The vision of God and the Lamb, 4:1-5:14

i] Adoration of the Creator


John is again transfixed by a vision, as if before a door opening into the throne room of God. He hears someone inviting him to enter and see "what must take place." He sees the divine throne and God upon it, and seated around the throne he sees twenty four elders with the seven spirits before the throne, and supporting the throne he sees the four living creatures, the cherubim who never stop singing "holy, holy holy." When the living creatures give glory to God, the elders join in and proclaim "you are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all thing, and by your will they were created and have their being."


The Kingdom of God is at hand: God's reign is absolute and its realization is now.


i] Context: See 1:1-8. Glory belongs to those who endure. In the seven letters to the churches, John has revealed the struggling and compromised state of the Christian church. In the face of this problem Christ calls for repentance, reminding the faithful that glory awaits those who persevere in faith, those who overcome. In 4:1-5:14, Now, in The vision of God and the Lamb, John is drawn into a moment of heavenly acclamation, of what now is. We are taken from the rough-and-tumble of everyday life into the throne-room of the almighty God and we get to see His sovereignty and majesty as it is now. Then, in chapter 5, Christ takes the spotlight as he stands in the center of the throne, and finally, in v13-14, the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb received the worship of the heavenly throng. Throughout these two chapters we witness a moment of heavenly celebration and acclamation as the reign of God in Christ is realized, a reign in which we share. In the following chapters we will witness the breaking of the seals (judgment) and the fashioning of the new Jerusalem. So, along with the heavenly host, we too can give praise God that his kingdom has come.


An interesting observation is made by Mathewson of the syntax of chapters 4 and 5. In chapter 4, verbless clauses and participles predominate producing a static state, but in chapter 5 indicative verbs predominate producing a state of activity that moves John's account along. So, chapter 4 is descriptive, providing the setting, and chapter 5 presents activity and process.


ii] Background: See 1:1-8


iii] Structure: The Adoration of the Creator:

The invitation, v1;

"come up here, and I will show you what must take place."

The throne of God, v2-3;

"he had the appearance of jasper and ruby."

The twenty-four elders, v4;

"dressed in white and had crowns of gold."

The Seven Spirits in the midst of glory, v5-6a

"the seven lamps ..... are the seven spirits."

The worship of the four living beings, v6b-8;

"holy, holy, holy, ....."

The worship of the twenty-four elders, v9-11;

"you are worthy of Lord ......"


iv] Interpretation:

In Christ's letters to the seven churches, John gives us a detailed picture of the Christian church, warts and all - a struggling church, a compromised church. If the victory is to be won, the church needs to repent, to turn back in faith to Christ and then press forward in faith, persevere, conquer. Yet, this is no easy matter, particularly in a world where Satan is honored rather than Christ. Doing business with the powers of darkness is the way we succeed in this world. So, on our behalf, Christ invites John to witness another reality. He takes John from the reality of an inaugurated kingdom, a kingdom not yet, to another reality, a realized kingdom, a kingdom now. In the eschatological kingdom realized, God's reign is absolute; the ranting and raving of the powers of darkness are but the death-rattles of a dying beast. With the eyes of the prophet we see beyond what we experience to what IS.

John reveals this reality in a vision of heaven, a vision reliant on the OT, cf., Isa.6:1-4, Ezk.1. Christ invites John to look into God's throne room and view a wondrous event. Of course, visions are pictures of another reality, they touch reality through images that we can understand: an open door to see into heaven, a throne in heaven for God to sit on, jewels, rainbows lightning, rumblings ... surrounding the throne. All are images that give substance to a reality far beyond our comprehension. To increase the grandeur of the scene John draws on apocalyptic images, some of which he has already exposed us to, eg., the seven lamps = the seven spirits of God, v5. As already argued, this image probably represents the Holy Spirit, seven being the perfect number (Note the link between the Spirit and the oil lamps of the tabernacle, Zech.4:2-3, 6, 12-14). John also introduces us to some more apocalyptic images: First, there are the twenty four elders, v4. These probably represent the people of God, the faithful from the twelve tribes of Israel, along with the faithful from the twelve tribes of the new Israel // the twelve apostles, cf., 21:12, 14. So, they represent the saints of the Most High who reign with Christ. Second, there are the four living creatures, the cherubim, v6-8. Views vary, but they probably represent the four corners of the earth = the creation, the entire cosmos, cf., 1Ki.7:29, Isa.11:6-7.

