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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 5

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-14

None Found Worthy to Open the Book of Judgment

In the right hand of the Sovereign Ruler is seen a book sealed with seven seals, written on the inside and on the back (v. 1). It is the book of God's judgments, which are seen to be overflowing judgments because sin has been an overflowing challenge to the authority of God. His long patience with sin calls for the more solemn judgment once it comes. A strong angel (v. 2) proclaims for everyone to hear, the great question as to who is worthy to open the book and break its seals. Even with sufficient time given (v. 3), no one was found worthy even to look upon the book, whether in heaven (where the redeemed are gathered) or on earth or under the earth. All creation is consulted, but none qualify.

The fact of none being found worthy to open the book seems to infer that the saints in heaven have already been manifested before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and not one of these was found fit to give the word that opens the floodgates of judgment upon an ungodly world. This draws out the profound weeping of the apostle John (v. 4). Is there not an indication here of how deeply we shall feel the sadness of all the unprofitable things in our own lives (and in the lives of all the saints), things which have not been for the glory of God?

One Found Worthy

However, the sadness is not to continue, for John is told by one of the elders not to weep (v. 5). His eyes are directed to the only One who is worthy, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. As the Lion He is God's powerful King: as the Root of David He is the living God, He from whom David received being. He has prevailed because of who He is and because of His great atoning sacrifice which gives Him title to save every believer and to judge those who refuse Him.

Rather than seeing a Lion, John sees a Lamb as if freshly slain in the midst of the throne and the living creatures and elders (v. 6). The wonder of His death will remain a fresh, vital reality for eternity, as though it had just taken place. Certainly, only God is in the midst of the throne. The Lamb is God. The vivid reality of His sacrifice at Calvary-His lowly submission even unto death-is emphasized rather than His irresistible power as seen in the Lion. Wonderful combination indeed in this one adorable Person! His seven horns speak of perfection of power in contrast to the ten horns of the evil, future beast of Revelation 13:1 -a monstrous claim of arrogant pride. The seven eyes (again mentioned) impress us afresh with His perfect, all seeing discernment by the power of the Spirit of God.

His oneness with God the Father has been seen in His being in the midst of the throne. Now, His distinctness is noted in His taking the book from the right hand of God, the hand of positive power (v. 7). This causes the living creatures and the elders to fall down before the throne (v. 8) with harps (the pleasant sound of praise) and golden vials full of odors (the sweet smell of dependent prayers of saints). This wholehearted, unfeigned worship is directed to the Lamb, which is another proof that He is God.

In this chapter, however, the living creatures and elders not only speak (as in Revelation 4:10-11 when celebrating creation), but sing the praises of the Lamb on account of His great redemption (v.9). It is a new song as far as heaven is concerned, though no doubt saints have sung it on earth. It has never been the song of angels. Its words exalt the Lamb as worthy to take the book and break its seals of judgment, not because of His creatorial power, but because of His blessed sacrifice by which He has redeemed thousands from every area of the world. This great work gives Him perfect title to judge those who have refused its redeeming power. The redeemed have been made a kingdom, priests unto our God (v. 10). Kingly character is connected with bearing witness to the truth of God before the world (John 18:37), while as priests believers are privileged to enter the presence of God, whether in worship or in intercession. They shall reign over the earth (J.N.D. translation) with Christ when He reigns.

Angels Uniting in Worshiping the Lamb

Although we are not told that angels sing this song, yet a tremendous number of them is mentioned as surrounding the throne (v. 11), speaking similarly with a loud voice (v. 12). They too worship the Lamb who was slain, as being worthy to receive riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.

Verse 13 anticipates the coming day of millennial glory rather than describing any conscious worship of every creature before the Great Tribulation. However, all creation must eventually join in eternally ascribing blessing, honor, glory and power, not only to Him who sits on the throne, but also to the Lamb . The four living creatures confirm this (v. 14), but the 24 elders fall down and worship, prostrate in adoration.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Revelation 5". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/revelation-5.html. 1897-1910.
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