Revelation Prophecy – Chapters 4 – 5

I. Video Data. 1

When we get to heaven will we see God with our own eyes?

II. Overview.

A. Here begins the third section of the book (see 1:19) describing what is yet future. This section can be divided into three parts: the coming Tribulation (chaps. 6-19), the Millennium (chap 20), and the new heavens and new earth (chaps. 21-22). 2

B. In Chapter 4, the primary focus is on God the Father, sitting on His throne, enjoying the worship of His creatures. In Chapter 5, the focus is on God the Son, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord Jesus Christ. 3 

C. In John’s first apocalyptic vision, the seven-sealed scroll arises in a heavenly vision setting that is dominated by a throne, more specifically by the one sitting on that throne. Chapter 4 focuses on God the Creator who delivers the seven-sealed scroll, and Chapter 5 on God (i.e., Christ) the Redeemer, the only one found worthy to take it and open the seals. 4 

D. The scene has changed from earth to heaven (4:1). The Apostle Paul was once caught up into the third heaven and saw things “not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:4). Now, John is caught up and is shown things he has already been commanded to communicate to men (1:1). Three things are impressed indelibly upon his mind. He sees an unforgettable throne, and unforgettable throng, and experiences an unforgettable thrill. 5 

E. These chapters (4-5) look to the future for the first time in the book and contain John’s initial description of heaven. He was caught up in a vision where he saw the Father and the Son in the midst of a host of angels. The Father received praise for His creation of the world, and the Son for His redeeming work on the cross. The original readers would have been comforted by understanding that, while their world was most uncertain, heaven was properly focused and stable. 6 

F. Chapters 4 and 5 are the introduction and background of the tremendous sweep of prophetic events predicted in the rest of the book. If chapter 4 and succeeding chapters relate to the future, they provide an important clue concerning the interpretation of the vision and the prophetic events which unfold in those chapters. One of the principal reasons for confusion in the study of the book of Revelation has been the failure to grasp this point. If Revelation has no chronological structure and is merely a symbolic presentation of moral truth, its prophetic significance is reduced to a minimum. If, as others hold, the predictions of this section of Revelation are already fulfilled in the early persecution of the church, it also robs the book of any prophecy of the future. 7

III. Scripture Text. Revelation Chapters 4 and 5. 8

IV. Verse Examination. 9

A. 4:2. “I was in the spirit,” as in the 1:10 post.

B. 4:4. “24 elders.” Some understand these to be angelic beings, though it is likely that the 24 elders represent redeemed people, who are glorified, crowned, and enthroned. Angels are never said to be given crowns, though believers are (2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10). 

C. 4:5. “7 Spirits of God,” as in the 1:4 post. 

D. 4:6. “4 living creatures,” or living ones. These may be angels, probably cherubim (cf. Ezek. 10:15-20), or they may be representations of the attributes of God, Himself (since they are said to be “in the center” of the throne).

E. 4:7. Many see a similarity between the 4 living ones and the fourfold manner in which Christ is portrayed in the Gospels. In Matthew He appears as the Lion of the tribe of Judah; in Mark He is the Servant who became the sacrifice for sin (the calf was a sacrificial animal, Heb 9:12, 19); Luke’s emphasis is on the Son of Man; and “a flying eagle” links Him with heaven, as does John’s gospel. 

F. 4:8-11. Here is a great anthem of praise by the 4 living ones and the 24 elders to God as creator. In 5:11-14 the focus of worship is on God as Redeemer.

G. 5:1. “a book.” Lit., a scroll. This may be called the “Book of Redemption,” as it contains the story of man’s fall through sin, and rise through Christ (Heb. 2:5-9). 

H. 5:5. “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah.” The noblest and victorious of the kingly tribe (cf. Gen. 49:9). “the Root of David.” The one who fulfills the covenant with David (cf. Isa. 11:1, 10). The messiah, John is assured, is competent and worthy to break the 7 seals and open the scroll to release the plagues.

I. 5:6. “as if slain.” Christ, the Lamb, bears the marks of His death (See Luke 24:40; John 20:20, 27) even in His glorified state. “horns” are a symbol of strength (cf. 1 Kings 22:11; Zech 1:18). 

