Revelation 4
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

Second Grand Vision. Heaven-picture of the Seals. (Chs. 4, 5)

General.a. Translation of the Seer to Heaven. A vision within a vision, at the same time denoting a momentary translation into the light of the consummation.—The import of Heaven in the whole of Sacred Writ, from Gen. 1:1 throughout, is at once cosmical and spiritual. Heaven is, so to speak, the plastic symbol of religion, and especially of Christianity. God’s Kingdom, a Kingdom of Heaven.

b. The Throne, the Sitter thereon, and His Government. The Throne indescribable. The figure of the Enthroned One is—and justly—not depicted, but only symbolized, approximately, by precious stones, having the hue of light and life.—The rainbow, or the glory of the Godhead, visible, in the chromatic, seven-fold radiance of revelation, to the spirit-world.—The twenty-four Elders on their thrones, or the elect in the lustre of perfect fellowship with God.—The white robes of consummation.—The ground-forms of Divine revelation: Lightnings, voices, thunders; see EXEG. NOTES.—The Seven Spirits of God, under the figure of eternally burning Lamps [Torches], symbols of the eternal living unity of light, life and love.—The glassy sea and the four Life-forms; see EXEG. NOTES.—God’s governance under the figure of these Life-forms.—The second doxology (Rev 4:11) a development of the first (Rev 1:6)—an expression of the ever richer revelation of God.

c. The Sealed Book of the Course of the World. Lamentation and Consolation. The course of the world as a completed book, or the counsel of God. As a sealed book, or the nocturnal gloom of worldly history. As a terrible book, in the apparent impossibility of unsealing it. As a book full of wonders of salvation, destined to be opened by the Lion of Judah in His victory. Christ the Crucified and Risen One, the Opener, Explainer and Transfigurer [Erklärer und Verklärer] of the book with seven seals. The seals of guilt [Schuld=indebtedness to justice], of imputation of guilt, of judgment, of the curse, of death, of the fear of death, and of despair—how Christ looses them and resolves them all into deliverance and mercy, through His redemption. Even the Gospel is to the unenlightened world a dark book of fate, but through the enlightenment which proceeds from Christ, even the dark destiny of the world shall itself become a Gospel.

d. The Lion as the Lamb. The unity of Lion and Lamb, or the absolute victorious power of perfect love and suffering. Divine omnipotence and Divine endurance in their general unity as exhibited in the history of the world, and in their concentrated unity as exhibited in Christ. The Lamb, the centre of all life, (1) of the Throne of God, (2) of the four ground-forms of His governance, (3) of the chosen presbyters of the Old and the New Covenant.—The symbolic appearance of the Lamb, see EXEG. NOTES.—As it had been slain, or the infinite import of the historic phase of Christ and Christianity. Christ has taken the office of solving the riddle of worldly history from the hand of the Father.

e. The Cultus of the Lamb. The third doxology, or the New Song: the type of Christian cultus. An antiphony between the beatified human world and the holy angel-world; a symphony of all good spirits and all creatures, to the praise of the Lamb and the glorification of the all-ruling God.

Special.—[Chs. 4–5.] The great vision of the Providence of God.—[Rev 4:2, 3.] The power of Providence: God on His Throne; [Rev 4:4.] the aim of Providence: consummation of the spirit-world, represented by the twenty-four Elders; [Rev 4:5.] operations of Providence: manifestations of the Spirits of God; [Rev 4:6.] the work of Providence: the glassy sea, the billowy and yet transparent history of the world; [Rev 4:6–8.] the organs of Providence: the four Life-forms, or ground-forms of the Divine governance; [Rev 4:8–11.] gloriousness of Providence: its result a continuous doxology; [Rev 4:1] idea of Providence: the sealed book. [Rev 4:2, 3.] Terrors and obscurities of the government of Divine Providence.—[Rev 4:4.] The weeping geniuses of humanity.—[Rev 4:5.] Weep not. How many times these words appear in the New Testament, like fear not, or be of good cheer, and similar heavenly words of encouragement.—[Rev 4:5, 6.] The light and all enlightening centre of Providence: Christ as the Lamb and the Lion.—Christianity, or the Death and Resurrection of Christ in their infinite operation.—The Redemption [Erlösung] as the solving [Lösung] of all riddles of worldly history, of humanity and of the world.—The Elders, appearing, in their attributes, as heirs of perfect communion with God, as the trusted witnesses of His rule.—A Presbytery of God: Christological idea of men who are in affinity with God. and who, through Christ, are elevated into the position of heirs of God.—[Rev 4:8–14.] Third and completely developed doxology.—Every delineation of the Lion is false, which does not, at the same time, permit the Lamb to be clearly recognized. Every delineation of the Lamb is false, behind which the Lion vanishes. Only the Spirit of Christ can grasp this great contrast as a living unity. As so entirely a unity, that the Lion were not without the Lamb’s nature, or the Lamb without the Lion’s nature.—How Holy Scripture is reflected in the ideal Books which we meet with in the Apocalypse. There are few essential relations at the basis of the Bible which do not here appear in the form of Books.—The Christian cultus, reposing in its truth upon the heavenly cultus of all beings.—Sacred songs and new songs.—All sacred songs are outgushes of the one celestial New Song.—To the song of praise of creation and providence (Rev 4:11) is added the song of praise of redemption (Rev 5:9).—The ground-form of worship an antiphony, in which spirits occupying different stand-points exchange their blessed views.—The Amen in the synagogue and in Christian worship.

STARKE: QUESNEL: One who would know the mysteries of Heaven, must be free from earth.—The Elders: This figure here, as in the whole of this vision, is taken from the Temple at Jerusalem, David having instituted twenty-four orders of priests; these held their councils in the outer court of the Temple, the High Priest sitting in the midst upon his seat, and the four and twenty priests or elders sitting in a half-circle around him and before him on their seats. (The Seer has himself, Rev 21., suggested, as the import of the Elders, the twelve heads of the Tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles; the appointment of the orders [or courses] of priests, however, is itself connected with the original duodecenary.)—The office of the Elders—nay, of all believers—is to comfort the mourning from God’s Word and not to leave them without encouragement (Is. 40:1). He who would emphatically comfort another, must have sufficient grounds for his consolation to rest upon (John 16:33).

THOMAS NEWTON, Dissertations on the Prophecies, London, Dove (p. 528): Most of the best commentators divide the Apocalypse or Revelation into two parts—the book, βιβλίον, sealed with seven seals, and the little book, βιβλαρίσιον, as it is called several times. But it happens, unluckily, that according to their division the lesser book is made to contain as much as, or more than, the larger; whereas, in truth, the little book is nothing more than a part of the sealed book, and is added as a codicil or appendix to it.

DE ROUGEMONT, La Révélation (see p. 73): Le trône était environné d’ un arc-en-ciel, qui avail la couleur de l’ éméraude. L’ arc-en-ciel est le signe de l’ alliance de Dieu avec l’ humanité tout entière, issue de Noé, et il annonce ici que les révélations subséquentes auront pour objet l’ histoire future des nations. L’ éméraude est verte, et le vert est la couleur de l’ espérance.

H. W. RINCK (see p. 73): Die Zeichen der letzten Zeit.And I wept much, etc. John had a priestly heart, he was a fellow-partaker in the Kingdom of Christ (Rev 1:9); the Kingdom of God was more to him than his life—“If I forget thee, let my right hand be forgotten” (Ps. 137:5 [G. V.]) was the key-note of his soul more truly than it was that of the Babylonish captivity;—he longed for the establishment of Jesus’ Kingdom on earth more than did Daniel for the re-establishment of Jerusalem and Israel (Dan. 9). Such being his feelings, we can understand the tears that he wept because none was found worthy to open the Book of the Future.

Literature. ROFFHACK, Schöpfung und Erlösung nach Offenb. 4 u. 5., Barmen, 1866.

[From M. HENRY: Rev 4:1. Those who well improve the discoveries they have had of God already, are prepared thereby for more and may expect them.

Rev 4:8, 9. Note here the object of adoration: 1. One God, the Lord God Almighty, unchangeable and everlasting; 2. Three Holies in this one God, the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Rev 4:10, 11. Observe, 1. The Object of worship—the same as in the preceding verses. 2. The acts of adoration: (1) They fell down before Him that sat on the Throne; they discovered the most profound humility, reverence, and godly fear. (2) They cast down their crowns, etc.; they gave God the glory of the holiness wherewith He had crowned their souls on earth, and the honor and happiness with which He crowns them in Heaven. (3) The words of adoration: Thou art worthy, etc.; a tacit acknowledgment that God was exalted far above all blessing and praise; He was worthy to receive glory, but they were not worthy to praise, nor able to do it according to His infinite excellences. 4. The ground and reason of their adoration, which is three-fold: (1) He is the Creator of all things, the first Cause. (2) He is the Preserver of all things, and His preservation is a continual creation. (3) He is the final Cause of all things; for Thy pleasure they are and were created.—Rev 5:5, 6. Christ is a Lion, to conquer Satan; a Lamb, to satisfy the justice of God.—He appears with the marks of His sufferings upon Him, to show that He intercedes in heaven in the virtue of His satisfaction.

Rev 4:8–14. It is just matter of joy to all the world, to see that God does not deal with men in a way of absolute power and strict justice, but in a way of grace and mercy through the Redeemer. He governs the world, not merely as a Creator and Lawgiver, but as our God and Saviour.—Here observe, 1. The object of worship—the Lamb. It is the declared will of God that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father; for He has the same nature. 2. Posture of the worshippers—they fell down before Him; gave Him not an inferior sort of worship, but the most profound adoration. 3. The instruments used in their adoration—harps and vials; prayer and praise should always go together. 4. The matter of their song. (1) They acknowledge the infinite fitness and worthiness of the Lord Jesus for the great work of opening the decrees and executing the counsel and purposes of God; Thou art worthy, etc.; every way sufficient for the work and deserving of the honor. (2) They mention the grounds and reasons of this worthiness.

Rev 4:9. Christ has redeemed His people from the bondage of sin, guilt, and Satan; redeemed them to God; set them at liberty to serve Him and to enjoy Him.

Rev 4:10. He has highly exalted them. When the elect of God were made slaves by sin and Satan, in every nation of the world, Christ not only purchased their liberty for them, but the highest honor and preferment, making them kings, to rule over their own spirits, and to overcome the world and the evil one; and priests, giving them access to Himself, and liberty to offer up spiritual sacrifices. And they shall reign on the earth; they shall with Him judge the world at the great day.—From THE COMPREHENSIVE COMMENTARY: Ch. 4. The Lord Jesus, “having overcome the sharpness of death, hath opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers;” and if we look unto Him by faith, and obediently attend to His voice, whilst He calls us to “set our affections on things above,” we shall, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, behold the glory of our reconciled God on His “throne of grace;” be encouraged by the engagements of His everlasting covenant, and draw nigh in humble boldness with our worship; notwithstanding the terrors of His justice, and the awful curses of His broken law. (SCOTT.)—Rev 5:9. Redemption by the blood of Christ (mark it well, O my soul!) is the ground-work of the majestic, triumphant song of praise in heaven; and a disposition to join in it, our chief capacity for, and actual happiness in, time and eternity. (ADAMS.)—From VAUGHAN: Chap. 4. We may learn hence the reality of a heavenly world, and of its concern and connection with this;—facts full of confusion and discomfiture to the worldly and sinners, but of comfort and encouragement to the Christian.]


The Seven Seals

Revelation 4:1–6:17


The Seven Seals

Revelation 4:1–6:17


Revelation 4:1–5:14

a. Translation of the Seer to Heaven

1After this [these things] I looked [saw1], and, behold, a door was [om. was] opened [set open] in heaven: and the [that] first voice which I heard was [om. was] as it were of [om. it were of] a trumpet talking [speaking] with me; [,] which said [saying2], Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be here 2after [after these things]. And [om. And3] Immediately I was in the Spirit [spirit]

b. The Throne, the Sitter thereon, and His Government

And, behold, a throne was set [stood4] in heaven, and one sat on the throne [upon the throne5 one sitting]6 3And he that sat [the one sitting] was [om. was7] to look upon [in appearance] like a jasper and a [om. a] sardine stone: and there was [om. there was] a rainbow round about the throne, in sight [appearance] like unto 4[om. unto] an emerald. And round about the throne were [om. were] four and twenty [twenty-four8] seats [thrones]: and upon the seats [thrones] I saw [I saw]9 four and twenty [twenty-four8] elders sitting, clothed in white raiment [garments]; and they had [om. they had10] on their heads crowns of gold [golden crowns]. 5And out of the throne proceeded [go forth] lightnings and thunderings and voices [voices and thunders]:11 and there were [om. there were] seven lamps of fire burning 6before the throne,12 which are the13 seven Spirits of God. [;] And [and] before the throne there was [om. there was-ins. as it were] a sea of glass [glassy sea]14 like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were 7[om. were] four beasts [living-beings15] full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast [living-being] was [om. was] like a lion, and the second beast [living-being] like a calf [bullock16] and the third beast [living-being] had [having] a [the] face as17 [ins. of] a man, and the fourth beast [living-being] was [om. was] like a 8flying eagle. And the18 four beasts [living-beings] had each of them [each one of them having]19 six wings [ins. apiece20] about him [om. about him]21; and they were [om. they were—ins. round about and within were]22 full of eyes within [om. within]: and they [om. they] rest [ins. they have] not [ins. by] day and [ins. by] night, saying, Holy, holy, holy,23 Lord God [ins. the] Almighty [or All-ruler24], which [who] 9was, and [ins. who] is, and [ins. who] is to come [cometh]. And when [whensoever] those [the] beasts [living beings] [ins. shall] give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat [sitteth] on [upon] the throne, who [to him that] liveth for ever and ever [into the ages of the ages], 10the four and twenty elders [ins. shall] fall down before him that sat [sitteth] on [upon] the throne, and [ins. shall] worship him that liveth for ever and ever [into the ages of the ages], and [ins. shall25] cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11Thou art worthy, O Lord [our Lord and God],26 to receive [take] [ins. the] glory and [ins. the] honor and [ins. the] power: for thou hast created [didst create] all things, and for thy pleasure [on account of thy will] they are [were27] and were created.

Revelation 5:1–14

c. The Sealed Book of the World’s Course. Lamentation and Comfort touching the Sealed Book with the Dark Enigmas of the World’s History

1And I saw in [upon] the right hand of him that sat [sitteth] on [upon] the throne a book [scroll] written within and on the back [or, without28] side [om. side], sealed [ins. up] with seven seals. 2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with [in29] a loud [great] voice, Who is [is30] worthy to open the book [scroll], and to loose the seals thereof [of it]? 3And no man [one] in heaven, nor in [upon] earth, neither [nor] under the earth, was able to open the book [scroll], neither [nor even]31 to look thereon [upon it]. 4And I wept much,32 because no man [one] was found worthy to open and to read [om. and to read]33 the book [scroll], neither [nor even] to look thereon [upon it]. 5And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion [ins. that is]34 of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath [om. hath] prevailed [conquered] to open35 the book [scroll], and to loose [om. to loose]36 the seven seals thereof [of it].

d. The Lion as the Lamb

6And I beheld [saw], and, lo, [om., and, lo,]37 in the midst38 of the throne and of the four beasts [living-beings], and in the midst of the elders, stood [om. stood] a Lamb [ins. standing], as [ins. if39] it had been [om. it had been] slain, haying seven horns and seven eyes, which40 are the seven Spirits of God sent forth41 into all the earth. 7And he came and took the book [om. the book42] out of the right hand of him that sat [sitteth] upon the throne.

e. Worship of the Lamb

8And when he had taken the book [scroll], the four beasts [living-beings] and [ins. the] four and twenty [twenty-four] elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one [each] of them [of item] harps43 [a harp], and golden vials full of odours [incense],which are the prayers of [ins. the] saints. 9And they sung [sing] a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book [scroll], and to open the seals thereof [of it]: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed [didst buy] us [or om. us44] to God by [with] thy blood out of every kindred [tribe], and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made [didst make] us [them45] unto our God46 kings [a kingdom47] and priests:48 and we [they] shall49 [or om. shall] reign on [upon or over]50 the earth. 11And I beheld, and I heard [or ins. as51] the [or a] voice of many angels round about [around52] the throne, and the beasts [living-beings], and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand [myriads of myriads], and thousands of thousands; 12Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was [hath been] slain to receive [take] [ins. the] power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. 13And every creature which [that] is53 in heaven, and on [upon] the earth,54 and under the earth,55 and such as are in [upon56] the sea, and all [things57] that are in them, heard I saying, [ins. To him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb, be] Blessing [the blessing], and [ins. the] honor, and [ins. the] glory, and [ins. the] power [might], be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb [om. be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb] for ever and ever [into the ages of the ages]. 14And the four beasts [living-beings] said, Amen. And the four and twenty [om. four and twenty]58 elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever [om. him that liveth for ever and ever]59.



