Nazarene Apocalypse ©2000

CHAPTER FIVE:
WHO IS WORTHY TO OPEN THE LITTLE BIBLE?

[“A Worthy Lamb”]
Key Word: Seals
Theme Verse: 2

Revelation 5:1-5 – Who Is Worthy to Open 7 Seals?

RV5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of the enthroned One271 [Isaiah 6:1] a Little Bible written on both sides of the pages.272 [Ezekiel 2:9, 10] It was sealed shut with 7 Seals.273
271 The enthroned One: It ought to be clear that only “one” is the Person on the Throne, God Almighty, the One who possesses the Little Bible. The Lamb receives the book. Is it obvious there are two here and only one is God Almighty. Note the absence of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing of the Trinity in this scene when opportunity is surely present. There is something of Revelation 1:1 in this vision: the moment when Jesus Christ receives the Apocalypse.
272 Little Bible written on both sides of the pages: The Greek is BIBLION and usually translated “scroll” though most scrolls are never written on both sides. This may be a codex, a primitive book. The early Christians were very instrumental in the development of the book or codex. This is a little book, booklet (KIT), or Little Bible.
273 Sealed shut with 7 Seals: [Compare Isaiah 29:11.] Note the Book of Daniel is “sealed” (Daniel 12:9) until “the time of the end” of Jerusalem’s “last days.” It is now in the Apocalypse that the Book of Daniel is truly unsealed. There are over four dozen references to Daniel. The Apocalypse is left unsealed at Revelation 22.10. Therefore, any may now read the Little Bible without any intermediary channel. It is likely that the “revelation” of Revelation 1:1 is this Little Bible. All the information that follows is out of this codex. Compare Ephesians 3:5, 9-11 with Revelation 10:7.
RV5:2 I saw a strong angel heralding in a great voice:274 “Who is worthy to open and read the Little Bible and to break its Seals?”
274 A strong angel heralding in a great voice: How does one recognize “a strong angel” as opposed to a normal one? Angels have degrees of strength. (Daniel chapter 10) The voice is powerful and must echo in the Throne-room chamber. It raises a question for a wide audience.
RV5:3 And no one was able to open the Little Bible nor any able to look into it, not in heaven or on earth or under the ground.275 [Philippians 2:10]
275 Under the ground: Or, earth. That is, among the dead. AMP: in the realm of the dead, Hades. The phrase may allude to Philippians 2:10.
RV5:4 I began to weep greatly276 because no one worthy was found who could open the Little Bible and examine it.277
276 To weep greatly: John is overcome in his spiritual emotions. His spirit must be on edge given the vision and the Presence.
277 Examine it: KJV: to read the book. The idea is to read it.
RV5:5 And one of the Presbyters278 said to me: “Weep not. Look! the Lion of the tribe of Judah,279 [Genesis 49:9] the root of David,280 [Isaiah 11:10] has conquered to open the Little Bible281 and unlock its 7 Seals.”
278 One of the Presbyters: Leaving 23 Presbyters. The number is literal. This happens again at Revelation 7:13, 14.
279 The Lion of the tribe of Judah: The source is Genesis 49:9 and Jacob’s deathbed prophecy regarding Messiah. Compare Isaiah 11:1, 10.
280 The root of David: Likely an allusion to Isaiah 11:10 without using “Jesse”. David was mentioned earlier at Revelation 3:7. Compare Isaiah 11:1, 10 with Romans 15:12.
281 Conquered to open the Little Bible: Compare John 16:33 and the use of the word "conquered" in 1 John. This “conquest” is primarily a matter of faith. Jesus has already conquered during “his days in the flesh” (Hebrews 5:7) and he is now presented victorious in the celestial Throne-Room. (Hebrews 2:9) The Greek is EVIKESEN the root for “victory.” The word occurs 16 times.

