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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 5

Revelation 5:1. ὄπισθεν. So, correctly, Elz., and the more modern edd. The tolerably well authenticated reading ἔξωθεν (2, 3, 4, 6, al., Vulg., Ar., Copt., al., Andr., Areth.), which Beng. likewise regards as justified, is an interpretation. Conversely, Origen (in Lach.), with reference to the correct ὄπισθεν, has said, instead of ἔσωθεν: ἔμπροσθεν (Ezekiel 2:10). So also א .

Revelation 5:2. Before φωνῇ, in the Elz. text, and according to A, א, 2, 4, 6, 7, al., together with Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], ἐν is to be placed.

The ἐστιν after τίς (Elz.), which is absent in A, א, 10, 12, Orig., al., and, in some witnesses, stands only after ἄξιος, is an interpolation, and to be deleted (Beng., Treg., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], etc.).

Revelation 5:4. Instead of πολλά (Elz.), read πολύ, according to א, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, al., Andr. (Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

The addition καὶ ἀναγνῶναι after ἀνοῖξαι (Elz.) is, after decisive witnesses, rejected already by Beng., Griesb., etc.

Revelation 5:5. ἐκ τ. φυλ. So A, 2, 4, 6, al., Bengel, Griesb., the more recent. Incorrectly, Elz.: ὤν. Perhaps the art. also is to be deleted ( א ).

The variation ἀνοίγων (B, 2, 4, 6, 8, al., Areth.) is improperly preferred (Matth., Tisch., 1859) to the reading ἀνοίξαι (A, א, al., Lach.), as it is manifestly a modification.

The λῦσαι before τὰς . σφ. (Elz.) is certainly false, notwithstanding א .

Revelation 5:6. After καὶ εἱδον, the Elz. text has introduced (cf. Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:8, Revelation 14:1; Revelation 14:14) κιὰ ἰδού, against A, א, 2, 4, 6, al. The question, however, is whether, with Beng., Tisch., etc., to delete both words, or, with Lach. (according to A: καὶ εἱδον, καὶ; cf. Revelation 6:12, Revelation 5:11, Revelation 6:1, Revelation 8:13), only the ἰδού.

οἵ εἰσιν τὰ ἑπτὰ τοῦ θεοῦ πνεύματα τὰ ἀπεσταλμένα. So Elz. The οἵ is here correctly (Beng., Lach., Tisch., 1859 [W. and H.]) according to א, A the , on the other hand (2, 3, 4, al., Areth., ed. Comp., Matth., Tisch., 1854), is, like the isolated ἅτινα (in Matth.), a correction. The ἑπτὰ before πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ, for this is the right order of words (A, א, Beng., Matth., Lach., Tisch.), is wanting in A, 12, and may be an interpolation (cf. Revelation 1:4, Revelation 4:5 ); but probably it is here ( א) just as, in Revelation 4:5, Tisch. has it correctly in the text. Instead of ἀπεσταλμένα ( א, Beng., Tisch. IX.), before which the art. only is inserted, Lach. reads ἀπεσταλμένοι according to A, Matth.: Tisch.: ἀποστελλόμενα according to B and a considerable number of minusc. Yet the latter reading appears to be a modification, while the form ἀπεσταλμένοι is scarcely allowable in the language of the Apoc., and appears to be an error occasioned by the preceding οἱ.

Revelation 5:7. The interpretation τὸ βιβλίον after εἴληφεν (Elz., Beng.), also placed at the close of the verse (ed. Compl., al.), is lacking in A, א, 2, 4, 6, al., Vulg. (Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 5:8. Instead of κιθάρας (Elz.), read, according to A, א, 2, 4, 6, al., Copt., al., κιθάραν (Beng., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 5:9-10. Elz.: ἠγόρασας τῷ θεῷ ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ αἵματί σου ἐκ πασ. φυλ.

καὶ ἐποίησας ἡμᾶς τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν βασιλεῖς καὶ ἱερεῖς καὶ βασιλεύσομεν ἐπὶ της γὴς. Incorrect here is: First, the ἡμᾶς, Revelation 5:9 ( א ), which is wanting in A, Areth. (rejected already by Mill, Prol., 1111, Lach., Tisch.), which was inserted (cf. Revelation 1:6); and which Primas, Vulg., have before God (and that, too, that with him “they shall reign over them,” Revelation 5:10), because a more accurate determination of the object is wished than is found in the words ἐκ πασ. φυλ., κ. τ. λ. Secondly, the ἡμᾶς (Revelation 5:10), for which, according to A, א, 2, 4, al., Syr., Vulg. (var. nos), Copt., Ar., Aeth., Andr., ed. Compl., etc., αὐτοὺς is to be written (Mill, 1. c, Matth., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). Probably false is, thirdly, the τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν ( א ) lacking in A (Tisch.; retained by Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]). Instead of the correction βασιλεῖς, read, according to A, א, Vulg., al., βασιλείνα (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]); cf. Revelation 1:6. Finally, read βασιλεύουσιν, according to A, 7, 8, 9, al., Syr., ed. Compl. (Mill, l. c., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). Because objection was made to the pres., βασιλεύσουσιν was written ( א, 2, 4, 5, 6, Cypr., Vulg., Beng., Griesb.), and then, corresponding to the introduced ἡμᾶς : βασιλεύσομεν.

