Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 4:8

And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, " Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty , who was and who is and who is to come ."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Animals;   God;   God Continued...;   Praise;   Throne;   Trinity;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Elders;   Thompson Chain Reference - God;   God's;   Gratitude-Ingratitude;   Heavenly;   Holiness;   Praise;   Unceasing Praise;   Worship;   The Topic Concordance - God;   Holiness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - God;   Holiness of God, the;   Praise;   Trinity, the;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Angels;   God;   Holiness;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Holy, Holiness;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Sabaoth;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Cherub (1);   Number;   Seraphim;   Shechinah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Doxology;   Ezekiel;   Hymn;   I Am;   Living Beings, Living Creatures;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Almighty;   Holiness;   Seraphim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Alpha and Omega (2);   Cherubim ;   Enoch Book of;   Eye;   God;   Holiness Purity;   Isaiah ;   Living;   Lord;   Master;   Mediator;   Numbers;   Omnipotence;   Praise;   Pre-Eminence ;   Sanctify, Sanctification;   Wing ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Almighty;   Beast;   Cherub, Cherubim;   Ezekiel, Book of;   God;   12 Rest Liberty;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Holiness;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Cherub;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Wing;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Vocation;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adoration;   Angel;   Cherubim (1);   Holiness;   Isaiah;   Luke, the Evangelist;   Omnipotence;   Revelation of John:;   Seraphim;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for October 11;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The four beasts had each of them six wings - I have already observed, in the preface to this book, that the phraseology is rabbinical; I might have added, and the imagery also. We have almost a counterpart of this description in Pirkey Elieser. chap. 4. I shall give the substance of this from Schoettgen. "Four troops of ministering angels praise the holy blessed God: the first is Michael, at the right hand; the next is Gabriel, at the left; the third is Uriel, before; and the fourth is Raphael, behind him. The shechinah of the holy, blessed God is in the midst, and he himself sits upon a throne high and elevated, hanging in the air; and his magnificence is as amber חשמל , (chashmal ), in the midst of the fire, Ezekiel 1:4, On his head is placed a crown and a diadem, with the incommunicable name (יהוה Yehovah ) inscribed on the front of it. His eyes go throughout the whole earth; a part of them is fire, and a part of them hail. At his right hand stands Life, and at his left hand Death; and he has a fiery scepter in his hand. Before him is the veil spread, that veil which is between the temple and the holy of holies; and seven angels minister before him within that veil: the veil and his footstool are like fire and lightning; and under the throne of glory there is a shining like fire and sapphire, and about his throne are justice and judgment.

"The place of the throne are the seven clouds of glory; and the chariot wheels, and the cherub, and the living creatures which give glory before his face. The throne is in similitude like sapphire; and at the four feet of it are four living creatures, each of which has four faces and four wings. When God speaks from the east, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of a Man; when he speaks from the south, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of a Lion; when from the west, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of an Ox; and when from the north, then it is from between the two cherubim with the face of an Eagle.

"And the living creatures stand before the throne of glory; and they stand in fear, in trembling, in horror, and in great agitation; and from this agitation a stream of fire flows before them. Of the two seraphim one stands at the right hand of the holy blessed God, and one stands at the left; and each has six wings: with two they cover their face lest they should see the face of the shechina; with two they cover their feet lest they should find out the footstool of the shechinah; and with two they fly, and sanctify his great name. And they answer each other, saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And the living creatures stand near his glory, yet they do not know the place of his glory; but wheresoever his glory is, they cry out and say, Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his place."

In Shemoth Rabba, sec. 23, fol. 122, 4, Rabbi Abin says: "There are four which have principality in this world: among intellectual creatures, Man; among birds, the Eagle; among cattle, the Ox; and among wild beasts, the Lion: each of these has a kingdom and a certain magnificence, and they are placed under the throne of glory, Ezekiel 1:10, to show that no creature is to exalt itself in this world, and that the kingdom of God is over all." These creatures may be considered the representatives of the whole creation.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-4.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him - An emblem common to them all, denoting that, in reference to each and all the things here symbolized, there was one common characteristic - that in heaven there is the utmost promptness in executing the divine commands. Compare Isaiah 6:2; Psalm 18:10; Psalm 104:3; Jeremiah 48:40. No mention is made of the manner in which these wings were arranged, and conjecture in regard to that is vain. The seraphim, as seen by Isaiah, had each one six wings, with two of which the face was covered, to denote profound reverence; with two the feet, or lower parts - emblematic of modesty; and with two they flew - emblematic of their celerity in executing the commands of God, Isaiah 6:2. Perhaps without impropriety we may suppose that, in regard to these living beings seen by John, two of the wings of each were employed, as in Isaiah, to cover the face - token of profound reverence; and that the remainder were employed in flight denoting the rapidity with which the divine commands are executed. Mercury, the messenger of Jupiter among the pagan, was represented with wings, and nothing is more common in the paintings and basreliefs of antiquity than such representations.

And they were full of eyes within - Prof. Stuart more correctly renders this, “around and within are full of eyes”; connecting the word “around” (“about”), not with the wings, as in our version, but with the eyes. The meaning is, that the portions of the beasts that were visible from the outside of the throne, and the portions under or within the throne, were covered with eyes. The obvious design of this is to mark the universal vigilance of divine providence.

And they rest not - Margin, have no rest. That is, they are constantly employed; there is no intermission. The meaning, as above explained, is, that the works and ways of God are constantly bringing praise to him.

Day and night - Continually. They who are employed day and night fill up the whole time - for this is all.

Saying, Holy, holy, holy - For the meaning of this, see the notes on Isaiah 6:3.

Lord God Almighty - Isaiah Isaiah 6:3 expresses it, “Yahweh of hosts.” The reference is to the true God, and the epithet Almighty is one that is often given him. It is especially appropriate here, as there were to be, as the sequel shows, remarkable exhibitions of power in executing the purposes described in this book.

Which was, and is, and is to come - Who is eternal - existing in all past time; existing now; and to continue to exist forever. See the notes on Revelation 1:4.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-4.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And the four living creatures, having each one of them six wings, are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.

Six wings ... The use of these, as indicated in Isaiah 6, was: two covered the face (reverence), two covered the feet (humility), and "with twain did he fly." No such employment of the wings is mentioned here.

It would appear that the big point of this was properly ascertained by Barnes:

All these creatures pay ceaseless homage to God, whose throne they are represented as supporting; emblematic of the fact that all the operations of the divine government do, in fact, promote his glory, and, as it were, render him praise.[43]

Holy, holy, holy ... In commentaries, now and then, one finds this referred to as the Trisagion; but the designation is not accurate.

The Trysagion is the hymn which is sung, according to the rite of Constantinople, in connection with the Little Entrance .... In the Roman liturgy, it is sung on only one day of the year, Good Friday, in the special office called the Reproaches.[44]

Who was and who is and who is to come ... On this reference to Exodus 3:14, see comment on similar words in Revelation 1:4,8.

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

[44] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 147.

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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 4:8". "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 the four beasts had each of them six wings about him,.... As the seraphim in Isaiah 6:2 with two of which they might cover their faces as they did, testifying thereby their reverence of God, when in his presence; and with the other two cover their feet, signifying their sense of their sinfulness, weakness, and imperfection, in their conversation, even in their best works, and in the ministry of the word; and with the other two fly about, as denoting their readiness to minister the word and ordinances, to visit the members of the church, and do all good offices of love and service to them that lie in their power:

and they were full of eyes within; to look into the sin and corruption of their own hearts, which is a means of keeping them humble amidst all their attainments, gifts, and graces, and of qualifying them to speak aptly of the cases of others; and they have eyes within, to look into and consult their own experience; for besides the word of God, which lies before them, they have a testimony in themselves of the truth of the doctrines of the Gospel, which they do well to attend unto; and they have these inward eyes to look into that treasure which God has put into their earthen vessels, in order to bring out of it things new and old.

And they rest not day and night; they give up themselves to the ministry of the word, and prayer; are wholly in these things, meditate on the word continually, and preach the Gospel in season, and out of season:

saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come; living under a continual sense of the holiness of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and how necessary holiness is in themselves, who bear the vessels of the Lord, and in the churches and house of God; taking care that all their doctrines are according to godliness, and serve to promote holiness of life and conversation; and also under a sense of the power of God, and of their need of it, to carry them through their work, and make their ministry successful; and of the eternity and immutability of God, which is a wonderful support unto them amidst all the difficulties and troubles that attend them. The word "holy" is three times used here, as by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3; and in some copies it is repeated six times, and in others nine times, as in the Complutensian edition.

