Bible Commentary on the
Book of Revelation
King James Version
The Scroll and
1 And I saw in the right hand of him
that sat on the throne a book written within and on
the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud
voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose
the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under
the earth, was able to open the book, neither to
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy
to open and to read the book, neither to look
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not:
behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of
David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose
the seven seals thereof.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne
and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the
elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having
seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven
Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7 And he came and took the book out of the right
hand of him that sat upon the throne.
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts
and four and twenty elders fell down before the
Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden
vials full of odours, which are the prayers of
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou
art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals
thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to
God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and
people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God
kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels
round about the throne and the beasts and the elders:
and the number of them was ten thousand times ten
thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and
strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
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, and
honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and
twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth
for ever and ever.
SAW IN THE RIGHT HAND OF HIM THAT SAT ON THE THRONE
A BOOK WRITTEN WITHIN AND ON THE BACKSIDE, SEALED WITH SEVEN
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne
A new and gripping drama is about to unfold, in this fifth
chapter. The action centres around God who holds a book. The Lamb, Jesus, who takes the Book into His own hand: the
response of the four Living Creatures, the Twenty Four elders,
and the myriad hosts of angels. Testimonies to the Church by EG White, page 267
says "The fifth chapter of Revelation needs
to be closely studied. It is of great importance to those who
shall act a part in the work of God for these last days".
Like the scarlet thread, the
'plan of Salvation'
is closely woven into this chapter.
As we noticed in the previous
chapter, John the Revelator, and Daniel the prophet were carried through the
stream of time, down to that dramatic and fateful hour when
"the hour of His judgment is come" (Revelation 14:7). Both of them saw the Son of Man ministering in
the presence of the Father. Daniel saw the Books opened, John saw a Book
that needed to be opened.
Written within and on the
backside, sealed with seven seals
As John looked closer, he saw the Father,
One who created all things, holding a sealed scroll. It was
with 7 seals, and all the writing space was taken up, or filled
up. John was familiar with this for all Roman wills were sealed
with seven seals of seven witnesses on threads that secured the
parchment. John also realized that this was a very
important document seeing that God was holding it in His right hand.
AND I SAW A STRONG ANGEL PROCLAIMING WITH A LOUD
VOICE, WHO IS WORTHY TO OPEN THE BOOK, AND TO LOOSE
THE SEALS THEREOF?
I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud
One of the leading angels of heaven makes a very important
announcement. The dramatic hour has arrived, the destiny of
every soul hangs in the balance.
Who is worthy to open the Book, and to loose the seals
As the host of heaven gaze upon the One on the throne, a
proclaims with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book,
and to loose the seals thereof?" This is not a reproof, but a call to the
entire universe to witness the glory of the Son of God. This is
a fresh unfolding of the Plan of Salvation.
John beholds a great white throne in heaven. No description is adequate to convey the
beauty and the majesty
of God as He is seated on the throne. John likens it to the
appearance of precious stones. "Like a jasper and a sardine stone" with an
emerald-like rainbow surrounding Him.
"And out of the throne proceeded lightnings
and thunderings and voices".
Close at hand is the ministering Spirit of God in His Sevenfold perfection. Before the throne is a sea
of glass just like crystal. On this sea or paving, stand four
beautiful Living Creatures, who are continually praising God
both day and night.
Surrounding the throne, are Twenty-Four elders who "cast
their crowns before the throne" and unite in the great
All the inhabitants of the universe have their eyes fixed
upon the great drama being enacted before the throne. As the drama
opens, John sees the Father sitting upon His
throne, holding "a book written within and on the backside,
seals" (Revelation 5:1).
Who is worthy to open the Book
and to loose the seals thereof?
The challenge is made! Who is worthy to open
the Book? There is a solemn pause as all heaven is
hushed into a deadly silence. It is a call to all the universe,
to recognize that the Plan of Salvation has its beginnings and
its end in Jesus Christ. John must have been tense as he waited for the
WAS ABLE TO OPEN THE BOOK, NEITHER
TO LOOK THEREON.
