Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

1) "And I saw in the right hand," (kai eidon epi ten dekisan) "And I saw on the right hand;” John saw in the right, (hand of strength), power of control -

2) "Of him that sat on the throne," (tou kathemenou epi tou thronou) "Of the one sitting upon the (central) throne;” God the Father, the royal majesty upon the throne in and of heaven, sitting, presiding, as his judgments were poured out on the earth, and as preparation was being made in heaven before the throne for Jesus to receive from his Father the title deed to the earth.

3) "A book written within and on the backside," (Biblion gegrammenon esothen kai opisthen) "A scroll that had been inscribed within and on the reverse side," on the inside and outside. The book had an interior seal (within) and an exterior seal, a seal without; vows, covenants, legal agreements, and kingly, royal documents, with messages of grave importance were identified with such seals, Ezekiel 2:9-10; Daniel 12:4.

4) "Sealed with seven seals," (katesphragismenon sphagisin hepta) "Which had been sealed with seven seals"; When the book was sealed without, it contained seven seals within, which contained progressively revealed judgments of God that were to come upon the earth in the time of the tribulation the great, after the revelation of the man of sin, the casting of Satan out of heaven, during the latter forty-two months (42) of the time of Jacob’s trouble- Daniel 9:27; a summary of six of these judgments is first given in Revelation 6:1-17 (as a first disclosure to John), a limited view of what type of judgments should come. Revelation 7:1-17 is parenthetical as John turns to describe Satan’s final fall and Israel’s hiding place (42 mo.) during the tribulation the great – Revelation 8:1-13 returns to the seventh seal under which earth’s holocaust judgments fall.

Sometimes the scrolls were written on both sides, and the manner in which this was done is so well explained by a modern traveler, who saw two ancient rolls of this description in Syria, that we shall give the account in his own words:” "In the monastery," says Mr. Hartley," I observed two very beautiful rolls, containing the liturgy of St. Chrysostom and that attributed by the Greeks to St. James. You begin to read by unrolling, and you continue to read and unroll, till at last you arrive at the stick to which the roll fastened; then you turn the parchment round, and continue to read on the other side, rolling it gradually up till you complete the liturgy." It was thus written within and without: and it may serve to convey an intelligible and correct idea of the books described both by Ezekiel and John.

Verse 2

1) "And I saw a strong angel," (kai eidon angellon ischuron) "And saw a strong angel," an angel of strength, perhaps Michael, God’s defensive archangel who stands up to defend his people, as he guarded the body of Moses, and fought or will fight with the Devil and His angels to cast them out of heaven forever one day, and shall stand up for Israel, Judges 1:9; Revelation 12:7-12; Daniel 12:1; Psalms 34:7.

2) "Proclaiming with a loud voice," (kerussonta en phone megale) "Crying, proclaiming, or heralding in (with) a great (megaphone) voice," or Gabriel, as some suppose, God’s archangel who presides over a realm of angelic servants to give "understanding", information, or enlightenment to God’s people, Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26; Hebrews 1:14.

3) "Who is worthy to open the book," (tis aksios anoiksai to Biblion) "Who is worthy to open the scroll;” The megaphone who-is- (exists as) worthy? To open the Book, the Book in the right hand of the majesty sitting upon the central throne, Revelation 5:1; None is worthy to enter heaven, approach the majestic throne, the holiness of God by natural birth, Psalms 15:1; Romans 3:10-12.

4) "And to loose the seals thereof?" (kai lusai tas sphagidas autou) "And to loosen (release) the seals of it?" Who? by nature had a legal or Divine right to touch the Divine property? to break the seal and look into the book? All heaven was challenged - "Is anyone here worthy" -Abraham - can’t answer, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, can’t reply - The four living creatures and the four and twenty elders before the throne were challenged, but none could claim "I am worthy" - to open the book.

Verse 3

1) "And no man was able," (kai oudeis eclunato) "And no one (not even one) was able," none had the power, ability, or right to lay hand on this Title Deed of Redemption scroll or Book of the Earth. For it is "not within man to direct his steps;” and even angels, Michael and Gabriel and all their hosts kept silent.

2) "In heaven," (en to ourano) "in the heaven," where the throne place was set. All heaven was searched by the megaphone voice and neither man nor angel was found worthy to open the book.