Revelation 5:12. ἄξιον. It is worthy of note, that A has ἄξιος (so ed. Erasm. I., Ald.), defended by Bengel in his Gnomon, and received by Tisch., 1859, IX.

Revelation 5:13. The ἐστὶν after (Elz., Beng.) is without authenticity; it belongs after θαλάσσης, and that, too, without the preceding in the rec. So according to A, 2, 4, 6, al., Verss.; already Matth.; also Tisch., 1854 [W. and H.], who, however, in 1859, has received the (B, al.). א : τὸ ἐν τ. οὐρ.

καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλ. καὶ τὰ ἐν αυτ.

Instead of the rec., τὰ ἐν αὐτ. πάντα ἤκουσα λέγοντεας, Lach. has written, in accordance with A, τὰ ἐν αὐτ. πάντα ἤκ. λέγοντα; Matth., Beng., Tisch., in accordance with 2, 4, 7, al., τὰ ἐν αὐτοις, πάντας ἤκ. λέγοντας. In favor of the latter reading is its greater difficulty when compared with that of Cod. A. א interprets: κ. τὰ ἐν αὐτ. πάντα, καὶ ἤκ. λέγοντας.

Amidst the songs of praise of the heavenly ones, the Lamb receives from the hand of God the book to be opened by him, in which stands written “what must come to pass” (cf. Revelation 4:1).


Verse 1

Revelation 5:1. ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιὰν designates not that the book lies “on the right side of the Enthroned One,” and therefore on the throne, as Ebrard thinks, who lays stress upon the fact as to how this peaceful, apparently useless, lying is consistent with its being closed; for this idea, which is of course in itself, and according to the wording, possible, is in conflict with Revelation 5:7, as there the ἐκ τῆς δεξιᾶς, κ. τ. λ., because of its express reference to the ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιὰν, Revelation 5:1, does not well admit of the intermediate supposition that the Enthroned One has first taken the book into his right hand. But of course ἐπὶ τὴν δεξ. does not directly mean, “in the right hand,”(1840) for which no appeal can be made to Revelation 17:8, Revelation 20:1 : on the contrary, the correct idea is derived especially from Revelation 20:1, that the Enthroned One holds the book on his (open) hand, offering it, and likewise waiting whether any one will be found worthy to take and open it.(1841)

The βιβλίον thus visible ( καὶ εἶδον) according to its exterior, even to John, is to be regarded, undoubtedly, a מְנִלָּהִ as in Ezekiel 2:9 sq., a book-roll,(1842) which form alone is adapted to its present holy use. Like the book of Ezekiel, this was also an ὀπισθόγραφον,(1843) viz., written not only ἔσωθεν, i.e., within, on the surface turned inwardly about the staff, but also ὄπισθεν,(1844) i.e., on the side turned outwards in unrolling, the ordinarily unwritten side of the parchment. Thus the exceedingly rich contents of the book are indicated, completely comprising(1845) the Divine decrees concerning the future ( δεῖ γενέσθαι, Revelation 4:1); while the sevenfold sealing(1846) shows that these Divine decrees are a deep, hidden mystery, which can be beheld only by an ἀποκάλυψις whose mediator is only the Lamb, since it is his part to open the seals.(1847)

The idea of the book in which the decrees of the Divine government appear written occurs already in Psalms 139:16; cf. also Exodus 32:32; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:12. It is only by awkward conjectures that the opinion is obtained, that the βιβλίον is the O. T.(1848) or the entire Holy Scriptures,—possibly the N. T. within, and the O. T. without.(1849) Incorrect also is Wetstein: “The book of divorce from God, written against the Jewish nation, is represented,”—a view contradicting every feature both of the more immediate and more remote context. Inapplicable also Schöttgen, with whom Hengstenb. agrees: “The book contains the sentence designed against the enemies of the Church.” It is true that this passage, considered by itself, does not yet permit us to recognize the contents and meaning of the book in its details;(1850) yet it must be explained here partially from the meaning of chs. 4 and 5, partly from the organism of the entire Apocalypse from ch. 6, and partly from the meaning of Revelation 8:1, that the book sealed with seven seals could have contained not only what is written from Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 8:1, called by Hengstenb. the group of seals,(1851) because Hengstenb. incorrectly affirms that in the entire scene, chs. 4 and 5., nothing else than judgments upon enemies is to be expected, as such are to be represented in the completely closed group of seals in Revelation 8:1. Rather the appearance of the enthroned God, and the entire scene, chs. 4, 5, afford the guaranty that not only enemies are judged, but also friends are blessed, just as both necessarily belong together. To this the consideration must be added, that, according to the clear plan of the Apoc. itself, the so-called group of seals is by no means closed with Revelation 8:1,(1852) nor even with Revelation 11:19,(1853) since from the seventh seal a further development proceeds to the end of the Apoc.,(1854) so that the contents of the seventh seal are presented completely only at the end of the book; consequently the contents of this book comprised in seven seals, which is opened by the Lamb, appear to be repeated in the succeeding Apoc. from ch. 6 on,(1855) as John himself(1856) has proclaimed his entire prophetic writing as a revelation communicated to him through Christ. The plain speech, Revelation 1:1 and Revelation 4:1, clearly makes known the essential significance in ch. 5