AND NO MAN IN HEAVEN, NOR
IN EARTH, NEITHER UNDER THE EARTH,
The silence that followed this challenge was
awesome, the suspense awful. No one dare come forward to answer
the challenge for there was no one in that vast audience
able to open the seals.
AND I WEPT MUCH,
BECAUSE NO MAN WAS FOUND WORTHY TO OPEN
AND TO READ THE BOOK, NEITHER TO LOOK THEREON.
John was touched. "I wept much", says John. Someone has said that the Revelation was not
written without tears, neither will it be understood without
tears. John's weeping reflects his sympathy for the
people of God. To be a true prophet, his own heart must be touched
by the sorrows of men and the tragedy of the world.
As the representative of the
human race; as one who had endeavoured to build up the work of
God; as one who had suffered for the Master; he realized that if
no one was found worthy and able to take the Book from the hand
of God and to break its seals; then all the promises of the prophets, and all the hopes of God's
people, and all the prospects of a redeemed world must fail.
AND ONE OF THE ELDERS SAITH UNTO ME, WEEP
BEHOLD THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDA, THE ROOT OF DAVID HATH PREVAILED TO OPEN THE BOOK, AND TO LOOSE THE SEVEN
And one of the elders saith unto me, weep
not: behold the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David
The Lion of the tribe of Judah
This is none other than Christ Himself for He
was born of the tribe of Judah. The figure of a lion signifies
strength and it takes strength to gain the victory in the
great controversy with
The Root of David
This title comes from
Isaiah 11:1 and verse 10. "And there shall come forth a rod
out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:"
10 says, "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall
stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be
In both of these titles, we have pictured the
Messiah, who was to rule as "The Lion of the tribe of Juda".
This is the One spoken of in
Luke 1:32,33, "He
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and
the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his
kingdom there shall be no end."
Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the
seven seals thereof
AND I BEHELD,
AND, LO, IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE AND OF
THE FOUR BEASTS, AND IN THE MIDST OF THE ELDERS, STOOD A LAMB AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN, HAVING SEVEN HORNS AND SEVEN EYES,
THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD SENT FORTH INTO ALL
It is wonderful to know that He has
prevailed and gained the victory. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself,
one equal with God could make atonement for its transgressions. Only
who is God, could redeem man from the curse of the law, and
bring him back into harmony with
God. Through His victory in the great controversy
with Satan, He has the right to open the Book. There is no one else in all the universe able
to do this. Christ's victory is unique as no one else in all the
universe could have taken His place, for the basic issue is the
integrity of the character of God which is expressed in His law. Neither angel or man
could have accomplished
this vindication, for they themselves are subject to the law.
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of
the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of
the elders, stood a Lamb
The Lamb now becomes the focal point
vision. John has just heard Christ called a Lion and a
Before Christ can be the Lion and the conqueror He must be
the LAMB. The lamb-like qualities are so wonderfully described in
Isaiah 53rd chapter and have made the victory possible.
"He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief. He hath borne our griefs, stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted, wounded for our transgressions,
bruised for our iniquities. The LORD hath laid on Him the
iniquity of us all. Oppressed and He was afflicted. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, as a
sheep before her shearers is dumb so He openeth not His
mouth. Cut off out of the land of the living for the transgressions of my
people was He stricken. He had done no violence neither was any deceit
in His mouth".
As it had been slain
The word "as" indicates that this is a symbol.
John is not saying that a slaughtered lamb
really stands before the throne of God in heaven.
A slain lamb. This takes us back through four
thousand years of history, right back to the Garden of God or
the Garden of Eden. The heart of the Father was broken when that
first lamb was slain. Every time the knife was stained with the
blood of an offering it brought to the mind of God the death of His
Son. Christ is the lamb slain from the foundation
of the world. It was John the Baptist who said,
John 1:29 second part,
"Behold the lamb of God which taketh away
the sin of the world."
Having seven horns and seven
Seeing that the lamb itself is a
symbol, then the other features of the lamb are also symbolic. The lamb John
saw, was a dying lamb, wounded by the sacrificial knife.
