IT BUT THE
IT AMIDST THE
PRAISES OF THE
REDEEMED, AND OF THE
1. in, &c.--Greek, "(lying) upon the right hand."
His right hand was open and on it lay the book. On God's part there was
no withholding of His future purposes as contained in the book: the
only obstacle to unsealing it is stated in
book--rather, as accords with the ancient form of books, and
with the writing on the backside, "a roll." The writing on
the back implies fulness and completeness, so that nothing more
needs to be added
The roll, or book, appears from the context to be "the title-deed of
man's inheritance" [DE BURGH] redeemed by Christ, and contains the successive
steps by which He shall recover it from its usurper and obtain actual
possession of the kingdom already "purchased" for Himself and His elect
saints. However, no portion of the roll is said to be unfolded
and read; but simply the seals are successively
opened, giving final access to its contents being read as a
perfect whole, which shall not be until the events symbolized by the
seals shall have been past, when
shall receive its complete accomplishment, and the Lamb shall
reveal God's providential plans in redemption in all their manifold
beauties. Thus the opening of the seals will mean the successive steps
by which God in Christ clears the way for the final opening and reading
of the book at the visible setting up of the kingdom of Christ.
Compare, at the grand consummation,
"Another book was opened . . . the book of life";
None is worthy to do so save the Lamb, for He alone as such has
redeemed man's forfeited inheritance, of which the book is the
title-deed. The question
is not (as commonly supposed), Who should reveal the destinies of the
Church (for this any inspired prophet would be competent to do)? but,
Who has the WORTH to give man a new title to
his lost inheritance? [DE BURGH].
sealed . . . seven seals--Greek, "sealed up,"
or "firmly sealed." The number seven (divided into four, the
world-wide number, and three, the divine) abounds in Revelation and
expresses completeness. Thus, the seven seals,
representing all power given to the Lamb; the seven trumpets, by
which the world kingdoms are shaken and overthrown, and the Lamb's
kingdom ushered in; and the seven vials, by which the beast's
kingdom is destroyed.
His voice penetrated heaven, earth, and Hades
3. no man--Greek, "no one." Not merely no
man, but also no one of any order of beings.
in earth--Greek, "upon the earth."
under the earth--namely, in Hades.
look thereon--to look upon the contents, so as to read them.
4. and to read--inserted in English Version Greek text
without good authority. One oldest manuscript,
ORIGEN, CYPRIAN, and
HILARY omit the clause. "To read" would be awkward
standing between "to open the book" and "to look thereon." John having
been promised a revelation of "things which must be hereafter,"
weeps now at his earnest desire being apparently frustrated. He
is a pattern to us to imitate, as an eager and teachable learner of the
5. one of--Greek, "one from among." The "elder" meant is,
according to some (in LYRA), Matthew. With this
accords the description here given of Christ, "the Lion, which
is (so the Greek) of the tribe of Juda, the root of David"; the
royal, David-descended, lion-aspect of Christ being that prominent in
Matthew, whence the lion among the fourfold cherubim is commonly
assigned to him. GERHARD in BENGEL thought Jacob to be meant, being, doubtless, one
of those who rose with Christ and ascended to heaven
(Mt 27:52, 53).
The elders in heaven round God's throne know better than John, still in
the flesh, the far-reaching power of Christ.
Root of David--
(Isa 11:1, 10).
Not merely "a sucker come up from David's ancient root" (as
ALFORD limits it), but also including the idea of
His being Himself the root and origin of David: compare these two
truths brought together,
Hence He is called not merely Son of David, but also
David. He is at once "the branch" of David, and "the root" of
David, David's Son and David's Lord, the Lamb slain and
therefore the Lion of Juda: about to reign over Israel, and
thence over the whole earth.
prevailed--Greek, "conquered": absolutely, as elsewhere
gained the victory: His past victory over all the powers of
darkness entitles Him now to open the book.
to open--that is, so as to open. One oldest manuscript,
B, reads, "He that openeth," that is, whose office it is to open, but
the weight of oldest authorities is with English Version
reading, namely, A, Vulgate, Coptic, and ORIGEN.
6. I beheld, and, lo--One oldest manuscript, A, omits "and, lo."
Another, B, CYPRIAN, &c., support, "and, lo," but
omit, "and I beheld."
in the midst of the throne--that is, not on the throne
but in the midst of the company
which was "round about the throne."
Lamb--Greek, "arnion"; always found in Revelation
exclusively, except in
alone: it expresses endearment, namely, the endearing relation
in which Christ now stands to us, as the consequence of His previous
relation as the sacrificial Lamb. So also our relation to Him:
He the precious Lamb, we His dear lambs, one with Him.
BENGEL thinks there is in Greek,
"arnion," the idea of taking the lead of the flock.
Another object of the form Greek, "arnion," the Lamb, is
to put Him in the more marked contrast to Greek,
"therion," the Beast. Elsewhere Greek, "amnos," is
found, applying to Him as the paschal, sacrificial Lamb
Joh 1:29, 36;
as it had been slain--bearing marks of His past death wounds. He
was standing, though bearing the marks of one slain. In the midst of
heavenly glory Christ crucified is still the prominent object.
seven horns--that is, perfect might, "seven" symbolizing
perfection; "horns," might, in contrast to the
horns of the Antichristian world powers,
&c.; Da 7:7, 20; 8:3.
seven eyes . . . the seven Spirits . . . sent
forth--So one oldest manuscript, A. But B reads, "being sent
forth." As the seven lamps before the throne represent the
Spirit of God immanent in the Godhead, so the seven eyes of the
Lamb represent the same sevenfold Spirit profluent from the incarnate
Redeemer in His world-wide energy. The Greek for "sent forth,"
apostellomena, or else apestalmenoi, is akin to the term
"apostle," reminding us of the Spirit-impelled labors of Christ's
apostles and minister throughout the world: if the present tense be
read, as seems best, the idea will be that of those labors
continually going on unto the end. "Eyes" symbolize His
all-watchful and wise providence for His Church, and against her
7. The book lay on the open hand of Him that sat on the throne
for any to take who was found worthy [ALFORD]. The
Lamb takes it from the Father in token of formal investiture into His
universal and everlasting dominion as Son of man. This introductory
vision thus presents before us, in summary, the consummation to which
all the events in the seals, trumpets, and vials converge, namely, the
setting up of Christ's kingdom visibly. Prophecy ever hurries to the
grand crisis or end, and dwells on intermediate events only in their
typical relation to, and representation of, the end.
8. had taken--Greek, "took."
fell down before the Lamb--who shares worship and the throne
with the Father.
harps--Two oldest manuscripts, A, B, Syriac and
Coptic read, "a harp": a kind of guitar, played with the hand or
vials--"bowls" [TREGELLES]; censers.
prayers of saints--as the angel offers their prayers
with incense (compare
This gives not the least sanction to Rome's dogma of our praying to
saints. Though they be employed by God in some way unknown to us
to present our prayers (nothing is said of their interceding for
us), yet we are told to pray only to Him
(Re 19:10; 22:8, 9).
Their own employment is praise (whence they all have
harps): ours is prayer.
9. sung--Greek, "sing": it is their blessed occupation
continually. The theme of redemption is ever new, ever
suggesting fresh thoughts of praise, embodied in the "new song."
us to God--So manuscript B, Coptic, Vulgate, and CYPRIAN. But A omits "us": and Aleph reads
instead, "to our God."
out of--the present election-church gathered out of the
world, as distinguished from the peoples gathered to Christ as the
subjects, not of an election, but of a general and world-wide
conversion of all nations.
kindred . . . tongue . . . people
. . . nation--The number four marks world-wide
extension: the four quarters of the world. For "kindred," translate as
Greek, "tribe." This term and "people" are usually restricted to
Israel: "tongue and nation" to the Gentiles
(Re 7:9; 11:9; 13:7,
the oldest reading;
Thus there is here marked the election-Church gathered from Jews and
for "tribes," we find among the four terms "kings"; in
10. made us--A, B, Aleph, Vulgate, Syriac, and
Coptic read, "them." The Hebrew construction of the third
person for the first, has a graphic relation to the redeemed,
and also has a more modest sound than us, priests [BENGEL].
unto our God--So B and Aleph read. But A omits the
kings--So B reads. But A, Aleph, Vulgate, Coptic, and
CYPRIAN, read, "A kingdom." Aleph reads
also "a priesthood" for priests. They who cast their crowns
before the throne, do not call themselves kings in the sight of
the great King
(Re 4:10, 11);
though their priestly access has such dignity that their reigning on
earth cannot exceed it. So in
they are not called "kings" [BENGEL].
we shall reign on the earth--This is a new feature added to
Aleph, Vulgate, and Coptic read, "They shall
reign." A and B read, "They reign." ALFORD
takes this reading and explains it of the Church EVEN
NOW, in Christ her Head, reigning on the earth: "all things are
being put under her feet, as under His; her kingly office and rank are
asserted, even in the midst of persecution." But even if we read (I
think the weightiest authority is against it), "They reign,"
still it is the prophetical present for the future: the seer being
transported into the future when the full number of the redeemed
(represented by the four living creatures) shall be complete and
the visible kingdom begins. The saints do spiritually reign now;
but certainly not as they shall when the prince of this world shall be
bound (see on
So far from reigning on the earth now, they are "made as the
filth of the world and the offscouring of all things." In
Re 11:15, 18,
the locality and time of the kingdom are marked.
KELLY translates, "reign over the earth"
(Greek, "epi tees gees"), which is justified by the
The elders, though ruling over the GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH