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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

In the right hand (επι την δεχιανepi tēn dexian). “Upon the right hand” (επιepi not ενen), the open palm. Anthropomorphic language drawn from Ezekiel 2:9.

A book (βιβλιονbiblion). Diminutive of βιβλοςbiblos but no longer so used, βιβλαριδιονbiblaridion occurring instead (Revelation 10:2).

Written (γεγραμμενονgegrammenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of γραπωgraphō and on the back (εσωτεν και οπιστενesōthen kai opisthen). “Within and behind.” Description of a roll like that in Luke 4:17, not a codex as some scholars think. Usually these papyrus rolls were written only on the inside, but this one was so full of matter that it was written also on the back side (οπιστενopisthen), and so was an οπιστογραπονopisthographon like that in Ezekiel 2:10. There are many allegorical interpretations of this fact which are all beside the point.

Sealed (κατεσπραγισμενονkatesphragismenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of κατασπραγιζωkatasphragizō old compound (perfective use of καταkata), to seal up (down), here only in N.T.

With seven seals (σπραγισιν επταsphragisin hepta). Instrumental case of σπραγιςsphragis old word used in various senses, proof or authentication (1 Corinthians 9:2; Romans 4:11), signet-ring (Revelation 7:2), impression made by the seal (Revelation 9:4; 2 Timothy 2:19), the seal on books closing the book (Revelation 5:1, Revelation 5:2, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:9; Revelation 6:1, Revelation 6:3, Revelation 6:5, Revelation 6:7, Revelation 6:9, Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:1). “A will in Roman law bore the seven seals of the seven witnesses” (Charles). But this sealed book of doom calls for no witnesses beyond God‘s own will. Alford sees in the number seven merely the completeness of God‘s purposes.

Verse 2

A strong angel (αγγελον ισχυρονaggelon ischuron). One needed (Revelation 10:1; Revelation 18:21) “whose call could reach to the farthest limits of the universe” (Beckwith) and so “with a great voice” (εν πωνηι μεγαληιen phōnēi megalēi in a great voice, as in Revelation 14:7, Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:15, and without ενen Revelation 5:12; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 7:2, Revelation 7:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 10:3, etc.). See εν ισχυραι πωνηιen ischurāi phōnēi (Revelation 18:2).

Proclaiming (κηρυσσονταkērussonta). Present active predicate participle of κηρυσσωkērussō to herald, to preach.

Worthy to open and to loose (αχιος ανοιχαι και λυσαιaxios anoixai kai lusai). Worthy by rank and character (cf. John 1:27) as well as by ability (εδυνατοedunato Revelation 5:3), followed by two infinitives (first aorist active) of ανοιγωanoigō and λυωluō though ιναhina and the subjunctive can be used after αχιοςaxios as in John 1:27. Here αχιοςaxios is like ικανοςhikanos (capable, qualified) as in Matthew 8:8. The articles here (το ταςtotas) refer to the book and the seals in Revelation 5:1. It is a husteron-proteron, since the loosing of the seals precedes the opening of the book.

Verse 3

ΕνEn (in) with locative (ουρανωιouranōi), επιepi (upon) with genitive (γηςgēs), υποκατωhupokatō (under) with ablative (γηςgēs), as in Revelation 5:13, including the whole universe, as in Exodus 20:4 (Philemon 2:10). The MSS. vary in the negative conjunctions after ουδειςoudeis (no one) between ουδεουδεoude- ουτεουτεoude (continuative, and not - nor) and βλεπειν αυτοoute- oute (disjunctive, neither - nor).

To look thereon (blepein auto). Into the contents of the book. The universe declines the challenge.

Verse 4

I wept much (εγω εκλαιον πολυegō eklaion polu). Imperfect active of κλαιωklaiō picturesque, descriptive, I kept on weeping much; natural tense in these vivid visions (Revelation 1:12; Revelation 2:14; Revelation 5:4, Revelation 5:14; Revelation 6:8, Revelation 6:9; Revelation 10:10; Revelation 19:14; Revelation 21:15). Perhaps weeping aloud.

Was found (ευρετηheurethē). First aorist passive indicative of ευρισκωheuriskō (αχιοςaxios). Predicative nominative after ευρετηheurethē f0).

Verse 5

One of the elders (εις εκ των πρεσβυτερωνheis ek tōn presbuterōn). “One from among the elders” of Revelation 4:4, Revelation 4:10 (εκek with the ablative 8 times in the Apocalypse, 12 in the Fourth Gospel, 10 in rest of the N.T., in place of the mere partitive genitive). No particular reason for one elder as the agent over another (Revelation 7:13).

Saith (λεγειlegei). Dramatic vivid present.

Weep not (μη κλαιεmē klaie). “Cease weeping” (prohibition with μηmē and the present active imperative of κλαιωklaiō Lion (ο λεωνho leōn). Satan is called a lion by Peter (1 Peter 5:8), but the metaphor belongs to Jesus also. Judah is called a lion in the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:9) and Jesus as the greatest of the tribe of Judah, “the Root of David” (η ριζα Δαυειδhē riza Daueid Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10) or the Branch from this root (the Messiah).