It has been found difficult to assign a place in the book-roll to the seven seals. Grot. (who altogether preposterously combines the καὶ ὄπισθεν with κατεσφραγ.), Vitr., Wolf,(1857) were of the opinion that the entire book consisted of seven leaves, each with a seal; C. a Lap., De Wette, etc., thought that attached to the book as rolled up were a number of strings, and on them the seven seals were fastened, so that thus each seal could be opened seven times, and the part of the book that had been closed by the same could be read, but at the same time the seals outwardly attached to the volume were visible to John. But all these artificial hypotheses are unnecessary; and the most natural idea, that the seals fastened the end of the leaves rolled about the staff, and thus hindered the unrolling or opening of the book, is without difficulty, provided it be only considered that it does not belong at all to the opening of the seals that a part of the book be unrolled and read, but rather that—according to the incomparably more forcible and better view—the contents of the book come forth from the loosed seal portrayed in plastic symbols. The revelation concerning the future, described in the book of God, is given to the prophet, as he gazes, in significative images which represent the contents of the book; but there is no reading from the book to him. This mode of presentation, so completely harmonizing with the artistic energy of the writer of the Apoc., has been misunderstood especially by De Wette, as he attempts to explain the circumstance that none other than the Lamb, i.e., Christ, can open the book, by affirming that “with the opening of the book of fate, a sort of fulfilment is combined,” viz., the preparatory carrying out of the Divine decrees in heavenly outlines, as held by the rabbins.(1858) The subject at the loosing of the seals, and the opening of the book, is nothing else than a revelation that is to be given John.(1859)


Verse 2

Revelation 5:2 sqq. ἰσχυρὸν. The adjective(1860) is by no means without meaning;(1861) but does not, however, designate an angel of higher rank,(1862) having reference to the κηρύσσ. ἐν φωνῇ μεγὰλῃ, as Revelation 10:1; Revelation 10:3. The angel must have great power, because with his call he is to penetrate all regions of the creation.(1863)

ἄξιος. As John 1:27, where, however, not the inf., but ἵνα, follows. Cf. also ἰκανός, Matthew 8:8. The “worthiness” is the inner, ethical presupposition of the “being able,” Revelation 5:3.

ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον καὶ λῦσαι τὰς σφραγ. αὐτ. A hysteron proteron.(1864)

ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς, Revelation 5:3. Incorrectly, Grot.: “In the sea.” It designates(1865) the entire sphere of creation, according to its three great regions.(1866) By ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς is meant(1867) Hades,(1868) as the place, not of demons,(1869) to think of which here is very strange, but of departed souls.

βλέπειν is not “by reading to understand,”(1870) but designates the seeing, following the opening of the book, therefore the looking in, the reading, of the same.(1871)


Verse 4

Revelation 5:4. καὶ ἐγώ ἔκλαιον πολύ. This expressly emphasizes what John on his part ( ἐγώ) did under the circumstances described in Revelation 5:2-3. His violent(1872) weeping is caused simply by the fact that it seems as though the revelation ardently expected, and, according to Revelation 4:1, to be hoped for, would not follow. “John did not observe any one advancing at the call of the angel, to render this office for the Church.” So Vitr. correctly, who nevertheless, in violation of the context, precipitately interprets(1873) it chiefly of purely personal interests of John, which in no way are here “represented by the church.”(1874)

Inapplicable is the remark of Hengstenb.: “The weeping of John has his weakness of faith as its foundation. Without it, he would not have wept at the impossibility for all creatures to loose the seals, but would, on the contrary, have triumphed in Christ. Without it, also, the book of the future, according to all which the prophets of the O. T. and the Lord had said, would not have been absolutely closed to him.” John was satisfied, rather, in all humility of faith, even though weeping, that, according to what he had just heard, the book must remain closed to him.(1875) The Lamb had not as yet entered to open the book. But the reference to the predictions of the O. T. prophets, and of the Lord himself, is inapposite; because, if the entire scene is not to be senseless, it treats of such revelations as had not as yet been made. The only objection against the weeping of John that could be raised from the context is, that after Revelation 4:1 sqq., he need not at all have been anxious about being compelled to be without the revelation as to the contents of the sealed book; but even this objection can be raised only from the standpoint of a reflection which is here entirely out of place.(1876)

(1872) πολύ, Luke 7:47.


Verse 5

Revelation 5:5. One of the elders(1877) stills the weeping of John, by showing him Christ as the one able to open the book.

The deictic ἰδού intensifies the pictorial vividness of the description. Corresponding to the ἰδού is the καὶ εὶδον, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 5:6; there John directs his look to the Lamb, to whom the elders had pointed him.

