And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
The context of this verse is a chapter that first describes 144,000 from the tribes of Israel who were sealed before the Day of the Lord began (Revelation 7:1-8). Then John saw a multitude that no one could number, clothed in white robes. They were from all nations and peoples.
An angelic elder asked John, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” (verse 13).
John deferred to the heavenly elder, who told him these people had come out of the Great Tribulation. Perhaps they had heard God’s message before the Great Tribulation but had not responded until this horrible time of trouble engulfed them. Or perhaps many of them first heard the good news of the Kingdom of God during this time of woe.
They all came to repentance and acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—the Lamb—whose blood cleanses us from sins. White robes signify that these followers of Christ have been forgiven and are seeking to live righteously as He lived.
For more about the God’s offer of forgiveness, see our section on “Forgiveness.”