J. 5:8. “bowls,” like saucers.

K. 5:9-10. The Lamb is worthy because He died in the past to pay the ransom price for the sins of the world, positioned  us in the present as a kingdom and priests before God, and gave us a promise of reigning on the earth in the future. A few mss. read “us” and “we” in verse 10 instead of “them” and “they.” In either case, the elders could be singing of their own redemption in either the first or third person. 

L. 5:13. All creation joins in praise to God and the Lamb.

M. 5:14. The heavenly scene of chaps. 4 and 5 give heaven’s perspective on the need for the awful judgments to follow, for Christ’s right to reign must be realized, and sin must be punished.

V. Additional Thoughts. The “redeemed” of Revelation 4:4.

A. The New Testament redeemed consists of those whom will be caught up in the resurrection and rapture of believers in Christ (John 14:2-6; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). 

B. The Old Testament redeemed will have already been taken to Heaven, per Ephesians 4:8. 10 

C. Job spoke of his redeemer (Job 19:25-27).

VI. Summary.

In these fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation we considered: 4:1 John’s vision of the throne of God in heaven, 4:4 and of the twenty-four elders around it. 4:10 The elders worship him that sits on the throne. 5:1 The book sealed with seven seals. 5:3 No man is able to open it. 5:5 The Lamb that was slain takes the book; whereupon the elders and angels around the throne join in thanksgiving and praise to him. 11

VII. Footnotes.

1. John Ankerberg Show.  Speakers: Drs. Ron Rhodes (Th. M., Th. D.), Ed Hindson (Th. M., Th. D., D. Min., Ph. D.), Mark Hitchcock (Th. M.; J. D., Ph. D.).

2. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016). Ryrie Study Bible.

3. Dr. David Hocking. Bachelor of Arts in Bible, Greek and Ancient History; Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies & Systematic Theology; Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies and Languages; Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Studies.

4. Dr. Robert L. Thomas (Th. M., Th. D.; 1928-2017). Revelation Commentary.

5. Dr. John Phillips (D. Min; 1927-2010) Revelation Commentary. 

6. Dr. Daniel D. Green (Th. M., D. Min.). The Moody Bible Commentary.

7. Dr. John F. Walvoord  (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Revelation Commentary. 

8. Scripture link pasted from Bible Gateway, New American Standard Bible.

9. Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016). Ryrie Study Bible.

10. Dr. John Phillips (D. Min; 1927-2010) Ephesians Commentary. 

11.  Dr. Orville J. Nave, Nave’s Study Bible, 1978 (D.D., LL. D., 1841-1917). Orville J. Nave (Editor), Anna Seamans Nave (Editor)

VIII. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.

IX. My Websites To Follow. Eternity Equipping The Saints Website Israel Website Israel, History And Prophecy


Author: Equipping

The Church is the Church, and Israel is Israel. The Church did not replace Israel, and is not spiritual Israel. In the New Testament, “church” and “Israel” are mentioned as being separate entities. In the New Testament “church” is mentioned 112 times; Israel is mentioned 79 times; both are mentioned as being separate entities The Kingdom “has not yet come,” and will not come until the Jewish bloodline of Israel accepts God’s chosen king (Deuteronomy 17:15), which will take place at the end of the Tribulation when the nation of Israel faces decimation and calls on Messiah, Christ, in faith, to save them (Zechariah 12:10). Individual salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22), and comes through Christ (John 14:6). Things are discussed in this website that relate to God’s creation, from “eternity to eternity,” and all that is addressed within those parameters. Consider Isaiah 43:13, “Even from eternity I am He, And there is no one who can rescue from My hand; I act, and who can reverse it?” The Moody Study Bible adds a comment: “God is the ruler of all, and there is nothing that can stand against Him. His will is irresistible. The Bible Knowledge Commentary adds this thought: “No one can reverse what God puts into action or thwart His plans.” The articles that are found in this site may relate to anything that is found in the Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation22.21, as well as anything else that may relate to the Bible.

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