5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
- “In the right hand” – a position of prestige, importance, or honor.
- “right hand of him” – God, for the first time in Revelation is described in human-like terms.
- Scholars have debated the nature of this unnamed scroll, but this most likely a scroll of judgment when you look at it’s placement within the context of Revelation. This scroll was probably originally mentioned in Ezekiel 2.9-10
And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
- “within and on the back” – normally scrolls were only inscribed on the inside, the outside of the scroll was much harder to write on, thus that fact that this scroll is written on the front and back would suggest that it contained a lot of detail.
- “sealed with seven seals” – normally, official royal documents were sealed to protect privacy. Seven seals suggests that this information had been completely protected by God himself.
2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
- “mighty angel” – not even the mightiest of angels can open the contents of the scroll. See also Rev. 10.1 and 18.21. Authoritative angel, may be a better understanding.
- “worthy” – meaning who has the authority or right to open the scroll. Who is qualified?
3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,
- “no one in heaven or…under the earth was able” – This was an exhaustive search. No being throughout the course of created time was found worthy. No one living or dead was found to be capable.
4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
- “I began to weep loudly” – literally, I kept crying and crying. John began to ‘make a scene.’
- Why the weeping? Most likely because this meant God’s judgment against evil would be indefinitely hindered.
5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
- “one of the elders” – one of the beings from chapter 4.4.
- “Weep no more” – The notion of John’s uncontrollable crying was a bit absurd to the elder, he knew exactly who was worthy and capable of opening the scroll.
- The elder uses two unique phrases to describe Jesus – 1) the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and 2) the Root of David. Most likely emphasizing his divine and human participation in fulfilling Messianic prophecies in the OT.
- There is one, the Messiah, who is worthy.
- “has conquered” meaning, is victorious. The question becomes, Over what? I believe his victory is described later in verses 6-10.
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
- “a lamb standing, as though it had been slain” – no doubt a reference to the resurrected Christ. As John the Baptist said, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” In contrast to the lambs who were slaughtered on the Day of Atonement in the OT, Jesus did not stay dead. He rose from the grave, victorious over death and sin.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. – Heb 10:11–14.
- “seven horns” – a symbol of power, probably specifically referencing the lamb contains the fullness of divine power, thus, though he was slaughtered, he was able to stand.
- “seven eyes” – are defined as the seven spirits of God. meaning Christ knows all, he sees all, and is full of the Spirit.
7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
- “took the scroll” – ancient artwork of kings and rulers often pictured them with scrolls in their hands as a symbol of power and authority. Jesus taking the scroll means that this power and authority had been given to him, that he is of equal power and authority as the one who sits on the throne.
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
- “the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb” – notice they worship the Lamb with the same fervor in which they worshiped God on His throne.
- The harps and bowls are all present to aid and supplement in worship.
- The golden bowls are clearly defined as “the prayers of the saints.” David declared similarly in Psalm 141.2
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
- APP: Prayer is worship, even the asking.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
- “new song” – or a different song. one with a different focus than the previous chapter. This song explains the question of worthiness asked by the elder earlier in the chapter.
- What makes Jesus worthy? – In short, He is the crucified Lord, who through his death becomes the foundation for building the kingdom of God.
- “ransomed” – to purchase the freedom of a slave, to pay off their debt, so that they may acquire their freedom. The ransom of the people of God is a direct result of the death of Christ and the purpose of this ransom is so that we may belong to him. This is a global ransom.
- APP: I am redeemed to live for God, not self
- APP: All believers don’t look just like me.
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
- “numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” – 10,000 was the largest number in the Greek, this then becomes a way of saying, “more than you could count.”
- Their song, just as the elders emphasizes the worthiness of Christ.
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
- John takes another step back, now and mentions “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea”
- This song expresses the equality of God the Father and God the Son, both who are worthy of honorable praise.
- APP: Because Father and Son are worthy, we worship.