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CH. V.]



REVELATION.



CHAPTER V.



AND I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the
throne a book written within and on the back-
aide, 'sealed with seven seals.



1 AND I saw 'in the right hand of him that sat on
the throne a book written within and on the back,



a Bzek. 2 : 9, 10. . . .6 Im. : 11 ; Dan. 11 : 4 1 Or. on.



which God' s purposes toward Israel as a nation
were to be declared. It will be found, as we
proceed, that the symbolism used throughout
this division of the book, in opening up views
of the future of the Christian Church, as re-
vealed to John and through him to the churches
of his own and of each succeeding age, con-
tinues to hold this resemblance to that of the
older prophets named, including, also, that of
the prophet Joel.

The grouping of representative forms in the
vision, has a marked significance, when asso-
ciated with what is revealed of the Divine
Majesty in its enthronement. God appears in
those attributes that most declare his great-
ness and his glory as the infinitely holy and
the Almighty. The living creatures, sym-
bolizing creation, and the four and twenty
enthroned elders, symbolizing the redeemed
church, represent his divine work in its two
grand spheres, those in which and through
which his character, in the splendor of its
infinite excellence, shines forth to the view of
all intelligences. As God, thus glorious, thus
enthroned, attended thus by adoring wit-
nesses to his works of creation and redemp-
tion, he now discloses to his servant the things
which must shortly come to pass. The events
to be set forth in vision, the mighty vicissitudes
of time and change, the judgments to be
visited upon powerful enemies and the vic-
torious deliverances wrought for his people,
even in their weakness and in the hour of their
apparent defeats these are seen to be all at
the will of him who sits enthroned, encircled
by those that testify in adoring worship to
the wonders wrought, alike when he made the
world and when he redeemed it. Most fittingly
and significantly, therefore, does this sublime
theophany meet us at the very threshold of the
revelations now to be made.

A suggestive remark by Dr. Vaughan, in
his lecture upon this chapter, may be added
here: "If the thought of the four living be-
ings which typify creation has something of
comfort for us in reference to the world above,
how much more that of men of our own flesh
and likeness, who are already clad in the



robes of priesthood, and admitted to the right
hand of God and to the ministrations of the
heavenly temple ! That world is not all peopled
with strange and unknown forms. Men are
there; patriarchs, prophets, apostles; saints
and martyrs; common men, too, poor men,
humble men, men whom we have known, men
whom we have loved, familiar forms, friends
and guides, young and old, now made perfect
through sufferings; they are there; and one
part, no doubt, of their employment is adora-
tion ; they fall down before him that sits on
the throne, and cast their crowns before the
throne, saying, 'Thou art worthy, O Lord.'
But this is not all. It is no fancied lesson
which bids us read in this chapter a proof of
their care also and interest in us; of their
being, as it were, members of a heavenly
council of which the subject is earth, earth
and its fortunes, the church in its struggle
with the world, the soul of the Christian com-
batant in its battle with the powers of evil."

When the attending angel in his trumpet
voice summons John to "come up hither,"
he adds, "and I will show thee things which
must be hereafter." This is equivalent to an
assertion of the prophetic character of the
revelations about to be made. That ration-
alistic method of interpretation, therefore,
which throws out the prophetic element, and
treats the book as exhibiting matters of cur-
rent or recent history in a kind of allegory,
comes directly in conflict with what the book
itself declares of its own nature. "Things
which must be hereafter" that is its subject.
The attitude of the seer is that of one fore-
telling things to come. The alternative is
clear; either this prophetic character must
be admitted, and the theory of interpretation
adjusted accordingly, or the very integrity
of the author and of his book must stand
impeached.

THE SEALED BOOK.

1-4. THE BOOK.

1. And I saw in the right hand of him
that sat on the throne. Properly speak-
ing, the "Revelation" (the oiroicAu<fr) here



84



REVELATION.