So, as against our day-to-day experience of life, we are confronted with another reality. There is at this very moment ecstatic celebration, praise and adoration in the throne-room of the ancient of days. The reign of God in Christ has begun, the kingdom is come, the seals of judgment are even now being broken and there before us we see the splendor of the New Jerusalem. And we are there, reigning with Christ, celebrating with him, 4:1-5:14.


Interpreting apocalyptic imagery. Although the letters to the churches take the form of epistles, they are vague when it came to the details; John lets his readers fill in the dots. Now, confronted with John's apocalyptic visions, we move from the vague to the nebulous, which nebulous, in the hands of the commentator, becomes highly speculative. In giving shape to the visions, John draws on the apocalyptic imagery of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and at times, the Law and the Prophets, as well as apocryphal works. The problem faced by the commentator is knowing how far to draw an interpretive value from the imagery.

It is possible to draw significance from every detail, and throughout history many commentators have done just that, but the variety of interpretations warn us that this approach to the book is flawed. None-the-less, as a modern artist is happy when someone draws personal significance from their artwork, so John may also be happy when someone, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, fills in the dots in a way applicable to their age and circumstance.

The other extreme is to take a broad-brush approach and interpret the whole rather than the details. In Revelation we confront by the gospel. The kingdom of God is at hand, it is upon us, cursing and blessing is now. So, the Christian church, struggling and compromised as it is, needs to repent, for the glory that is at hand only comes to those who persevere in faith, who conquer.

Yet, as we approach this book we can't help but fill in some of the dots, and maybe that's what we are meant to do - speculate to accumulate? Consider the apocalyptic image of the twenty-four elders. Are they just another wondrous aspect of God's royal throne room, or do they represent something in particular? The interpretive notes below suggest that they represent the 12 tribes of Israel + the 12 tribes of the new Israel = believers reigning with Christ, cf., Eph.2:6. When it come to filling in the dots, the nebulous always leads to speculation, which speculation must find some support elsewhere in scripture.

Text - 4:1

The Adoration of the Creator, v1-11: i] The invitation, v1. John's second vision takes place at the gates of heaven. The gates are wide open and in typical manner for the Revelation, John is invited to come up to the open gates and view reality in all its wonder. This is the way it is, this is the now of God's kingdom. The invitation is most likely from Christ, the one with a voice like a trumpet.

meta + acc. "after [this I looked]" - after [these things i saw a new vision]. Temporal use of the preposition. This phrase signals a new vision and is used a number of times throughout the book for this very purpose, eg., 7:1. The "these things" refers to the previous vision and the instruction to write "what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place" to the seven churches. "At this point I had another vision", TEV.

idou "-" - behold, take note, pay attention. Interjection used to emphasize the following words; "and Oh dear! It was out of this world."

hnewgmenh (anoigw) perf. mid./pas. part. "[there before me was a door] standing open" - [a door] having been opened. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "door", the subject of a verbless clause; "a door which had been opened and now remained open."

en + dat. "in [heaven]" - Local, expressing space. The word "heaven" is used in numerous ways throughout the scriptures, eg., the sky, the sphere of the sun, moon and stars, God's dwelling place. It all gets a bit complex when we end up with "the third heaven", 2Cor.12:2. Here presumably John is referring to the spiritual domain inhabited by God and the heavenly host, particularly of God's throne-room. The door was en, "in", heaven, the preposition being local expressing space.

hJ prwth adj. "[the voice I had] first [heard]" - [and the voice] the first one [which I heard]. The adjective serves as a substantive, standing in apposition to "the voice"; "and a voice (ie., the voice of the person who spoke to me in my first vision) like ......", so Aune. Osborne argues that John is not referring to his first vision, but rather to this vision; "and the first voice I heard speaking with me like a trumpet said ....." Presumably John is inferring that the voice is that of Christ, although Aune argues that the voice here is that of Christ, but the voice addressing John in his first vision was that of an interpreting angel, contra Beasley-Murray, ....

