NIV - Revelation 7:9:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count

There is a not complete answer in Revelation 7:14

These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb

And from my other question before

These are the souls who have been saved and are in Heaven
Not "spirits" of dead people , but "souls" of dead people

So, for the time being, with my own chronology:

  1. They experienced the great tribulation
  2. They survive the great tribulation, alive
  3. Then they die ---> so John's vision in Rev 7:9 is after they die.

My question is :
Who are they right after they survive the great tribulation ?
The Church (All Christian believers) ? But aren't all the Christians raptured at once, alive ?

  • In your question you make a distinction between the spirits and souls of dead people. What do you understand that difference to be?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 11:52
  • Neither the word souls nor spirits occurs in this passage.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 21:46
  • 1
    @Dottard-Salutations to you. You are correct that neither the word souls or spirits occur in Rev, 7:9, nor in 7;14, but the word "souls" is understood, whether on earth or in heaven and the fact that they are full of spirit is also understood, as all are righteous Christians. Our OP is confused but my answer should serve to unconfuse. But of course you and I have differing beliefs. It's interesting to me that you yourself haven't seen fit to answer, which makes me wonder whether you yourself may now be confused...... Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 1:42
  • @Dottard, I'm sorry.... it's not about the word distinction between "spirit" vs "soul" - but my conclusion is : the event timing in the John's vision, those "great multitude", after they "survived/passed/experienced" the great tribulation era alive, then later on they die.
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 7:12
  • @OldeEnglish - actually, about soul and spirit, I very strongly suspect that we would completely agree. My first question was about the implied question within the question about the distinction between soul and spirit which I have never been able to fathom in other's beliefs.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:51

5 Answers 5


Who are the "Great Multitude" in Rev, 7:9?

I just came to a "realization" about the "Great multitude", not to mention "Rapture", just yesterday. See my ADDENDUM to my Answer to my own Question:

"In Matt, 6:10, it is implied that the kingdom, to come, will be on earth as it already is in heaven, by God's will. Who will be earthbound?

So, these righteous "souls" (believing Christians) who have God's and Jesus' "spirit" (ruach) within them, do not actually die. Some already dead souls join them, after the 2nd resurrection to then experience "Immortal" life on the "New" earth in the "Millennial Kingdom".

  • Olde English; I have placed an answer to the above question as well, I do appreciate any comments for improvement Tks. Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 20:49
  • Just saw this, and I appreciate the respect you give me, but am somewhat exhausted at the moment, as just favored a real estate agent, who was showing my wife and I houses, with an email response (off our site) to a question she had, with which I was not familiar, which took me all of this afternoon and longer to first scope and then answer. The subject: " Why did Jesus ask Peter if he loved him no less than 3 times?" John 21:15-17. So I will have to post a comment to your answer and the answer given by @Lesley tomorrow afternoon at the soonest. Will also have to transfer my email answer to BH Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 1:17
  • Olde English, than you for your "Addendum" in your question, I've just read it. Am I correct that what you mean is : John's vision about the future timing is not after the GreatMultitude (GM) died, but when the GM live after the GreatTribulation(GT) ---> after the GT, in the sight of the throne and the lamb, those GM life style is "wash their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb". Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:34
  • @karma- As I've said in further, very recent, comments above, there is a GM that will go through the GT and NOT die. Those that you see before the throne are not ACTUALLY in heaven, they are still on earth, most likely with their recently resurrected brothers, as part of the 2nd resurrection to earthly life, who receive white robes (whether figuratively, or literally) as a result of Christ's blood having been shed for all mankind, at least those of mankind that have "ultimately" made themselves worthy of consideration. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 22:42
  • Olde English, am I correct for this : While the GM still live after GT past, there are a resurrection event. After the resurrection event done, then both the GM and the resurrected are raptured. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    – karma
    Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 3:41

Christians who follow the Pre-Tribulation Rapture school of thought subscribe to the view that “the Church” (which is made up of all born-again Christians, those who already belong to Christ Jesus) will be taken up to be with the Lord at some point before the Great Tribulation period.

