Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6, The Lamb opens the fifth seal

 


A Bible study


Revelation 6:9-11

GNV

9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were killed for the word of God, and for the testimony which they maintained.

10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, Lord, which art holy and true! dost not thou judge and avenge our blood on them, that dwell on the earth?

11 And long white robes were given unto every one, and it was said unto them, that they should rest for a little season until their fellow servants, and their brethren that should be killed even as they were, were fulfilled.


Thoughts

Much trouble – tribulation – is happening right now and will most certainly happen in the future, but we must remember that much suffering and tribulation lies in our past also. 

Paulicians

Waldenses in France

Lollards

Scottish Covenanters

Reformation martyrs under Henry VIII and his descendants

Anabaptists of the 16th and 17th century

Nate Saint and other martyrs of the Ecuadoran Mission

Christians around the world in our day, of whom the world is not worthy.

Hebrews 11

35 The women received their dead raised to life: others also were racked, and would not be delivered, that they might receive a better resurrection.

36 And others have been tried by mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover by bonds, and imprisonment.

37 They were stoned, they were hewn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword, they wandered up and down in sheep’s skins, and in goats’ skins, being destitute, afflicted,  and tormented:

38 Whom the world was not worthy of: they wandered in wildernesses and mountains, and dens, and caves of the earth.


Related Scriptures

Revelation 12:11

11 But they overcame him by that blood of that Lamb, and by that word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 14:13

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, The dead which die in the Lord, are fully blessed. Even so saith the Spirit: for they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.


Letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna

Revelation 2:8-11

And unto the Angel of the Church of the Smyrnians write, These things saith he that is first and last, which was dead and is alive.

I know thy works and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them, which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things, which thou shalt suffer: behold, it shall come to pass, that the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

11 Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.


History related to the Fifth Seal

Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965, pp. 712-713

Chapter 6:9-11.    The Fifth Seal

“There were Ten Imperial Persecutions of the Church, from Nero, A.D. 64, to Diocletian, A.D. 305. The vision may also be a prophetic hint of the Papal Persecutions of the Middle Ages, and perhaps also of the Persecutions of the Tribulation Period of the Last Days.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: The Ten Primitive Persecutions

The First Persecution, under Nero:

“This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

“To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.”

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

HT: Meg, The Antipas Chronicles

The Annals (Latin: Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68″ (Wikipedia). John received and wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81–96 A.D.) Tacitus wrote The Annals in 109 A.D. The Annals address events of the first of the “Ten Primitive Persecutions” – Nero’s – and recount his efforts to shift the blame from himself to Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 A.D. The following excerpt shows how the world viewed us in Tacitus’ day. Is this how it sees us now?
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“But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. . .

“Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

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Colosseum Innen Rom - Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum In Rome – Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at

Colosseum

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Mark Cartwright

Under Domitian [14 September 81 – 18 September 96], dramas were also held in the Colosseum but with a bloodthirsty realism. . . [It] was also the scene of many executions during the lunch-time lull (when the majority of spectators went for lunch), particularly the killing of Christian martyrs. Seen as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of Pagan Rome and the divinity of the Emperor, Christians were. . . killed in a myriad of cruelly inventive ways.

The Martyrdom Of Polycarp, or The Letter Of The Smyrnaeans

Early Christian Writings – ©Peter Kirby

[Polycarp, A.D. 69 – 155]

“13:3  Immediately then the instruments that were prepared for the pile were placed about him. As they were going likewise to nail him to the stake, he said: ‘Leave me as I am; for He that has granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the pyre unmoved, even without the security which you seek from the nails.’

“14:1  So they did not nail him, but tied him. Then he, placing his hands behind him and being bound to the stake, like a noble ram out of a great flock for an offering, a burnt sacrifice made ready and acceptable to God, looking up to heaven said: ‘O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Your presence;

“14:2  ‘I bless You because You have granted me this day and hour, that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs in the cup of Your Christ unto resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received among these in Your presence this day, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as You did prepare and reveal it beforehand, and have accomplished it, You that art the faithful and true God.

“14:3  For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise You, I bless You, I glorify You, through the eternal and heavenly High-priest, Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, through Whom, with Him and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and ever and for the ages to come. Amen.’

“15:1  When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire.”

Diocletian

[20 November 284 – 1 May 305 A.D.]