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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 4:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-4.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the b four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not 8 day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

(b) Every beast had six wings. {(8)} By events, in that for all the causes before mentioned, God is glorified both by angels, as holy, Judge, omnipotent, eternal and immutable and also after their example he is glorified by holy men (Revelation 4:9) in sign and speech (Revelation 4:10).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-4.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

about himGreek, “round about him.” Alford connects this with the following sentence: “All round and within (their wings) they are (so two oldest manuscripts, A, B, and Vulgate read) full of eyes.” John‘s object is to show that the six wings in each did not interfere with that which he had before declared, namely, that they were “full of eyes before and behind.” The eyes were round the outside of each wing, and up the inside of each when half expanded, and of the part of body in that inward recess.

rest not — literally, “have no rest.” How awfully different the reason why the worshippers of the beast “have no rest day nor night,” namely, “their torment for ever and ever.”

Holy, holy, holy — The “tris-{(hagion}” of the Greek liturgies. In Isaiah 6:3, as here, it occurs; also Psalm 99:3, Psalm 99:5, Psalm 99:9, where He is praised as “holy,” (1) on account of His majesty (Revelation 4:1) about to display itself; (2) His justice (Revelation 4:4) already displaying itself; (3) His mercy (Revelation 4:6-8) which displayed itself in times past. So here “Holy,” as He “who was”; “Holy,” as He “who is”: “Holy,” as He “who is to come.” He showed Himself an object of holy worship in the past creation of all things: more fully He shows Himself so in governing all things: He will, in the highest degree, show Himself so in the consummation of all things. “Of (from) Him, through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” In Isaiah 6:3 there is added, “the whole EARTH is full of His glory.” But in Revelation this is deferred until the glory of THE LORD fills the earth, His enemies having been destroyed [Bengel].

Almighty — answering to “Lord of hosts” (Sabaoth), Isaiah 6:3.

The cherubim here have six wings, like the seraphim in Isaiah 6:2; whereas the cherubim in Ezekiel 1:6 had four wings each. They are called by the same name, “living creatures.” But whereas in Ezekiel each living creature has all four faces, here the four belong severally one to each. See on Ezekiel 1:6. The four living creatures answer by contrast to the four world powers represented by four beasts. The Fathers identified them with the four Gospels, Matthew the lion, Mark the ox, Luke the man, John the eagle: these symbols, thus viewed, express not the personal character of the Evangelists, but the manifold aspect of Christ in relation to the world (four being the number significant of world-wide extension, for example, the four quarters of the world) presented by them severally: the lion expressing royalty, as Matthew gives prominence to this feature of Christ; the ox, laborious endurance, Christ‘s prominent characteristic in Mark; man, brotherly sympathy with the whole race of man, Christ‘s prominent feature in Luke; the eagle, soaring majesty, prominent in John‘s description of Christ as the Divine Word. But here the context best suits the view which regards the four living creatures as representing the redeemed election-Church in its relation of ministering king-priests to God, and ministers of blessing to the redeemed earth, and the nations on it, and the animal creation, in which man stands at the head of all, the lion at the head of wild beasts, the ox at the head of tame beasts, the eagle at the head of birds and of the creatures of the waters. Compare Revelation 5:8-10, “Thou hast redeemed us by Thy blood out of every kindred  …  and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth”; and Revelation 20:4, the partakers with Christ of the first resurrection, who conjointly with Him reign over the redeemed nations that are in the flesh. Compare as to the happy and willing subjection of the lower animal world, Isaiah 11:6-8; Isaiah 65:25; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18. Jewish tradition says the “four standards” under which Israel encamped in the wilderness, to the east, Judah, to the north, Dan, to the west, Ephraim, to the south, Reuben, were respectively a lion, an eagle, an ox, and a man, while in the midst was the tabernacle containing the Shekinah symbol of the Divine Presence. Thus we have “the picture of that blessed period when - the earth having been fitted for being the kingdom of the Father - the court of heaven will be transferred to earth, and the ‹tabernacle of God shall be with men‘ (Revelation 21:3), and the whole world will be subject to a never-ending theocracy” (compare De Burgh, Exposition of Revelation). The point of union between the two views given above is: Christ is the perfect realization of the ideal of man; Christ is presented in His fourfold aspect in the four Gospels respectively. The redeemed election-Church similarly, when in and through Christ (with whom she shall reign) she realizes the ideal of man, shall combine in herself human perfections having a fourfold aspect: (1) kingly righteousness with hatred of evil and judicial eq)uity, answering to the “lion”; (2) laborious diligence in every duty, the “ox”; (3) human sympathy, the “man”; (4) the contemplation of heavenly truth, the “eagle.” As the high-soaring intelligence, the eagle, forms the contrasted complement to practical labor, the ox bound to the soil; so holy judicial vengeance against evil, the lion springing suddenly and terribly on the doomed, forms the contrasted complement to human sympathy, the man. In Isaiah 6:2 we read, “Each had six wings: with twain he covered his face (in reverence, as not presuming to lift up his face to God), with twain he covered his feet (in humility, as not worthy to stand in God‘s holy presence), and with twain he did fly [in obedient readiness to do instantly God‘s command].”

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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 4:8". "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

Each one of them (εν κατ εν αυτωνhen kath' hen autōn). “One by one of them,” a vernacular idiom like εις κατα ειςheis kata heis in Mark 14:19.

Having (εχωνechōn). Masculine participle again as in Revelation 4:7, though ζωονzōon neuter.

Six wings (ανα πτερυγας εχana pterugas hex). Distributive use of αναana “six wings apiece” as in Luke 10:1 (ανα δυοana duo by twos). Like Isaiah 6:2, not like Ezekiel 1:6, where only four wings are given apiece.

Are full of (γεμουσινgemousin). Plural verb, though ζωαzōa neuter, to individualize each one.

Round about and within (κυκλοτεν και εσωτενkuklothen kai esōthen). Perhaps before and behind (Revelation 4:6) and under the wings, “pointing to the secret energies of nature” (Swete).

Rest (αναπαυσινanapausin). See also Revelation 14:11. Old word (from αναπαυωanapauō to relax), as in Matthew 11:29. God and Christ cease not their activity (John 5:17). “This ceaseless activity of nature under the hand of God is a ceaseless tribute of praise” (Swete).

Day and night (ημερας και νυκτοςhēmeras kai nuktos). Genitive of time, by day and by night.

Holy, holy, holy (αγιοσ αγιοσ αγιοςhagiosτρισαγιονhagiosαγιοςhagios). “The task of the Cherubim together with the Seraphim and Ophannim is to sing the praises of God” (Charles) in the Κυριος ο τεοςtrisagion (triple repetition of εστινhagios).

Is the Lord God (ο παντοκρατωρKurios ho theos). See Isaiah 6:3. The copula ο ην και ο ων και ο ερχομενοςestin (is) is not expressed, but is implied.

The Almighty (ho pantokratōr). See note on Revelation 1:8.

Which was and which is and which is to come (ho ēn kai ho ōn kai ho erchomenos). Just as in Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8, but with the order changed.

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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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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

Had ( εἶχον )

The best texts read ἔχων havingthe participle in the singular number agreeing with each one.

Each of them ( ἕν καθ ' ἑαυτὸ )

Lit., one by himself. The best texts read ἕν καθ ' ἕν oneby one or every one. Compare Mark 14:19.

Six wings

Compare Isaiah 6:2. Dante pictures his Lucifer, who is the incarnation of demoniac animalism, with three heads and six wings.

“Underneath each came forth two mighty wrings,

Such as befitting were so great a bird;

Sails of the sea I never saw so large.

No feathers had they, but as of a bat

Their fashion was; and he was waving them,

So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.

Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed.”

Inferno,” xxxiv., 46-52.

Dean Plumptre remarks that the six wings seem the only survival of the higher than angelic state from which Lucifer had fallen.

About him ( κυκλόθεν )

The best texts place the comma after ἕξ sixinstead of after κυκλόθεν aroundand connect κυκλόθεν with the succeeding clause, rendering, are full of eyes round about and within. So Rev.

They were full ( γέμοντα )

Read γέμουσιν arefull.

Round about and within

Around and inside each wing, and on the part of the body beneath it.

They rest not ( ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν )

Lit., they have no rest. So Rev. See on give rest, Matthew 11:28; and see on resteth, 1 Peter 4:14.

Holy, etc.

Compare Isaiah 6:3, which is the original of the formula known as the Trisagion (thrice holy ), used in the ancient liturgies. In the Apostolic Constitutions it runs: “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, who art blessed forever, Amen.” Afterwards it was sung in the form “Holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.” So in the Alexandrian liturgy, or liturgy of St. Mark. Priest. “To Thee we send up glory and giving of thanks, and the hymn of the Trisagion, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and ever and to ages of ages. People. Amen! Holy God, holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us.” In the liturgy of Chrysostom the choir sing the Trisagion five times, and in the meantime the priest says secretly the prayer of the Trisagion. “God which art holy and restest in the holies, who art hymned with the voice of the Trisagion by the Seraphim, and glorified by the Cherubim, and adored by all the heavenly powers! Thou who didst from nothing call all things into being; who didst make man after Thine image and likeness, and didst adorn him with all Thy graces; who givest to him that seeketh wisdom and understanding, and passest not by the sinner, but dost give repentance unto salvation; who has vouchsafed that we, Thy humble and unworthy servants, should stand, even at this time, before the glory of Thy holy altar, and should pay to Thee the worship and praise that is meet; - receive, Lord, out of the mouth of sinners, the hymn of the Trisagion, and visit us in Thy goodness. Forgive us every offense, voluntary and involuntary. Sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant that we may serve Thee in holiness all the days of our life; through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, and all the saints who have pleased Thee since the beginning of the world. (Aloud.) For holy art Thou, one God and to Thee.”

According to an unreliable tradition this formula was received during an earthquake at Constantinople, in the reign of Theodosius II., through a boy who was caught up into the sky and heard it from the angels. The earliest testimonies to the existence of, the Trisagion date from the fifth century or the latter part of the fourth. Later, the words were added, “that was crucified for us,” in order to oppose the heresy of the Theopaschites ( Θεός God πάσχω tosuffer ) who held that God had suffered and been crucified. To this was added later the words “Christ our king:” the whole reading, “Holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, Christ our king that was crucified for us, have mercy on us.” The formula thus entered into the controversy with the Monophysites, who claimed that Christ had but one composite nature. Dante introduces it into his “Paradiso.”

“The One and Two and Three who ever liveth

And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One,

Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing,

Three several times was chanted by each one

Among those spirits, with such melody

That for all merit it were just reward.”

Paradiso,” xiv., 28-33.

“When I was silent, sweetest song did flow

Through all the heaven, and my lady too

With them cried holy, holy, holy! “

Paradiso,” xxvi., 67-69.

The interpretations of the symbols of the four living creatures are, of course, numerous and varied. Some of them are: the four Evangelists or Gospels; the four elements; the four cardinal virtues; the four faculties or powers of the human soul; the Lord in the fourfold great events of redemption; the four patriarchal churches; the four great apostles, the doctors of the Church; the four principal angels, etc. The best modern interpreters explain the four forms as representing animated nature - “man with his train of dependent beings brought near to God, and made partakers of redemption, thus fulfilling the language of St. Paul, that 'the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God'” (Romans 8:21; Milligan). Düsterdieck says: “The essential idea which is symbolized in the figures of the four living creatures may be expressed in such words as those of Psalm 103:22.” Full of eyes, they are ever on the alert to perceive the manifestations of divine glory. Covering their faces and feet with their wings (Isaiah 6:2), they manifest their reverence and humility. Flying, they are prompt for ministry. “We thus have the throne of God surrounded by His Church and His animated world; the former represented by the twenty-four elders, the latter by the four living beings” (Alford).

Which is to come ( ὁ ἐρχόμενος )

Lit., which cometh or is coming.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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 the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

Each of them hath six wings — As had each of the seraphim in Isaiah's vision. "Two covered his face," in token of humility and reverence: "two his feet," perhaps in token of readiness and diligence for executing divine commissions.

Round about and within they are full of eyes. Round about — To see everything which is farther off from the throne than they are themselves.

And within — On the inner part of the circle which they make with one another. First, they look from the centre to the circumference, then from the circumference to the centre.

And they rest not — O happy unrest! Day and night - As we speak on earth. But there is no night in heaven.

And say, Holy, holy, holy — Is the Three-One God. There are two words in the original, very different from each other; both which we translate holy. The one means properly merciful; but the other, which occurs here, implies much more. This holiness is the sum of all praise, which is given to the almighty Creator, for all that he does and reveals concerning himself, till the new song brings with it new matter of glory. This word properly signifies separated, both in Hebrew and other languages. And when God is termed holy, it denotes that excellence which is altogether peculiar to himself; and the glory flowing from all his attributes conjoined, shining forth from all his works, and darkening all things besides itself, whereby he is, and eternally remains, in an incomprehensible manner separate and at a distance, not only from all that is impure, but likewise from all that is created. God is separate from all things. He is, and works from himself, out of himself, in himself, through himself, for himself. Therefore, he is the first and the last, the only one and the Eternal, living and happy, endless and unchangeable, almighty, omniscient, wise and true, just and faithful, gracious and merciful. Hence it is, that holy and holiness mean the same as God and Godhead: and as we say of a king, "His Majesty;" so the scripture says of God, "His Holiness," Hebrews 12:10. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. When God is spoken of, he is often named "the Holy One:" and as God swears by his name, so he does also by his holiness; that is, by himself. This holiness is often styled glory: often his holiness and glory are celebrated together, Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 6:3. For holiness is covered glory, and glory is uncovered holiness. The scripture speaks abundantly of the holiness and glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And hereby is the mystery of the Holy Trinity eminently confirmed. That is also termed holy which is consecrated to him, and for that end separated from other things: and so is that wherein we may be like God, or united to him. In the hymn resembling this, recorded by Isaiah, Isaiah 6:3, is added, "The whole earth is full of his glory." But this is deferred in the Revelation, till the glory of the Lord (his enemies being destroyed) fills the earth.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-4.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

beasts

beasts living creatures. (See Scofield "Ezekiel 1:5")

God Almighty Jehovah of hosts. Isaiah 6:3

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Revelation 4:8". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/revelation-4.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE SUPER-SUPERLATIVE SONG

‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Which was, and Which is, and Which is to come.’

Revelation 4:8

Hebrew grammarians call this Trisagion, the super-superlative. It is an ascription of praise to the Triune God.

I. The Thrice Holy in the Temple of Heaven.

(a) It is the heavenly song of praise to the God of all ages.

(b) It is the heavenly song of the Seraphim before the Throne in which saints and angels join.

II. The Thrice Holy in the Temple at Jerusalem (Isaiah 6).

III. The Thrice Holy in the Temple of the Christian Church.—So for the Church now it is:—

(a) A song of (i) praise; (ii) confession; (iii) devotion.

(b) A song to the Holy Trinity, to God the Father, the Eternal Creator; to God the Son, the Eternal Redeemer; to God the Holy Ghost, the Divine Illuminator.

Thus heaven and earth join in hymning His praise.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/revelation-4.html. 1876.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 4:8

New Year's Day.

There is something exceedingly solemn in the opening of a new year. At such times more than others, when even the trifler is visited for an instant by serious thought, does the Christian love to trace the hand of God in the Church and in the world, to abstract himself from the whirl of business, and politics, and controversy, and calmly answer the important question, "Where am I, and whither tending?"

I. The words of the text form part of the ascription of praise uttered in heaven by the four living creatures, who symbolise, as I believe, the creation of God. They express a sense of the holiness and eternity of the Almighty, that He is essentially pure, and just, and merciful, and that His being and operations extend through past and present and to come. Now just such a sense of the holiness and providence of God befits us at the opening of another year of our lives. To have a firm persuasion that He is a pure, and just, and merciful Being, to trace His operations as such in this His world, is the most precious result of human knowledge and the highest triumph of the intellect of man. And as this view of the world is the highest result of wisdom, so is it likewise a cause of abundant consolation to the believer in Christ. It furnishes to him the comforting assurance that all things are working together for good, that the Lord reigneth, be the earth never so unquiet; and every onward step in the advancement of man, while it elates others with unbecoming pride, fills him with humble joy.

II. At present much of what God has done is unintelligible to us; more of what He is doing, seeing that we ourselves are a part of it, is hidden from us; and what He will do and bring on the world, who shall presume to say? But let us remember that to His people, those who in their hearts and lives serve and love Him, a day will come when, gifted with nobler faculties, breathing a purer air, and gazing with a keener vision, they will trace all His dealings with men in their completeness, and confess that He hath done all things well. Then the blurred and blotted map of the world's history will be restored, the vacant regions of human memory filled up, every corner of darkness and mystery lit with the beams of the Sun of light and righteousness.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. i., p. 1.


(with 1 John 5:20)

Preached on Trinity Sunday.

To-day we are called upon to keep the festival of revelation. Every other great festival of our Church commemorates a fact through which God has been pleased to teach men something of His purpose of love; Trinity Sunday encourages us to reflect for a brief space on that final truth, most absolute, most elementary, most practical, which gives unity and stability to all knowledge. The view of the Divine nature which it offers for our devout contemplation is the charter of human faith.

I. The conception of the Triune God is not given to us first in an abstract form. The abstract statement is an interpretation of facts, a human interpretation of vital facts, an interpretation wrought out gradually in the first years of the Church, and still mastered gradually in our individual growth. We are required each, in some sense, to win for ourselves the inheritance which is given to us, if the inheritance is to be a blessing. We learn through the experience of history and life how God acts, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and by the very necessity of thought we are constrained to gather up these lessons into the simplest possible formula. So we come to recognise a Divine Trinity, which is not sterile, monotonous simplicity. We come to recognise One in whom is the fulness of all conceivable existence in the richest energy, One absolutely self-sufficient and perfect, One in whom love finds absolute consummation, One who is in Himself a living God, the fountain and the end of all life.

II. The conception of the Triune God illuminates the idea of creation. It enables us to gain firm hold of the truth that the learning which we observe under the condition of time answers to a Being beyond time; that history is the writing out at length of that which we may speak of as a Divine thought. The same conception illuminates the idea of the Incarnation. It enables us to see that the Incarnation in its essence is the crown of the Creation, and that man, being made capable of fellowship with God, has in his very constitution a promise of the fulfilment of his highest destiny.

III. This truth is not speculative, but practical. The Chris tian conception of God is the translation into the language of thought of the first Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. By our faith in these facts we confess that the Divine life has been united with human life. We confess, even if we do not distinctly realise the force of the confession, that the Divine life is the foundation and the end of human life. And we live, so far as life deserves the name, by this faith by which consciously or unconsciously we are stirred to toil and sustained in sacrifice.

Bishop Westcott, Oxford Review and Journal; May 24th, 1883.

References: Revelation 4:8.—F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiii., p. 357. Revelation 4:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1002; Homilist, 1st series, vol. vi., p. 425. Revelation 4:10, Revelation 4:11.—M. Dix, Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, p. 145; Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 286. Revelation 4:11.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 12. Revelation 5:1-10.—Ibid., vol. i., p. 417. Revelation 5:4, Revelation 5:5.—A. James, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 21. Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:6.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 414.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-4.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 4:8. They were full of eyes within: To signify their quick discernment of every object around them; as their wings were to express their readiness to execute the divine commands; quick to discern, and prompt to perform. The anthem which they sung is that which Isaiah tells us he heard the seraphim sing, ch. Revelation 6:3 and it is observable, that many other hymns recorded in this book are borrowed from the old Testament.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-4.html. 1801-1803.

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

Revelation 4:8. The four beings, having each six wings,(1792) are all around and within full of eyes. Concerning the composition ἓν καθʼ. ἓν, cf. Mark 14:19; John 8:9; Romans 12:15; Winer, p. 234. Concerning the distributive ἀνά, cf. John 2:6; Winer, p. 372.

The κυκλόθεν belongs not to what precedes,(1793) but with ἔσωθεν to γέ΄ουσιν. Yet the κυκλόθεν is not equivalent to the ἔ΄προσθεν, Revelation 4:6, so that the ἔσωθεν corresponds to the ὅπισθεν;(1794) but rather the κυκλόθεν properly comprises already both of those statements, while only with reference to the wings mentioned is it still expressly remarked that “within,” i e., on the inner side of the wings, under them—not only round about the entire outside of the body ( κυκλ.)—all is full of eyes.(1795) It results also from this determination of κυκλ. and ἔσωθεν, that the declaration γε΄. ὀφθαλ΄. is repeated, because this is to be extended particularly(1796) to the wings.(1797) At the same time the adding of what follows, καὶ ἀνάπαυσιν

ἐρχό΄ενος, reveals the meaning first of the fulness of eyes, and then of the four beings in general. Ceaselessly, day and night, they exclaim, “Holy,” etc.

The masc. λέγοντες, in the same loose wav as Revelation 4:1.

The ἡ΄. κ. νυκτ. can in no way suggest that at the throne of God there is no change of day and night, and still less dare the explanation be made: “Though there be on earth, here or there, day or night.”(1798)

The uninterrupted hymn of praise of the four beings sounds like that of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3; but since, instead of the close found there ( πλήρης πᾶσα γῆς δόξης αὑτοῦ), it is said here ἠν καὶ καὶ ἐρχό΄ενος, there is found(1799) in the praise of these four beings a particular factor, which already in Revelation 1:8 sounds forth like a keynote in a judgment of God which is highly significant to the whole. The thrice holy Lord God, at the same time, is also the Eternal One who is to come. These words of praise from the mouth of the four beings agree perfectly with the manifestation of the Enthroned One,(1800) as this itself agrees with his own words;(1801) and in all the living divine, foundation of the entire Apocalyptic prophecy is indicated, because God “comes”—in a personal way, as the prophet says—as surely as he is the Holy, Almighty, Eternal One, endowed with complete living energy.

Only now can the question be answered, as to what these beings are, and what their special characteristics signify. Undoubtedly these four ζῶα(1802) are not actual beasts who serve only to support the throne of God, as in Persian and Indian sculptures massive forms of beasts are seen supporting a throne;(1803) for ζῶον is not θηρίον,(1804) and concerning the four beings as supporting the throne, the text does not say a word.

Almost all the explanations of older times depend upon mere surmises, as, that the four beings are meant to designate: the Four Evangelists, and that, too, so that, according to Augustine,(1805) the lion represents Matthew, the man Mark, the ox Luke, and the eagle John;(1806) the four cardinal virtues;(1807) the four mysteries of faith, viz., Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension;(1808) the four patriarchal churches;(1809) the four apostles or apostolic men, who were then at Jerusalem as standard-bearers of Christ’s camp;(1810) all the doctors of the Church,(1811) etc. It is further a perversion to regard the four beings as angels, from whom they are expressly distinguished in Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:11, Revelation 7:11.(1812) According to their form, they are essentially identical with the cherubim of the O. T.; so they have also their symbolical meaning. The question is whether they represent powers of God employed in the creation,(1813) or creation itself.(1814) The former interpretation is carried to such extent by Ebrard, that the lion is regarded as designating the consuming and destroying, the bullock the nourishing, man the thinking and caring, and the eagle, which soars victoriously above all, the preserving and rejuvenating power in nature. This is indeed ingenious, but is forced. It is in itself peculiar, and entirely unbiblical, to form the powers of God into definite symbolical beings, and the idea is entirely inadmissible, to regard powers so formed as proclaiming the praise of God: but, on the other hand, it is perfectly natural for the works to proclaim the praise of the Creator,(1815) and for these, especially the entire living creation, to be represented by definite, concrete forms. The creatures at the basis of the O. T. cherubic forms most simply offer themselves as such representatives of the entire living creation. The correct point of view is already stated in the rabbinical sentence:(1816) “There are four holding the chief place in the world,—among creatures, man; among birds, the eagle; among cattle, the ox; among beasts, the lion.” That these four are intended to represent the entire living creation, is indicated by the significant number four itself;(1817) and to object against it, that besides the fish, etc., are not represented, is pointless.(1818) Entirely irrelevant, however, to the proper meaning of the symbol, is the succession of lion, ox, etc., which John, after remodelling in general the Ezekiel cherubic forms, unintentionally changed; the idea also is arbitrary, that the four beings in John, just as in Ezekiel, must have had altogether human bodies, since man is exalted above other creatures.(1819) This allusion is introduced here without sufficient reason, as the subject has to do simply with the entirety of the living creation as such. Incorrect, besides, is the interpretation of the eyes, wherewith the four beings are covered, by saying that the entire living creation is “spiritualized,”(1820) which follows at least from Revelation 5:6. The context itself shows, on the other hand, that the eyes are to be regarded as signs of the constant wakefulness day and night, belonging to the ceaseless praise of God.(1821) Finally, the six wings which John has derived for his beings from the six seraphim (Isaiah 6), we cannot well understand here otherwise than as there. They designate not the collective significance of the four beings,(1822) but serve as a figurative representation of the unconditionally dependent and ministerial relation in which the creature stands, and is recognized as standing, to its Creator. Thus Bengel:(1823) “So that with two they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two flew: whereby then the three chief virtues were indicated, viz., reverence or respect, as they do not boldly look; humility, as they hide themselves before that brilliancy; and obedience, to execute commands.”

The essential idea delineated in the images of the ζῶα (cherubim) may be expressed in words as Psalms 103:22 : “All the works of God (in all places),”—as they, at least with respect to earthly living creatures, are represented in the beings, and that, too, four beings,—are to “praise God in all places of his dominion.” For, that he, as unconditioned Lord of his creatures, is honored with all humility and obedience, is seen in that they hide themselves, and are ready to serve his will. Yet there is also placed in the mouth of the representatives of the creatures an express ascription of praise to the holy, almighty Lord, and that, too, as the innumerable, ever-wakeful eyes show, one that is perpetual (Revelation 4:8). [See Note XLIV., p. 203.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLIV. Revelation 4:6-8. τέσσερα ζῷα

Cf. Cremer (Lexicon): “Properly, a living creature, which also occurs elsewhere also in profane Greek, where ζῶον, a post-Homeric word, generally signifies living creature, and only in special instances a beast; θηρίον = animal, as embracing all living beings, must be retained in the Revelation, where four ζῶα are represented as being between God’s throne and those of the elders which surround it, the description given of which (Revelation 4:6-8) resembles that of the הַיוֹת in Ezekiel 1:5 sqq.; the cherubim in Ezekiel 10 (cf. Psalms 18:1; Psalms 99:1; Psalms 80:2; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15). They are named living creatures here and in Ezekiel 1, on account of the life which is their main feature. They are usually the signs and tokens of majesty, of the sublime majesty of God, both in his covenant relation, and in his relation to the world (for the latter, see Psalms 99:1); and therefore it is that they are assigned so prominent a place, though no active part in the final scenes of sacred history (Revelation 6:1-7). The appearance of four represents the concentration of all created life in this world, the original abode of which, Paradise, when life had fallen to sin and death, was given over to the cherubim. They do not, like the angels, fulfil the purposes of God in relation to men; they are distinct from the angels (Revelation 5:11). We are thus led to conclude that they materially represent the ideal pattern of the true relation of creation to its God.” Oehler (O. T. Theology, p. 260): “It is the cherubim, as Schultz well expresses it, ‘which at one and the same time proclaim and veil his presence.’ The lion and the bull are, as is well known, symbols of power and strength; man and the eagle are symbols of wisdom and omniscience; the latter attribute is expressed also in the later form of the symbol by the multitude of eyes. The continual mobility of the ζῶα (Revelation 4:8) signifies the never-resting quickness of the Divine operations; this is probably symbolized also by the wheels in Ezekiel 1. The number four is the signature of all-sidedness (towards the four quarters of heaven). Thus Jehovah is acknowledged as the God who rules the world on all sides in power, wisdom, and omniscience. Instead of natural powers working unconsciously, is placed the all-embracing, conscious activity of the living God.”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". 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 4:8. ἔχον) εἶχον, Er. (without the sanction of the other copies of Andreas) and Bar. L.; ἔσχον, Hunt. The ἀνὰ is thought by Wolf to require the plural form of the verb: the singular however occurs, Revelation 21:21. The others, with great agreement, have ἔχον or εἶχον.(60)(61) γέμουσις(62) ὀφθαλμῶν) Uffenb., a recent book indeed, has γέμουσιν ὀφθαλμούς; but that this was the reading of others also, you may collect from And. I., who substitutes ἔχοντα ὀφθαλμούς. The same Uff., Revelation 4:6, has also γέμοντα ὀφθαλμούς. Perhaps more MSS. have the same variety, which may have been overlooked by collators. The verb γέμω is found with a genitive and accusative together, ch. Revelation 17:4.— ἅγιος, ἅγιος, ἅγιος, holy, holy, holy) Some copyists wrote this nine times, in accordance with the liturgical custom of the Greeks; but John, as Isaiah, wrote it three times. And in John the four beasts raise this cry to Him that sits upon the throne, that is, the Father, from whose right hand the Lamb, that is, Christ, takes the book which is sealed with seven seals. The τρισάγιον, as the Greeks term it, occurs also in Psalms 99, where, on the announcement of His Majesty which is about to display itself, of His Justice which already displays itself, and of His Mercy displayed in time past, there resound three addresses on the subject of His Holiness. And, as in that instance, so this Apocalyptic τρισάγιον also in the text itself, points out its own meaning in relation to itself:

Holy, He who was:

Holy, He who is:

Holy, He who is to come.

He showed Himself as an object of holy worship, in the creation of all things: He shows Himself further more fully as an object of holy worship, in the governing of all things: He will in the highest degree show Himself an object of holy worship, in the consummation of all things. From Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to Him be glory to all ages. Castellio is not inconsistent with those things which we said on the subject of Holiness in the German Notes; for, according to his explanation, קדוש is Augustus, as T. L. Bunemann observes in the Index of the Bible of Castellio.

In a similar hymn, Isaiah 6:3, there is added, THE EARTH is full of His glory. But in the Apocalypse this is deferred, until the glory of THE LORD fills the earth, His enemies having been destroyed. See ch. Revelation 5:10, Revelation 11:16-18, Revelation 19:2. By the use of which passages, we collect, that the four beasts are more occupied, while the action is in heaven; the elders, while it is extended to the earth.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". 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 the four beasts had each of them six wings about him: the seraphims in Isaiah’s vision, Revelation 6:2, had so; there their use is declared, —with twain he covered his face, with twain his feet, and with twain he did fly. If we understand all the wings here for flight, they signify the readiness of God’s ministers to move every way that God will send them: if we understand them as interpreted by Isaiah 6:2, they signify their various graces, their fear, dread, and reverence of God; their humility and modesty; their agility, or readiness to obey all the commands of God.

And they were full of eyes within: this denotes that large measure of knowledge, and diligence, and watchfulness, which should be in a minister of Christ.

And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty: this was the song of the seraphims, Isaiah 6:3, and shows how much it should be the care of ministers to make God known in all his attributes, his holiness especially, and his power.

Which was, and is, and is to come; and his eternity and simplicity, as he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, without variableness or shadow of change.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". 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

исполнены очей См. пояснение к ст. 6.

свят, свят, свят Часто Бог прославляется за свою святость троекратным славословием. Святость – это совокупность всего, что есть Он, Его наиболее яркая характеристика (см. пояснение к Ис. 6:3).

Который был, есть и грядет См. пояснение к 1:4.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-4.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Six wings; expressive of swiftness in executing the purposes of God.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-4.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

These creatures seem similar to the seraphim (lit. burning ones) of Isaiah 6:2-3 in that they each have six wings. Their many eyes suggest alertness, comprehensive knowledge, and constant vigilance (cf. Ezekiel 10:12). "Around and within" probably means that they had eyes even on the undersides of their wings so they could move their wings without interrupting their vision. Their movements did not detract from their constant vigilance. They ascribe holiness to God day and night, namely, constantly, though not necessarily without stopping (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). [Note: See David Seal, "Shouting in the Apocalypse: The Influence of First-Century Acclamations on the Praise Utterances in Revelation 4:8,11," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society51:2 (June2008):339-52.]

"In Hebrew, the double repetition of a word adds emphasis, while the rare threefold repetition designates the superlative and calls attention to the infinite holiness of God-the quality of God felt by creatures in his presence as awesomeness or fearfulness ( Psalm 111:9 : "Holy and awesome is his name.")" [Note: Johnson, p463.]

The focus of their worship is on God"s holiness, His omnipotence, and His eternality.

