These are the white robes promised to the overcomers, for their nakedness is clothed (Rev. Rev. 12:11+ cf. Rev. Rev. 3:5+, Rev. 3:18+). This is the righteousness of God which is obtained, not by works, but by faith (Rom. Rom. 3:5, Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 10:3; 2Cor. 2Cor. 5:21; Php. Php. 3:9; Jas. Jas. 1:20). See commentary on Revelation 3:5.
a little while longer
Some see the announcement of the angel that there should be delay no longer as the terminus of this period (Rev. Rev. 10:6+). But the context of the angels proclamation here concerns the completion of the mystery of God . . . as He declared to His servants the prophets (Rev. Rev. 10:7+). Perhaps the two time periods coincide in that martyrdom continues until the time of the final victory (Rev. Rev. 19:1+).
until . . . fellow servants and their brethren . . . would be killed
Their fellow servants and their brethren denotes a single category. Figure of speech Hendiadys of Nouns. Fellow servants and brethren denote by this figure not two separate classes of persons, but one class, their fellow servants who were their brethren.1
Here again a most difficult reality presents itself. God Who has the power to step in and end this holocaust at any moment instead chooses to allow it to play out in all its gruesome detail. Although we will never fully apprehend His divine patience, we know that it is explained, in part, by His great mercy toward those who have not yet turned, the glorious testimony being accrued by the martyred saints, and the filling up of the cup of injustice of the perpetrators. If He were to move immediately in vengeance at the time of their request, then some would be eternally lost that are yet to become their brethren.
This section of Scripture is the first intimation that the reign of Antichrist is to witness the greatest revival that the world has ever seen. More millions will be saved under the preaching of Gods witnesses in these seven years than in many times that period in this present age.2Their request has much in common with the prayers of the saints in the bowls in Revelation Rev. 5:8+ and is recorded by the Psalmist, O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs - O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud. Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph? (Ps. Ps. 94:1-3).
The golden age to be ushered in by the preaching of the gospel as all the world turns to Christ is an unscriptural myth. A golden age will come, but not by worldwide response to the gospel:
Surely this ought to be sufficient to convince all Christians today that the gospel is not intended to cover the world, or to bring in universal peace and blessing. This dispensation of grace (rejected) is to be followed by a dispensation of judgment. Not until after that shall Jerusalem be the centre of Gods presence and government.3
The Gospel, as now preached, is not, and in the present order of things never will be, triumphant. This is demonstrated in the seven Epistles, and is the common teaching of the Scriptures on the subject. A leading feature in its entire history is, that it is mostly rejected. It is universally preached as a witness to all nations, but nations, as such, with all their patronage, have never received it, and have ever been the slayers of its witnesses.4killed as they were
They are probably being slain initially at the hand of the harlot who is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus (Rev. Rev. 17:6+).5 She rides the beast who probably does the actual execution at her behest. Once she is destroyed (Rev. Rev. 17:16-17+), then the beast himself will carry out their martyrdom. Many will be beheaded (Rev. Rev. 20:4+).
4 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 126.
5 As to who is persecuting these believers, this will be answered by Revelation Rev. 17:1+: namely, Ecclesiastical Babylon.Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 220.