Revelation 5 - Outline of Revelation (MENU page)
5:1 And I saw {Introduces a new vision, consisting of only 1 verse.}
The brevity suggests a single focus on something of unusual importance.
in {lit., upon} the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book
The location of this book speaks of -
-- the book's divine origin & complete authority.
-- God's power to translate its words into action.
written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
within and on the back - denotes fullness, ie., of the wrath of God (cp. 15:7).
seven seals - denote the fixity, fullness and security of the contents. [JBS]
What is this sealed book?
  1. The judgments to be revealed during the Great Tribulation (or at least the last 3.5 yrs).
    Dan 12:1-9; Zech 5:1-3
  2. The title deed to the earth, the transfer of dominion to Christ.
    Dan 7:13,14
  3. Prophecy in general -
    1. hidden from blinded Israel, now to be revealed.
      Isa 29:10-12,18,19
    2. now about to be established (The New Covenant).
      Jer 31:31-33; Rom 11:26,27; Heb 10:17,18
5:2 And I saw {a new vision, or focus begins}
a strong angel
This probably refers to Gabriel (whose name means 'strength of God') who told Daniel to seal the book (cp. Dan 8:16; Dan 12:4).
proclaiming with a loud voice,
strong...proclaim...loud... - These three words emphasize the urgency of his inquiry:
Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
5:3 And no man {or, no one}
in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth,
was able to open the book, neither to look thereon
{better: 'therein'}.
5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy
to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon
{ie., therein}.
no man was found...- implies that search was made, but none was found. Isa 63:5
No one was found either 'able' (v.3), or 'worthy' (Psa 15; Psa 24:3-5).
John's disappointment was deep and profound. Despite the elders' rejoicing (in ch. 4), creation must continue in its despair (Rom 8:22,23). There would be no one to bring in everlasting righteousness... (Dan 9:24).
5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me,
The elders were cognizant of the order & meaning of the events now unfolding because Christ has revealed it to them. Joh 15:15
Weep not:
or, 'stop weeping:' there is occasion for joy.
behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David,
Jesus came through Judah's line (the royal tribe). Mat 1:2-16
See Jacob's blessing upon Judah: lion... sceptre... Shiloh... Gen 49:8-12
As to His manhood, the Messiah would spring from Jesse (as did King David). Isa 11:1
But He is more than just a man. As God He is the root from which Judah and Jesse came. Isa 11:10; Rev 22:16
hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
5:6 And I beheld, and, lo,
A new vision begins with an admonition for the reader: 'I beheld, and {you} behold...'
There is also a note of surprise: John turns expecting to see a Lion, able to take the scroll. But he sees a Lamb, worthy...
in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts,
and in the midst of the elders,
Note that Christ is ever in the midst of the Church. Mat 18:20; Rev 1:13; 2:1
He is no longer seated at the Father's right hand,
no longer in the place of intercession.
He rises to judge the world. The time to crush His enemies has come. Heb 1:13
a Lamb as it had been slain,
He bears the marks of death, even in His eternal glory.
Those marks in no way diminish, but rather add to His glory.
Isa 53:7; Luk 24:40; Joh 20:20,27-28; Zech 12:10
having seven horns and seven eyes,
horns - symbolic of strength / authority. Seven speaks of completeness.
He is omnipotent. cp. Mat 28:18
eyes - symbolic of intelligence / knowledge. Seven speaks of completeness.
He is omniscient. Heb 4:13
He knows the hearts and needs of His people. He will see His purposes to completion, in their behalf. 2Chr 16:9; Zech 3:8,9; 4:10
which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Some see the 7 Spirits as representative of the Holy Spirit (here, and in previous occurrences).
But note that the word "spirits" is also used of angels. Heb 1:14
This is the last mention of "the seven spirits." cp. Rev 1:4; 3:1; 4:5
In ch. 8, "the seven angels" take the stage. Rev 8:2
Grammatically, the definite article must refer to some previous mention.
Therefore, it is likely that 'the 7 spirits' are 'the 7 angels' of ch. 8 and following.
As we begin to see these 7 angels pour plagues upon the earth, remember that they act in Christ's full power and perfect knowledge.
5:7 And he came and took
took- ie., received as a gift. It is His right to receive this book. He does not take it by force.
The same word {translated 'receive'} is used in 2Pet 1:17 and Rev 2:27.
The same thought is found in Joh 5:22,23.
the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
It is received from the Father.
cp. 'The revelation which God gave to Jesus Christ to make known to His servants things which shortly must come to pass...' Rev 1:1
5:8 And when he had taken the book,
the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb,
Note the magnitude & solemnity of this transfer:
-- every creature in heaven, earth and under the earth is profoundly moved (v.13).
-- the living creatures AND the elders FALL before the Lamb.
(This is said of the living creatures only here and in 19:4, there it is 'before God'.)
having every one of them harps,
'every one' is masculine, referring to the elders (the living creatures are in the neuter gender).
and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The elders serve as priests.
odours / prayers- cp. Psa 141:1,2
5:9 And they sung a new song,
they- ie., the elders (see v.8 note).
lit., they 'sing' (continual present tense).
a new {kind of} song- inspired by & befitting the new things which God is doing.