"This continual song from the four living beings underscores the central role of the one sitting upon the throne in the present setting. As the absolutely holy one, He is thoroughly entitled and has ample might to initiate stringent measures against His own creation in order to return it to its original holy state." [Note: Thomas, Revelation 1-7, p363.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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 4:8 b. And they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord, who art God, the Almighty, he which was and which is, and which is to come. The Trisagion thus sung by the living creatures is found also in Isaiah 6:3, in a passage which we have already seen lies largely at the bottom of the description of this chapter. It is thus natural to think that it is sung to the glory of God in the same character as that in which He there appears, that it is sung therefore to God in the absoluteness of His being and perfections, and not as specially the Father. With this agrees the fact, seen especially in the last words of this chapter, that it is the glory of God as Creator rather than Redeemer that is especially contemplated throughout the whole vision. The ascription of praise appears to consist of three parts, not as commonly supposed of two. He to whom it is sung is first addressed as ‘Lord’ or Jehovah, and is then celebrated as ‘God;’ as ‘the Almighty;’ and as ‘He which was, and which is, and which is to come.’ The order of the clauses in the third part is different from that in Revelation 1:8. There the Lord Himself speaks, dwelling first upon the thought that He ‘is’ before mentioning that He ‘was’ or that He ‘is to come.’ In singing this song the living creatures ‘rest not day nor night’ We are reminded of the words of our Lord in John 5:17, ‘My Father worketh even until now, and I work.’ The work of God as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all knows no intermission. He is everywhere present throughout His wide creation, upholding all things by the word of His power, and as marvellous in that work as in the utterance of the first fiat which summoned them into being. Therefore do the living creatures, ‘full of eyes round about and within,’ always waiting upon Him, always watching Him, never rest from adoring, as He never rests from working.

The Trisagion of the living creatures immediately awakens the response of the whole Church of Christ represented by the twenty-four elders.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-4.html. 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 4:8. And the four living creatures — With an allusion to the seraphim represented in Isaiah’s vision; had each of them six wings about him — Which they used in part to express their reverence and humility, and in part to show readiness and expedition in performing the orders and commands of God. See on Isaiah 6:2-3. And they were full of eyes within — Bengelius reads κυκλοθεν και εσωθεν γεμουσιν οφθαλμων, round about and within they are full of eyes: round about signifying their attention to and knowledge of the state of the world and church in general; or rather, perhaps, their vigilance and circumspection, their attention to their duty to God and man, and their watchful observance of the designs, wiles, devices, and various motions and snares of their spiritual enemies; and they are said to be full of eyes within, to signify their self-knowledge, their diligent attention to the state of their own hearts, and the various workings of their passions and appetites, their affections and thoughts. And they rest not — O happy unrest! day and night — They are incessant in the spiritual worship, adoration, and praise of him who is a Spirit; and at all proper opportunities they unite in acts of solemn and external worship; saying — With their lips, as well as in their hearts; Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which ever was, and now is, and is still to come — Or, for ever will be; the one true God, the everlasting Lord, the Supreme Governor of all beings.

There are two words in the original very different from each other, both which we translate holy. The one, οσιος, means properly, merciful: but the other, αγιος, which occurs here, implies much more. “This holiness is the sum of all the praise which is given to the Almighty Creator, for all that he does and reveals concerning himself, till the new song brings with it new matter of glory. This word properly signifies separated. And when God is termed holy, it denotes that excellence which is altogether peculiar to himself; and the glory flowing from all his attributes conjoined, shining forth from all his works, and darkening all things besides itself, whereby he is, and eternally remains, in an incomprehensible manner, separate, and at a distance, not only from all that is impure, but likewise from all that is created. God is separate from all things. He is, and works from himself, out of himself, in himself, through himself, for himself. Therefore he is the First and the Last, the only One, and the Eternal; living and happy, endless and unchangeable, almighty, omniscient, wise and true, just and faithful, gracious and merciful. When God is spoken of, he is often named, The Holy One. And as God swears by his name, so he does also by his holiness, that is, by himself. This holiness is often styled glory; often his holiness and glory are celebrated together, Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 6:4. For holiness is covered glory, and glory is uncovered holiness. The Scripture speaks abundantly of the holiness and glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And hereby is the mystery of the Holy Trinity eminently confirmed. That is also termed holy, which is consecrated to him, and for that end separated from other things. And so is that wherein we may be like God, or united to him. In the hymn resembling this, recorded by Isaiah, (Revelation 6:3,) is added, The whole earth is full of his glory. But this is deferred in the Revelation, till the glory of the Lord (his enemies being destroyed) fills the earth.” — Wesley.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/revelation-4.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Each of them six wings. See the like visions, Ezechiel i. 4; Isaias vi. 2. These signify their swiftness in executing God's just commands. --- Full of eyes: a symbol of knowledge and watchfulness. --- They rested not day and night. There is no night in heaven; but hereby is signified, that they praised God without intermission for all eternity, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, our(2) God, &c. (Witham) --- They repeat the word holy three times, probably in honour of the blessed Trinity. And the four and twenty elders prostrate before the throne, in token of their acknowledging all their happiness and pre-eminence to be his gift. (Walmesley)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Dignus est, Domine Deus. God is wanting in many copies, but Dr. Wells restored it as the true reading.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-4.html. 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Isaiah 6:1-3 describes seraphims around God"s thrones with six wings crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." They worship Him because he is full of holiness, all authority and is eternal. It may appear to those on earth that a Roman emperor is in charge, but in heaven the Almighty sits on his throne.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-4.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

and they were = are.

Holy, &c. The first of the seventeen (App-10) heavenly utterances in Rev. Here, Revelation 4:8; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:10; Revelation 5:12; Revelation 5:13; Rev 5:5. -14- (Amen); Revelation 7:10; Revelation 7:12; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 12:10-12; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 19:1-3; Revelation 19:4; Revelation 19:5; Revelation 19:6, Revelation 19:7.

Holy . . . holy. God"s holiness proclaimed, prior to judgment. See Psalm 93; Psalm 97; Psalm 99, and Isaiah 6:3. Compare Numbers 6:24-26.

Almighty. See Revelation 1:8.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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 the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

About him, [ kuklothen (Greek #2943)] - 'round about him.' Alford connects with the following: 'All round and within (their wings) they are [so A B 'Aleph ('), Vulgate, gemousin (Greek #1073) for gemonta (Greek #1073)] full of eyes.' John shows, the six wings in each did not interfere with what he before declared-namely, that they were "full of eyes before and behind." The eyes were round the outside of each wing, and up the inside of each when half expanded, and of the part of body in that inward recess.

Rest not - `have no rest.' How awfully different the reason why the worshippers of the beast 'have no rest day nor night:' 'their torment forever and ever' (Revelation 14:11).

Holy, holy, holy - the three holies ( tris (Greek #5151) hagion (Greek #39)) of the Greek liturgies. Isaiah 6:3; also Psalms 99:3; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 99:9 : He is praised as "holy":

(1) for His majesty (Revelation 4:1), about to display itself;

(2) His justice (Revelation 4:4) now displaying itself;

(3) His mercy (Revelation 4:6-8) displayed in time past.

So here, "holy," as He "who was;" "holy," as He "who is;" "holy," as He "who is to come." He showed Himself an object of holy worship in the past creation of all things: more fully He shows Himself so in governing all: He will, in the highest degree, show Himself so in the consummation of all things. 'Of (from) Him, through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen' (Romans 11:36). In Isaiah 6:3 there is added, "the whole EARTH is full of His glory". But in Revelation this is deferred until the glory of THE LORD fills the earth, His enemies having been destroyed (Bengel).

Almighty - corresponding to "Lord of hosts" (Sabaoth, tsaba'owt (Hebrew #6635)). The cherubim here have six wings, like the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-13; whereas the cherubim in Ezekiel 1:6 had four each. They have the same name-`living creatures.' Whereas in Ezekiel each living creature has all four faces, here the four are distributed, one to each (note, Ezekiel 1:6). The four living creatures answer by contrast to the four world-powers, represented by four beast. The fathers identify them with the four gospels-Matthew, the lion; Mark, the ox; Luke, the man; John, the eagle. The symbols express not the personal character of the evangelists, but the manifold aspect of Christ, presented by them respectively, in relation to the world (four signifying worldwide extension, e.g., the four quarters of the world): the lion, royalty, as Matthew gives prominence to this; the ox, laborious endurance, Christ's a characteristic in Mark; man, brotherly sympathy with our whole race, Christ's feature in Luke; the eagle, soaring majesty, prominent in John's description of Christ as the Divine Word.

