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The Fifth Seal

Author's Bias: Interpretation: conservative

Tribulation saints under the altar

Of all of the seals, trumpets and bowls, the fifth seal is the only one that does not cause any wrathful consequence upon the earth or human beings; it is solely a heavenly event concerning Believers as God's plan of judgment unfolds.

The apostle John saw the souls of Believers who were martyred because of their faith in and testimony of God during the tribulation.

The tribulation saints were comprised of Messianic Jews, Gentile Believers, and new Believers who responded to the evangelism of these saints (Rev 7:9).

Upon their release from underneath the altar, the martyred souls were given a white robe (Rev 6:11), which represented the righteous acts of the saints (Rev 19:8). This clothing is reminiscent of Jesus' Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt 22:1-14), which was worn by the wedding guests. After the gathering of saints (rapture), the wedding banquet actually takes place in heaven; but unlike the parable, the saints represent the bride (Rev 19:7-8)!

It is significant to observe that when the tribulation saints were given their white robes, they were told to rest "for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also" (Rev 6:11). This suggests that all of the remaining tribulation saints will be killed soon.

In the first interlude just prior to the seventh seal, a "great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" of tribulation saints are presented before the throne of God and before Jesus Christ praising both with palm branches (Rev 7:9-10). The description of a whole encompassing group suggests that all of the existing tribulation saints on earth have died by this time.

Regardless, at the end of the sixth trumpet, the apostle John reports that all of the survivors of the plagues were not repentant (Rev 9:20); thus, before the seventh trumpet is sounded, all Believers are dead.

Seal 5 (Rev 6:9-11)
Third Heaven (location of the Temple of God) Disembodied souls of tribulation saints come from underneath the altar to receive their white robes
Fate of Believers Believers are being killed for their faith and testimony. Before the seventh seal is broken, all of the current existing tribulation saints on earth are dead

For deeper study:

The Fifth Seal

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet



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Series: The Doctrine on Eschatology
The Sixth Seal

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Series: The Doctrine on Eschatology
The First Four Seals


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