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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 4

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

THINGS TO BE HEREAFTER Revelation 4:1 through 22:21

Note: see also Introduction Revelation

1) "After this I looked," (meta tauta eidon) "After these things I saw, (perceived);" after things he had seen and just related regarding himself, Jesus Christ, the church, the seven churches of Asia, and the church age then existing and progressing, that is to continue, until about the midst of the 70th week of Daniel’s time of prophecy, Daniel 9:26-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 11:1-4.

2) "And, behold, a door was opened in heaven," (kai idou thura eneogmene en to ouranes) "And behold a door (entrance) had been opened in heaven;” Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 5:14 are parenthetical heavenly disclosures, the first of seven visions of what was thereafter to occur, in future time, regarding 1) the church, 2) the Jew, and 3) the Gentile, three parties with whom all Revelation is involved, 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 3:21.

3) "And the first voice which I heard," (kai he phone he prote hen ekousa) "And the First voice (in order) that I heard;” the first of many voices that thereafter spoke to him during the Patmos visions and Revelations, Revelation 1:9-10; Acts 7:56.

4) "Was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; and which said,” (hos salpingos lalouses met’ emou legon) "Was as a trumpet saying (speaking) with me," progressively, as follows, announcing glory and triumph for the church, resurrection and redemption for all believers of all nations, and judgments to come upon Israel and the world.

5) "Come up hither," (anaba hode) "Come up here," to the central throne of heaven, for a vision and further instructions regarding things thereafter to occur relating to the church, Israel, and the Gentile World, 1 Corinthians 10:32.

6) "And I will shew thee things which must be," (kai deikso soi ha dei genesthei) "And I will show to you things it behooves to occur;” after the church age, especially during the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:12.

7) "Hereafter," (meta tauta) "After these things," after the church age things, as discussed in Revelation 1:1 to Revelation 3:22.

Verse 2

1) "And immediately I was in the spirit," (eutheos egenomen en pneumati) "Immediately I became (was, existed) in (the) spirit;” In control of, in the power., or direction of the Spirit, inspired to receive and record what was being revealed to him, John 16:13-14; 2 Peter 1:21.

2) "And behold, a throne was set in heaven," (kai idou thronos ekeito en to ourano) "And behold a throne was set (located) in heaven," Psalms 11:4; Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 1:28.

3) "And one sat on the throne," (kai epi ton thronon kathemenos) "And upon the throne one was sitting," God the Father, at whose right hand Christ is seated, was upon this central throne in heaven; 1 Kings 22:19; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3; Acts 2:34.

Verse 3

1) "And he that sat," (kai ho kathemenos) "And the one sitting, - or he that sat (upon the throne); The Lord God himself sits in ward and watches over his people, but never directly interfering with their affairs, awaiting the judgment, 1 Kings 22:19.

2) "Was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone," (homoios horasei litho iaspidi kai sardio) "Was in appearance similar to a jasper or sardine stone," Ezekiel 1:26-27; Revelation 21:11. The light and glory, reflected from the throne of God, are here compared with the brilliance of precious stones.

3) "And there was a rainbow round about the throne," (kai iris kuklothen tou thronou) "And (there was also) a rainbow around (encircling) the throne," Genesis 9:13-17; Ezekiel 1:28. The (Gk. iris) rainbow or halo round about the throne was green or like an emerald, the symbol of God’s covenant. This signified that God had not forgotten His rainbow covenant He sits and reigns to carry out His purpose and covenants.

4) "In sight like unto an emerald," (homoios horasei smaragdino) "in appearance like (resembling) an emerald," as it appears Revelation 21:19, a precious stone, that symbolizes precious vows or covenants.

AUDIENCE CHAMBER OF THE GREAT KING.

Everything as yet speaks of royalty, and of royal majesty, power, and judgment. The jasper stone, as we learn from a later passage of this book, in which it is said to be "clear as crystal," was of a bright, sparkling whiteness; and it filly represents the holiness of Him of whom the seraphim in Isaiah cry one to another, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts," and who in this very chapter is celebrated by the unresting cherubim with the words, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord, God the Almighty, which was and which is and which is to come." The Sardis, again, was of a fiery red color, and can denote nothing but the terror of the Almighty’s wrath. Out of the throne itself - proceed lightning’s and voices and thunders, always throughout the Apocalypse emblems of judgment.

