Revelation 5 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
5:1 And I saw {Introduces a new vision, consisting of only 1 verse.}
The brevity suggests a single focus on something of unusual importance.
in {lit., upon} the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book
The location of this book speaks of -
-- the book's divine origin & complete authority.
-- God's power to translate its words into action.
written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
within and on the back - denotes fullness, ie., of the wrath of God (cp. 15:7).
seven seals - denote the fixity, fullness and security of the contents. [JBS]
What is this sealed book? It contains all of the following elements:
  1. The Judgments to be executed during the Great Tribulation.
    Dan 12:1-9; cp. Zech 5:1-3
  2. The completion of Prophecy in general -
    1. God's Word hidden from blinded Israel, now about to be revealed.
      Isa 29:10-12,18,19
    2. God's long standing promises, now about to be established.
    3. God's prophetic program for Israel, now about to be brought to conclusion.
      Dan 9:24, where 'to seal up' means 'to make an end'.
  3. The title deed to the earth, the transfer of dominion to Christ.
    Dan 7:13,14 and Rev 5:7 clearly depict the same event.
    Under the dominion of Christ, all of the above points will be secured.
5:2 And I saw {a new vision, or focus begins}
a strong angel
This probably refers to Gabriel (whose name means 'strength of God') who told Daniel to seal the book (cp. Dan 8:16; Dan 12:4).
proclaiming with a loud voice,
strong...proclaim...loud... - These three words emphasize the urgency of his inquiry:
Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
5:3 And no man {or, no one}
in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth,
was able to open the book, neither to look thereon
{ie., therein}.
5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy
to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon
{ie., therein}.
no man was found...- implies that search was made, but none was found. Isa 63:5
No one was found either 'able' (v.3), or 'worthy' (v.4; Psa 15; Psa 24:3-5).
John's disappointment was deep and profound. Despite the elders' rejoicing in the power of the Creator to accomplish His purposes (4:10,11), creation must continue in its despair (Rom 8:22,23). There would be no one to bring in everlasting righteousness... (Dan 9:24).
5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me,
The elders, as residents of heaven, are fully aware of the order & meaning of the events now unfolding. John was viewing these things through a fleshly veil (1Cor 13:12).
Weep not:
or, 'stop weeping': there is occasion for joy.
behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David,
hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Jesus came through Judah's line (the royal tribe). Mat 1:2-16
See Jacob's blessing upon Judah: lion... sceptre... Shiloh {'the One to whom it belongs'}. Gen 49:8-12
As to His manhood, the Messiah would spring from Jesse (as did King David). Isa 11:1
But He is more than just a man.
As God, He is the root from which Judah, Jesse, and David came. Isa 11:10; Rev 22:16
5:6 And I beheld, and, lo,
A new vision begins with an admonition for the reader: 'I beheld, and {you} behold...'
There is also a note of surprise:
John turns expecting to see a Lion, able to take the scroll. But he sees a Lamb, worthy...
in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts,
and in the midst of the elders,
Note that Christ is ever in the midst of the Church. Mat 18:20; Rev 1:13; 2:1
He is no longer 'seated' at the Father's right hand (3:21),
Thus, He is no longer in the place of intercession (cp. Heb 7:25 - 8:2).
He rises to judge the world. The time to crush His enemies has come. Heb 1:13
a Lamb as it had been slain,
He bears the marks of death, even in His eternal glory.
Those marks in no way diminish, but rather add to His glory.
Isa 53:7; Luk 24:40; Joh 20:20,27-28; Zech 12:10; 13:6
having seven horns and seven eyes,
horns - symbolic of strength & authority. Seven speaks of completeness.
He is omnipotent. cp. Mat 28:18
eyes - symbolic of intelligence & knowledge. Seven speaks of completeness.
He is omniscient. Heb 4:13
He knows the hearts and needs of His people. He will see His purposes to completion, in their behalf. 2Chr 16:9; Zech 3:8,9; 4:10
which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Some see the 7 Spirits as representative of the Holy Spirit (here, and in previous occurrences).
