This sea of glass is under the throne of God and is analogous to the river of life. Ezekiel saw it above the heads of the cherubim, under the throne of God above (Eze. Eze. 1:22). It is clear as crystal (Ex. Ex. 24:9-10; Rev. Rev. 4:6+; Rev. 22:1+). The transparency of the glass is similar to that of the streets of pure gold in the New Jerusalem (Rev. Rev. 21:21+). The clarity of the glass speaks of purity and perhaps washing (as in water). These have come through a time of intense tribulation and now stand upon the sea, reminiscent of the salvation of Israel from the Pharaoh of Egypt (Ex. Ex. 15:1).
Long before even that deliverance, there had occurred an event greater judgment and redemption by the waters of the sea, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, . . . wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water (1 Peter 1Pe. 3:20). The same waters which had destroyed all the ungodly world also saved the believing remnant from destruction by that world. it is interesting also that the waters of baptism, symbolizing death to sinfulness and resurrection unto holiness, are compared both to the waters of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 1Cor. 10:1, 1Cor. 10:2) and to the waters of the Great Flood (1 Peter 1Pe. 3:20, 1Pe. 3:21). Thus will the sea at the heavenly throne perpetually call to remembrance the waters of the Flood, the waters of the Red Sea, and the waters of baptism, all speaking both of Gods judgment on the wickedness of rebellious men and His great salvation for those who trust Him and obey His Word. This last company of persecuted believers had experienced these also.1See commentary on Revelation 4:6 and Revelation 21:1. mingled with fire
Mingled is μεμιγμένην [memigmenēn] , indicating a mingling together of two or more substances blended into one.2 Used to describe the hail and fire . . . mingled with blood . . . thrown to the earth (Rev. Rev. 8:7+). The sea is clear like glass, but also sparkles or radiates brilliant light. Fire is πυρὶ [pyri] . A similar word elsewhere denotes fiery red, πυρρός [pyrros] (Rev. Rev. 6:3+; Rev. 12:3+). If red, it could reflect the purging and redemptive power of Christs blood. Or, like the purity of the glass, the fire may speak of purity. Having come through the flames of adversity, those standing upon the sea of glass have been refined (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:7; 1Pe. 4:12). A more ominous possibility is that the fire denotes the redness, not of Christs blood, but of the martyrs themselves, shed as part of their testimony:
When the believers of the Church period are removed at the beginning of the tribulation period their laver is seen as a sea of crystal [Rev. Rev. 4:6+]. Some of them may have suffered martyrdom, but the maintenance of their fellowship was by the Word alone. In the tribulation period, the Lord has seen fit to demand, for His honor and glory, that they maintain their fellowship at the price of their sufferings. Their laver is crystal, mingled with fire. In the time immediately preceding the overthrow of the Antichrist and his power, there will be a sore trial of faith. . . . In sea mingled with fire the Lord recognizes these sufferings and commemorates the faithfulness of this martyr group in this beautiful way.3
Here the sea is mingled with fire, evidently referring to the fiery persecution under the Beasta trial exceeding far in its combination of suffering anything hitherto experienced (Mark Mark 13:19). The pagan persecutions of early times, and the still more exquisite and refined torments under papal Rome, come short of the horrors of the Great Tribulation.4There may also be an allusion to the Red Sea:
Allusion is made to the Israelites standing on the shore at the Red Sea, after having passed victoriously through it, and after the Lord had destroyed the Egyptian foe (type of Antichrist) in it. Moses and the Israelites song of triumph (Ex. Ex. 15:1) has its antitype in the saints song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 15:3+).5Perhaps mingled with fire does not speak of red, but of Gods judgmentthe baptism with fire (Mtt. Mat. 4:11-12), about to be poured out upon the earth.6 those who have victory
τοὺς νικῶντας [tous nikōntas] , the overcoming ones. These are the overcomers! The text does not say that they are martyrs, but this is almost certain. They appear in heaven prior to the end of the Tribulation (before the final seven bowls come forth from the Temple) and their victory involves refusing to worship the Beast which subjected them to the death penalty. Physical death with eternal salvation or physical life with eternal damnationthat had been their bitter choice, and multitudes had opted for the brief continuation of their wretched lives on the earth, enduring all the judgements of God rather than the executioners appointed by the beast.7 Like the church at Smyrna, these had been tested and remained true to the exhortation of The Overcomer (1Jn. 1Jn. 4:4; Rev. Rev. 3:21+; Rev. 17:14+). You will have tribulation . . . Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. Rev. 2:10+). They obtained their victory by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death (Rev. Rev. 12:11+). victory over the Beast Ἐκ τοῦ θηρίου [Ek tou thēriou] : The expression is peculiar. Literally, conquered out of. The construction is unique in the New Testament. The phrase signifies, not as the King James Version, victory over, but coming triumphant out of. 8 Although the Beast thought himself to be overcoming the saints and was granted authority to kill them (Rev. Rev. 6:2+; Rev. 11:7+; Rev. 13:7+), they ultimately achieved the victory because their physical death proved to be their escape into Gods presence where they would forever enjoy Him. After the Beast and his minions outlive these upon the earth, their ultimate destiny is the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 19:20+; Rev. 20:15+) so these have victory over him. They did not bow to his will, but did the will of the Father (John John 4:34). These may be among those who came out of the great tribulation which John saw in Revelation Rev. 7:13-17+. See commentary on Revelation 12:11. See Who is the Overcomer?. over the beast
They refused to worship the first beast which rises from the sea, the Antichrist (Rev. Rev. 13:3-4+). See commentary on Revelation 13:4. See The Beast, #16 - Beast. over his image
They also refused to worship the image of the Beast which the False Prophet caused the earth dwellers to make (Rev. Rev. 13:14-15+). Because of their refusal to worship the image, the image had ordered their execution. See #19 - Image of Beast. See commentary on Revelation 13:14. over his mark
The NU and MT texts omit this phrase. These overcomers refused to take the mark of the Beast (Rev. Rev. 13:16-17+). Not only were they at risk of losing their lives, but they were also completely cut off from the worlds system of commerce. See commentary on Revelation 13:16. over the number of his name
The mark relates to the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Rev. Rev. 13:17+). By refusing his mark, they also refused the number of his name. See commentary on Revelation 13:17. These heard and responded to the warning given by the third angel in the previous chapter. They had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark (Rev. Rev. 14:9-11+). standing
Ἐστῶτας [Estōtas] , perfect tense participle, they took their place prior to John seeing them. Although they had been slain, even beheaded (Rev. Rev. 20:4+), they themselves were not overcome for now they stand erect in worship. having harps of God
These harps were evidently given them by God. Like the twenty-four elders, they use their harps in worship of God (Rev. Rev. 4:8-9+). Since this scene occurs prior to the end of the Tribulation, it probably precedes Johns vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 standing on Mount Zion (see commentary on Revelation 14:1). If so, these could be among those who play their harps in heaven which John heard the sound of harpists playing their harps (Rev. Rev. 14:2+). Although these sing a different song, they are no doubt similar to the heavenly worshipers in that scene.9
5 A. R. Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 15:2.
6 The crystal sea, speaking of a past watery judgment and deliverance, is also mingled with fire, speaking of the impending fiery judgment and deliverance.Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 15:3.
7 Ibid., Rev. 15:2.
9 They are the harpers which we saw harping and singing in Rev. Rev. 14:2-3+. They are the martyred company worshipping in glory.Arno C. Gaebelein, The Revelation (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1961), Rev. 15:2.