ἐνὶκησεν. The explanation is divided into two parts. Grot.,(1878) Vitr., C. a Lap., Beng., Eichh., Heinr., Ew., etc., regarded(1879) the ἐνίκησεν in immediate combination with the ἀνοῖξαι, κ. τ. λ., so that the latter appears as an object to the conception ἐνίκησεν.(1880) Others, as N. de Lyra, Calov., Boss., Ebrard, Klief.,(1881) have, on the other hand, referred the ἐνίκησεν to the triumphantly completed work of redemption,(1882) so that then the infinitive statement, ἀνοὶξαι, κ. τ. λ., appears not in an objective relation to ἐνίκησεν, but as exegetical,(1883) and the ἐνίκησεν as absolute. The latter conception is correct, because the former combination of the ἐνίκησεν with the inf. is not so much “a new and poetic mode,”(1884) as is contradicted by the mode of statement in the Apoc.,(1885) and because not only the correlation of the designations of the victor, λέων, ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς ἰοῦδα, ρίζα δαυΐδ, but also the words, Revelation 5:9, which may be regarded as an authentic interpretation of the mode of expression in Revelation 5:5, are decisive for the second of the explanations previously mentioned. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” is Christ,(1886) because in his bodily descent from Judah, as the true Messiah promised of old, he had victoriously fought. [See Note XLV., p. 216.] In the same sense, the designation ῥίζα δαυἶδ(1887) represents him as a sprout growing from the root of David with fresh, triumphant power. Thus N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., Grot., Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard, etc., correctly explain, recognizing the slight metonymy; and Calov. and others, incorrectly, because against the decisive fundamental passage: “Christ, according to his divine nature, is represented as the foundation and source of David himself.”(1888) The Christian fundamental view is presented, which not only in the same words, but also in the same tense ( ἐνίκησα, aor.), is expressed already in Revelation 3:21, and is repeated immediately afterwards in Revelation 5:9,(1889) only in another statement or explanation; viz., that, just because Christ has struggled and conquered in earthly humility,(1890) he is worthy to open the sealed book. It especially harmonizes with this view, that one of the elders, therefore one of those who have in themselves experienced the fruit of Christ’s victory, and with complete clearness know the entire meaning of this victory, directs the weeping John to the Lion of the tribe of Judah; not as though this elder had observed that Christ meanwhile had besought the enthroned God for permission to open the book, and had obtained it,(1891) but because the elder has the blessed assurance that the exalted Christ, since he is Lord and King of his kingdom, is also the Mediator of all revelation.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLV. Revelation 5:5. λέων ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς ἰούδα, κ. τ. λ.

The expression is based upon Genesis 49:9. On the basis of Jacob’s prophecy, a young lion was emblazoned on the standard of Judah, as it led the van of Israel’s march through the desert. See Palestinian Targum on Numbers 2:2 : “They who encamp eastward shall be of the standard of the camp of Judah, spreading over four miles. And his standard shall be of silk, of three colors, corresponding with the precious stones which are in the breastplate,—sardius topaz, and carbuncle; and upon it shall be expressed and set forth the names of the three tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; and in the midst shall be written, ‘Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and thine adversaries be driven away before thee;’ and upon it shall be set forth the figure of a young lion.” Augustine, Serm. xlvi., quoted by Calov.: “As a Lamb in his passion, so a Lion in his resurrection; since by this he manifested his fortitude in conquering death, and crushing the head of the infernal serpent (Genesis 3:15; Hosea 13:14; Romans 1:4).” Cf. Hebrews 2:14. Calov. finds the lion-like character of Christ displayed also in the call of the Gentiles. The ῥίζα δαυείδ is analogous with ἐκ σπέρματος δαυείδ in Romans 1:3, it being, as Hengstenberg remarks, “in David that the lion nature of the tribe came into manifestation.” In Christ, the race of the hero and victor David, whose deeds of courage are celebrated in Psalms 18:29 sqq., again comes forth. Calov.’s interpretation, referred to by Düst., which is that also of Ribera and Cocceius, rests upon the assumption that a double designation of the humanity of Christ, in both the Lion of Judah and the Root of David, is improbable; and that, in Revelation 22:16, there is a similar distinction between “root” and “offspring.” Lange is right when he says, “The whole designation of Christ is a profound Christological saying, which refers neither alone to the human descent of the Saviour (Düsterdieck), nor to his divine nature simply (Calov.).” The divinely human person is designated by terms derived, indeed, from his humanity; but, because of the personal union and the inseparable participation of both natures in every act, comprehending our Lord also in his divinity.”


Verse 6

Revelation 5:6. ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θρονοῦ

καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων. Incorrectly, Ebrard: “The Lamb appears in the midst of the throne, so as at the same time to sit in the centre of the four living beings, and in the centre of the twenty-four elders sitting around without, forming a more remote concentric circle,”—a truly monstrous idea,—the Lamb sitting(1892) in the midst of the throne. The double ἐν ΄έσῳ designates, in the Heb. way,(1893) the two limits between which the Lamb stands,(1894) viz., in the space whose centre, the throne, is beside the four beings, and which is bounded externally by the circle(1895) of the elders. Yet we must not necessarily understand that the Lamb stood on the crystal sea,(1896) as De Wette does, who, in accordance with his explanation of Revelation 4:6, finds a parallel in Hebrews 9:24. Of the sea of glass, and the position of the Lamb with regard to it, there is nothing at all to be said here; as for the rest, we may point to Revelation 7:17, Revelation 22:1, as against De Wette.

ἀρνίον ἑστηκὸς ὡς ἐσφαγμένον. The diminutive form, which is in general peculiar to the Apoc.,(1897) serves here to strengthen the contrast between the announced “Lion,” and the form of “a little lamb” which is now presented. Entirely remote is the reference to the brief life of the Lord in comparison with the extreme age of the elders.(1898) Incorrect also is the remark that ἀρνίον, from the masc. ἀρήν, is used with respect to the flock that is to follow;(1899) for the diminutive, which is not at all from ἀμνός, is entirely without this exclusive designation of sex,(1900) and the context itself ( ὡς ἐσφαγμ.) bars the reference to the leading of a flock.

Great as in other respects is the contrast between the “Lion” and “the little Lamb,” yet there is also a deep harmony of the two views; for as the struggles of the Lion presupposed in Revelation 5:5, i.e., his patient suffering and death, concur with the slaying of the Lamb, so also the victory of the Lion gained in conflict, which becomes manifest in the resurrection, is appropriated by the little Lamb, since it “stands as one slain.” The ἐστηκός clearly declares that it is living,(1901) while it at the same time ( ὡς ἐσφαγμένον) appears as one that had (previously) been led to the shambles and slain. The word σφάζειν, properly “to open the throat with a knife, so that the blood flows out,” designates pre-eminently the slaying in making a sacrifice,(1902) but also any other slaying,(1903) and any form of putting to death.(1904) By ὡς the ἐσφαγμένον is not “especially emphasized as significantly presented,”(1905) as though equivalent to ώς in passages like Revelation 17:12; Matthew 7:29; John 1:14; Romans 15:15, where the reality of a relation in its normative or fundamental significance is marked,—for in this way, in the present passage, the absurd and actually false idea would result, that the Lamb stood as one slain, i.e., at that time dead; but the ῶς(1906) serves rather to reconcile the opposition between the ἑστηκός and ἐσφαγμένον, as the Lamb standing (and therefore living) is represented as “one slain,” i.e., as such an one whose still-visible scars show that it has once been slain.(1907) John, therefore, applies to the Lamb the very same that the Lord, in Revelation 1:18, says of himself. There is in this view no violation whatever of the laws of the plastic art.(1908)

The Lamb had a twofold emblem: κέρατα ἑπτὰ, the symbol of perfect power,(1909) and ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπτά, which is expressly interpreted οἵ εἰσι τὰ πνεύματα τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπεσταλμένα εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν. The reference of the spirits of God, symbolized by the seven eyes,(1910) to the omniscience of the Lord,(1911) is too limited. The correct interpretation is determined by the context itself ( ἀπεσταλμένα). The (seven) spirits of God are also, here,(1912) the potencies which in their independent reality are present with God, and by means of which he works on and in the world. That Christ has(1913) these spirits (this Spirit) of God, is symbolized here by the seven eyes of the Lamb, just as before the throne of God (the Father) the same Spirit appears as seven lamps.(1914) This, moreover, in no way compels the conception, that the vision has changed after the manner of a dream, and now where the seven eyes of the Lamb are represented, the seven lamps have vanished,(1915) as indeed the belonging of the Spirit to the Enthroned One, as also to the Lamb, is intended to be symbolically represented.

Erroneous is the explanation of Beda: “The septiform spirit in Christ is because of the eminence of its power compared to horns, and because of the illumination of grace to eyes.”(1916) But if even grammatically it is not impossible for the οἵ, which introduces the explanatory sentence, to refer to ὀφθαλμούς and κέρατα, the annexed interpretation, οἵ εἰστ τὰ πνεύμ., κ. τ. λ., applies only to the ὀφθαλμούς, and not at the same time to the κέρατα. It would, of course, be in itself inconceivable,(1917) if one and the same thing were represented by two symbols, perhaps in two different connections: but here are two symbols, which throughout do not designate the same thing; for while by the “horns,” a symbol known already from the O. T., and therefore applied by John without any particular hint, the attribute of power is symbolized, the eyes, according to the express interpretation of the text, designate in no way an attribute of the Lamb, but the Spirit really present with God and the Lamb together (the Father and the Son), and belonging in like manner to them both, who is here indeed to be regarded according to the standard of the symbol ( ὀφθαλμ.) pre-eminently as the One seeing through all things.(1918) Because Christ has the Spirit, he knows every thing, even things upon earth, whither the Spirit is sent,—the doings of his enemies, the state of his own people, etc.

καὶ ἀναμέσον.


Verse 7

Revelation 5:7. καὶ ἦλθε καὶ εἴληφε. The perf. has,(1919) as also elsewhere among those later,(1920) the sense of the aor.,—which is the easier here because an aor. precedes.

The Lamb “took” it (the book) out of the hand of God offering it.(1921) Ebrard wishes to translate it “received,” because “the active taking does not suit the Son’s position with respect to the Father.” But while of course it is self-evident that no one, not even the Lamb, can take the book if God do not give it, yet the idea of the active taking on the part of the Lamb lies more in the course of the entire connection, as it presents the glory of the Lamb eminent above all creatures, and not the possible subordination of the same to God. The Lamb can take the book for the reason indicated already in Revelation 5:5,(1922) but in no way because of having meanwhile received from God permission which had been previously asked.(1923) To consider with Vitr. as to whether the Lamb also had hands, etc., is unnecessary and without point.