But note that the word "spirits" is also used of angels. Heb 1:14
This is the last mention of "the seven spirits." (See Rev 1:4; 3:1; 4:5)
In ch. 8, "the seven angels" take the stage. Rev 8:2
Grammatically, the definite article must refer to some previous mention.
Therefore, it is apparent that 'the 7 spirits' are 'the 7 angels' of ch. 8 and following.
As we begin to see these 7 angels pour plagues upon the earth, remember that they act in harmony with Christ's complete authority and perfect knowledge, to accomplish that which He sends them to do.
5:7 And he came and took the book
took- ie., received as a gift. It is His right to receive this book. He does not take it by force.
The same word {translated 'receive'} is used in 2Pet 1:17 and Rev 2:27.
The same thought is found in Joh 5:22,23.
out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
The seven sealed book is received from God the Father (as foreseen in Dan 7:13,14).
The book of Revelation, which foretells this event, was also received by Christ from the Father (Rev 1:1).
5:8 And when he had taken the book,
the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb,
Note the magnitude & solemnity of this transfer:
having every one of them harps,
'every one' is masculine, referring to the elders (the living creatures are in the neuter gender).
and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The elders serve as priests.
odours / prayers- cp. Psa 141:1,2
5:9 And they sung a new song,
they- ie., the elders (see v.8 note).
lit., they 'sing' (continual present tense).
a new {kind of} song- inspired by & befitting the new things which God is doing.
The 'old song' was of creation (cp. 4:11, Job 38:4-7)
The new song is of redemption, with Personal, National (Israel), and Messianic overtones.
cp. Psa 40:1-3; Psa 98:1-4,9; Isa 42:1,6-10,13-16
saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof:
It is not the might of the Lion of Judah,
but the worth of the Lamb which effects the opening of the book.
What is the basis of His worthiness?
for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood
cp. 'thou hast created' ( 4:11) versus 'thou hast redeemed' (Isa 53:11-12; 1Pet 1:18,19).
Some churches have removed all reference to Christ's blood from their hymn books.
Blood is offensive to polite company. But in heaven, His blood is a central theme of praise. Perhaps that is one reason that the Lord will not be taking those folk there: to spare them the embarrassment. [McGee]
"us" refers to the elders (representing the Church)-
-- not angels- good angels need no redemption, bad angels are beyond redeeming (Jude 1:6);
-- not Israel- which is but one nation. The church is of many nations (Mat 28:19).
out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
'out of' every... nation- The Church is composed of the "called out" ones.
(The word 'church' {GK= ekklesia} means 'called out.')
It consists of both Jews and Gentiles who have turned from their sinful rebellion, religious ritual and self-righteousness, to place their full confidence in Christ, who alone, by His blood and righteousness, accomplished our salvation from sin and its consequences (Rom 1:16; 3:23-26; 10:9-13). At the present time, those 'called out' believers are relatively few (a remnant) in comparison to the population of their home nations (whether Jew or Gentile).
This scene accords with the pre-tribulational rapture of the church, because...
  1. this praise is offered in heaven by the Church, before the opening of the seals (in ch.6).
  2. the Church is not mentioned again until 19:7,8.
5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests:
and we shall reign on the earth.
{ie., because He has made us so, we shall reign}
kings & priests: These terms refer to church saints (1:5,6).
Note, some versions change 'us & we' to 'them & they' in v.9,10.
This change was due to a corruption of an Alexandrian MSS to which all MSS with this reading can be traced. Some, who hold to the 'they-them' reading, suggest that the elders are speaking of the Tribulation saints. The church, they say, will not reign 'on' but 'over' the earth. However, this distinction does not exist because the same GK word {GK= epi} is rendered 'on', 'over', or 'upon' depending on the context. Even where 'over' is the proper translation, it often does not imply elevation above the earth, but jurisdiction over it (eg., Luk 19:17-19). 'They-them' is also grammatically inconsistent since the context does not show to whom these pronouns would refer. [JBS]
5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about
the throne and the beasts and the elders:
(ie., The angels encompassed the throne, the living creatures, and the elders.)
and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand,
and thousands of thousands;
ten thousand {GK= murias} - lit., myriads of myriads.
cp. Heb 12:22-24, an 'innumerable company' {ie., myriad} of angels.
