Monday, May 30, 2011

Revelation 4, The Heavenly Worship (The Study of the Apocalypse)

Introduction For Chapters 4 and 5

Beale* states that the overall allusion in chapters 4 and 5 are to Daniel 7 with allusions to Ezekiel 1-2. He states that the Ezekiel allusions fade after 5:2, but the allusions to Daniel 7 continue.

     1 After these things I looked1, and behold, an opened2 door3 in heaven, and the first voice I had heard which was like a trumpet speaking with me4 said5, “Come up here, and I will show you what must come6 after these things.” 2 Immediately, I was7 in the Spirit, and behold, a throne8 was laid out9 in heaven and there was one sitting on the throne.10 3 And the one who was sitting was similar in appearance to a jasper11 stone and carnelian12 . A rainbow13, similar in appearance to an emerald, encircled the throne.14 4 And encircled around the throne were twenty-four thrones15, and on the thrones were twenty-four elders16 sitting clothed17 in white18 and had golden crowns on their heads. 5 And lightning, voices, and thunder were coming out19 from the throne, and seven lamps of fire are burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God20. 6 There was a glass sea like crystal before the throne.21
     And in the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures22 covered with23 eyes24 from front to back25. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature was like a ox26, the third living creature had the face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like an flying eagle.27  8 And each of28 the four living creatures had six wings29 and were covered with eyes all around and from the inside30. They didn’t stop31 day or night saying:

     “Holy, Holy, Holy is 
     the Lord God Almightly,32 
     the One who was, the One who is, and the One who is coming.”33

     9 And whenever the living creatures give34 glory, honor, and thanks to the one who is sitting on the throne who lives forever, 10 the twenty- four elders fall down35 before the one who is sitting on the throne and worship36 the one who lives forever and throw37 their crowns38 before the throne39 saying:

     11 “You are worthy our Lord and God
     to receive the glory, the honor, and the power 
     because you created all things, 
     and because of your will, they exist40 
     and were created.”

1 It is possible to translate this “After I saw these things”. If that is true, then the next “I saw” would have to be inferred. In other words, we would have to add another “I saw/I looked” to understand the passage.
“After I saw these these things, I looked, and behold..."

2 ἠνεῳγμένη (opened)

Greek: “having been opened”. This is actually a perfect participle that indicates that the door was open before John looked to see it.

     He has opened the door of heaven, not only of salvation but the door of understanding.

3 The word for door in Greek here is singular. Just as Jesus is the one way to heaven, so it there one door.

4 John is referring back to the voice that sounded as loud as a trumpet in 1:10. He’s not referring to a different voice or a second voice. It is the same voice that told him what to write to the seven churches.

     Whether Jesus Himself, or the voice of His angel, the voice likened to a trumpet proclaims the word of God.

5 λέγων (said) 

Greek: “saying”.

6 ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι (what must come) 

Greek: “what is necessary to come” or “what is necessary to become”.

     When Jesus was about to be baptized, He told John the baptism was necessary in order to fulfill all righteousness. This reflects the plan of God for salvation and the new creation, for the restoration of all things.

7 ἐγενόμην (was) 

Greek: “became”. I became in the Spirit. In other words, the Spirit was showing him the next vision.

     Jesus said that we must be reborn to see the kingdom of God. We are told that God is Spirit and He seeks worship that is in Spirit. It follows that the command and invitation to come into heaven is performed in Spirit.

8 In Thayer’s Greek Definitions, one of the definitions for throne says, “ a chair of state having a footstool.

In Matthew 5:35 earth is called “the footstool of His feet”. ESV

     Psalm 110:1 ESV 
1 “The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

     Not only does this word throne allude to the sovereignty of God, but it includes the brokenness of a fallen creation.

9 ἔκειτο (was laid out) 

In other words, it was set up there for the one who was sitting on it. It is 
also possible that the throne was “on” heaven as opposed to “in” heaven.

     This possible choice of translation can serve to remind us that God created heaven and earth. The Creator is not part of creation. The image of a throne speaks of His Kingship and authority.

10 The throne-room image is a collective OT imagery. Ezekiel 1:4-28; Isaiah 6:1-4; and Daniel 7:9-10. Osborne*** (Pg. 222).

Note that “there was one” must be added for clarification. John doesn’t name the one on the throne, nor does he even add a pronoun. The Greek states: καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος “and on the throne sitting”. Osborne*** says that John expects the reader to know who is sitting on the throne. (Pg. 226). I agree with him.

11 Jasper was green in color.

12 Carnelian was red in color.

13 ἶρις (rainbow)

This could also be translated as “halo”. The imagery suggests that there is an aura of light around the throne.

