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One of the elders

said to me,

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“These who have white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?”

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Based on what had just happened and in response to it, one of those who had been given authority to help rule said to me, “These who are characterized by purity and victory, who are they, and what have they come through?”



The Greek word used here means that he “answered or replied.” It refers to something spoken that is based on what came before it. It would be easy for us to neglect what has just happened as the angel asks John a question which seems to take the conversation in a new direction. But this Greek verb does not let us do that, it indicates that there is a direct connection between what was just said in praise of God and of the Lamb, and who they are that are uttering these praises. The text will go on to show they have earned the right to say this, and they know the truth of their statements.

2: Why this question?

The question is not about the physical location from which they have come but about what they have come through to get where they are. We could say, “What have they suffered to get here?” The elder did not ask John in hopes of learning something new; he asked John for John to recognize his total lack of knowledge on this matter and to elevate his desire to know the answer. Asking this question was a form of emphasis, a way of highlighting the forthcoming answer.