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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - REVELATION 4
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    CHAPTER 4

    Re 4:1-11. VISION OF GOD'S THRONE IN HEAVEN; THE FOUR AND TWENTY ELDERS; THE FOUR LIVING CREATURES.

    Here begins the Revelation proper; and first, the fourth and fifth chapters set before us the heavenly scenery of the succeeding visions, and God on His throne, as the covenant God of His Church, the Revealer of them to His apostle through Jesus Christ. The first great portion comprises the opening of the seals and the sounding of the trumpets (fourth to eleventh chapters). As the communication respecting the seven churches opened with a suitable vision of the Lord Jesus as Head of the Church, so the second part opens with a vision suitable to the matter to be revealed. The scene is changed from earth to heaven.

    1. After this--Greek, "After these things," marking the opening of the next vision in the succession. Here is the transition from "the things which are" (Re 1:19), the existing state of the seven churches, as a type of the Church in general, in John's time, to "the things which shall be hereafter," namely, in relation to the time when John wrote.
    - I looked--rather as Greek, "I saw" in vision; not as English Version means, I directed my look that way.
    - was--Omit, as not being in the Greek.
    - opened--"standing open"; not as though John saw it in the act of being opened. Compare Eze 1:1; Mt 3:16; Ac 7:56; 10:11. But in those visions the heavens opened, disclosing the visions to those below on earth. Whereas here, heaven, the temple of God, remains closed to those on earth, but John is transported in vision through an open door up into heaven, whence he can see things passing on earth or in heaven, according as the scenes of the several visions require.
    - the first voice which I heard--the voice which I heard at first, namely, in Re 1:10; the former voice.
    - was as it were--Omit was, it not being in the Greek. "Behold" governs in sense both "a door," &c., and "the first voice," &c.
    - Come up hither--through the "open door."
    - be--come to pass.
    - hereafter--Greek, "after these things": after the present time (Re 1:19).

    2. And--omitted in the two oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac.
    - I was, &c.--Greek, "I became in the Spirit" (see on Re 1:10): I was completely rapt in vision into the heavenly world.
    - was set--not was placed, but was situated, literally, "lay."
    - one sat on the throne--the Eternal Father: the Creator (Re 4:11): also compare Re 4:8 with Re 1:4, where also the Father is designated, "which is, and was, and is to come." When the Son, "the Lamb," is introduced, Re 5:5-9, a new song is sung which distinguishes the Sitter on the throne from the Lamb, "Thou hast redeemed us to God," and Re 5:13, "Unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." So also in Re 5:7, as in Da 7:13, the Son of man brought before the Ancient of days is distinguished from Him. The Father in essence is invisible, but in Scripture at times is represented as assuming a visible form.

    3. was--omitted in the two oldest manuscripts but supported by Vulgate and Coptic.
    - to look upon--Greek, "in sight," or "appearance."
    - jasper--From Re 21:11, where it is called most precious, which the jasper was not, EBRARD infers it was a diamond. Ordinarily, the jasper is a stone of various wavy colors, somewhat transparent: in Re 21:11 it represents watery crystalline brightness. The sardine, our cornelian, or else a fiery red. As the watery brightness represents God's holiness, so the fiery red His justice executing fiery wrath. The same union of white or watery brightness and fiery redness appears in Re 1:14; 10:1; Eze 1:4; 8:2; Da 7:9.
    - rainbow round about the throne--forming a complete circle (type of God's perfection and eternity: not a half circle as the earthly rainbow) surrounding the throne vertically. Its various colors, which combined form one pure solar ray, symbolize the varied aspects of God's providential dealings uniting in one harmonious whole. Here, however, the predominating color among the prismatic colors is green, the most refreshing of colors to look upon, and so symbolizing God's consolatory promises in Christ to His people amidst judgments on His foes. Moreover, the rainbow was the appointed token of God's covenant with all flesh, and His people in particular. Hereby God in type renewed to man the grant originally made to the first Adam. The antitype will be the "new heavens and the new earth" restored to redeemed man, just as the earth, after the destruction by the flood, was restored to Noah. As the rainbow was first reflected on the waters of the world's ruin, and continues to be seen only when a cloud is brought over the earth, so another deluge, namely, of fire, shall precede the new heavens and earth: the Lord, as here, on His throne, whence (Re 4:5) proceed "lightnings and thunderings," shall issue the commission to rid the earth of its oppressors: but then, amidst judgment, when other men's hearts fail them for fear, the believer shall be reassured by the rainbow, the covenant token, round the throne (compare DE BURGH, Exposition of Revelation). The heavenly bow speaks of the shipwreck of the world through sin: it speaks also of calm and sunshine after the storm. The cloud is the regular token of God's and Christ's presence, for example, in the tabernacle's holiest place; on Mount Sinai at the giving of the law; at the ascension (Ac 1:9); at His coming again (Re 4:7).

