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7the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 8And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,

“Holy, holy, holy,

the Lord God the Almighty,

who was and is and is to come.”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,

11

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”


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7. calf—"a steer" [Alford]. The Septuagint often uses the Greek term here for an ox (Ex 22:1; 29:10, &c.).

as a man—The oldest manuscripts have "as of a man."

8. about himGreek, "round about him." Alford connects this with the following sentence: "All round and within (their wings) they are (so two oldest manuscripts, A, B, and Vulgate read) full of eyes." John's object is to show that the six wings in each did not interfere with that which he had before declared, namely, that they were "full of eyes before and behind." The eyes were round the outside of each wing, and up the inside of each when half expanded, and of the part of body in that inward recess.

rest not—literally, "have no rest." How awfully different the reason why the worshippers of the beast "have no rest day nor night," namely, "their torment for ever and ever."

Holy, holy, holy—The "tris-hagion" of the Greek liturgies. In Isa 6:3, as here, it occurs; also Ps 99:3, 5, 9, where He is praised as "holy," (1) on account of His majesty (Re 4:1) about to display itself; (2) His justice (Re 4:4) already displaying itself; (3) His mercy (Re 4:6-8) which displayed itself in times past. So here "Holy," as He "who was"; "Holy," as He "who is": "Holy," as He "who is to come." He showed Himself an object of holy worship in the past creation of all things: more fully He shows Himself so in governing all things: He will, in the highest degree, show Himself so in the consummation of all things. "Of (from) Him, through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." In Isa 6:3 there is added, "the whole EARTH is full of His glory." But in Revelation this is deferred until the glory of THE Lord fills the earth, His enemies having been destroyed [Bengel].

Almighty—answering to "Lord of hosts" (Sabaoth), Isa 6:3.

The cherubim here have six wings, like the seraphim in Isa 6:2; whereas the cherubim in Eze 1:6 had four wings each. They are called by the same name, "living creatures." But whereas in Ezekiel each living creature has all four faces, here the four belong severally one to each. See on Eze 1:6. The four living creatures answer by contrast to the four world powers represented by four beasts. The Fathers identified them with the four Gospels, Matthew the lion, Mark the ox, Luke the man, John the eagle: these symbols, thus viewed, express not the personal character of the Evangelists, but the manifold aspect of Christ in relation to the world (four being the number significant of world-wide extension, for example, the four quarters of the world) presented by them severally: the lion expressing royalty, as Matthew gives prominence to this feature of Christ; the ox, laborious endurance, Christ's prominent characteristic in Mark; man, brotherly sympathy with the whole race of man, Christ's prominent feature in Luke; the eagle, soaring majesty, prominent in John's description of Christ as the Divine Word. But here the context best suits the view which regards the four living creatures as representing the redeemed election-Church in its relation of ministering king-priests to God, and ministers of blessing to the redeemed earth, and the nations on it, and the animal creation, in which man stands at the head of all, the lion at the head of wild beasts, the ox at the head of tame beasts, the eagle at the head of birds and of the creatures of the waters. Compare Re 5:8-10, "Thou hast redeemed us by Thy blood out of every kindred … and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth"; and Re 20:4, the partakers with Christ of the first resurrection, who conjointly with Him reign over the redeemed nations that are in the flesh. Compare as to the happy and willing subjection of the lower animal world, Isa 11:6-8; 65:25; Eze 34:25; Ho 2:18. Jewish tradition says the "four standards" under which Israel encamped in the wilderness, to the east, Judah, to the north, Dan, to the west, Ephraim, to the south, Reuben, were respectively a lion, an eagle, an ox, and a man, while in the midst was the tabernacle containing the Shekinah symbol of the Divine Presence. Thus we have "the picture of that blessed period when—the earth having been fitted for being the kingdom of the Father—the court of heaven will be transferred to earth, and the 'tabernacle of God shall be with men' (Re 21:3), and the whole world will be subject to a never-ending theocracy" (compare De Burgh, Exposition of Revelation). The point of union between the two views given above is: Christ is the perfect realization of the ideal of man; Christ is presented in His fourfold aspect in the four Gospels respectively. The redeemed election-Church similarly, when in and through Christ (with whom she shall reign) she realizes the ideal of man, shall combine in herself human perfections having a fourfold aspect: (1) kingly righteousness with hatred of evil and judicial equity, answering to the "lion"; (2) laborious diligence in every duty, the "ox"; (3) human sympathy, the "man"; (4) the contemplation of heavenly truth, the "eagle." As the high-soaring intelligence, the eagle, forms the contrasted complement to practical labor, the ox bound to the soil; so holy judicial vengeance against evil, the lion springing suddenly and terribly on the doomed, forms the contrasted complement to human sympathy, the man. In Isa 6:2 we read, "Each had six wings: with twain he covered his face (in reverence, as not presuming to lift up his face to God), with twain he covered his feet (in humility, as not worthy to stand in God's holy presence), and with twain he did fly [in obedient readiness to do instantly God's command]."

9-11. The ground of praise here is God's eternity, and God's power and glory manifested in the creation of all things for His pleasure. Creation is the foundation of all God's other acts of power, wisdom, and love, and therefore forms the first theme of His creatures' thanksgivings. The four living creatures take the lead of the twenty-four elders, both in this anthem, and in that new song which follows on the ground of their redemption (Re 5:8-10).

when—that is, whensoever: as often as. A simultaneous giving of glory on the part of the beasts, and on the part of the elders.

give—"shall give" in one oldest manuscript.

for ever and everGreek, "unto the ages of the ages."

10. fall—immediately. Greek, "shall fall down": implying that this ascription of praise shall be repeated onward to eternity. So also, "shall worship … shall cast their crowns," namely, in acknowledgment that all the merit of their crowns (not kingly diadems, but the crowns of conquerors) is due to Him.

11. O Lord—The two oldest manuscripts, A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac add, "and our God." "Our" by virtue of creation, and especially redemption. One oldest manuscript, B, and Syriac insert "the Holy One." But another, A, Vulgate, and Coptic omit this, as English Version does.

glory, &c.—"the glory … the honour … the power."

thou—emphatic in the Greek: "It is THOU who didst create."

all thingsGreek, "the all things": the universe.

for, &c.—Greek, "on account of"; "for the sake of Thy pleasure," or "will." English Version is good Greek. Though the context better suits, it was because of Thy will, that "they were" (so one oldest manuscript, A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, instead of English Version "are": another oldest manuscript, B, reads, "They were not, and were created," were created out of nothing), that is, were existing, as contrasted with their previous non-existence. With God to will is to effect: to determine is to perform. So in Ge 1:3, "Let there be light, and there was light": in Hebrew an expressive tautology, the same word and tense and letters being used for "let there be," and "there was," marking the simultaneity and identity of the will and the effect. D. Longinus [On the Sublime, 9], a heathen, praises this description of God's power by "the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary man," as one worthy of the theme.

were created—by Thy definite act of creation at a definite time.




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