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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Revelation 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

REVELATION CHAPTER 5

Revelation 5:1-3 The book sealed with seven seals, which no man is

worthy to open.

Revelation 5:4,5 John weeping thereat is comforted.

Revelation 5:6,7 The Lamb that was slain taketh the book to open it.

Revelation 5:8-10 The beasts and the elders praise him that had redeemed

them with his blood.

Revelation 5:11-14 The angels join with them in ascribing glory to God

and to the Lamb.

Chapter Introduction

The same vision yet proceedeth. Hitherto John had only seen a throne, with a person sitting upon it in a very glorious habit and appearance, twenty-four grave persons, and four living creatures, in the shape of a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle, each of them with six wings, and full of eyes, about the throne; and heard the twenty-four living creatures constantly giving glory to God, and the twenty-four elders harmonizing with them, and joining likewise in the high praises of God. Now the vision proceedeth.

The disputes what this

book was are very idle; for it was certainly the book of which we read hereafter, that it was opened, and to which the seven seals mentioned in the following chapters were annexed, of the opening of all which we read; and this could be no other than codex fatidicus, ( as Mr. Mede calls it), the book of the counsels, decrees, and purposes of God relating to his church, as to what more remarkable things should happen to it to the end of the world; which book was in the hand of the Father.

Written within, and on the back-side; very full of matter, so as it was written on all sides.

Sealed with seven seals; hitherto concealed from the world, and to be revealed by parts, as to the bringing to pass of those things decreed in it; though all at once by God here revealed, in a degree, by visions unto John.


Verse 2

There were no weak angels, but possibly this angel might, in appearance to John, look as if he were stronger than others; or rather, so judged from the great and

loud voice he used.

Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? Not that he thought any was able, or worthy. We can only conclude from hence the impotency of men to search, and find out, and expound the deep things of God, and consequently the unlawfulness of too narrow a prying into his secret mysteries.


Verse 3

None of the angels in heaven, nor any man upon the

earth, nor any of them whose bodies are

under the earth and their souls in heaven, nor any infernal spirits; none was found sufficient

to open the book, and to look on it. There was none who replied to the angel’s question, Revelation 5:2.


Verse 4

As it is the nature of man to desire to know secret and hidden things, especially such as we apprehend of concernment to ourselves, or those whom we love, or are interested in it; and to be troubled, if we know they may be known, and are at a loss for due means whereby to come to the knowledge of them.


Verse 5

We must remember that John is here describing a vision, and that part of it which is but introductive to the material parts of it. He had in his vision seen a book in the right hand of God the Father, sitting upon his throne of glory; he had heard an angel proclaiming: If any were worthy, he should open the book, and loose the seals. None appeared to answer that voice; he was troubled; he thought he heard one saying to him: Be not troubled, the book shall be opened. Christ shall open the book, and loose the seals of it, who is here expressed under a double character:

1. The Lion of the tribe of Judah; he is so called, undoubtedly, with allusion to Jacob’s prophecy, Genesis 49:9,10, wherein Judah was compared to a lion’s whelp, because he should be victorious. Christ was to be born of this tribe, and was to be a great Conqueror.

2. He is called the Root of David; he was a Branch of David, as he was man, but the Root of David, as he was God; therefore David, Psalms 110:1, called him Lord, though he was his Son.

Hath prevailed with his Father

to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof; for leave to open the book, and loose the seals thereof; i.e. to reveal those things that are the counsels and purposes of God relating to his church, and the affairs thereof, to the world’s end. I do not think we are at all concerned to inquire who is here meant by

one of the twenty-four elders. As in parables there are some things put in merely to complete the feigned history, so in the relation of visions some things of that nature are put in, which need not a particular explication. The sum is: That while John was troubled for fear he should not know what was in the book, he was told by one of those who attended the throne, that he need not be troubled, for Christ had obtained a liberty from his Father (in whose power only times and seasons for future things were) to reveal these counsels of God as to things to come.


Verse 6

And I beheld; hearing the mention of a Lion of the tribe of Judah, he looks about wistly to see if he could see any justifying that representation.

And, lo, in the midst the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb: instead of a Lion he seeth a Lamb; Christ Jesus, called a Lamb by this apostle, John 1:29,36, and very often in this book; a Lamb, for whiteness and innocency, 1 Peter 1:19, for meekness and patience, Acts 8:32, but here with reference to the paschal lamb.

As it had been slain; for he appears wounded and pierced, as if he had been slain; and to show that he was equal with the Father, he appears in the midst of the throne; and in the midst of the elders, and of the four living creatures, to show his presence with his church and ministers, Matthew 28:20, and his walking (as was said, Revelation 2:1) in the midst of is churches, which were the golden candlesticks there mentioned.

Having seven horns; he appeareth now with seven horns, which are members in which the beasts’ strength, power, and beauty is much seen, to denote his glory and beauty, and the power he had now received to offend and conquer all his enemies.

And seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God; and with seven eyes, which were the seven Spirits of God, mentioned Revelation 1:4 4:5; endued with the Spirit of God, (which is also called his Spirit), not given to him by measure.

