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In Revelation 19:8, some saints are given fine, clean linen for their righteous acts.

What characterizes these acts as righteous? Are they merely good deeds anyone, even the unsaved, can do, and they are righteous as merely opposed to unrighteous? Perhaps they are righteous as in obeying God by faith?

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    Food for thought (from Robert Mounce, NICNT: Eerdmans, 1997): "Note that what was given to her was not the “fine linen” (as the NIV suggests) but the privilege of arraying herself in righteous acts (the NRSV translates, “to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen”). Believers are created for divinely prepared good works (Eph 2:10)."
    – Susan
    May 16 '15 at 15:53
  • More food for thought, is the genitive subjective or objective, i.e. are we talking about righteous acts 'by' the saints or 'for' the saints - there is much ambiguity in interpretation between the two but it would influence our understanding of what these righteous acts are. May 16 '15 at 16:24
  • Jonathan, so that ambiguity is on purpose - so we would ponder both.
    – Steve
    May 16 '15 at 17:03
  • @Steve I would suggest so, but not dogmatically May 19 '15 at 8:11
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The "righteous acts" are the outworking of ones faith, which are visible to the human eye.

That is, the Book of Revelation appears to correlate invisible (inward / in-working) faith with visible (outward / out-working) faith. The latter faith then are the "righteous acts," which are the visible glory -- thus the vestments of white robes in heaven. The following examples will illustrate the several contrasts in this regard to the "inward faith" and the "outward faith."

Rev 1:2
...who testified to the word of God (inward faith) and to the testimony of Jesus Christ (outward faith)...

Rev 1:3
...blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy (inward faith), and heed the things that are written in it (outward faith)...

Rev 1:9
...because of the word of God (inward faith) and the testimony of Jesus Christ (outward faith)...

Rev 2:26
...he who overcomes (inward faith) and he who keeps my deeds until the end (outward faith)...

Rev 3:3
...remember what you have received and heard (inward faith); and keep it and repent (outward faith)...

Rev 3:8
...you have kept my word (inward faith), and have not denied my name (outward faith)...

Rev 6:9
...those who had been slain because of the word of God (inward faith), and because of the testimony which they maintained (outward faith)...

Rev 7:14
...these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation (outward faith), and they have washed their robes (inward faith) and made them white in the blood of the lamb (inward faith)...

Rev 12:11
...they overcame him because of the blood of the lamb (inward faith) and because of the word of their testimony (inward faith), and they did not love their life when faced with death (outward faith)...

Rev 12:17
...the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God (outward faith) and hold to the testimony of Jesus (inward faith)...

Rev 14:12
...here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God (outward faith) and their faith in Jesus (inward faith)...

Rev 19:10
...I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold he testimony of Jesus (outward faith); worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (inward faith)...

Rev 20:4
...and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus (outward faith) and because of the word of God (inward faith)...

Rev 22:9
...I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets (inward faith) and of those who heed the words of this book (outward faith). Worship God (outward faith).

These verses provide varying shades of contrast between what is visible and what is invisible. That is, ones inward faith drives ones outward faith, which becomes evident through "righteous acts" (which are rewarded as the white raiment worn in heaven). Another more concrete example in this regard are the three crowns mentioned in the New Testament. The Crown of Life is for perseverance through suffering (Ja 1:12 and Rev 2:10); the Crown of Righteousness is for living in expectant hope of the return of Jesus (2 Tim 4:8); and the Crown of Glory is for the selfless exercise of ones spiritual gift (1 Cor 9:17 and 1 Pet 5:2-4). Along with the white raiment worn in heaven, each crown appears to be the outward manifestation reflecting what was on the inside. That is, suffering (unto the Crown of Life), watching/waiting (unto the Crown of Righteousness), and selfless exercise of ones gifts (unto the Crown of Glory) are outward and visible. This living from the inside to the outside is what the Apostle Paul in Rom 1:17 seems to call living "from faith to faith" (i.e., inward / invisible faith having outward / visible results on the outside). Thus the righteous will live by this nexus of "faith to faith" (Rom 1:17). In summary, the "righteous acts" are the visible fruits, which in heaven will appear as white raiment and crowns.

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I think you are right about faith. The apostles asked:

Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Paul said: Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

So I think that faith is the acts of righteousness.

