I. THE COMPOSITION OF THE OVERCOMERS
The composition of the overcomers is the categories, the different kinds, of overcomers.
A. The Overcomers Crying to the Lord for His Avenging at the Fifth Seal, Comprising All the Martyrs from Abel to Those before the Fifth Seal
Revelation 6:9-11 reveals the overcomers crying to the Lord for His avenging at the fifth seal. This group of overcomers comprises all the martyrs from Abel to those before the fifth seal. Today we are in the first four seals. The fifth seal has not come yet, but it may come soon. In the Old Testament times, there were a number of martyrs who sacrificed themselves to die for the Lord’s interest (Heb. 11:35-38). They were overcomers in the Old Testament. Then in the New Testament, from the time of the early apostles to our time there have been many more martyrs. Throughout the approximately nineteen centuries of church history, many faithful saints have been martyred. Some were not martyred physically but psychologically. They were martyred in their soul, their psyche, their emotion, mind, and will. Every day we, the lovers of Jesus, are undergoing a kind of martyrdom. By the time the fifth seal comes, there will be many overcomers crying to the Lord for His avenging. Their cry to the Lord will usher in the sixth seal, which will be the very beginning of the great tribulation.
B. The Man-child Born of the Universal Woman
The second category of overcomers will be the man-child born of the universal woman (Rev. 12:1-5). The universal woman is the totality of God’s people. Out of God’s people, the man-child will be born. The man-child comprises the martyrs who cry at the fifth seal and the additional martyrs before the great tribulation. There is a short time from the fifth seal to the beginning of the great tribulation. But even within such a short time, there will be a number of martyrs. These martyrs will be included in the man-child. Thus, the man-child is a bigger group than those who cry to the Lord at the fifth seal. The man-child will be resurrected and raptured to the throne of God before the three and a half years of the great tribulation (vv. 4b-6).
C. The One Hundred Forty-four Thousand Living Overcomers
Revelation 14:1-5 speaks of the one hundred forty-four thousand living overcomers raptured before the great tribulation to Mount Zion in the heavens before God’s throne as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Rev. 14:1-5). The man-child will be the dead, martyred overcomers who will be resurrected and raptured to the throne before the great tribulation. The firstfruits to God and to the Lamb will be the living overcomers, who no doubt live a suffering life under the crucifixion of Christ, by the death of Christ. Before the great tribulation, they also will be raptured. They will not need to be resurrected, because they will have never died. All the resurrected martyred overcomers and the living overcomers will be raptured to the third heaven before the great tribulation to enjoy the Lord as the morning star (Rev. 2:28). At His second appearing Christ will be the morning star to His overcomers who watch for His coming. To all the others He will appear only as the sun (Mal. 4:2).
D. The Martyrs in the Great Tribulation
Revelation 15 speaks of the martyrs in the great tribulation under the persecution of Antichrist resurrected and raptured to stand on the glassy sea close to the end of the great tribulation (vv. 2-4; 13:7a). The glassy sea mingled with fire is a sign of the lake of fire, so these martyrs stand above the lake of fire. These are the late overcomers who will pass through the great tribulation and overcome Antichrist and the worshipping of Antichrist. They will be martyred under the persecution of Antichrist and then resurrected to reign with Christ in the millennium (20:4).
When the man-child and the firstfruits are raptured to the third heaven, many believers will be left on this earth because they have not matured. This indicates that they lived a life with very little growth in Christ, so they will be left on earth to pass through the great tribulation. That will be their trial, their test, and that will help them to give up the world. Suppose a brother loves the Lord, yet he still loves the world. When the great tribulation comes and the overcomers are raptured, will such a brother still love the world? He may cry out, “Lord Jesus, why did You leave me here? Brother So-and-so who was serving with me for years has been raptured, but I am still here.” Surely this brother will repent to the Lord, turning to the Lord in a desperate way. He will not want to be left on earth until the last day of the great tribulation. This will issue in his maturity.
The resurrection and rapture of the majority of the saints will be very close to the end of the great tribulation. Even some of them will receive a reward because they will get matured through the great tribulation. After this rapture, the Lord will set up His judgment seat in the air to judge all the believers (2 Cor. 5:10). The believers either will be rewarded with the kingdom for one thousand years or will enter into outer darkness to suffer some discipline (Matt. 25:21, 23, 30).
(The Overcomers, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)