Revelation – Chapters 4 & 5

When we get to heaven will we see God with our own eyes?

I. Video Data.

John Ankerberg Show.  Speakers: Drs. Ron Rhodes (Th. M., Th. D.), Ed Hindson (Th. M., Th. D., D. Min., Ph. D.), Mark Hitchcock (Th. M.; J. D., Ph. D.).

II. Overview.

Dr. John F. Walvoord  (Th. B., Th. M., Th. D., 1910-2002). Revelation Commentary. 

Chapters 4 and 5 are the introduction and background of the tremendous sweep of prophetic events predicted in the rest of the book. If chapter 4 and succeeding chapters relate to the future, they provide an important clue concerning the interpretation of the vision and the prophetic events which unfold in those chapters. One of the principal reasons for confusion in the study of the book of Revelation has been the failure to grasp this point. If Revelation has no chronological structure and is merely a symbolic presentation of moral truth, its prophetic significance is reduced to a minimum. If, as others hold, the predictions of this section of Revelation are already fulfilled in the early persecution of the church, it also robs the book of any prophecy of the future.  

III. Scripture Text. Revelation Chapters 4 and 5.

IV. Verse Examination. 

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016). Ryrie Study Bible.

A. 4:2. “I was in the spirit,” as in the 1:10 post.

B. 4:4. “24 elders.” Some understand these to be angelic beings, though it is likely that the 24 elders represent redeemed people, who are glorified, crowned, and enthroned. Angels are never said to be given crowns, though believers are (2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10). 

C. 4:5. “7 Spirits of God,” as in the 1:4 post. 

D. 4:6. “4 living creatures,” or living ones. These may be angels, probably cherubim (cf. Ezek. 10:15-20), or they may be representations of the attributes of God, Himself (since they are said to be “in the center” of the throne).

E. 4:7. Many see a similarity between the 4 living ones and the fourfold manner in which Christ is portrayed in the Gospels. In Matthew He appears as the Lion of the tribe of Judah; in Mark He is the Servant who became the sacrifice for sin (the calf was a sacrificial animal, Heb 9:12, 19); Luke’s emphasis is on the Son of Man; and “a flying eagle” links Him with heaven, as does John’s gospel. 

F. 4:8-11. Here is a great anthem of praise by the 4 living ones and the 24 elders to God as creator. In 5:11-14 the focus of worship is on God as Redeemer.

G. 5:1. “a book.” Lit., a scroll. This may be called the “Book of Redemption,” as it contains the story of man’s fall through sin, and rise through Christ (Heb. 2:5-9). 

H. 5:5. “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah.” The noblest and victorious of the kingly tribe (cf. Gen. 49:9). “the Root of David.” The one who fulfills the covenant with David (cf. Isa. 11:1, 10). The messiah, John is assured, is competent and worthy to break the 7 seals and open the scroll to release the plagues.

I. 5:6. “as if slain.” Christ, the Lamb, bears the marks of His death (See Luke 24:40; John 20:20, 27) even in His glorified state. “horns” are a symbol of strength (cf. 1 Kings 22:11; Zech 1:18). 

J. 5:8. “bowls,” like saucers.

K. 5:9-10. The Lamb is worthy because He died in the past to pay the ransom price for the sins of the world, positioned  us in the present as a kingdom and priests before God, and gave us a promise of reigning on the earth in the future. A few mss. read “us” and “we” in verse 10 instead of “them” and “they.” In either case, the elders could be singing of their own redemption in either the first or third person. 

L. 5:13. All creation joins in praise to God and the Lamb.

M. 5:14. The heavenly scene of chaps. 4 and 5 give heaven’s perspective on the need for the awful judgments to follow, for Christ’s right to reign must be realized, and sin must be punished.

V. Summary. Dr. Orville J. Nave, Nave’s Study Bible, 1978 (D.D., LL. D., 1841-1917). Orville J. Nave (Editor), Anna Seamans Nave (Editor)

In these fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation we considered: 4:1 John’s vision of the throne of God in heaven, 4:4 and of the twenty-four elders around it. 4:10 The elders worship him that sits on the throne. 5:1 The book sealed with seven seals. 5:3 No man is able to open it. 5:5 The Lamb that was slain takes the book; whereupon the elders and angels around the throne join in thanksgiving and praise to him. 

VI. Additional Thoughts. The “redeemed” of Revelation 4:4.

A. Job spoke of his redeemer (Job 19:25-27). vs 25 follows.

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

B. The Old Testament redeemed have already been taken to Heaven, per Ephesians 4:8-10 (Dr. John Phillips (D. Min; 1927-2010) Revelation Commentary.) 