laloushV (lalew) gen. pres. part. "speaking" - This participle has syntactical issues (if in concord with h}n, "which", it should be accusative; "the first voice which ..... which was speaking"), but is best treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "trumpet"; "the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet which was speaking with me saying."

meta + acc. "to [me]" - with [me]. Expressing association / accompaniment.

wJV "like" - Comparative.

salpiggoV (x goV) gen. "a trumpet" - The genitive is probably ablative, source / origin, "a voice / sound from a trumpet, although Mathewson suggests it may be a genitive of direct object after an assumed akouw, "as if / like hearing a trumpet." "The trumpet-voice", Peterson.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "said" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying "was ... speaking ... and said", redundant. This masculine participle also has syntactical issues in that it should agree with fwnh, "voice", which is feminine. Turner argues that it is a Semitic indeclinable participle, although Beale thinks it relates to LXX usage, "an intentional stylistic Septuagintalism"; here the allusion is possibly from Dn.2:29. Of course, it may just be that John has in mind the person behind the voice, namely Christ, and so he simply uses the masculine with this in mind.

soi dat. pro. "[I will show] you" - [come up here and i will show] you. Dative of indirect object.

genesqai (ginomai) aor. inf. "[what must] take place" - [what is necessary] to happen (???). Probably the infinitive serves as the subject of the verb dei, "it is necessary", "to happen is necessary", in which case the the pronoun a}, "what" is not the accusative subject of the infinitive, but its object, "to happen is necessary for what = these things." The verb "is necessary" carries the force of divine intention. The sense is simple enough: "Come up here and I will let you see the things that will happen after this", TH.

meta + acc. "after [this]" - Temporal use of the preposition. The language of seeing what is about to happen after this is prophetic idiom for a revelation, an unveiling of a divine reality. The temporal "after" does not carry much force because from a prophetic perspective, the future merges with the present. John's vision is more about viewing reality than viewing the future. So", I will show you what will happen in the future" is a technically correct not yet, but prophetic imagery constantly draws the then into the now such that "I will show you what is" better reflects what John sees, namely, the realization of the kingdom of God. Beale titles this eschatological perspective as "already-and-not-yet."


ii] The throne of God, v2-3. John's Spirit-inspired vision focuses on the throne of the Ancient of Days, and with Ezekiel chapter 1 in mind, we are given a glimpse of God's radiant presence. John makes no attempt to describe God in anthropomorphic terms.

en + dat. "[I was] in [the Spirit]" - [immediately, at once, i was found] in [spirit]. Local, expressing sphere; "in the sphere of the Spirit." Osborne defines a prophet's being "in the Spirit" as "a Holy Spirit-sent visionary experience in which God reveals his mysteries." Cf., 1:10, "I found myself in the Spirit."

ekeito (keimai) imperf. "-" - [and behold, a throne] was being set [in heaven]. Possibly used for the perfect passive of tiqhmi, ie., eteqh, "be placed", which simply means that the throne was placed at that point in heaven and so "stood" there; "was standing in heaven." The NIV takes the verb here as a simple copula like ginomai, so lit., "I was in the Spirit, and behold, there was a throne in heaven"; "there was a throne there."

kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "someone" - [and] one was sitting. The participle serves as a substantive, subject of an assumed verb to-be. The posture of sitting indicates authority and rule.

epi + acc. "on [it]" - upon [the throne]. Spacial.


oJ kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "the one who sat there" - [and] the one sitting. The participle serves as a substantive.

oJrasei (iV ewV) dat. "[had] the appearance" - [was like] in sight, appearance. Dative of reference / respect; "he who sat on the throne, with respect to his appearance, was like a jasper stone." Probably referring to the light that emanated from God's person rather than describing what he looked like, "His appearance blazed like diamond and topaz", Phillips.

liqw/ (oV) dat. "[of jasper]" - to a stone [jasper]. "Stone" serves as a dative complement of the adjective "like". "Jasper" stands in apposition to "stone", best translated as if an attributive adjective limiting "stone"; "a stone of jasper" = "jasper stone." Jasper is not a brilliant stone and so some commentators think John has in mind the flashing light of a diamond. Jasper comes in a number of colors, which of course may be the point.

