And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within, and on the backside sealed with seven seals.
Every vision of God in his word consists of two general parts: first, something seen; and secondly, something heard: [And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written, etc.] The prophets and apostles being in a trance had their eyes open, (Num. 24:4; Acts 10:10–11). So had this apostle here, not the eyes of the body, but of the mind. [In the right hand of him that sat on the throne] that is, of the Lord Jesus Christ, see chapter 4 verse 2, 3.
[A book written within, and on the backside sealed with seven seals] this was the Book of Revelations, a mystical and prophetical book, containing the Revelation of those things which were shortly to be fulfilled, and come to pass, see chapter 1 verse 1 & 19 and chapter 4:1. This book was full, no place left void to add anything unto it, (Rev. 22:18) Whosoever shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book, [sealed with seven seals]. The sealing this book signifies: first, that the things prophesied in this book are sure, and shall certainly come to pass, for God hath sealed them; which is a full confirmation, (2 Tim. 2:19; Eph. 1:13). Secondly, that the prophecies in this book are secrets, for they are sealed, (Isa. 29:11 and Dan. 12:9). This book contained seven rolls of parchment, which were every one sealed up one within another; so that when the first roll and seal was opened, only what was written within, and on the backside of that roll might be read, (Rev. 6:1, 3, 7, 9). But the next remained sealed, and could not be read until it was unsealed; and consequently the seven seals must all be loosed, and all the seven rolls must be opened, before any man could read them (1 Cor. 2:7–9).
And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice, who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
This strong angel was one of the holy angels of God, who are his ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14). Haply that ministering angel, by whom Jesus Christ sent and signified these things unto his servant John, see chapter 1 verse 1. Called a strong angel, to signify the mighty power which God hath given to his holy angels to do his will, (2 Kings 19:34–35) [proclaiming with a loud voice]. The voice of an angel of God is so loud, as can make all the dead that are in the grave hear, (1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16–17) [Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?].
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
Here followeth the answer to this inquiry, which is negative, [No man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth.] every one faith, It is not in me, (Isa. 29:11–12) I cannot read it, etc.
And I wept much because no man was found worthy to open, and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
It appears that St. John was very much troubled, for he wept much: The servant of the Lord was very sensible, what a loss it would be to him, and to the church of God, if this sealed book should not be unsealed, and the mysterial prophecies therein should not be opened; therefore he wept and mourned.
And one of the elders saith unto me, weep not: Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
The apostle is forbid to weep. [One of the elders said unto me, weep not] John’s affectionate sorrow might hinder him from attending unto the glad tidings brought unto him: Therefore the elder first prohibited him from weeping: Tears and sorrows may hinder choice Christians, and indispose them to receive spiritual comforts. The elder having shut the floodgate of the Apostle’s sorrow, he bids him attend diligently to what he had to say unto him. Behold, that is, diligently attend, and seriously consider what message I bring, and what glad tidings I have to declare, [The lion of the tribe of Judah] that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, for he came of that tribe, (Heb. 7:14) and thence the kingly race did spring and succeed until Christ came in the flesh, who was born the King of the Jews, (Gen. 49:10). The Lion couched, was the escutcheon or arms of that tribe, (Gen. 49:8–9) and Christ was of the House of David, the King of Judah, (2 Sam. 2:4) [Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.] The Lord Jesus Christ prevailed by his sufferings, whereby he overcame all his and his churches enemies, (Rev. 3:22).
