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Revelation 6:9 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And when it opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held;
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And, when he opened the fifth seal, I saw, beneath the altar, the souls of them who had been slain because of the word of God and because of the witness which they held.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony that they held,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And when hee had opened the fift seale, I saw vnder the altar, the soules of them that were slaine for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— And when he had opened the Fifth Seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them who had been killed for the word of Aloha, and for the testimony of the Lamb, which had been theirs.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them who were slain on account of the word of God, and on account of the testimony to the Lamb which was with them.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
when 3753
{3753} Prime
ὅτε
hote
{hot'-eh}
From G3739 and G5037; at which (thing) too, that is, when.
he had opened 455
{0455} Prime
ἀνοίγω
anoigo
{an-oy'-go}
From G0303 and οἴγω [[oigo]] (to open); to open up (literally or figuratively, in various applications).
z5656
<5656> Grammar
Tense - Aorist (See G5777)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 2319
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
fifth 3991
{3991} Prime
πέμπτος
pemptos
{pemp'-tos}
From G4002; fifth.
seal, 4973
{4973} Prime
σφραγίς
sphragis
{sfrag-ece'}
Probably strengthened from G5420; a signet (as fencing in or protecting from misappropriation); by implication the stamp impressed (as a mark of privacy, or genuineness), literally or figuratively.
I saw 1492
{1492} Prime
εἰδῶ
eido
{i-do'}
A primary verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equivalent, G3700 and G3708; properly to see (literally or figuratively); by implication (in the perfect only) to know.
z5627
<5627> Grammar
Tense - Second Aorist (See G5780)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 2138 plus 1 in a variant reading in a footnote
under 5270
{5270} Prime
ὑποκάτω
hupokato
{hoop-ok-at'-o}
From G5259 and G2736; down under, that is, beneath.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
altar 2379
{2379} Prime
θυσιαστήριον
thusiasterion
{thoo-see-as-tay'-ree-on}
From a derivative of G2378; a place of sacrifice, that is, an altar (specifically or generally, literally or figuratively).
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
souls 5590
{5590} Prime
ψυχή
psuche
{psoo-khay'}
From G5594; breath, that is, (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307] and [H2416].
of them that were slain 4969
{4969} Prime
σφάζω
sphazo
{sfad'-zo}
A primary verb; to butcher (especially an animal for food or in sacrifice) or (generally) to slaughter, or (specifically) to maim (violently).
z5772
<5772> Grammar
Tense - Perfect (See G5778)
Voice - Passive (See G5786)
Mood - Participle (See G5796)
Count - 463
for 1223
{1223} Prime
διά
dia
{dee-ah'}
A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal or occasional). In composition it retains the same general import.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
word 3056
{3056} Prime
λόγος
logos
{log'-os}
From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ).
of God, 2316
{2316} Prime
θεός
theos
{theh'-os}
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
καί
kai
{kahee}
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
for 1223
{1223} Prime
διά
dia
{dee-ah'}
A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal or occasional). In composition it retains the same general import.
the x3588
(3588) Complement

ho
{ho}
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
testimony 3141
{3141} Prime
μαρτυρία
marturia
{mar-too-ree'-ah}
From G3144; evidence given (judicially or generally).
which 3739
{3739} Prime
ὅς
hos
{hos}
Probably a primary word (or perhaps a form of the article G3588); the relative (sometimes demonstrative) pronoun, who, which, what, that.
they held: 2192
{2192} Prime
ἔχω
echo
{ekh'-o}
A primary verb (including an alternate form σχέω [[scheo]], {skheh'-o}; used in certain tenses only); to hold (used in very various applications, literally or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possession, ability, contiguity, relation or condition).
z5707
<5707> Grammar
Tense - Imperfect (See G5775)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 855
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Revelation 6:9

_ _ The three last seals relate to the invisible, as the first four to the visible world; the fifth, to the martyrs who have died as believers; the sixth, to those who have died, or who shall be found at Christ’s coming, unbelievers, namely, “the kings ... great men ... bondman ... freeman”; the seventh, to the silence in heaven. The scene changes from earth to heaven; so that interpretations which make these three last consecutive to the first four seals, are very doubtful.

_ _ I saw — in spirit. For souls are not naturally visible.

