Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 4:5

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
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  7. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
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  10. Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
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  13. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
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  25. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  26. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
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  30. Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation
  31. D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation
  32. Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation
  33. Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms
  34. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  35. The Expositor's Greek Testament

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Holy Spirit;   Lamp;   Lightning;   Seven;   Throne;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Elders;   Thompson Chain Reference - Lightning;   Meteorology;   Thunder;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lamps;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Cherub;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Seven;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Lightning;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Archangel;   Revelation, the Book of;   Torch;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Enoch Book of;   Fire;   Lamp Lampstand;   Lightning;   Numbers;   Numbers (2);   Rainbow ;   Throne ;   Thunder ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Standard;   Thunder;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Lamp;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Cherub;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Fire;   Lamp;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Cherubim (1);   Isaiah;   Lightning;   Luke, the Evangelist;   Number;   Raphael;   Revelation of John:;   Seraphim;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Seven lamps of fire - Seven angels, the attendants and ministers of the supreme King. See Revelation 1:4, and the note there.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices - Expressive of the majesty and glory of Him that sat upon it. We are at once reminded by this representation of the sublime scene that occurred at Sinai Exodus 19:16, where “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud.” Compare Ezekiel 1:13, Ezekiel 1:24. So Milton:

“Forth rushed with whirlwind sound.

The chariot of Paternal Deity,

Flahing thick flames.”

“And from about him fierce effusion rolled.

Of smoke, and lightning flame, and sparkles dire.”

Par. Lost, b. vi.

The word “voices” here connected with “thunders” perhaps means “voices even thunders” - referring to the sound made by the thunder. The meaning is, that these were echoing and re-echoing sounds, as it were a multitude of voices that seemed to speak on every side.

And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne - Seven burning lamps that constantly shone there, illuminating the whole scene. These steadily burning lamps would add much to the beauty of the vision.

Which are the seven Spirits of God - Which represent, or are emblematic of, the seven Spirits of God. On the meaning of the phrase, “the seven Spirits of God,” see the notes on Revelation 1:4. If these lamps are designed to be symbols of the Holy Spirit, according to the interpretation proposed in Revelation 1:4, it may be perhaps in the following respects:

(1)They may represent the manifold influences of that Spirit in the world - as imparting light; giving consolation; creating the heart anew; sanctifying the soul, etc.

(2)they may denote that all the operations of that Spirit are of the nature of light, dissipating darkness, and vivifying and animating all things.

(3)perhaps their being placed here before the throne, in the midst of thunder and lightning, may be designed to represent the idea that - amidst all the scenes of magnificence and grandeur; all the storms, agitations, and tempests on the earth; all the political changes; all the convulsions of empire under the providence of God; and all the commotions in the soul of man, produced by the thunders of the law - the Spirit of God beams calmly and serenely, shedding a steady influence over all, like lamps burning in the very midst of lightnings, and thunderings, and voices. In all the scenes of majesty and commotion that occur on the earth, the Spirit of God is present, shedding a constant light, and undisturbed in his influence by all the agitations that are abroad.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-4.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And out of the throne proceed lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;

Thunder and lightning, etc. ... "These announce the presence of God, as at Sinai (Exodus 19:16), and the seven burning lamps refer to the Holy Spirit."[36] The combined symbols of this verse convey no meaning except that of "God's omnipotent power."[37] Subsequent versions use "torches" here instead of lamps, and perhaps that is better. Carpenter found a suggestion in this of the "torch" that moved between the parted sacrifice in the account of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15:17), indicating that both of God's covenants with Noah and with Abraham were symbolized in this chapter.

[36] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 107.

[37] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 176.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings,

and voices,.... Which may be understood either of the doctrines of the Gospel which come out of Zion, and out of Jerusalem, the church of God, where he has his throne; and which are comparable to "lightning", both for the light and knowledge they give, and for the swiftness with which they were spread over the world, by the apostles of Christ; and to "thunderings", for the awfulness, authority, and majesty of them, especially as they were delivered out by the Boanergeses, or sons of thunder; and as the prophesies of the prophets are called "the voices" of the prophets, Acts 13:27; so may the doctrines of the Gospel be called "voices", as they are the voice of God, and of Christ, and of his ministers; and are voices of love, grace, mercy, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life. The allusion is to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, when such things were seen and heard, Exodus 19:16 or else the judgments of God, and the punishments inflicted upon his enemies, and the enemies of his church and people, and his awful threatenings of them, may be designed; see Psalm 18:13; with which compare Revelation 8:5.

And there were seven lamps of burning fire before the throne,

which are the seven spirits of God; in allusion to the seven lamps in the tabernacle and temple, which were trimmed by the priests, and always kept burning, and are expressive of the Spirit, and his gifts; and these being signified by the number "seven", denote the fulness and perfection of them; and being said to be "before the throne", show that there is always a sufficiency of them for the supply of the churches in all ages, to fit and qualify proper persons to minister the word, and administer ordinances; and these being called "lamps of burning fire", point at the light the Spirit of God in his gifts communicates to the churches; and that warmth and heat, comfort and refreshment; conveyed to them, through the preaching of the Gospel, and the dispensation of the ordinances of it, under his illuminating and quickening influences.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

6 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

(6) By effects, in that most mightily he speaks all things by his voice and word, (Psalm 29:3) and with the light of his Spirit and prudence peruses and passes through all.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

proceededGreek, “proceed.”

thunderings and voices — The two oldest manuscripts transpose, “voices and thunderings.” Compare at the giving of the law on Sinai, Exodus 19:16. “The thunderings express God‘s threats against the ungodly: there are voices in the thunders (Revelation 10:3), that is, not only does He threaten generally, but also predicts special judgments” [Grotius].

seven lamps  …  seven Spirits — The Holy Spirit in His sevenfold operation, as the light-and-life Giver (compare Revelation 5:6, seven eyes  …  the seven Spirits of God; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 21:23; Psalm 119:105) and fiery purifier of the godly, and consumer of the ungodly (Matthew 3:11).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-4.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Out of the throne (εκ του τρονουek tou thronou). Back to the throne itself. The imagery is kin to that in Exodus 19:16; Exodus 24:9.; Ezekiel 1:22, Ezekiel 1:27.