Sent forth into all the earth; which spiritual gifts and perfections he exerciseth over all the earth, both with relation to his church, and to his church’s enemies.


Verse 7

This Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, having been slain, and having prevailed with his Father to open this book, mentioned Revelation 5:1, of all the secrets, counsels, and purposes of God relating to his church, he came and took it of his Father, in whose right hand it was, as Revelation 5:1.

From hence to the end of this chapter, are nothing but songs sang by the living creatures which John saw, and the twenty-four elders which he saw, and an innumerable company of angels, to the honour and glory of Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer of man, and the Head of the church, upon this taking of the book from the right hand of his Father.


Verse 8

When the Lamb that had been slain had obtained of him that sat on the throne to open the book of God’s secret counsels relating to his church, mentioned Revelation 5:1, and had taken it out of his right hand, John saw the four beasts, the four living creatures, mentioned Revelation 4:6-8, by which seemed to be represented the ministers of the gospel, or the whole church of Christ;

and the four and twenty elders, that had on their heads crowns of gold, mentioned Revelation 4:4, by which, we said, were represented either the ministers of the church, or the whole church.

Fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours: he alludeth to the worship of God under the Old Testament, where in the temple they were wont to praise God with instruments of music, and offering up of frankincense: see 1 Chronicles 13:8 15:16 2 Chronicles 5:12 Nehemiah 12:27 Psalms 33:2 141:2 150:3. These vials of odours, he tells us, signified

the prayers of the saints. The whole verse signifies the prayers and praises, even all that adoration which God, under the gospel, should have from his ministers and people, for constituting his Son the Head of his church, and making him their Prophet, Priest, and King.


Verse 9

And they sung a new song: by a new song is either to be understood an excellent song, (for new songs are usually most valued), or (which pleaseth me best) new as to the matter of it; for the servants of God under the Old Testament could not bless God for the actual redemption of man by the blood of Christ, but only rejoice in hope, embracing the promises seen afar off by the eye of faith.

Saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; they acknowledge Christ worthy to be intrusted with his church, and the revelations of the counsels of God, with relation to it, to open them.

For thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us, &c.; because he had redeemed his church, scattered over all the world, from sin, death, and hell, unto God, to serve him, and to live for ever with him, and that with no less price than his own blood; Wherefore (as the apostle tells us, Philippians 2:9) God hath exalted him.


Verse 10

The four living creatures and four and twenty elders (by which are represented the ministers and members of the church of Christ) go on in showing why they had reason to proclaim Christ worthy to be the Prophet to his church, to open the counsels of God to them, viz. because of the great love he had showed to them, not only in redeeming them with his blood from the guilt and power of sin, but in making them kings and priests; giving them the same privileges that the Jewish church had, who were called a royal priesthood, Exodus 19:6; giving them a power (as priests) to offer up not such bloody fleshly sacrifices as they offered, but) spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through the Beloved, 1 Peter 2:5: and also (as kings) to rule over their lusts and sensitive appetite; and to

reign hereafter on the earth, judging the world {1 Corinthians 6:3} at the great day, with the great Judge of the quick and the dead.


Verse 11

And I beheld, I still attended diligently,

and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders; and I heard many angels, with the living creatures and the elders; (from whence we gather, that we must not, by the living creatures, or elders, understand angels, for they are mentioned apart by themselves, neither could they say, as Revelation 5:9,10, that Christ had redeemed them with his blood); these angels joined in this harmony with the church to give glory to Christ.

And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; their number was infinite, not to be numbered. See the like, Daniel 7:10.


Verse 12

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain; the Lamb mentioned Revelation 5:6, with seven horns and seven eyes, viz. Jesus Christ.

To receive power, and riches; he is worthy of those horns he weareth, emblems of power and strength given unto him; for all power was given him in heaven and earth.

And wisdom; and of those seven eyes he hath, i.e. of the spirit of wisdom, Isaiah 11:2, the riches of grace and wisdom.

And strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing; and of all the homage, glory, praise, blessing, and obedience, which people can give him. I know not whether there be any thing in the observation made by some, that the number of things here mentioned, of which the Lamb is worthy, answereth the number of the seven Spirits of God, before mentioned.


Verse 13

Ver. 13,14. The meaning of the several phrases here used, is not to be strictly and particularly examined; the sense of them all in general is, to show the consent of all the angels and glorified saints, and of the whole church, in giving praise unto God, and particularly to the Lord Jesus Christ, (the Lamb), for the work of man’s redemption; and their particular consent, that Christ is to be worshipped as the Father; and the consent and acquiescence of the whole creation in the counsel and purpose of God, and in the work of his providence, constituting Christ as the King, Priest, and Prophet of his church. And though inanimate creatures, or sensitive creatures, cannot speak, yet they are also said to join in these praises, as the glory of God shineth in them, and they, by him, shall be freed from that vanity under which they groan, Romans 8:19-21, and enjoy something of the liberty of the sons of God; and shall all be subject and obedient unto Christ in their respective stations and orders, Philippians 2:9,10, and fulfil his will in the execution of his counsels and purposes in the government of the world, in order to the preservation of his church.


Verse 14

See Poole on "Revelation 5:14"

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 5:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-5.html. 1685.

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