_ _ under the altar — As the blood of sacrificial victims slain on the altar was poured at the bottom of the altar, so the souls of those sacrificed for Christ’s testimony are symbolically represented as under the altar, in heaven; for the life or animal soul is in the blood, and blood is often represented as crying for vengeance (Genesis 4:10). The altar in heaven, antitypical to the altar of sacrifice, is Christ crucified. As it is the altar that sanctifies the gift, so it is Christ alone who makes our obedience, and even our sacrifice of life for the truth, acceptable to God. The sacrificial altar was not in the sanctuary, but outside; so Christ’s literal sacrifice and the figurative sacrifice of the martyrs took place, not in the heavenly sanctuary, but outside, here on earth. The only altar in heaven is that antitypical to the temple altar of incense. The blood of the martyrs cries from the earth under Christ’s cross, whereon they may be considered virtually to have been sacrificed; their souls cry from under the altar of incense, which is Christ in heaven, by whom alone the incense of praise is accepted before God. They are under Christ, in His immediate presence, shut up unto Him in joyful eager expectancy until He shall come to raise the sleeping dead. Compare the language of 2 Maccabees 7:36 as indicating Jewish opinion on the subject. Our brethren who have now suffered a short pain are dead under (Greek) God’s covenant of everlasting life.

_ _ testimony which they held — that is, which they bore, as committed to them to bear. Compare Revelation 12:17, “Have (same Greek as here) the testimony of Jesus.”

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Revelation 6:9-17

_ _ In the remaining part of this chapter we have the opening of the fifth and the sixth seals.

_ _ I. The fifth seal. Here is no mention made of any one who called the apostle to make his observation, probably because the decorum of the vision was to be observed, and each of the four living creatures had discharged its duty of a monitor before, or because the events here opened lay out of the sight, and beyond the time, of the present ministers of the church; or because it does not contain a new prophecy of any future events, but rather opens a spring of support and consolation to those who had been and still were under great tribulation for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Here observe,

_ _ 1. The sight this apostle saw at the opening of the fifth seal; it was a very affecting sight (Revelation 6:9): I saw under the altar the souls of those that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. He saw the souls of the martyrs. Here observe, (1.) Where he saw them — under the altar; at the foot of the altar of incense, in the most holy place; he saw them in heaven, at the foot of Christ. Hence note, [1.] Persecutors can only kill the body, and after that there is no more that they can do; their souls live. [2.] God has provided a good place in the better world for those who are faithful to death and are not allowed a place any longer on earth. [3.] Holy martyrs are very near to Christ in heaven, they have the highest place there. [4.] It is not their own death, but the sacrifice of Christ, that gives them a reception into heaven and a reward there; they do not wash their robes in their own blood, but in the blood of the Lamb. (2.) What was the cause in which they suffered — the word of God and the testimony which they held, for believing the word of God, and attesting or confessing the truth of it; this profession of their faith they held fast without wavering, even though they died for it. A noble cause, the best that any man can lay down his life for — faith in God's word and a confession of that faith.

_ _ 2. The cry he heard; it was a loud cry, and contained a humble expostulation about the long delay of avenging justice against their enemies: How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth? Revelation 6:10. Observe, (1.) Even the spirits of just men made perfect retain a proper resentment of the wrong they have sustained by their cruel enemies; and though they die in charity, praying, as Christ did, that God would forgive them, yet they are desirous that, for the honour of God, and Christ, and the gospel, and for the terror and conviction of others, God will take a just revenge upon the sin of persecution, even while he pardons and saves the persecutors. (2.) They commit their cause to him to whom vengeance belongeth, and leave it in his hand; they are not for avenging themselves, but leave all to God. (3.) There will be joy in heaven at the destruction of the implacable enemies of Christ and Christianity, as well as at the conversion of other sinners. When Babylon falls, it will be said, Rejoice over her, O thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, Revelation 18:20.

_ _ 3. He observed the kind return that was made to this cry (Revelation 6:11), both what was given to them and what was said to them. (1.) What was given to them — white robes, the robes of victory and of honour; their present happiness was an abundant recompence of their past sufferings. (2.) What was said to them — that they should be satisfied, and easy in themselves, for it would not be long ere the number of their fellow-sufferers would be fulfilled. This is a language rather suited to the imperfect state of the saints in this world than to the perfection of their state in heaven; there is no impatience, no uneasiness, no need of admonition; but in this world there is great need of patience. Observe, [1.] There is a number of Christians, known to God, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, set apart to be God's witnesses. [2.] As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted martyred servants of Christ. [3.] When this number is fulfilled, God will take a just and glorious revenge upon their cruel persecutors; he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, and to those that are troubled full and uninterrupted rest.