Proceed (εκπορευονταιekporeuontai). Graphic historical present.

Lightnings and voices and thunders (αστραπαι και πωναι και βρονταιastrapai kai phōnai kai brontai). So exactly in Revelation 11:19; Revelation 16:18, but in Revelation 8:5 with βρονταιbrontai first, αστραπαιastrapai last, all old and common words. “The thunderstorm is in Hebrew poetry a familiar symbol of the Divine power: cf., e.g., 1 Samuel 2:10; Psalm 18:9.; Job 37:4.” (Swete).

Seven lamps of fire (επτα λαμπαδες πυροςhepta lampades puros). Return to the nominative (ιδουidou not ειδονeidon) with ησανēsan (were) understood. Metaphor drawn from Ezekiel 1:13; Zechariah 4:12. Our word “lamp,” but here a torch as in Revelation 8:10, identified with the Holy Spirit (the Seven Spirits of God) as in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:1, not λυχνιαιluchniai (lampstands) as in Revelation 1:12, Revelation 1:20, nor λυχνοςluchnos a hand-lamp with oil (Matthew 5:15). “These torches blaze perpetually before the throne of God” (Swete).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Proceeded ( ἐκπορεύονται )

Rev., proceed. The tense is graphically changed to the present.

Lightnings and thunderings and voices

Compare Exodus 19:16. Variously interpreted of God's might, His judgment, His power over nature, and His indignation against the wicked.

Lamps ( λαμπάδες )

The origin of our lamp, but, properly, a torch; the word for lamp being λύχνος , a hand-lamp filled with oil (Matthew 5:15; Luke 8:16; John 5:35). See on Matthew 25:1. Trench says: “The true Hindoo way of lighting up, is by torches, held by men who feed the flame with oil from a sort of bottle constructed for the purpose.”

Seven Spirits of God

See on Revelation 1:4.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

And out of the throne go forth lightnings — Which affect the sight.

Voices — Which affect the hearing.

Thunderings — Which cause the whole body to tremble. Weak men account all this terrible; but to the inhabitants of heaven it is a mere source of joy and pleasure, mixed with reverence to the Divine Majesty. Even to the saints on earth these convey light and protection; but to their enemies, terror and destruction.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-4.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Lightnings and thunderings and voices; symbols of mighty power.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-4.html. 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

5.] And out of the throne go forth (the tense is changed, and the narrative assumes the direct form, which, however, is immediately dropped again, and the accumulation of details resumed) lightnings and voices and thunders (the imagery seems to be in analogy with that in the Old Testament, where God’s presence to give His law was thus accompanied: cf. Exodus 19:16; where ἀστραπαί and φωναί occur in juxtaposition as here. If this idea be correct, then we have here represented the sovereignty and almightiness of God. And nearly so Vitr., Hengstb., Düsterd., al. De Wette and Ebrard understand God’s power over nature, De W. uniting it with what follows: see below. Grot. says, “Fulgura et tonitrua significant minas Dei contra impios: voces sunt in ipsis tonitrubus, infra x. 3, i. e. non generaliter tantum minatur, sed et speciales pœnas prædicit.” But there seems no ground for this): and seven lamps (the former construction is resumed) of fire burning before the throne [itself] (or, before his throne, viz. the throne of the καθήμενος), which are the seven spirits of God (see notes on ch. Revelation 1:4, Revelation 5:6. These seem to represent the Holy Spirit in his sevenfold working: in his enlightening and cheering as well as his purifying and consuming agency. So most Commentators. De W. and Ebrard regard the representation as that of the Holy Spirit, the principle of physical and spiritual life, which appears only wrong by being too limited. Hengstenb. is quite beside the mark in confidently (as usual) confining the interpretation of the lamps of fire to the consuming power of the Spirit in judgment. The fact of the parallel ch. Revelation 5:6 speaking of ἑπτὰ ὀφθαλμοί, and such texts as ch. Revelation 21:23; Psalms 119:105, should have kept him from this mistake. The whole of this glorious vision is of a composite and twofold nature: comfort is mingled with terror, the fire of love with the fire of judgment): and before the throne as it were a sea (the ὡς belongs to θάλ. ὑαλ., not to ὑαλ. alone as Bengel: so also in the parallel place, ch. Revelation 15:2) of glass (not, “glassy,” as rendered by Elliott: ὑαλίνη describes not the appearance, but the material, of the sea: it appeared like a sea of glass—so clear, and so calm) like to crystal (and that not common glass, which among the ancients was as we see from its remains, cloudy and semi-opaque, but like rock crystal for transparency and beauty, as Victorinus, “aquam mundam, stabilem, non vento agitatam.” Compare by way of contrast, ἡ καθημένη ἐπὶ [ τῶν] ὑδάτων [ τῶν] πολλῶν, the multitudinous and turbulent waters, ch. Revelation 17:1.

In seeking the explanation of this, we must first track the image from its O. T. earlier usage. There, in Exodus 24:10, we have καὶ εἶδον τὸν τόπον οὗ εἱστήκει ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ἰσραήλ· καὶ τὰ ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ ἔργον πλίνθου σαπφείρου, καὶ ὥσπερ εἶδος στερεώματος τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τῇ καθαριότητι. Compare with this Ezekiel 1:22, καὶ ὁμοίωμα ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς αὐτῶν[ αὐτοῖς α] τῶν ζώων ὡσεὶ στερέωμα, ὡς ὅρασις κρυστάλλου, ἐκτεταμένον ἐπὶ τῶν πτερύγων αὐτῶν ἐπάνωθεν. In Job 37:18 also, where the LXX appear to have gone quite astray, the sky is said to be “as a molten looking-glass.” If we are to follow these indices, the primary reference will be to the clear ether in which the throne of God is upborne: and the intent of setting this space in front of the throne will be, to betoken its separation and insulation from the place where the Seer stood, and indeed from all else around it. The material and appearance of this pavement of the throne seem chosen to indicate majestic repose and ethereal purity.