Revelation 7:9 describes a vast number of “tribulation saints” who placed their faith in Christ Jesus during the tribulation period. They come from every nation, tribe, people and language whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). They have come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

What this suggests is that after “the Church” has been taken up, many people will turn to God and place their faith in the promises of God. The “two witnesses” will prophesy for three and a half years and perform great miracles (Revelation 11:1-13) as a powerful testimony to Christ Jesus.

Revelation 7:1-8 also speaks of 144,000 Jewish missionaries who are redeemed and sealed by God during the tribulation. Then Revelation 7:9-17 speaks of the multitudes of tribulation saints who are saved from every corner of the world.

The tribulation saints will serve their Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of desperate surroundings. Faithful to the end, many of these believers will die for their faith. But in their death, they overcome; “They overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11). And God will reward them: “He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:15–17). Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/tribulation-saints.html

In Matthew 24:15-30 Jesus defines the Great Tribulation as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation and ending with Christ’s second coming.

Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Great-Tribulation.html

The “tribulation saints” are those people who come to saving faith in Christ Jesus during the period of the tribulation. They “did not shrink from death” knowing that their reward is assured. They are not the Christians who are taken up before the tribulation.

Regardless of how individuals attempt to interpret Revelation, there are certain things that have been withheld and speculation is a waste of time. The view presented above is but one view among many. We must place our faith in Christ Jesus and hold firm, trusting in God’s promises, knowing that all things work to the good of those who love Him.

  • Lesley, thanks for your answer. You wrote : The “two witnesses” will prophesy for three and a half years and perform great miracles (Revelation 11:1-13) as a powerful testimony to Christ Jesus. Am I correct if I conclude like this ? "so, not all Christians people (the Church) are raptured" ... there are two Christian persons who are not raptured, experiencing the great tribulation, survive alive after the great tribulation era is finish. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thank you.
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 7:26
  • 1
    Karma, no person can be dogmatic about the rapture of Christians either prior to or during the tribulation - even how long it will last. Revelation says that during the tribulation a great multitude of persons come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. The two witnesses are sent by God, they are killed then God resurrects them. This is a supernatural event, orchestrated by God. The rapture of the Church happens before the two witnesses "turn up" during it. The great multitude were not Christians before the tribulation, as far as I understand it. See: gotquestions.org/two-witnesses.html
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 7:44
  • Lesley, thank you for the link and I've just read it. So, if the 2 witnesses are the third option in the link (two Christian persons), that's what I mean in my comment before... : not all Christian persons (the Church) are raptured before the great tribulation. There are two Christian persons not raptured, experienced the great tribulation. During the GreatTrib, these two persons continue to teach about Jesus and perform miracle which causing non-Christian people believe and become a Christian, still alive after the GreatTrib era finish , then die ---> so these are the "Great Multitude".
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:13
  • 1
    Karma, as that article concludes all three views presented are valid and plausible interpretations that Christians can have. What you and I can not do is make assumptions or draw conclusions. When the Bible is silent on a subject it's because we don't need to know. God knows. We trust God because all His judgments are righteous and just. Where these two witnesses come from and whether they exist prior to the rapture of the Church is neither here nor there. I have no view on this. The Bible says many will come to faith during the tribulation period, praise God.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:28
  • 2
    Karma, the pre-trib rapture is a contentious issue and some denominations utterly reject it. Yes, you could modify this question and narrow it down to a Pre-Trib Rapture view, although I think it's fine as it stands, because you get more than one viewpoint. Or, you could ask a new question that is about the two witnesses who appear during the Great Tribulation and how that results in a great multitude coming to faith.
    – Lesley
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:49

Who are the “Great Multitude” in Revelation 7:9?

Revelation 7:9 (NASB)

A Multitude from the Tribulation

9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches.

