SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 5
In Heaven John sees the Lord Jesus about to reveal the seven key phases of the New Testament Church, while all creation waits in anticipation. They worship the Lord Jesus because only He is worthy to reveal the mysteries, and He is the one who has redeemed mankind through His blood.
1 And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals;
The working power of God is called symbolically His right hand. The scroll is God’s divine knowledge of the past, present, and future, and is sealed with seven seals, which are seven phases of mysteries concerning the Church Age, which can only be revealed by God when He will’s it.
2 and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to see it.
This strong angel is probably Gabriel, which is a Hebrew name גַבְרִיאֵל (Gavri’el) meaning “strong man of God”. No one under the earth is reference to the souls in Hades, which is probably where Hades is located, that is in the center of earth, according to Jesus, “so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40).” In this weeping John indicates the desire to know the future course of the Church, for which even the angels were unable to unveil.
5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; 7 and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
Here Jesus is called a Lion and a Lamb. Lion because of His power, and a Lamb because He is gentle as well as He was slain. Jesus descended from the root of David according to the flesh, as it was prophesied in Is. 11, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse.”
Now we see Christ in the midst of His Church in all of Heaven and earth. (twenty four elders see Rev. 4:4; four living creatures-see Rev. 4:6; seven spirits of God see Rev. 3:1) Jesus is said to have taken the scroll from the right hand of Father, because the Son proceeds from the Father, “All things are delivered to Me by My Father;” Matthew 11:27.
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;
All creation falls down to worship Christ the Lamb; the harp signifies hymns of worship, and the bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints, are the prayers that come from the saints in Heaven as well as those on earth. This could very well indicate that those in Heaven not only pray with us but also for us.
9 and they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood ransomed men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”
The new song is the proclamation of the New Covenant, just as the words of this song indicates: The Son of God died for our sins and brought salvation for all people, not just a tribe or nation, but the Church which is gathered together throughout the whole world.
Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church a kingdom, priests for his God and Father. (Rev 1:6; cf. Rev 5:9-10; 1 Pet 2:5,9) The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king.
It is the Church that reigns with Christ. The saints have reigned with Christ on earth ever since His first coming, and they will until He comes again.
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
This was not intended to be a specific number for the servants of God, but only indicates a multitude too great for human calculation.
And under the earth means the souls in Hades. The souls in Hades still bow to Christ (Phil. 2:10), but not for salvation, it is too late. Christ even went down to Hades and preached to the spirits in there (1Peter 3:19).