See commentary on Revelation 7:1.
on their foreheads
Foreheads is μετώπων [metōpōn] , which is used to describe the location of the mark of a branded slave.1 The seal identifies them as belonging to God (Rev. Rev. 14:1+) and may be similar to the promise given to the overcomer in Philadelphia that Jesus would write on him My new name (Rev. Rev. 3:12+, Rev. Rev. 14:1+2 ). The picture of sealing for protection by marking the servants on their foreheads recalls a vision shown Ezekiel in which most in Jerusalem were practicing idolatry which God was about to judge. Prior to His judgment going forth, an angel was told to Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it (Eze. Eze. 9:4). In the judgment which followed, those without the mark (seal) of God were killed (Eze. Eze. 9:5-6).
As blood was put upon the door of the houses of Israel in Egypt so that the angel of death would pass over these houses and strike only those which were not marked, so the seal of God is put upon the forehead of His own so that the angels of judgment, passing through the world, will know those who are Gods.3As Master Imitator, Satan, through the beast, will mark those who are his, who are thereafter unredeemable (Rev. Rev. 14:9-10+). Rev. 7:3+), so also we read that Satan, by his angels, will set a mark in the foreheads of his devotees (Rev. Rev. 13:16+).4 During the time of the Tribulation, it appears there will be three categories of people:
- Those who are sealed and protected by God for special ministry (Rev. Rev. 7:4-8+; Rev. 14:1+).
- Those who accept the mark of the beast (Rev. Rev. 13:16-18+) and are doomed (Rev. Rev. 14:9-10+). They are not written in the Book of Life.
- Those who refuse the mark of the beast, many of whom are martyred (Rev. Rev. 20:4+).
1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 515.