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Donald L. Wasson

“Aside from the continued problems with finance and border security, Diocletian was concerned with the continuing growth of Christianity, a religion that appealed to the both the poor and the rich. The Christians had shown themselves to be a thorn in the side of an emperor since the days of Nero. The problem grew worse as their numbers increased. Diocletian wanted stability and that meant a return to the more traditional gods of Rome, but Christianity prevented this. To most of the emperors who preceded Diocletian, Christians offended the pax deorum or ‘peace of the gods.’ Similarly, since the days of Emperor Augustus, there existed the imperial cult – the deification of the emperor – and Jews and Christians refused to consider any emperor a god.

“However, part of the problem also stemmed from Diocletian’s ego. He began to consider himself a living god, demanding people prostrate themselves before him and kiss the hem of his robe. He wore a jeweled diadem and sat upon a magnificent, elevated throne. In 297 CE he demanded that all soldiers and members of the administration sacrifice to the gods; those who would not were immediately forced to resign. Next, in 303 CE he ordered the destruction of all churches and Christian texts. All of these edicts were encouraged by Galerius. However, throughout this Great Persecution the Christians refused to yield and sacrifice to the Roman gods. Leading members of the clergy were arrested and ordered to sacrifice or die and a bishop in Nicomedia who refused was beheaded. Finally, any Christian who refused was tortured and killed. At long last, the persecution came to an end in 305 CE.”


Commentaries

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

“Observe, (1.) Even the spirits of just men made perfect retain a proper resentment of the wrong they have sustained by their cruel enemies; and though they die in charity, praying, as Christ did, that God would forgive them, yet they are desirous that, for the honour of God, and Christ, and the gospel, and for the terror and conviction of others, God will take a just revenge upon the sin of persecution, even while he pardons and saves the persecutors. (2.) They commit their cause to him to whom vengeance belongeth, and leave it in his hand; they are not for avenging themselves, but leave all to God. (3.) There will be joy in heaven at the destruction of the implacable enemies of Christ and Christianity, as well as at the conversion of other sinners. When Babylon falls, it will be said, Rejoice over her, O thou heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her, ch. 18:20 .3. He observed the kind return that was made to this cry (v. 11), both what was given to them and what was said to them. (1.) What was given to them—white robes, the robes of victory and of honour; their present happiness was an abundant recompence of their past sufferings. (2.) What was said to them—that they should be satisfied, and easy in themselves, for it would not be long ere the number of their fellow-sufferers would be fulfilled. This is a language rather suited to the imperfect state of the saints in this world than to the perfection of their state in heaven; there is no impatience, no uneasiness, no need of admonition; but in this world there is great need of patience. Observe, [1.] There is a number of Christians, known to God, who are appointed as sheep for the slaughter, set apart to be God’s witnesses. [2.] As the measure of the sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the persecuted martyred servants of Christ. [3.] When this number is fulfilled, God will take a just and glorious revenge upon their cruel persecutors; he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, and to those that are troubled full and uninterrupted rest.”

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007, pp. 146-147

“So severe were Diocletian’s edicts of extermination that his reign has come to be known as the Era of the Martyrs. Churches were razed, libraries of sacred books were burned, and believers were tortured to death. Prior persecutions had been local and spasmodic – generally inconsequential against the spread of the Christian faith. Diocletian’s war against the Church is the outstanding exemplar of pagan fear and hatred of the true Faith.* At least two conclusions are implied by this text. First, the chronological sequence of the seal prophecies appropriately targets Diocletian’s persecution. Second, the message of the fifth seal also focuses more generally on suffering and martyrdom, a phenomenon which occurred in various locations and with various intensities throughout the entire earlier period of the seals, as well as after Diocletian until Constantine became sole emperor. The completion of the number of martyrs mentioned in verse 11 was to await yet another era foretold in Revelation 13. The symbolic “Beast,” an apostate church, was to conduct a war against the true faith which would dwarf the persecutions of the pagan Emperors. . .” 

* “Eusebius believed that the tragedy was God’s judgment against excesses of the Church.” 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 6 – The Lamb opens the first seals

The Four Horsemen


Revelation 6:1-8

GNV

6 1 The Lamb openeth the first seal of the book. 3 The second, 5 the third, 7 the fourth. . .

1 After I beheld when the Lamb had opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four beasts say, as it were the noise of thunder, Come and see.

Therefore I beheld, and lo, there was a white horse, and he that sat on him, had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering that he might overcome.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

And there went out another horse, that was red, and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and there was given unto him a great sword.

