The People's New Testament, B.W. Johnson, , at sacred-texts.com
rev 4:0SUMMARY.--The Voice from Heaven. The Throne and He Who Sat on the Throne. The Twenty-four Elders. The Four Living Forms. Their Cry Night and Day. The Doxology of the Twenty-four Elders.
After this. "After these things," as in the Revision. After the letters to the churches had been dictated. "The things which must be after this" are yet to be shown.
I looked. Rather, "I saw in vision."
A door was opened in heaven. Heaven standing open so that the throne within could be seen.
The first voice which I heard. The same voice that he had heard at first. See Rev 1:10.
Come up hither. Through the opened door.
The things which must come to pass hereafter. Hence, we know that what John sees in the vision just opening belongs to events still future when he wrote.
I was in the spirit. At once he was lifted to that spiritual exaltation which enabled him to behold the heavenly visions.
A throne. The throne of God was revealed and One sat on the throne.
He that sat was to look upon like a jasper stone and a sardius. We learn from Rev 21:11 the qualities of the jasper meant; a stone of dazzling brilliance, a mountain of light, clear as crystal. The two probably symbolize the splendor, holiness and judgments of God.
Rainbow round about the throne. The rainbow was a pledge of God's faithfulness to his covenants (Gen 9:13). God sits upon the throne, splendid, dazzling, terrible, but compassed about by the Covenant of Grace.
Round about the throne were four and twenty seats. Rather, "thrones." The central throne was encompassed by twenty-four lesser thrones.
Four and twenty elders sitting. These ancients were (1) twenty-four in number; (2) they were clothed in white, the color of victory and purity; (3) on their heads were golden crowns, not the diadem which means a kingly crown, but the golden crown of honor (Stephanos). Critics are not agreed as to the signification of these elders, but most of them think that they symbolize the glorified church of God gathered round the throne. They disagree as to the significance of the number twenty-four. There were twenty-four courses of priests. There were twelve tribes, and twelve apostles. Possibly the number of the latter was doubled to symbolize the entire church, Jew and Gentile. In a note below I will give my own view of the Twenty-four Elders.
Lightnings and voices and thunders. These seem to portray the threatenings and judgments which proceed from the throne.
Seven lamps of fire. These bright light-giving lamps symbolize the Holy Spirit in the fulness of its manifestation, indicated by the seven Spirits of God. See note on Rev 1:4.
A sea of glass like unto crystal. This deep, transparent sea before the throne is supposed to symbolize the purity and calmness of the Divine rule. It stands solid, calm and clear.
In the midst of the throne. The four forms which are next described were to the right and left of the throne and in the midst between these extremes. The throne was in their midst.
Four living creatures. See Revision. Four "beasts," as in the Common Version, is an incorrect idea. The Greek for "beasts" is different. They are four Zoa, "living forms."
Full of eyes. Their eyes looked backward as well as forward. The description of these wonderful objects is next given. See notes at end of chapter.
The first creature was like a lion. It looked like a lion, but was not a lion. It had other characteristics.
Like a calf. Had a body similar to that of the ox.
Had the face of a man. Otherwise its structure differed from that of men.
Like a flying eagle. It will be seen that four departments of animated nature are represented. That of the wild beasts of prey; that of domestic animals, the human species, and the fowls of the air. Each is represented by what, in the eyes of a Hebrew, would be regarded as its highest type.
The four living creatures. Their common characteristics are now pointed out. All have six wings; they are full of eyes, and they all unite in a ceaseless cry of praise to God.
Full of eyes within. They were full of eyes before and behind, and when the wings were lifted John saw that they were full of eyes within also. The eyes, sleepless, possibly symbolize never resting, wakeful activity.
They have no rest. They never rest from praising the Lord.
And when the living creatures shall give glory and honor and thanks to him that sitteth on the throne. Shall utter such praises as are given in Rev 4:8. Then the twenty-four elders also join in swelling the anthems. It will be noted that these two classes, whatever they signify, are both about the throne, and both engaged in harmonious praise of the Almighty.
Cast their crowns before the throne. There are four elements in this worship: (1) They fall down; (2) they adore; (3) they cast their crowns before the throne, an act of homage which gives Him who sitteth there all the glory of their crowns; (4) they offer ascriptions of praise.
Worthy art thou, etc. The chorus in which they join ascribes all glory to God as his right as the Creator.
Because of thy will they were. Not as in the Common Version. They do not say that God created all things "for his pleasure," but that his will was the efficient cause.