Revelation : Chapter 4
Before you begin reading my breakdown of Revelation 4, please read the chapter in its entirety first. Here is a great website to use : BlueLetterBible
Chapter 4 starts off with John seeing a vision of heaven. Both chapters 4 and 5 are setting the stage for the period of time referred to as Daniels 70th week, or the 7 year period of time at the end of the age. Lets dig in..
Chart Made by Pastor Stephen Anderson / FaithfulWordBaptistChurch
The chapter text will be red to make it easily distinguishable.
Revelation Chapter 4 (KJV)
“(1) After this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (2) And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.”
The end of verse 1 here is telling us where on the timeline these events are occurring. If we remember, back in Chapter 1 verse 19 it says “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter“. This basically means that there is a past, present and future timeline marked out for us as we study Revelation. Seeing as the end of verse 1 here in Chapter 4 says “I will shew thee things which must be hereafter”, we can deduce that Chapters 2-3 were in the “present” tense or “things which are” according to Chapter 1, especially considering that the 7 Churches were literal Churches and not Church “ages”. We are now entering the “hereafter” or future phase in the story. Understanding this timeline helps us understand the order of events in Revelation.
On another note, some Pastors will try to tell you that this is the pre tribulation rapture. Let me make it clear that this is merely a vision being given to John. If we remember the characteristics of the rapture in passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, we have the “trump of God”, “the dead in Christ shall rise”, being “caught up together with them in the clouds” etc. A “voice.. as if it were a trumpet” is simply describing the volume, similarly to Isaiah 58:1 where is says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet”. Also, the sun is not darkened and the moon is not as blood here as we will see later on in Revelation Chapter 6 and as it is described in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). This is one man and not all believers. Christ wasn’t coming in the clouds, he was already in heaven with the Father. It is more than a stretch to attempt to teach that this is the rapture.
“(3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and [there was] a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. (4) And round about the throne [were] four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and [there were] seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
In this vision John is shown what appears to be the thrown room of God. Then he makes note of 24 elders clothed in white, with crowns of gold. There has been much debate over who these 24 elders are, but I believe if we list the Bible define itself this will be easy to understand. First we must look at how elders is used scripturally. Lets look at Titus Chapter 1..
“5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”
Here in Titus we can see that elder and bishop are interchangeable titles. In our modern vernacular we would refer to them as pastors. We can now deduce that the 24 elders John sees are 24 pastors or elders that were great men of God throughout history who died and went to be with the Lord. This brings more light to 1 Timothy 5:17 which says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine’.
In verse 5 it mentions the “seven spirits of God”. There are a few different interpretations of what these seven spirits represent, but I believe the most biblical representation we can find for these seven spirits can be found in Isaiah 11:1-2 which says “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD”. If we count these spirits we get (1) the spirit of the Lord, (2) the spirit of wisdom, (3) the spirit of understanding, (4) the spirit of counsel, (5) the spirit of might, (6) the spirit of knowledge and (7) the spirit of the fear of the Lord.
“(6) And before the throne [there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind. (7) And the first beast [was] like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle. (8) And the four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”
Here we are told that John sees “four beasts”: one like a lion, one like a calf, one with the face of a man and one that like an eagle, all of which are “full of eyes within”. These beasts are angelic beings, most likely seraphim’s like the ones in Isaiah 6:1-2. There are other passages in scripture with similar angelic beings like in Ezekiel chapters 1 (the “living creatures”) and 10 (the “cherubim”). The four “beasts” or seraphim that John sees continue praising the Lord endlessly.
There is also an interesting theory concerning why these four beast appeared as they did: a lion, an ox/calf, a man and an eagle. In the Gospel of Matthew it emphasizes Christ as king, giving His kingly genealogy through David, possible being represented by the lion. The Gospel of Mark emphasizes Christ as a servant, as it emphasizes His works and servitude, being represented by the ox or calf. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes Christ’s humanity, giving His genealogy through Mary representing Jesus as the son of man, thus the face of a man. The Gospel of John emphasizes Christ’s deity, starting off with John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, possibly represented by the eagle. The order of the beasts given in verse 7 even mirrors the order of the Gospels. Definitely a possibility in my mind.
“(9) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, (10) The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (11) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Verses 6-11 paint us a very interesting picture of the constant praise that the Lord is receiving in heaven. Not only are the seraphim praising continuously, but every time they do the 24 elders do the same, throwing their crowns before His thrown. This is their way of saying all authority is His. We are reminded in the end of verse 11 that we were created for God’s pleasure.
This concludes my breakdown of Chapter 4. In Chapter 5 we will continue to read about John’s vision of heaven.
As always thank you for reading! Please feel free to comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Your brother in Christ Jesus