5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. Then I beheld, and lo, a black horse, and he that sat on him, had balances in his hand.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and oil, and wine hurt thou not.

7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

And I looked, and behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed after him, and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with beasts of the earth.


Thoughts

Here are various views of this passage and study helps. A question for us is – does Revelation also deal with the long and important history of the Church or only with the End of the Age?


Insight from other bloggers: General

And Then Messiah Shall Come

Jerry Parks, in a comment

“The Revelation in my thinking, only reaffirms the oneness of Jew and Gentile as taught in scripture. It exposes the world totally corrupted by the fall of Satan, and covers a time period from that fall through the birth of Messiah; and extends through to the end of this age and beyond. . . Revelation is historic, and it is specific to future events. It is allegorical and it is literal to His plan for His creation and, more specifically, for His people in creation. It is awesome in its revealing of His judgments and final wrath, and of His love and final rewards.”


Commentaries

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The Moody Bible Institute, 1962

“Note that in these first four scenes there are no names of individuals, human or superhuman, no geographical terms, and no specific events. The judgments are, as it were, of a general nature: wars have occurred often on earth, and they are often accompanied by pestilence and by scarcity of food, if not famine conditions. This would seem to be, then, just a preliminary phase of the more terrible judgments to follow.” [p. 1506]

pexels-photo-273936.jpeg

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Revelation 6

The opening of the first six of the seven seals.

“. . . [Many] hold that all these seals have been fulfilled, the sixth having been so by the overthrow of paganism and establishment of Christianity under Constantine’s edict, A.D. 312. There can, however, be no doubt that at least the sixth seal is future, and is to be at the coming again of Christ. The great objection to supposing the seals to be finally and exhaustively fulfilled (though, probably, particular events may be partial fulfillments typical of the final and fullest one), is that, if so, they ought to furnish (as the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ’s prophecy, does) a strong external evidence of Revelation. . . Probably not isolated facts, but classes of events preparing the way for Christ’s coming kingdom, are intended by the opening of the seals.”

pexels-photo-272337.jpeg

The Final Prophecy of Jesus, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007

“The Revelation provides in apocalyptic symbols a general guide to the faithful who look to see the hand of Providence in history. . . for the original readers the vision would relate to the immediate future and then lead to Christ’s victory over Antichrist and the glorious return of the Lord Jesus to establish His Kingdom. . . [p. 119] 

“Because of the function of seals and because they appear only in the beginning of the book, the seal prophecies should be understood as introductory to the other prophecies which follow. Some ancient documents used multiple seals to provide the means of reading a preliminary copy of a text while preserving as unread and protected the official text. . . Similarly here, the several seals introduce six brief sequences. When the seventh seal is opened the larger part of the book remains to be read. These pertain to the subjects of principal concern – the coming war of Antichrist against the church, Christ’s victory in that war, and the glorious consummation of this age. The details of the six seal prophecies correspond so well with events of the first three Christian centuries that the reader familiar with that history should immediately see the correlation. . .” [p. 120]

A Bible study

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)

Chapter 6

“The book of the divine counsels being thus lodged in the hand of Christ, he loses no time, but immediately enters upon the work of opening the seals and publishing the contents; but this is done in such a manner as still leaves the predictions very abstruse and difficult to be understood. Hitherto the waters of the sanctuary have been as those in Ezekiel’s vision, only to the ankles, or to the knees, or to the loins at least; but here they begin to be a river that cannot be passed over. The visions which John saw, the epistles to the churches, the songs of praise, in the two foregoing chapters, had some things dark and hard to be understood; and yet they were rather milk for babes than meat for strong men; but now we are to launch into the deep, and our business is not so much to fathom it as to let down our net to take a draught. We shall only hint at what seems most obvious. The prophecies of this book are divided into seven seals opened, seven trumpets sounding, and seven vials poured out. It is supposed that the opening of the seven seals discloses those providences that concerned the church in the first three centuries, from the ascension of our Lord and Saviour to the reign of Constantine; this was represented in a book rolled up, and sealed in several places, so that, when one seal was opened, you might read so far of it, and so on, till the whole was unfolded. Yet we are not here told what was written in the book, but what John saw in figures enigmatical and hieroglyphic; and it is not for us to pretend to know ‘the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own power.’”


 A little Greek

Verse 2:

Therefore I beheld, and lo, there was a white horse, and he that sat on him, had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering that he might overcome.

