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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 5

Verses 1-14

Revelation 5. The Vision of Heaven ( continued) .— Ch. 4 gives us the vision of the majesty and glory of God, ch. 5 the vision of the “ Lamb standing as though it had been slain.” The theme of Revelation 4 is the creative power of God: the theme of Revelation 5 the redemptive power of Christ.

Revelation 5:1 . a book: i.e. the book of destiny, containing the secrets of the future, probably in the form of a papyrus roll, sealed with seven seals for the sake of security. The imagery is taken from Ezekiel 2:9. [The view that the book is the book of destiny is probably correct. Huschke, followed by Zahn, J. Weiss, and Clemen, takes it to be a will. Seven witnesses would attest a will, each affixing his seal. Before the will could be executed the seals had to be broken; hence failure to break the seals of the book would mean that the Church could not receive the heavenly inheritance Gunkel thinks the book is a book of magic.— A. S. P.]

Revelation 5:2 . The angel’ s challenge to heaven and earth, “ Who is worthy ( i.e. morally fit) to open the book?” a challenge which met with no response.

Revelation 5:5 . The phrases used in this verse show the writer’ s familiarity with the details of Messianic prophecy. “ Lion of the tribe of Judah” is from Genesis 49:9, “ Judah is a lion’ s whelp,” etc., words which were interpreted in a Messianic sense by Jewish commentators.— Root of Jesse: cf. Isaiah 11:1, “ a shoot out of the stock of Jesse.”

Revelation 5:6 . Note the change from the lion to the lamb. “ He looked to see a lion and beheld a lamb. He looked to see power and force . . . and he saw love and gentleness” (Stevens NTT, p. 542 ). The term “ Lamb” (though a different Greek word is used) is applied to Christ in John 1:29; John 1:36, Acts 8:32 (quoted from Is.), 1 Peter 1:19. Probably the metaphor was suggested by the words of Isaiah 53:7, “ a lamb that is led to the slaughter.”— having seven horns: “ horn” is used both in OT and NT as the symbol of strength and power, and the phrase describes the all-conquering might of Christ.— seven eyes: the eye is the symbol of insight and illumination, and the phrase denotes the fullness of the Divine vision possessed by Christ.— sent forth: Christ’ s vision is not restricted to heaven but extends also over all the earth.

Revelation 5:8 . The same kind of adoration which in ch. 4 was bestowed upon God is now extended to the Son.— golden bowls full of incense: the incense symbolises the prayers of the saints ( cf. Psalms 141:2).

Revelation 5:9 . a new song: i.e. the song of redemption, new in contrast to the old song of ch. 4 .— didst purchase . . . with thy blood: for this conception of the significance of Christ’ s death, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20 *, 1 Corinthians 7:23, Acts 20:28, Revelation 14:3 f.

Revelation 5:10 . “ By a supreme act of self-sacrifice He has purchased men of all races and nationalities for the service of God, founded a vast spiritual empire, and converted human life into a priestly service and a royal dignity” (Swete). For the idea cf. Revelation 1:6, Revelation 20:6. Many MSS. read, “ they are reigning,” i.e. the reign of the saints has already commenced.

Revelation 5:11 . ten thousand times: cf. Daniel 7:10.

Revelation 5:12 . The doxology of the angels to the Lamb. Note the “ sevenfold honour” as in Revelation 7:12.

Revelation 5:13 . The doxology of the universe of created things.— to him that sitteth . . . and to the Lamb: observe that in this final doxology God and the Lamb are joined together. The same praise is accorded to the Redeemer as to the Creator ( cf. p. 642 ).

Revelation 5:14 . the four living creatures: Revelation 4:6 *.— the elders: Revelation 4:4 *.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Revelation 5". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.