All kinds of symbolic interpretations, more or less fanciful, have been given. Such are those of Victorinus (“donum baptismi”), Tichonius, Primas(81), Bed(82), Lyra, Calov., al.,—of Joachim (“in mari vitreo sacrum designatur scripturarum volumen”),—of Alcas. (repentance), of Ribera (“ego mare vitreum dici arbitror multitudinem hominum in terra viventium”), Paræus, al.,—of Vitringa (“id, quo clare intelligimus regnum Dei in Christo Jesu niti et fundari: id vero est α) certa et constans Dei voluntas, qua constituit regnum gratiæ habere inter homines.… β) jus certum et liquidum ejusmodi regnum gratiæ inter homines erigendi …”), Herder, al.,—of Bengel and Hengstb., that the sea of glass, on account of its being described as mixed with fire in ch. Revelation 15:2, is “das Product der sieben Feuerlampen,” and (Psalms 36:6, “Thy judgments are a great deep”) betokens the great and wonderful works of God, His righteous and holy ways. But as Düsterd. remarks, the parallel place, ch. Revelation 5:6, where the seven lamps are seven eyes, precludes this:—of Aretius, Grot., and Ebrard, who, because the sea, in its stormy and agitated state, represents (ch. Revelation 17:15) the nations of the earth in their godless state, therefore the pure and calm sea represents (Ebr.) the creatures in their proper relation to their Creator, or (Aret.) “cœtum ecclesiæ triumphantis,” or as Grot. strangely, and as De W. remarks, most unfelicitously, “summa puritas plebis Hierosolymitanæ ejus quæ Christo nomen dederat: quæ puritas describitur Act. ii. et iv.” Düsterd. connects it, and in fact identifies it, with the river of the water of life, λαμπρ. ὡς κρύσταλλον, which, ch. Revelation 22:1, proceeded out of the throne of God and the Lamb. But the whole vision there is quite distinct from this, and each one has its own propriety in detail. To identify the two, is to confound them: nor does ch. Revelation 15:2 at all justify this interpretation. There, as here, it is the purity, calmness, and majesty of God’s rule which are signified by the figure). And in the midst of the throne (not, as Hengstb., under the throne: their movements are free, cf. ch. Revelation 15:7. See below), and round about the throne (i. e. so that in the Apostle’s view they partly hid the throne, partly overlapped the throne, being symmetrically arranged with regard to it, i. e. as the number necessitates, one in the midst of each side), four living-beings (the E. V., “beasts,” is the most unfortunate word that could be imagined. A far better one is that now generally adopted, “living creatures:” the only objection to it being that when we come to Revelation 4:9; Revelation 4:11, we give the idea, in conjoining “living-creatures” and “created” ( ἔκτισας), of a close relation which is not found in the Greek. I have therefore preferred living-beings) full of eyes before and behind (this, from their respective positions, could be seen by St. John: their faces being naturally towards the throne. On the symbolism, see below). And the first living-being like to a lion, and the second living-being like to a steer ( μόσχος is not necessarily to be pressed to its proper primary meaning, as indicating the young calf in distinction from the grown bullock: the LXX use it for an ox generally, in Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 22:23; also Exodus 29:10, and Genesis 12:16), and the third living-being having its face as of a man (or, the face of a man), and the fourth living-being like to a flying eagle. And the four living-beings, each (reff.) of them having ( ἔχων, the gender being conformed to that of the thing signified, see on φωνὴλέγων, Revelation 4:1) six wings apiece (for the distributive ἀνά, see reff.). All round and within (I prefer much putting a period at ἕξ, to carrying on the construction; as more in accord with the general style of this description.

Understand, after both κυκλόθεν, and ἔσωθεν,— τῶν πτερύγων: the object of St. John being to shew, that the six wings in each case did not interfere with that which he had before declared, viz. that they were full of eyes before and behind. Round the outside of each wing, and up the inside of each (half-expanded) wing, and of the part of the body also which was in that inside recess) they are full of eyes: and they have no rest by day and by night ( ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός may belong either to ἀνάπ. οὐκ ἔλ., or to λέγοντες. Partly on account of the καί, partly as a matter of the mere judgment of the ear, I prefer joining it with the latter) saying (the gender, see as above), Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty (so far is identical with the seraphim’s ascription of praise in Isaiah 6:3; παντοκράτωρ answering usually in the LXX to צְבָאוֹת, though not in that place. See Bengel’s remarks in note on Romans 9:29), which was, and which is, and which is to come (see on reff.).

These four living-beings are in the main identical with the cherubim of the O. T. (compare Ezekiel 1:5-10; Ezekiel 10:20), which are called by the same name of living creatures ( חַיּוֹת), and are similarly described. We may trace however some differences. In Ezekiel’s vision, each living-being has all four faces, Ezekiel 1:6, whereas here the four belong severally, one to each. Again in Ezekiel’s vision, it is apparently the wheels which are full of eyes, Ezekiel 1:18; though in Ezekiel 10:12, it would appear as if the animals also were included. Again, the having six wings apiece is not found in the cherubim of Ezekiel, which have four, Ezekiel 1:6,—but belongs to the seraphim described in Isaiah 6:2, to whom also (see above) belongs the ascription of praise here given. So that these are forms compounded out of the most significant particulars of more than one O. T. vision.