sardiw/ (on) dat. "ruby" - [and] carnelian. As for "jasper"; "a stone of jasper and carnelian. A semi-precious stone, red in color. "Bright radiant colors emanated from the throne."

i\riV (iV ewV) "A rainbow" - [and] a rainbow [was around the throne like in appearance to a stone, emerald]. The dative oJrasei, "in appearance", as above, and the dative smaragdinw/, "emerald", as for "jasper" and "ruby". A rainbow is of many colors so the green of the emerald is probably not the focus, but its sparkling brilliance; "around the throne was a rainbow, gleaming like an emerald", Barclay. Cf., Ezk.1:28, 27:26.


iii] The twenty-four elders, v4. As already noted, it seems likely that the enthroned twenty-four elders represent the saints of the Most High reigning with Christ, the twenty-four representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve tribes of the new Israel, the new Israel represented by the twelve apostles. If this is the case then we are witnessing the eternal reality of God's people, of what will be and now is. Of course, there are numerous other interpretations and Smalley, Aune and Beale have gone to great lengths to list them all. Those who suggest that they are angelic beings of some sort have given little weight to their garb - they wear white robes and wear crowns of gold so they are surely glorified believers; angels are never called "elders". See Beasley-Murray and Mounce for the argument that they are angels, and Osborne for the argument that they are celestial beings with a ruling function. The elders are probably not the orders of priesthood, 1Chron.24:4-5, nor significant saints of the Old and New Testament, but are more likely the foundation of the new Jerusalem / Israel, ie., believers - they represent the saints of the Most High, cf., 21:12-14. It must though be noted that on a number of occasions in Revelation a distinction is made between the "elders" and "the saints" - the elders are seated around God's throne, and the saints stand before it. This staging arrangement can be found in any church and John simply reflects it in his description of heaven, but in the end, we all reign with Christ.

kukloqen + gen. "surrounding [the throne]" - [and] all around [the throne there were twenty-four thrones]. Spacial; "about, all around." For the assumed verb to-be see "Context" above.

kaqhmenouV (kaqhmai) pres. mid. part. "seated [on them were]" - [and on the thrones were twenty-four elders] sitting. The preposition "on, upon [the thrones], epi, is spacial. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object, "twenty-four elders", of the assumed verb to-be. The sense is simple enough: "There were twenty four thrones with twenty four elders sitting on them", Berkeley.

peribeblhmenouV (periballw) perf. mid./pas. part. "they were dressed" - having been dressed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "twenty-four elders"; "who were clad in white ramient and golden crowns", Moffatt.

en + dat. "in [white]" - in [white garments, robes]. Here adverbial, modal, expressing the manner in which the elders were dressed. We have already met those dressed in iJmatioiV leukoiV, they are the victorious, those whose names are written in the book of life, cf., 3:5.

epi + acc. "[had crowns of gold] on [their head]" - [and] on [the heads of them they had golden crowns]. Spacial; "on, upon." Smalley suggests that the golden crowns symbalize "the royal nature of the vindicated faithful and this is an authoratative character which they share with their Lord and derive from him." "Twenty-four elders seated, white-robed and golden-crowned", Peterson.


iv] The Seven Spirits in the midst of the glory, v5-6a. Again John draws on Ezekiel for his description of the throne of God, Ezk.1:13, 22-26, cf., Ex.19:16, Dan.7:9f. The vision is glorious, wonderful, powerful, .... Again we meet the seven spirits of God, although here represented by seven burning lamps / torches. Again John uses the number seven to represent completeness / perfection, so this is probably another reference to the complete / perfect "spirit", ie., the Holy Spirit, as in 1:4; "the Sevenfold Holy Spirit", Osborne. See also 5:6 where the Seven Spirits are represented by the seven eyes of the Lamb, an image drawn from Zechariah 3 and 4, cf., 2Chron.16:9. The imagery of the seven lamps is drawn from Zech.4:2-3, 10, the lamps = the Spirit of Yahweh. Of course, numerous other suggestions have been proposed, eg. they are the seven celestial agents of the Lamb who become the seven angels with trumpets in 8:2, so Giblin, Catholic Quarterly, 1998.

