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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-14

Revelation 5:1 . I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book, a large staff, with seven sheets of parchment written on both sides, and at the last coil of each parchment, a seal was fixed, with strings appended to the seals. These indicated secresy, and that no man must open the book without power and authority. This book, arcana Dei, contains the secrets of God’s counsel and love to his church and people. It demonstrates a God enthroned in Zion, and encouraging her in all her severe conflicts with the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the harlot church.

Revelation 5:3 . No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither in hades or under the earth, was able to open the book. This taught all created intelligences to feel their ignorance and inability, and to worship Him who has a name above every name.

Revelation 5:5 . Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed. Jacob foretold that Judah should have the sceptre, should prevail as a lion, and that the Messiah should descend in his line. Genesis 49:9. Here the deity of Christ is revealed. Who could comprehend the providence of the Eternal, but he who says, “As the Father knoweth the Son, even so know I the Father?”

Revelation 5:6-7 . Lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, a Lamb was standing as (if) it had been slain. Here the Redeemer enters on his mediatorial functions. He came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. The identity of the Lamb is marked by his wounds, the tokens of love he ever bears towards the human kind. He appears bearing before the throne seven horns of omnipotence, to execute judgment and justice in the sevenfold economy or periods of providence. His seven eyes of flame “run through the earth.” Zechariah 4:10.

Revelation 5:9 . They sung a new song, which heaven had never heard before. The theme is, love beyond degree; redemption from the foul fiend, the curse of the law, and the dominion of death; and the gift of righteousness by faith, with power to overcome the world, and reign on earth. Sublime is the subject, and joyful is the song.

Revelation 5:11-14 . The number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, or as Paul says, an innumerable company of angels, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, as Lord of heaven and earth; and riches of grace; and wisdom, even the manifold wisdom of God in the redemption of the world; and strength in the subjugation of all his foes, till all are put under his feet; and honour, in the willing accession of all nations in the day of his power; and glory, in his exaltation at the right hand of the Father; and blessing, in the ceaseless worship of all his saints. And the four living creatures said, Amen; and all the choirs subsided in the worship of him, the triune God, that liveth for ever and ever.


The book in the hand of him that sitteth upon the throne is the scroll of sacred prophecy, containing the mysteries of his eternal providence, which things the angels desire to look into. It is written within and without, on each side of the seven grand sheets; for it contains the history of the world, and of the church. But God in answer to the prayer of faith can lengthen the periods of his favour, or shorten the days of tribulation.

The mighty angel cried in vain for any one to come forward and take and unseal the book; all kept their places, and looked on in silence and suspense; but John, being yet a mortal man, wept much, because no angel, and no prophet on earth, nor any saint under the earth, in hades or in paradise, was able to unravel the mysteries of providence and grace. Let us learn to weep and wait, and in due time we shall know the good and perfect will of God.

We have next John’s comfort, and the church’s glory. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed. He forced his way through the curse inflicted on man, through the bands of death, and the malice of demons, to the throne of God. He is the heir, and the prince of the kings of the earth; but he does not stand at the head of the human kind under the throne, and among the worshippers; his place is in the midst of the throne, because his glorified humanity and his divine nature is one mysterious person.

We have next a triune song offered up to the Triune God for the glory of redemption and the marvels of providence. Rise, oh my soul, rise from thy dull and sinful slumber. Rise and look through this high door of the celestial temple, and so contemplate the worship of heaven, and listen to its songs, that earth may never more engross thy heart. The spirits of just men made perfect, being most indebted, begin the new and grateful hymn; and with the highest strains of harp and voice. To these they join the most fragrant odours of the heart; they praise the Lamb for his redeeming love, and ceaseless care in opening the book.

The holy angels, countless in number, form the second choir, and utter a second and most appropriate song. The Lamb, about to open the seven seals which comprehend the seven periods of providence till the mystery of God shall be finished, they praise in a sevenfold ascription of homage; power and riches, wisdom and strength, honour and glory, and blessing. This is indeed to sing with the Spirit, and with the understanding.

The third part of the homage paid to the Lord Christ, on his inauguration, is the general chorus of saints and angels, and every creature in heaven and earth, in which they glorify the Lamb in the very words of praise offered to the Godhead in the preseding chapter. The twenty four elders, and the four beasts or cherubims do it with prostration at his feet; because he is one substance with the Father. Love and adore, oh ye nations, for he is the Lord, he is God alone. How base then are the Arian critics on this chapter. Instead of joining in this song, they bite their chains, and rack their wits to prove the ignorance of Jesus Christ. Truly they form the dark shades of the throng, as the man without the wedding garment, who was presently cast into outer darkness.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/revelation-5.html. 1835.
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