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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 4

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

As we enter into the description of the vision itself, here is a little outline that might help you.

Chapter 4 Have faith in the power and dominion of God. Chapter 5 Keep your faith in the power and dominion of Jesus Christ. Chapters 6-18 Learn the wrath of God upon those who persecute His church. Chapters 19-22 See the final and complete victory of God and His church.

1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

A. With chapter four begins the vision, the revelation, the moving picture in living color.

B. John sees a door open in heaven - This door was not opening, it was open.

C. The first voice - The first sound in this movie is the voice of God speaking to John.

D. Come up here - Often the vision is brought down to the prophet. Here the prophet is invited up to heaven to see what is about to happen.

E. Must take place - In the mind of God there is no difference in past, present and future. The future can be recorded in the past tense. The future is as certain (must take place) as the past.

Verse 2

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

A. In the Spirit - John was in a spiritual frame of mind. He was open and ready to see and hear and record what God is willing to show him. See also chapter 1:10.

B. Throne is set - God is on the throne. He is the all-powerful One. Here we are reminded that God is powerful and has all dominion. God is in control of what happens on earth.

C. Regardless of what happens, good or bad as we view it, God is still on His throne. He is guiding history toward the climax He plans. He is in command.

D. The symbol of a throne occurs more that 40 times in the book of Revelation.

Verse 3

3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.

A. Some have tried to figure out what each stone represents. I believe the message here is this - When you are in the presence of God - you are dazzled by the brilliance.

B. Bright colors, precious stones, a rainbow - This is a picture of the impressive and stunning presence of God.

C. Jasper and Sardus - These were stones worn by the High Priest under the Law of Moses. They are also part of the foundation of the New Jerusalem in chapter 20.

D. Rainbow - Since the time of Noah, the rainbow is a covenant sign that God will keep His promises. God is faithful.

Verse 4

4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

A. 24 elders - Most commentaries teach that this number represents the 12 tribes of Israel (Jewish Age) and the 12 apostles (Church Age). Thus, they represent God’s dealing with man in all periods of history. NOTE: The names of the 12 tribes are inscribed on the 12 gates of heaven. The 12 apostles are on the 12 foundations.

B. 24 thrones - Some believe this represents the heavenly court (similar to our President meeting with his Cabinet).

C. White robes and gold crowns - White robes are used in Revelation to signify purity and salvation. The gold crowns show us that they are reigning with God. Of course, they are not over God. They are reigning with Him. NOTE: This is an important point to remember when you get to chapter 20.

Verse 5

5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

A. Thunder and lightning - John returns to focus on God, His power and might.

B. Seven Spirits of God - Are connected to the seven lamps. This may refer to the seven churches and their messengers. (See 1:20)

C. Burning before the throne - God is aware of each church. He knows of our faith, works, teaching, and steadfastness. He is aware of our sins, weakness, and downfalls.

Verse 6

6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

A. Sea of glass - Have you been near a lake at sunset. All is very calm. The water is smooth, like glass. The picture here is one of calmness and tranquility in heaven. This stands as a sharp contrast to the hardship, persecution and exile John was enduring on earth.

B. Four living creatures - There are three possible explanations here - a) Since the number four represents the earth, these creatures may represent the entire population of earth. b) These four creatures may be the archangels. We know of Michael and Gabriel by name. Some have thought there are four of them. They would be close to God because they are over all the heavenly host of angels. c) The four creatures represent all living things. (See the comments on the next verse.)

Verse 7

7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

A. The four creatures are described - The first like a lion (wild animal); the second like a calf (tame animal); the third like a man (humans); the forth like an eagle (birds). Here you have represented four major categories of living things.

B. God is creator of all life . He created man, but He also created wild animals, which can cause us great harm and even death.

Verse 8

8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

A. Six wings - The graphic picture here may show us the speed and swiftness of their ability to deal with our needs.

B. Eyes around - They have the ability to see in all directions and know what is happening everywhere. Nothing goes on that escapes their sight.

C. They worship God - While they might have some amazing abilities as we humans see them, they are subject to the “Lord God Almighty.”

D. Was, is and is to come - God is present tense. What God was in the past, He is today, and will be the same tomorrow. With God all things are present tense. God is the great I AM.

Verse 9

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

A. Give glory and honor and thanks - Here is a picture of worship. All we do in worship must seek to give glory, honor and thanks to God.

B. Sits on the throne - The 24 elders and the four living creatures are around the throne. God is the one on the throne.

C. God is eternal - God is forever alive.

Verse 10

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

A. All worship God - The 24 elders, cast their crowns at the throne. They have no power except what is granted them by God. God has all authority and dominion.

B. There were some who were faithful and would not worship the Roman emperor, in spite of his decree. In heaven, all creatures worship Him who is on the throne.

Verse 11

11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

A. Worthy art Thou - These words were on the entrance to the Roman palace. Here they are used to worship and praise God.

B. Many worshipped the emperor because it was commanded . We worship God because He is worthy of our praise.

C. Why was man created? - We were created by the will of God. We were created to serve the will of God. Everything that God created was for a purpose. Each plant, animal and insect has a place in the plan and will of God. Man must seek to serve in the place and manner that God intended.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 4". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-4.html. 2021.
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