ek + gen. "from [the throne]" - from [the throne]. Expressing source / origin, "out of, from"; "from the central throne came flashes of lightning, noises and peals of thunder", Phillips.

ekporeuontai (ekporeuomai) pres. "came" - came forth [lightning and sounds and thunders]. The present tense may be classified as a narrative present given that a durative aspect is not intended; it is what John saw.

enwpion + gen. "in front of [the throne" - before [the throne]. Spacial; "before, in front of."

puroV (r roV) gen. "[seven lamps were] blazing" - [seven] fire = burning [lamps]. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "lamps".

a{ pro. "these [are]" - which [are]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be. Its antecedent is "seven lamps." The relative clause serves to exegete the "seven lamps." "And there were burning before the throne seven flaming torches - they are the Seven Spirits of God", Cassirer.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[seven spirits] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, relational.


wJV "there was what looked" - [and before the throne] as [a sea made of glass]. Here comparative; "there was as it were a sea of glass", ESV.

krustallw/ (oV) dat. "[clear as] crystal" - [like] crystal. Dative complement of the adjective "like". "In front of the throne was something that looked like a glass sea, clear as crystal", CEV.


v] The worship of the four living beings, v8b-9. Closely related to the throne there are four living creatures / cherubim, covered with eyes, praising God. The imagery is drawn from Ezekiel 1 (poss. 1Enoch 40:2), but attempts to identify the creatures has produced numerous interpretations. The most likely interpretation is that they represent "the four quarters of the heavens, and therefore the four directions of the winds and the four seasons ...... they represent the creation in general", Beale, so also Swete, or even "the entirety of the cosmos", Blount, the entirety of creation in all its orders, in heaven and on earth. It is interesting how, after the praise of the cherubim, the elders give praise to God saying "you created all things, ...." The imagery is possibly drawn from the ancient zodiac represented by the Ox, Lion, Scorpion (sometimes a man) and Aquarius (see Beasley-Murray), although Ezk.1:5-6, 10-11a is most likely the source, even though the order differs. In Ezekiel 1 the spinning wheels have eyes all round, and here it is the four creatures that have the all-seeing eyes, the point possibly being that God sees our works through every element of creation. Against this interpretation we have Smalley who simply calls them "angelic beings", so also Osborne who calls them "the highest order of celestial being, perhaps angels, and lead in worship and judgment." This approach is also taken by Aune, "conceptions of the angelic seraphim and cherubim, depicted as located both above (Isa.6:2) and beneath (Ezek.1:5-25) the throne of God"; Reddish, "the highest order of angels, those who stand closest to the throne of God"; and Koester, "heavenly intermediaries."

en .... kuklw/ + dat. .... + gen. "In the center, around [the throne]" - [and] in [middle of the throne and] around [the throne]. The actual position of the "living creatures", as defined by the prepositions, is unclear. Mounce suggests they mean that the living creatures are in the vicinity of the throne, cf., Ezk.1, but Beasley-Murray suggests they mean next to and surrounding it with their presence. Maybe John is implying that the cherubim support the throne of God, see Hall, NTS, October 1990. Is this what Ezekiel's spinning wheels do?

gemonta (gemw) pres. part. "they were covered with" - [four living beings] being full of. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the "four living beings", "which were full of eyes in front and behind" = "covered with eyes back and front", Barclay.

ofqalmwn (oV) gen. "eyes" - eyes [in front and behind]. Genitive of direct object / of content, after the participle "being full of." The prepositions "in front" and "behind" make the point that the eyes cover the whole body, as they did for Ezekiel's wheels; "all four rims were full of eyes all around", Ezk.1:18.


It seems best not to draw any particular significance from the individual cherubim, but note Hendriksen who argues that the lion represents strength, the ox service, the man intelligence and the eagle swiftness. Note that the four cherubim came to represent the four gospels, the idea possibly originating with Irenaeus. Interestingly, he sets the order as John, Luke, Matthew and Mark.

leonti (wn ontoV) dat. "[was like] a lion" - [and the first living being was like] a lion [and the second living being like a calf, ox]. As with "ox, calf" and "eagle", dative of direct object after the adjective "like".