3) "Nor in earth," (oude epi tes ges) "Nor upon the earth;" Isaiah 63:5 is a fore-prophecy of this eventful time; none was morally or ethically or spiritually able or worthy to look upon, examine or open the scroll, John 1:27.

4) "Neither under the earth," (oude hupokato tes ges) "Nor down underneath the earth;" in the realm of demons or departed spirits.

5) "To open the book," (anoiksai to Biblion) "To open the scroll," to break the seal, which was of divine ownership, belonging only to him who by his death purchased the redemption and restitution of all things.

6) "Neither to look thereon," (oute blepein auto) "Nor even to look at it;” nor even to look steadfastly at it, to examine its contents, 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Verse 4

1) "And I wept much," (kai eklaion polu) "And I wept much;" John appears to have recognized the symbolic significance of so great a legal document in the hand of the majestic ruler of the Universe, so that he sobbed or wept sorely when none came forward to take and open the seven-seal book, Psalms 30:5; Isaiah 30:19.

2) "Because no man was found worthy," (hoti oudeis aksios heurethe) "Because no one (not even one) was found (discovered) to be worthy;" the "not one" indicates that neither any man nor any unfallen angel was located or existed who was worthy to lay hand on or open the inner and outer sealed book, Isaiah 63:5. But there is a worthy name, James 2:7; Revelation 3:4.

3) "To open and to read the book, neither to look thereon," (anoiksai to Biblion oute blepein auto) "To open the scroll or to look at (examine) it;” The book was a book with a valuable lesson, a disclosure of the future plan and procedure of judgment upon (and restitution of) the earth and all things therein, Acts 3:21; which even the angels are said to desire "to look into"; but to open the seven seal book and it’s redemptive message, or even to look upon it; even angels were not found worthy, even Gabriel and Michael, great as they were, nor was Enoch, who walked with God, or Elijah who was translated into heaven found worthy to open or even examine the book, Romans 8:19-23.

In Revelation 4:1-11 the four living creatures and twenty four elders rejoice over God’s majestic creation and their future relation to it, but Revelation 5:1-14 opens in doleful dismay with neither man nor angel found worthy to take, touch, or look upon the seven seal book.

Verse 5

1) "And one of the elders saith unto me," (kai eis ekton presbuteron legei moi) "And one of the (twenty-four) elders says to me;” He is a wise, knowledgeable elder who knows the answer to "who is worthy to take and break the seal of the book, in the hand of His Father, who sits on the central throne?" Revelation 5:4; Revelation 5:2.

2) "Weep not, behold," (me klaie idou) "Weep not, just behold," look and comprehend, John, for the grand finale answer is before you, and the wise shall understand, Daniel 12:10.

3) "The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed," (enikesen ho leon ho ektes phules louda) "The Lion of the (file) tribe of Juda," (he hripa David) "of the root of David overcame," has overcome or prevailed; Genesis 49:9-10; as the lion is the king (chief ruler) of the beasts so Christ is declared to be "the Lion (kingly Ruler) of Judah, in the offspring family lineage of David, to whom "the gathering of the people shall be under his sceptre, 2 Samuel 7:16; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:29-32; Acts 15:14-17.

4) "To open the book," (anoiksai to Biblion) "To open the scroll;” this one overcame sin and death, for the redemption of the world, in a manner to please the Father, Isaiah 53:12; Isaiah 63:1-3; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 3:21.

5) "And to loose the seven seals thereof," (kai tas hepta sphragidas autou) "And to open, loose, or break the seven seals of it." That which had been held in a covenant, sealed document agreement, between the Father and the Son, from before the foundation of the world, had been fulfilled in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world, and Jesus had prevailed with the right to the sceptre kingship - ruler of the earth to rule and to reign, 1 Peter 1:18-21; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Verse 6

1) "And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne," (kai eidon en meso tou thronou) "And I perceived in the midst of the throne area," where the twenty-four (24) elders and thrones encircled the central throne, Revelation 4:4.

2) "And of the four beasts," (kai ton tessaron zoon) "And in the midst of the four living creatures," who also were round the throne, Revelation 4:6.

3) "And in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb," (kai en meso ton presbuteron arnion hestekos) "And in the midst of the (twenty-four) elders a Lamb standing;” as if ready for service, even as he had walked about in the midst of the seven churches of Asia, Revelation 1:13.

4) "As it had been slain," (hos esphagmenon) "Just as (if) having been slain," as the one taking or bearing away the sin of the world, John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-21.

5) "Having seven horns and seven eyes," (echon kerata hepta kai ophthalmous hepta) "Having seven horns and seven eyes," signifying the all-seeing eye of God scanning all things, prepared for the care and defense of his own, Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10; Proverbs 5:21; Hebrews 4:13.

6) "Which are the seven Spirits of God.” (hoi eisin ta hepta pneumata tou theou) "Which are (exist as) the seven Spirits of God;” Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:11; Inseparably associated with the Lamb that was slain is the Holy Spirit in his unction and ministry of the testimony of the Lamb in his church, work; John 16:7-11; Hebrews 3:7-8; Revelation 22:17.

7) "Sent forth into all the earth," (apestalomenoi es pasan ten gen) "Having been sent forth (or commissioned with administrative power) into all the earth;” as God Sent (commissioned) his Son to redeem man, so did he send his Spirit to direct his church and His people, till he be taken away as he was sent on Pentecost; Acts 2:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

Verse 7

1) "And he came," (kai elthen) "And he came," the Lamb that had been slain approached, of his own choice, will, and accord;” His Father who sat upon the throne holding the seven seal book, Revelation 5:1. He came because He was worthy!

2) "And took the book out of the right hand," (kai eilephen ek tes deksias) "And has taken the scroll out of the right hand;” the hand of strength and power and authority of reigning over and judging the earth, which the Father had by title-deed -pledge of inheritance, granted to the Son, from the foundation of the world, Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; John 3:35; John 5:22. God has "appointed" Jesus "heir", and heritage possessor of "all things", that in all things he might have the preeminence, Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:18-19.

3) "Of him that sat upon the throne," (tou kathemenou epi tou thronou) "of the one sitting upon the throne;" why did he take the book? Because it was his title-deed to the earth and the testimony of the restitution of all things to the Father. "He that typically possessed his possession"; Let it be recalled that Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 5:14 are an heavenly vision of things to occur "hereafter", after the church age is over, beginning with the throne vision of the church, Israel, and the righteous dead from among Gentiles of all nations, before the throne of God, where positional rewards are given to all the redeemed, including kings and priests to rule and reign with Christ on earth, during the coming Golden Millennial era. It is before the Throne in heaven that the marriage of the Lamb occurs, the judgment seat of Christ is set, and Jesus Christ prepares to return to the earth as king of kings and Lord of Lords to put an end to the then raging 42 months of the tribulation the great, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Matthew 22:44.

Verse 8

REDEMPTION, A FURTHER OCCASION OF WORSHIP, v. 8-10 (By 24 Elders and Four Living Creatures)

1) "And when he had taken the book," (kai hote elaben to Biblion) "And when he received the scroll," from the right hand of the majesty (God the Father) upon the central throne, Revelation 5:1; Revelation 5:7; Hebrews 1:3.

2) "The four beasts and four and twenty elders," (ta tassera zoa kai hoi eikosoi tessares presbuteroi) "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders;” The 24 elders who sat upon the thrones round about the central throne and the four living creatures (beasts) in the midst and round about the throne, Revelation 4:4-6.

3) "Fell down before the Lamb," (epesan enopion tou arniou) "Fell down before (the face of) the Lamb," in full view of the Lamb, as they had fallen down before the throne of God and had worshipped him, Revelation 4:9-11; Revelation 19:4.

4) "Having every one of them harps," (echontes hekastos; kitharan) "Having or holding each one an harp," a stringed musical instrument, indicating their devotion, worship, and praise to him with both their voices and instruments of music as David had done; and Israel, Psalms 150:1-6.

5) "And golden vials full of odours," (kai phialas chrusas gemousas thumiamaton) "And golden bowls being full of incense;” of sweet smelling elements of incense offered in prayer and praise to God, Psalms 144:2; Revelation 8:3.

6) "Which are the prayers of the saints," (hai eisin hai proseuchai ton hagion) "Which are the prayers of the saints," representing the prayers of the saints, especially "the saints" of old covenant worship; Psalms 134:2; John 14:13; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 7:25.

Verse 9

1) "And they sung a new song, saying," (kai adousin oden kainen legontes) "And they sing a new song, saying;” In rhythmic words and with instrumental music of praise the (24) elders and (4) living creatures in unison, praise God, in song, as follows: (Revelation 4:11; Revelation 14:3)

2) "Thou art worthy to take the book," (aksios ei labein to biblion) "Thou art worthy to receive the scroll," These were knowledgeable and devoted redeemed ones before the heavenly throne from national Israel, the church, and the Gentiles of all nations, 1 Corinthians 10:32.

3) "And to open the seals thereof," (kai anoiksai tas sphagidas autou) "And to open (to break) the seals of it," the book that was sealed within and without. Remember a seal denotes ownership or administrative authority. Sealed legal instruments are to be opened only by the ones owning them or whose name they bear, Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 2:19; John 17:4.

4) "For thou wast slain," (hoti esphages) "Because thou wast slain;” The causative occasion for heaven’s testimony of praise is the slain Redeemer, Acts 2:36; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Romans 3:24-25.

5) "And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood," (kai egorasas to theo en hima sou) "And thou didst purchase (redeem us) to God by thy blood;” Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Romans 5:9; Revelation 12:11.

6) "Out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," (ek pases phules kai glosses kai laou kai ethnous) "Out of (from among) every tribe, and language and people, and nation or race," Revelation 7:9-15; who are these? These are the redeemed before the throne, while the seven-seal judgments are being poured out upon the earth, Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 18:24.

Verse 10

1) "And hast made us unto our God," (kai epoiesas autous to theo hemon) "And didst make them to our God," in relationship to our God - something special – 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; He made us (the church) both a spiritual and royal priesthood to reign with him.

2) "Kings and priests," (basileion kai hiereis) "A kingdom and (even) priests," or a reigning administration of priests, to reign with him for him as joint heirs of the earth; Exodus 19:6. The true people of God who carry on his program of worship and service under both the Old and New Testament covenants are referred to as a kingdom of kings and priests.

3) "And we shall reign on the earth," (kai basileu sousin epi tes ges) "And they (will) reign upon (over) the earth," Revelation 1:6; Revelation 3:21; The meek, obedient, and suffering for Christ in his church shall as surely reign with him as restored Israel, because of his redemption of the church as well as all believers, Matthew 5:5; Acts 20:28; Luke 19:17; 2 Timothy 2:12. During this era the twelve apostles (of the church) are to sit on twelve thrones or positions of jurisdiction giving him glory in and thru the church during the golden Millennial Age, Luke 22:28-30; Ephesians 3:21.

Verse 11

1) "And I beheld, and heard the voice of many angels,"

(kai eidon kai ekousa phonen angellon pollon) "And I saw (perceived) and heard a sound (voice) of many angels," a voice of oneness or unanimity, in harmony or agreement as one.

2) "Round about the throne and the beasts and the elders," (kuko tou thronou kai ton zoon kai ton presbuteron) "Round about or (encircling) the throne area and the (four) living creatures and the (twenty-four) elders;” The idea is that the angelic voices in unison, as one, resounded throughout the throne area of heaven, where the four living creatures and 24 elders had given praise to God and the Lamb, see also Ezekiel 1:5.

3) "And the number of them was," (kai en ho arithmos auton) "And their number was or the number of them, was," (existed as) in numerics: Psalms 68:17, an infinite indefinite number.

4) "Ten thousand times ten thousand," (muriades muriadon) "Myriads of myriads," unnumbered times unnumbered, or innumerable, unable to be humanly numbered. This scene was described by Daniel as to occur before (in the presence of) the ancient of days, Daniel 7:9-10.

5) "And thousands of thousands," (kai chiliades chiliadon) "Even thousands of thousands;” beyond calculation or even numbered with a computer, as the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea. This Lion of the tribe of Israel not only begins his judgment at the Judgment seat of Christ, but also shall judge the wicked before angels at the great white throne judgment – Revelation 20:11-15.

Verse 12

1) "Saying with a loud voice," (legontes phone megaie) "Saying with a great (a megaphone) voice," a voice of cordiality, hearty gladness, as they as ministering spiritual, angelic creatures joined in joyous accord of worthy praise to the Lamb because of his finished work of redemption, of which they were knowledgeable, Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 1:12; even as at the birth of Christ, Luke 2:9-14.