Strong’s Concordance

stephanos: that which surrounds, i.e. a crown
Original Word: στέφανος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: stephanos
Phonetic Spelling: (stef’-an-os)
Short Definition: a crown, garland
Definition: a crown, garland, honor, glory.

HELPS Word-studies

4735 stéphanos – properly, a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory (versus 1238 /diádēma, “a royal crown”).

[4735 (stéphanos) is used of a plaited wreath (“crown”), like the one made of thorns placed on the head of Christ at His trial (Mt 27:29, Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5).]


Devotional Commentary

James Nisbet’s Church Pulpit Commentary
Revelation 6

Verse 8

DEATH

‘Behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death.’

There are times when the near presence and the invincible power of death are felt with peculiar solemnity. What St. John saw in apocalyptic vision we see in solemn and often startling reality.

I. The ride of death.

(a) It is long. Death has been with us as long as man has been on the globe.

(b) It is powerful. Death triumphs now over everything and everybody. The sovereign on the throne; the peasant in the cottage must alike come under its power.

II. The fight with death. — Yet for the Christian death has lost its terrors because of the resurrection of the Lord of life. He confers on all that freely and fully accept Him as their Saviour and Lord a life —

(a) Which is spiritual and therefore real.

(b) Which is holy and therefore noble and blessed.

(c) Which is eternal. What we call death is only the passage into a brighter and ampler life.

III. The final overthrow of death. — That glorious time will come when Jesus Christ shall reign, and when all enemies shall be subdued beneath His feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.


 


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 5:8-14, the Lamb and the Book, part 2


“In Heaven EVERYBODY sings. . .”

Halley’s Bible Commentary, 1965, p. 710


A Bible study


Revelation 5:9-14

GNV

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, because thou wast killed, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

10 And hast made us unto our God Kings, and Priests, and we shall reign on the earth.

11 Then I beheld, and I heard the voice of many Angels round about the throne, and about the beasts and the Elders, and there were ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousand thousands,

12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was killed, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and praise.

13 And all the creatures which are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Praise, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for evermore.

14 And the four beasts said, Amen, and the four and twenty Elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for evermore.


Daniel 7:9-14

NASB

The Ancient of Days Reigns

9 “I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took His seat;
His vesture was like white snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne was ablaze with flames,
Its wheels were a burning fire.
10 “A river of fire was flowing
And coming out from before Him;
Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,
And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;
The court sat,
And the books were opened.

11 Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13 “I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14 “And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.


Thoughts
From Clarence: Nightlightblogdotcom, Revelation 5:4-14, “Worthy is the Lamb!”

“The whole of creation raises its voice in a crescendo of praise to its Creator and Redeemer, for even creation itself will be redeemed from the curse brought on it by our first parents, Romans 8:21.  How much more, then, ought you and I, who have been released from the bondage and curse of sin, raise our voices in praise to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and forever.

“Hallelujah.”


Insights from commentaries

The Final Prophecy of Jesus, Oral Edmond Collins, p. 116

“All that is ascribed to the Father in 4:9-11 and more is now in 5:12 given to the Son.”

Barnes’ Notes

“The universe is held in wondering expectation of the disclosures which are to be made, and from all parts of the universe there is an acknowledgment that the Lamb of God alone has the right to break the mysterious seals. The importance of the developments justifies the magnificence of this representation; and it would not be possible to imagine a more sublime introduction to these great events.”


A little Greek

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Verse 5:12
to receive power Greek, “the power.” The remaining six (the whole being seven, the number for perfection and completeness) are all, as well as “power,” ranged under the one Greek article, to mark that they form one complete aggregate belonging to God and His co-equal, the Lamb. Compare Rev. 7:12, where each of all seven has the article.
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7:12  saying, ‘Amen! the blessing, and the glory, and the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, and the honour, and the power, and the strength, [are] to our God – to the ages of the ages! Amen!’  ~ Young’s Literal Translation


The Final Prophecy of Jesus, Oral Edmond Collins, p. 119

“The stage is now set in the drama of the Revelation. The throne of the Creator is displayed in chapters four and five where He is worshiped in the heavenly sanctuary. There the Savior is presented who alone can provide the key to redemptive history. The scroll is ready to be unsealed. . .”


 

Reading through Revelation – Chapter 5:1-7, the Lamb and the Book, part 1


A Bible study


Revelation 5:1-7 

GNV

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat upon the throne, a book written within, and on the backside sealed with seven seals.

