Revelation 5:6

four living creatures
See commentary on Revelation 4:6.

the elders
See commentary on Revelation 4:4.

a Lamb
“When John turned, he saw, not a Lion, according to the Elder’s announcement, but a Lamb, according to the prior historical fact.”1 For the Lion of Judah must first be the Lamb of God in order to purchase redemption and earn the right to go forth as a Lion in judgment. Here we see the character of God—grace and mercy preceding judgment. “In one brilliant stroke John portrays the central theme of NT revelation—victory through sacrifice.”2 Ἀρνίον [Arnion] , originally meant little lamb3 or young sheep.4 Ex. 12:3-6).”5 The only other occurrence of arnion in the entire NT is John’s gospel, where it is used of the Christian community (John John 21:15).6 This is another indication that the same author wrote the book of John and the book of Revelation. See Authorship. 7 “In Revelation the name ‘Lamb’ (arnion, literally, ‘little lamb’) is used more often than any other name or title of Christ. John called Him the Lamb twenty-eight times.”8 Twice in John’s gospel, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” referring to His impending sacrifice which will atone for the sins of the world (John John 1:29, John 1:36). Isaiah also described the Messiah as a sacrificial lamb, a passage which Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch (Isa. Isa. 53:7; Acts Acts 8:32-35). Peter describes the precious, sinless blood of Christ “as of a lamb without blemish and spot,” an allusion to the Passover lamb whose blood “covered” the Israelites from the destroying angel in the plague which took the firstborn of Egypt (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:19 cf. Ex. Ex. 11:5-6; Ex. 12:3-13). In fulfillment of the requirement that no bones of the lamb may be broken (Ex. Ex. 12:46; Ps. Ps. 34:20), the Roman soldiers found Jesus already dead and did not break his legs as they did those of the thieves crucified beside him (John John 19:33-36). Paul clearly understood Jesus to be the Passover lamb. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1Cor. 1Cor. 5:7). It is by “the blood of the Lamb” that believers overcome the diabolos who “throws-against” them accusations (Rev. Rev. 12:11+), for it is the blood which cleanses them of sin and provides their white robes. It is the blood of Christ which provides for their eternal life as those who are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. Rev. 13:8+). The Lamb is to be contrasted with the beast throughout this book.9 The second beast who “had two horns like a lamb” may be mistaken as this lamb by those who are deceived, but he speaks “like a dragon” (Rev. Rev. 13:11+). See Master Imitator. See A Lamb and a Beast.

stood
ἑστηκὸς [hestēkos] , perfect participle: having stood. The lamb had been there for some time. Having been seated to the right hand of the Father for millennia, Jesus now rises. The time of sharing the Father’s throne is rapidly drawing to a close. Once He takes the scroll, as the Root of David, He will initiate a series of irreversible events which will result in the establishment of the Davidic kingdom upon the earth. See commentary on Revelation 5:10.

as though it had been slain
ἐσφαγμένον [esphagmenon] , perfect passive participle: “of animals, especially when killed as a sacrifice slaughter, slay; metaphorically, of Jesus’ atoning death as the Lamb of God.”10 By His one-time sacrifice, sin was rendered powerless to prevent those who trust in Him from right-standing before God (Heb. Heb. 9:26). It has been said, “the only man-made thing in heaven will be the scars of the Savior.” Isaiah informs us, “His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isa. Isa. 52:14). Heaven and earth will pass away and the former things will pass (Rev. Rev. 21:1+, Rev. 21:4+), but will the scars of Messiah ever be erased? For they serve as a testimony of His love, His resurrection from death (John John 20:20, John 20:27), and His identity as Redeemer (Luke Luke 24:30-31). The slaying of God’s own Son was not an afterthought in response to an unexpected rebellion. He was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. Rev. 13:8+).11 Peter informs us that He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times” (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:20). It was known from all eternity that Christ would come to die for the sin of the world: there is nothing which God has not seen and provided for in advance (Isa. Isa. 45:21). Even as early as Abraham, God provided a detailed picture of the atonement of the cross when Abraham was told to offer Isaac as a picture of another Father’s offering of another Son on the same mountain years yet future. As Abraham observed, “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Gen. Gen. 22:8) and so He has! This is the pierced Lamb which “every eye will see,” “even they who pierced him” (Rev. Rev. 1:7+ cf. Zec. Zec. 12:10). Are you trusting in the slain Lamb, Who was foreordained for your redemption?

seven horns
“Here is the intimation that something more than sacrifice and intercession is now to be His business.”12 The horn is a biblical symbol denoting power or government (1S. 1S. 2:10; 2S. 2S. 22:3; Ps. Ps. 132:13-17). The seven horns indicate the complete power of Christ and the finality (completeness) of His kingdom. “As a horn is the emblem of power, and seven the number of perfection, the seven horns may denote the almighty power of Jesus Christ.”13 His is the only “everlasting dominion” and kingdom “which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. Dan. 7:14). Other “horns” have risen and fallen on the world stage (Dan. Dan. 7:7-8, Dan. 7:11, Dan. 7:20, Dan. 7:21, Dan. 7:24; Dan. 8:3-12, Dan. 8:20-22; Rev. Rev. 12:3+; Rev. 13:1+, Rev. 13:11+; Rev. 17:3+, Rev. 17:7+, Rev. 17:12+, Rev. 17:16+), but the “stone cut without hands” will strike all previous horns and smash them to pieces (Dan. Dan. 2:34, Dan. 2:45-46; Dan. 7:14). Christ is the horn of salvation from the lineage of the house of David (Luke Luke 1:67-73):