Here the context best accords with the four living creatures representing the redeemed election-Church ministering as king-priests to God; and media of blessing to the redeemed earth, with its nations and animal creation, in which man stands at the head; the lion at the head of wild beasts; the ox, of tame beasts; the eagle, of birds and of creatures of the waters. Compare Revelation 5:8-10; Revelation 20:4, the partakers with Christ of the first resurrection, who with Him reign over the redeemed nations which are in the flesh. Compare as to the happy subjection of the animal world, Isaiah 11:6-8; Isaiah 65:25; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18. Jewish tradition says, the 'four standards' under which Israel encamped in the wilderness-to the east Judah, to the north Dan, to the west Ephraim, to the south Reuben--were respectively a lion, eagle, ox, and a man; in the midst was the tabernacle containing the Shechinah symbol of the divine presence: 'the picture of that blessed period when-the earth being fitted for being the kingdom of the Father-the court of heaven will be transferred here, the "tabernacle of God shall be with men" (Revelation 21:3), and the whole world be subject to a never-ending theocracy' (cf. De Burgh, 'Revelation'). Christ is the perfect realization of the ideal of man: Christ is presented in His fourfold aspect in the four gospels. The redeemed election-church, realizing in and through Christ (with whom she shall reign) the ideal of man, shall combine similarly human perfections, having a fourfold aspect:

(1) Kingly righteousness with hatred of evil, answering to the 'lion springing terribly on the victim;'

(2) laborious diligence in duty, the 'ox bound to the soil;'

(3) human sympathy, the 'man;'

(4) contemplation of heavenly truth, the 'eagle.'

As high-soaring intelligence forms the contrasted complement to practical labour, so holy judgment against evil forms the contrasted complement to human sympathy. In Isaiah 6:2 we read, "Each had six wings: with twain he covered his face (in reverence, not presuming to look up, Luke 18:13), with twain his feet (in humility, as not worthy to stand before God), and with twain he did fly (ready to do instantly God's command).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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

(8) And the four beasts (or, living beings) had each of them (literally, one by one of them) six wings about him; and they were full of (or, teeming with) eyes.—The last verse spoke of the living beings teeming with eyes; this tells us that neither the dropping nor the raising of their wings hindered their view.

And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almightly, which was, and is, and is to come.—The resemblance to Isaiah’s vision (Revelation 6:1-4) may remind us that the voice of God’s creation has in every age proclaimed His eternal holiness. The word “holy” is repeated eight times in the Sinaitic version. The “six wings” are taken to express reverence, for with twain (Isaiah 6:2) he covered his face; humility, for with twain he covered his feet; and obedience, for with twain he did fly. Some have understood these living beings to betoken rather the creative power of God than the actual creation. There is much to be said for this; but the analogy of the passage suits better the view here adopted. The twenty-four elders represent, not the regenerating power of God, but the regenerate Church. The new creation in Christ Jesus join in praise with all created things. The doxology in Revelation 4:11 favours the interpretation, “Thou hast created all things.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-4.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
six
Isaiah 6:2-13; Ezekiel 1:6; 10:21,22; 2 Timothy 4:2
full
6; 1 Timothy 4:16
and they
7:15; Isaiah 62:1,6,7; Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8,9
rest not
Gr. have no rest. Holy.
3:7; Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:3
Lord God Almighty
1:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:15; 21:22; Genesis 17:1; Psalms 91:1; Isaiah 13:6; Joel 1:15; 2 Corinthians 6:18
which
4; Hebrews 13:8
Reciprocal: Exodus 3:14 - I AM hath;  Leviticus 20:26 - the Lord;  Job 4:17 - shall a man;  Job 6:10 - the Holy One;  Psalm 22:3 - But;  Psalm 30:4 - holiness;  Psalm 30:12 - I will;  Psalm 33:21 - his;  Psalm 41:13 - Blessed;  Psalm 66:2 - GeneralPsalm 92:1 - for;  Psalm 99:3 - for it;  Psalm 99:9 - for the;  Psalm 103:1 - holy name;  Psalm 111:9 - holy;  Psalm 145:17 - righteous;  Proverbs 30:3 - the holy;  Song of Solomon 2:14 - for sweet;  Isaiah 5:16 - God that is holy;  Isaiah 57:15 - whose;  Ezekiel 1:18 - full;  Ezekiel 10:12 - were;  Daniel 4:17 - the holy;  Luke 1:49 - and;  John 17:11 - Holy;  2 Corinthians 4:15 - the abundant;  Ephesians 4:6 - who;  1 Thessalonians 3:10 - Night;  1 Timothy 1:17 - be;  Hebrews 13:15 - the sacrifice;  1 Peter 1:15 - is;  1 John 2:20 - the Holy;  Revelation 5:8 - the four;  Revelation 15:4 - thou only;  Revelation 16:5 - which art

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "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

Had each of them six wings. Had it said that they had four wings even, it would have aroused our inquiry since a flying creature normally uses only two wings. We must conclude, therefore, that these wings were not all for the .purpose-of flying. A similar figure is given in Isaiah 6:2 where the creatures that stood near the throne had each six wings.We may obtain some suggest.ions for our verse by reading the use Isaiah said these creatures made of their six wings. Each one used-two of his wings to cover his face (indicating humility in the presence of God); with two of them he cover his feet (indicating modesty before the throne); with two he did fly (denoting a. readiness to go on any errand desired by the Lord). Full of e_z/es uri.thz"n. denotes that they could make an intelligent application of the things they could see outwardly or around them. Rest not means they did not pause day or night in ascribing praise to the Lord. Was and-is and is to come is commented upon at Revelation 1:4.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". 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 4:8

Revelation 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and Isaiah, and is to come.

"And the four living creatures had each of them six wings above him"

So had the cherubims in Ezekiel's vision of the thrones of the Lord's glory; four wings, { Ezekiel 1:1-10; Ezekiel 10:1-8} also the seraphims in Isaiah's vision. { Isaiah 6:2-7} Each one had six wings; whereby we may understand the alacrity and readiness of all the officers in the churches of saints to attend upon their duty, as. { Romans 12:6-8}

And they rest not day and night, saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and Isaiah, and is to come

They rest not day and night

that Isaiah, they are instant in season, and out of season, preaching the word of God, { 2 Timothy 4:1-2} and praying, { 1 Thessalonians 3:10} and serving God night and day in his Temple, as they did, { Revelation 7:15} saying, holy, holy, holy that Isaiah, most holy Lord God; the father, word and holy spirit, for these three are ONE. { 1 John 5:7} Almighty, that Isaiah, able to do what he pleaseth to do, in heaven, in earth, and in all places, who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will. { Ephesians 1:11} See Revelation 1:8 which was, and Isaiah, and is to come viz. The eternal God.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-4.html.