5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive
{GK= dunamis}, and riches {GK= ploutos- abundance},
and wisdom
{GK= sophia}, and strength {GK= ischus- ability, might},
and honour
{GK= time- value, preciousness, eg. 1Pet 2:7},
and glory
{GK= doxa}, and blessing {GK= eulogia- praise}.
Compare the acclaim of the angels with the song of the elders (v.9) -
  • The elders sing... the angels speak... the worth of the Lamb.
    (Scripture never says that angels sing.)
  • The elders sing to Him... the angels speak about Him.
    (The wisdom & glory of God are made known to the angels by the church.)
    1Pet 1:12; Eph 3:10
'to receive'- This word is translated 'take' ('took') in v.7.
Possible translations include: 'to take to oneself,' 'to claim as one's own.'
We can add nothing to Him. Our praise only reflects that which He is.
The praises, in v.12, are seven (indicating His completeness). They are cumulative & climactic.
He is of immeasurable worth, as attested by innumerable angels and by the church of the redeemed.
His worth is acclaimed, but beyond description.
The seven terms, which catalog the fullness & completeness of His worth, are yet compounding one upon another.
5:13 And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth,
and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,
heard I saying, Blessing
{GK= eulogia}, and honour {GK= time},
and glory
{GK= doxa}, and power {GK= kratos, dominion},
[be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
every creature -
  • the creation itself shall be delivered. Rom 8:19-21
  • all created beings will submit to Christ's authority. Col 1:20; Heb 2:5-8
  • even His enemies ('under the earth') will bow before Him. Php 2:9-11
But how does that fit with the heavenly scene, of ch.4-5?
Chronologically, ch.4-5 begins with the Rapture of the Church prior to the Tribulation. While the citizens of heaven worship and rejoice, it is evident that, during the Tribulation, many earthbound creatures (including men and demons) have not yet humbled themselves before God. This verse looks forward, beyond the time when Christ returns from heaven to judge the earth, to the end where He has brought everything into submission. 1Cor 15:24,25
     A characteristic of prophetic writing is that it ever looks ahead. Note the future look at the end of each of the letters to the seven churches [eg., tree of life... second death... new Jerusalem... my throne...]
Blessing, honor, glory, and power (GK= kratos, ie., dominion) -
  • Four things are here ascribed to Him.
    In scripture, the number four often pertains to the earth (eg., four seasons, four winds, four quarters of the earth, eg., Gen 8:22; Rev 7:1; 20:8).
    Compare v.12, where seven things are ascribed; 'seven' being the number of heaven.
  • Note that items in v.12, but omitted in v.13, are things of peculiar significance to the Church.
    • power- Different words are translated 'power' in these two verses.
      In v.12 the GK word is 'dunamis,' which is used elsewhere of the Lord's dynamic working to accomplish His purposes in the believer's life. eg., Rom 1:16; 15:13; Eph 3:20
      In v.13, the GK word 'kratos' {'dominion'} refers to Christ's right to reign over all (as in Rev 1:6).
    • wisdom- To believers, Christ is the wisdom & power of God. 1Cor 1:24
    • strength- It is He who strengthens us by His 'might' (Eph 6:10),
      and provides 'ability' to serve Him (1Pet 4:11).
    • riches- God makes known the riches of His grace in Christ, to, in, and through believers.
      Eph 2:7; Col 1:27
5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen.
The Living Creatures who guard the holiness of God are satisfied.
Amen- "So be it. It is as it should be."
(Again, this is 'forward looking' toward the end.)
And the four [and] twenty elders fell down
and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
worshipped- Gk= prokuneo- lit., 'to kiss towards.' cp. Psa 2:12
Near the beginning of this vision, heaven was overflowing with worship of the ever-living One (Rev 4:9-11). As the heavenly vision closes, His worship continues as long as He shall live.

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