In his vision Rev 7:9 John saw a great multitude of people from all nations, tribes and tongues, something similar was also prophecied by Zechariah 8:23 which reads :

Zechariah 8:23 (NASB)

23 "Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

What happens when the Son of Man comes in His Glory and Power? (Mt 24:30)

Jesus speaking privately to his disciples, said that there will be a time when the "Son of Man" will judge all the nations of the earth and separate the people into two groups, one he described as the sheep and the other as the goats. He also made mention of a third group a special group that He referred to them as His" Least of these brothers and sisters of mine"( Vs 40) or the King's brothers". Romans 8:16-17 And that Jesus will judge the peoples of the nations according to how they have treated his brothers that are still living on the earth. (Vs 35-36, 40-43)

Matthew 25:31-46 NASB

The Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All[b] the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He[c] will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When[e] did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth,[m] just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


The "Great Multitude" are the righteous people that Jesus referred to them as the "sheep".

Obviously the sheep are judged worthy of being on Jesus's right-hand sight, a position of favor and honor, these righteous people (Vs 37) have given support to Jesus brothers (Matthew 12:50 and John 20:17) and exercised faith to the extent of having received a righteous standing before God, will be given everlasting life on earth. Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:3 NET Bible)

God makes the following heartwarming promise,

Psalm 37: 10-11 NKJV :

For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,n But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

And at Psalm 37:29 Aramaic Bible in Plain English, we read,

And the righteous ones inherit the Earth and dwell upon it for eternity.

I am not sure what you mean by the following,

[These are the souls who have been saved and are in Heaven. Not "spirits" of dead people , but "souls" of dead people]

What makes you believe that the scripture indicates that souls go to heaven?

Can the human soul die?

Ezekiel 18:4 (NASB)

4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.

Matthew 10:28 (YLT)

28 `And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna.

Acts 3:23 (NASB)

23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people


The Christian scriptures give emphasis to the gathering of the heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17 ). These heirs are referred to in the NT scriptures by various names, " Least Brothers " of Jesus (VS 40 above), " Little flock" and "Faithful and sensible steward" (Luke 12:32, 12: 42 NASB). "Chosen ones" (Matthew 24:22 WEB and NHEB). "Israel of God" (spiritual Israel) Galatians 6:16 (NASB). and "Good seed" (Matthew 13:24 NASB)

  • Hi Ozzie, the [....] is not mine, but a comment to my sentence : "the great multitude who are come out of the great tribulation whom John saw are a spirits of a dead people". What I mean is something like the following illustration : I have a vision that my mother is in a very beautiful place, not earth, talking to a creature who looks like a man but has wings. So, that event in my vision timing is after my mother die. (My mother still live when I had the vision). So I have a future vision about my mother after she died. Anyway... (continue)
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 7:39
  • Your answer actually is my other option to answer my question. The Great Multitude are not Christians, but a non-Christian people who are in the state "pleased God" when they die. Christians are all raptured. So, the verse : they have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb is done by them unknowingly. Just like the verse say when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 7:46
  • karma: Not directly to him, but to his least brothers that are still on earth, verse 40 reads; And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:30
  • Ozzie, yes, that's why I put "unknowingly". They did it without a preceding mind "Jesus teach this" - without a preceding thought "they are the brothers/sisters of Jesus". In short, the Great Multitude are not a Christians.
    – karma
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 8:51
  • karma: verse 37 says that they are righteous, they must have a righteous standing before God. so they must be Christians. (But not all Christians are righteous). Jesus said there will a resurrection "28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." John 5:28-29. This prophecy includes all others which will be resurrected during the millinium. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 9:11

Who are the multitude before the throne?

The great multitude before the throne in Revelation 7:9-17 seems very different from the 144,000 (Rev 7:1-8):

  • The 144,000 are exactly numbered, from the tribe of Israel, and on earth.
  • In contrast, the multitude before the throne cannot be counted, are from all nations, and are before God's throne

A Hear/See Combination

However, some argue that the multitude before the throne is the same as the 144,000 because this is one of the hear/see-combinations in Revelation where John first hears about something and then sees something that seems completely different, but the two things are the same. For example, John first hears about a lion and then sees a lamb, but both symbolize Christ (Rev 5:5-6).

In the same way, John never sees the 144,000. He only hears their number (Rev 7:4). But when he looks, he sees a great multitude that no one can number (Rev 7:9).