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

Revelation 4:8. And each of the four beasts has six wings, and round about and within they are full of eyes, and have no rest day and night, and they say: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was, and who is, and who comes. The Cherubim here have not four wings, like those in Ezekiel, but six, like the Seraphim in Isaiah, Isaiah 6. The wings also in this connection must serve for the glorification of God, as a terror to those who are enemies to him, a consolation to those who are friends; and this is confirmed by a comparison of the fundamental passages, from which the wings are borrowed, and from which, since this borrowing cannot possibly be without meaning, we must also adopt what is there said regarding their import and design. Bengel remarks briefly, "The chief virtues are thereby indicated, in the exercise of which the heavenly watchers give honour to the divine holiness, namely, fear or respect, since they do not look boldly, humility, since they veil themselves before that splendour, and alacrity in obeying the divine commands." And again more particularly: "By the three pairs of wings and their diverse use, is indicated the chief excellences in a holy creature, which has either not erred through sin, or has been again purified from it, and becomingly serves the great God. These excellences are respect, humility, and the spirit of obedience. The Seraphim cover their faces, so that they may not boldly look upon the divine Majesty, but with the profoundest reverence; as they also do not say, holy art thou, but speaking one to another of the divine Majesty, holy is he. They cover their feet, that they may in some measure be concealed from God's sight, though free from all sin, yet still in a feeling of proper creaturely abasement. They fly and move about in full activity, praising the Lord and executing his will." But all this serves not for the glorifying of the Seraphim and the Cherubim, but of God. How glorious must he be, how rich in supplies of help for his people, how mighty for the destruction of his enemies, before whom the concentration of created life so profoundly humbles itself, and with deepest reverence obeys! Thus understood, the wings of the Cherubim are found to be on the same line with their eyes, and their thrice exclamation of "holy." The clause "they are full of eyes round about (in front) and within (in the back parts)," would be a needless repetition, if it did not stand in close connection with what follows; and because they are wholly penetrated by the powers of God, therefore, etc. The words, "they have no rest day and night, saying," alludes to Psalms 19:3, "Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge." The simple thought is, that the heavens with their starry host unceasingly show forth God's glory; while by day the sun shines, by night there are the moon and the stars. As the heavens without ceasing declare the glory of God, the God of hosts, so also do the Cherubim or the creatures upon earth. The "holy, holy, holy," which is taken from Isaiah 6, and is found also in Psalms 99, is at the same time a threefold woe to the world which has this God for its enemy (comp. Revelation 8:13), and a threefold "Lift up your heads" to the church, which stands under his protection. Holy, holy, holy, according to his glory as manifesting itself in our state of being. That we must supply thus, is clear from the connection with the words: they are round about and within full of eyes; and also from what follows in Revelation 4:9, according to which the beasts not only give honour and glory to God, but also thanks, which they could only do if they celebrated God's holiness on the ground of their own existence. That holiness is not merely the highest purity in God, that it rather denotes the infinite exaltation of God above all that is created and finite (see what is said in my Comm. on Psalms 22:3), is clear alone from the reference the Cherubim make to their own existence, and also from the epithet, the Almighty," which has respect to holiness as its ground: holy, because all-ruling and almighty. The right view was given by Bengel. Among other things he says, "Holy, in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, is as much as separated; and when God is called Holy, his quite separate, his peculiar excellence is thereby indicated—that, namely, which is composed of his divine properties, throwing by their splendour everything else into the shade, since he is incomparably and indescribably removed, not only from all that is impure, but also from all that is creaturely. God stands apart from all: he is, and he works by himself, from himself, in himself, through himself, for himself. See 1 Timothy 6:15-16. Therefore he is the first and the last, the one and eternal, living and blessed, infinite and unchangeable, almighty, all-seeing, wise and true, righteous and faithful, gracious and compassionate. Hence it comes to pass that holy and holiness are of much the same import as God and Godhead; and as one says of a king: his Majesty, so the Scripture says of God: his Holiness, Hebrews 13:10. The Holy Spirit is God's Spirit. The holy is often used as a name, when God is spoken of, Isaiah 40:25; 1 Samuel 2:2; Exodus 15:11. And as God swears by his name and by his soul, so he also swears by his holiness, that is by himself. He is sanctified when he is known and worshipped as the true God. This holiness is often named the glory; often are his holiness and glory celebrated together, Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 6:3." Bengel further remarks on "the Almighty," &c., "This is the description of him to whom the epithet, Holy, was applied, and at the same time the reason why it was applied. The beasts say: God the Almighty, for which the elders say: our God, Revelation 4:11. The Almighty! he is very often so named in the Revelation, because he there peculiarly shows himself in his power over all—in his glory over all that is visible and invisible." The expression: who comes, refers, according to the parallel passages (see in ch. Revelation 1:4), to the future developments and triumphs of the kingdom of God, who, as he has shown in the past and present what he was and is by displays of his glory and almightiness, so he will also come to introduce the kingdom over the whole earth—comp. ch. Revelation 11:17, "We thank thee, Lord God Almighty, that thou hast taken thy great power and reignest." On the ground of the declaration, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God the Almighty," prophecy may be said to be based. He that has preserved his holiness will also come, without any one being able to prevent his arrival." His work can no one hinder, his work will no one neglect, if he will do what is for the good of his children." So that all that is in the verse, the wings of the Cherubim, their eyes, their ceaseless holy, holy, holy, serves the purpose of reviving the languishing spirits of the church, in the presence of a persecuting and apparently omnipotent world, and to lay a foundation for what is announced in detail, in the following vision of the seven seals. Whoever has for his support Him who sits upon the Cherubim, can find nothing in a whole world of opposition which should make the giant shrink into a dwarf.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-4.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.Six wings—Like the seraphim of Isaiah 6:2; which with two of their wings covered the face in reverence before Jehovah; with two, their feet, as a decorum; and with the intermediate two they flew. John, however, makes no such distinction; the six wings apparently symbolize intense activity in obeying the behests of the Creator.

About him—A period should be put after wings, closing the sentence. Him should be struck out, and the reading should be: around and within (the wings) they (the cherubim) were full of eyes. In Revelation 4:6, their bodies were described as full of eyes before and behind. Here they are described as to their wings; which wings were also full of eyes; both around, that is, on their outer side, and within, that is, on their inner side, coming in contact with the body when closed, and revealed to John’s eye when expanded. So are these cherubim most swift, as is symbolized by their six wings; and most divinely perceptive, both in their nature, as symbolized by their many-eyed bodies, and in their activities, as symbolized by their many-eyed wings. These living beings represent, not merely the animal kingdom, but also the very structure of the earth, and all things known under physical philosophy. This is shown by their number four, which refers to the cardinal points, and so to the physical system. The term implies that the whole mundane system is, as Hengstenberg terms it, “inspirited.” The Spirit of God is the soul of nature. The whole is impregnate with his all-wise power, and is thereby enabled to move by the law of its true development. Each and every particle of matter thereby sees, with divine eyes, which way to move to incorporate itself into an organism; and so physiology and generative races are possible. Each chemical element sees how to act to carry out God’s prescribed affinities, and with all its six wings hasten to be in exact time. And so it is that matter and motion, under rule of intelligence, form a systematic universe.

The living beings and the elders are here both present at the throne in this day of the divine levee, because the purpose of the day is to unfold the future of both the living world and the living Church. And to the eye and ear of faith, the creation and the Church are a perpetual choir, offering an endless anthem to the Creator.

They rest not—A faulty translation, as suggesting weariness in the truly tireless. The literal Greek is, they have no cessation—no pause in their movements, no silence of their hymn. Day and night creation moves in rhythmic measures, and day and night the universal Church rolls up its trisagion.

Saying—It may seem strange to some that it is not the Church, but creation, that first offers its praise to God. Not so thought the psalmist, (<19E510>Psalms 145:10,) “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.” There is a desperate pessimism at present infecting our age, which finds in creation no proof of the goodness of God. The blessed faith of our Bible teaches a more benign philosophy. It holds that this is, on the whole, the best possible system, and beholds the world rejoicing in its existence and blessing its Creator. The permission of moral evil, and the partial production of natural evil, are methods and means of producing a higher result than could have existed without them.

Holy, holy, holy—This trine ascription (called the trisagion, or thrice-holy) is based on Isaiah 6:3, but carried out to a New Testament and trinitarian completeness. The trinality is emphasized by the thrice-three of the entire verse. Stuart remarks that he would not “rest” or “risk” a leading doctrine on this verse. But there is no “risk” in corroborating the proof of the trinity derived from a whole body of texts, making three a number for the divine by this, which is perhaps a crowning instance.

The word holy, thrice uttered, cannot well be applied to the three persons severally, as is shown by the fact that the second and third three in the verse cannot. It is the repetition of intensity. The divine holiness, omnipotence, and eternity, are sublimely recognised by the creational representatives.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-4.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 4:8. A description of the sounds and songs of heaven follows the picture of its sights.— , either with . . ( for once a real participle) or an asyndeton (if here, as elsewhere in the Apocalypse, must be supplied with a copula). . . . = “round their bodies and on the inside” (i.e., underneath their wings). For the ceaseless praise, which resembles that of Nin-ib, the Assyrian deity, cf. on Revelation 4:7 and Revelation 4:11, also Enoch xxxix. 12 (the trisagion sung by the sleepless ones, i.e., angels), Slav, En. 17, and Test. Levi 3 (where endless praise is the function of denizens in the fourth heaven). The first line of the hymn is Isaianic, the second ( . . .) is characteristic of the Apocalypse. In En. xli. 7 the sun and moon in their orbits “give thanks and praise and rest not; for to them their thanksgiving is rest”. In the Apocalypse, however, the phenomena of nature are generally the objects or the scourges of the divine wrath. The precedence of over may be due to the emphasis of the context upon (Revelation 4:11) the definite creative action of God. Since the worship God as the eternal (Revelation 4:10), while the acknowledge him as the , the latter epithet probably retains its O.T. sense, i.e., absolute life and majestic power (Revelation 16:5). The trisagion occurs in the Babylonian recension (Revelation 4:3.) of the Shmone-Esreh, among the daily prayers of the Jewish community. See further Encycl. Rel. and Ethics, i. 117, 118.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 4:8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-4.html. 1897-1910.