Revelation 4:11
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
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(11) The doxology is three-fold. (See Note on Revelation 1:6.) It should run—

“Worthy art Thou, O Lord, and our God,

To receive the glory, and the honour, and the power,

Because Thou didst create all things,

And through (or, owing to—i.e., because of) Thy will they were (not ‘ are’) and were created.”

The existence of all things was owing to the will of God, as also was the creation of all things, which was the realisation or manifestation of that will.

4:9-11 All true believers wholly ascribe their redemption and conversion, their present privileges and future hopes, to the eternal and most holy God. Thus rise the for-ever harmonious, thankful songs of the redeemed in heaven. Would we on earth do like them, let our praises be constant, not interrupted; united, not divided; thankful, not cold and formal; humble, not self-confident.Thou art worthy, O Lord - In thy character, perfections, and government, there is what makes it proper that universal praise should be rendered. The feeling of all true worshippers is, that (God is worthy of the praise that is ascribed to him. No man worships him aright who does not feel that there is that in his nature and his doings which makes it proper that he should receive universal adoration.

To receive glory - To have praise or glory ascribed to thee.

And honour - To be honored; that is, to be approached and adored as worthy of honor.

And power - To have power ascribed to thee, or to be regarded as having infinite power. Man can confer no power on God, but he may acknowledge what he has, and adore him for its exertion in his behalf and in the government of the world.

For thou hast created all things - Thus, laying the foundation for praise. No one can contemplate this vast and wonderful universe without seeing that He who has made it is worthy to "receive glory, and honor, and power." Compare the notes on Job 38:7.

And for thy pleasure they are - They exist by thy will - διὰ τὸ θέλημά dia to thelēma. The meaning is, that they owe their existence to the will of God, and therefore their creation lays the foundation for praise. He "spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." He said, "Let there be light; and there was light." There is no other reason why the universe exists at all than that such was the will of God; there is nothing else that is to be adduced as explaining the fact that anything has now a being. The putting forth of that will explains all; and, consequently, whatever wisdom, power, goodness, is manifested in the universe, is to be traced to God, and is the expression of what was in him from eternity. It is proper, then, to "look up through nature to nature's God," and wherever we see greatness or goodness in the works of creation, to regard them as the faint expression of what exists essentially in the Creator.

And were created - Bringing more distinctly into notice the fact that they owe their existence to his will. They are not eternal; they are not self-existent; they were formed from nothing. This concludes the magnificent introduction to the principal visions in this book. It is beautifully appropriate to the solemn disclosures which are to be made in the following portions of the book, and, as in the case of Isaiah and Ezekiel, was eminently adapted to impress the mind of the holy seer with awe. Heaven is opened to his view; the throne of God is seen; there is a vision of Him who sits upon that throne; thunders and voices are heard around the throne; the lightnings play; and a rainbow, symbol of peace, encircles all; the representatives of the redeemed church, occupying subordinate thrones, and in robes of victory, and with crowns on their heads, are there; a vast smooth expanse like the sea is spread out before the throne; and the emblems of the wisdom, the power, the vigilance, the energy, the strength of the divine administration are there, represented as in the act of bringing honor to God, and proclaiming his praise. The mind of John was doubtless prepared by these august visions for the disclosures which follow; and the mind of the reader should in like manner be deeply and solemnly impressed when he contemplates them, as if he looked into heaven, and saw the impressive grandeur of the worship there. Let us fancy ourselves, therefore, with the holy seer looking into heaven, and listen with reverence to what the great God discloses respecting the various changes that are to occur until every foe of the church shall be subdued, and the earth shall acknowledge his sway, and the whole scene shall close in the triumphs and joys of heaven.

11. O Lord—The two oldest manuscripts, A, B, Vulgate, and Syriac add, "and our God." "Our" by virtue of creation, and especially redemption. One oldest manuscript, B, and Syriac insert "the Holy One." But another, A, Vulgate, and Coptic omit this, as English Version does.

glory, &c.—"the glory … the honour … the power."

thou—emphatic in the Greek: "It is THOU who didst create."

all things—Greek, "the all things": the universe.

for, &c.—Greek, "on account of"; "for the sake of Thy pleasure," or "will." English Version is good Greek. Though the context better suits, it was because of Thy will, that "they were" (so one oldest manuscript, A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, instead of English Version "are": another oldest manuscript, B, reads, "They were not, and were created," were created out of nothing), that is, were existing, as contrasted with their previous non-existence. With God to will is to effect: to determine is to perform. So in Ge 1:3, "Let there be light, and there was light": in Hebrew an expressive tautology, the same word and tense and letters being used for "let there be," and "there was," marking the simultaneity and identity of the will and the effect. D. Longinus [On the Sublime, 9], a heathen, praises this description of God's power by "the lawgiver of the Jews, no ordinary man," as one worthy of the theme.

were created—by Thy definite act of creation at a definite time.