Hath overcome (ενικησενenikēsen). First aorist active indicative of νικαωnikaō “did overcome,” coming first in the sentence as “the great historical fact of the victory of the Christ” (Swete).

Verse 6

And I saw (και ειδονkai eidon). Stirred by the words of the elder in Revelation 5:5 (ιδουidou behold). “I beheld.”

In the midst (εν μεσωιen mesōi). See Revelation 4:6 for this idiom. It is not quite clear where the Lamb was standing in the vision, whether close to the throne or in the space between the throne and the elders (perhaps implied by “came” in Revelation 5:7, but nearness to the throne is implied by Revelation 14:1; Acts 7:56; Hebrews 10:11).

A Lamb (αρνιονarnion). Elsewhere in the N.T. ο αμνοςho amnos is used of Christ (John 1:29, John 1:36; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19 like Isaiah 53:7), but in the Apocalypse το αρνιονto arnion occurs for the Crucified Christ 29 times in twelve chapters.

Standing (εστηκοςhestēkos). Second perfect active (intransitive of ιστημιhistēmi) neuter accusative singular (grammatical gender like αρνιονarnion), though some MSS. read εστηκωςhestēkōs (natural gender masculine and nominative in spite of ειδονeidon construction according to sense).

As though it had been slain (ως εσπαγμενονhōs esphagmenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of σπαζωsphazō old word, in N.T. only in Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:12; Revelation 6:4, Revelation 6:9; Revelation 13:3; Revelation 18:24; 1 John 3:12. ωςHōs (as if) is used because the Lamb is now alive, but (in appearance) with the marks of the sacrifice. The Christ as the Lamb is both sacrifice and Priest (Hebrews 9:12.; Hebrews 10:11).

Having (εχωνechōn). Construction according to sense again with masculine nominative participle instead of εχονταechonta (masculine accusative singular) or εχονechon (neuter accusative singular). Seven horns (κεραςkeras) is a common symbol in the O.T. for strength and kingly power (1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Kings 22:11; Psalm 112:9; Daniel 7:7, Daniel 7:20.) and often in Rev (Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:12). Fulness of power (the All-powerful one) is symbolized by seven.

Seven eyes (οπταλμους επταophthalmous hepta). Like Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10 and denotes here, as there, omniscience. Here they are identified with the seven Spirits of Christ, while in Revelation 1:4 the seven Spirits are clearly the Holy Spirit of God (Revelation 3:1), and blaze like torches (Revelation 4:5), like the eyes of Christ (Revelation 1:14). The Holy Spirit is both Spirit of God and of Christ (Romans 8:9).

Sent forth (απεσταλμενοιapestalmenoi). Perfect passive predicate participle of αποστελλωapostellō masculine plural (agreeing with οιhoi and οπταλμουςophthalmous in gender), but some MSS. have απεσταλμεναapestalmena agreeing with the nearer πνευματαpneumata f0).

Verse 7

He taketh (ειληπενeilēphen). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō not used for the aorist (cf. ηλτενēlthen he came), but vivid dramatic picture of the actual scene, “he has taken it.”

Verse 8

He had taken (ελαβενelaben). Here John drops back to the narrative tense (the second aorist active indicative of λαμβανωlambanō), not the past perfect as the English rendering might indicate, merely “when he took.” For like vivid variation (not confusion) of tenses with ειληπενeilēphen see Revelation 3:3; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:17 and with ειρηκαeirēka in Revelation 7:13.; Revelation 19:3.

Fell down (επεσανepesan). Second aorist active indicative of πιπτωpiptō with first aorist (αν̇an) ending, just “fell.”

Having (εχοντεςechontes). “Holding.”

A harp (κιταρανkitharan). Old word, the traditional instrument (lyre or zithern) for psalmody (Psalm 33:2; Psalm 98:5, etc.).

Golden bowls (πιαλας χρυσαςphialas chrusās). Broad shallow saucers, old word, in N.T. only in Revelation 5:8; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1-4, Revelation 16:8, Revelation 16:10, Revelation 16:12, Revelation 16:17; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 21:9.

Of incense (τυμιαματωνthumiamatōn). Old word from τυμιαωthumiaō to burn incense (Luke 1:9), as in Luke 1:10.

Which are (αι εισινhai eisin). “Which (these bowls of incense) symbolize the prayers of the saints” as in Psalm 140:2; Luke 1:10.

Verse 9

They sing (αιδουσινāidousin). Present active indicative of αιδωāidō Old verb, to chant with lyrical emotion (Colossians 3:16).

A new song (ωιδην καινηνōidēn kainēn). Cognate accusative for οιδεoide (ωιδηōidē song) is αοιδεāoide from αειδωāeidō that is αιδωāidō (the verb used), old word already used (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19), called καινηνkainēn because a fresh song for new mercies (Isaiah 42:10; Psalm 33:3; Psalm 40:3, etc.), here in praise of redemption to Christ (Revelation 14:3) like the new name (Revelation 2:17; Revelation 3:12), the new Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2), the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1), not the old song of creation (Revelation 4:8, Revelation 4:11) to God.

