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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

Revelation 5:1. βιβλίον, a book) There were not seven books, but there was one only, sealed with seven seals.— ἔσωθεν καὶ ἔξωθεν) So Ezekiel 2:10 : κεφαλὶς βιβλίουκαὶ ἦν ἐν αὐτῇ γεγραμμένα τὰ ἔμπροσθεν καὶ τὰ ὄπισθεν. And it is possible that the copyists may have introduced into this passage ὄπισθεν for ἔξωθεν, either from ch. Revelation 4:6, or from the passage just quoted from Ezekiel. ἔμπροσθεν and ὄπισθεν are opposed to each other, as are ἔσωθεν and ἔξωθεν. But since in Ezekiel the expression is פנים ואחור, ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν is defended from the Hebraism. The Philocalia of Orige(63)

(64) has ὄπισθεν by itself.— σφραγῖσιν ἑπτὰ, with seven seals) This prophecy abounds with instances of the number seven, of which four are most copiously described: the seven angels of the churches; the seven seals of the sealed book; the seven angels with trumpets; the seven angels with vials. The churches are a model, to which the Universal Church of all climes and ages, together with its teachers and pastors, ought to be conformed. The seals represent all power in earth and in heaven, given to the Lamb. By the trumpets the kingdom of the world is violently shaken, so that it at last becomes the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ. By the vials the beast is crushed, and whatever is connected with it. We ought always to keep before our eyes this Summary. Thus the whole of the Apocalypse runs on in its own natural order. The division of these sevens into IV. and III. will be explained below. The hypothesis of VII. periods of the Church, represented not only by VII. churches, but also by VII. seals, VII. trumpets, VII. vials—other groups of seven in the Old and New Testament being drawn out to the same hypothesis,—has greatly enervated the Theology of many, especially that which is exegetical.

A Syr. and some MSS. of Origen have ὄπισθεν; B, ἔξωθεν; Vulg. “foris.”—E.

Verse 2

Revelation 5:2. ἰσχυρὸν, strong) Psalms 103:20.

Verse 4

Revelation 5:4. ἔκλαιον, I wept) By an excellent example, John places himself as an eager and teachable learner of the Apocalypse. Comp. ch. Revelation 10:10, Revelation 17:1, Revelation 21:9, Revelation 22:8. They are far from perceiving the meaning of John, in this part at any rate, who seek anything rather than the argument of this book, as opened by the Lamb; and who think themselves indulgent, if they concede a pardon to others who do seek it. The very things which even angels had desired to look into during the time of the Divine silence, now, after they have been brought to light and shine forth in the word of prophecy, though they ought to be known and admired to the glory of God, are despised by wayfaring men as circumstantial and useless.— πολὺ) So πολὺ, Luke 7:47.— ἀνοῖξαι) See App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this passage. An inelegant arrangement of the words is produced, not to open, not to read, not to see. In Revelation 5:1, John saw the book; in Revelation 5:4, he says that the book could not be seen, an expression which itself means, be read: although the language, without the word read ( ἀναγνῶναι(65)), is more royal, and better adapted to the majesty of the Lamb.

Verse 5

Revelation 5:5. εἷς, one) Without doubt one of those who rose with Christ, and ascended into heaven: Matthew 27:52. It appears to be the patriarch Jacob, because, according to his prophecy, the name of lion is given to Christ: Genesis 49:9. John Gerhard and others in Richter on this passage, and in Viet. But Cluver judges that this, as far as it respects Jacob, is uncertain.

Verse 6

Revelation 5:6. ἀρνίον) ἀμνὸς is used absolutely, John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19 : now, ἀρνίον is used, with reference to the flock about to follow Him. κριὸς, ἀμνὸς, and ἀρνίον differ in age. Orig. t. 2, f. 140, on John 1:29. ἀρνίον, a young lamb; as far, however, as it combines the idea of the male sex, it properly looks to the taking the lead of the flock.(66)