-Wm. Milligan

Verse 4

TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS ABOUT THE THRONE (Who They Represent) ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH v. 4, 5

1) "And round about the throne," (kai kuklothen tou thronou) "And round (encircling the area of) the throne," the central sacred council throne in heaven, on which God, the Father is seated, 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1-3.

2) "Were four and twenty seats," (thronous eikosi tessaras) "(There were) twenty-four thrones," thrones facing, subject to the central throne.

3) "And upon the seats," (kai epi tous thronous) "And upon the (twenty-four) thrones," positions of honor and rulership that honored or had done service of honor to the God upon the central throne.

4) "I saw four and twenty elders sitting," (elikosi tessaras presbuterous kathemenous) "(There were) twenty-four elders sitting;” Twelve elders represent the patriarch elders of the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve represent the church - Israel and the New Testament Church are represented as sitting as kings in sacred council to rule, to witness further, as God’s two Institutional witnesses of the Old and New Testament eras, Luke 22:28-30; 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 5:8-10; Revelation 11:1-4; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:13.

5) "Clothed in white raiment," (peribeblemenous en himatiois leukois) "Having been (who had been) clothed, dressed up, in white garments," symbolizing righteous rulers in Divinely appointed positions or service, Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 3:4-5; Revelation 19:8; Revelation 19:14.

6) "And they had on their heads crowns of gold," (kai epi tas kephalas auton stephanous chrusous) "and they had upon their heads crowns of gold," indicating award positions of honor of royal rulers, 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 2:10.

Verse 5

1) "And out of the throne," (kai ek tou thronou) "And out of (from the source of)the throne," the central throne area where God the Father sits, Hebrews 1:3; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 1:20; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1.

2) "Proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices," (ekporeuontai astrapai kai phonai kai brontai) There came forth lightnings, voices, and thunders;” Symbols of Divine power and authority, first prominently appearing in the scriptures when God spoke his ten commandments from heaven to Israel, establishing moral principles and ethical practices for Israel, Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:1-26.

3) "And there were seven lamps of fire burning," (kai hepta lampades puros kaiomenai) "And there are seven lamps of fire burning continually," The number seven indicates perfection, completeness, or unity of lamp (light-influence) of (fire-purity, purifying), power or influence encircling the throne, subject to it.

4) "Before the throne," (enopion tou thronou) "Before the (central) throne;” before God the Father, Colossians 3:1.

5) "Which are the seven Spirits of God," (ha eisin ta hepta pneumata tou theou) "Which are (exist as) the seven Spirits of God." The Divine presence, service, and influence of all Angelic spirits that had ministered, were ministering, and were to minister to God, the twenty and four elders, Israel and the church, all appeared before the throne of God to do his bidding, Hebrews 1:14; Psalms 34:7.

Verse 6

FOUR LIVING CREATURES (Who They Represent)v. 6-8

1) "And before the throne," (kai enopion tou thronou) "And before (in view of) the throne," central throne on which God the Father sat in heaven, Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 3:1.

2) "There was a sea of glass like unto crystal," (hos thalassa hualine krustailo) "There was a sea of glass similar in appearance of crystal;” typified by the brazen “sea" before Solomon’s Temple, 1 Kings 7:23; 2 Chronicles 4:2; John was looking upon, the front entrance to the heavenly temple, Revelation 11:19; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 15:5.

3) "And in the midst of the throne," (kai en meso tou thronou) "And in (the) midst of the (central) throne area;” These four living creatures were moving about and in the midst of the redeemed encircling the Throne of God, worshipping and praising Him; See also Revelation 7:11.

4) "And round about the throne," (kai kuklo tou thronou) "And or even encircling (round about) the throne," in the midst of the four and twenty elders were four living creatures, representing the redeemed from among the Gentiles who were never in or identified with Israel or the church in worship and service to God, 1 Corinthians 10:32.

5) "Were four beast," (tessera zoa) "(There were) four living creatures (beasts in appearance);" as Israel and the church are represented by twenty-four elders upon (24) thrones it appears that the four living creatures represent the redeemed from among the Gentiles of the four one-world Empires, Ezekiel 1:5; Daniel 7:1-28, offering praise to God and Jesus Christ, Daniel 7:8-9; Daniel 5:8-10; Daniel 7:11-17. They await the return of Christ to the earth on the Mount of Olives.

6) "Full of eyes before and behind," (gemonta ophthalmon emprosthen kai opisthen) "Full (filling) of eyes (both) before and behind, seeing, beholding, in every direction activity around the central throne which was surrounded by the twenty-four (24) thrones on which (24) elders sat.

Verse 7

1 ) "And the first beast," (kai to zoon to proton) "And the first living creature (beast like one)," the first in order of the four living creatures, before the throne of God in heaven.

2) "Was like a lion," (homoron leonti) "Was (in appearance) like a lion;- symbolizing strength and courage; as Ezekiel and Daniel beheld four living creatures symbolizing four World Gentile Powers so it appears that these similar four living creatures before the throne appear to represent the redeemed from among the Gentiles – Ezekiel 1:1-28; Daniel 2:37-43; Daniel 7:3-7.

3) "And the second beast like a calf," (kai to deuteron zoon homoion mascho) "And the second (in order) living creature (was) in appearance, similar to a calf," or an ox steer symbolizing patience and work, of respectful merit, Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9-10; 1 Timothy 5:18.

4) "And the third beast had a face as a man," (kai to triton zoon echon to prosopon hos anthropou) "And the third living creature (in appearance as a beast) was having or holding the face-likeness as of a man," a face of intelligence, Ephesians 5:17.

5) "And the fourth beast was like a flying eagle," (kaito tetarton zoon homoion aeto petomeno) "And the fourth living creature (in appearance as a beast) was similar to a flying eagle," It soared high, had velocity in flight and could see afar, Proverbs 30:19; Ezekiel 17:3. The flying eagle was also a Bible symbol of deliverance of God’s people from bondage (Israel) in Egypt especially, Exodus 19:4; Psalms 103:5.

Verse 8

1) "And the four beasts," (kai ta tessera zoa) "And the four living creatures," encircling the throne, Revelation 4:4, who worshipped God and praised the Lamb for redemption, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 5:8-12.

2) "Had each of them," (hen kath’ hen auton echon ana) "One by one, or each, was having, holding, or possessing;" in appearance of make-up the following. Some believe these to be the cherubims of Isaiah 6:2-3; However cherubims are not redeemed by the blood, Revelation 5:8-10.

3) "Six wings about him," (heks kuklothen) "Six wings encircling it," to move about in praise and worship, similar to those of Ezekiel 1:6; Ezekiel 1:11; Ezekiel 1:18; Isaiah 6:2; Isaiah 6:13.

4) "And they were full of eyes within," (kai esothen gemousin ophthalmon) "And they (the wings) are full of eyes within (within the wings)," in the area of the wings upon their bodies, adequately to behold heaven’s scenes to behold the glory of God, John 17:24.

5) "And they rest not day and night," (kai anapausin ouk echousin hemeras kai mektos) "And they have not rest, (respite) or recess, day and night," are continually, intelligently, and devoutly alert in praise of God, 1 Corinthians 2:9.

6) "Saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," (legontes hagios hagios kurios ho theos ho panto krator) "Saying repeatedly, continuously, holy, holy, holy (is) the Lord, the trinitarian God, the Almighty one, Isaiah 6:3.

7) "Which was, and is, and is to come," (ho en kai, ho on kai ho erchomenos) "The one who was, and the one who is, (exists) and the one who is coming (again)" of his own will, choice or accord, Jesus the Eternal one, John 14:3; Acts 1:10-11; Hebrews 10:36-37.