All the praises, homages, and acknowledgments of all the creatures is thy due; as then art he who gavest the first being to all creatures, and therefore gavest it them, that they might praise, honour, serve, and obey thee.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory honour, and power,.... The Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin version, and all the Oriental ones, read, "thou art worthy, O Lord, and our God, to receive"; that is, to receive the acknowledgment and ascription of glory, honour, and power; for otherwise God cannot be said to receive these from his creatures, than by their confessing and declaring that they belong unto him: and that for the reasons following,

for thou hast created all things; the whole universe, the heavens, the earth, and sea, and all that in them are:

and for thy pleasure they are and were created; God is the first cause, and the last end of all things; by his power they are made, and according to his will, and for his own glory, and therefore is worthy of such a doxology; see Proverbs 16:4. What is here said is contrary to a notion imbibed by the Jews (z), that the world was not created but for the sake of the Israelites: and elsewhere (a) they say,

"the world was not created but for David; and one says for Moses; and Rabbi Jochanan says for the Messiah;''

which last is truest.

(z) Zohar in Exod. fol. 6. 3. & Tzeror Hammor, fol. 109. 1. & 161. 3.((a) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.

{10} Thou art worthy, O Lord, {11} to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

(10) The sum of their speech: that all glory must be given to God: the reason, because he is the eternal beginning of all things, from whose only will they have their being, and are governed: and finally in all respects are that which they are.

(11) That is, that you should challenge the same to yourself alone. But as for us, we are unworthy, that even by your goodness we should share in this glory. So far has been discussed the principal cause unapproachable, which is God.

Revelation 4:11. Not without significance, the elders who, as representatives of the redeemed, stand in a still closer relation to their Lord and God than the four beings, address the Enthroned One: ὁ κυρ. καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν.[1832]

ἌΞΙΟς ΕἸ ΛΑΒΕἸΥ. Cf. Revelation 5:12. That God not only when he is worshipped, but also when he exterminates his enemies, receives glory,[1833] does not belong here.

ΤῊΝ ΔΟΞ., Κ.Τ.Λ., the elders say, because in replying they look back in a certain respect to Revelation 4:8.[1834]

ΚΑῚ ΤῊΝ ΔΈΝΑΜΙΝ. While the representatives of even creation are right in offering thanks (Revelation 4:8), especially suitable in the mouth of the elders, who although naturally also belonging to creation, yet with a certain objectivity regard the work of creation (ὅτι σὺ ἔκτισας, κ.τ.λ.), is the thankful acknowledgment of the power of the Creator revealed therein.[1835]

ΚΑῚ ὉΙᾺ ΤῸ ΘΈΛΗΜΆ ΣΟΥ ἮΣΑΝ. The Vulg., correctly: “On account of thy will.” Luther, incorrectly: “Through thy will.” Concerning ΔΙᾺ with the accus. to designate the ground, not the means, cf. John 6:57; Winer, p. 372.

In regard to ἮΣΑΝ, the reference may be considered impossible: “In thy disposition from eternity, before they were created;”[1836] and just as little dare the ἘΚΤΊΣΘΗΣΑΝ be applied to regeneration through Christ,[1837] if the ἮΣΑΝ be correctly referred to the creation. Bengel’s explanation of the ἮΣΑΝ: “All things were, from the creation to the time of this ascription of praise, and still henceforth. Hereby the preservation of all created things is praised,” is also artificial; while his explanation of ἐκτίσθησαν: “Since thou hast created all things, they remain as long as thou wilt have them,” is utterly incorrect. The ἮΣΑΝ is taken mostly[1838] as synonymous with ἘΚΤΊΣΘΗΣΧΝ; but ἮΣΑΝ is not equivalent to ἘΓΈΝΟΝΤΟ or ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗΣΑΝ.[1839] On the contrary, after the divine work of creation is mentioned (ἜΚΤΙΣΑς), the idea recurs to the same point with vivid clearness: as all things were, which before were not. The καὶ ἐκτίσθησαν is, then, not synonymous with the ἮΣΑΝ, but presents expressly the precise fact upon which the ἮΣΑΝ depends: “they were created.” Thus the lauded work of the Creator (ΣῪ ἜΚΤΙΣΑς) is made manifest even to the creatures by the idea in its two modifications of the ἮΣΑΝ and ἘΚΤΊΣΘΗΣΑΝ.