[Ce.V.



begins. All up to this point has been more
or less preliminary and preparatory. Ex-
ceedingly significant, too, is this opening
scene, in which we have the sealed book, and
the Divine Person who alone is able to open
it. We ought, as it would seem, to connect
what appears here with the words of an-
nouncement in ch. 1 : 1 : " The Eevelation of
Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him."
The book of that Kevelation is now seen in
("upon" t*l) the hand of him that sits upon
the throne; and, as appears eventually, it is
the Lord Jesus, in his manifestation as the
Redeemer, who takes the book and breaks
the seal. In this way the two great facts are
made evident and significant, (1) that the dis-
closures here made of divine purpose, God
himself makes, while (2) the medium and in-
strument of them, is that same Being who,
during the whole course of human history,
from that beginning which is already upon
record to that end which is still a prophecy,
is the Daysman, the Mediator, in every way,
between God and men. A book, written
within and on the backside. Of course,
it is only as we rightly conceive the form of
the book that we can understand this descrip-
tion. It is a book in the ancient, not the
modern, form a roll ; in this case written
upon both sides, so that the writing appears
both within and without ; within and on the
back, or the side "which, to one reading the
inner, was behind" (Alford). Parchment
rolls written in this way appear to have been
called " opistographs," or rolls "written on
the back," meaning that both sides were cov-
ered. In the present case there seems to be a
significance in the fact of the roll being thus
covered in every part. It implies, says Al-
ford, " completeness of the contents as con-
taining the divine counsels ; there was no
room for addition to that which was writ-
ten therein." So likewise, Dusterdieck. In
Hengstenberg's view, we have a "prototype
of this book " at Ezek. 2: 9, 10: "And when
I looked, behold a hand was sent unto me
[reached out to me] : and lo, a roll of a book
was therein : And he spread it before me,
and it was written within and without; and
there was written therein lamentations, and
mourning, and woe." Fully carrying out
this idea that the book in E/ekiel is the "pro-
totype ' ' of the book here, Hengstenberg un-
derstands the latter also as filled with "la-



mentations, and mourning, and woe," or, as
he quotes Schottgen, a record of "the sen-
tence which is given by the judge and his
councillors against the enemies of the church."
Consistently with this view, he makes the
contents of the Sealed Book include only so
much as is found in chs. 6-8: 1, at which
latter point, he claims, "an entirely new
series of revelations" begins. Of this last
we fail to find the needful evidence. The
series at the point indicated seems plainly
continuous, save so far as new action is em-
ployed, with another class of representative
figures and symbols, to carry on the dis-
closures of divine purpose as written in the
book. Besides, nearly the whole of ch. 7
is occupied, not with executions of divine
judgment against enemies of the church, but
with grace and redemption wrought for the
church itself. It is much more natural and
consistent to view the book as covering, in its
symbolical significance, all the revelations
here made, down to the very end. In this
figurative sense, the Apocalypse, the revela-
tion, is simply the opening of the book.
Sealed with seven seals. Some commen-
tators have understood by this that there were
seven distinct writings, each with its separate
seal. Others, as Elliott, in "Horse Apoca-
lypticse," have exercised no small ingenuity
in showing how each seal, viewing the writ-
ing as one, represented a separate section of
the whole roll, as it was unfolded. Alford
seems to be mistaken in saying that the book
was not to be "opened" or unrolled. The
opening is implied in ver. 5, and elsewhere.
Stuart's comment is as follows : "To make
all parts of the description congruous, we
must suppose the roll to have a seal upon the
extreme end that was rolled up, which would
of course prevent its being unrolled. When
the first seal was broken, the MS. could be
unrolled, until one came to a second seal ;
and so in succession of the rest. Now if
these seals were put on so as to be visible at
the ends of the roll (which might easily be
done by some small label attached to each
seal indicative of its place), then John could
have seen the seven seals, if the end of the
roll was toward him; i. e., he could at least
have seen what indicated their presence."
It is perhaps unnecessary to enter into all
these details. They may, however, aid the
general conception. It should be borne in



CH. V.]



REVELATION.



85



2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud
voice, Who is worthy to opeu the book, and to loose the
seals thereof?

3 And no man in "heaven, nor in earth, neither
under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to
look thereon.

4 And 1 wept much, because no man was found
worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look
thereon.



2 close sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong
angel proclaiming with a great voice.Who is worthy to

3 open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And
no one in the heaven, or on the earth, or under the
earth, was able to open the book, or to look thereon.