By the American Editor

[The question—What did the Apocalyptist behold?—is one of great interest and importance. It is almost universally admitted, that he did not look upon the real Heaven and real angels. The scene he beheld was symbolic. But what is a symbol? What are the classes of symbols? What relation do they bear to the objects symbolized?

It is not designed in this note to discuss the whole subject of Symbolism. For this, the writer does not feel himself to be, at present, prepared; neither has he time or space for so great a work. He would, however, present certain views which may prove helpful to a more thorough appreciation and understanding of the Apocalypse than at present obtains, and which also may be of use as preparatory to that complete discussion of the entire subject, which, in the not distant future, must be made.

A Symbol may be defined to be a substantial (real or apparently real) sense image of some other object. Ordinarily, in the enumeration or classification of symbols, not only are substantial objects given, but also attributives (such as acts, effects, relations, etc.), and chronological periods and numbers. These latter, for scientific purposes, are better classed as symbolic attributives, periods and numbers, contemplating under the term Symbol only substantial (real or apparent) objects.

Symbols are of two essentially distinct classes, viz.: material and visional. The former are material things, such as the Tabernacle, the Mercy-Seat, the Candlestick, and the Cherubim of the Tabernacle, the Water of Baptism, and the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper. Visional Symbols are those images, having the appearance of substantiality (simulacra), beheld in ecstatic vision. The latter were the objects beheld by the Apocalyptists (Daniel, Ezekiel, John), and concerning these alone is it designed, in the present note, particularly to treat. It is here proper to remark, however, that whilst scientific arrangements of these two classes of symbols based on their nature will be somewhat different, those based on a consideration of their relations to the ultimate objects represented will be precisely similar, as will appear.

As has just been hinted, Symbols may be classed on two essentially distinct principles: first, in respect of their nature; and, secondly, in respect of their relations to the ultimate objects symbolized.

The former, which, so far as the writer is aware, is the only classification that has been attempted, is exceedingly important; it is absolutely essential to a complete presentation of the subject of Symbolism. The following, adapted to meet the special views of the present writer, from Winthrop’s Essay on Prophetic Symbols, pp. 16 sqq. (and therein credited to Lord’s Theological and Literary Journal, Vol. III., pp. 688 sqq.), is presented for consideration.60


1. Intelligent, (1) the Ζῶα, Rev. 4:6, 8, 9; (2) Angels; (3) Men, etc.

2. Unintelligent, (1) Brutes; (2) Monster Animals.

II. DEAD BODIES, such as the slain witnesses. Rev. 11:8–11.

III. NATURAL UNCONSCIOUS AGENTS OR OBJECTS; as the earth, the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, etc.

IV. ARTIFICIAL OBJECTS IN ORDINARY USE: as candlesticks, crowns, swords, harps, etc.

A still more important classification, however, is to be made in respect of the relations existing between the symbol and the ultimate object symbolized. The following, which does not profess to be more than tentative, is presented for consideration.

The symbols (simulacra) beheld by John and the other Apocalyptists are at once divisible into two classes: Immediate and Mediate. The former immediately represent the ultimate object contemplated, as the simulacra of Heaven, the Elders, the Angels; the latter represent the ultimate through the medium of some other object, as Christ is represented by the Simulacrum of a Lamb, and a church by that of a candlestick. This distinction is clearly implied in the narrative of John. Sometimes he wrote as though he directly beheld the ultimate objects; he saw Heaven, the Throne, and Him who sat thereon, and the Angels: and again he wrote, not as beholding the ultimate, but some object that represented it; he saw, not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit, but a Lamb representing the former, and Seven Lamps the latter. In the descriptive language of the Apocalyptist, the simulacra, which formed the common elements of the entire vision, were, so to speak, eliminated, and he wrote as though he directly beheld the things which the simulacra represented,—sometimes the ultimate object, sometimes the intermediate object that denoted the ultimate. In the former case, the eliminated simulacra were immediate; in the latter, mediate. In reference to the latter class, we occasionally find the Seer interpreting the symbol as in Rev. 1:20, “The seven stars are (i. e. represent) the Angels,” etc. This was not always done, because, generally, it was unnecessary, as in the case of the Lamb slain representing Christ. It was done, however, with sufficient frequency to indicate the law.

Immediate symbols are divisible into two orders, viz.: (1) Similar, where the form of the simulacrum corresponds with that of the ultimate, as where the simulacrum of a man symbolizes a man; (2) ideal, where the form is not an image of the form of the ultimate, but is an ideal image (not, however, a likeness of some other known object) expressive of the qualities of the ultimate, as the (probably) ideal simulacra of the angels.

Mediate symbols may be divided into three orders, viz.: (1) individual, where the simulacrum indicates an individual ultimate, as where the Lamb indicates Christ; (2) classical, where it indicates a class of individuals, substantial entities regarded as one whole, as where the simulacrum of a candlestick symbolized a church, and that of a woman, the universal Church; (3) aberrant, where the simulacrum (always apparently substantial) indicates as its ultimate, not a substantial, but an ideal entity, as where the simulacrum of a sword indicates justice; and that of a horseman, war or pestilence.

From the preceding classification we deduce five orders of symbols, which may be designated with sufficient clearness as follows: I. Immediate-similar; II. Immediate-ideal: III. Mediate-individual; IV. Classical; V. Aberrant.61

All the attributives of symbols (qualities, actions, relations to other symbols, etc.) are themselves symbolic, i. e. they represent some attributive of the ultimate object. They are of two kinds: Similar and Ideal. Similar, when some similar attributive is denoted, as where the walking, standing, speaking, of the symbol denotes that the individual symbolized walks, stands or speaks; Ideal, when something dissimilar is indicated. Thus the opening of the Seven Seals by the Lamb is Ideal; it denotes, not an actual opening of seals by Christ, but a disclosure of the previously concealed purposes of God. It may be observed that this division is analogous to the general divisions of the symbols themselves, given in the preceding foot-note. It may also be remarked that in the case of Classical and Aberrant Symbols, all the attributives are necessarily Ideal.

Numbers as applied to symbols, whilst they cannot properly be classed as attributives, have a like division. They are either Similar, denoting a like number as applied to the ultimate, or Ideal. Chronological periods may be in like manner divided.

One important fact in reference to Visional Symbolization should here be distinctly noted, as its non-recognition has resulted in much confusion. A simulacrum may immediately represent a Material symbol. Thus, for instance, in the real world, a throne is a real thing, even though it be at the same time a Material Symbol of established sovereignty. Now in the Visional symbolization of a palace and its furniture, the simulacrum of the throne would be an Immediate Symbol: it would designate a really existent substance. The throne in the palace would be a Material Aberrant symbol indicating sovereignty. The simulacrum of that throne would be a Visional Immediate symbol representing, primarily, a real throne. Such a Visional symbol, it should be remarked, would legitimately suggest that which the Material Symbol represented, and, under certain circumstances, might be designed to suggest it. From these observations it follows that a Visional Symbol may perform the double office (1) of immediately symbolizing a Material Symbol as a substance, and (2) of aberrantly representing that which the Material symbol was designed to set forth.

The effort will be made to apply the principles set forth in this Note in additional notes and comments throughout the remainder of the Commentary.—E. R. C.]


Chs. 4 and 5


The Vision of the Seven Seals embraces the history of the world,63 reposing upon the foundation of the Divine counsel and government. This history is represented in its constant gravitation toward the end. It is, on the one hand, in its fearful form, the riddle of all riddles, a book sealed seven-fold; but, on the other hand, unsealed by the Lamb of God, by Christ and the spirit of His cross, it appears as the foundation of the Church’s history, as the history of the Kingdom of God [Church]. Its Sovereign Ruler is the Rider on the white horse,64 behind Whom the other terrible horsemen must ride as esquires. It is thus dynamically governed by the Christian idea or, rather, the personal Christ; its object being the renewal of mankind by the connection of all human suffering with the redemptive crucial suffering of the Lamb. The Lamb, as It had been slain, is the central Personality, in the infinite life-giving operation of Its central suffering. As is the relation of the Logos to the world, of Christ to the human and spiritual world, so is the relation of Christ’s suffering to all the sufferings of humanity, down to the very depths of Sheol [Hades]. Accordingly, the vision, in respect of the celestial foundation which it constitutes, is the archetype of the world’s history—not its precursive counterpart, in accordance with Jewish ideas. See Düsterdieck, p. 211. The picture of the world’s history, again,—especially its history in New Testament times—ch. 6., is the foundation of external Church history, in respect of its eschatological bearings; whilst the Church, in respect of its inner relations as exhibited in the seven Churches, is the ideal prius65 of world-history. On the seven seals rest the seven trumpets; on these, the seven thunders, and against these last, the opposition of the seven-headed dragon rears itself, calling forth, in its turn, with its two seven-headed [?] Antichristian organs, the seven anger-vials of judgment; the vials of anger being, as the end of the old world, the preliminary condition of the new.

The effort to decide whether John beheld the whole series of visions in an unbroken succession, or whether prophetic sight ceased between the individual visions, and he set down by parcels that which he had seen only in part (Bengel and others), is the result of a rather literal conception of the Apocalypse. The latter view overlooks the grand unity of the vision in its totality, a unity which is even distinctly expressed in chap. 1. and without which the lively connection of the whole could be comprehended only through the assumption of immediate inspiration. On the other hand, the opposite theory ignores the freedom of the symbolic expression; in accordance with which the conception, given in its fundamental outlines on one Sunday, might be further developed in, with and amid its setting forth in writing, being continually accompanied by prophetic evidence.66

The sublime Heaven-scene of chs. 4 and 5., introduced by the words, μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, is the type of all subsequent Heaven-scenes. And like the rest, it is, as a Heaven-picture, the preliminary condition of the earth-picture; in the sense, that is, of an absolute Providence of the Personal God—a Providence overruling the progress and development of freedom in the world, in their human and demonic aspects, in the might of light and right (Urim and Thummim), in order to the carrying out of judgment to the victory of salvation.

Single Features of the Heaven-Scene

The Open Door in Heaven is the full unfolding of the Apocalyptic revelation even unto its deepest heavenly foundation. In the first stage of vision, Christ came to the Seer on earth, clarifying the condition of the Seven Churches, already historically familiar to John, into a type of all future fundamental forms of the Church. In this new stage of vision, Christ transports John to Heaven itself: this higher power of vision is signalized by the words: Immediately I was in the spirit.

The Throne of God needs no explanation: it denotes the absolute firmness of His government.67 He sits upon the Throne—an expression of His glorious assurance of victory. He sits upon the Throne as the Unique One, the Mystery of mysteries; and yet recognizable as the exalted Personality. He is also more particularly characterized by His symbolic appearance. The jewels, as such, denote the most noble life, light and imperishability in one. If we suppose the sardius, as the carnelian, the flesh-colored stone, to be expressive, not of the divine penal righteousness—indicated by the hue of fire—but of God’s eternal relation to humanity through Christ, it is probable, that the jasper is significant of the Divine Essence in the abstract, in its symbolical appearance everywhere manifest as essential light; and according to this, the diamond,68 and not the ordinary jasper, is undoubtedly intended.

The Rainbow, whose arch surrounds the Throne, is indicative of the fundamental tone of God’s government; judgment issuing in salvation—covenant faithfulness, an attribute previously expressed by the rainbow of Noah. Amongst the colors of this rainbow, emerald [green] is pre-eminent; and it is to this that it is likened [ch. 4:3]; Divine promise demands human hope.

The Occupant of the Throne is immediately surrounded by the twenty-four Elders, the ideal representatives of the Old and New Testament Theocracy, human spiritual princes; in respect of their symbolical number;69 representing the ramifying foundations of the Old and the New Covenant in the adornment of their heavenly perfection—clothed in white raiment; and by their golden crowns—the sign of their imperishable royal freedom [and authority], won by surrender to God—attested in God as His heroes (Israel=combatant of God).

Before the Throne the whole governance of God is manifest. His alternate operations are lightnings, and voices, and thunders; lightnings of heavenly wonders, forming epochs on the earth; voices, in which the fundamental idea of these lightnings becomes manifest; and far-reverberating thunders, as periods of the rejuvenescence, extension and development of the Kingdom of God [Church].

These operations are conditioned, however, by the Seven flaming Lamps [Torches] before the Throne, the Seven Spirits of God, as Fundamental Forms of the personal and permanent Life-Revelation of God in His Logos or the eternal Christ, or as the Seven Fundamental Forms of the revelation of the Holy Spirit (see Is. 9)70

In pursuance of this manifestation of God, the ideal world is spread out before His Throne;—a sea, clear like crystal; infinitely swelling and agitated life; yet in its appointedness harmonizing with the Divine will—as in crystal life is fixed and transparent, like light; infinite liberty in infinite appointedness.

The foundation of the operations of God in the moral kingdom before the Throne are the four Life-forms (beasts) [Living-beings] about the Throne; the four Fundamental Forms of Divine Governance in the universal world generally—also in the creatural world.71 For the number of the world is four; the number of the Kingdom of God is seven (see below, on the four beasts [Living-beings]). These Life-forms are full of eyes before and behind (as also within and without, see Rev 4:8). That is, the Divine Governance is a thoroughly conscious rule; an absolute looking back upon the foundations and events of life, an absolute looking forward to the aims of life and their preliminary conditions; a perfect insight into the profoundest vital causes, as well as a perfect outlook upon the uttermost vital phenomena. A figure of omniscience in its undying motion over the world, in the consciousness of the Divine Governance. The lion appears in this figure as the mighty governance which overcomes all things, the dynamical principle in its irresistible forth-breakings. The bullock or ox appears as the principle of all sacrifice in the world, the principle of suffering in the creatural life (monstrously perverted into a conflict for existence). The human face represents the principle of humanity, relatively pervading the whole world; this Life-form is expressive of the concentration of the infinite in a likeness of the most conditioned finite life. The flying eagle appears as that ideal tendency toward some central sun which not only pervades the planets and comets, but is expressed in the motion of our sun itself; that tendency which is the mystery of all motion—a mystery manifested in its most peculiar essence in the higher tendency of the spirit-world toward the Sun of all life (I go to the Father). In a more general sense, however, motion is the property of all four Life-forms [Living-beings]. Each has six wings; for six is the number of restless activity in Heaven, of restless labor on earth, of restless self-frustration in the abyss. Hence it is said: the beasts [Living-beings] have no rest day and night. Their non-repose, however, consists in the festal work of glorifying God. They glorify Him as the thrice Holy One, Who preserves the purity of His own personality, and works unto purification in all His providential operations throughout the creatural and spiritual world. As the Holy One, He is the All-Ruler, Who repels every temptation to an impersonal line of conduct. And at the same time He is Jehovah (Who was, etc.), Whose covenant faithfulness aims in all ages at the establishment in love of a pure life-kingdom of personal beings.

Now follows the representation of an antiphony between the beasts [Living-beings] and the Elders. The beasts [Living-beings] have the initiative; for the adoration of the human spiritual princes, the Elders, rests upon the Fundamental Forms of the Divine rule in the world; that Divine Governance which actually redounds to the praise and glory and thanks of Him that sitteth upon the Throne, Who liveth for ever and ever. The Elders fall down before the Throne in humility and reverence, and worship; they cast their crowns at God’s feet as a sign that unto Him alone belongs honor, and utter their doxology. It agrees with the doxology of the beasts [Living-beings], with the exception that in the case of the Elders we have δύναμις instead of εὐχαριστία, thanksgiving resolving itself into a glorification of the Divine almighty power. But the Elders further give the reason of their praise, and it is noteworthy that they speak of an ideal existence of things preceding the actual creation of them.