Revelation 5:6-10 – A New Song to the Lamb

RV5:6 I saw in the middle of the Throne-room, among 4 Living Creatures and the Presbyters, stood a Lamb as though slaughtered.282 [Isaiah 53:7] The Lamb had 7 horns283 and 7 eyes.284 [Zechariah 4:10] The eyes are the 7 spirits of The God285 which have been sent forth in all the earth. [Zechariah 4:10]
282 A Lamb as though slaughtered: The language echoes Isaiah 53:7. [Compare Acts 8:32] The victorious Christ. Here is the vision of Daniel 7:13, 14 amplified. It takes up where Daniel left off: the momentous convention to present the Son of Man. Here is the event Stephen saw at his martyrdom. (Acts 7:55, 56) The Lamb has been “slaughtered” on the Tree. (Revelation 5:6, 9, 12; 13:8) The wild Sea Beast’s Seventh Head is also “slaughtered.” (Revelation 13:3) It is clear that John has been taken backward in time to the moment in heaven in the year 33 AD.
283 7 horns: “Horn” means power and so power in spiritual perfection. Compare Zechariah 4:10. Note his power in Ephesians 1:20-23.
284 7 eyes: Eyes for inspection and judgment. Just as the Son is the mouth for God, he is also the “eyes.” (Proverbs 3:4; 5:21; 15:3; 22:12) Compare Zechariah 4:10.
285 The 7 spirits of The God: The “eyes are the 7 spirits.” An explanation of the 7 Spirits is given here: the spiritually perfect “eyes” of God manifest in His Lamb. Nothing escapes his view as he walks among the congregational lampstands.
RV5:7 Then the Lamb immediately approached and took the Little Bible286 out of the right hand of the enthroned One. [Isaiah 6:1]
286 Little Bible: If this vision be an expansion on the thought of Revelation 1:1, ‘a revelation The God gave (Jesus).’ Jesus would have received this BIBLION or codex before John entered prison, mostly likely following his ascension as the slaughtered Lamb to the Throne of God in the year 33 AD. (Revelation 3:12)
RV5:8 When he received the Little Bible the 4 Living Creatures and the 24 Presbyters,287 each with a harp288 and a golden bowl289 full of the prayers of the Saints, prostrated before the Lamb.290
287 The 24 Presbyters: If this is occurring upon the return of Jesus to heaven in the year 33 AD then those symbolized by the 4 Zoa and the 24 Presbyters are already in heaven before God. The 4 Zoa may symbolize the universal family which attends upon God. (Daniel 7:10) The 24 Presbyters the Church-potential now represented before God. Compare Ephesians 2:1-7 and that potential purchased by the blood of the Lamb. Note elsewhere the idea of immortality being “reserved” in the heaven for the Saints. (Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 1:4) The view that the four Zoa and the 24 Presbyters as angelic representatives of the celestial hierarchy must be kept open.
288 Harp: A musical instrument of the Saints. (Revelation 15:2) The “harp” (Revelation 5:8; 14:2) and the “prayers of the Saints” may reinforce the idea presented above that the 24 stands as a parabolic representation for the entire glorified Church though such members be still living on earth or at rest in their tombs.
289 Golden bowl: A priestly cup used in Mosaic tabernacle services. The word in singular occurs 7 times in chapter 16 and in the plural 5 times at Revelation 5:8; 15:7; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9. Compare Hebrews 9:10, 21.
290 Prostrated before the Lamb: The Greek is PIPTO which means to descend from an erect to a prostrate position.
RV5:9 Then the 24 Presbyters sang a new song,291 [Psalm 33:3] saying: “You are worthy to receive the Little Bible and open its Seals because you were slaughtered.292 With your blood you bought for The God293 [persons] out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.294 [Daniel 7:14]
291 A new song: This hymnal subject also links the 24 with the glorified Church. Compare Revelation 14:2, 3. The phrase “new song” occurs Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10 and may be understood as a special hymnal praise marking a milestone or phase in the development of God’s eternal purpose. It is the Church represented by the 24 that sings this resounding praise in the Throne-Room.
292 Because you were slaughtered: The reason for the Lamb’s worthiness is his obedient sacrificial death. (Philippians 2:5-9)
293 With your blood you bought for The God: The blood of the Lamb is mentioned 4 times. (Revelation 1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 12:11) The word “blood” occurs 540 times in the Bible with its first occurrence at Genesis 4:10. See a concordance for its many uses in the Christian Bible. It is used most often (23x) in the Letter to the Hebrews. The Apocalypse punctuates an important Christian truth: the redemptive value of the blood of Christ. (Hebrews 10:29; 1 Peter 1:19) With this “blood” he bought or purchased the Saints. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9; 14:3, 4.
294 Tribe, tongue, people, and nation: The whole phrase is from Daniel 7:14 LXX and is the same as Daniel 7:9. Note the hymn does not say Christ purchased all humankind but a certain royal priesthood “out of” all humanity.
RV5:10 You made them a Kingdom and priests to our God.295 [Exodus 19:6] They are reigning upon the earth.”296
295 A Kingdom and priests to our God: The Sinai covenant promise. (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5, 9) It has the ring of past tense. The Church is the realm of Christ, his domain since his ascension to heaven. (Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:13; 2:10) The “kingdom of the Son” (Matthew 13:41) is composed of saintly priests. Thus, this kingdom or realm may be viewed as already in existence.
296 They are reigning upon the earth: Some have this past or present tense (ASV; TCNT; KIT) and others future. (KJV; KNX; NWT) This sounds very much past tense. The Church already functions as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and so from some aspects the Saints could be viewed as reigning upon earth since Pentecost. However, this may telescope to the future during the Thousand Years. (Revelation 20:4-6) “Upon earth,” is based on the Greek EPI here, which may mean “over” as in Revelation 9:11 or “upon.” Judging from the description of New Jerusalem’s descent (Revelation 3:12; 21:2, 10, 24) this reign may be “upon” earth. Note EPI at Revelation 10:2, 5, 8; 11:10; 13:8, 14; 14:6; 16:18; 17:8. Of course, the “earth” cannot be destroyed if the Saints are to rule it.

Revelation 5:11-12 – Heavenly Praise of the Lamb

RV5:11 Then I saw and I heard a voice of many angels and the 4 Living Creatures297 and the Presbyters encircling the Throne. The number of all of them was myriads of myriads298 and thousands of thousands, [Daniel 7:10] in a great voice, saying:
297 Many angels and the 4 Living Creatures: The angels are separated from the 4 Zoa. It is not unthinkable that there are 4 primary Life-Forms (Zoa) which attend upon God’s Throne as representatives of His cardinal attributes: love, justice, power, wisdom.
298 The number of all of them was myriads of myriads: Of the angels in particular, since the other numbers have already been given. Compare the source at Daniel 7:10. All the heavenly host and celestial beings are in the Throne-Room which is later described as the Temple.
RV5:12 “The Lamb who was slaughtered [Isaiah 53:7] is worthy299 to receive the power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.”300
299 The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy: The worthiness of the Lamb is the grand theme of this celestial anthem and shout of praise. This is the same as the PANEGYREI at Hebrews 12:23. It includes the 7-fold doxology.
300 Power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing: Seven attributes.

Revelation 5:13-14 – A Universal Anthem

RV5:13 Then I heard every creature in Heaven and on earth, and under the ground301 and on the sea, [Philippians 2:10] and all that is in them, saying: “To the One enthroned and to the Lamb:302 the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might throughout all future periods of time.”303
301 Under the ground: Compare Philippians 2:10. That is, the dead waiting a resurrection. Here is an example of Rom 4:17 and God calling things that are not as though they were. The idea is similar to the 24 Presbyters. Those to be raised out of Hades and the sea (Revelation 20:13, 14) are viewed as still living (Luke 20:38) because they reside in God’s memory. (Job 14:12-14) After all humankind is raised at the end of the Thousand Years there will not be found among them such a Worthy One. [Note: there are several word-for-word allusions drawn exclusively from the Christian Bible, such as phrases from Paul and James. This would seem to confirm that Revelation could not have been written until after these in order to quote from them]
302 The One enthroned and to the Lamb: Within God’s purpose and time, Isaiah 45:23 will be fulfilled. Compare Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:10. Note that only The God and the Lamb are the objects of this adoration, while the Holy Spirit remains absent.
303 Glory and the might throughout all future periods of time: Or, the ages of the ages, forever and ever. No exact phrase occurs elsewhere, though there are several echoes of it in Romans 16:27; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:21; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11.
RV5:14 Then the 4 Living Creatures say: “Amen!” The Presbyters prostrated themselves in worship.304
304 Prostrated themselves in worship: For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000© on the word “worship” see the work Error of the Trinity.

