RV4:1 After these things I saw,234
and look! a door was opened235
in the Celestialum. The first voice I heard speaking to me236
was like a trumpet, saying: “Step up here!237
[Exodus 29:24 LXX] I will show238
what must take place.”239
I saw: John was instructed by Christ to record what he had seen and heard begins an example. What follows is not necessarily something future but something already present and in operation. One may view chapter four as a detailed description of what Daniel saw. [Daniel 7:2-14]
A door was opened: Perhaps something like Luke 3:21.
The first voice I heard speaking to me: Note that John sees and hears but not always together. Sometimes he sees something without hearing it. This voice is the first of many to follow. The word “voice” occurs 37 times in the Apocalypse.
Step up here: Or, Come up here [TCN]. [Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #305, ascend, rise, mount] The language is similar to Exodus 29:24.
I will show: That is, a thing seen – a vision, or series of visions. Thus, the often-repeated phrase, “I saw.” The phrase occurs 46 times. John also “hears” things which he does not necessarily “see.” The word group “hear(d)” occurs 32 times.
What must take place: This phrase is straight out of Daniel 2:28 (LXX).
RV4:2 After these things I immediately came to be in the Pneuma.240
And, look! a Throne241
was situated in the Celestialum.
In the Pneuma: PME: inspired. From this moment John is under the influence or pressure of the Pneuma and though largely he is within a heavenly vision, he is also transported to other locations and observes what is to happen on earth.
A Throne: It is first without the article and thereafter always “the” Throne. Some phrases seem to refer to the Throne-room. “Throne” occurs 43 times. Note the “throne” of Revelation 20:12 is “a throne” and therefore different from the Throne. Compare Isaiah 6:1-10; Ezekiel 1:4-28.
RV4:3The One enthroned242
was like viewing243
a jasper stone and sardius.244
Like viewing an emerald
rainbow245 encircling the Throne. [Ezekiel 1:26]
The One enthroned: Or, One sitting on the Throne. There is but “one” and not two or three. The Apocalypse completely lacks the Trinity. There is similar language at Isaiah 6:1.
Like viewing: Or, like seeing. John is inspired but he apparently has the freedom to describe things from his own perspective. The Greek is HOPASEI and clearly means to view something.
Jasper stone and sardius: Three are noted here: jasper, sardius, and emerald. What is being described is light and its colors: diamond-like crystal, reddish-brown (or, yellowish red); and the green of emerald. These colors must play in a glorious symphonic display. There is no other description of God beyond these abstractions. [Compare similar language at Ezekiel 1:25-28.]
Rainbow: The Greek is IRIS and suggests something circular and not a half circle.
Revelation 4:4-6 – 24 Elders and 7 Lamps
the Throne were 24247
24 Presbyters sat on the thrones.249
They were enwrapped in white outer garments.250
Upon their heads were golden crowns.251
Encircling: There are several words used in relation to position in the Throne-room: in the midst, upon, encircle, out of, before (in the sight of), etc. The Greek here is CYCLOTHEN from which “circle” is rooted.
24: This number is now introduced and occurs 6x: Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:8; 11:16; 19:4. Compare 1 Chronicles 23:4-27. There were 24 divisions of the priests under David. The number breathes of priestliness as the double of 12, the number for Israel.
Thrones: These are sharing the same room with the Throne of God and so are associated with divine rule.
24 Presbyters sat on the thrones: Or, elders. The Greek is PRESBYTEROUS and so these are Presbyters. These 24 occur 12 times: Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5, 6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4. The word is used of the ancients (Mark 7.3) and church administrators. (1 Timothy 5:17) It is curious that the 12 Apostles and the 12 tribes of Israel equal 24. Various explanations have been given for this symbolic group. That there are literally 24 seems to be shown by the fact that “one of the Presbyters” speaks with John in chapter 7, leaving 23. Some would see the group on thrones and with crowns as a symbol of the glorified Church represented by these Presbyters much as the 70 elders represented all of Israel. Since the 24 orders of Davidic priests rotated in their temple service, it may infer there is a rotating body represented before God.
Garments: The Greek is HIMATIOIS and not the STOLE. Compare notes in chapter 7.
Golden crowns: Gold is viewed as a symbol of heavenly things. The word “crown” occurs 7 times (if one deletes the “like” of Revelation 9:7): Revelation 2:10; 3:11; 4:4, 10; 6:2; 9:7; 12:1; 14:14. The word is always associated with heaven and rulership.
RV4:5 Out of the Throne came
of fire burn in sight of the Throne.256
These 7 lamps are the 7 spirits of The God.257
Thunders: Occurs 8 times in the plural: Revelation 4:5; 8:5; 10:3, 4; 11:19; 16:18; 19:6; and twice singular: Revelation 6:1; 14:2. The whole phrase in combination occurs 4 times: Revelation 4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18. It finds its source in Exodus 19:16. Compare also Hebrews 12:18, 19. It betokens events of extreme and sublime importance.