And I saw a strong Angel which preached with a loud voice, 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.

Then I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open, and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

And one of the Elders said unto me, Weep not: behold, that Lion which is of the tribe of Judah, that root of David, hath obtained to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Then 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 though he had been killed, which had seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent into all the world.

And he came, and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.


Thoughts

Awe and joy, amazement and adoration, wonder, glory!


The chapter

Barnes’ Notes

“. . . The design of the whole chapter is evidently to honor the Lamb of God, by showing that the power was entrusted to him which was confided to no one else in heaven or earth, of disclosing what is to come. Nothing else would better illustrate this than the fact that he alone could break the mysterious seals which barred out the knowledge of the future from all created eyes; and nothing would be better adapted to impress this on the mind than the representation in this chapter – the exhibition of a mysterious book in the hand of God; the proclamation of the angel, calling on any who could do it to open the book; the fact that no one in heaven or earth could do it; the tears shed by John when it was found that no one could do it; the assurance of one of the elders that the Lion of the tribe of Judah had power to do it; and the profound adoration of all in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth in view of the power entrusted to him of breaking these mysterious seals. . .”


Insights from commentaries

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

REVELATION CHAPTER 5

“1. in, &c. — Greek, ‘(lying) upon the right hand.’ His right hand was open and on it lay the book. On God’s part there was no withholding of His future purposes as contained in the book: the only obstacle to unsealing it is stated in Rev. 5:3 [Alford].

“book — . . .The writing on the back implies fullness and completeness, so that nothing more needs to be added (Rev. 22:18). . . However, no portion of the roll is said to be unfolded and read; but simply the seals are successively opened, giving final access to its contents being read as a perfect whole, which shall not be until the events symbolized by the seals shall have been past, when Ephes. 3:10 shall receive its complete accomplishment, and the Lamb shall reveal God’s providential plans in redemption in all their manifold beauties. Thus the opening of the seals will mean the successive steps by which God in Christ clears the way for the final opening and reading of the book at the visible setting up of the kingdom of Christ.” 

Ephesians 3:10

10 To the intent, that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God

 .

The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

Exposition 5:6-10

“What the elder proclaimed, John now saw through tearful eyes wonderfully dramatized in the heavenly scene. The Lion is a Lamb! A Lamb-like being scarred from mortal wounds, was nevertheless grandly alive and standing before Him in the throne room of heaven. The slain Lamb can represent no other than the One about whom Isaiah said,

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, . . . cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken (Isa. 53:7,8).

“His seven horns and seven eyes indicate His sovereign control over the destiny of His creation as well as His care for His people in ‘all the earth.’

“As the aged and suffering John was comforted, so are we to be comforted by this vision of the Victorious Lamb who is worthy not only to unveil the sealed prophecies, but to call forth the fulfillment of all the glorious predictions of all God’s prophets, insuring that in His time His purposes for His world and for our redemption will be fulfilled. . .”


A little Greek

Robertson’s Word Pictures

Verse 1

“In the right hand (επι την δεχιαν — epi tēn dexian). “Upon the right hand” (επι — epi not εν — en), the open palm. Anthropomorphic language drawn from Ezekiel 2:9.

“A book (βιβλιον — biblion). Diminutive of βιβλος — biblos but no longer so used, βιβλαριδιον — biblaridion occurring instead (Revelation 10:2). Written (γεγραμμενον — gegrammenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of γραπω — graphō and on the back (εσωτεν και οπιστεν — esōthen kai opisthen). “Within and behind.” Description of a roll like that in Luke 4:17, not a codex as some scholars think. Usually these papyrus rolls were written only on the inside, but this one was so full of matter that it was written also on the back side (οπιστεν — opisthen), and so was an οπιστογραπον — opisthographon like that in Ezekiel 2:10. There are many allegorical interpretations of this fact which are all beside the point. Sealed (κατεσπραγισμενον — katesphragismenon). Perfect passive predicate participle of κατασπραγιζω — katasphragizō old compound (perfective use of κατα — kata), to seal up (down), here only in N.T. With seven seals (σπραγισιν επτα — sphragisin hepta). Instrumental case of σπραγις — sphragis old word used in various senses, proof or authentication (1 Corinthians 9:2Romans 4:11), signet-ring (Revelation 7:2), impression made by the seal (Revelation 9:42 Timothy 2:19), the seal on books closing the book (Revelation 5:1Revelation 5:2, Revelation 5:5, Revelation 5:9Revelation 6:1, Revelation 6:3, Revelation 6:5, Revelation 6:7, Revelation 6:9, Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:1). . .”