For thou wast slain (οτι εσπαγηςhoti esphagēs). Second aorist passive indicative of σπαζωsphazō ΑγοραζωAgorazō used by Paul and Peter of our purchase from sin by Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5; 2 Peter 2:1; cf. 1 Peter 1:18.).

Unto God (τωι τεωιtōi theōi). Dative case of advantage as also in Revelation 5:10.

With thy blood (εν τωι αιματι σουen tōi haimati sou). Instrumental use of ενen as in Revelation 1:5. The blood of Christ as the price of our redemption runs all through the Apocalypse. This is the reason why Christ is worthy to “take the book and open its seals.” That is, he is worthy to receive adoration and worship (Revelation 4:11) as the Father does.

Men of every (εκ πασηςek pasēs). No αντρωπουςanthrōpous (men) or τιναςtinas (some) before εκek in the Greek. See a like ellipsis in Revelation 11:9 with a like grouping of words for all mankind, representatives of all races and nations (Revelation 7:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6).

Verse 10

Madest (εποιησαςepoiēsas). First aorist active indicative of ποιεωpoieō a prophetic use anticipating the final result.

A kingdom and priests (βασιλειαν και ιερειςbasileian kai hiereis). As the correct text in Revelation 1:6.

They reign (βασιλευουσινbasileuousin). Present active indicative, futuristic use, though Aleph P have the future βασιλευσουσινbasileusousin (shall reign) as in Revelation 20:6.

Verse 11

And I saw (και ειδονkai eidon). A new feature introduced by the outer and vaster circle (κυκλωιkuklōi) of angels who catch up the new song of redemption in antiphonal singing, answering the song of the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. Some MSS. read ωςhōs (as if) before πωνηνphōnēn (voice). Ten thousand times ten thousand (μυριαδες μυριαδων και χιλιαδες χιλιαδωνmuriades muriadōn kai chiliades chiliadōn). Literally, “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” a mild husteron-proteron. The regular order in 1 Enoch 40:1. See Daniel 7:10 for χιλιαι χιλιαδεςchiliai chiliades (thousand thousands) and μυριαι μυριαδεςmuriai muriades (countless myriads). They are all efforts to express the innumerable hosts of the angels.

Verse 12

Worthy (αχιονaxion). Agreeing in gender (grammatical neuter) with αρνιονarnion but some MSS. have αχιοςaxios (masculine, natural gender). Note change to third person εστινestin instead of second ειei The point of the song is the same as that in Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:10, but the language differs. Note the repeated article τοto (the lamb the slain) referring to Revelation 5:6, Revelation 5:9. Note also the one article τηνtēn before δυναμινdunamin for all the seven grounds of praise (δυναμινdunamin power, πλουτονplouton wealth, σοπιανsophian wisdom, ισχυνischun strength, τιμηνtimēn honor, δοχανdoxan glory, ευλογιανeulogian blessing), though πλουτονplouton is masculine, in contrast with separate article for each item (all three feminine) in Revelation 4:11, here grouping them all together, “a heptad of praise” (Swete).

Verse 13

Every created thing (παν κτισμαpān ktisma). Every creature in a still wider antiphonal circle beyond the circle of angels (from κτιζωktizō for which see 1 Timothy 4:4; James 1:18), from all the four great fields of life (in heaven, upon the earth, under the earth as in Revelation 5:3, with on the sea επι της ταλασσηςepi tēs thalassēs added). No created thing is left out. This universal chorus of praise to Christ from all created life reminds one of the profound mystical passage in Romans 8:20-22 concerning the sympathetic agony of creation (κτισιςktisis) in hope of freedom from the bondage of corruption. If the trail of the serpent is on all creation, it will be ultimately thrown off.

Saying (λεγονταςlegontas). Masculine (construction according to sense, personifying the created things) if genuine, though some MSS. have λεγονταlegonta (grammatical gender agreeing with πανταpanta) present active participle of λεγωlegō to say.

And to the Lamb (και τωι αρνιωιkai tōi arniōi). Dative case. Praise and worship are rendered to the Lamb precisely as to God on the throne. Note separate articles here in the doxology as in Revelation 4:11 and the addition of το κρατοςto kratos (active power) in place of ισχυςischus (reserve of strength) in Revelation 5:12.

Verse 14

Amen (ΑμηνAmēn). The four living creatures give their approval to the doxology after the antiphonal songs.

Fell down and worshipped (επεσαν και προσεκυνησανepesan kai prosekunēsan). In silent adoration that closes the whole service of praise to the One upon the throne and to the Lamb. As in Revelation 4:10 so here the representatives of the redeemed bow in silent worship. Pliny says that the Christians sing a song to Christ as to God. He is here worshipped by the universe (Philemon 2:10.).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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