And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold-the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure. (Dan. Dan. 2:44-45)

Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. Dan. 7:14)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php Php. 2:9-11)

The seven horns may also allude to the conquest of Jericho by Joshua (his Hebrew name is Yehoshua meaning “YHWH saves,” corresponding to Jesus in Greek):

When the children of Israel first entered the land of Canaan to claim it for their own as God had promised, they encountered a wicked city barring their way. When in accord with God’s command, the priests took “seven trumpets of ram’s horns,” the walls of Jericho tumbled down and the city and its alien inhabitants were destroyed. Thus, these “seven horns” on the Lamb may well have recalled to John the seven ram’s horns of Joshua, and their effectiveness in enabling the people of God to enter on their inheritance in God’s land of promise.14

Another similarity with the Book of Joshua is found in the pouring forth of the seventh bowl—subsumed within the sounding of the seventh trumpet —when the mighty city of Babylon is destroyed (Rev. Rev. 16:17-19+).

seven eyes
As the text says, these are the seven Spirits of God. Commenting on the related passage in Zec. Zec. 3:9, Baron explains:

The manifold intelligence or omniscience of this “Living Stone”—the seven reminding us of the sevenfold plenitude of the One Spirit of Jehovah, “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Jehovah,” which should rest upon Him, and which was so wonderfully fulfilled in Him whom the New Testament seer beheld as the Lamb which had been slain [Rev. Rev. 5:6+].15

Three grand qualities of the Goel [kinsman-redeemer] are thus brought to view;—first, sacrificial virtue, to take away sin; second, aggressive strength to conquer and to overcome all foes; and third, perfect and universal intelligence, direct from the indwelling Spirit of God in all its fulness.16

See commentary on Revelation 1:4.

sent out
ἀπεσταλμένοι [apestalmenoi] , perfect passive participle: having been sent out. They were sent in the past and by now have already seen all (Zec. Zec. 4:2-10). The eyes indicate omniscience and the complete knowledge of all that is hidden for perfect judgment. There is no secret which these eyes have not viewed (Ecc. Ecc. 12:14; Isa. Isa. 29:15; Isa. 40:27; Mtt. Mat. 10:26; Mark Mark 4:22; Luke Luke 8:17; Luke 12:2; Rom. Rom. 2:16; 1Cor. 1Cor. 4:5). See commentary on Revelation 1:14.

Notes

1 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), 237.

2 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 144.

3 Although the diminutive sense may have no longer been the sense by NT times. [Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 108]

4 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 72.

5 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 167.

6 Arnion occurs in the Septuagint at Ps. Ps. 114:4, Ps. 114:6; Jer. Jer. 11:19; Jer. 50:45.

7 Jesus as the “Lamb” in Revelation: Rev. Rev. 5:6+, Rev. 5:8+, Rev. 5:12-13+; Rev. 6:1+, Rev. 6:16+; Rev. 7:9-10+, Rev. 7:14+, Rev. 7:17+; Rev. 12:11+; Rev. 13:8+, Rev. 13:11+; Rev. 14:1+, Rev. 14:4+, Rev. 14:10+; Rev. 15:3+; Rev. 17:14+; Rev. 19:7+, Rev. 19:9+; Rev. 21:9+, Rev. 21:14+, Rev. 21:22-23+, Rev. 21:27+; Rev. 22:1+, Rev. 22:3+.

8 Harold D. Foos, “Christology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 106.

9 “Another object of the form Greek, arnion, the Lamb, is to put Him in the more marked contrast to Greek, therion, the Beast.”—A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 5:6. The beast in Revelation: Rev. Rev. 11:7+; Rev. 13:1-4+, Rev. 13:11-12+, Rev. 13:14-15+, Rev. 13:17-18+; Rev. 14:9+, Rev. 14:11+; Rev. 15:2+; Rev. 16:2+, Rev. 16:10+, Rev. 16:13+; Rev. 17:3+, Rev. 17:7-8+, Rev. 17:11-13+, Rev. 17:16-17+; Rev. 19:19-20+; Rev. 20:4+, Rev. 20:10+.

10 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 371.

11 Passages related to the foundation of the world : Gen. Gen. 1:1; Pr. Pr. 8:29; Mtt. Mat. 13:35; Mat. 25:34; Luke Luke 11:50; John John 1:1; John 17:24; Eph. Eph. 1:4; Heb. Heb. 4:3; Heb. 9:26; 1Pe. 1Pe. 1:20; Rev. Rev. 13:8+; Rev. 17:8+.

12 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 116.

13 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 5:6.

14 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 101.

15 David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions And Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1918), 116.

16 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 117.

Read Revelation 5:6