The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Revelation 5

Rev 5:1

The OT "heaven" of Rev 4 becomes the NT "heaven" of Rev 5, when the slain Lamb ascends to the throne of God.

Note //s with Eze: the 4 living creatures, a throne scene, a scroll -- with judgments against Israel on it, to be fulfilled in a Babylonian invasion. This similarity with Eze explains the correspondence between the cherubim vision of Eze 1:22-28 and that of Rev 4:2-6

A SCROLL: In Rev 5:1... (1) Its opening dependent upon sacrifice of Christ (Rev 5:5,6,9,12). (2) No one else could open it, whereas many prophets saw future. (3) "Book of life" (Rev 13:8) appears to be ref to Rev 5. (4) Dan 7:9,10: a parallel passage -- ends with "the judgment was set and books were opened" -- which links Rev 5 with Rev 20:12 ('the book of life'). (5) The ensuing prophecies are seen when seals are opened. But when final seal is opened (ie, book itself is opened), then is "time of dead... to be judged" (Rev 11:15,18). (6) Dan 12: The book sealed until time of end (Dan 12:4,9) is the book of life (Dan 12:1,2) (WRev 44,45).

Rev 5:2

A LOUD VOICE: There was an urgency in the desire of further knowledge of Yahweh's purpose. Even the angels desire to look, but are not able (1Pe 1:12).

WHO IS WORTHY TO BREAK THE SEALS AND OPEN THE SCROLL?: Daniel was given certain information, but also told that the book was sealed until the end (Dan 12:4-8). The Apocalypse given at the end of Jewish times (cp Heb 1:2), revealed in symbol what will be plainly revealed in the earth at the end of Gentile times (Hab 2:3).

Rev 5:3

BUT NO ONE IN HEAVEN OR ON EARTH OR UNDER THE EARTH COULD OPEN THE SCROLL OR EVEN LOOK INSIDE IT: "And there was found none worthy to do so, neither an angel in heaven, nor any mortal man on earth, nor any of past generations now buried under the earth. Well might John weep! The situation emphasized that redemption and the reading of a Book of Life could never come by angelic ministration nor by the efforts of any mortal man, nor by the self-sacrifice of those prepared to die for others, but in one way and one way only -- through the death of a divinely provided sacrifice (v 6). Is it exaggeration or presumption or blasphemy to suggest that even divine omnipotence and omniscience could have devised no other means to bring about human redemption than that Purpose which is being worked out in Christ?" (WRev).

Rev 5:4

I WEPT AND WEPT BECAUSE NO ONE WAS FOUND WHO WAS WORTHY TO OPEN THE SCROLL OR LOOK INSIDE: "This shows how keenly John felt his ignorance of the Divine purpose. He lived for the future, not the present, and desired to have a spiritual vision that could take him into the glory to be revealed. This anxious desire for knowledge of the Divine will and purpose characterises all those who 'hunger and thirst' for knowledge. (See Rev 6:10; 1Pe 1:10; Dan 12:10; Hab 1:2)" (ApEp).

Rev 5:5

The "Lion" has triumphed, but (v 6) as a "Lamb"! The Lion's triumph is a sacrificial triumph!

THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH: A ref to Jacob's prophecy: "You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness -- who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs [or 'until Shiloh comes'] and the obedience of the nations is his" (Gen 49:9,10). The first part of this passage hints at resurrection, while its conclusion suggests the wider purpose of God with the Gentiles.

ROOT OF DAVID: Because the father David obtains (eternal) life thru the Son! Cp Isa 11:1.

"Rev 22:16 describes him as 'the Root and Offspring of David'. The paradox is a striking one and yet perfectly true. Jesus was acknowledged during the days of his flesh as Son of David, and his right to David's throne (whether legally or by natural descent) is fully established by the two genealogies of Mat and Luke. Hence Isa 11:1: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch (Heb 'nezer', whence 'Nazareth') shall grow out of his roots' " (WRev).

Rev 5:6

A LAMB, LOOKING AS IF IT HAD BEEN SLAIN: The "Lion" of Judah (v 5; Gen 49:9,10), who lay down (death) and rose up (resurrection). Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant: Heb 12:24; cp 1Pe 1:19. He was first slain, but now he is standing again (Isa 53:7).

"In the Apocalypse the Lamb is brought to our notice in a very striking way. John wept that none was able to open the seals which revealed things which must come to pass. He was told not to weep: 'Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book' (v 5). Thus encouraged John looked as commanded, but it was not a Lion that met his eyes, but 'a Lamb as it had been slain.' The Lion phase is based upon the Lamb phase; the foundation of all future power and glory being laid in the death of the Lamb. The metaphor wears so thin that the Lamb becomes a title of the Lord Jesus in several places of the Apocalypse (Rev 14:4; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9,22,23)" (CJoh 34).

STANDING IN THE CENTER OF THE THRONE: Jesus in the midst of: (1) thieves: Joh 19:18; (2) his disciples: Joh 20:19; (3) the teachers of the Law: Luk 2:46; (4) two or three: Mat 18:20; (5) the lampstands: Rev 1:13; (6) the throne: Rev 5:6.

SEVEN HORNS: Sym power (Psa 18:2; 89:17,24; 92:10; 112:9; 132:17; Luk 1:69). Christ possesses perfect and lasting power, of which the other Apocalyptic horns are a mere shadow (Rev 12:3; 13:1,11; 17:3,7,12,16).

SEVEN HORNS AND SEVEN EYES: Full power and full wisdom (Zec 3:9).

Rev 5:7

HE CAME AND TOOK THE SCROLL FROM THE RIGHT HAND OF HIM WHO SAT ON THE THRONE: Christ stands at veil, to sprinkle blood (Heb 9:24), then approaches the very mercy-seat, or throne, of God, to recv "book of life".

"That this part of the vision is a 'flashback' to the day of Christ's ascension is strongly supported by the literal translation given in the RV mg: 'he came and hath (already) taken the book' -- what John is now seeing is a representation of what had actually taken place nearly forty years earlier" (WRev).

THE RIGHT HAND: The hand of privilege and power (cp Psa 80:17; 1Pe 3:22).

Rev 5:8

EACH ONE HAD A HARP: A symbol of gladness and rejoicing. The priests in the Temple "prophesied with harps" (1Ch 25:1).

INCENSE... PRAYERS: Intercession of Christ on saints' behalf in most holy place (Heb 7:25). Incense, symbolic of the prayers of the saints (Psa 141:2). When the priest burned the incense every morning, true Israelites engaged themselves in prayer (Luke 1: 9,10), recognizing the significance of the ascending smoke of incense.

Rev 5:9

PURCHASED: Gr "agorazo": to be in the "agora", the marketplace or forum; hence, to buy or sell there. See Lesson, Redemption.

Rev 5:11

Note: The 4 living creatures and 24 elders stand closer to throne than do the angels.

TEN THOUSAND: Frequently used as a large undefined number: cp Deu 33:2; 1Co 4:15; 14:19; Psa 3: 6.

Rev 5:13

"All creation: angelic, immortal and mortal; both Jews and Gentiles. The terms are symbolic. 'Heaven' represents the ruling places, the government; 'earth' has relation to the 'first dominion' (Mic 4:8); 'under the earth', the 'bottomless pit of nations' relating specifically to the Roman Empire (Rev 11:7), 'the sea', other Gentile powers.

Thus all creation finally ascribe glory to the one for whom so long has been ignored in the counsels of men and nations. And this wonderful consummation is brought about by the 'prevailing' of the Son of God, by the outpouring of Divine judgements upon the earth (Isa 26:9)" (ApEp).
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