Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Revelation 4

Verse 1

After he had been given the letters to the seven churches, John saw a door standing open in heaven. The voice is likely of Jesus, as in Rev_1:10 . He invites John into heaven to view things that will happen in future. The second coming of Christ and the judgment of the living and the dead are included, so not all of the events have taken place even yet.

Verse 2

Perhaps John repeats the fact that he is in the Spirit because he wants us to realize this is not a reference to his, or the church's, bodily resurrection. ( Rev_1:10 ) With all that was, and would be, happening to these Christians, it seems very important that John should see the throne and God seated upon it. ( Psa_103:19 )

Verse 3

The jasper stone may have been a diamond (21:11) and the sardine a ruby, but we cannot be sure. The rainbow gave the appearance of a velvety green emerald. The meaning of all this is unclear. We can conclude God's radiance is beautiful and the rainbow around his throne awe-inspiring. The rainbow does remind us that God's faithful are kept safe and can count on his covenant to be kept without deviation.

Verse 4

The exact identity of the twenty-four elders is unknown. They wear white, the color for purity and holiness, and have golden crowns on their heads, which may symbolize the victory Christ has given them. Since there were twelve tribes of Israel, it may be these represent the leaders of God's people redeemed in physical and spiritual Israel.

Verse 5

The lightnings and thunderings remind us of God's appearance on Sinai and suggest God's greatness. It would be better to say seven torches here represent the Holy Spirit. Since he worked in the area of delivering the word, this seems a very appropriate figure. ( Joh_16:12-14 )

Verses 6-7

Verses 6-7 All of the beauty described above would be reflected in a crystal sea. The four "living creatures," which is a better translation than beasts, are reminiscent of those in Eze_1:1-14 ; Eze_10:20 . Thus, we may assume these are also cherubim. Such were placed on guards over the Garden of Eden and at both ends of the mercy seat. ( Gen_3:24 ; Exo_25:18-20 ) In heaven, they serve the Lord. The faces may represent wild animals or strength (lion), domesticated animals or service (calf or ox), flying creatures or swiftness (eagle), and mankind or intelligence (man). In either case, God is served by all categories of beings.

Verse 8

Isa_6:1-3 describes seraphims around God's thrones with six wings crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." They worship Him because he is full of holiness, all authority and is eternal. It may appear to those on earth that a Roman emperor is in charge, but in heaven the Almighty sits on his throne.

Verses 9-11

Verses 9-11 Upon hearing praise given to God, the twenty-four elders join in praise and cast their crowns down before him as an acknowledgment of the source of those crowns. Earthly rulers might demand worship but they are not eternal, did not create all things and do no therefore deserve the worship that only a creator can demand.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 4". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.