And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
The apostle did not slight, nor neglect the elders counsel, who said unto him, Behold. [And beheld, and lo] that is, I looked and saw [a Lamb as it had been slain] to wit, the crucified living Lamb of God, the Son of God. See the first chapter and the eighteenth verse. [In the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb.] The Lord our Passover, who was sacrificed for us, (1 Cor. 5:7). Christ standing in the midst of the throne, signifieth, first, that he is equal with God the Father, (John 10:30 and Phil. 2:6) and partaker of the same glory, dominion and authority with the Father, (Matthew 28:18–19). Secondly, that Christ is exalted on the right hand of God, (Heb. 8:1 and 12:2) and so St. Stephen saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God, (Acts 7:56). Christ’s standing in the midst of the four living creatures, and twenty four elders, doth signify his gracious presence in the church, (called the throne of God, (Jer. 17:12)) with his ministers, (called pastors, teachers, and elders, (Eph. 4:11–13, Acts 20:17)) to present their persons, prayers, and all their spiritual services and sacrifices at the throne of grace, with his incense unto the father with acceptance. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angels hand, (Rev. 8:34, Eph. 2:18, Heb. 13:15 and 1 Pet. 2:4–5).
[Having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth] [Seven horns] that is, Christ’s irresistible power, whereby he is able to push down all his enemies, and to break in pieces the horns of the ungodly. Search those scriptures, (Luke 1:6–9, Ps. 132:13–18, Ps. 75:10 and Hab. 3:3–13). God came from Teman, [which was a famous city for wise men that belonged to the Edomites of Esau’s race, whom God destroyed. Compare Jeremiah 39:7–20 with Ezekiel 25:12–14.] [And the holy one from mount Paran] which was the place from whence JEHOVAH shined forth and manifested his glory unto Israel, (Deut. 33:2–3) [He had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power.] Then God went out for the salvation of his people, (Hab. 3:12–12). Read the whole chapter. Christ is the Almighty, (Rev. 1:5–7) all power in heaven and earth is given unto him, (Matthew 28:18).
As his omnipotency is signified by [seven horns] so his omnisciency is signified by [seven eyes]. See the exposition of chapter 1 verse 14 and chapter 2 verse 18 his eyes are like a flame of fire. All things are naked and open unto his eyes, (Heb. 4:13) so is his omnipresence by the [seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth] These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth, (Zech. 4:10 and Matthew 28:20). The mystical number seven, signifies, first, the variety of Christ’s spiritual gifts, (1 Cor. 12:4–8). Secondly, the fullness of his grace, (John 1:14–16 and Col. 2:3–9). Thirdly, the perfection of his mediatorial offices, (Eph. 3:8) for the perfecting of the saints, (Eph. 4:11–13). For God gave not the spirit by measure unto Christ, (John 3:34) but in all fullness, (Col. 1:19). See chapter 1:4 and 3:1.
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.
[He came] that is, Jesus Christ the Mediator, (1 Tim. 2:5) [and took the book] that is, this book of the Revelation [out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne] that is, God his Father: for our Lord Jesus Christ received this book of God the Father: (See Revelation 1:1) Which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
This verse contains a preparation unto a new and spiritual song of praise and thanksgiving unto Christ our Redeemer, (vv. 9-14) (who had taken this book to unloose the seals, and to open the mystical and prophetical visions and revelations therein contained. And this spiritual song of praise consists of three parts, whereof the church, her ministers and members bear the first part, (vv. 8, 9, 10). The holy angels, and spirits of just men made perfect, bear the second part, (vv. 11, 12) and all God’s good creatures bear the third part, (vv. 13, 14). [Fell down before the Lamb] that is, theof God, the Son of God, who is God blessed forever, (Rom. 9:5). God manifested in the flesh, (1 Tim. 3:16) [Having every one of them harps] that is, hearts filled with the Holy Spirit, (Eph. 5:18, 19 and 1 Cor. 14:14, 15) prepared to pray and praise the Lord. [And golden vials] that is, the wise virgins vessels, which had oil, odoriferous anointing of the Holy Spirit, (1 John 2:20–27) [Full of odours} The prayers of the saints made acceptable by Jesus Christ.
And they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
This verse contains the manner of their thanksgiving. [And they sung a new song] and his praise in the congregation of saints. Singing and praying are two distinct ordinances under the gospel, (1 Cor. 14:14–15) and two distinct parts of the worship of God, both which are to be performed by the anointing of the spirit, (Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:18–19) in the churches of saints. This is called a new song, because, first, it contains new matter of praise and thanksgiving unto God, as Psalm 98:1 etc. and secondly, the hearts (the harps) of these singers were put into a new spiritual frame by the fresh anointing of the holy spirit; John had been weeping much, and now God gave him the garments of praise for the spirit of mourning, to comfort him, (Isa. 61:1–4) and so he as prepared to bear his part in this new song of praise and thanksgiving.
[Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; first, because [thou wast slain] that is crucified for the sins of they people, (Phil. 2:6–9 and Heb. 12:2). Secondly, because thou [hast redeemed us to God by thy blood] that is, Christ by his precious blood obtained eternal redemption for us, (not for all) (Heb. 9:12) for Gods elect; that is, Christ hath brought them [out from every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation] First, from their former vain sinful conversation, (1 Pet. 1:18–20). Secondly, from wrath to come, (1 Thess. 1:10). Thirdly, from the curse of the law, (Gal. 3:13). And fourthly, from the bondage of corruption, (Rom. 8:23) by death, through the resurrection from the dead, (1 Cor. 15:50–57).
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth.
This verse contains a third reason of this new song of praise and thanksgiving. [And hast made us unto our God kings and priests] They were not only redeemed from all misery, sin, curse, and eternal death; but honoured with many glorious dignities, and spiritual privileges. [Thou hast made us kings] The saints are kings, and Jesus Christ is King of saints, (Rev. 15:3). the Lord’s redeemed ones have a heavenly kingdom prepared for them, (Luke 12:32 and Matthew 25:34). And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to Christ and his saints, (Dan. 7:13–27, Micah 4:8 and Zech. 14:9). In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one. There shall be one fold, and one shepherd, (John 10:16). And priests unto God, a royal priesthood, (1 Pet. 2:4–9) to offer up spiritual sacrifices; that you should show forth the praises of God, (v. 9) who hath called you, etc.
[And we shall reign on the earth] they believed upon the scripture ground, before mentioned, and therefore did they speak, (2 Cor. 4:13) that is, the primitive saints believed that they shall reign with Christ on earth, and the latter day saints also have scripture ground to believe, that they shall reign with Christ on earth, (Rev. 20:1–4). And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years; [ta cilia eth] that is, those thousand years between the resurrection of Christ’s two prophetical witnesses, etc. and the rest of the dead, who lived not until those thousand years were finished, (vv. 5, 6).
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands:
The holy angels, who are all ministering spirits unto the heirs of salvation, (Heb. 1:14) and therefore are said here to be round about the throne of God, the church of God, and round about the living creatures, and round about the elders, both ministers and members of the church, (Jer. 3:17 and 17:12). These holy angels were the mighty host of Almighty God, as appears by their numbers, [ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands] that is, an innumerable company of angels, (Ps. 34:7).
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
The holy angels expressed their praises of God with a loud voice, that not only the church of God, the ministers and members might hear; but the living creatures might also hear, [Saying, worthy is the Lamb that was slain] namely, Christ crucified to receive riches, that is, all the hidden treasure of riches and wisdom, (Col. 2:2–3). The unsearchable riches of Christ, (Eph. 3:8). The exceeding riches of the grace of God in Christ, (Eph. 2:7) and the riches of the glory of God, (Eph. 3:16). By power and strength, we may understand his kingdom, power, and glory, (Matthew 6:13). Forever, Amen.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
Here followeth the third part of praise and thanksgiving, which is performed by the whole creation, that expecteth to be delivered out of the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the Sons of God, (Rom. 8:21–22). This deliverance will be, at the time when our Lord Jesus Christ shall come from heaven, and restore all things, (Acts 3:19–21).
And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever.
In this verse we have the conclusion of this new song by the Lord’s redeemed ones, the elders, ministers and members of Christ and his church. [And the four living creatures, said, Amen] which Amen, signifies their full assent unto all the praises given to Jesus Christ in this new song. [And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.] That is, Jesus Christ who is God, blessed forever, Amen, (Rom. 9:5 and Jude 25). To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen. (Rev. 1:18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen.