CONTEXT: Matthew Henry has an exhaustive breakdown of this Chapter: The book of the divine counsels being thus lodged in the hand of Christ, he loses no time, but immediately enters upon the work of opening the seals and publishing the contents, but this is done in such a manner as still leaves the predictions very abstruse and difficult to be understood. Hitherto the waters of the sanctuary have been as those in Ezekiel’s vision, only to the ankles, or to the knees, or to the loins at least; but here they begin to be a river that cannot be passed over. The visions which John saw, the epistles to the churches, the songs of praise, in the two foregoing chapters, had some things dark and hard to be understood; and yet they were rather milk for babes than meat for strong men, but now we are to launch into the deep, and our business is not so much to fathom it as to let down our net to take a draught. We shall only hint at what seems most obvious. The prophecies of this book are divided into seven seals opened, seven trumpets sounding, and seven vials poured out. It is supposed that the opening of the seven seals discloses those providences that concerned the church in the first three centuries, from the ascension of our Lord and Saviour to the reign of Constantine; this was represented in a book rolled up, and sealed in several places, so that, when one seal was opened, you might read so far of it, and so on, till the whole was unfolded. Yet we are not here told what was written in the book, but what John saw in figures enigmatical and hieroglyphic; and it is not for us to pretend to know “the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own power.” In this chapter six of the seven seals are opened, and the visions attending them are related; the first seal in v. 1, 2, the second seal in v. 3, 4, the third seal in v. 5, 6, the fourth seal in v. 7, 8, the fifth seal in v. 9-11, the sixth seal in v. 12, 13, etc.
In the opening pictorial, we have but a part of the pretty gruesome description of the martyrdom of David Haekston of Rathillet (found on pg 467 of Biographia Scoticana (Scots Worthies) by John Howie). What it serves as is not only a reminder of historical persecution against Christianity but as the boldness of men to defend the faith.
Apologetics in the simplest terms is the defense of the Christian faith. All true believers are called to be Apologists 1 Peter 3:15-16. While not everyone will be called upon to be martyrs for their faith, studying and giving proper answers for it even under scrutiny and danger are requirements.
The other thing to remember is that victory is assured as our main text implies. Here again, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says: 6:9-11 The sight the apostle beheld at the opening of the fifth seal was very affecting. He saw the souls of the martyrs under the altar; at the foot of the altar in heaven, at the feet of Christ. Persecutors can only kill the body; after that, there is no more they can do; the soul lives. God has provided a good place in the better world, for those who are faithful unto death. It is not their own death, but the sacrifice of Christ, that gives them entrance into heaven. The cause in which they suffered, was for the word of God; the best any man can lay down his life for; faith in God’s word, and the unshaken confession of that faith. They commit their cause to Him to whom vengeance belongs. The Lord is the comforter of his afflicted servants, and precious is their blood in his sight. As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted, martyred servants of Christ. When this is fulfilled, God will send tribulation to those who trouble them, and unbroken happiness and rest to those that are troubled.