Verse 8

Revelation 5:8. ὅτε ἔλαβεν (“when he had taken it).”(1924) The aor. is to be understood just as in Revelation 6:1; Revelation 6:3, etc.(1925) Simultaneousness(1926) would have been expressed by the impf.(1927) Naturally, upon the act of the Lamb, which displays the glory belonging exclusively to him, there follows the song of praise, in which the glory just evinced is celebrated.

As in ch. 4, the four beings, the representatives of the entire living creation, and the twenty-four elders, the representatives of redeemed humanity, have worshipped the enthroned God in alternate songs of praise, so here there sounds their united song of praise to the Lamb, before whom they together fall down in adoration; for the Lamb shares in the divine glory of the Enthroned One.(1928) This song of praise finds a response first in Revelation 5:12, in the angelic hosts, and then, in Revelation 5:13, is taken up by all creatures everywhere, and that, too, so that at the close a doxology, in a manner concentrated, sounds forth at the same time to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, and finally dies away in the amens of the four beings who had begun the praise of the enthroned God (Revelation 4:8); and, at the same time with the twenty-four elders, that of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).

ἔχοντες ἔκασιος

ἁγῖων belongs only to οἱ πρεσβύτ.: for this is indicated, first, by the masc. form ( ἔχοντες ἔκαστος); secondly, the unnaturalness of ascribing to beings as fashioned in Revelation 4:7, harps and vials; and thirdly, the incongruence which would result if the representatives of the creation had the office of offering the prayers of saints. The latter is suitable only to elders.(1929)

The elders have each a harp, the instrument with which they accompany their song of praise,(1930) and “golden vials full of frankincense,” viz., as is self-evident, each one a vial, so that we possibly are to think of a vial in the right hand, while the left holds the harp.(1931) The vials filled with frankincense have a symbolical meaning corresponding to the emblem of the harp: αἵ εἰσιν αἱ προσευχαὶ τῶν ἁγίων. The αἱ may, by attraction, be referred to the θυ΄ια΄άτων,(1932) yet the formally more simple reference to φιάλας may be adopted, as the vials are just such as are filled with incense. Concerning the symbolical meaning “its,” cf. Revelation 8:3; Psalms 141:2; Ezekiel 8:11. Arbitrarily and against the meaning of the context, Hengstenb. understands by the prayers symbolically offered only intercessory prayers, whose chief subject is the protection and perfection of the Church, and judgment upon enemies; while he regards the harps as referring to prayers of adoration and thanksgiving.(1933)

τῶν ἁγίων, i.e., of Christians.(1934) Cf. Revelation 8:3-4, Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:10, Revelation 11:18, Revelation 18:20. The misunderstanding of this as referring to saints already in heaven(1935) is inapplicable for the reason that the idea that the prayers of the saints are offered to God by the elders(1936) presupposes the fact that the saints themselves are not present with God. With this agrees the mode in which the elders, Revelation 5:9, speak of the saints.

The remark of C. a Lap.: “Note here against Vigilantius, Luther, Calvin, and other Hagiomachoi, that the saints pray for vs, and offer our prayers to God,” is, in other respects, entirely wrong: because, first, the “elders” are in no way identical with the saints who are meant; secondly, while, on the Lutheran side, it is not at all denied that the members of the Church triumphant pray for those of the Church militant [see Note XLVI., p. 217], there is no allusion whatever to the invocation of saints contended against on the Lutheran side; and, finally, it is entirely incorrect to regard the forms of the twenty-four elders included in the plan as real personages, and without any thing further to construct a dogmatical statement upon the act symbolically ascribed to them. Erroneous also is De Wette’s conjecture that John appears to know nothing of a mediatorial office of Christ. Of this, nothing can be expressly said in the present passage, although of course the entire Christology of the Apoc. essentially includes that fundamental Christian thought.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLVI. Revelation 5:8. αἵ προσευχαὶ τῶν ἁγίων

See Apology of the Augsburg Confession (E. T., p. 236): “We concede, that just as when alive they pray, in general, for the Church universal, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general.” This is sufficient without resorting to the expedient that representatives of the Church triumphant are not here thought of. Quenstedt (Theol. Didact.-pol., iv. 365): “That the saints in heaven triumphing with Christ pray, in general, for the Church, is probably inferred from this passage. But, from this, it cannot be inferred that they have a special knowledge of all things, and are to be religiously invoked. By odors, are not meant prayers of saints who are in this life, but of those blessed ones who are reigning with Christ in heaven. These prayers are not ἱλαστικαὶ, propitiatory, meritorious, and satisfactory, as though, by virtue of their merit, they intercede by them for others, but εὐχαριστικαὶ as described (Revelation 5:9-10).”


Verse 9

Revelation 5:9. καὶ ᾷδουσιν, viz., they who have fallen down; i.e., the four beings and the twenty-four elders.(1937) Hengstenb. arbitrarily understands this: “That the elders come forward as the speakers of the chorus formed of them and the four beasts.”

