Lectionary Calendar
Monday, April 22nd, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 4

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-11


PAUL speaks of the third heaven. The firmament enveloping this earth is the first heaven, the astronomical universe is the second heaven, and the home of glorified saints and angels, in the presence of God, is the third heaven. The Apostle John stands on the lonely isle. After a night of prayer, he lifts up his eyes, looks through a door opened in the firmament, and contemplates the wonders of the Apocalyptic visions. Now the panorama begins to evolve. He beholds the glorified Savior sitting on His throne in the firmament, encircled by a rainbow, the symbol of the Messianic covenant, whose wonderful fulfillment is so vividly adumbrated in these panoramic prophecies. Here we find many dark segments in the rainbow of God’s providence. In this vision, we see the unbroken circle.

So be patient. In the glorious beyond, every segment which in this life has been darkened with sorrow, bereavement, and affliction, will become luminous with splendor, never to grow dim.

The twenty-four elders, representing the twelve tribes of the Old and the twelve apostles of the New Dispensation, and aggregately the Church of all ages, as the recipients and custodians of the redemptive scheme, symbolized by the rainbow, sit upon thrones in the glorified presence, clothed in white robes, symbolic of entire sanctification, with crowns upon their heads, representative of the glorious victory achieved by the saints in the cleansing blood. The lightning’s voices and thunders symbolize and proclaim the castigatory judgments of the Almighty against a fallen Church and a wicked world.

The seven lamps are the perfect fiery baptism of God’s people, the seven Spirits the Holy Ghost, and the sea of glass the imperturbable peace which reigns in the hearts of the wholly sanctified.

6. The “ four beasts ” should read four living creatures. I hope you will never read it “beasts” any more, as beast symbolizes carnality in the Bible, and these living creatures represent the glorified saints. The Greek word translated “beast” in this passage is zoo-on, from zaoo (to live), and simply means a living creature. The word translated beast in chapter 13 is theer, and always means a ferocious wild beast, like a lion or a bear, and is the constant symbol of human government, which always rules by brute force, while God rules in righteousness and love. These four living creatures typify sanctified humanity. One has the face of a lion, the other that of an ox; the third has the face of a flying eagle, and the fourth the countenance of a man. Thus the wonderful graces of full salvation, received in the experience of entire sanctification, make you courageous as a lion, suffering martyrdom in your tracks. You also have the perseverance of the old ox pulling at a gum stump all day; while you have the velocity of the flying eagle, hastening to the ends of the earth with the swiftness of the locomotive. Last year I traveled twenty-two thousand miles through Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, preaching and witnessing to this wonderful salvation. The human face emblematizes intelligence, as man is the most intelligent being on the earth. A good case of sanctification will give you more sense than anything else not the learning nor the shrewdness of the world, but the wisdom that comes down from God, and will make you wise unto salvation. These living creatures have six wings. With two they cover their faces; symbolic of humility, the fundamental Christian grace. With two they cover their feet; symbolic of purity, the climax of all the Christian graces. And with two they fly. Thus we have joyfully symbolized the perfection of Christian character. Humility is the indispensable foundation, and purity the glorious superstructure. Then we must go on eagle’s wings to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the wonders of full salvation, and rescuing the perishing.

8. Here we learn that the constant shout of the four living creatures before the throne of God is “ Holy, holy, holy.” Since these living creatures emblematize restored humanity, it follows, as a logical sequence, that the saints of the Most High are forever to ring out the shout, “Holy, holy, holy.” Therefore, we would better get the experience, begin speedily, and become experts before we go hence.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 4". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/revelation-4.html.
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