Revelation Chapter Four

A crown that was cast

Golden Crown

CHAPTER 4

(Rev 4:1) 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 show thee things which must be hereafter.

“After this—that is, after Jesus had dictated to John the letters to the churches. “I looked,” or, rather, “I continued looking” for John had already observed he glorified Christ. Here we have the Heavenly Sanctuary (the Sanctuary in the True Tabernacle that the Lord made; not made by man, Heb 8:2), opened before John’s spiritual eyes in his vision. The word, ‘door’ is used figuratively to describe new circumstance opened in John’s perception. It was like the curtain that separated the Holy and Most Holy rooms in the tabernacle/temple opening before John. This Sanctuary is also the Throne Room where the Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is seated at the right Hand of Yahweh. It is open to all those who believe in Christ as Savior (Heb 8:1).

In Revelation 1:1, the Apostle wrote that this revelation was given to show Christ’s servants, who are Christians, what must begin shortly. After the interlude concerning the seven churches of Asia, the narrative about the “things which must be hereafter” is taken up. See the note on Revelation 1:1.

We must understand that the door that was opened symbolized the unveiling of John’s eyes so that he could see into the spiritual world. Has this ever happened before in the Bible? Yes: 2 Ki 6:15-17, “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? {16} And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. {17} And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” The servant’s eyes were opened so that he could see the spiritual world. This is what happened to John.

The voice was that of Jesus Christ that John first encountered in the person of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1:10. There, he described Christ’s voice as the sound of a trumpet, just as he described the voice in this verse. John specifically wrote that this voice is the same voice he heard in Revelation 1:11, which was Christ describing Himself to John as the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.

“Come up hither.” These words have gotten substantial mileage in pretribulation rapture circles. Many say this represents the rapture when all the saints will be asked to “Come up hither.” That is really stretching the scripture beyond the truth for the purpose of supporting an unscriptural doctrine. In order to see a rapture here, one must twist the scripture to say that when John went “up hither,” he went with all the saints. That does not fit the context. The only thing happening in this verse is that John is being called into heaven in the Spirit to be shown future events. No other flesh is involved, only John.

Pretribulation Rapture adherents want the church to be taken off the earth before any of the end time events of Revelation take place. That is so they don’t have to explain the things of the Revelation. All they need do is tell people they don’t need to worry about the events of Revelation because they will be gone. It is an evasion of good scholarship; more importantly, it is a false teaching that leads many astray.

Let me give an alternate translation of the last phrase of the verse: “I will show you what will necessarily happen after these things (or in the hereafter).” That is a very literal rendering. The KJV captures the essence of the phrase. In other words, John is to be shown the immediate future or that which happens next, and what will occur after that. John had just written to the seven churches. The next thing he experiences is being taken to Heaven in the Spirit. There he will be shown things he had never seen before. He is to be directly in the midst of it. God transported him to the future in the spirit (next verse) and placed him right in the middle of the Day of the Lord.

Daniel, in Dan 2:29, KJV said, “As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter.” The phrase in Daniel, “what should come to pass hereafter” is same in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) as the passage here in Revelation. It is, “γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα” (genesthai meta tauta). It is the same in the Textus Receptus, the Majority Texts, the Westcott and Hort Texts, and the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament. In context, Daniel is absolutely talking about the future, from his day to the distant future when God will “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.” Daniel outlined all of the kingdoms of the future to Nebuchadnezzar beginning with his own kingdom. Therefore I have no problem relating what was shown to John beginning in his time and extending to the distant future—to the end of the age. I believe that the context here in Revelation Chapter Four absolutely supports such a position.

(Rev 4:2) And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

John was in the spirit; no one else. Does John say “We were in the spirit?” Does he say “They were in the spirit?” No. He says I was in the spirit. “I” is singular. This was instantaneous; he was transported in the spirit to Heaven in the blink of an eye (similar to what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:52).

Remember that John said in verse 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“. That was the voice of Christ. John said that he looked. Where did he look? At a throne in heaven with One sitting on it. Who was it? John describes this One:

(Rev 4:3) 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.