C. The New Testament redeemed consists of those whom will be caught up in the resurrection and rapture of believers in Christ (John 14:2-6; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Corinthians 2:1-3, Titus 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3). 

VII. Imminency. 

A. The term “imminency” is key to a proper understanding of the Rapture, which means that the Rapture can happen at any time of the day, week, month, or year. The Rapture could have taken place at any time in history, from day of the writings of the verses that relate to the rapture, until the day that the Rapture actually takes place. Consider the following verses that show that the Rapture is not confined to the fall months of the year during the Jewish feasts, or to any events that occur that will make it appear that “it is time for the rapture to take place,” or that something must happen on earth among God’s creation to make God act, or react.

1. Galatians 4:4 tells of God’s plan for the time that Jesus would come to earth. “4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…” God had a plan that would not be altered, or deleted, regardless of mankind’s lifestyle.

2. Romans 11:25 tells of the time that the Rapture of the Church will take place.  “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” The time of the rapture of the church has already been determined by God which is not determined by anything, or anybody, other than by God’s sovereign plan, which will be completed in spite of the sinfulness of mankind.

3. “The Fullness Of The Gentiles” (Romans 11:25) must occur before the Rapture takes place. Until the point in time that “the fullness of the Gentiles comes in,” the Holy Spirit will be dealing with unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, drawing them to belief in Christ. When that “number of Gentiles” has been achieved, the church will be full, and will be taken to Heaven through the Rapture, “in eternal, undefiled bodies,” (1 Cor 15:50-54). At the time of the ascension of Christ to heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection, “Christ took the souls of the Old Testament Saints, with Him to Heaven, with many of them being united with their bodies (Ephesians 4:8-10; Ephesians Commentary, Dr. John Phillips, D. Min.,1927-2010). As will be the fate of unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Gentiles will be left behind on earth, from the time of the Rapture, to come under the oppression of the Anti-Christ and the Judgments of God during the Tribulation; then, God will be drawing such unbelievers to belief in Christ as Messiah. God’s Holy Spirit will be calling unbelievers to belief in Christ during the church age (John 1:9-13); the church age will end, and the church will never be mentioned again in the Bible. The primary purpose of the Tribulation will be for God to deal with Israel (Jeremiah 30:7).

a. Consider the comment of Dr. John MacArthur, in the MacArthur Study Bible, which discusses “the fullness of the Gentiles.”

until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. “Until” refers to a specific point in time; “fullness” refers to completion; “has come in” translates a Gr. verb often used to speak of coming to salvation (cf. Matt. 5:20Mark 9:434547John 3:5Acts 14:22). Israel’s spiritual hardening (which began with rejecting Jesus as Messiah) will last until the complete number of elect Gentiles has come to salvation.

b. Consider the comment of Dr. Charles C. Ryrie (Th. M., Th. D., Ph. D., 1925-2016) in the Ryrie Study Bible, which discusses “the fullness of the Gentiles.”

“the fullness of the Gentiles.” I.e., the full number of Gentiles who will be saved (Acts 15:14). After that, God will turn again to the Jews and will save “all Israel” at the Lord’s return (v. 26).

c. Consider the comment of Dr. John A. Witmer (B.A., M.A., M.S.L.S., Th. M., Th. D.) in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, which discusses “fullness of the Gentiles”

There is a fullness for Israel (Rom. 11:12) and a fullness for the Gentiles. God is now “taking from the Gentiles a people for Himself” (Acts 15:14).

d. Consider the comment of Dr. Michael G. Vanlaningham (M. Div., Ph. D.) in The Moody Study Bible, which discusses the “fullness of the Gentiles.”

“Fullness of the Gentiles” refers to the “full number of Gentiles” who God has determined to be saved prior to Him lifting the hardening from Israel.

B. The Imminent Rapture. Consider the following verses that show that the Rapture can occur at any time.

1. John 14:2-3,  “2 I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. (Note. Jesus was talking to Jews, If he had a plan to return on a feast day, this would have been the perfect occasion for such a discussion).

2. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (Note. Paul explained the rapture without making any mention of a time of the Rapture).

3. 1 Corinthians 15: 52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (Paul makes no statement of a time for the rapture.).

4. Titus 2:13, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” (Note: The early church was looking for the appearance of the Lord in the rapture, and not for a particular time of year. 

5. We will now discuss a Scripture teaching on the Rapture that has been taught incorrectly ever since the KJV1611 was published, and the word “departure” was translated as “apostasy.” Dr. Ice points out that the first eleven or twelve English translations of  the Bible translated 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to show a “departure,” to show the catching away of the church. Beginning with the KJV1611, the word “apostasy”  was used. A video that goes into proper context on this subject can be seen by searching youtube, as follows (by Blue River Bible Church): Dr. Tommy Ice on Revelation, Part 11, beginning at 1:14:00. The credentials for Dr. Ice (Th. M., Ph. D.) are as follows: 

Dr. Ice founded The Pre-Trib Research Center in 1994 with Dr. Tim LaHaye to research, teach, and defend the pretribulational rapture and related Bible prophecy doctrines.

6. Consider that the following translations did not use “apostasy,” to describe the catching away of the church:

a. 486, Latin Vulgate, departure; 1384, Wycliffe Bible, departure; 1388, Wycliffe-Purvey Bible, departure; 1526 Tyndale Bible, departure; 1535 Coverdale Bible, departure; 1539, Cranmer Bible, departure; 1540 Great Bible, departure; 1560, Geneva Bible, departing; 1576. Breeches Bible, departing; 1582, Rheims Bible, Revolt; 1583, Berea Bible, departing; 1608, Geneva Bible, departing.

b. Video note: The Geneva Bible was the Bible that the Puritans used;  they would not let the KJV “get off the boat” in America. The KJV was viewed as a Catholic Bible because there were Anglicans on the KJV translation committee. The Puritans used the Geneva Bible that was translated by the Protestants in Geneva. The Rheims Bible, which was produced by Catholics, was the first Bible to change the translation tradition from departing, to the word “revolt” to mean the “protestants,” with the revolt being against the mother church. The KJV translators used a created word, “baptism,” to mean ” baptizo, immersion. “The same creation of the word “apostasy” took place when the KJV translators chose to not use “departure,” to mean the departure of the church from earth in the “catching up” of the saints in the rapture. 

c. The Greek “harpazo” means to “catch up,” as of a harpoon effect. Such, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: “harpazó: to seize, catch up, snatch away.” 

d. (The Douay-Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church). 

e. Consider two of the proper translations for 2 Thessalonians 2:3:

(1) Tyndale (1526): Let no man deceive you by any means, for the Lord cometh not, except there come a departing first, and that that sinful man be opened, the son of perdition.

(2) Geneva (1560): Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition.

f. Consider the incorrect translation 2 Thessalonians 2:3 of the KJV 1611:

KJV (1611): Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

7. God’s Plan vs Apostasy. The teaching that “before an apostasy,” or a falling away of the church must occur before God acts, makes God a servant of the actions of God’s created mankind, which puts God’s plan under the control of mankind. 

8. The catching up of the born again believers in Christ has been set in “God’s plan for the ages,” from ages past. See 1 Cor 15:51-52.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 

a. A mystery is part of God’s plan that had not been revealed until God revealed such a plan to the apostles. (Ryrie note: Rom 16:25-26, “the mystery:” A definition of a scriptural meaning unknown in times past but revealed in the NT. God’s plan is not contingent upon anything that takes place by human beings. God does not wait to fulfill prophecy until something happens by the actions of human beings, whether, “good or bad.” God’s plan does not have a “Plan B.” GOD’S PLAN is GOD’S PLAN, and is not delayed, or alterable, based on the actions of humanity.

b. The church is made up of born again believers in Christ. God will not force the church, His born again believers in Christ, to act “as apostates” in order for Him to fulfill His plan. 

(1) Each born again believer in Christ is a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27; Colossians 1:24); (2) with the Spirit of Christ dwelling within each of their spirits (Col 1:27); (3), with each believer being a new creature (2 Cor 5:17); (4) with each believer being the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).  

c. Tomorrow may be a good day, and the Rapture may take place. Tomorrow may be a bad day, and the Rapture may take place. At the time of the “fullness of the fullness of the Gentiles coming in” (Rom 11:25), is the day that the Rapture will take place. 

VIII. The Key to understanding the events of the Rapture is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. as is shown in the Geneva translation, as follows:  

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition. 4.  Which is an adversary, and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is worshiped: so that he doth sit as God in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 

The rapture of the church will take place. Then,  the antichrist will be revealed to the world. Then, the antichrist will exalt himself above God in the temple, claiming that he is God.

IX. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.

X. My Websites To Follow. Eternity Commentary Preparation Thy Kingdom Come

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