4:1 The Open Door in Heaven
SUMMARY OF REVELATION 4:
The Voice from Heaven. The Throne and He Who Sat on the Throne. The Twenty-four Elders. The Four Living Forms. Their Cry Night and Day. The Doxology of the Twenty-four Elders.
After this. After these things (Revised Version). After the letters to the churches had been dictated. The things which must be after this are yet to be shown.
And, behold, I looked. Rather, I saw in vision.
And a door [was] opened in heaven. Heaven standing open so that the throne within could be seen.
The first voice which I heard. The same voice that he had heard at first. See Re 1:10.
Which said, Come up hither. Through the opened door.
I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Hence, we know that what John sees in the vision just opening belongs to events still future when he wrote.
4:2 Immediately I was in the spirit. At once he was lifted to that spiritual exaltation which enabled him to behold the heavenly visions.
A throne was set in heaven. The throne of God was revealed and [One] sat on the throne.
4:3 Like a jasper and a sardine stone. We learn from Re 21:11 the qualities of the jasper meant a stone of dazzling brilliance, a mountain of light, clear as crystal. The two probably symbolize the splendor, holiness and judgments of God.
[There was] a rainbow round about the throne. The rainbow was a pledge of God's faithfulness to his covenants (Ge 9:13). God sits upon the throne, splendid, dazzling, terrible, but compassed about by the Covenant of Grace.
4:4 Around the throne [were] four and twenty seats. Rather, thrones, as in the Revised Version. The central throne was encompassed by twenty-four lesser thrones.
Upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting. Critics are not agreed as to the signification of these elders, but most of them think that they symbolize the glorified church of God gathered round the throne. They disagree as to the significance of the number twenty-four. There were twenty-four courses of priests. There were twelve tribes, and twelve apostles. Possibly the number of the latter was doubled to symbolize the entire church, Jew and Gentile. In a note below I will give my own view of the Twenty-four Elders. The ancients were (1) twenty-four in number; (2) they were
clothed in white raiment, the color of victory and purity; (3) on their heads were
crowns of gold, not the diadem which means a kingly crown, but the golden crown of honor ( stephanos ). See PNT Re 3:11.
4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices. These seem to portray the threatenings and judgments which proceed from the throne.
And [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. These bright light-giving lamps symbolize the Holy Spirit in the fulness of its manifestation, indicated by the
seven Spirits of God. See PNT Re 1:4.
4:6 A sea of glass like unto crystal. This deep, transparent sea before the throne is supposed to symbolize the purity and calmness of the Divine rule. It stands solid, calm and clear.
In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne. The four forms which are next described were to the right and left of the throne in the midst between these extremes. The throne was in their midst.
Four beasts. Four living creatures, as in the Revised Version. Four beasts, as in the Common Version, is an incorrect idea. The Greek for beasts is different ( thiria ). They are four zoa, living forms.
Full of eyes. Their eyes looked backwards as well as forward. The description of these wonderful objects is next given.
4:7 The first creature [was] like a lion. It looked like a lion, but was not a lion. It had other characteristics.
The second beast like a calf. Had a body similar to that of the ox.
The third beast had a face as a man. Otherwise its structure differed from that of men.
The fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle. It will be seen that four departments of animated nature are represented. That of the wild beasts of prey, that of domestic animals, the human species, and the fowls of the air. Each is represented by what, in the eyes of a Hebrew, would be regarded as its highest type.
4:8 The four beasts. The four living creatures (Revised Version). Their common characteristics are now pointed out. All have six wings; they are full of eyes, and they all unite in a ceaseless cry of praise to God.
[They were] full of eyes within. They were full of eyes before and behind, and when the wings were lifted John saw that they were full of eyes within also. The eyes, sleepless, possibly symbolize never resting, wakeful activity.
They rest not. They never rest from praising the Lord.
4:9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him. Shall utter such praises as are given in Re 4:8. Then the twenty-four elders also join in swelling the anthems. It will be noted that these two classes, whatever they signify, are both about the throne, and both engage in harmonious praise of the Almighty.
4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne. There are four elements in this worship: (1) They fall down;
and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, (2) they adore;
and cast their crowns before the throne, (3) an act of homage which gives Him who sitteth there all the glory of their crowns;
saying, (4) they offer ascriptions of praise.
4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power. The chorus in which they join ascribes all glory to God as his right as the Creator.
For thy pleasure they are and were created. Because of thy will (Revised Version). Not as in the Common Version. They do not say that God created all things for his pleasure, but that his will was the efficient cause.