In enquiring after their symbolic import, we are met by the most remarkable diversity of interpretation. 1) Our earliest Commentator, Victorinus, may serve as the type of those who have understood them to symbolize the Four Evangelists, or rather, Gospels:—“Simile leoni animal, Evangelium secundum Marcum, in quo vox leonis in eremo rugientis auditur, vox clamantis in deserto, Parate viam Domini. Hominis autem figura Matthæus enititur enunciare nobis genus Mariæ unde carnem accepit Christus. Ergo dum enumerat ab Abraham usque ad David et usque ad Joseph, tanquam de homine locutus est. Ideo prædicatio ejus hominis effigiem ostendit. Lucas sacerdotium Zachariæ offerentis hostiam pro populo, et apparentem sibi angelum dum enarrat, propter sacerdotium, et hostiæ conscriptionem, vituli imaginationem tenet. Joannes Evangelista aquilæ similis, assumptis pennis ad altiora festinans, de verbo Dei disputat.” I have cited this comment at length, to shew on what fanciful and untenable ground it rests. For with perhaps the one exception of the last of the four, not one of the Evangelists has any inner or substantial accordance with the character thus assigned. Consequently these characteristics are found varied, and that in the earliest writer in whom the view can be traced, viz. Irenæus, who (iii. 11. 8, p. 190) makes the lion to be the gospel of St. John, which τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡγεμονικὴν αὐτοῦ.… καὶ ἔνδοξον γενεὰν διηγεῖται: the steer that of St. Luke, as above: the man, that of St. Matthew: the eagle, that of St. Mark, who ἀπὸ τοῦ προφητικοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἐξ ὕψους ἐπιόντος τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο. So also Andreas in Catena. But again Augustine, de cons. evv. i. 6, vol. iii. p. 1046, attributes the lion to St. Matthew, the man to St. Mark, the steer to St. Luke, and the eagle to St. John. These notices may again serve to shew with what uncertainty the whole view is beset. It has nevertheless been adopted by Jerome (Prolog. ad ev. Matth., vol. vii. p. 5, 6), Primas(83), Bed(84), and many others of old, and among the moderns by Williams (on the Study of the Gospels, pp. 1–92), Scott (Interpretation of the Apocalypse, p. 132, but making, as Aug(85) above, the lion = St. Matthew, the man = St. Mark, the ox = St. Luke, and the eagle = St. John), Wordsworth (Lectures on the Apoc. p. 116, see also his note here, who, as in his statements on the other details, so here, ascribes unanimity (but see below) to the ancients: “in them the ancient church beheld a figure of the four gospels”), &c. The principal of the other interpretations have been: 2) the 4 elements; so some mentioned in the Catena; 3) the 4 cardinal virtues: so Arethas, as cited by Corn.-a-lap., and generally: but not in the Catena: 4) the 4 faculties and powers of the human soul; “homo est vis rationalis, leo irascibilis, bos concupiscibilis, aquila est conscientia, sive spiritus;”—so Corn.-a-lap. refers to Sixtus Senensis as citing Greg. Naz(86) from Orig(87) Hom. 1 on Ezekiel, vol. iii. p. 361 f.: 5) Our Lord in the fourfold great events of Redemption: so a conjecture in the Catena ( ἴσως δὲ καὶ διὰ τούτων ἡ οἰκονομία χριστοῦ δηλοῦται· διὰ τοῦ λέοντος, ὡς βασιλεύς· διὰ δὲ τοῦ μόσχου, ὡς ἱερεύς, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἱερεῖον· διὰ δὲ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ὡς διʼ ἡμᾶς ἀνδρωθείς· διὰ τοῦ ἀετοῦ, ὡς χορηγὸς τοῦ ζωοποίου πνεύματος καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας καταπτάντος), Aretius, Ansbert (inter alia: for he tries to combine all possible interpretations which can relate to Christ and the Church); 6) the 4 patriarchal-churches: so Lyra, explaining the lion = Jerusalem, “propter constantiam ibi existentium,” citing Acts 5:29; the ox = Antioch, “quia fuit parata obedire mandatis Apostolorum in Judæa existentium, et quia (?) primo in ea vocati sunt discipuli Christiani:” the man = Alexandria, “nam in ea a principio fuerunt doctores docti non solum in literis divinis sed etiam humanis:” the eagle = Constantinople, “nam in ea fuerunt viri per contemplationem elevati, ut Gregorius Naz(88) et plures alii.” This is referred to by Corn.-a-lap., who ends characteristically, “Hæ quatuor sunt in circuitu throni Dei, id est, Cathedræ Romanæ, in qua sedet vicarius Dei:” 7) the 4 great Apostles, Peter, “fervens animo et in hoc leoni similis:” James the Lord’s brother, because “bos patientiam significat:” Matthew, “bonitate homo antecedit animantia cætera. Puto designari Matthæum qui diu dicitur mansisse in Judæa” (?): Paul, because the eagle “celeritatem ministerii significat, quod certe Paulo proprium qui sæpius Hierosolymis fuit. Et bene πετομένῳ, quia semper erat in cursu:” so Grotius: 8) all the doctors of the church: so Vitringa, al.: 9) “in quatuor animalibus istis quatuor speciales ordines designati sunt, quorum primus pastorum est, secundus diaconorum, tertius doctorum, quartus contemplantium,” Joachim: 10) the 4 representatives of the N. T. church, as the four standards of the tribes Reuben, Judah, Ephraim, and Dan, which are traditionally thus reported (see also Numbers 2), were of the O. T. church. So Mede and many others: 11) the 4 virtues of the Apostles, “magnanimitas, beneficentia, æquitas sapientia,”—Alcasar (in De W.): 12) the 4 principal angels, Corn.-a-lap., Laun., al.: 13) the angelic, or is-angelic, state of the glorified church: so Elliott, vol. i. p. 87. But thus we have no account given of the peculiar symbolism of these living-beings, nor of the part which they perform in the act of praise below. There are many other interpretations and ramifications of interpretation, hardly worth recounting. But the one which above all these seems to me to require our notice is that which is indicated in the rabbinical sentence cited by Schöttgen here: “Quatuor sunt qui principatum in hoc mundo tenent. Inter creaturas homo, inter aves aquila, inter pecora bos, inter bestias leo.” The four cherubic forms are the representatives of animated nature—of God’s sentient creation. In Ezekiel, each form is compounded of the four. Here, the four forms are distinct. There (Ezekiel 28:12), where the prince of Tyrus is compared to one of them, it is called the impression of similitude, and the crown of beauty: in Isaiah 6, where the seraphim, which enter into the composition of these living beings, ascribe holiness to Jehovah, they cry, “His glory is the fulness of the whole earth.” With this view, every thing that follows is in accordance. For when these, and the 24 elders, in Revelation 4:9-11, fall down before the throne, the part which these living-beings bear in the great chorus of praise is sufficiently indicated by the reason which is given for their ἄξιος εἶ, viz. ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν. The objection brought against this view by Ebrard, viz. that Behemoth, the king of the waters, is not here represented, is mere trifling. He forgets that in the record of creation, the noblest of the creatures sprung from the waters are not fishes, but birds; and that the eagle represents both. It is in strict accordance also with this view, that these living-beings are full of eyes, ever wakeful, ever declaring the glory of God: that they have each six wings, which doubtless are to be taken as in Isaiah 6 from which the figure comes—“with twain he covered his face (reverence, in not venturing to look on the divine majesty), and with twain he covered his feet (humility, hiding his own created form from the glory of the Creator), and with twain he did fly (obedience, readiness to perform the divine commands). This view is taken by the best of the modern Commentators: by Herder, De Wette, Rinck, Hengstb., Düsterd. Ebrard differs only in this, that he regards them as symbolic not of creation itself, but of the creative power of God. Stern, whose commentary on this whole passage is very able and beautiful, inclines rather to take them as representing the power of divine grace within the church of God: but in his usual interpretation (see in p. 209, on ὅταν δώσουσιν, κ. τ. λ.) treats them as “alles creaturliche Leben der Natur.” See also my Hulsean Lectures for 1841, vol. i. Lecture ii.

We have thus the throne of God surrounded by His Church and His animated world: the former represented by the 24 elders, the latter by the four living-beings.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-4.html. 1863-1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 5. Lightnings and thunderings] Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to persecutors? Job 31:3. Who ever hardened himself against God’s Church and prospered? Job 9:4. Have these workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up God’s people as they eat bread? Psalms 14:4. Surely, if they had but so much wit for themselves as Pilate’s wife had in a dream, they would take heed of having anything to do with just men. If any man will hurt God’s witnesses, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies, Revelation 11:5. It was therefore no ill counsel that a martyr gave his persecutors, If thou wilt not spare us, yet spare thyself. It is a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God.

The seven spirits] See Revelation 1:4.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-4.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 4:5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings There is an observable difference in the several descriptions of the throne of God in the prophets: The glory, or Shechinah, in the temple, is represented as under the wings of the cherubim, 1 Kings 8:6-7. In Isaiah's vision, the glory of the Lord is represented as sitting on a throne, and above it stood the seraphim, (Isaiah 1:2.) that is, "above the place on which the throne was set, as attending ministers to him who sat upon the throne." In Ezekiel 1:22 there is the likeness of a firmament over the heads of the living creatures, whom the prophet elsewhere calls the cherubim; that is, the cherubim were represented as bearing up a crystal vault or seat, on which the throne of Jehovah was placed, over their heads, and which they supported with their wings. This different description will be explained by an easy observation, that the Shechinah, or glory of the God of Israel, is represented in the temple as the presence of a king in his palace; his throne is supposed seated in an apartment of state, and the cherubim are so placed as to form a canopy of state, under which he sits. In the vision of Isaiah, Jehovah is represented as sitting on his throne or bed of justice, held in open court, in the porch, or at the gate of his palace; then the cherubim appear as attending ministers of the court, to receive and execute the orders of it. In the vision of Ezekiel, Jehovah is represented as going forth in solemn procession, and having his throne or chair of state borne up on the wings of cherubim, as the great kings of the East were used to be borne on the shoulders of their servants. See on Revelation 4:1.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-4.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

By the throne God is represented as a judge: by the thunderings, and lightnings, and voices, is represented the terribleness of God in judging sinners. As the law was delivered upon mount Sinai in lightning and thunder, so will there be the same, nay, far greater dread and terror, when God comes to judge and plead with sinners for their willful and repeated transgressions of that law.

By the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, some understand the Holy Spirit of God in its manifold gifts and graces; enlightening, quickening, warming, comforting the church of God; others understand the holy angels, who are continually waiting upon this judge, and attending of this judicature, who are as his eyes and feet, that is, his ready instruments to execute his pleasure. God, in the judgment of the great day, will be attended by his saints as assessors, by his angels as assistants.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-4.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 4:5. The throne of God corresponds in its appearance to the majesty of the king sitting thereon. As in Psalms 29.,(1743) the regal(1744) omnipotence of God is made visible in the violence of the thunder-storm, so John here uses the same image in order to describe the unlimited omnipotence of the enthroned one, particularly as exercised in judgment. The throne itself, out of which proceeded “the lightnings, thunderings, and voices,” appears filled with this sign of the Divine omnipotence. The φωναί which are here distinguished from the βρονταί—so that passages as Revelation 6:1, Revelation 10:3, Revelation 14:2,(1745) must not be here compared,—have(1746) to be regarded as the roar which in a storm accompanies the thunder and lightning.(1747) The misunderstandings of the description depend upon the crudeness and arbitrariness of the exposition. So in N. de Lyra:(1748) “The coruscation of miracles, and declaration of rewards for good and the terror of punishments for evil deeds.” Solely on account of the ἐκπορεύονται,”(1749) Aretius understood by the ἀστραπ., φων., and βροντ., even, the Holy Ghost. De Wette(1750) discerns in the lightning, etc., figures of God’s manifestations of power and life in nature, which are to be distinguished, as “critical and powerful revelations of God,” from the seven lamps as “his calm and perpetual influences;” while in Revelation 4:6-8, “nature itself, or the realm of the living,” and finally in Revelation 4:9-11, “the harmony of creation with redeemed humanity, and thus God in his living efficiency and reality,” are brought into consideration. But this interpretation is in more than one respect without foundation. The lightning, voices, and thunder are, according to the O. T. view, on which the present description depends,(1751) not figures of the revelation of God in nature as distinct from another revelation, but of the unlimited power of God, especially as judging;(1752) only we dare not, with Grot., understand the ἀστρ. and βροντ. of general threats, but the φων. of particular afflictions. The throne whence the lightning, etc., proceeds, agrees with that whose form appears to be not only like jasper, but also like a sardine stone.

καῖ ἑπτὰ λαμπάδες πυρὸς, κ. τ. λ. The authentic explanation immediately follows: αἵ εἰσι τὰ ἑπτὰ πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ. Cf., besides, Revelation 1:4. The pragmatic significance of the Spirit of God in this connection is not that the Spirit of God “is the principle of the psychical(1753) and spiritual life, and that through him the inner influence of God on nature and the human world occurs;”(1754) for the idea of the λαμπάδες πυρός does not suit the explanation of the closely connected first half of the verse. But Hengstenb. also, who very arbitrarily combines the “seven” of the Spirit with the “three” of the lightning, voices, and thunder, into a “ten,” and herein finds indicated a connection of the Spirit with that lightning, etc., improperly thinks only of an operation of the Spirit, “bringing corruption, punishing, and annihilating.” If also the idea of the work of the Spirit in judging(1755) dare not be left out of consideration, partly because of what precedes, and partly because of the expression, πυρός; on the one hand, the expression λαμπάδες, and, on the other, the parallel Revelation 5:6 ( ὀφθαλμοί), indicate that the Spirit is to be regarded chiefly as illuminating, seeing, searching all things,(1756) and just on that account everywhere(1757) active in his holy judgments. Essentially the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne of God indicate nothing else than the eyes of the Lord “as a flame of fire” in Revelation 1:14.(1758)

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-4.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 4:5. ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ(59)) In ch. Revelation 8:5 there are mentioned βρονταὶ καὶ ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ σεισ΄ὸς; in Revelation 11:19, ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καἰ σεισ΄ὸς καὶ χάλαζα ΄εγάλη; and again with Epitasis, as far as relates to σεισ΄ὸν καὶ χάλαζαν, in ch. Revelation 16:18; Revelation 16:21. It occasions inconvenience, that the copyists have written lightnings and voices and thunderings, in these four passages, with so little attention to the order: yet in ch. Revelation 4:5, Revelation 11:19, all place lightnings first in order; in Revelation 16:18, almost all; in Revelation 8:5, not one.— ἑπτὰ λαμπάδες, seven lamps) The Holy Spirit, economically, as Wisdom, חבמות, in the plural number. ch. Revelation 5:6, the text explains itself.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-4.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: these words denote a very glorious and terrible appearance of God, denoting his majesty, and power over his enemies. There is, possibly, an allusion to God’s appearance at the giving of the law, Exodus 19:16; only we read there but of one voice, and that of a trumpet, inarticulate. The lamps of fire before the throne, have a correspondence with the seven lamps of the tabernacle, which gave light to the whole house of God, Exodus 27:20; and are here expounded to be

the seven Spirits of God, that is, the Holy Spirit in his seven-fold (that is, manifold) dispensations of grace, 1 Corinthians 12:4,5, by which he enlighteneth, quickeneth, healeth, and comforteth the several souls that are the true members of his church. See Poole on "Revelation 1:4".

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-4.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

молнии и громы Грядет не неистовство природы, а огненная буря праведного гнева, посланная внушающим страх и всемогущим Богом на грешную землю (8:5; 11:19; 16:18).

семь духов Божиих Святой Дух (см. пояснение к 1:4).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-4.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices; representing the awful majesty, holiness, and power of God.

Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne; see note to chap Revelation 1:4.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.’

These are the seven angels of the Presence (see on Revelation 1:4). They are ‘before the throne’ showing that they are servants, and like ‘burning fire’, demonstrating their holiness (compare the cherubim in Ezekiel 1:13). Nothing is said of their activities for they are waiting for their appointed holy task, allocated to them by the Lamb, which will be revealed shortly. They are there ready and waiting to serve. Their linking with the lightnings and thunder and voices confirm that something awesome is about to happen.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-4.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The lightning and thunder are evidently portents of judgment to come and symbolize God judging ( Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 16:18; cf. Exodus 19:16).

"In Revelation the symbols of thunder and lightning are always connected with a temple scene and mark an event of unusual import." [Note: Mounce, p136.]

The wrath of God proceeds from this throne. The seven burning lamps (or torches, Gr. lampades, cf. lychniai, "lampstands," Revelation 1:12; Revelation 1:20) probably picture divine preparedness for battle against wickedness (cf. Judges 7:16; Judges 7:20; Nahum 2:3-4; Isaiah 4:4; Zechariah 4:2-3; Zechariah 4:6; Zechariah 4:10; Malachi 4:1). [Note: Seiss, p103.] The seven spirits of God (perhaps the seven principal angels of God, cf. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:1) will carry out this judgment. The picture is of these torches ready to go from God"s presence to the earth where they will consume wickedness during the Tribulation.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-4.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 4:5. The description is continued with the mention of lightnings and voices and thunders which proceed out of the throne. These represent neither the ‘outpouring of the Holy Spirit’ nor the ‘agency of the Gospel,’ but the fact that the throne of God is a throne of judgment (Psalms 9:7). The world is judged not merely by God Himself, but by His Church (chap. Revelation 2:27). Judgment against sin is a necessary accompaniment both of holiness and love. Nor need it surprise us that such indications of judgment should proceed from the throne at a time when the Church is regarded as having attained her glorified condition, and is safe from all her enemies, for it is not so much the actual exercise as the attribute of judgment that is now in view, and such an attribute is eternal. These lightnings and voices and thunders, therefore, are not to be regarded as a manifestation peculiar to the moment at which they are witnessed by the Seer: they are essential and perpetual accompaniments of the throne.—In addition there were seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are explained to be the seven spirits of God, or, in other words, His one Spirit in the fulness and manifoldness of His operation. Yet it is not the gracious operation of the Spirit by which God calls enlightens, and sanctifies the world that is in view. It is rather His penetrating influence, similar to that of chap. Revelation 1:14, by which He searches the innermost recesses of the heart.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-4.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Lightnings, a symbol of God's majesty and power. --- Seven lamps burning, which signified the seven spirits of God, the chief spirits that attend his throne. See chap. i. 4. (Witham) --- The lightnings, loud voices, and thunders, which come from the throne of God, announce alarms and severe hardships, such as persecutions, heresies, calamities, &c. by which he tries the fidelity of his servants on earth. And the seven spirits of God, who appear under the form of burning lamps, are seven Angels, as before mention, (Chap. i. 4.) standing ready to execute the Divine commands. (Walmesley)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-4.html. 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The lightnings and thunderings remind us of God"s appearance on Sinai and suggest God"s greatness. It would be better to say seven torches here represent the Holy Spirit. Since he worked in the area of delivering the word, this seems a very appropriate figure. (John 16:12-14)

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-4.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

proceeded = proceed.

seven. See App-197.

lamps. App-130. See John 18:3.

burning. Greek. kaio. See John 5:55.

