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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-12

Throne Section-The Scroll

At the seventh trumpet they fall and worship, the tenor of their words showing that they are not included among His slaves the prophets or the saints ( Rev_11:16 ). They hear the song of the 144,000 ( Rev_14:3 ) and join the hallelujahs at the destruction of Babylon ( Rev_19:4 ). David patterned the twenty-four courses of the priesthood after them ( 1Ch_24:3 ; 1Ch_24:5 ; Heb_8:5 ; Heb_9:23 ). They lead heaven's worship and combine the offices of prophet, priest and king, for they sit on thrones, present the worship of others, and speak for God. Their "crowns", however, are not regal, but wreaths of victory.

6 The throne attendants of the Divine Majesty vary according to the character and title which He assumes. Jehovah is attended by the Living Ones, or Cherubim. These are intensely animate and are incorporated into the very throne itself. All creation is represented in this august session. The heads of the heavenly hosts sit on thrones. The messengers attend. All of these are heavenly spirit beings. The realm of earth is represented by the heads of the animal kingdom, including man. These are the divisions of creation (Gen. 1) except fish and creeping things. With these only God established His covenant after the flood ( Gen_9:9-10 ). They are living souls , rather than spirits. They conform to the scene about them. When we first see the cherubim, guarding the way to the tree of life (for this tree was a source of the life they represented) no wings are mentioned ( Gen_3:24 ). When they form part of the mercy seat, they seem to have had two wings ( Exo_25:20 ). When Ezekiel sees them they have four wings ( Eze_1:6 ). Here they have six wings each. Ezekiel tells us they looked like living coals of fire. Here they are full of eyes. Ezekiel calls them by the same name they are given here when he says: "It is the animal which I saw under the God of Israel at the stream Chebar: and I know that they are cherubim" ( Eze_10:20 ). According to these passages they do not seem to be confined to a set physical manifestation, but conform to their spiritual activity and environment. Isaiah calls them

Seraphim or Burning Ones in connection with the title Adonai.

11 The elders worship the Creator rather than a Redeemer.

Throne Section-The Lambkin

1 The scroll is not a "book". It was applied to a legal document ( Mat_19:7 ; Mar_10:4 ). This is its probable meaning here, for it is endorsed on the back and sealed like a mortgage "acccording to the law and custom" which obtained in Israel in ancient times ( Jer_32:8-14 ). What the breaking of the seals involves is clear from the new song of the animals and elders ( Rev_5:9 ) when the Lambkin gets the scroll. The sovereignty of the earth, which is Israel's, has passed from them. It is held by alien powers which must be dispossessed. It is Jehovah's purpose that Israel shall reign over the whole earth. The redemption of their lost heritage is the subject of this section. Nothing could more aptly portray the process of this redemption than the gradual breaking of the seals of the scroll. When all are broken the incumbrance is removed-the sovereignty of the earth becomes our Lord's and His Messiah's for the eons of the eons ( Rev_11:15 ).

6 Lambkin , the diminutive form, is used to distinguish it from the usual word lamb ( Joh_1:29 ; Joh_1:36 ; Act_8:32 ; 1Pe_1:19 ). It is used only once elsewhere ( Joh_21:15 ), in contrast to a full grown sheep. This tender and delicate form adds much to the loving pathos of this prophecy. The utter weakness of a very young Lamb is in striking antithesis to His character as the Lion and to the mighty acts which He performs as a result of His suffering and death. It is in beautiful accord with the new name of His wife, who is now called the bride. Youth is renewed in resurrection.

8 The ancient "harp" was shaped like the lyre and was used in prophecy ( 1Sa_10:5 ; 1Ch_25:1 ) and thanks and praise ( 1Ch_25:3 ; Psa_92:1-3 ; Psa_149:3 ), which are seen in this new song which they sing.

8 The prayers of the saints may be summed up in one word: "Thy kingdom come!" ( Mat_6:10 ). How fit that these should find remembrance when He is about to fulfill their request!

9 The elders and animals are bought , not redeemed. They celebrate Israel's deliverance. The failure to note this distinction and the consequent attempt to reconcile the two parts of this song, has led to much confusion in the manuscripts.

Verses 13-14

Throne Section-The Seals

13 It has been suggested that the Syriac version preserves the true reading here. After "blessing" it goes right on and gives every creature to the Lambkin, rather than getting praise from them, thus (combined with Vaticanus 'b'):

And honor and glory and blessing

And every creature which is in heaven

And on the earth and underneath the earth

And on the sea and all [those] in them!"