2) "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive," (aksios estin to arnion to esphagmenon labein) "Worthy is the lamb which has been slain to receive," seven things:

a) "power," (ten dunamin) "the power," dynamic and administrative power, to sit and reign as king over the earth, Luke 1:31-33; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

b) "and riches," (kai plouton) "and wealth," or riches, which he deserted in heaven to redeem the world, 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 1:18; and receives "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,"

c) "and wisdom," (kai spohian) and wisdom, "in whom the fulness (in character and wisdom) of the Godhead dwelleth bodily, Colossians 2:9.

d) "and strength," (kai ischun) "And strength," or power physically manifested to rule with a rod of iron, Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15.

e) "and honor," (kai timen) "And honor," 1 Timothy 6:16; Revelation 4:9; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 7:12; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:7, even at the marriage of the Lamb.

f) "and glory," (kai doksan) "And glory," which he received in the resurrection, 1 Peter 1:21; Revelation 1:6; Judges 1:25.

g) "and blessing," (kai eulogian) "And blessing," favor, kindness, and goodness, to him who is about to take the title-deed and judgment book from the Father upon the throne and begin his Judgment of rewards for all saints and all the redeemed, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:12.

Verse 13

1) "And every creature which is in heaven," (kai pan ktisma ho en to ourano) "and every creature (existing) in heaven," Angels, seraphims, and the redeemed of all ranks of Israel, the church, Gentiles of all nations, etc. 1 Corinthians 10:32.

2) "And on the earth and under the earth," (kai epi tes ges kai hupokato tes ges) "And upon the earth and down beneath the earth," or underneath the earth. Tho prayer (may) will one day cease, in the presence of the Lord, praise and thanksgiving shall continue forever, Isaiah 65:24.

3) "And such as are in the sea, and all that are in them," (kai epi tes thalasses (estin) kai ta en autois panta) "And existing upon the sea and all things in them," in the seas; by a sweep of the spirit John was given to see and hear sea monsters, earth’s living animal life and departed spirits expressing joy at redemption or restitution of the earth from its curse of sin, Acts 3:21; Romans 8:21; Matthew 17:11.

4) "Heard I saying, unto him that sitteth upon the throne," (ek ousa legontas)"I heard saying," (to arnio) "to the Lamb," (kai to kathemeno epi to throno) "And or even to the one sitting upon the throne," to the majesty on the throne, Colossians 3:11; Hebrews 1:3; Revelation 5:1.

5) "And unto the Lamb," (kai to arnio) "And to the lamb;- the true redemption Lamb, John 1:29, the Lamb of love and meekness, worthy of praise forever and ever, in the city where the Lamb is the light, John 8:12; Revelation 22:1; Revelation 22:3; Revelation 22:5; Revelation 21:22-23.

6) "Blessing and honor and glory and power," (he eulogia kai hetimekai he dokse kai to kratos) "Let there be blessing and honor and glory and might;” - This is the third successive doxology or hymn of praise to God and the Lamb alike, John 17:3; 1 Timothy 2:5; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 6:16; Revelation 7:10.

7) "For ever and ever," (eis tous aionas ton ainon) "Unto and into the ages of the ages;” Then, at His coming, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters that cover the sea," Isaiah 11:9; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 Peter 4:11; Ephesians 3:21.

Verse 14

1) "And the four beasts said, Amen," (kai ta tessera zoa elegon amen) "And the four living creatures said amen;” To or toward all that they had seen, heard, and understood the four living creatures, representing the redeemed of all Gentiles who were never either in or of Israel’s covenant worship or of the church of Jesus Christ, cried out "amen" or "so may it ever be;” They had the last, as well as the first words of praise, Revelation 4:8.

2) "And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him," (kai hoi presbuteroi epesan kai prosekunesan) "and the (twenty-four) elders fell and worshipped him;” John has given a sweeping, awe-inspiring view of the resplendent glory of God as creator upon his throne in heaven, whose executive authority over all his universe is delegated to Jesus Christ, before whom angels and the four living creatures bow in praise and worship, as a revelation of earth judgments are soon to be revealed, beginning with Revelation 6:1-17; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Revelation 11:1-4; Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 21:12; Revelation 21:14.

3) "That liveth forever and ever," Who lives forevermore, to die no more, Revelation 1:18.

This parenthetical section of Revelation (Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 5:14), set in heaven, concludes with time and eternity’s greatest anthem of praise, sung and chanted by angels, the redeemed from among men of all ages and ranks of service, and even earth and sea’s living creatures. What a day of recognized triumph shall come hereafter, as seen, heard, and revealed to us to read and follow, Revelation 1:3. Let us look for this day of Blessed Hope with devotion, service, and zeal in separated living, Titus 2:11-13; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 10:36-37.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Revelation 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. 1985.