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1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
Ver. 1. In the right hand ] Gr. On, or at the right hand. There it lay ready, but none could make aught of it, till the Lamb took it, not only at, but out of the Father’s right hand, and opened it, Revelation 5:7 .
A book written ] This book of the Revelation, which till the Son of man had received his heavenly Father to show unto his servants, neither they nor he (as Son of man) knew (so much at least) of that day and hour of his second coming.
And on the back side ] As lacking room within. Like that of the poet,
" Scriptus et in tergo, necdum finitus Orestes. "
(Juven. Sat. 1.)
Sealed with seven seals ] To note the great secrecy and gradual discovery of the divine counsels.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Ver. 2. And I saw a strong angel ] Angels are very desirous to know the mystery of Christ, 1 Peter 1:12 , and to profit daily in that knowledge, Ephesians 3:10 .
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Ver. 3. Nor under the earth ] That is, in the sea, as Exodus 20:4 .
Neither to look thereon ] Or, therein, because sealed up.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
Ver. 4. And I wept ] Out of a deep desire of knowing the contents of this book. And as our Saviour, going toward his cross, turned again to the weeping women, and comforted them, so he soon satisfied the desire of this his dejected disciple. Tears are effectual orators. Luther got much of his insight into God’s matters by this means. So did Melancthon when he wept on those words, Quos fugiamas habemus (pontificios) quos sequatour non intellgimus. It is said of Sir Philip Sidney, that when he met with anything that he well understood not, he would break out into tears, - faciles motus mens generosa capit. The spouse, seeking him whom her soul loved, had eyes like the pools of Heshbon glazed with tears, Song of Solomon 7:4 . And Daniel had greatest revelations after three weeks of heaviness, Revelation 10:3 .
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Ver. 5. And one of the elders ] A common Christian points the divine to the arch-prophet, whom for the present he thought not on. An eloquent Apollos may be better informed by a tentmaker, and a great apostle be comforted by an ordinary Roman,Acts 8:26; Acts 8:26 ; Romans 1:12 . This elder in the text seems to be the patriarch Jacob (saith one), because from his prophecy the name of lion is given to Christ,Genesis 49:9; Genesis 49:9 .
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah ] So Moses sets forth our Saviour. And fitly, 1. For the excellency of his strength. 2. For his heroical spirit. 3. For his principality; the lion is the king of beasts. 4. For his vigilancy; the lion sleepeth with open eyes. (Gerhard.)
The Root of David ] So the prophets. "They have Moses and the prophets," saith Abraham,Luke 16:29; Luke 16:29 ; "To the law and to the testimony,"Isaiah 8:20; Isaiah 8:20 . If any speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, nor to be gotten from them.
Hath prevailed ] Gr. ενικησεν , hath overcome, or surpassed, sc. all creatures in worth, to do this great work.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Ver. 6. In the midst of the throne ] As a fit mediator between God and men, even the man Christ Jesus, who gave a ransom, 1 Timothy 2:5-6 .
A Lamb as it had been slain ] This form of speech is put (saith an interpreter) to show the continual recent virtue of Christ’s death eternally effectual before God, as whereby once for all he hath purchased eternal redemption. Some think that he still retains in heaven the prints and scars of those wounds that he received on earth in his hands, feet, and side. His glorified body (saith one) is that golden censer, which through the wounds that are in it, as through chinks or holes, fumeth forth always a pleasant and sweet savour in the nostrils of his Father. It is also the note of a learned interpreter here, that the benefit of knowing the prophecies concerning the Church, Christ, before he was slain, had it not so as he had after his death. It was the purchase of the blood of Christ to have those things opened.
Having seven horns ] Plenty of power. Antichrist hath but two horns, Revelation 13:11 .
And seven eyes ] No want of wisdom, no need of a visible head to the Church or any other vicar general to Christ, than the Holy Ghost, called here "the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Ver. 7. And he came and took ] As Mediator he took it, as God he gave it. All things are delivered unto him of the Father; and no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son revealeth him,Matthew 11:27; Matthew 11:27 . See Trapp on " Mat 11:27 "
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Ver. 8. Fell down before the Lamb ] As they had done before the throne, Rev 4:10-11 cf. John 5:23 . Divine adoration is an honour due to the manhood of Christ also, as it is taken into union with the Godhead.
Golden vials, &c. ] Vessels narrow beneath and wide upwards: so is the heart of a believer, narrow below, almost sharpened to a point, that it might touch the earth no more than needs must; and wide above, to receive the influence of heaven. Gold is pure and precious; so are the prayers of a pure heart.
Full of odours ] Therefore sweet to God, because Christ pours into them of his odours, Revelation 8:3 .
Which are the prayers of saints ] That is, their own prayers and praises, recorded Revelation 5:9 . And this is added as an exposition to let us know what is meant by odours. See the like, John 2:21 ; John 7:39 ; Revelation 1:20 .
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Ver. 9. And they sung ] A general joy in heaven and earth. Surely, it is a pleasant thing to see the light; how much more to see the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 4:6 . What a deal of triumph and exaltation is here all the Church over upon the opening of this book upon the receipt of this revelation! Should not this excite and kindle in our hearts a more earnest desire of understanding these mysteries? "Oh, I could find in my heart to fall afresh upon the study of the Revelation, had I strength to do it," said my reverend old master unto me, a little before his death; Mr John Ballam, I mean, minister of the word for many years at Evesham, where I heard him (in my childhood) preaching many a sweet sermon upon the second and third chapters of this book.
A new song ] For the new work of redemption, besides that old song, Revelation 4:11 , for that of creation.
Out of every kindred ] Let this be noted against the doctrine of universal redemption that is now again so violently cried up among us.
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Ver. 10. And we shall reign on the earth ] Reign over our lusts; reign with and in Christ over all our enemies by a spiritual, not secular sceptre; and at last judge the world, 1 Corinthians 6:2 .
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Ver. 11. Round about the throne and the beasts ] That is, round about the beasts and the elders. Angels encamp about the saints, as ministering spirits, and are glad of the office, that their God manifested in the flesh may be seen of them, 1 Timothy 3:16 , and the multifarious wisdom of God in man’s redemption be displayed unto them, Ephesians 3:10 .
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Ver. 12. With a loud voice ] Betokening their earnest affection; which also is here notably expressed by the many particulars they ascribe to Christ, as if they could never give enough to him. Now if angels, who have nothing so much benefit by him, do thus magnify him, how much more should we! Our hearts should be enlarged, our mouths opened, and we not a little vexed at our own vile dulness in being no more affected with these indelible ravishments.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Ver. 13. And every creature ] The whole creation groaneth under vanity, and rejoiceth as it were in the forethought of that liberty of the sons of God at the last day, whereof it shall partake, Romans 8:21 . See Trapp on " Rom 8:21 "
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Ver. 14. And the four beasts ] The saints were the precentors in this blessed choir, and now they are the succentors also,Revelation 14:3; Revelation 14:3 . They began the song, and so conclude it, as having far greater benefit by Christ than all other creatures, and God expects a proportion, that our returns be somewhat answerable to our receipts. (Sarson.) The saints upon earth sing a new (that is, an excellent) song in the honour of Christ,Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 5:9-10 . Heaven answers as by an echo, the music upon earth in the mean time continuing,Revelation 5:11-12; Revelation 5:11-12 (where note that this song of angels putteth Christ in the third person; he took not upon him the nature of angels, he is nearer to us); all creatures come in as the chorus, Revelation 5:13 , and as man began, so he ends the anthem, Revelation 5:14 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29