#129. This portion may be considered what the Son of Man described to John as “the things that are”; that is, either having occurred or contemporary with John’s own life dating back to the Nazarene’s earthly life. It is a vertical vision of God Almighty, The One Who Is, His Throne, and the sacrificed Lamb who makes his appearance before Him. It is a staggering portrayal of that moment describe by Daniel six-hundred hundred years before in Daniel 7:13, 14.

#130. This may serve as the real introduction to the main body of the Apocalypse beginning here with chapters four and five. This may be stated because it is here the Seven Seals are introduced which provide the backbone for the next dozen or more chapters. These chapters contain John’s celestial vision of the Throne-Room of the Almighty and those who attend His Throne.

#131. In chapter four John is invited up to heaven and it seems reasonable to assume that much of what follows in the Apocalypse is from this lofty perspective. God Almighty is seen on his Throne. There are many images, colors and numbers in this description. However, there is another important person in the vision: the Lamb. It is though we have a more detailed picture of what Daniel had seen in his own “visions of the night.” (Daniel 7:13, 14) Through John’s eyes we see more of that moment upon Christ’s glorious ascension when he ‘arrived on the clouds of heaven and was presented in the Presence of the Ancient of Days,’ and now watch as, ‘to him were given rulership and kingdom and glory.’

#132. If we start with the belief that chapters four and five give a vision of that moment when Christ returned to heaven as the new sacrificial Lamb, ascending toward the Throne-Room cloud enwrapped as earth fades behind like a rocket leaving the globe. What makes us believe this is the description of the Lamb, ‘as though it had been slaughtered.’ This would place the stirring events which John witnesses after the execution of Jesus and his ascension. How can we know this moment in the year 33 AD (CE) was the accurate time for Christ to begin his Messianic rule as King?

A DREAM IMAGE PROVIDES THE TIMING

#133. There is another reason to convince us that the Apocalypse will cover matters beginning with the execution of Jesus during the Roman rule with its Caesars. We have noted the opening verse to RV and how it has borrowed words from Daniel 2:28, ‘things which are to occur suddenly.’ Daniel 2:28 adds ‘in the end-times,’ the whole phrase reading from the LXX (Bagster): ‘what things must come to pass in the Last Days.’ (NJB, final days; NIV, the days to come; JPS, the end of days; NWT: final part of the days) This would seem to make an important link between the opening chapters of the Apocalypse and Daniel chapter 2.

#134. The majority of Biblical scholars and students are largely consistent in their agreement regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation by the spirit of the Revealer of Secrets. They view it as a prophecy about the march of world powers related to Israel, beginning with Babylon and ending with Rome. This dream agrees with Daniel’s later vision in chapter 7 of the four beasts: there are four kingdoms which will rise in the earth. These four are understood to be Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. According to Daniel 2:44, ‘God will set up his Kingdom in the days of these (four) kings.’ Obviously this establishment of the Kingdom would occur during the final or fourth kingdom in the dream image, Rome.

