Date of Award
Master of Arts
Religion, MA: New Testament
Problem. John’s list of twelve tribes of Israel in Rev 7, representing those who are sealed in the last days, has been the source of much debate through the years. This present study was to determine if there is any theological significance to the composition of the names in John’s list. Of particular interest to this study is the meaning of the inclusion of Levi and Manasseh and the exclusion of Dan and Ephraim. -- Methodology. Intertextual comparisons between John’s list and the many Old Testament lists of Israelite tribes were used to identify any theological significance to the composition of the list in Revelation. In addition, two Old Testament stories (the Passover in Exod 12 and the sealing in Ezek 9), which provide the historical background for John’s sealing passage in Rev 7, were compared for the purpose of ascertaining the meaning of the sealing and the composition and nature of the twelve tribes as presented by John. -- Conclusions. Of the nearly twenty Old Testament listings of the twelve tribes, there are not even two lists that are the same. There are various names excluded from these lists without any explicit significance attached to their exclusion. However, John places his list of the twelve tribes and their sealing in the context of the coming of Christ and the outpouring of His wrath, apparently supporting his theological intent of answering chapter 6’s question, “Who shall be able to stand?” John’s list of the twelve tribes presents an end-time remnant of the church, spiritual Israel, who overcome by the Lamb’s blood, and who are thus sealed in preparation to go through the final crisis of the mark of the beast. The exclusion of Dan and Ephraim, which are in the Old Testament associated with the idolatrous apostasy of the northern tribes of Israel, seems to indicate that God’s last-day servants will be cleansed from all idolatry and compromise to stand as a pure army for earth’s final battle.
Twelve tribes of Israel.
Troxell, Michael W., "The Order and Significance of the Sealed Tribes of Revelation 7:4-8" (2011). Master's Theses. 56.