Ezekiel had a similar experience. (Ezek 1:26-28) “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. {27} And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. {28} As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.The one who spoke was Yehovah. LORD in all caps tells us that the Hebrew here is Yehovah. Some pronounce it Yahwey, others Yahaveh; the actual original pronunciation is unknown due to the ancient Hebrew alphabet consisting of only consonants and the lack of diacritics (pronunciation points—like vowels) in the ancient texts. Additionally, the Name of Yehovah was not pronounced by the Hebrews because they did not want to accidentally take His Name in vain. They called Him ‘Hashem, השם, The Name,’ and do so until this day. Moreover, there is no letter J in the Hebrew texts; the correct enunciation is like the English letter Y.

Though Ezekiel gives a more thorough picture, the similarities between John here in this verse and Ezekiel are striking. The appearance of the One on the throne in Ezekiel was like a precious stone (sapphire). So was the One on the throne in John’s picture. His appearance was like jasper (polished quartz, similar in appearance to the sapphire) and sardine (a ruby), both precious stones. In both pictures a rainbow surrounds the throne. This One is God Almighty. Jasper and sardine are the first and last stones on the breastpiece of the high priest. The first row started with a sardine (sardius) stone (Ex 28:17) and the last stone in the last row was jasper (Ex 28:20). This symbolizes all twelve tribes of Israel, all of whom belong to Yahweh. Additionally, since Christians are grafted in to the root of Israel, this includes the true church (Rom 11:15-17).

The rainbow is the shekinah glory of God. One can see this in many Middle Age and Renaissance paintings as the halo around the heads of Jesus and saints and other venerable people. See verse six (below) for a discussion of the sea of glass and the refraction of light into a rainbow.

(Rev 4:4) 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.

It appears that elders these represent the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles (Mat 19:28; Luk 22:30). They were seated on twenty-four thrones (The Greek is specific that these were thrones). They had received their rewards (crowns) because of their good works (white raiment). Being clothed in white robes shows that they are redeemed by the Blood of Christ.

We need to also note that the crowns are the crowns of victory; the Greek is στέφανος, stephanos. These are not kingly crowns, but crowns “of victory in games, of civic worth, military valor, nuptial joy, festival gladness, etc. They were woven of oak, ivy, myrtle, olive leaves, or flowers and used as a wreath or garland1.” These were basically wreaths given to victors in earthy pursuits. Paul wrote that such earthly crowns or wreaths were perishable and temporary, but the crowns we will receive when we are glorified will be imperishable crowns (1 Cor 9:25). Gold is a metal that will not tarnish or corrode; it is imperishable. They are obviously in heaven and are glorified, and that is why the elders have στεφανους, stephanous (pl.) of gold.

The tribes and Apostles have some striking similarities.

1. There were thirteen tribes and thirteen apostles.

The Original Twelve Tribes were, Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. The thirteenth was Levi, the tribe that was set apart and had no inheritance of land, but the offerings made by fire were their inheritance.

The Twelve Apostles were: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew or Nathanael, James the Lesser, Jude or Thaddeus, Matthew, Philip, Simon the Zealot, Thomas, and Mathias. The Thirteenth was Paul, who was not among the original, but who was set apart from the original twelve to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.

2. There was one tribe replaced and one Apostle, Judas Iscariot, replaced. Dan is not listed among the tribes in Revelation Seven, thus it was replaced.

Shortly after the Danites received their allotment of land from Joshua, they had trouble settling in, perhaps because their land bordered with the Philistines, who were their enemy. Thus they went north and conquered the city of Laish, moved in, and renamed it Dan. This was outside the boundaries of the allotment thy received from Joshua. Their allotment was at the southern end of the tribes, but they migrated northward to the northern part of Israel. Thus they migrated north to Laish (later Dan).

They also set up an idol there, a graven image, and worshipped it. They also made their own priesthood with Jonathan, the grandson of Manasseh. The Danites worshipped that idol with their false priesthood until the captivity. Later, Jeroboam also set up a calf to worship in the city of Dan in the north. This is speculative, but it is a plausible reason the Danites are not listed in the tribes in Revelation chapter 7. Dan was replaced by Levi in Revelation, indicating that Levi was no longer a priest because the priesthood was disestablished with the death of Christ on the cross. Levi was originally taken out of the twelve tribes to be the priesthood and was replaced by splitting Joseph into Ephraim and Manasseh, his sons, which were the two half tribes of Joseph.

In the Revelation 7 list, Ephraim’s name has been removed, but his tribe is still in existence as Joseph. The reason may be twofold: The idol taken from Micah and enshrined in Dan was made by Micah, an Ephraimite (Jdg 17:1-13). Additionally, the two idols (calves) later placed in Dan in the north and Bethel in the south were made by Jeroboam, an Ephraimite.

Of course, most know the story of Judas Iscariot who sold Jesus to His murderers for 30 pieces of silver. Judas committed suicide, his name was erased from the names of the Apostles, and he was replaced by Mathias. These similarities link them together, making the twelve Apostles the New Testament equivalent of the twelve sons of Jacob, and the Twelve Tribes.

We see God’s perfection in the use of the number “twelve.” It also applies to God’s governmental perfection for it is a number found in all things related to rule or governing. One can find these descriptions of the number twelve in books, online, or, better yet, one can use the Bible to discern these things, for the number twelve is found 289 times in the King James Bible. A study of these instances will substantiate the significances of the number.

For these reasons, I believe these 24 elders are representative of the twelve tribes and the twelve Apostles, which also represent the entire church2 throughout history in Old and New Testament times. Since they are not personally identified, they are not necessarily the actual Patriarchs and Apostles, for this is a vision (Rev 4:2). They are far more likely to be glorified men that are simply representing the twelve Patriarchs and Apostles.

I am not inflexible on this, for others have postulated several possible identities for the twenty-four. They are:

The prophets, great and minor

Angels

The Elders of the Church at Jerusalem

The twenty-four courses of the priests and Levites (1 Chron 25:9-31)

The Smaller Sanhedrin at Jerusalem

The churches of both the Old and New Covenants

The borders of the twelve tribes.

Perhaps other explanations.

(Rev 4:5) 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.

John described the voice of Christ as a trumpet in verse 1 as well as in Rev 1:11. The lightnings and thunderings are also indicative of God’s voice. When Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments on Sinai, the voice of God is described: (Exo 20:18) “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.” Here God the Father is on the throne and is speaking.

In the Tabernacle and Temple, there was a lamp stand with seven lamps continually burning. It stood in the Holy Place, in front of the curtain concealing the Most Holy Place. It is known as the Menorah, which means a yoke of lights or lamps. Here, the Menorah stands before the Throne of God in Heaven. In this setting, the lamps represent is the sevenfold Spirit of God. The Menorah also represents the Word of God, that Israel was to be a light to the world, and the Messiah Who is the Light of the World. It represents other things as well. However that is another study for which there is no room here. Here the scripture ties it to the sevenfold Spirit of God hence that is what we will discuss.

The sevenfold Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. Being sevenfold means that the Spirit is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent (all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere). For further study of the seven Spirits of God, read the copious .

(Rev 4:6a) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:

A possible alternative to this rendering is: “And before the throne a transparent sea like unto crystal.” The word for glass is ὑάλινος, hualinos in context it is υαλινη, hualine, and it is an adjective meaning glassy or transparent. A sheet of actual glass would require ὕαλος, hualos the root of ὑάλινος, hualinos. Crystal is from the word κρύσταλλος, krustallos, which literally means ice and figuratively means crystal as in crystalline structures such as diamond, quartz, and salt. In this context, the word is κρυσταλλω, krustallō, which is the dative case, meaning it describes the likeness or manner of the glassy sea. This sea in front of the throne was of a somewhat transparent substance that could be compared with a solid sheet of clear ice. Ice and crystal refract the light causing one to see the colors of the rainbow and this could be why a rainbow surrounded the throne. Compare this sea of glass to the “laver” of the Tabernacle (Exo 40:7) “molten sea” of the Temple (I Kings 7:23). I would like to quote a text about crystal from the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge®3:

“crystal: The Hebrew {kerach,} which generally denotes ice, doubtless here signifies crystal, ([krystallos,] from [kryos,] cold, ice, and [stellomai,] to concrete,) as it is rendered by the LXX. And Vulgate. It is a very large class of silicious minerals, hard, pellucid, naturally colourless, of regularly angular figures, and of simple plates; not flexible, nor elastic, but giving fire with steel; not fermenting by acid menstrua [solvent], but calcinable in a strong fire. There are three orders of pure crystal: the first is perfect columnar crystals, with double pyramids, of eighteen planes, in an hexangular pyramid at each end; the second is that of perfect crystals, without a column, of twelve or sixteen planes, in two hexangular pyramids: and the third is that of imperfect crystals, with single pyramids, of ten or twelve planes, in an hexangular or pentangular column. Terrible crystal seems to denote that which was well cut and polished, vividly refracting the rays of light.”[This terrible crystal is from Eze 1:22]

The Tabernacle and the Temple both had a bronze basin or laver for the priests to perform their ceremonial washings. In the Tabernacle it stood between the tent and the altar of burnt offering (Ex 40:7). In the Temple it was placed in the courtyard to the southeast of the היכל (hekel) or the Main Building housing the Holy place and Holy of Holies. In Solomon’s Temple it was called the Sea.

The book of Hebrews tell us that the earthly Tabernacle and Temple were but a shadow of the heavenly things (Heb 8:5), which things John saw in Heaven described here. Thus the Laver and the Sea were a mere hollow shadow or an insignificant earthly precursor to this glorious glassy sea like unto crystal John saw around the Throne of Yahweh.

(Rev 4:6b-8) 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.

There is a better alternative to the word ‘beast’ as used by the KJV translators. The word is ζωον, zoon (zów-ahn), translated ‘beast’ in the KJV; it literally means a living being, thing, or creature. So there were four living creatures around the throne. The Hebrew equivalent is חי, chay (kah´ee), which is the word used in Genesis account of the creation of animals.

This passage parallels the passage in Isaiah about the seraphim:

(Isa 6:1-3) “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. {2} Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. {3} And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Another parallel is in Ezekiel:

(Ezek 1:5-11) “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. {6} And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. {7} And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. {8} And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. {9} Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. {10} As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. {11} Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

In Ezekiel’s description, each cherub has four faces, man, ox, eagle, and lion. John’s living creatures each have a different face. The difficulty here is solved by recognizing that Ezekiel saw all four cherubim from each angle, and John saw only the face that was facing toward him and away from the throne as the living creatures surrounded the throne. In John’s and Isaiah’s descriptions, all of the cherubim or seraphim or living creatures were singing “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.”

All three are describing the same living beings. They surrounded the Throne of God. They were created to do so. In Isaiah they are called seraphim, which is the plural of Seraph. Note similarly, that the Mercy Seat or the top of the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place had two golden Cherubim on it with their wings touching one another.

The Isaiah passage is the only place the Seraphim are mentioned by that name in the Scriptures. The singular version of the word, שׂרף, saraph, a noun, which is translated ‘serpent’ or ‘fiery serpent’ from the fiery sting of a snake bite. The verb and adjective forms of the word, meaning ‘burning,’ have the same spelling.

The Ezekiel passage said they were (depending on the translation) gleaming, sparkling, glittering, or shining. In Eze 1:13, their appearance was like burning coals of fire. In other words they shone brightly like the sun glinting from polished brass and they looked like bright burning hot coals of fire. They were shining or burning ones, which is where Isaiah took the name seraphim. They were not serpents for they had the appearance of humans and they had feet. Thus, Isaiah refereed to them as shining ones. We know these Seraphim, or Shining/Burning Ones, are living beings that serve and praise God continually and are associated with the throne of God and are always seen in His presence.

The Book of Enoch mentions the seraphim; there they are an order of angelic beings. The author of the book wrote that some of the seraphim were supposedly the sons of God that married and impregnated the daughters of men in Genesis 6:2-3. The Book of Enoch is not Scripture, so this is just an illustration of what people thought beginning in 200 BC as proven by the Book of Enoch fragments found at Qumran.

(Rev 4:9-11) 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.

Remember the elders sat on thrones before the Throne of God. They had regal robes and crowns of gold. Though they were regal elders recognized by God from all the earth, they readily cast their crowns before the Lord Jesus, showing that even though they were as kings, and they earned those crowns through their righteous works, they readily acceded that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The crowns show they were victorious over sin and death and the victory came from God through Christ. Thus the crowns are given back to the One that gave them.

Our works are only righteous in Christ. Otherwise, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa 64:6). Why shall they do this? Because the Lord is worthy; He lives forever; He is eternal. He has no beginning and no end; He never changes; He is creator of all. He is a solid rock that we can rely on to keep his promises. He deserves nothing less than exaltation. “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation (2 Sam 22:47).
He is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer. He is trustworthy, our strength, our shield, the horn of our salvation, and our high tower (Psa 18:2).