ᾠδην καινὴν. Cf. Revelation 14:3. Too indefinitely, N. de Lyra: “pertaining to the N. T.;” yet he has also the correct feeling that the new song refers to a new subject. Here this is not completed redemption,(1938) but as the succeeding song itself shows, and the express connection determines, the worthiness(1939) of the Lamb to open the book,(1940) acquired through the painful work(1941) of redemption. [See Note XLVII., p. 217.] λέγοντες introduces the song announced ( ᾄδουσ. ᾠδ. καιν.). Cf. Revelation 4:1; Revelation 4:8.

ὁτι ἐσφάγης. The Lamb himself is represented ὡς ἐσφαγ΄ένον.(1942) In the entire statement presenting the ground ( ὅτι ἐσφ.) for the ἅξιος εἰ, κ. τ. λ., the aorists ἐσφάγης, ἠγόρασας, ἐποίησας, are to be strictly observed: they refer to the definite fact that has once occurred, of the crucifying of the Lord ( ἐσφάγης), and this one fact(1943) is described according to its effect: ἠγόρασας, κ. τ. λ., and ἐποίησας. Incorrectly, Beng.: “And hast purchased us to be thy possession. This refers not to the redemption itself, which occurred when the Lamb was slaughtered and his blood was sprinkled, but to its fruit, and refers, therefore, to those saints who have finished their course, and who have been bought from the earth, Revelation 14:3.” Bengel’s error is occasioned by the false reading ἡμᾶς.(1944)

Incorrectly, Ewald: “By his bloody death he redeemed them to God, delivering to them the doctrine, following which they could emerge from the servitude of vices.” How completely the ἠγόρασας concurs with the ἐσφάγης, is evident especially from the fact that the blood of the slain Lamb is designated as the price of the purchase.(1945) On the subject itself, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18 sqq.; Acts 20:28.

ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς καὶ γλώσσης καὶ λαοῦ καὶ ἔθνους. Object with the partitive ἐκ. Cf. 1 John 4:13; Matthew 25:8 (Acts 2:17). In the connection of the four expressions, the progress from less to greater(1946) is of no significance, because unintentional; but what is of importance, and recurs uniformly in all similar passages, even though another expression(1947) be chosen, is the number four, which serves to mark(1948) the idea of universality.(1949) Every more definite reference, however, which is given any one of the four expressions,(1950) is consistent neither with the πάσης, nor with the intention of the entire manner of expression.

καὶ ἐποίησας αὐτοὺς βασιλείαν καὶ ἱερεῖς βασιλεύουσιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. This passage is distinguished from what is said in Revelation 1:6, first, by the καὶ before ἱερεῖς, and immediately afterwards by the important addition καὶ βασιλεύουσιν, κ. τ. λ. The latter would be superfluous, if either the reading received by Hengstenb., etc., were correct,(1951) or the βασιλείαν could have had the meaning stated by Hengstenb. on Revelation 1:6, i.e., “a people invested with regal authority.” Three things are here expressed: first, that those purchased to be God’s property have been made into a βασιλεία, viz., of God,—i.e., they are gathered as God’s property into God’s kingdom; immediately afterwards ( καὶ) that they are made priests; finally ( καὶ), they themselves have been invested with regal authority. So Ebrard, correctly.(1952) The last, expressed in an independent member of the sentence, and so far distinguished from the two predicates βασιλείαν and ἱερεῖς, has its justification in the meaning of Revelation 1:9; and it is a perversion to change the present βασιλεύουσιν into a future,(1953) or to take it in the sense of a future. It is especially appropriate that the heavenly beings into whose mouths the song of praise, Revelation 5:9-10, is placed, should recognize in the contending and persecuting church the kings of the earth.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLVII. Revelation 5:9. ᾠδην καινὴν

The adjective is καινὸς, new in kind, not νεὸς, recent. Luthard: “In distinction from the song of creation (ch. 4), the new song of redemption.” Bengel: “The word new is a thoroughly Apocalyptic word,—new name, new song, new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem,—every thing new.” Calov.: “It is new because the singers are new, viz., the renewed in heaven; and the theme is new, viz., the incarnation, passion, and redemption of Christ.” (1993)


Verse 11-12

Revelation 5:11-12. καὶ εἰδον. Without foundation, Ebrard: “John sees something new, viz., he hears,” according to the arbitrary conception that εἰδον designates, “in the weakened wide sense, visionary observation in general.” Correctly, Beng., De Wette, etc.: “John sees the hosts of angels whose voice he hears.” Cf. Revelation 6:1 sqq.

Around the throne of God, and the four beings, and the twenty-four elders, the attention of the seer is completely occupied; he sees now the heavenly host,(1954) an innumerable multitude: καὶ ἠν ἀριθμὸς αὐτῶν μυριάδες μυριάδων καὶ χιλιάδες χιλιάδων. The statement of numbers is still fuller than in Daniel 7:10,(1955) and indicates by its indefiniteness—for it is not said how many are the myriads of myriads—actual innumerability. Incorrectly, Bengel: “A less number added to the greater forbids both to be taken too indefinitely.” The anti-climax(1956) has the meaning that even the preceding very great number is still insufficient, but not that “with the immense number the distinction vanishes.”(1957)

λέγοντες, cf. Revelation 14:1; Revelation 14:8.