     This could signify the covenant of God, much like the rainbow of remembrance after the flood.

14 The three stones are used to show God’s splendor. Osborne*** (Pg. 228) and Beale* (Pg. 320).

     Three can serve to remind us of the divinity of the throne, for it is the number of the divine.

15 The twenty-four thrones are also in a circle around God’s throne. They are outside of the halo and the four living creatures.

     If the twenty-four thrones are outside of the halo, or rainbow, it may speak of those who have separated from earth who are not part of what is represented in the four living creatures. Perhaps they are the overcomers referred to by Jesus.

16 The twenty-four elders are heavenly beings whose primary responsibility is to worship and praise God. The will have other roles at the book unfolds. The significance of there being twenty-four of them are either 1. they represent the twenty-four priestly orders (1 Chronicles 24:4-5) or 2. they are a combination of the twelve OT patriarchs or of OT tribes of Israel and the twelve NT apostles. The second one is most likely. Beale* (Pg. 322) and Osborne*** (Pg. 229). Mounce** says that they are angels that are representing the twenty-four priestly orders. (Pgs. 136-137).

     It might be possible for several things to be true at the same time. Those in the kingdom are referred to as priests and kings. We are told that we will rule with Christ and are a holy people.

17 περιβεβλημένους (clothed) 

Greek: “having clothed themselves”.

     Part of working out our own salvation is in obeying God. Obedience in thought and deed is the fabric from which our heavenly garments are woven.

18 ἐν ἱματίοις λευκοῖς (in white)

Greek: “in white clothes”. The passage could have been translated: “wearing white clothes”. The white clothes represent purity.

19 ἐκπορεύονται (were coming out)

The verb is actually in the present tense and it carries a continual aspect. The lighting, the sounds, and the thunder keeps on coming out. It is a 
visual image of God as he was on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:16.  All of 
this imagery is to show God’s awesome power.

     Psalms 29:3

3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord is over many waters.

20 The seven-fold Spirit as seen in 1:4. See note there. An allusion to Zechariah 4:2-3, 10. Beale* (Pgs. 326-327).

     Exodus 25:37 
37 Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it.

     Jesus walked in the midst of lampstands, which was the Church as represented by the seven churches. The tabernacle was a shadow of the heavenly throne room.

21 This imagery is best described at the “expanse” or firmament that separated the waters in Genesis 1:7. This shows the “vastness” of God that separates him from his creation. Osborne*** (Pgs. 231-232) and Beale* 327. Beale also states that it is an allusion to Ezekiel 1:22.

     Here, there seems to be one sea. It might point to a creation where the waters are not separated by an expanse. Just as we are no longer separate peoples, but one people of one Spirit, the waters come together. It is untroubled and smooth, pure like crystal.

22 The imagery of the four living creatures is from Ezekiel 1. They probably represent creation, but are all seeing and are ready to do what God requires them to do.

     Adam was created of the earth and then received life with God’s breath, the last work of God before resting. From him came the nation of Israel. There were four divisions of Israel around the tabernacle in the desert. Whenever God moved, the people would break camp and set out. When God halted, they would likewise camp around the tabernacle, again in four groups. They were charged with doing what God required. In the last days a remnant of that people will obey His command as intended.

     The faces of the creatures reflect images associated with the four standards of the Israelite divisions surrounding the tabernacle.

23 γέμοντα (covered with) 

Greek: “full of”.

24 ὀφθαλμός * ophthalmos * of-thal-mos' * From G3700; the eye (literally or figuratively); by implication vision; figuratively envy (from the jealous side glance): - eye, sight. [LEX] [TGD] ὀφθαλμός ophthalmos

Thayer Definition: 
1) the eye 
metaphorically the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing 
Thayer’s Greek Definitions

     The eyes may reference the fullness of the Spirit and the understanding that comes as a result.

25 ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν (from front to back)

Greek: “from front and from behind”. In other words, the four creatures are “all seeing”.

26 Or a calf.

27 This imagery is taken from Ezekiel 1:5-6, 10-11. As to what the living creatures are, there is little to go on. We know from Revelation that they lead in worship of God and prepare for the judgement to come.

28 ἓν καθ ̓ ἓν αὐτῶν (each) 

Greek: “one according to one of theirs”.

29 The six wings come from Isaiah 6:2.

     The number six may harken back to the six days of creation. This coincides with the idea that the creatures represent creation and it is the number of man.

30 κυκλόθεν καὶ ἔσωθεν (all around and from the inside) 

The Greek here is clunky. Mounce** suggests that the eyes are all 
around and under the wings. (Pg. 138).