Spirits. App-101.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-4.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Proceeded - `proceed.'

Thunderings and voices. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate, transpose, 'voices and thunderings.' Compare, at the giving of the law, Exodus 19:16. 'The thunderings express God's threats against the ungodly; there are voices in them (Revelation 10:3): i:e., not only does He, threaten generally, but predicts special judgments' (Grotius).

Seven lamps ... seven Spirits - the Holy Spirit in His sevenfold operation, as the light-and-life-giver (cf. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 5:6, seven eyes ... the seven Spirits of God; 21:23; 119:105) and fiery purifier of the godly, and consumer of the ungodly (Matthew 3:11).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-4.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) And out of the throne proceeded (rather, proceed; there is a change in the tense used) lightnings and thunderings and voices.—These are viewed by some as the indications of approaching judgments. Perhaps it is better to view them as the tokens of God’s power of judgment than as hints of immediately approaching judgments. The scene at Sinai (Exodus 19:16) was no doubt in the prophet’s mind. There the clouds and lightnings were not so much tokens of coming judgment as the symbols of that righteous power which can show itself in judgment. “Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Psalms 97:2). They are the constant tokens of that power of God

“Which makes the darkness and the light,

And dwells not in the light alone,

But in the darkness and the cloud

As over Sinai's peaks of old.”

And there were seven lamps (or, torches) of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.—See Revelation 3:1. The Spirit of God in His manifold powers is thus described under emblems of fire. Not merely as a fire of judgment. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11-12). The flaming presence purges the spirit from sin. The Holy Spirit consumes evil. It is an unquenchable fire against all evils, whether in men’s hearts or in men’s lives, or in the world. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:13, and Hebrews 12:29.) May there not be allusion to the covenant with Abraham, which was ratified by fire? Lamps, or torches, of fire (lampades puros, LXX., same as in this passage) went between the divided pieces of the heifer and the she-goat. If this be correct, the vision of this chapter reminds us that God is ever mindful of His covenant. The rainbow, the token of the covenant with Noah; the flaming torches, tokens of the covenant with Abraham; and the thunderings and lightnings, the tokens of the covenant at Sinai, are ever with Him. (Comp, also Ezekiel 1:4.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
proceeded
8:5; 11:19; 16:17,18; Exodus 19:16; 20:18; Psalms 18:13,14; 68:35; Joel 3:16; Hebrews 12:18-29
seven
Genesis 15:7; Exodus 37:23; 2 Chronicles 4:20; Ezekiel 1:13; Zechariah 4:2,11-14
the seven
1:4; 3:1; 5:6; Matthew 3:11; Acts 2:3; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Reciprocal: Exodus 25:31 - a candlestick;  Exodus 25:37 - seven;  Exodus 40:25 - GeneralNumbers 8:2 - GeneralPsalm 29:3 - thundereth;  Revelation 4:2 - a throne;  Revelation 6:1 - the noise;  Revelation 6:16 - the face;  Revelation 19:6 - and as the voice of mighty;  Revelation 22:1 - proceeding

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-4.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Lightning am! 17zundm"- "in_as and "voices symbolize authority issuing from the throne and it is C0111-ing from some being whose voice is as penetrating as ligthning and as impressive as a roll of thunder. Seven. lamps denote complete illumination and the sewn. Spirits of God are explained at Revelation 1:4.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-4.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 4:5

Revelation 4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

"lightnings, and thunderings, and voices"

By the lightnings, and thunderings, and voices which proceeded out of the throne, the Church of God, that Isaiah, from Christ and the elders; we may understand the dispensations of the gospel, that cometh not in word only (signified by voices) but in power, { 1 Thessalonians 1:5} (expressed by lightnings and thunders) such are the right and just censures of Christ and his church, { 1 Corinthians 5:4-5} against those in the church that are hereticks, schismaticks, or scandalous sinners; and the seven lamps of fire are the Seven Spirits of God. {See Revelation 1:14}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-4.html.

D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation

V:5. Seven lamps are before the throne. In Revelation 1:4, the lamps are the churches, but here they are said to be the seven spirits of God. It is important to observe that symbols are not always uniform.

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Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Verse5.

"The lightning, voices and thunder" from the throne indicates the approaching judgment as in Exodus 19:16. "THE SEVEN SPIRITS"--as in1:4--The Holy Spirit.

