The vision of God and the Lamb, 4:1-5:14
iii] Worthy is the Lamb that was slainSynopsis
Preparations for the full realization of the kingdom of God continue. John now witnesses what is virtually the investiture and enthronement of the Lamb, Christ. The throne-room of the Ancient of Days explodes with the noise of singing angels proclaiming the honor now bestowed on Christ. This is followed up by the praise of the whole creation directed to both the Ancient of Days and the Lamb. The scene concludes with the worship of the four cherubim and the twenty four elders.
The Kingdom of God is at hand: God's reign in Christ is now absolute.
i] Context: See 4:1-11.
ii] Background: See 1:1-8
iii] Structure: This passage, The Adoration of the Ancient of Days and the Lamb, presents as follows:
The outer heavenly circle celebrates Christ's enthronement, v11-12;
"worthy is the Lamb."
The cosmos gives praise to the Ancient of Days and the Lamb, v13;
The cherubim and the elders offer praise, v14.
In this passage, John describes the investiture and enthronement of the Lamb. John witnesses the whole angelic order giving praise to the Lamb who has received divine prerogative and now stands (with the Spirit) beside the throne of the Ancient of Days. Naturally, the investiture prompts questions as to Jesus' status before this event. From a doctrinal perspective it is generally accepted that Jesus has always been Lord, but what we have here is time interacting with apocalyptic visions that image the realization of the kingdom of God. So, Jesus receives divine prerogative for the realization of the kingdom, and this because he is the pure sacrificial Lamb who, in his death, saved a people for himself.
Christ's enthronement prompts the whole of the created order to respond in praise "to the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb (beside him)"; "the Lamb who was slain." Joining in heavenly praise are the four cherubim, "living creatures", who represent the creation in its perfection (possibly even the creation restored, or just "God's world", Wilcock), and the twenty four elders representing the fellowship of believers, the church ("the ruling church", Richardson, or more likely just "God's people", Wilcock).
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 5:11
Praise to God and the Lamb, v11-14: i] The outer heavenly circle celebrates the enthronement of Christ and the reception of his divine authority, v11-12. This hymn "further interprets the slain but risen Lamb's reception of the scroll / book (cf. v1-10) to mean that his death, and implicitly his resurrection, made him worthy to receive praise and glory", Beale.
kai "then" - and. Transitional.
eidon (oJraw) aor. "I looked" - i saw, perceived. "Then I I saw and heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, the voice of countless angels and I heard them chant ..."
aggelwn (oV) gen. "[the voice] of [many] angels" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive / verbal, subjective, or ablative, source / origin. The singular qwnhn, "voice", is obviously serving as a distributive singular since John hears the "voices" of many angels.
autwn gen. pro. "numbering" - [and was the number] of them [myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "and their number was .."
muriadwn (aV adoV) gen. "[thousands] upon thousands" - [myriad, countless thousands] of countless thousands. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, partitive, if the thousands are part of all the thousands, but the sense is probably as NIV. In Greek, the largest number possible. Here there are myriads of myriads. Best translated "millions". Millions of angels worshipping God and singing his praise, v12 and v13. Cf. Dan.7:10.
kuklw/ + gen. "they encircled" - around [the throne]. Spacial.
twn zw/wn gen. "the living creatures" - of the living beings. Ref. 4:6, ... drawn from Ezekiel 1. As already noted, these tessara zw/a "four living creatures" are possibly "celestial beings of some sort", Osborne, although they more likely represent God's creation. They seem to support the divine throne.
twn presbuterwn (oV) gen. "the elders" - [and] of the elders. Cf. 4:4, etc. "The twenty four elders" sit upon twenty four thrones in concentric circles around the throne of God. As already noted, debate rages as to whether they are human, ie. representing the resurrected saints of Israel, old and new, or angelic beings.
fwnh/ (h) dat. "in a [loud] voice" - [saying] with a [loud] voice. The dative functions adverbially here, possibly instrumental, means, accompaniment, or probably better, modal, expressing the manner of their "saying"; "with a loud voice."
legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they sang / were saying" - saying. We may have expected this participle to serve as the accusative complement of the direct object of fwnhn, "voice", "and I looked and heard a voice ........ saying", but the problem is that it's in the nominative case. So, best treated as a participle serving as a finite verb, classified as a periphrastic construction missing the verb to-be, as NIV. John commonly introduces speech with a participle; see legwn 1:17. Mounce suggests a chanted response. "They / the angels exclaimed in a powerful voice ...."
axion adj. "worthy" - worthy [is the lamb]. Predicate nominative. The sense is having right and authority before God. The Lamb is worthy to receive power etc.
to esfagmenon (sfazw) perf. pas. part. "who was slain" - having been slain. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the lamb", as NIV.
labein (lambanw) inf. "to receive" - The infinitive is epexegetic explaining the adjective "worthy"; "he is worthy to receive ......"
eulogian (a) "[and] praise" - [the power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and] praise, blessing, thanksgiving... John, in typical style, lists 7 things the Lamb is worthy to receive. "The one gift that we who have nothing can give to him who possesses all", Barclay.
ii] The whole cosmos praises God and the Lamb for their ability to reign, v13. This second part of the hymn further interprets "the slain but risen Lamb's reception of the scroll / book (v7) to mean that his death and resurrection made him worthy to receive praise and glory", Beale.
kai "then" - Transitional.
en ... epi .... uJpokatw "in [heaven and] on [earth and] under [the earth]" - All three prepositions are spacial.
epi thV qalasshV "on the sea" - The preposition epi "on", followed by the genitive, would imply seafarers, but surely what lives in the sea is intended. Some texts have the preposition en, "in", "in the sea". Moffatt has "sea-monsters".
en + dat. "[and all that is] in [them]" - Local, expressing space. Serving as a catch-all; "everything they contain", Barclay.
legontaV (legw) pres. part. "saying" - [and i heard] saying. Technically the participle serves as the complement of the direct object pan ktisma, "every creature", standing in a double accusative construction; "I heard every creature ....... saying ...." Participles are sometimes used to introduce a dependent statement of perception and, to some extent, it does serve this function here
tw/ kaqhmenw/ (kaqhmai) dat. aor. part. "to him who sits" - to the one sitting. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. It is possible to translate this section of the verse "I heard all things / creatures ........ singing to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb: 'Praise and honor and glory and dominion.'"
epi + dat. "on [the throne]" - Spacial; "upon, on."
kratoV (oV) "power" - A different Greek word for "power" is used in v12. The words take the same meaning, although TEV suggests "strength" v12, and "might" v13. Michaelis suggests that when the word is used in doxologies, as here, it means "the superior power of God."
iii] The Cherubim and the elders also offer praise, v14.
epesan (piptw) aor. "fell down" - [and the four living beings were saying amen, and the elders] fell. Here in the sense of prostrated themselves. We might say "knelt down."
prosekunhsan (proskunew) aor. "worshiped" - [and] did obeisance to the divine. The sense is to do obeisance to rather than to offer service to.