Horns are a symbol of strength and power. Seven is a number signifying perfection, so
seven horns represent the perfect sacrifice. Habakkuk describes Him as having
coming out of His
hand," or "bright beams out of His side" (margin)
"and there was
the hiding of His power" (Habakkuk 3:4).
'Great Controversy' by EG White,
page 674 says, "Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His
glory, "He had bright beams coming out of His side: and there
was the hiding of His power." That pierced side, whence flowed the crimson
stream that reconciled man to God,
- there is the Saviour's
glory, there "the hiding
of His power." Mighty to save, through the
sacrifice of redemption. He was therefore strong to execute
justice upon them that despised God's mercy. And the tokens of
His humiliation are His highest honour; through the eternal ages
the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise, and declare
Christ will always carry the marks of those
wounds in His hands
and feet and body.
Zechariah 13:6 says, "And one shall say unto
him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer,
Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
And seven eyes, which are the
seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth
Seven eyes a symbol of perfect wisdom and
intelligence. However the seven eyes are in this instance
associated with the Holy Spirit. Just as Christ is presented as a
Lion and a Lamb, so the Holy Spirit is also presented in this
symbolic form. This is another way of describing the all
embracing work of the
AND HE CAME AND TOOK THE BOOK OUT OF
THE RIGHT HAND OF HIM THAT SAT UPON THE THRONE.
This is the focal point of chapters 4 and 5. Christ by taking the Book from
the hand of God
does what no other being in the universe can do. The
deathly silence and awesome suspense is broken by this dramatic
action of the Saviour. "He came and took the book out of the
right hand of Him that sat upon the throne".
The fact that the Father holds the Book shows
clearly that Christ does not do the work alone. Father and Son unite in the work of
Redemption. Together they formed this world to be man's
home. Together they made man in their own image. Together they made a covenant to redeem man
from his fallen estate. Together they worked out the Plan of
Salvation, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only begotten Son..."
AND WHEN HE HAD TAKEN THE BOOK, THE FOUR BEASTS AND
FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS FELL DOWN BEFORE THE LAMB, HAVING EVERY
ONE OF THEM HARPS, AND GOLDEN VIALS FULL OF ODOURS, WHICH ARE
THE PRAYERS OF SAINTS.
And when He had taken the Book
is, what is in the Book? When the Lamb takes the book from the Father's
hand and begins to unloose the seven seals, John sees the entire history of the Christian
church from the cross to the second advent, unfolded before his
eyes. He sees the mighty triumphs of the cross as
men go forth bearing the blood stained banner of Prince
Immanuel. He sees the violent opposition of Satan to the forward
of the Gospel.
When the seals are opened, John sees the part
God's people play in the great controversy, and carefully
recorded are the good deeds and the kind acts.
"They that feared the Lord spake
often one to another and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a
book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared
the Lord and that thought upon His name."
John also sees the part the wicked
in this drama of the ages. Their life record is also found in
the Book the
lamb opens. Matthew 12:36 says, "But I say unto you,
That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give
account thereof in the day of judgment."
Speaking of the Jewish leaders who rejected
Christ, the book 'Christ's Object lessons' by EG White says "Their
decision was registered in the book which John saw in the hand
of Him that sat upon the throne, the book which no man could
open. In all its vindictiveness this decision will appear before
them in the day when this book is unsealed by the lion of the
of Judah" (page 294).
The four beasts and four and twenty elders
fell down before the lamb
This is a tremendous moment, for wrapped up in this dramatic turn of events
hangs the eternal destiny of every individual who has ever named
the name of Christ. Suffering saints and martyrs without number
have sealed their testimony in their blood and have done so willingly, knowing that the
lamb is well able to take the Book.
Having everyone of them harps,
and golden vials full of odours
It is very interesting to notice that the
elders have both harps and golden bowls of incense. Harps were associated with the
in Old Testament times.
2 Kings 3:15
says, "But now bring me a minstrel. (Elisha
said,) And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, (upon his
harp) that the hand of the LORD came upon him."
1 Chronicles 25:1 we
read, "Moreover David ... separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of
Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps."