The 'old song' was of creation (cp. 4:11, Job 38:4-7)
The new song is of redemption: Personal, National (Israel), Messianic.
cp. Psa 40:1-3; Psa 98:1-4,9; Isa 42:1,6-10,13-16
saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof:
It is not the might of the Lion of Judah,
but the worth of the Lamb which effects the opening of the book.
What is the basis of His worthiness?
for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood
cp. 'thou hast created' ( 4:11) versus 'thou hast redeemed' (Isa 53:11-12; 1Pet 1:18,19).
Some churches have removed all reference to Christ's blood from their hymn books.
But in heaven, His blood is a central theme of praise. Perhaps that is one reason that the Lord will not be taking those folk there: to spare them the embarrassment. [McGee]
''us'' refers to the elders (representing the Church)-
-- not angels- good angels need no redemption, bad angels are beyond redeeming (Jude 1:6);
-- not Israel- which is but one nation. The church is of many nations (Mat 28:19).
out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
out of- The Church is composed of the "called out" ones.
(The word 'church' in Gk= ekklesia, called out).
The pre-tribulation rapture of the church is suggested in that-
  1. this praise is offered in heaven by the church, before the opening of the seals.
  2. the church is not mentioned again until ch 19 (eg. 19:7,8).
5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests:
and we shall reign on the earth.
{ie., because He has made us so, we shall reign}
kings & priests: These terms refer to church saints (1:5,6).
Note, some versions change 'us & we' to 'them & they' in v.9,10.
JBSmith says that this change was due to a corruption of an Alexandrian MSS to which all MSS with this reading can be traced. Some who hold the they/them reading as correct suggest that the elders are speaking of the tribulation saints. The church, they say will not reign 'on' but 'over' the earth. JBS says this distinction does not exist (Gk. epi = on, over, upon). Even where 'over' is the proper translation, it often does not imply elevation above the earth, but jurisdiction over it (eg. Luk 19:17-19). They/them is also grammatically inconsistent since the context does not show to whom these pronouns would refer.
5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about
the throne and the beasts and the elders:
[The angels encompassed the throne, the beasts and the elders.]
and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand,
and thousands of thousands;
lit., myriads of myriads - ie., an innumerable multitude (same word in Heb 12:22-24).
5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive
{GK= dunamis}, and riches {GK= ploutos- abundance},
and wisdom
{GK= sophia}, and strength {GK= ischus- ability, might},
and honour
{GK= time- value, preciousness, eg. 1 Pet 2:7},
and glory
{GK= doxa}, and blessing {GK= eulogia- praise}.
cp. the acclaim of the angels with the song of the elders (v.9) -
  • The elders sing... the angels speak... the worth of the Lamb.
    (Scripture never says that angels sing.)
  • The elders sing to Him... the angels speak about Him.
    (The wisdom & glory of God are made known to the angels by the church.)
    1Pet 1:12; Eph 3:10
'to receive'- This word is trans. 'take' ('took') in v.7.
Possible translations include - to take to oneself, to claim as one's own.
We can add nothing to Him. Our praise only reflects that which He is.
The praises are seven (indicating His completeness). They are cumulative & climactic.
He is of immeasurable worth, as attested by innumerable angels and by all creatures.
His worth is acclaimed, but beyond description.
The seven terms, which suggest the fullness & completeness of His worth, are yet compounding one upon another.
5:13 And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth,
and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,
heard I saying, Blessing
{GK= eulogia}, and honour {GK= time},
and glory
{GK= doxa}, and power {GK= kratos, dominion},
[be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Chronologically, ch. 5 precedes the Tribulation, during which time,
it is evident that many creatures have not yet humbled themselves before God.
This verse looks forward to the end when Christ brings everything into submission. 1Cor 15:24,25
A characteristic of prophetic writing is that it ever looks ahead. Note the future look at the end of each of the letters to the seven churches [eg., tree of life... second death... new Jerusalem... my throne...]
every creature - the creation itself shall be delivered...
Rom 8:19-21; Col 1:20; Heb 2:5-8; Php 2:9-11
Blessing, honor, glory, power (Gk= kratos, ie., dominion) -
Four things are here ascribed to Him. Four is the symbolic number of earth
(cp. v.12, where seven things are ascribed; seven being the number of heaven).
Note also that the items omitted in v.13, are things of peculiar significance to the Church.
  • power- Different words are translated 'power' in these two verses. In v.12 the GK word is 'dunamis,' the dynamic to accomplish His purposes in the believer's life.)
  • wisdom- To believers, Christ is the wisdom & power of God. 1Cor 1:24
  • riches- To, in and through believers, God makes known the riches of His grace in Christ. Eph 2:7; Col 1:27
5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen.
The Living Creatures who guard the holiness of God are satisfied.
Amen- "So be it. It is as it should be."
(Again, this is 'forward looking' toward the end.)
And the four [and] twenty elders fell down
and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
worshipped- Gk= prokuneo- lit., 'to kiss towards.' cp. Psa 2:12

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