φωνῇ ΄εγάλῃ, cf. Revelation 1:10.

λαβεῖν, in adoring acknowledgment.(1958)

τὴν δύνα΄ιν. The article notes the power as peculiar to the Lamb; this, as also the δόξαν and τι΄ὴν, is shared with the enthroned God.(1959) The force of the art., placed at the beginning, which in Revelation 4:11 and Revelation 7:12 is expressly repeated before each particular conception, affects the entire connection. Beng., excellently: “These seven words of praise must be expressed as though they were a single word, because they all stand with one another after a single article.”(1960)

πλοῦτον. Mentioned also in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12;(1961) is not to be limited to the possession and distribution of spiritual goods,(1962) but is in every respect unconditioned wealth in all blessings,(1963) as it belongs to the all-sufficient God, and likewise to the Lamb who shares all his glory, and, therefore, also his throne.(1964)

εὐλογία, not “blessing,”(1965) but praise, honor. The seven items of the ascription of praise have, in other respects, nothing whatever to do with the seven seals,(1966) but are accumulated in this number,(1967) in order to express their holy completeness.

καὶ-g0- μύριαι-g0- μυριάδες-g0-.


Verse 13

Revelation 5:13. As John wishes to state how finally “every creature ( πᾶν κτίσμα) unites in the hymns of praise which have thus far been heard,—and that, too, so that now praise and honor are proclaimed alike to the enthroned God and the Lamb, and consequently, the hymns of praise from the two chs. 4 and 5 are united in an overpowering harmony,(1968)—he expressly mentions the four great “regions of the creation,”(1969) the whole of which he wishes to represent, just as in Psalms 146:6, Philippians 2:11, the entire creation is described in its three chief departments. Grot., etc., incorrectly: ἐπὶ τ. θαλάσσης is synonymous with ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς. Entirely distorted is also the forced interpretation of Alcasar, according to which ἐν τ. οὐρ. is to be regarded as referring to Christians, ἐπὶ τ. γῆς to Jews, ἐπὶ τ. θαλ. to heathen, and ὑποκ. τ. γ. the damned and devils. Similar interpretations are to be found on Philippians 2:10.(1970) Yet the question as to what is meant by the πᾶν κτίσμα ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ dare not be repulsed by the remark, which in itself is correct, that only one “exhaustive enumeration” is intended.(1971)In heaven,” we cannot seek sun, moon, and stars,(1972) but only the living heavenly beings to whom the godly glorified ones belong. “On the earth” is first collective humanity, yet all other creatures are connected therewith in thought. “Under the earth” are not demons, “who unwillingly obey Christ,”(1973) the devils, who by “their very existence, and the gifts wherewith they are furnished, are a striking proof of the greatness and love of the Lamb also, because all things have been created by the Son,(1974)—this is a reference alien to the connection in general, and entirely so to the designation τὸ ἀρνίον,—but those contained in Hades,(1975) yet not in purgatory.(1976) By ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, i.e., “on the sea”—not “in the sea,”(1977) for the change of prepositions is to be accurately noticed—refers not to ships, but to such creatures as belong to the sea itself, here represented as situated not in the same,(1978) but on the surface.(1979)

καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς. On the καὶ, introducing an idea whereby several preceding special points are definitively comprised, cf. Matthew 26:59; Mark 15:1.(1980)

ἐν αὐτοῖς, viz., in the spheres mentioned. Incorrectly, Grot.: “The things which are most deeply seated in animals and things, and escape the eyes of men.”

πάντας-g0- ἤκουσα-g0- λέγοντας-g0-. If this reading is more correct than the, of course easier, καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς πάντα ἤκ. λέγοντα,(1981) the masc. form is explained not by the arbitrary conception(1982) that the ascription of praise proceeds not so much from creatures in the different regions of the creation ( πᾶν κτίσμα, κ. τ. λ.) as rather from angels who, as chiefs, represent these regions; but the express form(1983) corresponds to the prosopopoeia,(1984) which here is still bolder than, e.g., Psalms 103:22; Psalms 148:1 sqq., Revelation 19:1 sqq., because here John in his vision actually hears the song of praise raised by all the works of God.

The four points of the ascription of praise correspond with the simple classification of the entire creation;(1985) but it is arbitrary to limit the εὐλογία to the κτίσμα ἐν τ. ουρανῷ, etc.(1986)


Verse 14

Revelation 5:14. The Amen, the formal confirmation and conclusion of the hymn of praise,(1987) is uttered by the four beings, not because they occupy in any respect “a lower position,”(1988) but because the whole tenor of the hymn of praise in chs. 4 and 5, after resounding in Revelation 5:13 to the farthest extent, returns to the point whence it started,(1989) and thus comes to a truly beautiful rest.(1990) But after the Amen has been uttered, nothing else remains for the elders than silent adoration, which, naturally,(1991) is directed also to the Lamb, and not alone to the One sitting on the throne.(1992)

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-5.html. 1832.

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