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Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 4:5. And from the throne proceed lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and seven torches of fire burn before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. The lightnings, voices, and thunders are pre-intimations of judgment. That this is to be exercised for the good of the church, is clear from the connection with Revelation 4:3-4. Bengel: "To the saints on earth light and protection are thereby imparted, but to the enemies terror and destruction. The king's children should not be afraid of what he has in his arsenal." They are still not the judgment itself, but the matter-of-fact or symbolical announcement of it; as in Exodus 19:16, voices, and lightnings, and thunders were seen and heard on the mount, as an indication beforehand of the awful judgment of God that was sure to overtake the transgressors of the law, insomuch that the people trembled in the camp. So also, in Psalms 97:2-3, before the scene of judgment itself begins, clouds and darkness are round about the Lord, and glowing fire issues from before him; and in Psalms 50:3, a fire devours before him, and all is tempestuous round about him (comp. also Psalms 18:8, and my commentary on these passages). The seven seals are the embodiment of the judgments prefigured here and exhibited to view. In the same annunciatory character are lightnings mentioned in ch. Revelation 8:5; and in ch. Revelation 11:19, Revelation 16:18, they serve as a designation of the judgments actually inflicted. But the lightnings, etc., are everywhere the precursors of the divine judgment, or this itself; never is" the praise of the Almighty in heaven" sounded by them, as Bengel supposes. Nor will the Old Testament fundamental passages suffer us to think of such a meaning. There thunders and lightnings are the standing symbol of God's manifestations of anger. The voices are constantly put in immediate connection with the thunders, and so indeed as to precede the other. In John 6:1, John 14:2, mention is made of the voice of thunder, and here in ch. Revelation 10:3 the seven thunders utter their voices. All this, together with the Old Testament usage, shews that we must not separate the voices from the thunders, and that we are not with Zllig to understand by them the inarticulate thunder-claps as contrasted with the audible sounds from heaven. It is best to regard the thunders as the kind, and the voices as the species, which here come more particularly into view. Bengel remarks excellently, "Whoever gives attention to what precedes in the weather, he knows, that thunder sometimes spreads itself far in the clouds, and continues for a considerable time (like the hollow roar of the sea), while sometimes there is a quick, sharp crack, which may more especially be considered as a voice, that merely peals on the ear. Thunder, however, in the proper sense is accompanied also with a shaking. These things are of a frightful nature, and yet at the same time agreeable. Frightful in respect to enemies, agreeable for such as are at one with God, and stand in his grace." John 12:28-30 may be compared.

That the seven torches of fire, which are the seven Spirits of God, are connected as to the things indicated with the lightnings, voices, and thunders, might be inferred alone from the circumstance that the seven in them with the three of the latter together make up ten. They do not mean the Spirit of God in himself. Against that is, not only the plural, but also the expression "before the throne," here and in Revelation 1:4, where the Seer wishes grace and peace to the church from him who is, and who was, and who comes, and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne. The statement also in ch. Revelation 5:6, that "they are sent upon the whole earth," is against the view in question. What we are to understand are the operations of God's Spirit, which is at the same time the Spirit of Christ (ch. Revelation 5:6), and which is united to the Father by essential oneness of being; his operations ad extra, and here indeed more especially as bringing chastisement and destruction. This is indicated by the πύ ρος, shewing that the discourse is of torches of fire, and fire being in the Apocalypse the standing symbol of God's anger and judgment, comp. for example Revelation 1:14, Revelation 2:18, Revelation 19:12, Revelation 10:1, Revelation 20:10, Revelation 21:8, Revelation 14:10. In the Old Testament also torches of fire are only mentioned where respect is had to consuming and burning, Zechariah 12:6; Judges 15:4-5; Daniel 10:6. Comp. Revelation 8:10, where mention is made of a great star burning like a torch. This is confirmed by the juxtaposition with lightning and thunder, and the context generally, where every thing bears a frightful character to the world, and hence a consolatory one to the church of God. Thoughts like the following, "They mark the multifariousness of the gifts which are bestowed on the church of the New Testament," (Vitringa); or, "They stand before the throne, that at the nod of their Master they may communicate themselves to any human spirit," (Züllig); or, "God himself makes all clear about him through his Spirit," (Hoffmann), do not at all suit the connection What follows also leads to the same result. The sea of glass, according to ch. Revelation 15:2, mixed with fire, is the product as it were of the seven burning torches of fire, which are the seven Spirits of God. Even Isaiah in Isaiah 4:4, speaks of the Spirit of judgment and of burning, of the Spirit of God which judges and burns—comp. Malachi 3:3.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-4.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

5.Proceeded—Greek, in the present tense, go forth, as an ordinary or constant phenomenon. The lightnings, thunderings, and voices, (for such is the order of the words by the best reading,) are symbols of God’s omnipotence.

Seven lampsTorches.

Fire—The emblem of the searching, purifying power of the Spirit. Note Matthew 3:11. The Sitter on the throne, the seven Spirits, and the Lamb, present the three divine personalities.

Seven spirits—See note on Revelation 1:4.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-4.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 4:5. The impression of awe is heightened by traits from the primitive Semitic theophany which, especially in judgment, was commonly associated with a thunderstorm ( = the shrieks and roaring blasts of the storm). Thunder in the Apocalypse is either a sort of chorus in praise of God (as here) or punitive (e.g., Revelation 16:18); in Enoch lix. 1 the seer beholds the secrets of the thunder, “how it ministers unto well-being and blessing, or serves for a curse before the Lord of Spirits”. For the “torches of fire” (seven being a sacred number = collective and manifold power, Jastrow 265, Trench 62–70) cf.Ezekiel 1:13 , and Apoc. Bar. xxi. 6, where “holy living creatures, without number, of flame and fire” surround the throne. Fulness, intensity, energy, are implied in the figure, which reflects the traditional association (in the primitive mind) of fire and flame with the divinity, and especially with the divine purity or holiness of which they were regarded as an outward expression. There may be an allusion to the ignes aeterni or sempiterni of Roman mythology, an equivalent for the heavenly bodies; but Jewish eschatology had for over two centuries been familiar with the seven watchers of the heavenly court and their counterparts in Persian and Babylonian mythology. The combination of fire and crystal (Revelation 4:6, see also Revelation 15:2) goes back originally to Exodus 24:9-10; Exodus 24:17, and Ezekiel 1:22; Ezekiel 1:27, mediated by passages like En. xiv. 9, 17 f., 21–23; while the groundwork of the symbol answers to the seven Persian councillors (Ezra 7:14, Esther 1:14) who formed the immediate circle of the monarch, a counterpart of the divine Amshaspands, as well as to the sacred fire of Ormuzd, which (on Zoroastrian principles) was to be kept constantly burning. Seven burning altars, evidently representing a planetary symbolism, also occur in the cult of Mithra, while in the imageless temple of Melcarth at Gades fires always burned upon the altar, tended by whiterobed priests.—5 c reads like an editorial comment or a liturgical gloss; the , e.g., are undefined.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 4:5". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-4.html. 1897-1910.