And I hear all [messengers] saying,

"To Him Who is sitting on the throne-

To the Lambkin-Be blessing and honor and glory and might

For the eons of the eons!"

1 The seals fall into two groups. The first are "the beginning of travail" ( Mat_24:8 ). Then follows "the time of Jacob's trouble" such as has not been from the beginning of creation and never shall be again ( Mat_24:21 ; Mar_13:19 ).

1 The first four seals correspond with the opening words of our Lord's address on the Mount of Olives (Mt.24-25; Mark.13; Luk_21:5-36 ) .

2 Compare Mat_24:5 . The false messiah comes forth on a white horse after the manner of the real Messiah.

2 The horse is prepared against the "day of battle" ( Pro_21:31 cf. Job_39:19-25 ). Its absence denotes peace ( Zec_9:10 ; Zec_10:3 ). They were not in common use in the land of Israel. The king was forbidden to multiply horses ( Deu_17:16 ). They were used chiefly as cavalry and for drawing chariots.

2 The bow is a symbol of distant warfare. It is probable that these four seals describe the time when the great western nondescript monster ( Dan_7:7 ) tramples upon and devours the three eastern beasts ( cf . Rev_13:1 ). This will provoke wars all over the earth.

3 Compare Mat_24:7 . Whole nations will rise against other nations. Universal conscription of manpower and all industries will make war a much more terrible experience than in the past.

5 Compare Mat_24:7 , "There shall be famines:" The Greek word zugon was used of two different Hebrew words: ol , a yoke, and maznim,

balances, scales ( Lev_19:36 ; Job_3:16 ; Dan_5:27 ; Chaldee). It may mean either a yoke or a pair of balances, according to the context. Here it seems to stand for the weighing of food in time of famine. Thus Ezekiel was given ten ounces of food and a pint or water each day ( Eze_4:9-12 ).

6 A chenix is supposed to be the daily ration for one person. A denarius was the daily wage of a laborer ( Mat_20:2-13 ). Hence a day's labor will barely suffice to buy enough food to exist.

8 The fourth horse is the ghastly greenish tinge of young or sickly vegetation.

8 The Unseen is, literally, the Unperceived , or Imperceptible. It corresponds with the Hebrew sheol ( shaul ), from shal , to ask. The unseen powers of evil which come before us in this scroll, the dragon and its messengers ( Rev_12:3-4 ), are called "the gates of the unseen" ( Mat_16:18 ) because the rulers of an eastern city sat in its gate.

8 To kill...with death ( thanatos ). This Greek word stands for two Hebrew words, one of. which is dbr , plague. In the LXX famine and plague are joined nine times ( 1Ki_8:37 ; 2Ch_20:9 ; Jer_21:7 ; Jer_21:9 ; Jer_24:10 ; Jer_44:13 ; Eze_6:11 ; Eze_7:15 ; Eze_7:15 ), in all of which they translate "plague" by "death". We also speak of the "black death".

9 The soul is the seat of sensation. As the spirit is associated with the breath and the body with the soil, so the soul (not the life) is in the blood ( Gen_9:4-5 ; Lev_17:11 ; Lev_17:14 ; Lev_17:14 ). Christ poured out His soul unto death. It represents the suffering and anguish which He endured. The blood of the sin offering was poured out at the foundation of the altar ( Lev_4:7 ). In Solomon's temple there was a vast pit under the altar to receive the blood of the sacrifices. Able’s blood cried from the ground, where it had been poured. So these martyrs are accounted by God as sacrifices on the altar. Their sensations of suffering called for vengeance on those who had sacrificed them because of their testimony. This event marks the middle of Daniel's seventieth heptad.

Compare Mat_24:9 . These martyrs are mentioned often ( Rev_2:10 ; Rev_12:10-11 ; Rev_20:4 ).

10 We bless those who persecute us ( Rom_12:14 ). In the days of the seals the "acceptable year" will have given place to "the day of vengeance" ( Isa_61:2 ; Luk_4:18-19 ). The parable of the importunate widow ( Luk_18:1-8 ) is applicable at this time. "For He wIll avenge the blood of His servants, And will return vengeance to His foes" ( Deu_32:43 ).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 5". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/revelation-5.html. 1968.
 
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