He is worthy: “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (2 Sam 22:4; Psa 18:3). He is worthy because He is the creator of the universe. We cannot fully grasp vastness of the creation. For example, our sun is 865,000 miles or 1,380,000 kilometers in diameter or 2,717,570 miles in circumference. Compare that with one of the largest stars in the known universe, VY Canis Majoris in the constellation Canis Major. It is 1,227,000,000 miles  or 1,975,000,000 kilometers in diameter (almost 4 billion miles in circumference). That is 1400 times larger than our sun. Our planetary solar system is 4.6 billion miles in diameter (Pluto’s aphelion). Yet Canis Majoris is so far distant, that it seems like a tiny spec in the night sky. It is 4892 light years, or 28,757,621,100,000,000 miles, or 46,280,905,000,000,000 kilometers from earth (that is quintillions of miles and klicks). At the maximum speed the Space Shuttle achieved, which was 17,400 mph (28,003 km/h), it would take 1,652,736,844,827.6 (1.65 quadrillion) years to reach VY Canis Majoris. God spoke and that unimaginably vast universe was born in situ. He created all and thus He owns all. He is worthy; period.

Verse 11 contains one of the most profound statement in the entire Bible. The question, “Why am I here” comes up often. Many people struggle to find meaning in their lives and to try to discover what they are doing here. This verse answers that question. We are placed here on earth for God’s pleasure. Never forget that. We are here at and for His pleasure.

However, what does that mean? It means what its face value says, that we were and are created to please God. But is also means that it pleased God to create us. Now we do not always please Him. Any time we sin, we are displeasing God. Since He was pleased to create us, and because God is love, He loved us enough to provide a way to became pleasing to Him through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

If we are displeasing to God, we are not living the best life we could. Our flesh and our pride, and our sinful nature tend to encourage us to do things displeasing to God. Sin seems pleasurable for a period of time, but eventually we suffer because of that sin. If we lived a life that was pleasing to God, that is free of sin, we would not have to suffer for our sins. That is not only pleasing to God but that would also make our lives pleasurable. Hence by creating us for His pleasure, he was creating us to be pleasing to Him thus living a life free of sin and a fulfilling, more satisfying life. Since living totally without sin is impossible, God provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins in that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). That is why only God is worthy of glory and honor and power; when we please Him, we also glorify Him.

That is our purpose; our duty, then, is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (14) For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Updated 12-4-2019

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Footnotes

  1. The Complete Word Study Dictionary, © 1992 By AMG International, Inc. Chattanooga, TN 37422, U.S.A. Revised edition, 1993
  2. The church throughout history has been called many things in the scriptures, such as a holy convocation, a sacred assembly, a congregation, a synagogue, an ecclesia, a gathering, etc. The church includes all of God’s people, including righteous Jews from the Old Testament and both Jew and Gentile Christians after the Resurrection of Christ.
  3. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, by Canne, Browne, Blayney, Scott, and others, with introduction by R. A. Torrey, 1834; public domain.
The Sevenfold Spirit of God
(Rev 1:4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

This is the typical first century Greek salutation of a letter. The letter is from John to the churches in Asia. Roman Asia was not the same as present day Asia. Modern Asia is a continent. Roman Asia was a province or state. It was approximately the western third of modern Turkey.

He which is, and which was, and which is to come is the eternal God, Yehovah (Exo 3:14Psa 90:2Psa 102:25-27Isa 41:4Isa 57:15Mic 5:2. Who or what are these seven spirits? Some say that the seven Spirits are the angels who are the messengers of each of the seven churches in Asia. In this verse, they are around the throne of God. There are two subjects to this verse and the next. One is to whom is this revelation addressed? The other is from whom is it sent?

