A Question I Was Asked:



Who Are the Souls "Under the Altar" in Revelation 6:9-11?








Who are the souls "Under the Altar" in Revelation 6:9-11?



UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this:

9. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" 11. Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9-11).

This is a vision of Heaven and it is Heaven of the approximate present. Thousands of saved souls are there; they know they are saved and take joy in the company of God and of the holy angels, yet they also long for the final restoration of all things, when final judgement has occurred and all God's people are finally together in the New Heavens and New Earth (which, of course, is after the resurrection and final judgement).

It is obviously the approximate present in this glimpse of Heaven since the final judgement has not yet occurred: 'How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth...' They (the saints) are told that they need to wait a little longer 'until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.' All the saints inherit their full reward (in the New Heavens and New Earth) together when rising in the Resurrection of the Dead. Until then, the souls of deceased true believers reside in Heaven.

Why are these souls "under the altar"? In the old covenant temple system, the altar was the place of sacrifice. They are 'under the altar' because Christ's victory in His sacrifice and resurrection accomplished their salvation, and the salvation of all of us, the expression just confirms that they are saved, that they are part of the redeemed. 'Under the altar' is another way of saying that they are confirmed/completed/accomplished by the supreme sacrifice of Christ. These saints - and all of those who are saved -are only saved by Christ's work at the place of sacrifice: the altar.

Robin A. Brace. September 3rd, 2017.

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