4 And I wept much, because no one was found worthy



mind that the book is not to be read, nor does
it have any other connection with the several
visions which from time to time appear, than
as symbolizing that perfect scheme of divine
purpose and fulfillment with reference alike
to the church and the world, parts and fea-
ures of which the successive visions disclose
in outline. The seals denote that these are
"secret" purposes "parts" of those "ways"
of God, which are determined only in acts of
his own infinite thought and infinite will.
The seals teach, as Hengstenberg quotes Vi-
tringa, that "the divine decrees before they
are carried into execution, or have by God
been antecedently disclosed, are discoverable
by no one of the immortal angels or of mor-
tal men; they are shut and concealed from
all." The breaking of each seal indicates
that so much of this purpose, whether of
judgment or of mercy, as appears in the
action of the vision in that connection is
disclosed.

2. And I saw a strong angel proclaim-
ing with a loud voice. The significance of
the epithet "strong," and of the clause "with
a loud voice," closely related in themselves, is
found in what appears in the verse following.
In heaven, in earth, and under the earth, the
voice is heard. Who is worthy to open the
book, and to loose the seals thereof?
The word "worthy" (ofw), here, should prob-
ably be viewed as equivalent to "equal to"
(ocavt), "capable of." It implies, however,
more than mere ability; comprehending, with
the simple idea of capability, that of worthi-
ness. This inquiry, therefore, sounding
through creation, calls for one who shall be in
every way the fit person to act as the instru-
ment by whom God will make to his church
and to the world these discoveries of his will.

3. And no man in heaven, nor in earth,
neither under the earth. We should read,
" no one ' ' (oMi). The statement made is not
limited to human beings, but comprehends all
creatures of God, in whatever part of the



universe. The language used is evidently
meant to be absolutely comprehensive of
creation. We must mark the suggestion as
to the real dignity and place of him who finally
comes forward in this great office, that what-
ever he may be, he is certainly not a creature.
Was able to open the book, neither to
look thereon. The Greek word in the best
manuscripts for "nor," "neither" (T in-
stead of oc 4 ), according to grammatical usage,
as Winer shows, would make the clause,
"neither to look thereon," climacteric, as if
it read, "nor even so much as to look there-
on." The representation of inability and un-
! worthiness to discharge this office is thus made
j the more intensely emphatic. And I wept
much, because no man [no one] was found
worthy to open and to read the book,
neither to look thereon. The clause,
"and to read," should be omitted. It is not
in the oldest manuscripts, while, as said before,
the book was not to be read. The weeping
suggests with what intensity of emotion John
gazes upon what is thus before him in vision.
It is a rapt and exalted feeling, not only mak-
ing real to him this which he beholds, but
causing him to enter into its significance with
keenest appreciation. Strange it is that any
interpreter should imagine the emotion here
shown to be that of disappointed curiosity.
It was, rather, a feeling occasioned by all the
circumstances taken together, which had
awakened expectation, with a profound sense
of the magnitude of that whose disclosure
seemed thus interrupted. Deeply impressive
must have been the awful silence which fol-
lowed the proclamation by the ' ' strong angel, ' '
overwhelming in its testimony to the sacred-
ness of these sealed mysteries which no crea-
ture must declare, and yet to the infinite
momentousness of their import. The human
nature of the beholder fails under the strain,
and relieves itself with tears.

5-7. THE LAMB IN THB MIDST OF THI
THRONE.



86



REVELATION.



[Cn. V.



5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not :
behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, 'the Boot of
David, hath prevailed to open the book, "and to loose
the seven seals thereof.

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne
and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders,
stood <*a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns
and seven eyes, which are /the seven Spirits of God
sent forth into all the earth.



5 to open the book, or to look thereon : and one of the
elders saith unto me, Weep not : behold, the Lion that
is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath over-
come, to open the book and the seven seals thereof.

6 And I saw 'in the midst of the throne and of the four
living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a
Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having
seven horns, and seven eyes, that are the 2 seven



Gen. 49 : 9, 10 ; Heb. 7 : 14. . . * Iu 11 : 1, 10 ; Koui. 15 : 12 ; ch. 22 : 16. . . .c ver. 1 ; oh. 6 : 1. . . .d Isa. 53 : 7 ; John 1 : 29, 30 ; 1 Pet.

