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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-11

The Glory of God

The Church has been encouraged in the midst of her tribulation and temptation by the vision of the presence and support of Christ. Now (Revelation 4, 5) a further series of visions begins, in which are shown, under figures, the forces by which the life of the Church is affected, or, in other words, those who are for her and those who are against her. She is shown God and the Lamb, and she is shown the devil, the beast, the false prophet, and the apostate city. Then she is shown the victory of Christ, and the eternal defeat of the powers of evil.

In Revelation 4, for the comfort of the Church, the greatness and majesty of God the Father is shown in language adapted from Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1, 10. He is portrayed, on His heavenly throne, sitting ’above the water floods,’ surrounded by beings representative of the angelic creation and of the Church. These beings ceaselessly watch Him to do His will, and worship Him as Creator.

We are not to understand the imagery as literally descriptive of heaven, but as pictorial symbols of spiritual things: see on Revelation 5:5-7.

1. First voice] i.e. the voice of Revelation 1:10.

3. Jasper] i.e. according to some, the diamond; but according to Flinders Petrie (HDB. ’Stones, Precious’), the green jasper: cp. Revelation 21:11. The diamond would be emblematic of God’s purity, the green jasper of His mercy. Sardine stone] RV ’sardius,’ i.e. according to F. P., red jasper; emblematic of God’s judgments.

Rainbow] the sign of mercy: cp. Ezekiel 1:27.

Emerald] F. P. thinks the word translated ’emerald’ means rock crystal, which could show a rainbow of prismatic colours.

4. Seats] RV ’thrones.’ Elders] either representative of the Church of both dispensations (OT. and NT.); or, as some think, angelic beings: cp. Isaiah 24:23; Colossians 1:16.

5. Lightnings, etc.] signifying awe-inspiring majesty and power: cp. Exodus 19:16. Seven Spirits] see on Revelation 1:4.

6. There was a sea of glass] RV ’as it were a glassy sea,’ perhaps representing the waters that were above the firmament, Genesis 1:7. Over this the throne of God is looked upon as set: cp. Ezekiel 1:22. In the midst of, etc.] i.e. probably, supporting the throne. Beasts] RV ’living creatures’: cp. Ezekiel 1:5. in Ezekiel 10:1-20 identified with the ’cherubim.’ The ’cherubim’ seem to have been emblematic of the forces of nature, especially of the storm-cloud: cp. Genesis 3:24; (’sword’ perhaps = ’lightning’), Psalms 18:10. ’To the Heb. poet the cherubim are not only the attendants of Jehovah, but the bearers and upholders of His throne. The thunderclouds are the dark wings of these ministers of God: cp. 2 Kings 19:15; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1; Isaiah 37:16... In later Jewish theology the cherubim take their place among the highest angels of heaven’ (HDB.). Full of eyes] symbolising their unceasing watchfulness: cp. Ezekiel 10:12.

7. Beast] RV ’creature.’ The four creatures were anciently taken as emblems of the four evangelists.

8. Beasts] RV ’living creatures.’ Rest not] RV ’have no rest’; cp. ’watchers’ as title of angels, Daniel 4:13. Holy, etc.] see on Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 6:3.

9. Those beasts] RV ’the living creatures.’ Give] RV ’shall give,’ i.e. whenever they give.

11. Hast created] RV ’didst create.’ For thy pleasure] RV ’because of thy will.’ Are] RV ’were,’ i.e. existed ’in His idea from all eternity; and when the appointed moment came, they ere created’ (Milligan).

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Revelation 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/revelation-4.html. 1909.
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