[1832] See Critical Notes.

[1833] Beng. Cf. Revelation 11:17.

[1834] Beng.

[1835] Cf. Romans 1:20.

[1836] N. de Lyra.

[1837] Grot.

[1838] “They came into being:” De Wette. Cf. C. a Lap., Eichh., Herd., Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[1839] Psalm 33:9.

Revelation 4:11. An implicit refutation of the dualistic idea, developed by Cerinthus, the traditional opponent of John in Asia Minor, that creation was the work of some angel or power separate from God (Iren. i. 26, iv. 32, Hippol. Haer. vii. 33, x. 1). The enthusiastic assent of the πρεσβύτεροι to the adoration of the Creator is expressed in word as well as in action. σύ emphatic = the usual apocalyptic (R.J., 295, 296) emphasis on creation as a proof of God’s power in providence and claims on mankind (e.g. 4 Ezra 3:4, “thou didst fashion the earth, and that thyself alone”). That God the redeemer is God the creator, forms one of the O.T. ideas which acquire special weight in the Apocalypse. Despite the contradictions of experience and the apparent triumph of Satan, the apocalypses of the age never gave way to dualism. Their firm hope was that the world, ideally God’s, would become actually his when messiah’s work was done; hence, as here, the assertion of his complete power over nature and nations. “Because thou didst will it (σύ, σου, emphatic) they existed and were created” (act and process of creation). As an answer to polytheism this cardinal belief in God the creator came presently to the front in the second century creeds and apologies. But the idea here is different alike from contemporary Jewish and from subsequent Christian speculation, the former holding that creation was for the sake of Israel (cf. 4 Esd. 6:55, 7:11, 9:13, Apoc. Bar. xiv. 18, 19, xv. 7, Ass. Mos. i. 12, etc., a favourite rabbinic belief), the latter convinced that it was for the sake of the Christian church (cf. Herm. Vis. ii. 4). Nor is there any evident trace of the finer idea (En. iii–v., Clem. Rom. xx., etc.) which contrasted the irregularities and impiety of men with the order and obedience of the universe. The conception of the holy ones rendering ceaseless praise in heaven would be familiar to early Christians in touch with Hellenic ideas and associations; e.g., Hekataeus of Abdera, in his sketch of the ideal pious folk, compares them to the priests of Apollo, διὰ τὸ τὸν θεὸν τοῦτον καθʼ ἡμέραν ὑπʼ αὐτῶν ὑμνεῖσθαι μετʼ ᾠδῆς συνεχῶς (Dieterich 36 f., cf. Apoc. Pet. 19–20). Test. Levi 3 ἐν δὲ τῷ μετʼ αὐτόν εἰσι θρόνοι κ. ἐξουσίαι ἐν ᾧ ὕμνοι ἀεὶ τῷ θεῷ προσφέρονται.

11. Thou art worthy, &c.] Here we have the praise of God the Creator by His Creatures as such: in the next ch. we have the praise of the Redeemer.

for thy pleasure] Better, because of Thy will.

they are] Read they were: not exactly “they came into being,” but “they had their being,”—as the simple verb substantive is very well translated in Acts 17:28.

Revelation 4:11. Θέλημα, pleasure [will]) רצון, a free and gracious will.—ἐκτίσθησαν) They are created, that is, they remain in existence. There are other expressions very similar: he shall be blessed, that is, he shall continue blessed, Genesis 27:33; I have written, that is, I do not change it, John 19:22; is tamed, that is, permits itself to be tamed, Jam 3:7; shall be changed, i.e. shall undergo a change, and continue changed, Hebrews 1:12. [Creation is the foundation of all the other works of GOD, and therefore it is the ground also of all the thanksgiving which arises from His creatures.—V. g.]