! 19 -'ch. 13: 8- ver. 9. 12. ... Zech. 3: 9; 4: 10. .../ch. 4: 5. 1 Or, between the throne with the four living creatures, and tltt

elders. . . .2 Some ancient authorities omit set-en.



5. And one of the elders saith unto me.

There is nothing to identify the elder who
speaks, although some of the ancient com-
mentators imagined that the record which
Matthew makes of that saying of our Lord,
"All power is given unto me in heaven and
in earth" warrants us in finding him in the
elder who now speaks. All that the words
before us justify us in saying is that one of
these representative persons addresses to his
brother, not yet enabled to see "face to face,"
what shall comfort and reassure him. "We
may notice, in the connection, how what
was still hidden from John, though now "in
the Spirit," and beholding these wonders, is
represented as known and understood by the
elder who speaks to him, though so lately,
like himself, seeing all spiritual things as
"through a glass, darkly." Weep not; be-
hold the Lion of the tribe of Juda. The
reference seems to be to the words of Jacob in
Gen. 49 : 9. It is the kingly nature of the lion
that is the subject of allusion. The Root of
David. Here the reference is to such pas-
sages as Isa. 11 : 1 : " There shall come forth a
rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall
grow out of his roots." The Greek word, in
our present passage (pt'a), does not mean
simply "root," but as well the shoot which
springs from the root. The allusion in this
place, as in Isaiah and elsewhere, seems to be
to that obscurity into which the royal line of
David had fallen the tree decayed, the root
surviving, though buried from sight. From
this buried root, however, a new growth
springs. Thus obscure, in one sense, yet thus
royal in another, was the human lineage of
our Lord. Hath prevailed to open the
book, and to loose the seven seals there-
of. The words "hath prevailed" should be
regarded as significant and emphatic. Their
import is, not merely that by virtue of the
dignity of his person, of his superiority to all
creatures, not one of whom had been found



worthy to open the book, is he now to have
this office given him; but he "hath prevailed,"
hath overcome and triumphed with especial
reference to this. In other words, the office
he now fills, as the instrument for disclosing
what is to be here revealed, belongs to him by
virtue of that which he achieved in his humil-
iation, suffering, and death. It is as one
raised from that humiliation to possess again
the glory which he had with the Father be-
fore the world was, and thus become "head
over all things" in this Dispensation of
Grace, of whose coming fortunes disclosures
are now to be made, that he has "prevailed to
open the book, and to loose the seven seals
thereof."

6. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst
of the throne and of the four beasts
["living creatures 1 '], and in the midst of
the elders. Stuart's translation of the Greek
word for "in the midst of" (iv peVy), as "be-
tween," is very singular. It is evidently
made under the exegetical stress occasioned
by his view of the place of the "living crea-
tures," as under and supporting the throne.
Consistently with this he must make the posi-
tion of the Lamb to be "between" the throne,
with the four living creatures supporting it,
and the circle of elders. The correct transla-
tion of the phrase, however, is that which our
common version gives, "in the midst of."
The statement in the text, therefore, must be
that in the midst of the group made by the
throne, the four living creatures, and the
elders, the Lamb was standing. His exact
position is not more precisely given ; yet from
what appears subsequently, where he is repre-
sented as taking the book out of the hand of
him who sits upon the throne, we may sup-
pose him to stand near the throne, and partly
at one side; perhaps upon the sea of glass,
although nothing in the description neces-
sarily suggests this. Stood a Lamb as it
had been slain. Two words in the New



CH.V.]



REVELATION.



87



7 And he came and took the book out of the right
hand of him that sat upon the throne.



7 Spirits of God. sent forth into all the earth. And he
came, and he Haketh // out of the right hand of him



-1 Or. Itath taken.