_ _ II. We have here the sixth seal opened, Revelation 6:12. Some refer this to the great revolutions in the empire at Constantine's time, the downfall of paganism; others, with great probability, to the destruction of Jerusalem, as an emblem of the general judgment, and destruction of the wicked, at the end of the world; and, indeed, the awful characters of this event are so much the same with those signs mentioned by our Saviour as foreboding the destruction of Jerusalem, as hardly to leave any room for doubting but that the same thing is meant in both places, though some think that event was past already. See Matthew 24:29, Matthew 24:30. Here observe,

_ _ 1. The tremendous events that were hastening; and here are several occurrences that contribute to make that day and dispensation very dreadful: — (1.) There was a great earthquake. This may be taken in a political sense; the very foundations of the Jewish church and state would be terribly shaken, though they seemed to be as stable as the earth itself. (2.) The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, either naturally, by a total eclipse, or politically, by the fall of the chief rulers and governors of the land. (3.) The moon should become as blood; the inferior officers, or their military men, should be all wallowing in their own blood. (4.) The stars of heaven shall fall to the earth (Revelation 6:13), and that as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. The stars may signify all the men of note and influence among them, though in lower spheres of activity; there should be a general desolation. (5.) The heaven should depart as a scroll when it is rolled together. This may signify that their ecclesiastical state should perish and be laid aside for ever. (6.) Every mountain and island shall be moved out of its place. The destruction of the Jewish nation should affect and affright all the nations round about, those who were highest in honour and those who seemed to be best secured; it would be a judgment that should astonish all the world. This leads to,

_ _ 2. The dread and terror that would seize upon all sorts of men in that great and awful day, Revelation 6:15. No authority, nor grandeur, nor riches, nor valour, nor strength, would be able to support men at that time; yea, the very poor slaves, who, one would think, had nothing to fear, because they had nothing to lose, would be all in amazement at that day. Here observe, (1.) The degree of their terror and astonishment: it should prevail so far as to make them, like distracted desperate men, call to the mountains to fall upon them, and to the hills to cover them; they would be glad to be no more seen; yea, to have no longer any being. (2.) The cause of their terror, namely, the angry countenance of him that sits on the throne, and the wrath of the Lamb. Observe, [1.] That which is matter of displeasure to Christ is so to God; they are so entirely one that what pleases or displeases the one pleases or displeases the other. [2.] Though God be invisible, he can make the inhabitants of this world sensible of his awful frowns. [3.] Though Christ be a lamb, yet he can be angry, even to wrath, and the wrath of the Lamb is exceedingly dreadful; for if the Redeemer, that appeases the wrath of God, himself be our wrathful enemy, where shall we have a friend to plead for us? Those perish without remedy who perish by the wrath of the Redeemer. [4.] As men have their day of opportunity, and their seasons of grace, so God has his day of righteous wrath; and, when that day shall come, the most stout-hearted sinners will not be able to stand before him: all these terrors actually fell upon the sinners in Judea and Jerusalem in the day of their destruction, and they will all, in the utmost degree, fall upon impenitent sinners, at the general judgment of the last day.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Revelation 6:9

And when he opened the fifth seal — As the four former seals, so the three latter, have a close connexion with each other. These all refer to the invisible world; the fifth, to the happy dead, particularly the martyrs; the sixth, to the unhappy; the seventh, to the angels, especially those to whom the trumpets are given. And I saw — Not only the church warring under Christ, and the world warring under Satan; but also the invisible hosts, both of heaven and hell, are described in this book. And it not only describes the actions of both these armies upon earth; but their respective removals from earth, into a more happy or more miserable state, succeeding each other at several times, distinguished by various degrees, celebrated by various thanksgivings; and also the gradual increase of expectation and triumph in heaven, and of terror and misery in hell. Under the altar — That is, at the foot of it. Two altars are mentioned in the Revelation, "the golden altar" of incense, Revelation 9:13; and the altar of burnt — offerings, mentioned here, and Revelation 8:5, Revelation 14:18, Revelation 16:7. At this the souls of the martyrs now prostrate themselves. By and by their blood shall be avenged upon Babylon; but not yet, whence it appears that the plagues in the fourth seal do not concern Rome in particular.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Revelation 6:9

(7) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

(7) The sixth sign is that the holy martyrs who are under the altar, by which they are sanctified, that is, received into the trust and teaching of Christ (into whose hands they are committed) shall cry out for the justice of God, in a holy zeal to advance his kingdom, and not from any private disturbance of the mind, in this and the next verse, and that God will comfort them in deed, sign and word; (Revelation 6:10).

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
I saw:

Revelation 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Revelation 9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Revelation 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
Leviticus 4:7 And the priest shall put [some] of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which [is] in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which [is at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
*Gr:
Philippians 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

the souls:

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, [I say], and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

slain:

Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Revelation 11:3-7 And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. ... And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
Revelation 12:11-17 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. ... And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
2 Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
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