The Golden bowls are associated with the
priests or priesthood. In the ancient sanctuary, the priest carried a
bowl of incense while the people prayed outside.
These two symbols suggest that the twenty-four
elders are prophet-priests,
which is fitting, seeing they are actively
engaged in the throne room of heaven.
Full of odours
'Early Writings' by EG White,
page 252 says, "Between the cherubim was a golden censer, and
as the prayers of the saints offered in faith, came up to Jesus,
and He presented them to His Father, a cloud of fragrance arose from the incense,
looking like smoke of the most beautiful colours... As the
incense ascended to the Father the excellent glory came from the
throne to Jesus, and from Him it was shed upon those whose
prayers had come up like sweet incense."
Which are the prayers of
The word saint probably suggests a lot of
things to some people.
To some it may sound like an old
grey-haired grandmother, or it may suggest some straight
laced person. How often has some person been given the title
"saint" because that person refused to go along with the crowd. The text talks
about "prayers of saints." Are these the prayers of the
grandmothers? or of the preacher, or some better than average
person? The word saint is used in the New Testament as a title for a Christian.
the saints which are at Ephesus ..."
all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi..."
Colossians 1:2 says, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ
which are at Colosse..." The prayers of the saints mentioned here are
the prayers of God's people as they ascend to the Father.
AND THEY SUNG A NEW SONG, SAYING,
THOU ART WORTHY TO TAKE THE BOOK, AND TO OPEN THE SEAL THEREOF: FOR
THOU WAST SLAIN, AND HAST REDEEMED US TO GOD BY THY BLOOD OUT OF
EVERY KINDRED, AND TONGUE, AND PEOPLE, AND NATION;
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art
worthy to take the Book,
and open the seals thereof
This is a very special song for it is a song
of Salvation. The great songs usually come from deep
experiences. The centuries of sorrow are soon to come to an end,
for Christ is now entering the final phase of His mediation for
lost men. Desire of Ages by EG White says on page 835, "Songs of triumph mingle
with the music from angel harps, till heaven seems to overflow
with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost are found. Heaven
rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, "blessing,
and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
lamb forever and ever."
For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to
God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people,
When the Book is opened, and the part each
individual has played is revealed, when above all, the
self-sacrificing role of the Lamb is opened to the universe, all will
proclaim that Jesus is the Victor.
Philippians 2:8-11 says, "And being
found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God
also hath highly exalted Him, and given him a name which is above every
name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And
that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to
the glory of God the Father."
Note this statement "...the most
marvellous thing that ever took place in earth or heaven - the incarnation of
the Son of God. God gave His Son to die for sinful beings a
death of ignominy and shame. He who was Commander in the
heavenly courts laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown and
clothing. His divinity with humanity came to this world to stand
at the head of the human race as the
pattern - man." M.S. 76. 1903.
"And that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Every being in the universe proclaims
it, every tongue confesses, every knee bows in submission, and
even Satan and the wicked will acknowledge that Jesus is the
rightful Victor. There will be' no racial barriers, for
Salvation in Christ is for every man, which respects no colour
distinction and has no boundaries.
AND HAST MADE US UNTO OUR GOD KINGS AND PRIESTS:
AND WE SHALL REIGN
ON THE EARTH.
Anticipating the final
cleansing of the universe from sin and man restored to his place
beside the Father, there is sung in heaven this joyous song
of the redeemed. The four and twenty elders acknowledge
God's blessings on them for they have been raised from the
depths of sin to the position of Kings and Priests. Though in heaven they look forward to
the time when they will reign with Christ on the earth made new.
AND I BEHOLD, AND I HEARD THE VOICE OF MANY
ANGELS ROUND ABOUT THE THRONE AND THE BEASTS AND THE ELDERS: AND THE
NUMBER OF THEM WAS TEN THOUSAND TIMES TEN THOUSAND, AND THOUSANDS OF THOUSANDS;
And I beheld,
and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and
the beasts and the elders
As John heard the singing and the
earthly and heavenly voices join in praising God, suddenly he
becomes conscious of the vast hosts of heaven as they join in
acclaiming the worthiness of the Lamb.