The Revelation is sent to the seven churches in Asia. It was sent from the Eternal of Days or God the Father. It was sent from the seven Spirits before the throne or, better yet, from the sevenfold Spirit of God. And, in v. 5, it was sent from Jesus Christ, or God the Son. The Revelation of Jesus Christ was sent via John to the seven churches in Asia from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or the Three Persons of the Godhead. He is One God who reveals Himself to us in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the triune or triumvirate God, Elohim in the Hebrew, which is the plural of Eloah, or God. From the beginning He has been known as Elohim (plural) and not Eloah (singular). (Gen. 1:1)

God the Father’s name in the Hebrew as we see it first in Genesis 2:4, is יהוה. This is known as the Tetragrammaton. The pronunciation of that Name has been debated. Technically it is made up of the consonants YHVH. However, each consonant is also a consonantal vowel, that is, they can each have a vowel sound. Thus the pronunciation has been difficult to discern. It has been pronounced Ya’-ha-vey, Je-ho’-vah, Yah’-weh, Yah’-veh, and others. Of late, the pronunciation Yahweh has become popular in evangelical circles. In this commentary, I choose to spell it Yehovah instead of the traditional Jehovah, because there is no single letter that corresponds to J in Hebrew, and the first letter of the Tetragrammaton is י, yod, whose consonant sound is just like the English consonant ‘Y’.

It was to the angels or messengers of the seven churches that Jesus sent seven messages. The Revelation is from the seven Spirits to the seven churches. So these seven Spirits cannot be the seven messengers of the seven churches.

Further evidence is gained from a reading of the other verses in Revelation where the seven Spirits are mentioned.

(Rev 3:1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Here the seven Spirits belong to God. Jesus has told John to write these things to the messenger (angel, anggelos, messenger–Strong’s 32) of the church at Sardis. The words John is to write come from “He that hath the seven Spirits of God,” that is Christ.

(Rev 4:5) 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.

Here again, the seven Spirits are of God.

(Rev 5:6) And 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 it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

This verse nails it. The seven Spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. This sevenfold Spirit is the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. The seven horns and seven eyes of the lamb slain (Christ) are symbolic of the seven Spirits of God. The horn represents strength and the eye represents sight or knowledge. Seven horns represent divinely perfect strength; seven eyes signify divinely perfect sight or knowledge. The Spirit, being the Spirit of God, is perfect in strength and perfect in knowledge. He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing). So the horns and eyes represent God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Of course, in the Lamb slain is seen in the triune god: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see also Zec 3:9 & Zec 4:10).

The Spirit’s sight is sevenfold. Not only does that mean the Spirit is omniscient, but the Holy Spirit is also omnipresent. He is present at all times at all places. No matter where you go in the universe or out of the universe, you cannot hide or get away from the Spirit of God (Psalm 139:7-10). Seven is a number that signifies Divine Perfection. The Holy Spirit, being God, is Divinely Perfect. He is present throughout the universe, and that is what the seven Spirits or the sevenfold Spirit of God means. Seven in its several forms is used over 600 times in the King James Bible.

There are two other points to make about the seven Spirits of God. In Rabbinic teachings, the Holy Spirit has seven attributes or characteristics. They are faith, righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy, truth, and peace. These seven qualities serve before the Throne of Yehovah. In fact, let me quote from the Talmud:

“Seven qualities avail before the Throne of Glory: faith, righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, mercy, truth, and peace (ARN xxxvi)“…from Everyman’s Talmud, A. Cohen (New York: Schocken Books, 1949, 1975) p.74

The early church and Roman Catholicism maintain that Isaiah listed the seven spirits of God in Isaiah 11:2-3a. They are the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord:

We read of these in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Douay-Rheims Bible. Most other translations leave out piety. In the Hebrew the fear of the LORD is written twice. The Septuagint translators rendered the first instance as piety, which is one definition of the Hebrew word יראה, yirah; fear, terror, respect, reverence, and piety1. Here are those readings:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isa 11:2-3a, Douay Rheims Version).

Και αναπαυσεται επ’ αυτον πνευμα του θεου πνευμα σοφιας και συνεσεως πνευμα βουλης και ισχυος πνευμα γνωσεως και ευσεβειας εμπλησει αυτον πνευμα φοβου θεου (Isa 11:2-3a Septuagint).

Et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini spiritus sapientiae et intellectus spiritus consilii et fortitudinis spiritus scientiae et pietatis et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini (Isa 11:2-3, Vulgate).

In conclusion, the  Seven Spirits of God simply represent the omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence of the Holy Spirit. He is God, the Third Person of the Trinity and he is all-knowing, all-powerful, and present everywhere. As the Psalmist explains,

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
        Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
        If I make my bed in Sheol, behold,
        You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
        If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
        And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
                      (Psalm 139:7-10 NASB)

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