 

Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:18-29 – Thyatira

 



Revelation 2:18-29

gnv

18  And unto the Angel of the Church which is at Thyatira write, These things saith the Son of God, which hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass.

19 I know thy works and thy love, and service and faith, and thy patience, and thy works, and that they are more at the last, than at the first.

20 Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to deceive my servants, to make them commit fornication and to eat meat sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit fornication with her, into great affliction, except they repent them of their works.

23 And I will kill her children with death, and all the Churches shall know that I am he which search the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according unto your works.

24 And unto you I say, the rest of them of Thyatira, As many as have not this learning, neither have known the deepness of Satan (as they speak) I will put upon you none other burden,

25 But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.

26 For he that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over nations.

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and as the vessels of a potter, shall they be broken:

28 Even as I received of my Father, so will I give him the morning Star.

29 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.


Thoughts

I’ve tried to find solid information relating to the message to “the Angel of the church which is at Thyatira.” Please forgive any repetition of significant facts.

The letter to this assembly is the longest of the seven. In it, the Lord condemns a woman who claims to be a prophetess and whom He calls “Jezebel”. The original Jezebel was the foreign-born queen of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who destroyed the true prophets of the Lord, had Naboth denounced, condemned, and stoned, and was in the end herself destroyed. The name of Jezebel is forever linked with idolatry and murder.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897)

“Jezebel has stamped her name on history as the representative of all that is designing, crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great instigator of persecution against the saints of God. . . passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship. . .”

The deadly alliance of Ahab and Jezebel

1 Kings 16

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did worse in the sight of the Lord than all that were before him. 31 For was it a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, except he took Jezebel also the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians to wife, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him? 32 Also he reared up an altar to Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove, and Ahab proceeded, and did provoke the Lord God of Israel more than all the kings of Israel that were before him. 34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his eldest son, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

 1 Kings 21

Then Jezebel his wife came unto him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money, or if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: but he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. Then Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Up, eat bread, and be of good cheer, I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. . . 25 (But there was none like Ahab, who did sell himself to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife provoked. 26 For he did exceeding abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.)

Jezebel’s words were smooth, “Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread?” But under her tongue was poison.

This was her justly deserved end:

2 Kings 9:30-37

30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. 31 And as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, which slew his master? 32 And he lift up his eyes to the window, and said, Who is on my side, who? Then two or three of her Eunuchs looked unto him. 33 And he said, Cast her down: and they cast her down, and he sprinkled of her blood upon the wall, and upon the horses, and he trode her under foot. 34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Visit now yonder cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a King’s daughter. 35 And they went to bury her, but they found no more of her, than the skull and the feet, and the palms of her hands. 36 Wherefore they came again and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the field of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.37 And the carcass of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the ground in the field of Jezreel, so that none shall say, This is Jezebel.

 


See the source image

Artist’s conception of a true prophet of the Lord, Elijah the Tishbite, whom Jezebel tried but failed to kill.


Study helps for the message to Thyatira

Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan, 1965, p. 69

“Thyatira was a city in the province of Asia, on the boundary of Lydia and Mysia. Thyatira has no illustrious history, and is scarcely mentioned by ancient writers. Coinage suggests that, lying as it did on a great highway linking two river valleys, Thyatira was  a garrison town over long centuries. . . The city was a center of commerce, and the records preserve references to more trade-guilds than those listed for any other Asian city. Lydia, whom Paul met in Philippi, was a Thyatiran seller of “turkey red,” the product of the madder root (Acts 16:14). It is curious to find another woman, nicknamed after the princess who sealed Ahab’s trading partnership with the Phoenicians, leading a party of compromise in the Thyatiran church (Revelation 2:20, 21). Necessity for guild membership in a trading community must have strengthened temptation to compromise. Thyatira played no significant role in the later history of the church.”

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Matthew Henry’s Commentary

“. . . Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them . . .”

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The Final Prophecy of Jesus:

An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“26. To him who overcomes: as in each of the letters a promise is made to the overcomer. Here only, perhaps as a reflex on the preceding verse, it is expanded with an explanatory clause, and does my will to the end (cf. 1 John 5:4, 5). The promised reward follows in two parts: first, I will give authority over the nations . . . . The Savior quotes Psalm 2:9, which addresses the Messianic rule over the nations of the world.

