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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 5 - Verse 5

Verse 5. And one of the elders saith unto me. See Barnes on "Re 4:4".

No particular reason is assigned why this message was delivered by one of the elders rather than by an angel. If the elders were, however, (See Barnes on "Re 4:4") the representatives of the church, there was a propriety that they should address John in his trouble. Though they were in heaven, they were deeply interested in all that pertained to the welfare of the church, and they had been permitted to understand what as yet was unknown to him, that the power of opening the mysterious volume which contained the revelation of the future was entrusted particularly to the Messiah. Having this knowledge, they were prepared to comfort him with the hope that what was so mysterious would be made known.

Weep not. That is, there is no occasion for tears. The object which you so much desire can be obtained. There is one who can break those seals, and who can unroll that volume and read what is recorded there.

Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah. This undoubtedly refers to the Lord Jesus; and the points needful to be explained are, why he is called a Lion, and why he is spoken of as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

(a) As to the first: This appellation is not elsewhere given to the Messiah, but it is not difficult to see its propriety as used in this place. The lion is the king of beasts, the monarch of the forest, and thus becomes an emblem of one of kingly authority and of power, (See Barnes on "Re 4:7") and as such the appellation is used in this place. It is because Christ has power to open the seals—as if he ruled over the universe, and all events were under his control, as the lion rules in the forest— that the name is here given to him.

(b) As to the other point: He is called the "Lion of the tribe of Judah," doubtless, with reference to the prophecy in Ge 9:9 —"Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion;" and from the fact that the Messiah was of the tribe of Judah. Compare Ge 49:10. This use of the term would connect him in the apprehension of John with the prophecy, and would suggest to him the idea of his being a ruler, or having dominion. As such, therefore, it would be appropriate that the power of breaking these seals should be committed to him.

The Root of David. Not the Root of David in the sense that David sprung from him as a tree does from a root, but in the sense that he himself was a "root-shoot" or sprout from David, and had sprung from him as a shoot or sprout springs up from a decayed and fallen tree. See Barnes on "Isa 11:1".

This expression would connect him directly with David, the great and glorious monarch of Israel, and as having a right to occupy his throne. As one thus ruling over the people of God, there was a propriety that to him should be entrusted the task of opening these seals.

Hath prevailed. That is, he has acquired this power as the result of a conflict or struggle. The word used here—enikhsen— refers to such a conflict or struggle, properly meaning to come off victor; to overcome; to conquer; to subdue: and the idea here is that his power to do this, or the reason why he does this, is the result of a conflict in which he was a victor. As the series of events to be disclosed, resulting in the final triumph of religion, was the effect of his conflicts with the powers of evil, there was a special propriety that the disclosure should be made by him. The truths taught in this verse are,

(l) that the power of making disclosures in regard to the future is entrusted to the Messiah; and

(2) that this, so far as he is concerned, is the result of a conflict or struggle on his part.

{a} "Lion" Ge 49:9,10; Nu 24:9; Heb 7:14

{b} "Root" Re 22:16; Isa 11:1,10

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