Why did an elder in Revelation 7 ask John (the author of Revelation) a question he couldn't answer (Revelation 7:13-14)?

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!

Clarify Share Report Asked January 01 2022 My picture Jack Gutknecht

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
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.

January 02 2022 1 response Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
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

January 02 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining