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Revelation Five

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The study Index page.

     Again. This study is verse by verse, IMAGE by Image, IDEA by Idea, and concept by concept. Which means it is a Marathon.
     We are using sources that John the Apostle and those mentioned as the recipients of the letter, the Seven Churches and other First Century Christians, the majority of which were Jews, would / should / could have been familiar with. We will also reference newer translations and versions of the book, beginning with the 1560 Geneva Bible (the bulk source for the 1611 KJV, which we also use) all the way up to much more current publications, and examinations of the text from various scholars, as well as beginning the analysis of the text from the Greek.
     It should be said here, as we are beginning with the Greek, we are going in remembering that John was writing in an 'apocalyptic' style. It seems many translations have forgotten that and 'moderated' the language.
"A man who says 'I have learned enough and will learn no further' should be considered as knowing nothing at all."
- Haile Selassie I (1892 - 1975)

     Chapter Five opens with the One on the central Throne holding something.... a “biblion” (papyrus roll).

Scrolling Tangent:
     Scrolls from the ancient world have been around for a very long time. Made out of whatever was available, they made information more portable and accessible than things like stone and clay tablets, or the wall of a temple or cave.
     And the scrolls could vary considerably in size and length. Some, like a copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead that was found intact in a tomb was forty meters long when unrolled, although many were around half that long.
     Such a book is most assuredly unwieldy. Which explains why information that needed to be accessed on a regular basis was written out on a scroll that was folded like a fan as a “pugillares membranei” (Latin for 'small written pages' a type of parchment book used by the Apostle Paul), or sometimes single sheets of that were then sewn, or in some cases, glued together with whatever adhesive was available, to make something we would call a 'book'. Nobody knows with any certainty when that was first done. The Chinese have in their archives books that are sheets of bamboo sewn together from in the “Jian ce” style from several hundred years BC. Greek and Roman texts bound in this way are known from around the time of Christ.
     So it very possible that John interpreted what he saw in heaven as both the common scroll, and, later in Revelation, as a 'bound book', and did so accurately, and the people who read his work recognized the terms he used for what they were. They would also know why a scroll was closed with seals of wax or other similar substance to keep it from unrolling before it was to be read by whoever it was for.
     Contrary to popular misinformation, Johannes Gutenberg (1400 - 1468) did NOT “invent the book”. He also did not invent movable type, that had been around in various forms for about 400 years when he was born. He was, however, the first European to go into business using it, and he did improve the entire process to make it practical, and began mass production of books.
End Tangent.
1 and 2
     Verse one specifies that the scroll that HE is holding has been written on, front and back, “gegrammenon”, it is not a brand new blank page. And it has been sealed with seven seals, the KJV and others are correct on those terms and the count. Next we see an “angelon ischyron” (an angel strong) who is “keryssonta”, proclaiming loudly, looking for somebody that is “axios” (worthy) to open the scroll by breaking the seals.
     Usually, the seals on a scroll or other document were wax, occasionally they were a fine clay that would crumble if tampered with. On official documents, the seal would include the signet emblem of the person that had sealed it, and implied the level of authority needed to open it.

     We see that "oudeis" (no one / nothing) was "edynato" (able) to break the seals. Almost a “sword in the stone” type of test is implied. The text states that the search included all of ourano (heaven), and “epi tes ges” (on the earth), and “hypokato” (under the earth).
     NOTE: by “under the earth” it does not mean in a coal mine, it implies Hades, the proverbial “abode of the dead”, which has always been 'down yonder', and we'll meet the caretaker thereof in an upcoming chapter.
     As those around the scene could not open the scroll, they also could not read the contents.

     Many translations open four with 'wept'. That isn't the term in the Greek, which is “eklaion poly” (wailed loudly), the expression is one of extreme, almost theatrical, mourning, such as the paid mourners at funerals as seen at the Raising of Lazarus and others.

