13 And [kai] I heard [akouo] a voice [phone] from [ek] heaven [ouranos] saying [lego] unto me, [moi] Write, [grapho] Blessed [makarios] are the
dead [nekros] which [ho] die [apothnesko] in [en] the Lord [kurios] from
henceforth: [aparti] Yea, [nai] saith [lego] the Spirit, [pneuma] that [hina] they may rest [anapauo] from [ek] their [autos] labours; [kopos] and [de] their [autos] works [ergon] do follow [akoloutheo][meta] them. [autos] KJV-Interlinear
13 And I
heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die
in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that
they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." NASB
John is commanded to write. And this time, he is writing the blessing that will belong to a specific group of people, namely those who will be martyred in the latter half of the Tribulation.
With the pouring out of the gospel from all of the sources that have already been mentioned, there will remain a huge population of people who will still reject Christ.
Along with all of the pressures and harassments that believers will be forced to endure, from unbelievers, remember that the policies, the government policies of economic ostracism, namely the prohibition of buying and selling, will cause great hardship among believers.
An unbelieving world will starve them without remorse. That alone would cause many people to bow to the beast, if only to get something to eat. Imagine if a family had children and they are all crying due to hunger. The mental and emotional pressure would, or rather will, be staggering.
Therefore, comes this phenomenal promise from God to help those who are suffering, through their suffering.
There will be many who will die. This promise is not for delivery from death, but delivery in death. These folks are going to die and they know it.
The phrase, 'from now on,' defines this specific group of people distinguishing them from all other peoples in history. The specific group will be those believers who will live, and die, in the latter half of the Tribulation.
Remember that our context is in the seventh trumpet and prior to the bowl judgments. As violence escalates against believers, so too, judgments will escalate against unbelievers.
The word for blessed, 'makarios,' means supremely blessed, fortunate, well off.
Even though those folks (believers) are going to suffer unimaginable hardships, they are going to be far better off (heaven and eternal life) than their counterparts, the unbelievers who are causing them their suffering, and will be destined for the Lake of Fire.
John is told to write a quote from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not saying this at the moment, but has already said it - past tense. Jesus Christ is the voice commanding John to write and Christ is telling John what to write.
The Holy Spirit is the agent of spiritual growth. The Spirit is the one who makes the scriptures real and lucid in the soul of the believer. The Spirit is the one who maintains control over the soul of the believer when in fellowship. The Spirit is the one who facilitates the spiritual life.
It is under the control of the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit that the spiritual life functions. We call this simply being in fellowship, or being under the control of the Spirit.
Furthermore, it is from within this sphere (fellowship) that the spiritual life flourishes, where spiritual production occurs, often called gold, silver, and precious stones.
It is on the basis of spiritual production that eternal rewards are determined, 1 Cor. 3:12-14.
God is fair. If a person lives a long life and does not have a spiritual life, then his reward is lost. Heaven is never lost, but the additional blessings that are available, will be lost. If a person lives a short life, then God is able to see their life in its entirety and knows what they would have done if they had lived longer, and can apply the principle of reward where appropriate.
In the Tribulation, the believers living then will have little or no time to develop their spiritual lives, but they will be exposed to unbearable hardships, even death, and for that reason, God has promised them phenomenal rewards and credit for their faith, even though short lived.
Rest from their labor, means relief from the pressures and sufferings they will endure.
Their works will follow them, means that they will receive not only full credit, but enhanced credit for their faith and endurance through the greatest pressures that this world will throw at them.
This may well be the most memorized verse for believers in the Tribulation.