Revelation #13 – Study Questions

Kyle Bartholic   -  

Revelation CGS – Week 13

The 144,000

Revelation 7:1-17


INTRODUCTION:  First-century Rome had a quasi-military fire service divided into seven cohorts. A monument survives that names all 1,000 members of the fifth cohort, including the origins of its centurions. Among the places from which they came are Venice, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovenia. It is a picture of how people were drawn to Rome from across the empire. Rome welcomed migrants because the number of people who died in Rome exceeded the number born there. Rome was a malarial city. People would arrive without immunity; many died within a few years of their arrival. So Rome constantly needed to top up its population. In her TV documentary Meet the Romans, the classicist Mary Beard comments, “Rome is swallowing people. It’s a city which consumes people and spews them out dead.” In Revelation 7, John shows us another empire that also draws people from every nation. But around the throne of the Lamb, they find life. The section ends with the joy of heaven at the vindication of the martyrs (v 17; see Isaiah 49:10; 25:8).[1]


The sixth seal has been opened, but before the seventh, there is an interlude (a device which John sometimes adopts elsewhere). Here we find that the servants of God are under his special care (he has ‘sealed’ them). There are some difficulties here. Specifically, commentators differ as to whether the 144,000 and the great multitude later in the chapter are the same or different groups, whether the former refers to literal or spiritual Israel, and whether either or both refer to the martyrs. There is little evidence to decide these points, and we must be guided by our understanding of the book as a whole.[2]


Rev. 7:1–8 explains how believers are sealed so that they can persevere through the first four tribulations enumerated in ch. 6. The vision in 7:9–17 reveals the heavenly reward for those who do persevere. It amplifies the brief picture of the saints in 6:9–11, who have finally entered into God’s presence after having successfully completed their course of suffering (see esp. 7:13–15). 7:9–17 also describes the kind of rest that the exalted saints were told to enjoy (6:11) “until the number of their fellow servants” who must endure yet further sufferings “should be completed.” This section also expands on when and how God will begin to vindicate Christians from the wrong verdict rendered against them by the world, a theme likewise introduced in 6:9–11. Saints who suffer in the tribulation are encouraged to persevere as they reflect on the divine protection they have through God’s sealing of them and as they recall the promise of their future heavenly reward.[3] Reading this passage, we are reminded that faithfulness sets its eye on the goal. And what’s the goal? Christ-likeness.



GETTING STARTED – One of the phrases I heard growing up that has really stuck with me is, “When you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” This phrase reminds me of the importance of having a target or a goal and staying focused on it. Take some time to share your experience with the importance of staying focused in order to accomplish something important.



IN THE WORD –   Let’s dig back into the passage. It is important to strengthen our muscles in reading God’s Word. On Sunday, we walked through the passage in the sermon. Hopefully, that helped you to see the landmarks of the passage with fresh eyes. Now, with your group, go back through it and see what God is saying to you specifically.

First, before you read the passage, take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to quiet your mind and heart and to illuminate the text to you. Second, read the passage aloud to the group. Then, follow the simple method below. (O.P.A)


Observe: Make 8-10 observations from the passage. Pay close attention to observe and note repeated words and phrases, names, places, and themes.


Principles: From your list of observations, what patterns or big ideas do you see emerging? Can you distill it down into 2-4 big idea truths?




Apply: Moving from your list of principles, it is time to apply God’s Word. Remember, we believe that God’s Word is living and active and that it can change the way we live Monday- Friday. What is one tangible way to apply a truth from your list above?



Note: Revelation can be a tough book. Here are some questions that might help with discussion.[4]

  1. When you read Chapter 7, what stands out to you? If you had to summarize this chapter’s main idea, how would you express it in your own words?
  2. How does this chapter prompt you towards faithfulness? How does it reorient your perspective on your circumstances (both positive things and challenges)?
  3. In your own words, what is the goal that faithfulness is to set its eye on? How does this inform your everyday life?
  4. The meaning of the cross includes the mission to the nations. What are the implications of this for you?
  5. How should the vision of every nation united by the Lamb affect our attitude to people from different ethnic backgrounds?









[1] Chester, Tim. Revelation For You: Seeing history from heaven’s perspective (p. 67). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.

[2] Leon Morris, Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 20, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 112.

[3] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 404–405.

[4] Questions adapted from: Chester, Tim. Revelation For You: Seeing history from heaven’s perspective (p. 60). The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition.