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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Revelation: Chapter 4)



4:1 {After these things} (meta tauta). Change in the panorama, not chronology (7:1,9; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1). This vision is of heaven, not of earth as was true of chapters Re 1; 2. The first vision of Christ and the messages to the seven churches began in 1:12f. This new vision of the throne in heaven (4:1-11) succeeds that to which it here alludes.
{I saw} (eidon). Second aorist active indicative of hora“.
{Behold} (idou). Exclamation of vivid emotion as John looked. No effect on the structure and nominative case thura (door) follows it.
{Opened} (ˆne“igmenˆ). Perfect (triple reduplication) passive participle of anoig“ as in 3:8 (door of opportunity) and 3:20 (door of the heart), here the door of revelation (Swete).
{In heaven} (en t“i ouran“i). As in Eze 1:1; Mr 1:10; Joh 1:51. In Revelation always in singular except 12:12.
{The first} (hˆ pr“tˆ). Reference is to 1:10.
{Speaking} (lalousˆs). From lale“, rather legousˆs of 1:10 from leg“, both agreeing with salpiggos (trumpet).
{Saying} (leg“n). Present active participle of leg“ repeating the idea of lalousˆs, but in the nominative masculine singular construed with ph“nˆ (feminine singular), construction according to sense because of the person behind the voice as in 11:15; 19:14.
{Come up} (anaba). Short "Koin‚" form for anabˆthi (second aorist active imperative second person singular of anabain“).
{Hither} (h“de). Originally "here," but vernacular use (Joh 6:25; 10:27).
{I will show} (deix“). Future active of deiknumi in same sense in 1:1.
{Hereafter} (meta tauta). Some editors (Westcott and Hort) connect these words with the beginning of verse 2.

4:2 {Straightway I was in the Spirit} (euthe“s egenomˆn en pneumati). But John had already "come to be in the Spirit" (1:10, the very same phrase). Perhaps here effective aorist middle indicative while ingressive aorist in 1:10 (sequel or result, not entrance), "At once I found myself in the Spirit" (Swete), not "I came to be in the Spirit" as in 1:10.
{Was set} (ekeito). Imperfect middle of keimai, old verb, used as passive of tithˆmi. As the vision opens John sees the throne already in place as the first thing in heaven. This bold imagery comes chiefly from 1Ki 22:19; Isa 6:1ff.; Eze 1:26-28; Da 7:9f. One should not forget that this language is glorious imagery, not actual objects in heaven. God is spirit. The picture of God on the throne is common in the O.T. and the N.T. (Mt 5:34f.; 23:22; Heb 1:3 and in nearly every chapter in the Revelation, 1:4, etc.). The use of kathˆmenos (sitting) for the name of God is like the Hebrew avoidance of the name "Jahweh" and is distinguished from the Son in 6:16; 7:10.
{Upon the throne} (epi ton thronon). Epi with the accusative, as in 4:4; 6:2,4f.; 11:16; 20:4, but in verses 9,10, 4:1,7,13; 6:16; 7:15 we have epi tou thronou (genitive), while in 7:10; 19:14; 21:5 we have epi t“i thron“i (locative) with no great distinction in the resultant idea.

4:3 {To look upon} (horasei). Locative case of horasis, old word (from hora“, to see) for appearance (in appearance) as in Eze 1:5,26.
{Like a jasper stone} (homoios iaspidi). Associative-instrumental case of iaspis, old word (Persian), used for stones of different colors, one opaque like opal, one translucent (21:11,18f., possibly here, only N.T. examples), one a red or yellow stone (Isa 54:12). Some even take it for the diamond. Certainly not our cheap modern jasper.
{A sardius} (sardi“i). Old word, in N.T. only here and 21:20. The carnelian or other red stone, derived from Sardis (Pliny). {Rainbow} (iris). Old word, in N.T. only here and 10:1. From Eze 1:28.
{An emerald} (smaragdin“i). Adjective (from smaragdos, Re 21:19), of emerald (supply lith“i), in associative instrumental case after homoios. John sees no form for God (Ex 24:10), but only the brilliant flashing gems. "In the vision the flashing lustre of the iaspis and the fiery red of the sard are relieved by the halo (iris) of emerald which encircled the Throne" (Swete). A complete circle.

4:4 {Round about the throne} (kuklothen tou thronou). Here as a preposition with the genitive, though only adverb in 4:8 (only N.T. examples save Textus Rec. in 5:11).
{Four and twenty thrones} (thronoi eikosi tessares). So P Q, but Aleph A have accusative thronous (supply eidon from 4:1) and tessares (late accusative in -es). This further circle of thrones beyond the great throne.
{I saw four and twenty elders} (eikosi tessaras presbuterous). No eidon in the text, but the accusative case calls for it. Twenty-four as a symbolic number occurs only in this book and only for these elders (4:4,10; 5:8; 11:16; 19:4). We do not really know why this number is chosen, perhaps two elders for each tribe, perhaps the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles (Judaism and Christianity), perhaps the twenty-four courses of the sons of Aaron (1Ch 24:1-19), perhaps some angelic rank (Col 1:16) of which we know nothing. Cf. Eph 2:6.
{Sitting} (kathˆmenous). Upon their thrones.
{Arrayed} (peribeblˆmenous). Perfect passive participle of periball“ (to throw around).
{In white garments} (himatiois leukois). Locative case here as in 3:5 (with en), though accusative in 7:9,13.
{Crowns of gold} (stephanous chrusous). Accusative case again like presbuterous after eidon (4:1), not idou. In 19:14 ech“n (having) is added. John uses diadˆma (diadem) for the kingly crown in 12:3; 13:1; 19:12, but it is not certain that the old distinction between diadem as the kingly crown and stephanos as the victor's wreath is always observed in late Greek.

4:5 {Out of the throne} (ek tou thronou). Back to the throne itself. The imagery is kin to that in Ex 19:16; 24:9f.; Eze 1:22,27.
{Proceed} (ekporeuontai). Graphic historical present. {Lightnings and voices and thunders} (astrapai kai ph“nai kai brontai). So exactly in 11:19; 16:18, but in 8:5 with brontai first, astrapai last, all old and common words. "The thunderstorm is in Hebrew poetry a familiar symbol of the Divine power: cf., e.g., 1Sa 2:10; Ps 18:9f.; Job 37:4f." (Swete). {Seven lamps of fire} (hepta lampades puros). Return to the nominative (idou, not eidon) with ˆsan (were) understood. Metaphor drawn from Eze 1:13; Zec 4:12ff. Our word "lamp," but here a torch as in 8:10, identified with the Holy Spirit (the Seven Spirits of God) as in 1:4; 3:1, not luchniai (lampstands) as in 1:12,20, nor luchnos a hand-lamp with oil (Mt 5:15). "These torches blaze perpetually before the throne of God" (Swete).

4:6 {As it were a glassy sea} (h“s thalassa hualinˆ). Old adjective (from hualos, glass, 21:18,21), in N.T. only here and 15:2. Possibly from huei (it rains), like a raindrop. At any rate here it is the appearance, not the material. Glass was made in Egypt 4,000 years ago. In Ex 24:10 the elders see under the feet of God in the theophany a paved work of sapphire stone (cf. Eze 1:26). The likeness of the appearance of sky to sea suggests the metaphor here (Beckwith).
{Like crystal} (homoia krustall“i). Associative-instrumental case after homoia. Old word, from kruos (ice and sometimes used for ice), in N.T. only here and 22:1, not semi-opaque, but clear like rock-crystal. {In the midst of the throne} (en mes“i tou thronou). As one looks from the front, really before.
{Round about the throne} (kukl“i tou thronou). Merely an adverb in the locative case (Ro 15:19), as a preposition in N.T. only here, 5:11; 7:11. This seems to mean that on each of the four sides of the throne was one of the four living creatures either stationary or moving rapidly round (Eze 1:12f.).
{Four living creatures} (tessera z“a). Not thˆria (beasts), but living creatures. Certainly kin to the z“a of Eze 1; 2 which are cherubim (Eze 10:2,20), though here the details vary as to faces and wings with a significance of John's own, probably representing creation in contrast with the redeemed (the elders).
{Full of eyes} (gemonta ophthalm“n). Present active participle of gem“, to be full of, with the genitive, signifying here unlimited intelligence (Beckwith), the ceaseless vigilance of nature (Swete).

4:7 {Like a lion} (homoion leonti). Associative-instrumental case again. In Eze (1:6,10) each z“on has four faces, but here each has a different face. "The four forms represent whatever is noblest, strongest, wisest, and swiftest in nature" (Swete). But it is not necessary to try to find a symbolism in each face here like the early baseless identification with the Four Evangelists (the lion for Mark, the man for Matthew, the calf for Luke, the eagle for John). Moschos is first a sprout, then the young of animals, then a calf (bullock or heifer) as in Lu 15:23, 27,30, or a full-grown ox (Eze 1:10).
{Had} (ech“n). Masculine singular (some MSS. echon neuter singular agreeing with z“on) present active participle of ech“, changing the construction with the triton z“on almost like a finite verb as in verse 8.
{A face as of a man} (pros“pon h“s anthr“pou). Shows that the likeness in each instance extended only to the face.
{Like an eagle flying} (homoion aet“i petomen“i). Present middle participle of petomai, to fly, old verb, in N.T. only in Re 4:7; 8:13; 12:14; 14:6; 19:17. The aetos in Mt 24:28; Lu 17:37 may be a form of vulture going after carrion, but not in Re 8:13; 12:14.

4:8 {Each one of them} (hen kath' hen aut“n). "One by one of them," a vernacular idiom like heis kata heis in Mr 14:19. {Having} (ech“n). Masculine participle again as in verse 7, though z“on neuter.
{Six wings} (ana pterugas hex). Distributive use of ana, "six wings apiece" as in Lu 10:1 (ana duo, by twos). Like Isa 6:2, not like Eze 1:6, where only four wings are given apiece.
{Are full of} (gemousin). Plural verb, though z“a neuter, to individualize each one. {Round about and within} (kuklothen kai es“then). Perhaps before and behind (4:6) and under the wings, "pointing to the secret energies of nature" (Swete).
{Rest} (anapausin). See also 14:11. Old word (from anapau“, to relax), as in Mt 11:29. God and Christ cease not their activity (Joh 5:17). "This ceaseless activity of nature under the hand of God is a ceaseless tribute of praise" (Swete).
{Day and night} (hˆmeras kai nuktos). Genitive of time, by day and by night.
{Holy, holy, holy} (hagios, hagios, hagios). "The task of the Cherubim together with the Seraphim and Ophannim is to sing the praises of God" (Charles) in the trisagion (triple repetition of hagios).
{Is the Lord God} (Kurios ho theos). See Isa 6:3. The copula estin (is) is not expressed, but is implied.
{The Almighty} (ho pantokrat“r). See on 1:8.
{Which was and which is and which is to come} (ho ˆn kai ho “n kai ho erchomenos). Just as in 1:4,8, but with the order changed.

4:9 {When the living creatures shall give} (hotan d“sousin ta z“a). Indefinite temporal clause with hotan and the future active indicative (d“sousin) rather than the more common second aorist active subjunctive (d“sin) with the notion of repetition rather than unbroken continuance, "whenever they give." The giving of praise and glory to God by the four living creatures (representatives of nature) is met by corresponding worship by the redeemed (the four and twenty elders). "Created life adores the Uncreated" (Swete), "to the one living for ages of ages."

4:10 {Shall fall down} (pesountai, future middle of pipt“), {shall worship} (proskunˆsousin, future active of proskune“), {shall cast their crowns} (balousin tous stephanous, future active of ball“). The two actions by the two groups (living creatures, elders) are coordinated (simultaneous in the repetition). They thus acknowledge that all this kingly dignity comes from God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Charles takes the elders, however, to be angels, not redeemed men.

4:11 {Our Lord and our God} (ho kurios kai ho theos hˆm“n). The nominative form here used as vocative as in Joh 20:28 and often.
{To receive} (labein). Epexegetic second aorist active infinitive of lamban“ with axios (worthy).
{The glory} (tˆn doxan). The article referring to doxan in verse 9 and so with tˆn timˆn (the honour), though tˆn dunamin (the power) is not in verse 9, but is the power due to be ascribed to God. {Thou didst create} (su ektisas). Emphasis on su (thou), first aorist active indicative of ktiz“, the verb used about the act of creation by Paul in Col 1:16 (ektisthˆ, ektistai), constative aorist giving a summary picture of the whole (not as a process).
{Because of thy will} (dia to thelˆma sou). Reason for creation of the universe as in Heb 2:10 (di' hon).
{They were} (ˆsan). Imperfect tense with a cursory glance at the universe as a fact, possibly a potential existence in God's purpose in the eternal past before the actual creation in time. {And were created} (kai ektisthˆsan). First aorist passive indicative of the same verb, ktiz“, just used and in the plural, while Paul (Col 1:16) uses the singular ektisthˆ. See 1Co 8:6. God's will wrought through the Logos (Christ).


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Word Pictures in the New Testament
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