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Revelation 4 (web)

The Throne

4:1 After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this."

4:2 Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne

4:3 that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius.
There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at.

4:4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones.
On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting,
dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads.

4:5 Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders.
There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne,
which are the seven Spirits of God.

4:6 Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal. In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.

  • 4:7 The first creature was like a lion,
  • and the second creature like a calf,
  • and the third creature had a face like a man,
  • and the fourth was like a flying eagle.
  • 4:8 The four living creatures,
    each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around about and within.

    They have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy {TR and NU read "holy" 3 times instead of 9.} is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!"

    4:9 When the living creatures give glory, honor,
    and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever,
    4:10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne,
    and worship him who lives forever and ever,
    and throw their crowns before the throne, saying,
    4:11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, {TR omits "and God, the Holy One,"} to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!"

    Discussion Questions

    What speculations do you have concerning the significance of each item mentioned here?
    What might be inferred from the order of things? Notice for example what is in the center.
    What makes God worthy to receive praise from us?


    vs 1 Interesting transition. He had just been speaking of a door which was close in the case of the Laodicea church and now he speaks of one which is open.

    Some infer a Pre-Trib rapture from the statement "Come up here". However, that would be inconsistent with Paul's statment in

    "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." 1Thess 4:15
    He goes on to describe the dead rising first and then the rapture of the Christians who are still alive. But for the Pre-Trib rapture, the resurrection of the dead has not taken place yet. There are also those who presume a dual rapture idea. But the scriptures speak of only one, otherwise the phrase "will certainly not precede" would be incorrect.

    vs 2 "Throne" had more of a contextual significance in the society in which John lived than today in Western society where democracy dominates over more dictatorial forms of government. Only one could rule on a throne and in John's time the Christians were face with the conflict between emperor worship or the worship of God.

    vs 4 It is unclear whether the twenty-four elders represent angels, or particular authorities in the church, or the church itself. Based on their dress and crowns, they could represent the overcoming believers as in Rev 2:10 and Rev 3:4. The TR text (that upon which the King James is based) puts the matter to rest in Rev 5:9 saying, "And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" Thus the 24 elders represent the redeemed among mankind. But on the other hand the NU text (that upon which the NASB and NIV is based) says in Rev 5:9 "and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." and goes on to say, "You have made them ..." in this case it kind of implies, though not necessarily, that the redeemed were not the 24 elders, but rather that they may represent something else. Nonetheless it seems the strongest arguement can be made for them representing the redeemed.

    vs 5 The seven lamps had previously represented the seven churches. Perhaps it is their flames that represent the seven spirits. These seven spirits may be different aspects of the Holy Spirit who manifests himself in the diversity of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.

    As previously mentioned in chapter one, these seven spirits may be seven aspects of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2,3 in the Septuagint (LXX) they read as:

    1. The Spirit of Wisdom
    2. The Spirit of Understanding
    3. The Spirit of Counsel
    4. The Spirit of Strength
    5. The Spirit of Knowledge
    6. The Spirit of Godliness
    7. The Spirit of the Fear of God
    vs 6 The sea of glass may represent the world. Later in Rev 17:15, waters represent nations. (See also Rev 15:2).

    vs 7,8a The four living creatures are likened to Ezekiel's vision (Eze 1:4-14)

    "Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle."
    They could represent all creation, as vs 11 emphasizes creations. The man of course represents mankind; the eagle - flying creatures; the lion - wild land animals; and the ox - domesticated land animals. Missing of course are fish, but perhaps they are implied in the sea of glass. However the four creatures could represent a number of other things - like aspects of the gospel or of a minister of the gospel. Or some even associate them with the four gospels or gospel writers themselves. But as there is not enough evidence nor information available for any side to say conclusively what they represent, this remains an open question.

    The problem of vague metaphors - In much of Revelation, as in this chapter for example, there are allusions to metaphors which contain insufficient information to say for certain what they represent. Paul writes, "Do not go beyond what is written."1Cor 4:6 So while we may speculate about the detailed meaning of vague metaphors, such speculation should remain speculation unless there is sufficient Biblical evidence to say something for certain. On the other hand, whatever is written is written for a purpose, even though that purpose may be elusive.

    vs 8b-11 It seems that being in God's presence the most common outstanding characteristic evident of God is that is holiness. But what is "holy"? Literally it means to be separate. He is separate from sin and distinct from his creation, and the first few commandments of the 10 commandments emphasize this point. God alone is the Creator. The fact that the New Testament speaks of Jesus being the Creator affirms the concept of the trinity. For of whom is it stated:

    "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:3
    And of whom is it stated:
    "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" Col 1:16

    "For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God."Heb 3:3,4

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Jul 29,2015