     If this is taken as a reference to the Spirit, it could explain why the eyes are also from the inside.
Also, the creatures are in the midst of the throne and around it.

31 καὶ ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν (They didn’t stop) 

Greek: “and they didn’t have to stop”. In other words, they never got 

32 The first part of this hymn is taken from Isaiah 6:3.

33 Here is the first of two hymns in the passage. The hymns sum up what this chapter is all about: God is to be worshipped because he is holy and sovereign. Beale* (Pg. 332).

34 δώσουσιν (give) 

Greek: “will give”. John has the verb in the future tense. This is a 
recurring theme of this passage.

35 πεσοῦνται (fall down) 

Greek: “will fall down”. The verb is in the future tense.

36 προσκυνήσουσιν (worship) 

Greek: “will worship” or “will pay homage to”. It is in the future tense.

37 βαλοῦσιν (throw) 

Greek: “will throw”. It is in the future tense.

38 στέφανος * stephanos * stef'-an-os 

     Crowns were promised to overcomers in many places in the New 

     James 1:12 
12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

39 The throwing down of the elders’ crowns shows God’s authority over the elders. It is an act of submission. Mounce** (Pg. 139).

40 ἦσαν (they exist)

The verb is actually in the imperfect and matches the following phrase “and were created”. This would be translated “they were existing and were created”. TR replaces ἦσαν with the present indicative εἰσὶ (they are” or “they exist”. One can see why a scribe would change the verb to a present tense verb.


NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)


The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)

(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger

(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)

*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale

**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce

***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace

++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule

+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick

A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

The Greek

Ἀποκάλυψις 4·1 Μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ θύρα ἠνεῳγμένη ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἡ φωνὴ ἡ πρώτη ἣν ἤκουσα ὡς σάλπιγγος λαλούσης μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ λέγων· ἀνάβα ὧδε, καὶ δείξω σοι ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα. Ἀποκάλυψις 4·2 Εὐθέως ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι, καὶ ἰδοὺ θρόνος ἔκειτο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον καθήμενος, 3 καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ὅμοιος ὁράσει λίθῳ ἰάσπιδι καὶ σαρδίῳ, καὶ ἶρις κυκλόθεν τοῦ θρόνου ὅμοιος ὁράσει σμαραγδίνῳ. 4 Καὶ κυκλόθεν τοῦ θρόνου θρόνους εἴκοσι τέσσαρες, καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς θρόνους εἴκοσι τέσσαρας πρεσβυτέρους καθημένους περιβεβλημένους ἐν ἱματίοις λευκοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτῶν στεφάνους χρυσοῦς. 5 Καὶ ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου ἐκπορεύονται ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταί, καὶ ἑπτὰ λαμπάδες πυρὸς καιόμεναι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου, ἅ εἰσιν τὰ ἑπτὰ πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ, 6 καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ὡς θάλασσα ὑαλίνη ὁμοία κρυστάλλῳ. Καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ κύκλῳ τοῦ θρόνου τέσσαρα ζῷα γέμοντα ὀφθαλμῶν ἔμπροσθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν. 7 καὶ τὸ ζῷον τὸ πρῶτον ὅμοιον λέοντι καὶ τὸ δεύτερον ζῷον ὅμοιον μόσχῳ καὶ τὸ τρίτον ζῷον ἔχων τὸ πρόσωπον ὡς ἀνθρώπου καὶ τὸ τέταρτον ζῷον ὅμοιον ἀετῷ πετομένῳ. 8 καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα ζῷα, ἓν καθ ̓ ἓν αὐτῶν ἔχων ἀνὰ πτέρυγας ἕξ, κυκλόθεν καὶ ἔσωθεν γέμουσιν ὀφθαλμῶν, καὶ ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς λέγοντες·
ἅγιος ἅγιος ἅγιος κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ, ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος.
9 Καὶ ὅταν δώσουσιν τὰ ζῷα δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν καὶ εὐχαριστίαν τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τῷ θρόνῳ τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, 10 πεσοῦνται οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι ἐνώπιον τοῦ καθημένου ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ βαλοῦσιν τοὺς στεφάνους αὐτῶν ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου λέγοντες· Ἀποκάλυψις 4·11 ἄξιος εἶ, ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν,
λαβεῖν τὴν δόξαν καὶ τὴν τιμὴν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν, ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας τὰ πάντα
καὶ διὰ τὸ θέλημά σου ἦσαν καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν.

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