Rev. 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “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.
Revelation 7:9 - 17
ESV - 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 And crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
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To me, this is an example of a rhetorical question -- a literary device or figure of speech that can be (and still is) used to introduce a subject that the speaker wants to address, while at the same time giving credit for possible knowledge of the answer (as well as the opportunity to display that knowledge) to the audience being addressed, so as not to appear to be "talking down" to them.
In Rev 7:13, 14, the elder does not ask John the question in order to seek the answer. The elder asks the question in order to teach and draw attention to something that may have escaped John's attention. Thus, the purpose of the the elder's question appears to be: A method of instruction as per both the Rabbinic methods and the Socratic method. -Dottard Here’s another example of a rhetorical question: "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" From the rhetorical device used by the elder in Revelation 7 it would ensure that no one misunderstands the identity of those clothed in white: the faithful who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb. This vision that John begins to see in Rev. 7:9 answers the question posed by the Apostle John in Revelation 6:17: that only the faithful will stand before God and the Lamb (Rev. 7:9) and be rewarded (Rev. 7:15-17). QSB
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