    4. seats--rather as the Greek is translated in this very verse, "thrones," of course lower and smaller than the grand central throne. So Re 16:10, "the seat (rather, throne) of the beasts," in hellish parody of God's throne.
    - four and twenty elders--Greek, "the four and twenty (or as one oldest manuscript, 'twenty-four') elders": the well-known elders [ALFORD]. But TREGELLES translates, "Upon the twenty-four thrones (I saw: omitted in two oldest manuscripts) elders sitting": which is more probable, as the twenty-four elders were not mentioned before, whereas the twenty-four thrones were. They are not angels, for they have white robes and crowns of victory, implying a conflict and endurance, "Thou hast redeemed us": they represent the Heads of the Old and New Testament churches respectively, the Twelve Patriarchs (compare Re 7:5-8, not in their personal, but in their representative character), and Twelve Apostles. So in Re 15:3, "the song of Moses, and of the Lamb," the double constituents of the Church are implied, the Old Testament and the New Testament. "Elders" is the very term for the ministry both of the Old and New Testament, the Jewish and the catholic Gentile Church. The tabernacle was a "pattern" of the heavenly antitype; the holy place, a figure of HEAVEN ITSELF. Thus Jehovah's throne is represented by the mercy seat in the holiest, the Shekinah-cloud over it. "The seven lamps of fire before the throne" (Re 4:5) are antitypical to the seven-branched candlestick also in the holiest, emblem of the manifold Spirit of God: "the sea of glass" (Re 4:6) corresponds to the molten sea before the sanctuary, wherein the priests washed themselves before entering on their holy service; so introduced here in connection with the redeemed "priests unto God" (compare Note, see on Re 15:2). The "four living creatures" (Re 4:6, 7) answer to the cherubim over the mercy seat. So the twenty-four throned and crowned elders are typified by the twenty-four chiefs of the twenty-four courses of priests, "Governors of the sanctuary, and governors of God" (1Ch 24:5; 25:1-31).

    5. proceeded--Greek, "proceed."
    - thunderings and voices--The two oldest manuscripts transpose, "voices and thunderings." Compare at the giving of the law on Sinai, Ex 19:16. "The thunderings express God's threats against the ungodly: there are voices in the thunders (Re 10:3), that is, not only does He threaten generally, but also predicts special judgments" [GROTIUS].
    - seven lamps . . . seven Spirits--The Holy Spirit in His sevenfold operation, as the light-and-life Giver (compare Re 5:6, seven eyes . . . the seven Spirits of God; Re 1:4; 21:23; Ps 119:105) and fiery purifier of the godly, and consumer of the ungodly (Mt 3:11).

    6. Two oldest manuscripts, A, B, Vulgate, Coptic, and Syriac read, "As it were a sea of glass."
    - like . . . crystal--not imperfectly transparent as the ancient common glass, but like rock crystal. Contrast the turbid "many waters" on which the harlot "sitteth" (Re 17:1, 15). Compare Job 37:18, "the sky . . . as a molten looking-glass." Thus, primarily, the pure ether which separates God's throne from John, and from all things before it, may be meant, symbolizing the "purity, calmness, and majesty of God's rule" [ALFORD]. But see the analogue in the temple, the molten sea before the sanctuary (see on Re 4:4, above). There is in this sea depth and transparency, but not the fluidity and instability of the natural sea (compare Re 21:1). It stands solid, calm, and clear, God's judgments are called "a great deep" (Ps 36:6). In Re 15:2 it is a "sea of glass mingled with fire." Thus there is symbolized here the purificatory baptism of water and the Spirit of all who are made "kings and priests unto God." In Re 15:2 the baptism with the fire of trial is meant. Through both all the king-priests have to pass in coming to God: His judgments, which overwhelm the ungodly, they stand firmly upon, as on a solid sea of glass; able like Christ to walk on the sea, as though it were solid.
    - round about the throne--one in the midst of each side of the throne.
    - four beasts--The Greek for "beasts," Re 13:1, 11, is different, therion, the symbol for the carnal man by opposition to God losing his true glory, as lord, under Him, of the lower creatures, and degraded to the level of the beast. Here it is zoon, "living creatures"; not beast.

    7. calf--"a steer" [ALFORD]. The Septuagint often uses the Greek term here for an ox (Ex 22:1; 29:10, &c.).
    - as a man--The oldest manuscripts have "as of a man."

    8. about him--Greek, "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 Isa 6:3, as here, it occurs; also Ps 99:3, 5, 9, where He is praised as "holy," (1) on account of His majesty (Re 4:1) about to display itself; (2) His justice (Re 4:4) already displaying itself; (3) His mercy (Re 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 Isa 6:3 there is added, "the whole EARTH is full of His

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