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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 4 - Verse 8

Verse 8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him. An emblem common to them all, denoting that, in reference to each and all the things here symbolized, there was one common characteristic —that in heaven there is the utmost promptness in executing the Divine commands. Compare Isa 6:2; Ps 18:10; 104:3; Jer 48:40.

No mention is made of the manner in which these wings were arranged, and conjecture in regard to that is vain. The Seraphim, as seen by Isaiah, had each one six wings, with two of which the face was covered, to denote profound reverence; with two the feet, or lower parts— emblematic of modesty; and with two they flew—emblematic of their celerity in executing the commands of God, Isa 6:2. Perhaps without impropriety we may suppose that, in regard to these living beings seen by John, two of the wings of each were employed, as in Isaiah, to cover the face—token of profound reverence; and that the remainder were employed in flight—denoting the rapidity with which the Divine commands are executed. Mercury, the messenger of Jupiter among the heathen, was represented with wings, and nothing is more common in the paintings and bas-reliefs of antiquity than such representations.

And they were full of eyes within. Professor Stuart more correctly renders this, "around and within are full of eyes;" connecting the word "around" ["about"], not with the wings, as in our version, but with the eyes. The meaning is, that the portions of the beasts that were visible from the outside of the throne, and the portions under or within the throne, were covered with eyes. The obvious design of this is to mark the universal vigilance of Divine Providence.

And they rest not. Marg., have no rest. That is, they are constantly employed; there is no intermission. The meaning, as above explained, is, that the works and ways of God are constantly bringing praise to him.

Day and night. Continually. They who are employed day and night fill up the whole time—for this is all.

Saying, Holy, holy, holy. For the meaning of this, See Barnes "Isa 6:3".

 

Lord God Almighty. Isaiah (Isa 6:3) expresses it, "Jehovah of hosts." The reference is to the true God, and the epithet Almighty is one that is often given him. It is peculiarly appropriate here, as there were to be, as the sequel shows, remarkable exhibitions of power in executing the purposes described in this book.

Which was, and is, and is to come. Who is eternal—existing in all past time; existing now; and to continue to exist for ever. See Barnes "Re 1:4".

 

{a} "six wings" isa 6:2 {1} "rest not" "have no rest"

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