Verse 9

Revelation 5:9. ὠδὴν καινὴν) So Psalms 144:9, ὠδὴν καινὴν; but in the other Psalms it is ᾆσμα καινὸν.— ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς καὶ γλώσσης καὶ λαοῦ καἱ ἔθνους) So, ἐκ παντὸς ἔθνους καὶ φυλῶν καὶ λαῶν καὶ γλωσαῶν, ch. Revelation 7:9 ἐκ τῶν λαῶν καὶ φυλῶν καὶ γλωσσῶν καὶ ἐθνῶν, ch. Revelation 11:9; ἐπὶ πᾶσαν φυλὴν καὶ λαὸν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ ἔθνος, ch. Revelation 13:7; πᾶν ἔθνος καὶ φυλὴν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ λαὸν, ch. Revelation 14:6. So, commonly, ἐπὶ λαοῖς καὶ ἔθνεσι καὶ γλώσσαις καὶ βασιλεῦσι πολλοῖς, ch. Revelation 10:11; λαοὶ καὶ ὄχλοι καὶ ἔθνη καὶ γλῶσσαι, ch. Revelation 17:15. In these passages γλῶσσαι, ἔθνη and λαοὶ, are always mentioned; but instead of φυλῶν, ὄχλοι is used once, and βασιλεῖς once. The number of four, therefore, is always preserved, having regard to the four quarters of the world. The number of three is used, Daniel 3:4; Daniel 3:7; Daniel 3:29, the tribes (in Hebrew) being excepted; that is, the Israelites.

Verse 10

Revelation 5:10. αὐτοὺςκαὶ βασιλεύσουσιν) See App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this passage. Comp. Matthew 23:37, and Jude 1:24. So also ἐν αὐτῇ, for ἐν σοὶ, ch. Revelation 18:24; λέγουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς, for σοῦ, Isaiah 47:8; Isaiah 47:10. In this passage the Hebrew construction of the third person for the first has a graphic relation to the redeemed, and at the same time has a more modest sound, than us, priests,(67) etc.— βασιλείαν) Thus the Alex. Lat. Cypria(68) read, as ch. Revelation 1:6. The more recent copies here also have βασιλεῖς.(69) But they who cast their crowns before the throne do not call themselves kings, in the sight of the great King, although their priestly access has such dignity, that the power of reigning on earth cannot certainly exceed it. In like manner, in ch. Revelation 20:6, they who have part in the first resurrection are called priests, and are said to be about to reign; and yet the name of kings is not given to them.— ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, upon the earth) ἐπὶ here denotes locality, as ch. Revelation 3:10 and everywhere: or rather power, as ch. Revelation 2:26; as it is said, βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς ἰουδαίας, Matthew 2:22. And thus the Septuagint, Judges 9:8; 1 Samuel 8:7; 1 Samuel 12:12; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 11:3. I should not therefore venture to assert, from this phrase, that these remain on the earth, though they rule over the earth. The elders were meek (comp. Matthew 5:5): but the flock of the meek independently is much larger.

A Vulg. h, Memph. Cypr. read βασιλείαν. B supports Rec. Text, βασιλεῖς.—E.

Verse 11

Revelation 5:11. ΄υριάδες μυριάδων καὶ χιλιάδες χιλιάδων) μυριὰς is ten thousand; μυριάδες (if only you understand δύο, as ch. Revelation 12:14, καιροὺς, that is, δύο) are twenty thousand. Thence myriads of myriads are 200,000,000; and so moreover thousands of thousands, 2,000,000. The lesser number added to the greater forbids both of them from being taken too indefinitely.

Verse 12

Revelation 5:12. ἄξιος) ἀρνίον is neuter; whence many have written ἄξιον: but ἄξιος regards the meaning itself.(70)τὴν δύνα΄ιν καὶ πλοῦτον, κ. τ. λ.) The sevenfold subject of their acclamations answers to the seven seals, in the first four of which are contained visible things, in the remaining three, invisible things, subject to the Lamb.

A reads ἄξιος; Rec. Text, ἄξιον.—E.

Verse 13

Revelation 5:13. πᾶν κτίσμαἐν αὐτοῖς, every creaturein them) All the works of the Lord in all places of His dominion: Psalms 103:22.— καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς, πάντας ἤκουσα λέγοντας) This reading is supported by the greater number of copies.(71) A few have changed πάντας, or even λέγοντας, into the neuter. τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς is put absolutely, as ch. Revelation 10:6. And this, πάντας ἤκουσα λέγοντας, admirably comprises the harmonious song of all the inhabitants whom the four quarters in the universe contain.

Verse 14

Revelation 5:14. καὶ προσεκύνησαν) With this word the paragraph ends in all the copies. See App. Crit., Ed. ii., on this passage. It is the part of piety to cut out such additions, fear being laid aside.(72) The shorter reading, καὶ προσεκύνησαν, and they worshipped, denotes the worship paid both to Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb. Comp. Revelation 5:13. προσκυνεῖν is often put absolutely: ch. Revelation 11:1; John 4:20; John 12:20.


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 5:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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