The angels at first did not fully
understand God's action in banishing Satan, nor in His plan for saving men. As the angels listen to the wonderful
testimonies of the Living Creatures and the Twenty Four elders,
as they have seen the working out of
Satan's rebellion; they are able to realize that God is love and
that love is the only way. God is vindicated before all
the heavenly hosts. And with one mighty chorus, they sing
praise to Him that sits on the throne and to the Lamb.
And the number of them
was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands
Not an actual number but rather
A LOUD VOICE,
WORTHY IS THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN TO RECEIVE POWER, AND RICHES, AND WISDOM, AND STRENGTH,
AND GLORY, AND BLESSING.
The angels sing a seven-part song of praise to God.
'Desire of Ages' by
EG White page 131 says, "Never can the
cost of our redemption be realized until the redeemed shall
stand with the Redeemer before the throne of God. Then as the
glories of the eternal home burst upon our enraptured senses we
shall remember that Jesus left all this for us, that He not only
became an exile from the heavenly courts, but for us took the
risk of failure and eternal loss. "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honour, and glory, and blessing."" The doxology of the
heavenly hosts is sevenfold, complete and perfect.
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, AND
HONOUR, AND GLORY, AND POWER, BE UNTO HIM THAT SITTETH UPON THE
THRONE, AND UNTO THE LAMB FOR EVER AND EVER.
And every creature which is in heaven
That is every created being takes up the chorus and all heaven joins in adoration
the Father and of the Son. Christ in humbling
Himself and taking
on the form of man has won the victory. The character of God is vindicated
before the entire universe.
And on the earth and
under the earth
It was on this earth that the
battle has been fought between Christ and Satan. This one lost world has suffered the
blight of sin through so long ages. How wonderful that from this earth there
goes up a song of praise which helped to swell that of the
And such as are in the
sea, and all that are in them
Even the creatures of the
their Maker, for nature itself recognizes and knows the Creator.
Heard I saying, blessing, and honour,
and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever
As we come to the climax of this
praise service, the universal choir link God the Father and the
Lamb together giving both the same praise in the same song. That the Lamb is adored here on the same
basis as the Father clearly shows that they are equal.
Colossians 1:19 says, "For it
Father that in him should all fulness dwell."
Colossians 2:9 says, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily".
Verse 10 says, "And ye are complete in him, which is the
head of all principality and power."
"Christ the Word, the only-begotten of God,
was one with the eternal Father, one in nature, in character,
and in purpose - the only being in all the universe that could
enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. By Christ,
the Father wrought in the creation of all heavenly beings."
'The Great Controversy' by EG White, p.493.
Everything the Father is, every quality
whether it be Deity, or
authority, or Excellency or power is and rests in Christ. It is because of this that the angelic hosts
unrestrainedly send forth their praise and adoration of the Lamb.
'Great Controversy' by EG White, page 671
says, "Before the
universe has been clearly presented the great sacrifice made by
the Father and the Son in man's behalf. The hour has come when
Christ occupies His rightful position, and is glorified above
principalities and powers and every name that is named.."
TWENTY ELDERS FELL DOWN AND WORSHIPPED HIM THAT LIVETH FOR EVER AND EVER.
AND THE FOUR BEASTS SAID, AMEN, AND THE FOUR
The great praise service comes to its climax, but not to its
end, for this same song will be sung when the
New Earth is established. It will be sung by the redeemed and
the angels in eternity. 'Great Controversy' by EG White page 678
says, "And the years of
eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more
revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence and happiness increase. The
more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of
His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of
redemption, and the amazing achievements in the great
controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with
more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep
the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and
thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty
chorus of praise."
"The cross of Christ will be the science and
the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ
glorified they will behold Christ crucified ... As the
nations of the saved look upon their Redeemer, and behold the eternal glory
of the Father shining in His countenance; as they behold His
throne, which is from everlasting to everlasting, and know that
His kingdom is to have no end, they break forth in rapturous song,
"Worthy, worthy is the
Lamb that was slain, and hath
redeemed us to God by His own most precious blood!" (The
Great Controversy, pages 651, 652)
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