This vision of God’s glory in His government, of the world constitutes the general basis of the special vision of the world’s history. The history of the world is embraced in a book-roll [scroll] in the hand of God; the leaves of which are sealed with seven seals. The book [scroll] must, doubtless, contain seven leaves; otherwise all the seals would of necessity be loosed at once.72 At every new leaf of the roll, a fresh seal is encountered; but if the leaf be unrolled, it is found to be written upon both sides. Thus, in God’s sight, the history of the world is complete, like a book [scroll]. Its course is septenarious, for its design is holy. But it is a sealed book [scroll]; its whole contents are made up of perplexing and disturbing enigmas. And no being is able to unravel this fearful history, to throw light on the gloom-enwrapped fate of the world. None in the angelic world is able to do this, none in the human world, none in the world of departed souls. Not one can so much as try to look upon the book, to examine whether he can open it. The cry of the strong angel is not simply dramatic; it must be made evident that no spiritual power would have solved the riddle of the world’s history, if Christ had not solved it with His cross.

And I wept much, says the Seer. A simple yet sublime expression of the feeling and thought of what the world’s history would be, had not Christ’s cross and victory unveiled it.73 The weeping Seer is comforted by one of the Elders (for the redemption belongs to humanity), who points him to the glorious victory of Christ (Rev 5:5). The cross must, of course, be perfected in the resurrection; the Lamb that was apparently overcome must be manifested as the triumphant Lion, for only thus might He loose the seals of the world’s history. As the Lion of Judah, Christ possessed the lion nature in the highest sense, as the Master of self-denial and self-conquest (Gen. 44:33, 34); and the depths of His royal essence are expressed in the announcement that He is the Root of David, the truly real fundamental idea and fundamental impulse of Davidic glory in the centre of humanity.74 This Root is significant of the deepest human cause of life; this Lion denotes the most spiritually mighty human appearance. Then the new wondrous vision within a vision is prefaced by the words: I beheld, and lo!

In the midst of the Throne, i. e., directly in front of God, surrounded by the circle of beasts [Living-beings], and by the circle of Elders, there appears a Lamb, as it had been slain—the Man, with the lineaments of absolute patience and the traits of mortal suffering—suffering surmounted, it is true, yet in its effects enduring forever. The attributes of the Lamb, symbolically defined, are seven horns, the sum of holy powers (Matt. 28:18), and seven eyes, the seven Spirits or spiritual manifestations of the one Spirit of God, which are continually going forth from the Lamb into the world. This apparition comes and receives the book [scroll] from the right hand of God. Two things are indicated here: first, the self-presentation of the Lamb upon the summons of the angel; secondly, the fact that He is really to loose the seals. And hence the grand chorus of praise is not postponed until after His action. In reference to His work, the Elders need not await the doxology of the Divine powers of the world. A new song bursts forth from beasts [Living-beings] and Elders in one grand unison. This song relates to the new creation, the redemption. The redemption [Erlösung] is the loosing [Lösung] of all seals, and the Redeemer [Erlöser] alone is worthy to perform this work. The beasts [Living-beings] and Elders base their praise upon the Redeemer’s death on the cross (slain), and the effects of that death. He thereby out of all peoples bought a people for God, the New Testament people of the peoples, making of them a Kingdom of Priests who, in dynamical operation, even now, in all their yielding, nay, by means of the same, reign on earth. This song of praise in the centre of the heavenly congregation, is echoed in a grand antiphony betwixt the angelic world, on the one hand, and the creatural world, on the other. The doxology of countless angel hosts, forming the remoter circle round the beasts [Living-beings] and Elders, comes first. Their homage is sevenfold, in harmony with the holy throng. The worship of the creatures is fourfold, in accordance with the number of the world. We have here an antiphonal song of praise from all beings, reminding us of Ps. 145.

In a didactical aspect, the song is expressive of the fact that the effect of Christ’s triumph pervades the entire world of spirits, on the one hand, as an extension of His glory (Eph. 1; Phil, 2.); and that, on the other, it ushers the whole creatural world into the process of glorification, to be consummated in the Palingenesia (Rom. 8). The four Life-forms or beasts [Living-beings] can only say Amen to this, for therein is the effort of their governance fulfilled. But for the Elders; this blissful contemplation is an incentive to unutterable prostration and worship.


Rev 4:1. Compare the introductory remarks by Düsterdieck, p. 211. Especially the distinction between the Jewish view of the heavenly preludes (a Divine council with the angels) and the Christian idea. Also the difference of the formulas: μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον and καὶ εἶδον.75

On the disputed question as to whether John always beheld and wrote down the visions separately, see above [p. 147]. The literal conception is pressed on either side.

[After these things.—The reference here is to the order of the visions. It does not necessarily follow that the events symbolized were to be subsequent to those previously set forth.—E. R. C.]

[I saw, “not I looked, as in the E. V; not the directing of the Seer’s attention, which discovers the door to him, but the simple reception of the vision which is recorded.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

A door set open in Heaven.—Explanations: Heaven is conceived of as a vault; as a Temple; as the Palace of God (Düsterd.). In accordance with the connection, however, the door here denotes the disclosure of the highest revelation, and, hence, the insight of John (De Wette). The voice is expressive of the heavenly inspiration and legitimation of this view. It distinguishes the real ecstasy of the Seer from an enthusiastic and fanatical exaltation.

[Set open.—“Observe here the perfect participle, the door had been opened and was standing open. The veil of the heavenly Holy of Holies had been removed by Christ (Heb. 10:19, 20), and Heaven was laid open to the view.” WORDSWORTH.—E. R. C.]

[The Apocalyptist saw Heaven, i. e., he saw an Immediate symbol thereof. As to the fact that Heaven is a place, there should he no doubt. It is, indeed, unquestionable that the term Οὐρανός is sometimes employed to denote the sky, as in Matt. 16:2, 3, and sometimes so used as to be consistent with the idea of a mere state, but it is also again and again employed in the didactic Scripture, as indicating a glorious and blessed place, where God specially manifests His glory, to which the Saviour ascended after His resurrection, and which is to be His abode until His second appearing in glory. (Comp. Acts 1:10, 11; 3:21; 7:55, 56; Rom. 10:6; 2 Cor. 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:16, etc. See also the Excursus on HADES, p. 364). It can scarce be supposed, however, that the symbolic display of the vision took place in this central home, this Holy of Holies, of the universe. This supposition is not required, as some may suppose, by the language. It is manifest that, throughout the Book, the Seer employs similar expressions where the object of vision was not the thing described, but a simulacrum thereof, as in Rev 13:1, where he declares that he “saw a beast rise up out of the sea.” And still further, precisely the same form of expression is employed, Rev. 21:1 (“I saw a new Heaven and a new earth”), when the real objects referred to were not, at the time of the vision, existent—all that he could then have beheld were their simulacra.

But was the symbol similar or ideal? On this point it is impossible to speak with certainty; and, perhaps, it is improper in any degree to speculate. It may be remarked, however, that it by no means follows (as some seem to suppose) from the fact that the complex symbol beheld by John resembled the Tabernacle as to form and arrangement, that it must have been purely ideal. On the contrary, it is not improbable that the Tabernacle—the earthly dwelling-place of Jehovah, fashioned by Moses after the pattern shown him in the Mount (Ex. 25:40; 26:30)—may have been a material symbol of the Heavenly Temple, not only Immediate, but, so far as the earthly can resemble the heavenly, similar.—E. R. C.]

Rev 4:2. Immediately I was in the spirit,—Ἐὐθέως, without a conjunction, forcibly expresses the instantaneous translation of the Seer, thus denoting a high enhancement of the first stage of visionary sight. The text, therefore, forms a new step in comparison with the first I was in the spirit, Rev 1:10.76 The prototypes of this visionary celestial Throne-picture, 1 Kings 22:19; Is. 6.; Ezek. 1.; Dan. 7:9, have been perverted by the Jews into monstrous allegories. See Düsterdieck, p. 214, the extract from the Pirke, R. Elieser, as given by Schöttgen. “A dextris ipsius est vita, a sinistris mors.” This recalls a kindred idea of Milton’s.

The θρόνος ἔκειτο is interpreted in a variety of ways (breadth of the Throne, Bengel; its resting upon the cherubim (!), Hengsten.) The fact of its establishment in the highest sense is doubtless enwrapped in the κεῖσθαι.77

Upon the Throne One sitting.—Not an indefinite designation, but an expression of the loftiest mystery. The Jewish dread of uttering the name of Jehovah (Ewald and others) can hardly have any application here, since the Seer has several times given utterance to that name in a developed form. Herder’s explanation is irrelevant: “the soul has no image, language no word whereby He may be called.” According to Düsterdieck and some elder commentators, He who sits upon the Throne is not the Triune God, but the Father. This is a misapprehension of the symbolical nature of the distinctions. [May there not be an allusion here to a visible Manifestation of the Glory and Presence of Jehovah similar to the Shekinah, which, in the Tabernacle, beamed from the Mercy-seat (the Throne), from between the Cherubim? For comments on the Throne, see p. 147.—E. R. C.].

Rev 4:3. Like a jasper stone.—See the Introduction, pp. 20, 21 [and also p. 148]. The true jasper is sometimes greenish, sometimes of a reddish hue, but not τιμιώτατος and κρνσταλλίζων, as this jasper is described, Rev 21:11. Hence those exegetes who apprehend the word as expressive either of the ordinary jasper, or of a peculiar and unknown sort, are justly opposed by those who are of opinion that the diamond is intended. See Düsterdieck, pp. 216, 217. Compare likewise the various interpretations of the Stones as there given.

And a rainbow.—It is a mooted question whether the iris is to be apprehended as a rainbow, or merely as a bow; whether it encircled the Throne vertically or horizontally. As the light of the sun is refracted in its journey toward the earth, so the refraction of absolute Light can be conceived of only in its direction toward the world, i. e., toward the Seer primarily. Yet the bow, as a bow, can appear only in a vertical form. Green, the color of promise, is a dominant color even in the real rainbow, and it is not without reason that Ebrard (p. 222) and others have apprehended it as forming an antithesis to the hues of the precious stones which denote attributes of the Divine Essence itself. It is not indicated, however, that this circular radiance has its origin in the lustre of the jewels. It is possessed of an independent symbolical meaning; the revelation of God in the world is always, conditionally, at the same time a concealment. A tempering of the Divine radiance (Züllig) lies in the colored appearance of the Divine manifestation, whether a pillar of fire, a pillar of cloud, or a cloud is the instrument of presenting the highest glory to the gaze of imperfect human beings. The bow can, of course, be no true rainbow, since the most sublime refraction of light is intended here; though it cannot be concluded that John had a distinct idea of a heavenly ether in contra-distinction to the grosser atmosphere of earth.

[“The rainbow, composed by the joint influences of shower and sunshine, is an emblem of Divine severity, blended with Divine love; a symbol of the dark shower of Divine judgment illumined by the bright beams of Divine Mercy. Comp. the vision of Ezekiel, 1:28. The Bow is a record of the deluge, in which the world was drowned for sin, and speaks of sunshine after storm; and of the Divine Promise that the world should never more be destroyed by water; and yet it is also a silent memento of another judgment (see Gen. 9:13–16, and 2 Pet. 3:7.” WORDSWORTH. The iris is but the manifestation of the different hues which perfect light assumes when in connection with gross matter. Since perfect light is the highest symbol of the Divine Excellence, what so significant of that excellence in its relation to the creature world (disintegrated, so to speak, into what we style different attributes) as the many-colored rainbow? Alford is of opinion that the entire bow was green—the shape, and not the prismatic coloring, being indicated by the term rainbow.—E. R. C.]

Rev 4:4. Twenty-four thrones.—According to De Wette, the twenty-four thrones must be conceived of as “a few degrees lower ” than the Throne of God. If we bring earthly ideas in play here, “a few degrees” would not be sufficient to indicate the distinction, The definition of the twenty-four Elders is an index to the ecclesiastical and theological stand-points of the different exegetes; they have been interpreted as follows: cardinals (Lyra); priests (Alc.); pastors (Calov.); true heads of the Church, and pastors (Vitringa); the crown of the human race (Herder the humanist); angels (Hofmann)—in accordance with an exaggerated Angelology. Rinck similarly; Old Testament dignities ([Würden=dignitaries?] Beng.); New Testament martyrs (Eichhorn); half, representatives of teachers, half, representatives of hearers (Volkmar; not quite democratic enough, since the hearers must necessarily preponderate over the clergy). The number of the Elders being composed of twice twelve, Bleek and others have groundlessly regarded it as indicative of a twofold representation of Jewish and Gentile Christians. Ebrard justly remarks, in opposition to this view, that such a division has no Biblical foundation; whilst Düsterd., on the other hand, erroneously cites Rev 7:4, 9, in support of the same opinion, though the real antithesis in the passage quoted is—not Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, but—the Church Militant, and the Church Triumphant. Yet Düsterdieck himself gives the preference to the preponderant interpretation of many commentators, according to whom the twenty-four Elders represent the Old and New Testament Church, or the Twelve Patriarchs of Israel, and the Twelve Apostles. De Wette shows a thorough misapprehension of the symbolism employed, in insisting upon the unworthiness of individual Patriarchs. And thus an adverse argument has been founded upon the names of the Twelve Apostles, Rev 21:14. In perfect analogy with this symbolism is the fact that the conquerors on the sea of glass sing “the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.” By this, as well as by the twenty-four Elders, the complete harmony of the Old and the New Covenant is expressed. The fact that Jehovah is immediately surrounded by Elders, entirely corresponds with the symbolical significance of the theocratic Presbytery. The Elders represent the purest, richest, and ripest spirits in their Divine likeness and their acquaintance with the counsel of God. In this idea originated the Talmudistic Judaistic accounts of the Elders before the Throne of God (see Hengst., p. 270; Düsterd., p. 219).

[Düsterdieok thus writes: “The twenty-four Elders whom John sees sitting on the thrones which are placed around the Throne of God are the celestial representatives of the whole people of God, just as in Isaiah 24:23, Elders (Ancients) are conceived of as the earthly heads and representatives of the whole Church.”78 This view, which is confirmed by a comparison of Deut. 31:28 with 30, does not exclude, but confirms, the further idea that the representative Elders were also (individually) chief Rulers in the Kingdom of God. The idea of superiority in rule was distinctly recognized by Jesus (see the EXCURSUS ON THE BASILEIA ii. 2 (4), p. 99). The fact that these Elders are Rulers is set forth by their sitting on thrones and wearing crowns (see below). The suggestion of Barnes in explanation of the number of the Elders is worthy of consideration, viz.: that it was in reference to the twenty-four courses of the Jewish Priesthood (see 1 Chron. 24:3–18). On this view the twenty-four Elders are not only Superior Kings, but the Chief Priests, the Heads of the priestly courses of the glorified Israel.79—E. R. C.]

The white robes and golden crowns are not merely symbols of the martyrs or confessors in the narrower sense; they are expressive of perfect righteousness of life in its negative and positive aspects. [The crowns, doubtless, are significant of their kingly authority (see above; also additional comment on Rev 2:11)—E. R. C.]

Rev 4:5. And out of the Throne go forth lightnings.—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 148.—E. R. C.] According to Düsterdieck, the lightnings, voices and thunders symbolize the omnipotence of God, especially that almighty power which is exercised in judgments (similarly Hengstenberg [also Alford and Barnes.—E. R. C.]). This interpretation is connected with the one-sided apprehension of the precious stones as symbolizing the essence of God. This too special interpretation contrasts with the too general explanation of De Wette. “In Rev 4:5 the mighty and vital influence of God over nature is represented; in Rev 4:6–8 nature itself, or the realm of the living, is symbolized in the four cherubim; in Rev 4:9–11, finally, the harmony of creation and redeemed humanity is represented; and thus God, in His living activity and reality, is exhibited” (De Wette). Similarly Ebrard, who describes God’s Throne as a “laboring, effervescent volcano.”80

On theocratic ground the lightnings are still less a purely terrific conception than in the Scandinavian-Germanic mythology (the hammer of Thor). With reference to the lightnings of Sinai, comp. Deut. 33:2, 3. The Coming of the Son of Man shall be like a mighty flash of lightning. Thus the lightnings of the whole New Testament manifestation are for the defence of the faithful people of God, being terrible only to His foes, Zech. 9:14. They are, therefore, wonders of revelation [Divine manifestation?—E. R. C.].

The history of Christ’s Baptism and Transfiguration demonstrates that voices are a sequence, in definite ideas and truths, of Divine revelations—revelations of salvation, in particular; in general, they are the first of the Divine forms of revelation. Even God’s voices, His revelation truths, have a judicial as well as an, evangelical side, Gen. 3:10.

The last remark applies equally to the thunder. This denotes the grand effect of revelation [Divine manifestation] in judgment and deliverance. Thus the typical redemption of Israel was effected by a mighty thunder which, at the same time, brought down judgment on the head of Israel’s foes, Ps. 77:18, 19. Job finds his prostrating judgment, but also his reconciliation, in a grand thundering of God, chs. 38–40. As thunder accompanied the giving of the Law, so the voice which answered Christ’s prayer in the Temple, the prayer with which He consecrated Himself to death for our redemption, was accompanied by a tone as of thunder. And the more tremendous the wrathful judgment announced in the thunder, according to Jer. 25:30, the more distinct is its proclamation of a now redemption for the people of God; comp. Joel 2:11. As Elijah, like Moses, was an Old Testament Song of Solomon of thunder, ascending to Heaven in a fiery storm, so two of the greatest Apostles of the New Testament were sons of thunder. And how glorious is the description of the seven-fold thunder of God in Psalm 29., the festal thunder-Psalm! This, therefore, is the sense in which we apprehend the thunders of God; they are heavenly, uncheckable, redemptive revelations, accompanied by judgments—in other words, reformations.

And seven Lamps [torches]81 of fire burning before the Throne.—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 148.—E. R. C.] We cannot refer the participle καιόμεναι to the preceding ἐκπορεύονται; for the Lights, as such, do not issue forth like lightnings, and the Spirits of God do not proceed from His Throne, but from Himself. By the Seven Spirits that, according to Rev 1., stand between Jehovah and Christ, and, according to Rev 5:6, go forth into all lands, we understand the seven fundamental forms of the revelation of the Holy Ghost through Christ, according to Is. 11:1, or the seven archangelic forms of Christ.

[“These seem to represent the Holy Spirit in His seven-fold working: in His enlightening and cheering as well as His purifying and consuming agency. So most Commentators.”—ALFORD. The idea of the seven-fold influences of the Holy Ghost is thus set forth in the ordination hymn of the Church of England:

“Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

And lighten with celestial fire;

Thou the anointing Spirit art,

Who dost Thy seven-fold gifts impart.”

It may here be remarked, that in the view of the Am. Ed, (see PRELIMINARY NOTE, p. 145 sqq.) the simulacrum of the Seven Lamps constitute one (compound) Mediate-individual Symbol of the Holy Ghost; the division being significant of His manifold energies, and the seven-fold division, of the completeness, the perfection of those energies.—E. R. C.]

According to De Wette, the Seven Spirits are significant of the Spirit of God as the principle of physical and spiritual life, through Whom the inner influence of God over nature and mankind operates. According to Ebrard, also, the Spirit of God, in all His distinct properties, is denoted, in so far as He rules over the creation. According to Hengstenberg, on the other hand, the πνρός—fire being invariably used in the Apocalypse to designate the Divine wrath (? comp. Rev 15:2)—here denotes the Spirit of God or of Christ with a limitation, i. e., “in so far as His operations are productive of ruin, are punitive, destructive.” To this view Düsterdieck justly opposes the remark, that the Apocalyptist is speaking of torches (λαμπάδες). This word is doubtless expressive of the enlightening effect of God’s Spirit.

The contrast between the lightnings, voices, thunders, which issue forth from the Throne, and the lights which are stationary before it, has been explained by De Wette in a manifold way. He suggests the dogmatical distinction of manifestations and inspirations, the distinction between the evangelical history and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The thunder slowly dies away in the great echoes of the world’s history; but the light [λαμπάς] becomes a morning star in the heart—in the realm of the interior history of the Kingdom, therefore; and when the Spirit can complete His judgment as the Spirit, that judgment becomes a redemptive judgment.

Rev 4:6. Before the Throne as it were a glassy sea [sea of glass].—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 148.—E. R. C.] The meaning of this is easily gathered from the two items, sea and crystal—national life and transparent, spiritualized creaturality. Hence the interpretation of Aretius comes very near the point: cœtus ecclesiæ triumphantis. Similarly Ebrard, p. 225. The interpretations—some of which are quite singular—of this passage are also, in many respects, characteristic. We cite some of them: Baptism (the baptismal basin); the Holy Scriptures; the perishable world; the smooth and shining heavenly pavement; the atmosphere; or more abstract conceptions (certa dei voluntas, etc.). See Düsterdieck, p. 223. In Rev 15:2 the crystal brightness of this sea is mingled with fire, or the appearance of fire, either because the victors have, in many ways, passed through the fire, or because the victorious Church contains the principle of the fire of the universal judgment. Düsterdieck, referring to Rinck, maintains that the crystal-like sea is identical with the crystal-like river of Rev 22.; but this view is untenable. The purity, transparency, spirituality of this sea is doubly asserted when it is declared to be both glassy and like crystal. According to Hengstenberg, the crystal sea is another image of the judgments of God. “Opposed to the flood of human wickedness is the great flood, the broad ocean of Divine judgments.”

[The following from Alford is worthy of highest consideration: “Compare, by way of contrast, ἡ καθημένη ἐπὶ (τῶν) ὑδάτων (τῶν) πολλῶν, the multitudinous and turbulent waters, Rev 17:1. In seeking the explanation of this, we must first track the image from its Old Testament earlier usage. (He compares Exod. 24:10; Ezek. 1:22, and Job 37:10). If we are to follow these indices, the primary reference will be to the clear ether in which the Throne of God is upborne; and the intent of setting this space in front of the Throne will be to betoken its separation and insulation from the place where the Seer stood, and, indeed, from all else around it. The material and appearance of this pavement of the Throne seem chosen to indicate majestic repose and ethereal purity. … It is the purity, calmness, and majesty of God’s rule which are signified by the figure.” Wordsworth, who adopts the idea that the sea of glass was symbolical of the glorified Church, thus writes: “Sea, in this Book, represents the element of tumult and confusion in this lower world (see 13:1). But here, by way of contrast, there is in the heavenly Church a sea of glass, expressive of smoothness and brightness, and this heavenly sea is of crystal; declaring that the calm of Heaven is not like earthly seas, ruffled by winds, but is crystalized into an eternity of peace.”

Here, it may be asked, may not the glassy sea be an Immediate symbol, indicating a real pavement in the real Heaven spreading out before the Throne; but at the same time aberrantly significant of the unapproachable grandeur of Him who sits upon the Throne, and (perhaps) of the peace, stability, and brightness of His rule? Similar questions might be asked in regard to other symbols, which generally are explained as merely Aberrant.—E. R. C.]

In the midst of the Throne and round about the Throne four living-beings [Lange: life-forms].—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 148; and also ADDITIONAL NOTE ON THE LIVING-BEINGS, by the Am. Ed., p. 161 sq.] According to Eichhorn, Ewald I., and Hengstenberg, “the hinder part (of the eagle, and the human figure, as well as the others?) of the four ζῶα lay under the Throne, whilst the upper portion of them projected from beneath it and rose above it.” “An idea which, for the sake of its unsightliness, if on no other account, should not be imputed to John. According to Ebrard, the Throne is transparent, and the ζῶα move within it and issue forth from it.” (DUESTERD.) IDEM: “One on each side of the Throne, and each in the middle of its respective side.” If the Throne be significant of the Divine sovereign rule, the beasts [Living-beings], as individual Fundamental Forms of this government, must issue neither from the foot nor from the summit of the Throne, but from its mid-height, as from the centre of the Divine governance; see above. According to Bengel and Hengstenberg, the four beasts [Living-beings] are emblems of nature or the earth, or of the creation, according to Düsterd.82 According to Ebrard, they are the creative powers of God Himself, by means of which He exercises a sovereign sway throughout creation (like the lightnings, etc.). Against Ebrard’s interpretation of the beasts [Living-beings] as representatives of the fourfold powers of God, see Düsterdieck, p. 228. The contrast, moreover, is by no means clearly defined.

The germ of the representation of the four Fundamental Forms of Divine Providence is contained in Gen. 3:24. It is a view which, in constant process of development, runs through the whole of the Sacred Writings; see Ex. 25:18; Ps. 18:10; (comp. Ps. 104:4; Is. 6:2); Ps. 99:1; Ezek. 1. and 10., etc. Riehm, De natura et notione Cheruborum, 1861. Lämmert, Die Cherubim der Heiligen Schrift, Jahrbb. für deutsche Theologie, 12, 4, p. 587. The latter starts from the passage Heb. 9:5, from the term Cherubim of glory. He beholds in the figure of the Cherubim “symbolical representations of the sovereign glory of God, keeping His holy law, overthrowing all that is hostile to Him, but rescuing all that have His laws before their eyes.” The explication of the beasts [Living-beings], p. 615, reminds us of Ebrard’s interpretation; it offers no inducement to us to depart from our own view as given above. We, therefore, regard the ox as expressive of the spirit of sacrifice; the lion as expressive of the spirit of irruptive victorious courage; the human figure as expressive of the spirit of human and humane sympathy; and the eagle as expressive of the spirit of ideality, of striving after the realization of the ideal (see Leben Jesu, I., p. 234; Dogmatik, 603).

Different interpretations: The four Evangelists (whose attributes they certainly are, but not their original symbols); the four cardinal virtues; the four patriarchal churches; the four greatest fathers of the Church; the four mysteries of faith, etc. The quaternary is manifestly the number of the world. The six wings likewise demand consideration; the eyes, all about, as well as within (directed inward); the restless motion, by day and by night, in eternal praise of the thrice Holy One. The senary of the wings is six in a good sense; restless activity which in its unity makes up the festal septenary (see John 5:17). The wings are symbolical of the absolute motion of the Divine governance toward higher and highest goals. The eyes represent the omniscient rule of Divine Providence, immanent in the life of the world, conscious on all sides. With an absolute round-look corresponds an absolute in-look, expressive of the contemplative concentration and unity of the Divine omniscience. According to Hengstenberg, the eyes are expressive of the permeation of the whole world by spirit; according to Düsterd., they are significant of wakefulness by day and night (of creatural beings?83); whilst the wings, as he thinks, denote the dependence and subjection of the creature. The praise continually offered by the four Life-forms, the Trisagion, reminds us of the song of praise of the Seraphim (Is. 6), though it does not follow from this that the Cherubim and the Seraphim should be identified, as Lämmert thinks. These two symbolical angelic groups are undoubtedly connected; yet they also form an antithesis (Ps. 104:4). See Com. on Genesis, p. 241 sq. [Am. Ed.]). Their hymn is expressive of the fact that the governance of God, in all its forms, redounds to His praise; to the praise of the glory, the glorious personality of God, Who is Jehovah, in an involved84 expression (Who was etc.), and Lord of Hosts (Sabaoth), as the All-Ruler, in an involved expression also.

Rev 4:9–11. [See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 148 sqq.], “With the representatives of the creation, the four beasts [Living-beings], the twenty-four Elders, the representatives of redeemed humanity, unite in the praise of God” (comp. De Wette, Hengstenberg, Ebrard). The contrast here presented, however, is not that of creation and redemption; neither is a union of voices intended. On; the contrary, the actual eulogy of God in the Forms of His government, wakes the antiphony of praise on the heights of the human spirit-world. The future, ὅταν δώσουσιν, is declared by some commentators to be a pure future; whilst others apprehend it in a frequentative signification—when they, or as often as they. [This latter view is adopted by Wordsworth, Alford, Barnes, etc. See Winer, § 42, 5.—E. R. C. ] The relation of priority, as pertaining to the song of praise of the Life-forms [Living-beings], is, however, also enwrapped in the term. They must strike the first notes. It is doubtless indicated, moreover, that there are particular epochs of praise.

Rev 4:9. Give is a genuine theocratic term: to return that which is beheld or experienced, to its Author, as a spiritual sacrifice.

Glory and honor.—Düsterdieck: Recognition of the glory and honor peculiar to the Lord, “whilst καὶ εὐχαριστίαν denotes directly, without metonymy, the thanks (Hengstenberg) offered by the creature.” This under the supposition that the ζῶα are creatures. If, however, they be Ground-forms of the Divine glory or δόξα in its governance, τιμή may denote the objective side of this governance over human souls, and εὐχαριστία its subjective side in human souls. Comp. the Doxologies, Rev 5:12, 13; 7:10, 12; 10:6.

To Him that sitteth upon the Throne.—In face of all the terrors of the last times, the Spirit of this prophecy is not afraid that the Throne of God will ever totter. As God lives into the æons of the æons, i. e., into the great æons which are composed of lesser æons (analogue of the Heaven of Heavens), and lives absolutely, so He survives all enemies upon whom the first and second deaths shall prey.

Rev 4:10. The twenty-four Elders fall down—cast [down] their crowns.—An expression of enthusiastic reverence, prostration, self-abasement, in the recognition of the fact that to Him alone belongeth honor. [It is also expressive of their voluntary and grateful recognition of the fact that as Rulers they are subject to Him—that their authority is derived from, and continually dependent upon, Him.—E. R. C.]

Rev 4:11. [Thou art worthy to take.—“The original signification of the word (λαμβάνω) is twofold; one, to take, the other, to receive” (LIDDELL and SCOTT). Is not the fact that it was here used in the former of these senses, indicated by the exchange of δύναμις for the εὐχαριστία of Rev 4:9? Jehovah receives the thanks which His creatures give; He takes the power that can be given Him by none. So far as δόξα and τιμή are concerned, there is an essential glory and honor which He takes and holds, and there is also an ascriptive glory and honor which His creatures may give and which He receives.—E. R. C.]

The glory.—The Elders say: τὴν δόξαν κ. τ. λ., because they are responding in a degree to Rev 4:8 (Bengel and Dästerd.) They seem antiphonally to translate the εὐχαριστία into δύναμις; why is this? DUESTERDIECK: The representatives of the creature must necessarily and justly return thanks, but the Elders looked upon the work of creation with a certain objectivity. See against this view Rev 11:17. Even thanksgiving is a δύναμις given of God (da quod jubes).85 [See the preceding paragraph.—E. R. C.]

[For Thou hast created all things (τὰ πάντα=the all things, the universe).—The Elders here assign the reason why they esteemed Jehovah “worthy to take the glory, and the honor, and the power.” Κτίζειν, like the Hebrew ברא, which in the LXX. it is often used to translate, has not the distinctive meaning, to create ex nihilo; in 1 Cor. 11:9, for instance, it manifestly has the signification: to form out of previously existing substance. It may, however, be restricted to the former meaning by the context, and this is clearly the case in this present instance—to make the all things, must mean to create them. And that this is the meaning, is confirmed by the following sentence (see below)—E. R. C.]

And on account of Thy will (not: by Thy will).—[“Because Thou didst will it, … they were, i. e., they existed, as in contrast to their previous state of non-existence, … and received it (existence) from Thee by a definite act of Thine, εκτίσθησαν.” ALFORD after DUESTERD.—E. R. C.] It is the teleologically higher conception that all things have come into being in order to the fulfillment and glorification of the Divine will (Rom. 11:36). “Ἦσαν is generally regarded as synonymous with ἐκτίσθησαν.” Düsterdieck makes this distinction: they were, and thus it is that they were—they were created. Almost the same idea again! Nic. de Lyra ingeniously distinguishes the eternal counsel of God and the actual creation. Grotius, with equal ingenuity, distinguishes birth and regeneration. Taking creation and redemption together, the doxology says: for the fulfillment of Thy will, they finally were, and were created (received their shape and impress) with a view to this ultimate design (see Rom. 9., comp. also Ebrard, p. 231).


[1]Rev 4:1. [B*. gives εἴδων.—E. R. C.]

[2]Rev 4:1. Instead of λέγουσα [Rec., P. א3a.], read λέγων, [with א.1 A. B*., Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., and Tisch.—E. R. C.]

[3]Rev 4:2. The καὶ before εὐθέως is not firmly established, according to א. A. [B*., etc.; P. gives it. Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., and Tisch., omit.—E. R. C.]

[4]Rev 4:2. [The original is ἔκειτο, the literal translation of which would be lay; the English idiom requires stood.—E. R. C.]

[5]Rev 4:2. Ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον, comp. Düsterdieck, p. 209. [Rec., with P., gives το͂υ θρόου; א. A. B*., Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., and Tisch., τὸν θρόνον.—E. R. C.]

[6]Rev 4:2. [“This order is retained by the Latin and German Verss., Syr., It., Fr., S.,—Daub., Woodh., Sharp., Treg., Kenr.” (Alford). DR. LILLIE.—E. R. C.]

[7]Rev 4:3. Against the ἦν, before ὅμοιος [given by Rec., P. and Vulg.], Codd. א. A. B*.

[8]Rev 4:4. Each time εἴκοσι τέσσαρες without καὶ. It is a perplexing question whether the second twenty-four is connected with the thrones or with the elders. The thrones, however, have their number from the elders—not vice versâ. The τοὺς before the twenty-four elders [with B*.] would certainly be premature here. [The correct reading of this entire passage is exceedingly doubtful. The Rec. gives καὶ κυκλόθεν τοῦ θρόνου θρόνοι εἴκοσι καὶ τέσσαρες καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς θρόνους εἶδον τοὺς εἴκοσι καὶ τέσσαρας πρεσβυτέρους καθημένους. All the authorities omit καί before τέσσαρες in both instances, and also εἴδον. In the first sentence Lach. and Tisch., with א. and A., give θρόνους, Words., Alf., Treg., with B*., give θρόνοι. Words., Tisch., and Treg., with B.*, give the second clause as the Rec., with the omission of εἶδον and καὶ (Treg. and Tisch., also with P., omit the second τοὺς); Lach. and Alford, with A., read ἐπὶ τοῦς εἴκ. τέσσ. θρόνους πρεσ.καθ. Cod. א. omits all the words between ἐπὶ and τέσσαρες inclusive. In the judgment of the Am. Ed. the reading of א. is to be preferred; in the face of the great critical authorities on the other side, however, he cannot venture to remove this clause from the text. The reading of Tregelles (which Lange supports) is adopted in the translation.—E. R. C.]

[9]Rev 4:4. [“All the recent editors reject εἶδον on the authority of A. B., … I recommend that this reading be followed, but, in order to mark the change of construction, would leave I saw in italics, as a supplement, extracted from the ἰδού of Rev 4:2. See Win. § 64, 3, 1.” DR. LILLIE’S Notes, etc.—E. R. C.]

[10]Rev 4:4. The ἔσχον before ἐπὶ τ. κ. unfounded. [It is omitted by א. A. B*. P., and critical authors generally.—E. R. C.]

[11]Rev 4:5. [The order φωναὶ καὶ βρονταί is given by Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., Tisch., in accordance with א. A. B*. P.—E. R. C.]

[12]Rev 4:5. [Alford brackets αὐτοῦ after θρόνου, in accordance with B*. Lach., Treg., and Tisch., omit with א3a. A. P.—E. R. C.]

[13]Rev 4:5. [Alford brackets τὰ in respect of its omission by B*.; Lach., Words., Treg., Tisch. give it with א3a. A. P. and Rec.—E. R. C.]

[14]Rev 4:6. [“The adjective is retained here by Latin and German Verss., Dt.; Wakef., Woodh., etc. (Comp. Horace, Carm. IV. 2, ‘Vitreo . . Ponto;’ and Milton, P. L. VII. 619: ‘The clear hyaline, the glassy sea’).” DR. LILLIE’S Notes, etc.—E. R. C.]

[15]Rev 4:6. [“The E. V. ‘beasts’ is the most unfortunate word that could he imagined. A far better one is that now generally adopted, ‘living-creatures;’ the only objection to it being that when we come to Rev 4:9, 11, we give the idea, in conjoining ‘living-creatures’ and created (ἔκτισας), of a close relation which is not found in the Greek.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

[16]Rev 4:7. [“Μόσχος is not necessarily to be pressed to its proper primary meaning, as indicating the young calf in distinction from the grown bullock; the LXX. use it for an ox generally, in Exod. 22:1; Lev. 22:23; also Exod. 29:10, and Gen. 12:16.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

[17]Rev 4:7. The reading ὡς ἀνθρώπου, in accordance with A., etc. Cod. א. reads otherwise still. [Cod. א. reads: ὡς ὅμοιον ἀνθρώπου; Wordsworth, with B.*, omits ὡς; Alford brackets; Lach., Tisch., and Treg. read with A.—E. R. C.]

[18]Rev 4:8. [B*. and Rec. omit τὰ.—E. R. C.]

[19]Rev 4:8. The reading: ἓν καθ̓ ἓν αὐτῶν ἔχον. [Lachmann, as Lange, Alford, and Tisch., give ἓν καθ̓ ἓν αὐτῶν, with A. P.; (B*. also gives ἓν καθ̓ ἓν, but omits αὐτῶν); Wordsworth follows the Rec., ἓν καθ̓ ἑαυτὸ; Tregelles, with א. and Vulg., gives ἓν ἕκαστον αὐτῶν. Alf., Treg., and Tisch., with A., give ἔχων; Lach. and Words., with B*., ἔχον; א. Rec. Vulg., εἶον. The readings of Treg. are adopted in the translation.—E. R. C.]

[20]Rev 4:8. [For the force of ἀνά, see Winer, § 49. b.—E. R. C.]

[21]Rev 4:8. [There is great difference amongst critical editors as to the connection of κυκλόθεν. Treg. agrees with Rec. in connecting it with the preceding πτέρυγας ἓξ; Lach., Words., Alford, Lillie, Tisch., with Vulg. and Lange, connect with καὶ ἔσωθεν. LILLIE thus supports the latter arrangement (Notes, etc.): “(1) Assuming ἔχον or ἔχων and γέμουσιν to be the true readings, the structure of the whole verse is simplified; (2), the other arrangement does not harmonize with the cherubic appearances before referred to, Rev 4:7; (3), and might have precluded the Seer’s minute observation of the other features (Rev 4:6, 7), which first caught his eye; while, (4), the construction proposed is apparently required by the ἔμπροσθεν and ὄπισθεν of Rev 4:6; and, (5), is that adopted by Vulg., Fr., S.; Grot., Hamm., Beng., Sch., Wordsworth.” Cod. B*. has, after κύκλοθεν, καὶ ἔξωθεν.—E. R. C.]

[22]Rev 4:8. [For the unauthorized γέμοντα of the Rec., all the modern critical editors, with א. A. B*. P., Vulg., etc., read γέμουσιν —E. R. C.]

[23]Rev 4:8. [The ἅγιος occurs nine times in B*., and eight times in א1.—E. R. C.]

[24]Rev 4:8. [See Additional comment on Rev 1:8, p. 93.—E. R. C.]

[25]Rev 4:10. [Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., Tisch. give βαλοῦσι (ν) with א**. A., Am., Fuld.; βαλλοῦσι is given by א*. B*.; Vulg. (Cl.) reads mittebant.—E. R. C.]

[26]Rev 4:11. According to A. B*., etc. [Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., Tisch., with א. A. B*., read ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν (א. prefixes κύριε, and B*. subjoins ὁ ἅγιος); P. gives κύριε ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν. Lange translates: our Lord and our God.—E. R. C.]

[27]Rev 4:11. [The Rec. εἰσι agrees with P. Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., Tisch., with א. A. B*., give ἦσαν. B*. gives οὐκ ῆσαν; on this ALFORD remarks: “The remarkable reading οὐκ ἦσαν is worth notice, ‘by reason of Thy will they were not, and were created,’ i. e., ‘they were created out of nothing.’ But besides the preponderance of authority the other way, there is the double chance that οὐκ may have arisen from the preceding ου(σου), and that it may have been an escape from the difficulty of ἦσαν.”—E. R. C.]

[28]Rev 5:1. The reading: ὄπισθεν. so far as the sense is concerned, the same as ἔξωθεν. [Lach., Words, Alf., Tregelles, Tisch., with א. A., give ὄπισθεν; ἔξωθεν is given by B*. P., Vulg., etc.; the reading: ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν in א, Origen, etc.—E. R. C.]

[29]Rev 5:2. In accordance with A. B*. [א.], etc., ἐν(φωνῇ). [So also Lach., Words., Alford, Treg., and Tisch.; Rec. with P., Vulg., etc., omits ἐν.—E. R. C.]

[30]Rev 5:2. The ἐστιν after τίς omitted, which throws a stronger emphasis on ἄξιος. [It is omitted by critical editors generally, in accordance with א. A. P.. etc.; Rec., with Vulg., inserts it before ἄξιος, and B*. after that word.—E. R. C.]

[31]Rev 5:3. [Wordsworth and Alford give οὐδε three times; Lachmann and Tregelles give οὐδέ οὐδέ, οὔτε, with A.; Tisch., with B*., gives οὔτε thrice; and א., οὔτε twice, omitting the intermediate. See also Winer, § 55 b. (d.)—E. R. C.]

[32]Rev 5:4. Πολύ instead of πολλά, in accordance with B*. [πολυν], א. [P.], etc.

[33]Rev 5:4. Καὶ ἀναγνῶναι is omitted. [So Lach., Words., Alford, Treg., Tisch., with א. B*. P., etc.—E. R. C.]

[34]Rev 5:5. The ὤν is omitted. [So all the recent critical editors, with א. A. B*. P., etc.—E. R. C.]

[35]Rev 5:5. The reading ἀνοῖξαι, in accordance with A. [א.] and many others, against ἀνοίγων [B*.].

[36]Rev 5:5. [Lach., Words., Alf., Treg., Tisch., with A. B*. P., Amiat., etc., omit λῦσαι, which is given by Rec., א., Vulg. (Cl.).—E. R. C.]

[37]Rev 5:6. The clause καὶ ἰδού, supported by B. [?], etc., is also supported by the context. The Seer wishes to prepare his readers for an unexpected, great and new vision. It seems most hazardous to erase the two words. [B*. does not support the clause. It is omitted by Lachmann, Wordsworth, Alford, Tregelles, Tisch., with א. B*. P., etc. A. and Vulg. give it.—E. R. C.]

[38]Rev 5:6. [Lange translates: “the middle point.” Alford translates: “the midst,” commenting: “the words seem to indicate the middle point before the throne.”—E. R. C.]

[39]Rev 5:6. [For the translation as if, see Robinson under ὡς, B. a; Kühner, § 312, 6.—E. R. C.]

[40]Rev 5:6. Unimportant variations, see in Düsterd. [א. A. and Vulgate give οἱ; Tischendorf, with B*., gives .—E. R. C.]

[41]Rev 5:6. The reading ἀποστελλόμενα has B., and the sense, in its favor. [So Wordsworth; Alford and Tischendorf read ἀπεσταλμένα, with א.; Lach. and Treg., ἀπεσταλμένοι, with A.—E. R. C.]

[42]Rev 5:7. Without βιβλίον. [Lach., Alford, Tregelles, and Tisch., with א. A., omit τὸ βιβλίον; Wordsworth gives it; B*. gives τήν.—E. R. C.]

[43]Rev 5:8. [Modern editors, with א. A. B*. P., give κιθάραν.—E. R. C.]

[44]Rev 5:9. Against the insertion of ἡμᾶς are Cod. B. [?], etc. Still more opposed to it is the context, for ἡμᾶς would refer to the living-beings as well as to the elders. Hence we should read αὐτούς in Rev 4:10 also, in accordance with Codd. A. B., etc. [Lachmann, Wordsworth, Alford, and Tisch., with A., omit ἡμᾶς; Tregelles, with א. B*. P., Vulgate, etc., gives it. It is marked above as doubtful.—E. R. C.]

[45]Rev 5:10. [Critical editors, with א. A. B*., give αὐτούς.—E. R. C.]

[46]Rev 5:10. Τῷ Θεῷ ἡμῶν, omitted by A., is probably connected with the foregoing variations. [Lachmann and Alford, with A., omit; Wordsworth, Tregelles, Tischendorf, with א. B*. P., Vulg., etc., give the expression.—E. R. C.]

[47]Rev 5:10. Βασιλείαν. [Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, and Tisch., with א. A., give βασιλείαν; Words., with B*., etc., reads βασιλεῖς.—E. R. C.]

[48]Rev 5:10. [Cod. א. reads ἱερατείαν.—E. R. C.]

[49]Rev 5:10. Βασιλεύουσιν. [Lachmann, Wordsworth, Alford, Tregelles, with A. B*., read as Lange. Tischendorf, with Cod. א., Amiat., Fuld., Tol., Harl., gives βασιλεύσουσιν; the Vulgate (Clem.) requires βασιλεύσομεν. The weight of ancient authority seems to me to be about equally divided between the present and the future forms; the condition of those who utter the song (in heaven), together with the promise to the saints of future authority upon and over the earth, in my judgment, require the future.—E. R. C.]

[50]Rev 5:10. [For the force of ἐπί with the gen., see Winer, § 47, a.—E. R. C.]

[51]Rev 5:11. [Tregelles and Tischendorf, with א., give ὡς before φωνήν; Lachmann and Wordsworth, with A. B*. (corr.), P., Vulgate, etc., omit; Alford brackets.—E. R. C.]

[52]Rev 5:11. [Recent editors, א. A. B*. P., Vulgate, etc., give κύκλῳ.—E. R. C.]

[53]Rev 5:13. Without ἐστιν. [Lachmann, Wordsworth, Alford, Tregelles, Tischendorf, with א. A. B*., omit ἐστιν after (א. τό); Tregelles and Tischendorf omit it also after θαλάσσης with א.; Lachmann and Alford give it in the latter place with A. B*. P.; Wordsworth, with B*. P., reads ἅ ἐστι.—E. R. C.]

[54]Rev 5:13. [Recent editors, with א. A. B*. P., etc., give ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.—E. R. C.]

[55]Rev 5:13. [א. omits ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς, which is given by A. B*., Vulgate, etc.—E. R. C.]

[56]Rev 5:13. [Recent editors give ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, with A. B*. P.; א. and Vulg. give ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ.—E. R. C.]

[57]Rev 5:13. [Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, Tischendorf, with א. P., read πάντα; Wordsworth and Lange read πάντας, with Vulgate; (Tregelles claims A. for πάντα, Alford cites it as reading πάντας); B*. reads πάντα καὶ πάντας.—E. R. C.]

[58]Rev 5:14. [Εἴκοσι τέσσαρες, which is supported by the Vulgate (Clem.), etc., is omitted by critical editors, with א. A. B*. P., Amiat., Fuld., etc.—E. R. C.]

[59]Rev 5:14. This addition is not based even upon minuscules.

[60][This table was prepared with special reference to Visional symbolization. It should be noted, however, that in form, it presents a classification, not of Visional Symbols themselves, but of the apparent elements thereof; by the Visional Symbol must be understood the simulacrum of the thing specified therein. With certain modifications the table may be regarded as presenting a classification of Material Symbols. These are of two distinct, though parallel, orders: the first, embracing those real existencies that are themselves employed as Symbols—as the lamb of sacrifice, the bread of the Lord’s Supper; the second, consisting of material images (of real or ideal existences) that are thus employed—as the image of the flying fiery serpent, the Cherubim of the Tabernacle. The above table presents a complete classification of the first of these orders, in so far as it is a classification of real existencies that have been employed as Symbols; it bears to the second order a relation precisely similar to that which it bears to Visional Symbols.—E. R. C.]

[61] [These orders may be more scientifically deduced as follows: There are four general respects in which every symbol is related to its ultimate object, viz.: as to (1) manner of representation, (2) correspondence of nature, (3) form, (4) number; and in each of these respects it must be related in one of two alternative modes. Its relation must be in view of (1) manner of representation, either Immediate or Mediate; (2) correspondence of nature, either Correspondent or Aberrant; (3) form, either Similar or Ideal; (4) number, either Individual or Classical. From a combination of these general divisions there would result, theoretically, sixteen distinct orders of symbols. Several of these, however, would be impossible of realization. Thus a symbol at once Aberrant (i. e. differing in nature from its object) and Natural (i. e. similar in form) is inconceivable. And of those that are possible of realization, several have no exemplification in the Scriptures. The five orders given above (all of which are exemplified in the Apocalypse) are here reproduced an enumeration of the general divisions to which each belongs being given in the parenthesis.

I. Immediate-similar (Immediate, Similar, Correspondent, Individual).

II. Immediate-ideal (Immediate, Ideal, Correspondent, Individual.

III. Mediate-individual (Mediate, Ideal, Correspondent, Individual).

IV. Classical (Mediate, Ideal, Correspondent, Classical).

V. Aberrant (Mediate, Ideal, Aberrant, Individual).—E. R. C]

[62][Additional comments, save in a few special instances, are reserved for EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL, on pp. 150 sqq.—E. R. C.]

[63][If by world is meant the present œon or dispensation, extending to the Second Advent and the complete establishment of the Basileia, this statement is manifestly true, since the seventh seal includes the trumpets and the vials. If, however, by world is contemplated the earth, as the scene of life and activity, the statement cannot be accepted. See Introduction by the American Ed. also Lange on Rev 1:1, p. 156—E. R. C.]

[64][For other interpretations of the Rider on the white horse, see Comm. on Rev 6:2, p. 171.—E. R. C.]

[65][Lange reproduces this term from the Latin. As there was no German word that could express his idea, it is hardly possible that an English term can be found.—E. R. C.]

[66][It is somewhat difficult to determine from this passage what view Lange adopts. The most natural hypothesis seems to be that John beheld the visions like the unfoldings of a panorama (see the frequent recurrence of the phrase μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, Rev 4:1; 7; 1:9; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1, and similar expressions through the Book); and that he wrote as he beheld, or in the possible intervals of vision (see Rev 10:4, where it is recorded that after hearing the thunders, he was about to write, but was forbidden). The latter part of this hypothesis is not inconsistent with the idea that, after the completion of the entire vision, he wrote at leisure a full account of what he had seen and heard, on the basis of the notes he had previously taken.—E. R. C.]

[67] [See PRELIMINARY NOTE on p. 145 sqq., especially the concluding paragraph on p. 145.

[Is not this symbol, primarily, significant of a Throne in Heaven—some glorious seat in the Heaven of Heavens where Jehovah specially manifests His glory? Secondarily, it is indicative not merely of the “firmness” of the Government of God, but of the fact thereof. The Throne—the visible seat of the Sovereign—is the symbol of established government. On earth Jehovah now governs, and the fact becomes evident to those who wisely consider; but it is not patent: it is in measure hidden beneath the veil of what we style the laws of nature. In Heaven, however, it is immediately manifest that He upholds those laws, and governs in, and through, and above them.—E. R. C.]

[68][So also Ebrard conjectures. Wordsworth thus writes: “The Jasper (says Victorinus) is like water; the Sardine is like fire: and thus these stones seem to represent God’s Majesty and Justice as seen in His judgments—that of the flood, and that of the fire of Sodom and of the Last Bay. Or, rather, the union of these two colors; the one of a brilliant and lively hue; the other of a deeper, fiery and darker hue, may perhaps be designed to symbolize the union of Mercy and Glory, with Justice and Majesty in the Godhead, especially in the Gospel dispensation (Rom. 3:26). Similarly there is a combination of brightness and fire in Ezekiel’s Vision (Ezek. 1:4), which also displays the Rainbow (1:28).”—E. R. C.]

[69][See additional comment under Rev 4:4, p.152.—E. R.C.]

[70][See on Rev 1:4, p. 91—E. R. C.]

[71][See on Rev 4:6, p.154—E. R. C.]

[72]Not necessarily. A roll might receive seven seals on either of the flat ends, each seal holding together the edges of a number of the revolutions of the parchment. In such case all the seals would be visible, and any one might be broken without breaking the others. Of course, in the unrolling, the seal nearest to the circumference would have first to be broken, and so on toward the centre. Nor would there be any difficulty in reading such a roll, written within and without, if the writing were in transverse columns, from edge to edge—the entire scroll being turned (longitudinally) when the bottom edge was reached. In this case the portion read would have to be re-rolled in one hand, as the unread portion was unrolled in the other.—E. R. C.]

[73][Does not the explanation take for granted that the Seer understood something of the future history before the unrolling? Alford’s explanation, in which he agrees with Lyra, seems to he better: “It had been promised to him, ch, 4:1, that he should be shown future events; and now it seemed as if this promise were about to be frustrated by the lack of one worthy to open the Book, … and his tears burst forth in the earnestness of disappointed desire after the fulfillment of the promise.”—E. R. C.]

[74][See on Rev 5:5, p.167—E. R. C.]

[75] [The passages in Düsterdieck specially referred to are as follows:

“On comparing the description, Rev 4., with Rabbinical conceptions, such as More Nevoch., II.6; ‘Non facit Deus quicquam, donec illud INTUITUS fuerit in familia superiori,’ and Schir Haschirim R. fol. 93; ‘Non facit Deus quicquam, nisi autea de eo CONSULTAVERIT cum familia superiori’ (in Wetstein), we can not overlook the essential difference consisting in the fact that the Johannean view is a pure development of Old and New Testament fundamental truths, whilst the Rabbins had but a corruption of those truths (contrary to Wetst., Eichh., Heinr., Ew., el al.) For the familia superior, which is represented by the Rabbins as taking part in the council of God, has. according to John, but to worship God and to magnify the counsel together with the works of God; and the visions beheld by John, in which the things to come are prefigured to him, being in the spirit, are by no means that heavenly prelude of earthly events which the Rabbins conceive of (comp. Wetst.: ‘Ex mente Judæorum, quæ in terris eventura sunt, in cœlo coram consessu angelorum prius manifestantur atque REPRÆSENTANTUR’).”

“The formula μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον marks the beginning of a new vision, and that a greater or more important one (chs. 7:1, 9; 15:5; 18:1), whilst the formula καὶ εἶδον introduces the manifold individual features which present them selves in the course of a greater main picture (5:1, 6, 11; 6:1, 5, 8, 9, 12; 8:2, 13, et al.”)—E. R. C.]

[76][See on Rev 1:10, p.103.—E. R. C.]

[77][See foot-note, † p. 147.—E. R. C.]

[78][Düsterdieck also quotes, as bearing upon the passage cited from Isaiah, the following passages quoted by Schöttg, and Hengst. from Tanchuma (fol. 48): “Tempore futuro Deus S. B. gloriam senioribus tribuit. Dixerunt quoque Rabbini nostri: faciet sibi Deus S. B. consessum seniorum suorum.” Also the following in reference to Dan. 7:9: “Tempore futuro Deus S. B. sedebit et Angeli dabunt sellas magnatibus Israelis, et illi sedent. Et Deus S. B. sedet cum senioribus tanquam princeps senatus et judicabunt gentiles.”—E. R. C.]

[79] [In the Additional Comments above, the Am. Ed. has written as adopting the generally accepted view that the Elders belong to the glorified Church, He would, in this place, deferentially suggest for consideration another hypothesis. The evidence for the current view rests solely on the formerly accepted text of the doxology in which the Living-beings and the Elders are represented as uniting (Rev 5:10, 11). Criticism has shown that, in this instance, the text of the Recepta is specially corrupt; it has established the fact, that the ἡμᾶς and βασιλεύσομεν of Rev 4:10 are corruptions of αὐτούς and βασιλεύσουσιν (or βασιλεύουσιν), and has rendered probable (certain in the opinion of Lange, Alford and Tischandorf) the further fact, that the ἡμᾶς of Rev 4:9 is an interpolation. It is well nigh certain (from textual criticism alone) that the doxology was raised in view of the general fact of redemption, and not of the personal redemption of those who united in it—that it affords no evidence that any who joined in its utterance were themselves the subjects of redemption. Apart from this doxology, there is no evidence that the Elders were in any way connected with the Church; on the contrary, all the indications of the Apocalypse are opposed to the idea. Although they are several times mentioned, it is never as representing the redeemed, as being amongst them, or as joining in their hallelujahs. When they are represented as sitting on thrones, the souls of the martyrs—certainly the noblest portion of the redeemed, even if that throng were not intended to represent the whole body of the saved—were beneath the altar (comp. chs. 4:4 with 6:9). And where, if not amongst the martyrs, are the Princes of the glorified Israel to be sought? When the great multitude of the redeemed stood before the Throne and raised their hallelujah, the Elders stood, not with them, but with the Living-beings and the Angels, offering a separate worship and uniting in a separate hymn of praise (Rev 7:9–12). On this august occasion one of the Elders is represented as addressing the Seer, not as a representative of the glorified Host, but as a spectator of their glory; and as a mere spectator (he spoke of them, not of us), he gave information concerning their past and future history (Rev 7:13–17). In the doxology that burst forth from the Living-beings and the Elders immediately on the announcement of the complete establishment of the Kingdom of the Messiah on earth, there was no allusion to any personal participation in the rewards that should be bestowed on (human) prophets and saints (Rev 11:15–18). Again, when the Lamb at the head of the hundred and forty-four thousand stood on Mount Zion (where should the Princes of Israel have been but with that company?), the Elders and the Living-beings stood apart by the Throne, and before (not by) them the new song of the redeemed was sung (Rev 14:1–5).

The writer would ask, Do not these facts go far to confirm the independent conclusions of criticism as to the true text of the doxology in Rev 5:10, 11? And do they not tend to establish the conclusion, that the Elders were not Princes or representatives of the glorified Church, but Princes of the heavenly hosts—of unfallen spirits? And it may also be asked, if this view does not give a unity to this Heaven scene, and to all the scenes of the Apocalyptic visions, entirely lacking on the hypothesis generally accepted.—E. R. C.]

[80][The following view of Wordsworth can hardly be accepted as a complete explanation: “This adjunct (thunders) confirms the opinion that St. John is here speaking of God’s word. Thunder is the voice of God. St. John himself, as a preacher of God’s word, was named by Christ ‘a son of thunder.’ ”—E. R. C.]

[81][“Seven torches of fire: λαμπάς in this Book does not mean a lamp (see 8:10), but a torch (comp. John 18:3); and these seven torches or flambeaux of fire burning before the Throne are contrasted with the Star which fell as a torch from Heaven (8:10); comp. Wetstein I., p. 507; and Trench, Syn. N. T., p. 193.” WORDSWORTH.—E. R. C.]

[82] DE WETTE: These four creatures, as pre-eminent, the first two for strength, and the two others for knowledge, are representatives of all creatures (creatures—that rest not day or night?).

[83][Yes. Comp. Rev 7:15, where the redeemed are represented as serving by day and by night (i. e., continually) in the Temple. To the blessed spirits, braced by the atmosphere of Heaven, perpetual service is perpetual rest.—E. R. C.]

[84][Mathematically involved. E. R. C.]

[85][The prayer of Augustine (Confess., Lib. 10:29): “Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis.”—E. R. C.]

See Revelation 4:1 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.

Rev 5:1. [And I saw.—“Notice that from the general vision, in the last chapter, of the heavenly Presence of God, the scene is so far only changed that, all that remaining as described, a particular incident is now seen for the first time, and is introduced by καὶ εἶδον.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

Rev 5:1. On the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the Throne.—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 149]. For a discussion of ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιάν, in opposition to Ebrard’s view, see Düsterd., p. 234. [“The right hand was open, and the book lay on the open hand.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

A scroll.—The book [scroll], βιβλίον, was in the Hebrew form of a roll (not in the form of a Roman document, as Huschke maintains).

[In answer to the question, “What is represented by this Book?” Alford presents seven different opinions, which may be condensed as follows: 1. The Old Testament, or the Old and New conjoined (Orig., Euseb., Epiphan., Hippol., Victor., August., Tichon., Bede, Hilary, Jerome, Joachim, Greg, the Great, Haymo, Ansbert). 2. Christ Himself (Hilary [?], Heterius, Paschasius). 3. Libellus repudii a Deo scriptus nationi Judaicæ (Wetstein). 4. Sententiam a Judice et patribus ejus conscriptus in hortes ecclesiæ conceptam (Schöttgen and Hengstenberg). 5. That part of the Apocalypse which treats of the opening of the seven seals, Revelation 6–11. (Alcasar). 6. The Apocalypse itself (Corn. a-Lap.). 7. “Divinæ providentiæ concilium et præfinitio, qua apud Se statuit et decrevit facere vel permittere, etc.” (Areth., Vitringa, Mede, Ewald, De Wette, Stern, Düsterd., et al.). The last he declares to be, in the main, his own view. See also SYNOPTICAL VIEW.—E. R. C.]

Within and on the back.—The idea of a great leaf-roll, covered with writing on both sides, is here presented. Similar descriptions in classical literature; see in Düsterd. [“According to ancient usage, a parchment roll was first written on the inside, and if the inside was filled with writing, then the outside was used, or back part of the roll; and if that also was covered with writing, and the whole available space was occupied, the book was called opistho-graphos (written on the back-side; Lucian, Vit. Auction. 9, Plin. Epist. 3:5). or written ‘in aversâ cartâ,’ Martial, viii. 22.” WORDSWORTH.—E. R. C.]

The book [scroll] has no vacant places, for the world’s history is great, and in Heaven everything is foreseen even to the very end. The explanation of the whole passage is by no means as easy as Düsterdieck and others seem to think. It is not easy to demonstrate how a single leaf could be unsealed without the simultaneous loosing of all its seals, or how the loosing of a single seal could have freed only a single division of the leaf.1 And therefore we, with Vitringa (De Wette?) and others, adopt the idea of seven membranes or leaves, of which each one was separately sealed. Further, we reject the view which conceives of the book [scroll] as directly embracing the whole Apocalypse. It of course embraces it implicite, but explicite its contents are exhausted with the sixth chapter, inasmuch as the seventh seal, on being opened, gives place to a new vision and introduces a new group of pictures. We can, indeed, say that as the seven churches preside over the seven seals, so the latter preside over the seven trumpets; nevertheless, not only do trumpets and seals form distinct groups, but the seals, as forms of secrecy or mystery, constitute a perfect antithesis to the trumpets. We must particularly note here the idea of the seal (secrecy and security at once, Is. 29:11, etc.); that of the sevenfold seal (a sevenfold and hence sacred involution of both considerations); the idea of the book [scroll] (Ex. 32:32; Ps. 139. 16, etc.); finally, the idea of the writing on both sides.

“The idea that the βιβλίον is the Old Testament (Victorinus), or the whole of Sacred Writ, containing the New Testament within and the Old Testament without (Primas., Bede, Zeger) is founded upon mere guess-work.” DUESTERDIECK. Our comment upon this is that the contents are made known by the unsealing.

Rev 5:2. And I saw a strong angel (ἰσχυρόν).2—To the world of Angels the world of the contrast of guilt and grace is a mysterious region (1 Pet. 1:12). Even to the strong Angels it is mysterious. And an anxiety is felt in the heavenly realms for a solution of this dark enigma of earth. Now, the research of the whole non-Christian spirit-world in regard to the great enigma of the world’s history might itself be called a mighty Angel. The longing of all spirits and all men cannot solve this enigma, and it sends out its demand for a solution into the universe. And hence beneath the unmistakable proclamatory office of the strong Angel, whose voice must pierce the whole world (Vitringa and others), we hear the cry of the entire world of spirits for the coming of the looser of the seals. Without this loosing [Lösung] there can be no complete releasing [Erlösung, redemption], as, on the other hand, the loosing is conditioned by the releasing [or redemption]. According to De Wette and Hofmann, the loosing of the seals is at the same time the execution of that which is sealed. But a great part of the book [scroll] is referable to the economy of the Father—not to that of the Son: we have reference especially to the red, the black, and the pale horse. Even the Rabbinic declaration: non facit Deus quidquam, donec illud intuitus fuerit in familia superiori, does not lead to the assumption which we have indicated.3

Who is worthy?—The history of the world in its eschatological tendency is unsealed only by the perfect ethical power resident in the Lamb.

To open the scroll and to loose the seals of it.—Is this a hysteron-proteron (De Wette)? We think not. The undertaking is first spoken of as a whole, and then its details are entered into. And, moreover, it is highly probable that there was something that bound the book [scroll] together as a whole.

Rev 5:3. Or under the earth.—All this is in perfect accordance with the real circumstances of the case. The angels know not sin; the spirits in Hades and the demons (under the earth) know not grace; and sinful men know not the depths of the contrast between sin and grace. According to Düsterdieck, the place under the earth denotes, not demons (Vitringa), but only departed souls. Why should demons be excluded, since they, most of all, are positively blind in regard to the issue of things?4

And no one was able.—This takes for granted numberless attempts.

Nor even [neither] to look upon it.—Düsterdieck: “The seeing resultant upon the opening; hence, the seeing, within it.” This would be a great deal and would lie beyond the opening, whilst it is intimated that the inspecting precedes the opening. Most creatures dare not so much as look well at the problem, and none thoroughly recognizes it as a Divine book.

Rev 5:4. And I wept much.—Hengstenberg, who is apt to see judgment everywhere, has even accused the weeping John of weak faith (p. 302); upon which view Ebrard sarcastically expatiates. It is particularly remarkable that Hengstenberg can conceive of a pusillanimous weeping as compatible with a condition of inspired vision. In this vision, John the Seer sees himself weeping as a bishop, and the weeping bishop has a right to weep. How could he receive a communication concerning the whole history of the worlds—a communication which exalted the most terrible things, war, famine, death’s rule in the world’s history, the great martyr history, and the dread trumpet tones of the world’s evening, into one triumphal procession of Christ—how could he, we repeat, receive such a disclosure without tears? Perfect faith in the glorified Christ in the centre of the world did not exclude the law that the universal consequences of His glorification must be unfolded in a grand sequence of stages, amid the most painful apostolic and reformatory struggles!5

Rev 5:5. One of the Elders.—The spirit of literalism has given birth to unsupported definitions of this Elder as Matthew or Peter (of course it is taken for granted that one or the other of these Apostles is already glorified).

Behold.—This, according to Düsterdieck, has reference to the beholding of the Lamb, in Rev 5:6.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath conquered.—John is to see, as he never has done before, the full consequence of Christ’s victory in its relation to the grand enigma of the world’s history.

Interpretations: 1. Christ has obtained the power of opening the book (ἐνίκησεν ἀνοῖξαι, Bengel, Ewald and others). 2. Absoluteness of Christ’s victory (Ebrard and others).

The text is, however, no mere declaration of Christ’s worthiness to open the book. The opening of all seals is the consequence of absolute victory. For the sealing is a judgment, ensuant upon the darkening of the mystery of the world into an obscure and forbidding enigma by sin.6 Consequently, victory over the power of darkness is the condition of the loosing of the seals.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.—The promise of the Protevangel to the effect that the Seed of the woman should crush the serpent’s head, was further modified by the prophecy which constituted Judah the typical conqueror, the victorious Lion (Gen. 49:9). The fact that in the passage cited Judah was designated merely as a type, is brought out in our text by the additional clause: the Root of David. These latter words are expressive of the further explication of the type, in respect of its genealogical kernel, in David, the warlike and victorious prince; in other words, it is intimated, that the Incarnation of Christ was the innermost motive power of the Christological significancy of David (Is. 11:10), and consequently that the type of the Lion of Judah has found its true fulfillment.

The whole designation of Christ is a profound Christological saying, which neither refers alone to the human descent of the Saviour (Düsterdieck), nor to His Divine nature simply (Calov.). A reference to the hewn-down stem of the Davidic house, in accordance with Is. 11:1, is applicable here only as a collateral thought. [Alford thus comments: “The root of David (comp. Rom. 15:12 with Is. 11:1, 10), i. e. the branch or sucker come up from the ancient root, and so representing it: not as Calov., al., the Divine root which brought forth David, to which Vitringa also approaches very near: for the evident design here is to set forth Christ as sprung from the tribe of Judah and lineage of David, and His victory as His exaltation through suffering.”—E. R. C.].

Rev 5:6. And I saw [Lange: And lo7] in the midst of the Throne.—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 149]. The vision of the Seer expands, and lo! Christ appears, in wondrous contrast to the ideas which a Judaistic conception of the Lion of Judah, the ideal David, might entertain. This contrast is strikingly brought out (after Bengel) by Ebrard: “Now comes this Lion, the Mighty One, Whom none is able to resist,—the Victor par excellence. How terrible must be His aspect! But lo! a Lamb (ἀρνίον) appears in the stead of the Lion, and that ὡς ἐσφαγμένον. This is the battle whereby the Lion has overcome, viz.: that He has suffered Himself to be slain as a Lamb. It is only in the omnipotence of all-suffering love that the greatness of Omnipotence could be proved.”

Superfluous interpretations of the diminutive ἀρνίον see cited by Düsterdieck. [“The use of ἀρνίον, the diminutive, as applied to our Lord, is peculiar to the Apocalypse. It is difficult to say what precise idea is meant to be conveyed by this form … possibly, as De W., it may be to put forward more prominently the idea of meekness and innocence.” ALFORD. As there was manifestly an intended contrast between the announced Lion and the appearing Lamb, may it not have been intended to bring out more vividly, not merely His meekness and innocence, but His extreme natural feebleness?—E. R. C.]

The Lamb stands in the middle of the space enclosed, on the inner side, by the Throne and the four Life-forms [Living-beings], and on the outer side by the circle of Elders. Thus Düsterdieck, De Wette, Hengstenberg, whilst Ebrard, on the other hand, conceives of the Lamb as seated in the midst of the Throne, and also in the midst of the circle of Elders. “A truly monstrous idea,” observes Düsterd., who justly cites the Hebrew בֵין־וּבֵין.8 This arrangement moreover, distinctly proves that the four Life-forms are not four representatives of the creature, but that they can be only four Ground-forms of the Divine governance which is embraced in the Lamb, as are also the Seven Spirits which, therefore, likewise stand between God and Christ.9) [“The words (ἐν μέσῳ) seem to indicate the middle point before the Throne; whether on the glassy sea (De Wette) or not does not appear; but certainly not on the Throne, from what follows in the next verse. Ἐν μέσῳ is repeated as ἀναμέσον in Levit. 27:12, 14.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

[Standing.—“The Lamb is here represented as standing, as having been slain (comp. Isa. 53:7; Jer. 11:19). Although Christ was slain, yet He stands. He was not overthrown. On the contrary, by falling He stood.” WORDSWORTH.—E. R. C.]

As it had been slain.—Düsterdieck, in accordance with many others: “As one whose still visible scars indicate its having once been slain.” The completion of the Biblical delineation of the Lamb, see Rev 1:18.

Seven horns and seven eyes.—See the SYNOPTICAL VIEW [p. 149]. Comp. the Concordances. Seven world-historical manifestations of Christ in forms of power; seven world-historical manifestations in forms of spirit (the Lights). Against the combination made by Bede and others, according to whom the seven horns as well as the seven eyes are included in the explanation—which are the Seven Spirits, etc.—see Düsterd., p. 242. The Spirits here do, undoubtedly, seem to be manifestations of the spiritual life of Christ in the narrower sense of the term, and should, we think, be apprehended as Spirits of truth, knowledge. In accordance with their position in Rev 1., however, they also represent the specific mighty governance of Christ; 10; Michael, among the Archangels, appears as the symbol of His mighty rule. The septenary denotes perfect holy working, as the number three is significant of holy being.

Sent forth.—See Zech. 4:10.

[Seven horns.—“The horn is the well-known emblem of might; comp. 1 Sam. 2:20; 1 Kings 22:11; Pss. 112:9; 148:14; Dan. 7:7, 20 sqq., 8:3 sqq.; Rev 17:3 sqq. The perfect number seven represents that all power is given unto Him in Heaven and earth, Matt. 28:18. And seven eyes, etc., which eyes represent the watchful, active operation of God’s Spirit poured forth through the death and by the victory of the Lamb, upon all flesh and all creation. The weight of the whole sentence lies in the predicative anarthrous participle, ἀπεσταλμένα. As the seven burning lamps before the Throne represented the Spirit of God immanent in the Godhead, so the seven eyes of the Lamb represent the same Spirit in His sevenfold perfection, profluent, so to speak, from the incarnate Redeemer; busied in His world-wide energy; the very word ἀπεσταλμένα reminding us of the Apostolic work and Church.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.]

Rev 5:7. And He came.—Expressive of the calmest decision and certainty. Since the great action of the Lamb is in question, εἴληφεν can not be reduced to a passive receiving. Λαμβάνειν has in general in the New Testament a considerable ethical weight.

Rev 5:8. When He had taken; ὅτε ἔλαβεν.—[See SYNOPTICAL VIEW, p. 149.]

In11 place of the antiphony, Rev 4. [8, 11], sustained by the four Living-beings and the Elders, in praise of the Creator and the creation, we have here a three-fold choral song in glorification of the Redeemer, the Redemption, and that transfiguration of the obscure and gloomy history of the world issuing from the Redemption. The order of succession in this chorus is very significant. First resounds the song of praise of the four Life-forms [Living-beings] and the Elders; then the song of the Angels (Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12); after that the song of all creatures (Ps. 148; Rom. 8). If the four Life-forms [Living-beings] were representatives of nature, nature would here twice strike up the song of praise, in one case in advance of the Angels. It may, indeed, be questioned: how can the four Life-forms [Living-beings] fall down before the Lamb if they denote Fundamental Forms of the Divine governance? But we might also query: how can Christ send forth the Seven Spirits that yet do stand between God and Him? All these manifestations, however, are, as individual forms of revelation, subordinated to the Lamb in His unity and in the unity of His highest decisive deed; and that with the expression of the freest homage. And the real beginning of every creaturely song of praise must proceed from Divine operations themselves.

[Fell down before the Lamb.—They render to Him Divine honor; comp. Rev 4:10.—E. R. C.]

Having every one a harp [lute].—The playing upon the cither or harp is limited to the Elders; the Greek reads: ἔχοντες ἕκαστος. On the difference between the cither and the harp, see Winer, MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. See Rev 14:2; 15:2. [Also Kitto’s Cyclopædia, and Smith’s Dict. of the Bible.—E. R. C.]

And golden vials12 full of incense.—Each cither, or lute, is proportioned to the individual who holds it, and belongs to him alone; the golden vials are alike; hence the plural in the case of the latter, though each might have his vial as well as his lute. These vials are full of incense, and the explanation reads: αἵ εἰσιν αι̇ προσευχαὶ τῶν ἁγίων. Though αἵ may by attraction relate to θυμιάματα is more probable that its reference is to the vials, since these forms, these measures of precious metal (intrinsic value) are an essential part of the matter. [“Αἵ might well have θυμιαμάτων for its antecedent, being feminine to suit προσευχαί below; but it is perhaps more likely that φιάλας is its antecedent—each vial being full of incense.” ALFORD. So also Wordsworth. Far more natural does it seem to refer the αἵ, with Barnes, to θυμιαμάτων, thus bringing the passage into correspondence with Ps. 141:2, “Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense,” and with the apparent meaning of the incense offered in the Temple.—E. R. C.]

Here, too, commentators violate common sense in the effort to grasp both items [the harp and the vial] at once. Ebrard: The κιθάρα is supported by the knees and operated upon by one hand (without its falling?), whilst the other presents the φιάλη. Düsterdieck: “In the right hand the vial, whilst the left holds the cither.” How then could they play? The like arrangements of Biblical facts are of frequent occurrence; for instance, De Wette makes the Lamb stand on the sea of glass. Symbolism gives both attributes to the Elders without insisting upon the idea that each one manages both harp and vial at each and every instant. Hengstenberg remarks that the harps, in conjunction with the songs of praise, refer chiefly to praise, and the golden vials to supplicatory prayers.

On the ungrounded application of the passage to the establishment of the Catholic doctrine of the intercession of saints, or to the support of the practice of invoking their intercession, compare Düsterdieck, p. 244. Luther did not deny, he says, that the members of the Church Triumphant pray for those of the Church Militant. The text, however, does not exactly bear upon this point.13 That which we gather from the words under examination, is that the prayers of the saints on earth are inclosed in the holy measure of the golden vials; that they are by the ideal Church divested of their earthly, unbounded, and immoderate affections. As God beholds all mankind in the most special sense in Christ, so, too, He views the earthly Church in the light of the ideal Church, which is its aim. It is justly remarked, in this connection, that the twenty-four Elders are symbolical forms.14 On the other hand, the view of Hengstenberg and Bengel, who understand the saints already in Heaven to be included in our passage, is productive of confusion.

In reference to these prayers, the posture of the Elders is different from that of the Angel with the censer, Rev 8:3. That Angel seems to gather the prayers of the saints together, and to supplement them precisely as the Holy Ghost is declared to do in Rom. 8:28. The prayers are thus made perfectly acceptable, and hence the same exalted Angel takes charge of the granting of them, filling the emptied censer with fire from the altar, i. e., with flames of the Divine judgment of the Spirit, and pouring its contents upon the earth—a proceeding productive of voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and earthquake, stirring forces which promote the process of consummation going on in the earth.

Rev 5:9–14. [See under Rev 5:8, p. 158.] Let us first compare this first choir with the second and third, and then examine the three anthems.

The second choir is composed of Angels, the heavenly host (1 Kings 22:19). And I beheld and heard, says the Seer. This does not mean: he saw, that is, he heard; but it probably indicates that the survey of the infinite array of spirits recedes behind the distinct perception of their song. The circular arrangement of this celestial army first demands our notice; all of the vast array are related to the little inner circle, that centre of the history of salvation. Observe next their infinite number: myriads consisting of myriads, and thousands consisting of thousands. According to Bengel, the addition of the smaller numeral denotes a limitation of the whole number; according to Hengstenberg, it indicates that distinctions vanish in the case of immense numbers. Düsterdieck, on the other hand, says: ‘The anti-climax (comp. Ps. 68:17) signifies that the first and greater number is not sufficient.”

Rev 5:13. And every creature.—[“The chorus of assenting praise from creation itself.” ALFORD.—E. R. C.] The third choir is formed of the sphere of creatures generally, in four divisions or regions (Bengel). The three-fold. division in Phil. 2:10 has reference exclusively to the spirit world; the four-fold division here, with its world-numeral, relates to creatures in general. As the spirit-world is already represented in the first two choirs, we cannot, with Alcasar, regard the term in Heaven as referring to Christians. As the song of praise of this choir is a matter-of-fact one, à-Lapide’s explanation, to the effect that sun, moon and stars are meant (included), is not to be rejected. The heavenly beings, as well as beatified saints (Düsterd.), are represented in the first and second choirs. In respect to the earth, Düsterdieck regards all other creatures as intended together with men. It is justly denied that demons (Vitringa) are here denoted by the creatures under the earth; reference is had to the realms of the dead [to Hades, where demons are not (see Excursus on Hades, p. 364 sqq.)—E. R. C.].

Upon the sea.—On Patmos John had a lively view of creatures which live upon the sea rather than in it; we have reference particularly to sea birds, and flying fish.

The first choir [Rev 5:9, 10] represents the whole knowledge of the New Testament, and magnifies it in a new song. From the wording of the song it would seem that the four Life-forms joined in it. As, however, the anthem is sung to the music of the harps, and the harps are the property of the Elders, the above assumption becomes somewhat dubious. But then the question arises: how can the Elders sing of the redemption without including themselves if they too have a part in it? Be it observed that an Apocalyptic Heaven-picture always has reference to a subsequent earth-picture. Thus our song of praise relates to Rev 6, especially to the Martyrs amid the sufferings of the earthly time. They are ransomed to God with the blood of the Lamb by the redemption. And these very ones who in the earth-picture appear under the altar as souls of the slain, crying for recompense, appear in the Heaven-picture as the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of true Christian kings who already (dynamically) reign upon earth—not merely shall reign (βασιλεύουσιν in accordance with Cod. A. etc.15). They reign on earth as God’s Kingdom, but not as individual kings: yet their common rule on earth is mediated by their individual priesthood.16 As a matter of course, the Elders do not exclude themselves from the redemption; their expression, however, is concrete in reference to the Church Militant on earth.17 The worthiness of the Lamb to unseal the book [scroll] is deduced from His redemptive act; and justly so, for it alone solves the enigmas of the world’s history. [Is not the reason rather, that, by His redemptive act, He has conquered to become “Head over all things” (comp. Phil. 2:8, 9; Eph. 1:20–22)?—E. R. C.]

The Elders sing a new song18 (sing), for the redemption is a matter of their enraptured experience. The Angels, on the other hand, are moved by adoration and sympathy; therefore they say with a loud voice, in a sort of recitative, as we understand it. The collective creatures of the universe, again, are simply described as saying. This saying is, of course, also dexological.

Again, the song of the Angels [Rev 5:12] is in harmony with their stand point. For them, the idea of the redemption recedes behind that of holy suffering. Because the Lamb was slain, i. e. humbled Himself to such a degree, He is worthy to receive majesty (i. e. glory and dominion) in the spiritual world such as is exalted far above that which is possessed by even them, the Angels (Eph. 1; Phil. 2). This majesty unfolds itself in three predicates of inner essence and three of outward appearance. The exalted Christ is, in the first place, rich in life; secondly, He is the wise Governor of His great Kingdom; and, thirdly, He possesses all requisite power. Hence, in the first place, He is worthy of all infinite honor; secondly, His dominion is an apparent spiritual glory; and, thirdly, His praise is sung by the whole world of spirits.19

The song of the creature-world rightly refers to the Creator, Him who sitteth upon the Throne. But even the creature-world is acquainted with Christ’s import to the creation. For it, however, the death of Christ recedes, giving place to the calm ground-tone of His Logos rule. He is magnified with the Enthroned One as the Lamb. And in harmony with the world-numeral four, the creatures utter four eulogies.

The sublimest doxology of all is the ascription of praise [blessing] in the region of conscious creatures. Next comes the ascription of honor from all living things. Next, the loveliness and magnificence of all beautiful creations in the Cosmos [glory]. The conclusion is formed by the glorification of God’s power in the whole universe. And thus it is to be into the æons of the æons, say the creatures. They speak thus, first, because they are under the law of temporality, and have a sense of the greatness of eternity; and, secondly, because they are destined to an eternal development reaching into the æons.

Finally, it is exceedingly significant that the four Life-forms [Living-beings] utter an Amen to the whole heavenly cultus, while the twenty-four Elders, falling down, are plunged in adoration.

In regard to the seven eulogies of the Angels, Bengel thinks that they should be uttered like one single word, on account of the one article at the beginning; he also regards them as referring to the seven seals. We prefer to take them as different views of the spirit-world.

The hypothesis that the four Life-forms utter the Amen on account of their comparatively meaner position (an idea of Hengstenberg’s) needs but a passing mention.

[ADDITIONAL NOTE ON THE LIVING-BEINGS (Rev 4:6).—It is generally conceded, that the Ζῶα are the same as the heavenly Cherubim of the Old Testament. Not only is the term (Ζῶα) the one that is employed by Ezekiel, Rev 1:5 (LXX.), to designate those whom he afterwards declared to be the Cherubim, Rev 10:1 sqq., etc.; but the general appearance, the position, and the office of the Living-beings of both Testaments are the same (comp. Rev. 4:6–8; Ezek. 1:5–10; 10:1 sqq. See also the description of the Seraphim, Isa. 6:2, 3, with whom many of the most judicious commentators identify them). On the subject of their nature, however, there is great diversity of opinion. It is generally agreed that they are Mediate symbols; but beyond this there is unexampled diversity. They have been explained as—1. Individual-mediate symbols of (1) the Four Evangelists, (2) the Four greatest Fathers of the Church, etc. 2. Classical symbols of (1) the Church Militant (Mede and Elliot), (2) the Ministers of the Church on earth (Daubuz), (3) eminent Ministers and Teachers of every Age (Vitringa), (4) glorified Saints who have been raised to special eminence (Lord), (5) Saints who are to attend Jehovah as Assessors in the Judgment (Hammond), (6) the Church Triumphant (Bush), (7) the forms of animated nature (Alford). 3. Aberrant symbols of (1) Divine Attributes (Stuart), (2) the Four Cardinal Virtues, (3) the Four Fundamental Forms of Divine Government (Lange), etc.

This diversity indicates utter uncertainty in the mind of commentators as to the Scriptural idea of the Cherubim. This uncertainty, in the judgment of the Am. Ed., is due primarily to the corrupted form of the doxology in Rev 5:9, 10; and is itself, in great measure, the cause (not the result) of that confusion of thought which prevails in the Church on the entire subject of Symbolism. The effort will be made to show the truth of both these positions.20

It will be generally admitted, that the apparent force, not only of the Heaven-scene set forth in chs. 4, 5 but of the language and descriptions of the entire Apocalypse is (1) to place the Living-beings on the same platform as to reality of existence with the Elders and Angels (if these are symbols, then are the Ζῶα symbols; if these are real persons, then so are the Ζῶα); and (2) to suggest the idea, in reference to all these objects, that they are heavenly Persons. (The idea that the Angels and the Cherubim are persons seems also to be implied throughout the Old Testament; the Elders, at least by that name, are not mentioned therein.) Whilst, however, it is generally conceded that the Angels and Elders are persons, it is also generally held that the Ζῶα are mere symbols. Whence arises this apparently unauthorized variance?

This question cannot be answered by a reference to the admitted fact that the objects immediately beheld by the Seer (the simulacra) were symbols. This, in a sense, is true; but (1) it was also true in the case of the Angels and the Elders; it consequently does not explain the variance; and (2) it is not true that the simulacra beheld by John were symbols in the sense in which that term is ordinarily employed—in the sense, for instance, in which the Lamb was the symbol of Jesus. There is an ambiguity here, resulting from the generally unappreciated fact that there are two essentially distinct classes of symbols. A moment’s reflection should convince any man that whilst the Lamb was a symbol of Christ, there was back of this in the vision of the Lamb itself, the same distinction of simulacrum and object of representation that existed in the vision of the Ζῶα. In the vision of the Lamb not only was there a double symbolization, but a symbol of one class was charged upon that of another. The meaning of the writer may be made clear by the following diagram:


I. A simulacrum, representing       an Angel. Ζῶα.

II. A simulacrum, representing a Lamb, representing Christ.

By this diagram the fact and importance of the distinction between Immediate and Mediate symbols, presented in the Preliminary Note, p. 146, is made visibly manifest. In ordinary language (and in ordinary thought) the simulacrum drops entirely out of view, and the Seer is said to behold, not the simulacrum, but the object it represents.

Nor can the variance be explained by a reference to the probable fact that the simulacra of the Ζῶα were ideal as to form. It is probable that the simulacra of the Angels were also ideal; and it is certain that the undescribed Form upon the Throne was so—we do not thence conclude that the BLESSED ONE whom that Form indicated (Rev 4:2, 3) must have been a Symbol. (And here becomes manifest the importance of the distinction between Similar and Ideal Symbols. See p. 146.)

Nor, again, is it in the least supported (not to say explained) by the admitted fact that mere (Mediate) Symbols are introduced into the Heaven-scene—as, for instance, the Lamps symbolizing the Holy Spirit, and the Lamb representing Christ; for (1) these are not associated with the Angels, Elders, and Ζῶα, as the Angels, Elders, and Ζῶα are associated with each other; and (2) the symbol of the Lamps was declared to be a symbol by the fact that it was explained, and that of the Lamb, the previously recognized symbol of Christ, needed no explanation—in the case of the Ζῶα there is no intimation, either in this narrative, or any where else in the Scriptures, that they symbolized any thing.

The only satisfactory explanation of the variance is the one suggested above, viz.: that if the Ζῶα did take part in a doxology that ascribed their redemption to Christ, whatever be the apparent force of the implications of Scripture to the contrary, they must be symbols either of individual redeemed men, or of classes of redeemed men. And so, in effect, commentators must have argued in the days when the text of the Recepta was universally accepted. And thus the idea became established in the Church that the Cherubim, the Ζῶα, could not be heavenly persons—that they must be mere symbols.

But what do they symbolize? On this point there is not the slightest intimation given in the Word of God. The whole matter seems relegated to the imagination of commentators. The proof of these assertions is to be found, not only in the multitudinous and contradictory explanations given by able men, but in the entire lack of Scriptural evidence adduced as supporting any specific view. On the platform of the Recepta, the Ζῶα are the Sphynx of the Bible.

It should here be observed that the very necessity of adopting a conclusion in this important instance, in the face of the apparent implications of the language and scenic descriptions of the Scripture, together with the entire lack of Scriptural explanation of the (supposed) symbol, necessarily precludes any true scientific investigation of the subject of Symbolism. Such an investigation can be made only on the basis of those implications which the compelled conclusion virtually declares to be deceptive, and of those explanations which in the most important instance manifestly do not exist. The idea that the Ζῶα are mere Symbols plunges the whole subject of Symbolism into inextricable confusion—it involves the further idea that the entire symbolization of the Scripture is without order, at least without order discoverable by us.

It may, however, be remarked by some that our author is free from the alleged trammels of the Recepta; he accepts as genuine that form of the doxology which does not imply that those who united in it had any necessary connection with the redeemed race, and yet he regards the Living-beings as Symbols. In answer it may be said, that every observer of the course of human thought must have perceived that a generally established idea will often, in measure, linger, even in the mightiest minds, after the foundation on which it was reared has been swept away. To this, it is with the greatest deference suggested, may be due the position of Lange on this subject. He saw clearly (the fact is patent) that the correction of the doxology released him from the necessity of regarding the Ζῶα as symbols of human beings, and he took a forward step; but, reared under the influence of the universally accepted idea that the Living-beings must be mere symbols, and not perceiving the concealed truth, that the corrected doxology logically releases from this position also, he failed to take a second. The step he has taken is a mighty one in advance. It is preparatory, if not essential, to another, viz., that the Ζῶα are not Symbols at all—not Symbols of the Fundamental Forms of Divine Government, but personal Ministers thereof. This view, which subsidizes all of truth that our author has with so much power and beauty elaborated, is respectfully submitted for consideration. It is submitted in the belief that, upon reflection, it will be seen to be, not only more consistent with the apparent force of Scripture language and description than the one presented by Lange, but also absolutely essential to a consistent scientific scheme of the great subject of Scripture Symbolism.

The ideal forms of these glorious ministers of Jehovah, who stand nearest the Throne, are doubtless symbolic. So far as those forms are common to all, they are doubtless symbolic of their common attributes of knowledge, wisdom, and power; and so far as they are peculiar, they are representative of their peculiar characteristics and ministries. The question is suggested for consideration, whether the key to their respective ministries (ministries in accordance with their characteristics, as symbolized by their personal appearance) may not be found in the characteristics of the four seals, at the opening of which they respectively officiated. (See foot-note on p. 179).

In conclusion, it may be remarked, concerning the number four attributed to them, that two hypotheses are possible. The first, that it is natural, i. e., indicative of the actual number of these heavenly Ministers in the realms of Nature; the second, that it is ideal, drawn from the precedent symbolic number of nature (four), and thus symbolic of their relation to nature. The judgment of the writer inclines to the adoption of the former of these, both because of the relation of the Ζῶα to the first four seals, and because this view manifestly presents a reason why four should have been selected as the number of nature.—E. R. C.]


[1][See foot-note on p. 149.—E. R. C.]

[2][“The epithet ἰσχυρόν is by no means superfluous, but corresponds to the φωνῇ μεγάλῃ below, which, as appears by what followed, penetrated Heaven and earth and Hades”—ALFORD. This is one of the passages which indicate that there are grades of angelic beings.—E. R. C.]

[3][That the loosing involved the symbolic execution of that which was sealed, seems to be clear. John beheld in vision (by symbols) that which was afterwards to be (in reality); (comp. Rev 4:1 with the frequent recurrence of εἶδον). The fact stated by Lange cannot invalidate this conclusion. The “economy of the Father” was, so to speak, the platform on which the actions of the Son were wrought; in order to the unfolding of the latter there must have been, of necessity, an unfolding, to some degree, of the former, just as in the unfolding of a writing there must be the unfolding of the parchment on which it is inscribed.—E. R. C]

[4][See Excursus on Hades, p. 364 sqq.—E. R. C.]

[5][As in the SYNOPTICAL VIEW, Lange here takes for granted that the Seer knew before the disclosure. He wept, not because of the woes that were to be (of these as yet he knew nothing), but because no one was found worthy to open the seals—to make the disclosure. See SYNOPTICAL VIEW and foot note, p. 149.—E. R. C.]

[6][What is the proof of this assertion? And if it be true in reference to men, how came the scroll to be sealed in reference to sinless angels? It should be remarked in continuance, however, that there can be no doubt that the right and power of the God-man to open the seals, which is but a mode of representing His supreme authority over all things, is the result of His victory over the power of darkness and sin and death.—E. R. C.]


[8][Düsterdieck’s comment, in our opinion, has special reference to Ebrard’s conception of the Lamo as sitting. It is thus that he quotes and italicizes Ebrard: “Das Lamm erscheint mitten im Thron, so dass es zu gleicher Zeit im Centrum der vier lebenden Wesen und im Centrum der aussen herumsitzenden, einen weiter concentrischen Kreis bildenden, 24 Aeltesten sitzt.” He then gives utterance to the comment cited by Lange: “eine wahrhaft ungeheuerliche Vor-tellung (with this addition—the italics are our own—): das Lamm mitten im Throne sitzend.” Lange, by his peculiar representation of Ebrard’s view and his suppression of the italics in sitzt, and also by his immediate introduction of the Hebrew term, which Düsterdieck does not cite in direct connection with Ebrard, makes the latter commentator the author of an utter absurdity, viz., the assumption that the Lamb could sit in two places at once.—TR.]

[9][See Additional Note on the Living-Beings, p. 161 sq.—E. R. C.]

[10][See comment and additional foot-note under Rev 1:5, p. 91.—E. R. C.]

[11][The proper place of this paragraph would seem to be under the following verse. As, however, there are allusions in it to this verse, the Am. Ed. has not felt at liberty to transpose it.—E. R. C.]

[12][“The word vial, with us, denoting a small, slender bottle with a narrow neck, evidently does not express the idea here. The article here referred to was used for offering incense, and must have been a vessel with a large, open mouth. The word bowl or goblet would better express the idea, and it is so explained by Prof. Robinson, Lex., and by Prof. Stuart, in loc.BARNES. The criticism is undoubtedly correct. Since, however, the word vial is so inwrought into the religious literature and thought of the English speaking people, and as no material interest is affected by its retention in the text, it is deemed expedient to retain it. Similar remarks might be made in reference to the retention of the term harp.—E. R. C.]

[13][From this passage Stuart derives the opinion that prayer is offered by the redeemed in Heaven. (See Barnes, in loc.) This doctrine cannot be regarded as established by this Scripture; it is however, consistent with it, and seems naturally to flow from it. It may further be said that the doctrine referred to does not involve the utterly unscriptural idea that prayer may be offered to glorified saints, nor is it inconsistent with aught elsewhere taught in the Word of God.—E. R. C.]

[14][See foot-note on p. 152.—E. R. C.]


[16][The idea that the Saints are to reign as mere subjects (i.e. to be kings without authority over others) seems to he inconsistent with (1) the essential idea of reigning, which is to exercise authority over others; (2) the express intimations of the word of God; comp. Dan. 7:22, 27; Luke 22:29, 30, etc. (see EXCURSUS ON THE BASILEIA ii. 1, (4), (6), p. 98 ). The requirements of the first of these positions might apparently be satisfied by saying that the glorified saints, being freed from the dominion of Satan and sin, are to reign over themselves. The requirement of the second, however, cannot thus, even in appearance, be satisfied. If it be asked, Over whom are the Saints to reign? it may be answered, (1) Some, as superior Rulers, over their brethren (see Luke 22:29, 30, etc.); and (2) all, as kings, over the human races to be born after the establishment of the Basileia, and, perchance, over other races throughout the universe. Speculation as to this last point, however, not only as to answer, but as to question, should be restrained.—E. R. C.]

[17][See foot-note to Rev 5:4, p. 152.—E. R. C.]

[18] [Sing.—“why present? Is it because the sound still lingered in his ears? Or, more probably, as describing their special and glorious office generally, rather than the mere one particular case of its exercise?” ALFORD.

New song.—“New, in the sense that it is a song consequent upon redemption, and distinguished therefore from the songs sung in Heaven before the work of redemption was consummated. We may suppose that songs of adoration have always been sung in Heaven; … but the song of redemption was a different song, and is one that would never have been sung there if man had not fallen, and if the Redeemer had not died.” BARNES.—E. R. C.]

[19][The above arrangement of the particulars of the ascription seems to the Am. Ed. not only to have no foundation in the text, but to be inconsistent therewith; for (1) the force of the single article placed before the first particular is to bind all together as one word (so Bengel and Alford); and (2) δυναμις cannot be regarded as a generic term (meaning majesty), inclusive of those that follow as representatives of specific excellencies. The true idea seems to be that we have here a seven-fold (indicating completeness or perfection) ascription of glory.—E. R. C.

[20][It should here be remarked that, to prevent confusion, the generally accepted terminology will be used throughout this argument. The hope may also be here expressed, that, as incidental results of the argument, the importance of a classification of symbols similar to the one given in the Preliminary Note (p. 145 sqq.), and of the employment of a scientific terminology, will be apparent.—E. R. C.]

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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