Revelation 5:1-14 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does John see in God’s right hand? How does he describe this thing? See Revelation 5:1 (printed below)

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and tightly sealed with seven seals. (Revelation 5:1)

The apostle John reports that he saw in the right hand of God “a scroll.” The very position of this scroll, in God’s right hand, indicates that its contents are of supreme honor and blessing and importance (note Ephesians 1:20-21 for the significance of the position at God’s right hand). John goes on to tell us that this scroll was written “on both sides.” This fact indicates that this scroll is filled to capacity and is, indeed, overflowing with the blessings of God; its contents are nothing other than the glorious kingdom of God as it will be described in Revelation 21-22. But, it is also a scroll that has been “tightly sealed with seven seals.”

2. What question does the mighty angel ask (see verse 2 printed below?) What answer does he receive (see verse 3 printed below?) What is John’s reaction to this situation (see verse 4 printed below?)

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” (3) But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or even look at it. (4) I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or even look at it. (Revelation 5:2-4)

As John ponders the situation, he sees a strong angel proclaiming in a great voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” Here is a strong angel earnestly and diligently seeking for someone to come and open the scroll, to open the gate to the kingdom of heaven—not even this strong angel is able to do so! Depicted here is the earnest desire of God to share His kingdom with men and to receive us into His divine fellowship; but although such is the desire of God’s heart, not even that divine desire can nullify the fact that the scroll is sealed and can only be opened by one who is worthy. In response to the strong angel’s question, there comes the reply, “No one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or even look at it.” John is filled with sorrow (“I wept and wept”) over the fact that “no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll.”

3. What word of comfort is addressed to John in Revelation 5:5 (printed below?)

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look! The Lion who is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, he has overcome, and he is able to open the scroll and break the seals.” (Revelation 5:5)

As the apostle John weeps in sorrow and despair, he suddenly hears a voice that exhorts him, “Do not weep.” John is informed that there is One who has been found worthy—he is now pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is introduced to John and to us as “the Lion who is from the tribe of Judah.” In Genesis 49:8-10 Judah is pictured as a conquering lion, and there is the prophecy that from his tribe would eventually come the Almighty Conqueror and Victor.

4. When John looks up to behold the lion, what does he see (note verse 6a printed below?) What do you think is the significance of this?

Then I saw a lamb, looking as though it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6)

John is comforted by the Good News that the Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered. But what he now sees before the throne is not a lion, but “a lamb!” The lamb reveals the fact that the Savior’s victory was accomplished not by personal strength and the assertion of Himself, but rather by the complete submission of Himself to His Father’s will (cp. Matthew 26:39), and the offering of Himself as the one true sacrifice for sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).

5. What is the content of the song of praise to the Lamb sung by the twenty-four elders (who represent the church?) See Revelation 5:9-10 (printed below)

And they sing a new song, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break the seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (10) You have made them into a kingdom and priests for our God, and they shall reign over the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

The twenty-four elders lift their praise to the Lamb, singing, “You were slain; with your blood you purchased men for God.” Their song focuses upon the great event that took place at Calvary and the meaning of that event: our Lord’s death upon the cross was not a martyrdom, nor was it merely an expression of love, it was the atoning sacrifice for our sins (note 1 John 2:2). The elders go on to testify, “You have made them into a kingdom and priests for our God and they shall reign over the earth.” The redeemed are made into a kingdom of willing subjects who submit themselves to God’s sovereign and gracious rule. The redeemed are also made to be priests of God, thereby becoming actively engaged in service to Him. Finally, the redeemed shall share with God and Christ in their dominion.