     One of the 24 elders, it does not state which one, just a random one, said do not “klaie” (same root as in verse 4) this is to grieve or lament, because 'someone' has been found. He comes forward to unseal and open the scroll.
     “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” is first found in Genesis 49 in the prophesy from Jacob to the founder of the tribe of Judah. Other references along that line is found in Hosea 13 and Isaiah 31. It also comes into play in a Messianic prophecy in 2 Samuel 7 : 12....
     The image invoked is well known enough, and powerful enough, that the gentleman whose quote we used to open this chapter included it in his official style as the ruling monarch of his country: “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Lord of Lords and King of Kings of Ethiopia, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God”. His connection to that title is beyond the scope of this study.

     John reviews the cast and location to this point in the scene, then describes the 'newcomer' in the “meso” (middle) of everything and everybody. The terms “Arnion hestekos hos esphagmenon” reads as (a young sheep standing as if mortally wounded, but not quite dead). Again, the translators may have been trying to spare their more sensitive readers that image.
     This lamb has seven horns and seven eyes. The verse says these are the “Seven Spirits of GOD”, which in this case “have been sent out into all the earth”.
     There are at least seven opinions on exactly what the seven spirits are. Some list the various attributes of the Holy Spirit including wisdom, counsel, strength, power, and so on. Others point to occasions of the manifestations of the Spirit in the Scripture such as at the baptism of Christ and Pentecost. In this case, they may ALL be right, or wrong, or a pleasant combination of all of the above.

     The older translations have this one as close as it can be.
     HE approaches the Throne and takes the scroll from the Hand of GOD without hesitation or pause.

     Now something else happens. Suddenly the four living creatures and all the elders have lyres and “phialas”, more of a deep saucer or “bowl” (NIV) than a “vial” (1611). The bowls are full of incense which the text says are the prayers of "hagion" (people set apart by God). The older translations, and others, make those the 'prayers of the saints', but as the Greek text says “God's People” it could also be the righteous of Israel.
     The “kitharan” (lyre) is the smaller, handheld string instrument that King David would be familiar with. The term is used throughout the OT such as in Nehemiah 12, as well as 1 Samuel 16 where David played one, as well as several times in Psalms. It is also used elsewhere in Revelation, including chapters 14 and 15.

9 and 10
     The “oden kainen”. The New Song.
     They say that He is worthy because He was “esphages” (slaughtered) to “egorasas” (purchase, as 'to redeem') them to God by His Blood “haimati” out of every “race, tongue, people, and nation”.
     He “epoiesas” (constructed or made) them for GOD a “basileian” (realm) and “hiereis” (priests) that will “basileusousin” (reign) on the earth.

     Remember that tangent we had about some numbers in Revelation that aren't meant to be taken at face value but mean, essentially “beyond count”? You're there. God knows how many angels there are, nobody else does. This is also the answer to the old, meaningless question about “angels on the head of a pin”.

     “In a loud voice.....”

Volume Control Tangent:
     Earlier we heard the Voice of Christ as the roaring of mighty water, or a trumpet. A few minutes ago the “strong angel” was shouting. There's also thunder that rolls through. It's all loud.
     There are probably several purposes at work here all at once. The easiest is: It cannot be ignored. Even the profoundly deaf can Feel loud noises, like thunder and a jet aircraft taking off. Some of the noises in the Apocalypse may be loud enough to 'wake the dead', well that's later. The next purpose is that it implies great power. This isn't just shouting to be heard, this is a voice that is saying something of immense importance. The final purpose is the exuberance of the participants. Think about it, the angel proclaiming the 'end of the world' is probably excited about it.
     Later in the book these loud sounds are projected to the earth below, where those below cannot ignore the power and exuberance of those above.
End Tangent
     They sing another version of a church chorus used today. With Seven things the Lamb that was Slaughtered receives. The seven terms in the KJV match the Greek well enough, so we'll move on.

     Every “ktisma” (created thing), once again we have the list of in heaven and below, they were all saying part of the song lyrics from earlier, adding that it should be to HIM on the Throne, and to the Lamb, forever.

     We have an “amen”, and the elders worship GOD again.

End 5
Selected Sources for this chapter:

That Lion we mentioned earler:

”Binding” books, that is....

“The book before paper and printing”

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages:

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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