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "had [a face]" - [and the third living being] having [the face]. This participle is usually taken as a finite verb, so NIV etc, although such a usage is much debated. If treated as a finite verb we are best to classify it as serving in a periphrastic construction which is missing the verb to-be. We could go the full hog and call it an anacoluthon ellipsis (broken syntax + missing words); "the third living being like a being having the face as a man" = "like a cherubim which has ....", ie., the participle is adjectival, attributive, but of course, it should be dative rather than nominative, in agreement with the assumed dative of direct object "a being." To add to the confusion ecwn is nominative, but zwon, "living being" is neuter. Mathewson calls it "a construction according to sense"; a "living being" is really not neuter. Anyway, the sense is clear enough, "the third has a face like a man", Phillips.

wJV "like [a man]" - as, like [the face of a man]. Comparative. Probably not "had a man's face", Barclay, but as NIV, "like". The genitive "man" would be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting an assumed "face"; "like a human face."


Ezekiel describes God being carried on his chariot-throne by the winged cherubim, Ezk.10:16. So, the four legs of God's throne can fly and they see everything. We probably shouldn't push the image of the "eyes all around", even suggesting that the cherubim represent the totality of God's creation may be going too far. None-the-less, Swete thinks the eyes represent wakefulness while Hendrickson suggests intellectual penetration (feel free to join the speculation and fill in the dotted line .......................!!). The cherubim join in endless praise to the omnipotent God, the exceedingly holy one, the eternal one - the praise of creation to the creator, so Swete.

kaq (kata) + acc. "each [of the four]" - [and the four living beings one] according to [one of them]. Distributive use of the preposition such that e}n kaq e}n, "one according to one", takes the sense "each one", or just "each [of them]", cf., BDF #248.1. The genitive autwn, "of them", is partitive.

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "have [six wings]" - having [six wings each]. The participle, as in v7, is best classified as a periphrastic construction which is missing the verb to-be, so "the four living beings, each one of them / each of them, have four wings apiece", cf., 1:16. The ana here is distributive, "each, apiece"; somewhat redundant here. Like the seraphim in Isaiah 6:2 they each have six wings. In Ezekiel 1 the winged creatures have four wings. "Each and every one of the four living creatures had six wings", Cassirer.

ofqalmwn (oV) gen. "[covered with] eyes [all around, even under its wings]" - [around and within they are full of] eyes. As in v6, genitive of direct object / of content, after the verb "to be full of." The adverbs "around" and "within" are handled in various ways. "Within, inside", eswqen, is probably making the point expressed by the NIV, "even under its wings", ie., "underneath" rather than "within". The image is derived from Ezk.10:12, "full of eyes all around." The point is, the cherubim are all seeing.

hJmeraV (a) gen. "day [and night]" - [and they do not have rest] day [and night]. As with "night", the genitive is adverbial, temporal.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "saying" - Attendant circumstance participle, "dot not have ..... and said", or adverbial modal, expressing the manner of their not having rest, "always singing"; Semitic construction.

oJ pantokratwr (wr oroV) "[the Lord God] Almighty" - [holy, holy, holy, lord god] the almighty. Nominative standing in apposition to "God" which stands in apposition to "Lord". The following clause oJ ...., "who [was ....]", also stands in apposition to Lord. The Sanctus, "holy, holy, holy", probably carries the sense "holy, exceedingly holy", cf., Isa.6:3.

oJ h\n imperf. "who was" - the one who was, [the one being, the one coming]. "The one who is, exists, the one being" can be expressed with an articular participle, but since there is no imperfect participle it is necessary to use the articular imperfect verb to-be to form the substantive "the one who was." The future sense is carried by the articular participle oJ ercomenoV, "the one coming / the one who is coming." This designation of God reflects the language of Exodus 3:14. God is able to fulfill his eternal purposes because he himself is eternal. "The Was, The Is, The Coming", Peterson.