Testament Greek are used for "lamb" one
(anvos), meaning in general "a lamb," the
other a diminutive (apvlov), "a young lamb."
It is worthy of notice that the latter is the
word used in the Apocalypse, and that as
among the New Testament books, it is pecu-
liar to it, with a single exception the same
word occurring also at John 21 : 15. Else-
where, the former word (a/ivd?) is used. The
diminutive, "a young lamb," suggests with
peculiar force the idea of "perfect innocence,"
as Stuart says, and also brings forward with es-
pecial emphasis, that of a sacrificial and propi-
tiatory offering. In like manner, in the Old
Testament, as in Lev. 9: 3, we have mention
made of a lamb "of the first year" as required
to be taken for a burnt-offering. The fanciful
notion of Bengel, which Hengstenberg seems
to adopt, that the allusion is to the early age
at which Jesus suffered death, as compared
with the long life of the patriarchs represented
by the elders, cannot, of course, be enter-
tained. Still, the exclusive use of the dimi-
nutive term, throughout this book, with the
suggestion of tenderness implied, "a young
lamb," is worthy of note. It makes promi-
nent the Lord's self-sacrifice in man's behalf,
the meekness, patience, innocence, of his
nature, and that fulfillment in his person of
the types of the old law, which links the two
Dispensations in one. Of the significance of
this grouping of symbolical titles applied to
him here "the Lion of the tribe of Juda,"
"the Root of David," "a young lamb, as it
had been slain" we speak below. The ex-
pression, "as it had been slain," may be
given, paraphrastically, "as it had been slain
in sacrifice." The Greek word has this mean-
ing. The expression must indicate that the
Lamb, as seen, bears upon him his death-
wounds ; the wound in the throat, especially,
indicated by the Greek word (ivfayiUvov).
Having seven horns aud seven eyes.
Horns are symbols of power; eyes, of dis-
cernment and consequent knowledge. The
number "seven," as elsewhere, denotes per-
fection. Which are the seven Spirits of
God. Does the relative clause, here, "which
are," refer to both the horns and the eyes, or
to the latter only? Alford thinks that the



reference is alone to the eyes; and he would
read: "Having seven horns, and seven eyes,
which are the seven Spirits of God." The
other construction, he says, "would be, of
course, grammatically possible ; but it seems
otherwise decided here, both by the context,
and by Zech. 4: 10: 'They are the eyes of
the Lord, which run to and fro through the
whole earth.' " The concluding words of the
verse in our present passage, sent forth into
all the earth, do truly seem a direct allusion
to the passage in Zechariah. It is not, how-
ever, such in its nature as to necessarily re-
strict the reference in "the seven Spirits of
God ' ' to the seven eyes of the Lamb. Neither
does the context appear to require this restric-
tion, while the punctuation and grammatical
arrangement of the passage, as it stands in
the Greek, makes the most natural construc-
tion to be: "seven horns and seven eyes,
which are [both the horns and the eyes] the
seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the
earth. "We take, as in ch. 3: 1, the "seven
Spirits of God" as denoting the perfection of
divine endowment possessed by our Lord,
and in the present case implying alike the
divine power and the divine wisdom which
he exercises, even as the Lamb that had been
slain. The clause "sent into all the earth,"
applies to "the Seven Spirits of God," and de-
notes the omnipresence of that Spirit of power
[the horns] and wisdom [the eyes] whose per-
fection the number seven symbolizes.

7. And he came and took the book out
of the right hand of him that sat upon the
throne. It is, says Dusterdieck (unndthig
und geschmacklos), "unnecessary and friv-
olous," to inquire whether we are to imagine
the Lamb to have in part a human form,
with human hands. The difficulty, never-
theless, suggested by the question, in what
way the Lamb, as a lamb, could take the
book, is a real one, and to dispose of it in
Dusterdieck' s off-hand way, will scarcely
satisfy any student of the passage. The ques-
tion, here, is pertinent, whether the Lamb,
though he appears first in that form, con-
tinues to retain it. He certainly does not
bear this form where first, in the New Testa-
ment, we find the word applied to him,



88



REVELATION.



[Cn. V.



8 And when he had taken the book, "the four beasts
and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb,
having every one of them 6 harps, and golden vials full
of odours, 'which are the prayers of saints.



8 that sat on the throne. And when he had taken
the book, the four living creatures and the four and
twenty eiders fell down before the Lamb, having each
one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which



och. 4:8, 10.... 6 eh. 14:2; 15: 2.... P. 141: 2; eb. 8:3, 4.



(John i: ). The action described in the sixth
chapter, where the Lamb opens successively
the seven seals, suggests the idea of a change
such as that, though still known as the Lamb,
he bears the human form. In due time
(w: n), he is seen going forth as leader of
the armies of heaven, evidently in form as
a man. It does not seem a violent construc-
tion of the representation as it stands to sup-
pose that in his first appearance upon the



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