Verse 11. - Thou art worthy, O Lord; or, thou art worthy, our Lord and our God. In 13, the Syriac, Andreas, Arethas, Theodore-Stud., Arm., and many others, ἅγιος, "the holy one," is added. To receive glory and honour and power (τήν δόξαν, etc.). The presence of the article either

(1) denotes universality, and the expression is thus equivalent to "all glory," "all honour," "all power; or

(2) refers to the glory and honour mentioned in ver. 9. The former view seems more probable (cf. Revelation 1:6). The Church is represented as ascribing to God all power (δύναμιν); that power which he exercises in its fulness in heaven, and which, though partially abrogated on earth, he will nevertheless again take up, as foretold in Revelation 11:17. For thou hast created all things; or, for thou didst create all things (τὸ πάντα) - the universe. The representatives of creation thank God for their existence; the Church sees in his creation reason to ascribe power to him. Thus the reason for the doxology is given - "because thou didst create." And for thy pleasure; much better, as in the Revised Version, and because of thy will (διὰ τὸ θέλμα). When God willed it, the universe had no existence; again, when he willed it, the universe came into being. They are, and were created; or, they were, and were created (Revised Version). There are three variations in the reading of this passage:

(1) η΅σαν is read in א al40 fere Vulgate, Coptic, Syriac, Arethas, Primasius (in another version), anon-Augustine, Haymo;

(2) εἰσί is read in S, P, 1, 7, 35, 49, 79, 87, 91, et al. et Andreas;

(3) οὐκ η΅σαν is read in B, 14, 38, 51. "They were" signifies "they existed," whereas before they were not in existence; "and were created" points to the manner of coming into existence and the Person to whom this existence was due. If εἰσί be read, the meaning is the same. Οὐκ η΅σαν would simplify the sentence very much. It would then run: For thy pleasure, or, At thy will they were not existent, and again, at thy will they were created. But the weight of authority is against this reading.

Revelation 4:11O Lord (κύριε)

Read ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν our Lord and our God. So Rev. See on Matthew 21:3.

To receive (λαβεῖν)

Or perhaps, better, to take, since the glory, honor, and power are the absolute possession of the Almighty. See on John 3:32.


Instead of the thanks in the ascription of the living creatures. In the excess of gratitude, self is forgotten. Their thanksgiving is a tribute to the creative power which called them into being. Note the articles, "the glory," etc. (so Rev.), expressing the absoluteness and universality of these attributes. See on Revelation 1:6.

All things (τὰ πάντα)

With the article signifying the universe.

For thy pleasure (διὰ τὸ θέλημα σου)

Lit., because of thy will. So Rev. Alford justly remarks: "For thy pleasure of the A.V. introduces An element entirely strange to the context, and, however true in fact, most inappropriate here, where the ὅτι for renders a reason for the worthiness to take honor and glory and power."

They are (εἰσὶν)

Read ἦσαν they were. One of the great MSS., B, reads οὐκ ἦσαν they were not; i.e., they were created out of nothing. The were is not came into being, but simply they existed. See on John 1:3; see on John 7:34; see on John 8:58. Some explain, they existed in contrast with their previous non-existence; in which case it would seem that the order of the two clauses should have been reversed; besides which it is not John's habit to apply this verb to temporary and passing objects. Professor Milligan refers it to the eternal type existing in the divine mind before anything was created, and in conformity with which it was made when the moment of creation arrived. Compare Hebrews 8:5. "Was the heaven then or the world, whether called by this or any other more acceptable name - assuming the name, I am asking a question which has to be asked at the beginning of every inquiry - was the world, I say, always in existence and without beginning, or created and having a beginning? Created, I reply, being visible and tangible and having a body, and therefore sensible; and all sensible things which are apprehended by opinion and sense are in a process of creation and created. Now that which is created must of necessity be created by a cause. But how can we find out the father and maker of all this universe? And when we have found him, to speak of his nature to all men is impossible. Yet one more question has to be asked about him, which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made the world? - the pattern which is unchangeable, or that which is created? If the world be indeed fair and the artificer good, then, as is plain, he must have looked to that which is eternal. But if what cannot be said without blasphemy is true, then he looked to the created pattern. Every one will see that he must have looked to the eternal, for the world is the fairest of creations and he is the best of causes" (Plato, "Timaeus," 28, 29).

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