Thou shalt crush them with a scepter of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. – Psalm 2:9

“The participation of the saints in the power of Christ’s throne is affirmed in the apocalyptic vision of Daniel 7:27: ‘Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.’ The theme is reiterated in Revelation 5:10 and 20:4, 6. It is also found on the lips of Jesus in Matt. 19:28 and from the pen of Paul in 1 Cor. 6:2-3.   27. Christ’s use of Psa. 2:9 in Revelation 2:27 implies the authority ascribed to him in the Psalm is, as stated in Daniel, given also to the victorious saints. To rule with an iron scepter denotes absolute authority to enforce the law, such as must be ascribed to Christ and to those who rule with him. Also implied is a condition where there is a plurality of nations and where moral perfection has not yet been realized. The promise belongs to the millennial age following the ‘the end’ and the Second Advent mentioned in verses 25 and 26. . .

28. The second reward promised to the overcomer is that Christ will also give him the morning star. The ‘morning star’ is identified in chapter 22:16 by Jesus, himself, where he says, ‘I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’ The Scriptural use of the figure is anticipated by Balaam’s prophecy in Num. 24:17, ‘A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.’ . . . Here the Old Testament text, has historically found a measure of fulfillment in David, takes on Messianic significance from the Davidic Covenant which promised a Son who would come to rule perpetually on David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:12-17). So Jesus identifies Himself as ‘the Root and Offspring of David.’ The saint who is called upon to rule need not fear for Christ will be with him. Christ in his physical presence will personally be seated on his throne as king and His indwelling Spirit will fully empower those who assist Him in that (see 1 Cor. 6:2). For the Thyatiran who had not adequately disciplined ‘Jezebel’ and her followers, there was a certain irony in this promise of the iron scepter to the overcomers. It stands as a testimony to the grace of God as revealed in the Gospel as accomplished in the person of the messenger, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Barnes’ New Testament Notes

Verse 24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira. . . he addresses now all the members of the church who were not involved in the charges already made. He does not say how large a portion of the church had escaped the contaminating influence of those opinions, but to that portion, whether great or small, he addresses only words of exhortation and comfort.

“As many as have not this doctrine. To all who have not embraced it, or been contaminated with it. It may be presumed that there was a considerable portion of the church which had not.

“And which have not known the depths of Satan. The deep art and designs of Satan. Deep things are those which are hidden from view—as of things which are far under-ground; and hence the word is used to denote mysteries, or profound designs and purposes. The allusion here is not to any trials or sufferings that Satan might bring upon any one, or to any temptations of which he might be the author, but to his profound art in inculcating error and leading men astray. . .

I will put upon you none other burden. That is, no other than that which you now experience from having these persons with you, and that which must attend the effort to purify the church. He had not approved their conduct for suffering these persons to remain in the church, and he threatens to punish all those who had become contaminated with these pernicious doctrines. He evidently designed to say that there was some token of his displeasure proper in the case, but he was not disposed to bring upon them any other expression of his displeasure than that which grew naturally and necessarily out of the fact that they had been tolerated among them, and those troubles and toils which must attend the effort to deliver the church from these errors. . . A kind Saviour says, that he would bring upon them no other, and no weightier burden, than must arise from his purpose to inflict appropriate vengeance on the guilty themselves. The trouble which would grow out of that would be a sufficient expression of his displeasure. This is, in fact, often now all that is necessary as a punishment on a church for harbouring the advocates of error and of sin. . .”

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

“Thyatira. . . stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis. . . Other names which it has borne are Pelopia and Semiramis. Before the time of Nicator the place was regarded as a holy city, for there stood the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god, Tyrimnos; about it games were held in his honor. . . Another temple at Thyatira was dedicated to Sambethe, and at this shrine was a prophetess, by some supposed to represent the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20, who uttered the sayings which this deity would impart to the worshippers.

“Thyatira was specially noted for the trade guilds. . . Every artisan belonged to a guild, and every guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. . . The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place. Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to Acts 19:10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus, but this is uncertain; yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.”

E. J. Banks


Artist’s conception of Paul and Silas at Lydia’s house in Phillipi.
Lydia was from Thyatira but came to the Lord in Phillipi!


Interesting!

Fox’s Book of Martyrs

John

“The ‘beloved disciple,’ was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.”