vi] The worship of the twenty-four elders, v9-11. The twenty-four elders chime in with the cherubim and offer obeisance to him who sits on the throne, the one who lives forever, cf., Dan.4:34, 6:26, 12:7. In recognition of divine sovereignty they lay their crowns before the throne; "they acknowledge that their authority is delegated", Smalley. Their adoration is direct and to the point; they praise God for his creation. The cherubim, most likely representing the creation, praise God for his attributes, but the elders, most likely representing the saints, believers, praise God for the creation, a creation of which they are the crown jewels.

oJtan + fut. "whenever [the living creatures]" - whenever [the living beings will give glory and honor and thanks]. We would expect oJtan + subj. to express an indefinite future, but sometimes, especially in Revelation, a future is used instead of a subjunctive. None-the-less, some commentators think the use of the future tense here is used to identify a particular point in the future, namely, the eschaton, so Smalley, or 5:13-14, so Aune and Beale. An indefinite "whenever" = "when" seems best since the realized eschatology of Revelation is not pushing the reader into the future, but revealing what is. God's celestial court is in a state of exaltation because the Great Day of the Lord has arrived, the seals are about to be broken (ie., judgment is at hand), and the glorious new Jerusalem is even now before us. "Every time the living creatures ascribe glory and honor to Him who sits on the throne .....", Cassirer.

tw/ kaqhmenw/ (kaqhmai) dat. pres. mid. part. "to him who sits" - to the one sitting. The participle, as with "to the one living", serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. Here John alludes to Daniel 4:34, 12:7.

epi + dat. "on [the throne]" - upon [the throne]. When John uses his favorite preposition with a spacial sense, "upon, on", he usually follows it with a genitive. So, why the dative here?

eiV + acc. "for [ever and ever]" - [the one living] into [the ages of the ages]. Temporal use of the preposition. The phrase "into the ages" is idiomatic for "forever", and the additional genitive "of the ages" makes it emphatic, "for ever and ever", cf., 1:18. We could classify the genitive as partitive as "the ages" are just one part of all the ages, which sequence of ages God lives through.


pesountai (piptw) fut. "[the twenty-four elders] fall down" - [the twenty-four elders] will fall. As with "will worship, do obeisance", and "will lay, put", much is sometimes made of the future here (see oJtan + fut. above), but v10 serves as the apodosis (the then clause) of a temporal conditional clause, with v9 serving as the protasis; "when the living creatures give glory ........ then will they fall down = then the twenty-four elders fall down ....... and worship him ...... and cast their crowns ....." "The twenty-four elders prostrate themselves before the throne", Phillips.

enwpion + gen. "before" - Spacial, "before, in front of."

tou kaqhmenou (kaqhmai) gen. pres. mid. part. "him who sits [on the throne]" - the one sitting. As with "the one living = him who lives", the participle serves as a substantive.

proskunhsousin (proskunew) fut. "[and] worship" - [and] will do obeisance to [the one living into the ages of the ages]. This verb often takes a dative of direct object, as here. The verb latreuw is often translated as "worship", as is the verb proskunew. This can cause confusion given that latreuw means "to serve", prompting the argument that "worship" is the act of serving God. The word "worship" is best used of doing obeisance to God, as here.

eiV touV aiwnaV twn aiwnwn "for ever and ever" - See v9.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "[and] say" - [and will throw the crowns of them before the throne] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to throw, put = lay"; "they lay ...... and say", as NIV. It may be classified as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the laying - while laying they are saying ...." "Singing", TEV.


hJmwn gen. pro. "our [Lord and God]" - [you are worthy, the lord and the god] of us. The genitive here may expresses subordination, "Lord and God over us", but possibly better relational, "our Lord and God."

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "to receive" - to receive [the glory and the honor and the power]. The infinitive is epexegetic, specifying in what sense God is "worthy"; "you are worthy ...... to have ascribed to you all glory, honor and power", Cassirer.

oJti "for" - because. Serving to introducing a causal clause; "because you created all things and by your will they existed and were created."

su pro. "you [created all things]" - Emphatic by position and use.

dia + acc. "by [your will]" - [and] because of [the will of you they existed and were created]. Causal; "because of your will they came to be and were created", NAB; "it was because of your decision that they (all things) were created and exist."


Revelation Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]