is talking to the church as He had finished talking with Israel in Mt 23.

    Mt 24:29-31 and Rev 6:12,13 describe the same earthquake/resurrection event that removes the that the angels gather from the 4 corners of the earth. Immediately after that, in Rev 7, we see those ( along with the ones from the 5th seal) in heaven that come out of the tribulation of Mt 24. The same tribulation that John himself was in that is mentioned in Rev 1:9. The same tribulation mentioned of the churches in Rev 2. The ONLY tribulation mentioned in the whole of the NT…that is to say the tribulation of which ONLY the church is associated.

    The tribulation started at the start of the church. The Gates of Hell have not prevailed against the church…but the church’s journey has been rife with tribulation. The days of tribulation will be cut short in order to keep the church from being wiped out. Daniel’s 70th week will NOT be cut short. It’s time will be completely filled.

    I need to find out just WHO crafted the story that the tribulation is Daniel’s 70th week. It is causing people to be blind…to not be looking for the signs…to keep them from thinking that they will not be persecuted. We will continue in the tribulation until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled…and many will be martyred prior to the rapture…prior to the revealing of the anti-christ.

  11. J Z on May 25, 2023 at 10:08 am

    If the resurrection of the dead in Christ happens in the last day…(John 11:24) then how can the believers who are still alive at his return be raptured 7 years before or 3 and a half years before the tribulation if the dead rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) and that happens on the last day… if the resurrection happens on the last day then how can we still have years to go before Christ returns?

    • Rod Higgins on June 9, 2023 at 4:56 pm

      The resurrection of the dead in Christ .They rise first then them which are alive. The bible teaches that those truly in Christ never die but only sleep so then they must be those that are foolish virgins and not bride. MATTHEW 13:24 THRU 30. This explains the difference and which goes first. Hince the dead in Christ. However the bible also says that as it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days of the coming of the son of man. In the days of Noah one was rapture and the rest went thru tribulation. So I believe the churches of all Christian religions founded in their denominations and not Christ are already bundle to be burned in their churches,now we’re waiting for the midnight cry to sound from the on coming of the two witteness just before they begin their going into Israel for 144000 of the twelve tribes ,At which time the rapture will take place. This is explained in the seven fold ministry or the seventh seal which is the same thing. But I will tell you it will take Christ to reveal this to you, or you’ll never see it or expect it let be able to find the seven fold ministry let alone understand the seventh seal, even many that claimed to open or understand the full seven seals couldn’t reveal the seventh seal,because it must come from Christ, hince the two witteness that stand before Israel.

    • S, Dodgson on September 23, 2023 at 9:40 pm

      The great multitude are the ones left behind in the GT at the 7th seal,- the laodeiceans (ones who are luke warm), who dud not repent during the GT or before, or maybe the Jews who did not repent when Jesus stood in mount of olives, however, the 7rh seal happens at yon kippur, following the feast of trumpets, or the 10th day day if repentance, – Yom kippor is rhe judgment that follows this festival. Jesus will give these people the chance to be His people by repenting and will be taken one by one of all nations, tongues, race, tribe to Heaven, following the rapture of His Elect (Philadelphians) at the 6th seal, pre wrath, 6th year of GT

Leave a Comment