#135. Who will deny that Jesus Christ walked the earth during the world power Rome, precisely in the reign of Tiberius Caesar? (Luke 3:1) The Roman governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, gave the innocent Nazarene over to the Jewish and Gentile masses who had gathered against Yahweh’s Anointed. (Psalm 2:1, 2) According to Peter this was in fulfillment of the Second Psalm. Peter quotes Psalm 2:1, 2 and applies it at Acts 4:24-28 to the trial and execution of Jesus. Paul also quotes this Second Psalm at Acts 13:32-34 and applies Psalm 2:7 to the resurrection of Jesus as the Son of God. (Romans 1:4) Who could then argue against these august Saints that Psalm 2:6, did not also occur following the Son’s resurrection and ascension: ‘But I have installed My king on Zion, My holy mountain’? (JPS)

#136. Daniel’s vision of the four beasts agrees with this timing of matters. Read Daniel 7:1-13 and note the same four kingdoms. Does not a special judgment take place during the fourth Roman kingdom? What occurs following this? The ascension of the Son of Man. (Daniel 7:13) Both the dream image and the vision of the four beasts set the beginning of Messiah’s kingdom during the fourth Roman power.

#137. Neither the dream-image of Daniel chapter 2, nor the beasts-vision of Daniel chapter 7, leave the matter there. Both continue to show various elements of history following the death of Jesus on a Tree. In brief, both dream and vision, point to the end of the Roman power. The dream-image has this fourth kingdom divided into two legs305 and then feet of clay and iron with ten toes.306 The beast-vision has the fragmentation of Rome into ten kingdoms with an additional eleventh Little Horn (or, Small Power) rising with great power and considerable differentiation. If we view the iron in the dream-image as Roman imperial rule and the clay as something related to the softer non-emperial rulerships, then we were to expect a period when this Roman fragmentation to mix itself with two radically different government forms. One iron-hard, one clay-soft. Any one familiar with the comprehensive works of Gibbon, THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and, Durant, THE STORY OF CIVILIZATION will recognize that what Daniel foretold five (or, two) centuries before Christ has come true with vivid accuracy!
305 TWO LEGS. The West and East of Roman rule following the First Century.
306 TEN TOES OF CLAY AND IRON. The European Papal States during the centuries from the Fifth to the Nineteenth, or perhaps even in the Twenty-First. However, the ten toes are already of mixed clay and iron and thus this metaphor must represent the iron of Rome and the clay of fragmentation, from which the European states rose.

#138. What you will find interesting later is that the Bible’s last book Apocalypse will use all of this as its source when giving more details to those years just before the Return of Parousia of Christ, the King.

#139. So, RV 1:1, when alluding to Daniel 2:28 and the dream-image, hints that RV is to take up matters in harmony with those two apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel, beginning with the execution of the Nazarene and ascension to heaven. This is proven by the earliest visionary experience John records in the first chapter.

#140. For after John has heard what amounts to a hymnal-praise in the form of a petition regarding the ascension of the Son of Man (RV1:7), John ‘came to be in the spirit on the day of the Lord.’ John then has a vision of ‘someone like a Son of Man’ (language identical in Greek to Daniel 7:13 LXX) dressed even as the Ancient of Days was in Daniel 7:9. Can this be anyone other than the glorified Jesus Christ, now empowered with that kingly authority described by Daniel 7:14? Paul describes the extent of this at Ephesians 1:20-22, ‘The power which God exercised in raising Jesus from the dead and enthroning him at His right hand, in heaven, far above every principality, ruling force, power or sovereignty, or any other name that can be named, not only in this age but also in the Age to come.’ Here Paul then goes on to quote Psalm 8:6 and apply it to Christ’s enthronement, even as he does in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where he also links Psalm 110:1. Thus, the Apocalypse begins in this contextual moment following the execution and slaughter of the Nazarene and his ascension to God Almighty’s Throne-Room as Daniel 7:13 describes it.

#141. This is all consistent with Daniel’s own interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the Image that ‘during the days of these (four) kings the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom.’ (Daniel 2:44) Right on time, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar of Rome --- while Babylon, Persia, and Greece were still functioning entities --- the Son of Man left this planet and ascended on clouds toward the Presence of God, ready to enter the Throne-Room to receive his own kingdom. (Acts 1:9-11)

#142. Now, back to the Apocalypse chapters four and five. There are a number of details in this vision when John is invited up into heaven.307 For our purposes we will deal only with those which will move along our subject about an apocalypse in the beginning of 21st century.
307 UP TO HEAVEN. Perhaps much like Paul’s own experience recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, ‘Whether in the body or not in the body, I do not know, God knows --- (this man) was raptured to the Third Heaven (into Paradise) and heard words unrepeatable.’

#143. John has been told by the Son of Man in chapter one to write down what he sees. Thus we have John’s own description and evidently he is given some liberty and initiative in the words he uses to describe what happens right before him. We are surprised when he describes God Almighty. The old apostle uses the colors of two gems: the clear jasper or diamond with its rainbow prismatic hues, and an extremely “pidgeon blood” red corundum or ruby. There is an emerald-green iris encircling the Throne and a floor like a sea of glass. That does your imagination conjure up when you think of these brilliant illuminations reflecting off this floor where the four celestial animals hold their stations and twenty-four Celestial Presbyters attend to God Almighty? Read chapter four for yourself and let your mind contemplate the lovely grandeur of John’s vision.

#144. John pulls a surprise on us here, for he does not do what might be expected as the obvious: copy Daniel’s description, which is what we might call the more traditional: ‘One most venerable took his seat. His robe was white as snow, the hair of his head as pure as wool.’ (Daniel 7:9) This demonstrates that John is not bound by Daniel and here in chapter four he is viewing something, and reporting it, something completely unique in apocalyptic literature. These colors must play in a glorious symphonic display. There is no description of God beyond these abstractions. This adds a strong sense of a truthful experience as it goes counter to that of Daniel. Different Nazarene Saints may take elements of each vision in their own image of God or they may choose to just leave it in this lovely abstraction.

#145. At any rate, what we have here is the Throne-Room of the Almighty prepared for judgment. Now, something important enough to cause John to break down in tears in his spiritual emotions comes to his attention in the vision: a codex, or little booklet308 sealed shut with seven seals. The Beloved Apostle must fall to his knees weeping because it appears at first no one can be found who is qualified to take this “Small (Apocalyptic) Bible” and opens to read its seven seals. However, happily for John, and for us today in the beginning of 21st century, someone is found. It is the slaughtered Lamb, who we know as Jesus Christ the Nazarene. This “lamb” approaches the One on the Throne and receives this codex, little book, or “Small (Apocalyptic) Bible.” As a result all the celestial realm is overcome and rises in an explosion of praise and song. Now our ears are pleased where our eyes had been before. God Almighty has been praised and now it is the slaughtered Lamb who is lauded for his worthiness:
308 CODEX. The Greek here is the diminutive biblion from which “Bible” comes and so it may be proper to address this as a “little Bible” or “the Lamb’s Small (Apocalyptic) Bible.”

You are worthy to receive the Little (Apocalytic) Bible
and open its Seals because you were slaughtered.
With your blood you bought for The God
[persons] out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.
You made them a Kingdom and priests to our God.
They are reigning upon the earth.

#146. In this “new song” something is introduced which will feature throughout the rest of the Apocalypse: the People of God. But, what are the contents of this Small (Apocalyptic) Bible of the Lamb and what are the “seven seals”? Now it is time to open this Small (Apocalyptic) Bible and reveal its contents. What is this little codex which only Christ can open and read? Is the information important to us at the beginning of the 21st century? We hope it is. What will the Lamb’s Small (Apocalyptic) Bible predict or foretell for the future?

THE “SMALL BIBLE” IS THE APOCALYPSE!

#147. A brief summary of what is to follow will show that essentially this “little codex” or Small (Apocalyptic) Bible turns out to be that ‘RV which God gave Jesus Christ’ according to the opening verse. This is so because as each seal is opened it finally leads to seven trumpets which lead to seven final plagues. Thus the Lamb’s Small (Apocalyptic) Bible contains all the information from chapter 6 to chapter 20. With great interest, and heightened awareness similar to John’s own, let us review the signs and visions contained within the Lamb’s Small (Apocalyptic) Bible.

Nazarene Commentary 2000

Mark Heber Miller

2000 All Rights Reserved