7 lamps: This is the only plural occurrence of the word, though “lamp” occurs at Revelation 8:10; 18:23; 21:23. This later verse shows the City of God without any “lamp” for God and the Lamb are the “lamp.” The phrase is from Zechariah 4:2.
In sight of the Throne: This phrase is ENOPION TOU THRONOU and occurs 8 times with regard to this Throne: Revelation 4:5, 6, 10; 7:9, 11, 15; 8:3; 14:3 and always means heaven. It occurs once with regard to “a great white throne” of Messiah’s judgment at Revelation 20:12. God has given the authority to judge to the Lamb. (John 5:22)
The 7 spirits of The God: Some see “the seven angels of the Presence.” (NJB ftn) But, compare the seven attributes of Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-3. (LXX) The seven inspired letters given by the Pneuma should not be overlooked.
RV4:6 There was a sea of glass like crystal before the Throne.258
In the midst of the Throne-room and encircling the Throne were
4 Living Creatures
[Ezekiel 1:5 LXX]
full of eyes front and back.259
Sea of glass like crystal before the Throne: This may be the floor though some see the “great sea” of Solomon’s Temple. (1 Kings 7:23-26) This is doubtful, as it is a place situated in “the courtyard” (Revelation 11:2) and was used to cleanse sacrifices and priests. In the Apocalypse certain temple words are always from the type of Moses’ tabernacle and not Solomon’s temple. (Revelation 15:2)
4 Living Creatures full of eyes front and back: The four Greek ZOA (from which “zoo” is derived) are seen individually speaking elsewhere indicating a literal number. The number four can indicate a certain universality as in the “four winds” meaning the four directions of the compass. The imagery is out of Ezekiel 1:5-21. (Compare Isaiah 6:1-10) Early Church fathers saw these as symbols for the four Gospels. It is more likely they, like the Presbyters, are attendants upon God’s immediate Throne. They may symbolize the cardinal attributes of the Throne and God’s rule. Various symbols are established for the lion (justice), bull (power), man (love), and eagle (wisdom). Regarding the “eyes” one may imagine the peacock. “Eyes” may symbolize inspection or awareness.
Revelation 4:7-8 – The Praise of 4 Creatures
RV4:7 The first Living Creature was like a
lion. The second Living Creature was like a
young bull. The third Living Creature had
the face of a human. [Ezekiel 1:10] The fourth Living Creature was like a flying
Eagle: These four are drawn from Ezekiel 1:10.
RV4:8 The 4 Living Creatures
each had 6 wings.261
They were full of eyes, on either side. [Ezekiel 1:18]
6 wings: Perhaps the logical figure. But, the number 6 finds itself out of character in this celestial realm. [See Isaiah 6:2]
Revelation 4:9-11 – Heavenly Praise of the Creator
RV4:9 They never rest and they keep saying: “Holy, holy, holy,262
[Isaiah 6:3] YHWH The God,263
The-One-Who-Is, [Exodus 3:14] and, The-One-Who-Was, and, The-One-Who-Is-Coming.”264
Holy, holy, holy: Some hear the Trinity. It is from the LXX at Isaiah 6:3 where YHWH occurs and therefore it is limited to Jehovah. Note the triadic phrase is of The Almighty and does not include the Lamb. Often repetitions in threes are for emphasis.
YHWH The God: Scofield has “Jehovah” in the margin. A few would have YHWH here.
The One-Who-Is, and, The-One-Who-Was, and, The-One-Who-Is-Coming: The apocalyptic Name for God, here in three tenses: past, present, and future. See notes on Revelation 1:8 and compare Exodus 3:14 LXX.
RV4:10 When the Living Creatures give glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One sitting on the Throne,265
the One living into throughout all future periods of time,266
the 24 Presbyters prostrate before267the One sitting on the Throne. [Isaiah 6:1] They cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
The One sitting on the Throne: This is the “one” to whom the three “Holy” are rendered. It is clear who the One is on the Throne: God Almighty.
All future periods of time: Or, ages of the ages, eternity. Generally rendered “forever.” It is literally, “eons upon eons.” The phrase occurs 7 times of God (Revelation 1:18; 4:9, 10; 5:13; 7:12; 10:6; 15:7), once of Christ and his rule (Revelation 11:15), once of the Saints and their rule (Revelation 22:5), and three times as punishment for the wicked. (Revelation 14:11; 19:3; 20:10) Never is the phrase used of anyone else and their life. The language in this verse may be a conflate from Isaiah 6:1 and Daniel 4:34; 6:26.
The 24 Presbyters prostrate before: The Presbyters worship God and acknowledge His sovereignty. Here ENOPION (before; in sight of) means heaven.
RV4:11 “The Supreme Being268
and our God,269
you are worthy to receive the glory and the honor and the power because You created everything.270
Because of Your will they exist and were created.”
The Supreme Being: Or, Lord. In English the word “Lord” may be used of the Supreme Being and is so rendered from time to time. If YHWH is used here it is from the mouth of celestial beings.
God: The Greek is HO THEOS.
You created everything: Including the Son. (Revelation 3:14)