Verse 9

OCCASION OF WORSHIP OF ELDERS AND LIVING CREATURES

(Because of Creation) v. 9-11

1) "And when those beasts give glory," (kai hoton dosousin ta zoa doksan) "And whenever those living creatures shall give out glory;” The future tense here indicates (points toward) things that shall always take place, go on forever and ever, in ages (to come), Matthew 6:13; Ephesians 3:21.

2) "And honor and thanks," (kai timen kai eucharistan) "And honor and thanks;” Honor veneration and expressions of gratitude were, are, and shall be given to God upon the throne for the gift of his Son in redemptive work. The four living creatures, representing the Gentile redeemed of the ages in the midst of heaven’s lower thrones, gave out exultations of thanks to God upon His central heavenly throne and majesty, John 3:16; 1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 7:9-15.

3) "To him that sat on the throne," (to kathemeno epi to throno) "To or toward the one sitting upon the central throne;” To the majesty of God, who in royal majestic power and dignity sat upon a conquering throne, surrounded by good angels, Israel, The Church, and the Gentiles redeemed to all nations, who had never served him thru the covenant of Israel or the church, 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16.

4) "Who liveth for ever and ever," (to zonti eis tous aionas ton aionon) "To the one continually living into the ages of the ages," in contrast with the "dead gods", the idol worshippers had served, Psalms 115:1-8; Revelation 1:18; He lives is alive forevermore, even brought forth his Son from death, forevermore, Romans 8:11; 1 Timothy 1:17.

Verse 10

1) "The four and twenty elders fall down," (pesoun tai hoi eikosi tessares presbuteroi) "The twenty-four elders will (shall) fall down;- note John was receiving a vision of "things that shall come hereafter, after the church age, that should or would happen around the central throne of God," during at least the last 42 months of the 70th week of Daniel’s trouble. This era is the time also of the judgment seat of Christ, Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11; Revelation 11:1-4; Revelation 12:7-12; Revelation 12:14.

2) "Before him that sat on the throne," (enopion tou kathemenou epi tou thronou) "Before the one sitting upon the (central) throne;” as the four living creatures had given adulation of praise, honor, and glory to the majestic creator, the life-giving and life-sustaining and redemptive providing God upon the throne, so did the (24) elders, Colossians 3:1; Acts 7:24; Acts 7:28-31.

3) "And worship him that liveth forever and ever," (kai proskunesousin to zonti eis tous aionas ton aionon) "And they will worship the living one into (unto) the ages of the ages;” the undying, eternal, ever-living God.

4) "And cast their crowns before the throne saying," (kai balousin tous stepanous auton enopion tou thronou legontes) "And they will cast their crowns (of Gold) before the throne saying," giving out praises, as they disclaimed any honor or praise or dignity of their own, originating from themselves while casting their twenty-four (24) positional "throne crowns," at His feet, 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Verse 11

1) "Thou art worthy, 0 Lord," (aksios ei ho kurios kai ho theos hemon) "Worthy art thou, 0 Lord, our God," the God of good angels, Israel, The Church, and even the redeemed from among the Gentiles, represented by the four living creatures in their midst, round about the throne, 1 Corinthians 10:32.

2) "To receive glory and honor and power," (labein ten doksan kai ten timen kai ten dunamin) "To receive the glory and honor and the dynamic power," Judges 1:25, ascribes such interminable honor, glory, majesty, power, and admiration to the only wise God and our Savior without cessation or end of continuity.

3) "For thou hast created all things," (hoti su ektisas ta panta) "Because thou (didst) create all things;” All things had their creation, origin of being or existence in and have been sustained by this majestic, worthy, eminent God, Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Acts 17:24; Acts 17:28; 2 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17.

4) "And for thy pleasure they are and were created," (kai dia to thelema sou esan kai ektisthesan) "And on account of thy will they existed and they were created," Proverbs 16:4; 1 Timothy 6:14-16; for his pleasure -and it pleased Him, to redeem all men, even me, hallelujah, John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Psalms 19:1. While praise of this chapter has creation as its central theme, chapter five, next, concerns praise for redemption of all things.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Revelation 4". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/revelation-4.html. 1985.
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