I propose that what John first hears and then sees in these hear/see combinations are not exactly the same but different perspectives of the same thing. For example, the lion and the lamb symbolize two different roles which Christ has. On earth, He died like a lamb. But when He returns, He will be a lion and tread “the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (Rev 19:15).

In the same way, the 144,000 and the multitude before the throne are not exactly the same but are different perspectives of God's people:

Different Times

The 144,000 and the multitude before the throne describe God's people at different times:

The 144,000 symbolize God’s people who are sealed BEFORE the four winds (the end-time catastrophes) are released (Rev 7:1-3).

In contrast, the multitude before the throne is the answer to the question of the multitude hiding in the mountains (compare Rev 6:16-17 and Rev 7:9). That question implies that the multitude before the throne is described on "the great day of their wrath" - interpreted as Christ’s return; AFTER the four winds have already run their course.

Different People

The 144,000 and the multitude before the throne are also different people. The fifth seal describes a specific point in history that divides God’s people between:

  • Those who have already been “slain because of … the testimony which they had maintained” (Rev 6:9) and
  • Those who must still be “killed even as they had been” (Rev 6:11).

By implication, both groups in the fifth seal receive white robes (Rev 6:11). The multitude before the throne, since they are also dressed in white, includes BOTH groups.

But the 144,000 include ONLY the second group because, as another article has concluded, "the seal of the living God," with which the 144,000 are sealed, comes down out of heaven (Rev 7:2) at the specific time in history to which the fifth seal points.

At what time are they described?

There are indications that they are described before the return of Christ, such as the present tense of the phrase "come out of" but other indications seem to point to a time after His return, for example, that they stand before God's throne. I propose as follows:

After the description of Christ’s return at the end of Revelation 6, Revelation 7:1-8 jumps back in time to describe the sealing of the 144,000. The description of the great multitude before the throne (Rev 7:9) continues exactly where Revelation 6 left off. In other words, at the same time that the one multitude hides in the mountains (Rev 6:15-17), the other multitude stands before the throne, namely, at a point in time during the return of Christ.

As Jesus said:

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory ... All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" (Matt 25:31-32).

The full article is available here.


The "great multitude" is the presence in heaven of those who have just been sealed in the previous verses. That is why this verse comes immediately after the account of the sealing. It is cause and effect.

The explanation is that they have been "sealed with the Holy Spirit", as all Christians are; "in him you also, who have heard the word of truth, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (Ephesians ch 1 v13, RSV). And the effect of the sealing is that God has "raised us up with [Christ] and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians ch2 v6).

The raising up and sitting in the heavenly places has already happened to us, as we can see by the tenses in that verse. This is confirmed by Jesus when he says of the little ones who believe in him that "their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew ch18 v10). The point here is that "their angels" here does not mean "the angels assigned to them by God" (which would be an unnecessary piece of information), but "the angels or representatives sent BY them". In other words, there is something of the believer which is permanently present in heaven even now, while we live on earth.

That is what has happened to the great multitude. They have become believers, perhaps over a period of time, in vv1-8, and as a direct consequence, they are immediately, even while they are living on earth praising God in heaven, ready to go through the tribulation and come out again on the other side. Some of them are martyred, but none of them lose their faith. That is the real meaning of the statement that they will "come out of it" safely.

The only clear promise in the New Testament about "tribulation", in the sense of persecution, is that the followers of Jesus WILL experience it (e.g. John ch15 v20)

The apparent contradiction of "144,000" and "which no man can number" does not matter if the 144,000 is taken as symbolic. The key symbolic numbers in this passage are 12 (the number of God's people) and 10 (the number of completeness or the whole world). When these are squared and cubed, the effective meaning is "the fullness of God's people destined for the fullness of God's world", and this is the multitude too large to be counted.

  • You wrote "those who have just been sealed in the previous verses". I'm sorry, to me the previous verse say that it can be counted (144k) and they are from Israel nation, while this verse say that no one could count and they are from every nation. Please CMIIW. Oops... sorry, I just read your text "if the 144,000 is taken as symbolic", then from all the tribes of Israel also symbolic. Please CMIIW.
    – karma
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 4:06

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