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This is a reference to Christ's teaching via a parable, about the 'Wedding Feast' of Christ and the Church, His Bride.

Matthew 22:1-14

And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.1 And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. But they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment?2 But he was silent. Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.

To me, this has an obvious meaning. Without the state of grace (a state of being justified through in New Covenant) no one enters heaven. All are called to heaven, to be saints. But only those who recieve and bring forth fruit have the prerequisite 'wedding garment'—are admitted into the Feast of eternal life. Especially in light of a pretty clear reference to the concept in Isaiah 61:10.

Revelation 19:6-9

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of great thunders, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord our God the Almighty hath reigned. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come,1 and his wife hath prepared herself. And it is granted to her that she should clothe herself with fine linen, glittering and white. For the fine linen are the justifications of saints. And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. ...

Notice St. Jerome's translation of the Greek word as justificationes—'justifications.' This is a slavishly literal translation of a difficult word. It seems to simply mean their 'righteousnesses'—their justified states.

1 Matthew 3:17; John 1:29

2 Revelation 21:27

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All verses quoted in NASB

Based on Isaiah 61:10

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridgegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

and Zechariah 3:4

He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying "Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes."

it appears that God is the one who clothes the saints with the necessary wedding garments. I believe the best way to reconcile the concept of the bride making herself ready in Revelation 19:7-8

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints

with the old testament verses showing the Lord doing the clothing is through John 6:28-29.

Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.

Therefore I believe your last suggestion is the right conclusion, that the righteous acts of the saints is their faith in Christ.

In addition, the context of Matthew 22, the parable of the marriage feast, is similar to parables in Matthew 13 of the Tares among Wheat (verses 24-30 and 36-43), the Mustard Seed (verses 31-32), the Leaven (verses 33-35) and the Dragnet (verses 47-52).

Each begins with "The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to..." or "The Kingdom of heaven is like..." The overall theme of these parables is that the enemy has sown sons of the evil one in the kingdom of God, which the Lord has let remain so that the sons of the kingdom are not uprooted. (Matthew 13:29 and 13:38-39)

Although a son of the evil one may not be distinguishable from a son of the kingdom by outward appearances, believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, as seen in Ephesians 1:13:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.

We know from 1 Peter 4:14 that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of glory and of God. Now, hold onto that just for a minute, while you bear with me for one more thought. Philippians 2:6-8 says about Christ Jesus:

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man...

Per Strong's, the word "emptied" if from "kenoo" which means "to make empty, to make void." However, during the transfiguration, Jesus was seen as glorified. Matthew 17:2 says:

And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

and Mark 9:2-3 says:

And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

In light of all this, since believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Glory, I believe the Holy Spirit may consitute the wedding garments of the saints.

This would be futher supported by the Parable of Ten Virgins in Matthew 25, which closely resembles the Parable of the Wedding Feast. All of the virgins took their lamps, but the foolish had no oil to light their lamps. (verses 3-4 and 9) Verse 10 says:

And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

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  • "For the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints". One point for that sentence. Jul 18 '17 at 15:02
  • Julie, you are tying together verses that have the same word or words, but are not all talking about the same thing. Going from the righteous acts of the saints to the clothing of the Holy Spirit is bewildering. Of course, the righteous acts can be initiated or empowered by the Spirit, but they are still acts saints perform. You and I agree: the acts are faith-based.
    – Steve
    Jul 19 '17 at 12:58
  • @Constantthin That verse is in the OP :)
    – Steve
    Jul 19 '17 at 12:59
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The righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus that we received by faith when we believed in the finished words of the cross , our faith is counted as righteousness, We can’t go before God without the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our own righteousness is like filthy rags to God , we received the Robe of righteousness when we first believed and got sealed with the Holy Spirit Of Promise.

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    Can you bring references, linguistic arguments or cognate verses that support your position? The verse mentions "acts". The OP asks about these acts. Your answer does not say what these acts are. Faith by itself is not usually referred to as an "act", so how can you be sure that this is what the verse means? Feb 24 '18 at 19:23
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If grace works towards righteousness (salvation) for sinners, the same grace should work for saints towards righteous work. Once we are saved, we must be focused more on good works (which is an act of faith)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God
-- Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)

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  • Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jul 17 '17 at 11:28

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