Revelation 5:2
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And I saw a strong (better, mighty) angel proclaiming with (or, in) a loud voice, Who is worthy . . .—We must not let the word “worthy” pass as though it were simply equivalent to “strong enough.” It seems to imply moral fitness (comp. Romans 1:4), which is the true strength in the heavenly world. It was not lack of intellectual capacity so much as the taint of moral unworthiness which hindered the reading of the book. This is in harmony with what we have noticed before. “To commune with God, there is need of no subtle thought, no foreign tongue, no newest philosophy: ‘ the pure in heart shall see Him:’ and Fox and Bunyan can more truly make Him known than ‘masters of sentences’ and ‘ angelic doctors.’” Those who are willing to do God’s will know of God’s doctrine. This thought corresponds, too, with the stress which is laid (in Revelation 5:5) on the victory of Christ. It is not simply as divine Son of God, but also as victorious Saviour and King of His people, that He opens the book: His worthiness has been established in conflict and temptation (John 14:30; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 4:15).

Revelation 5:2-3. And I saw a strong angel, &c. — I beheld in my vision an angel of chief power, as attendant upon the heavenly court, making proclamation, with a strong audible voice, to every creature; a proclamation too great for a man to make, and yet not becoming the Lamb himself, and therefore made by an angel, and one of uncommon eminence. Who is worthy to open the book, &c. — Is any being able and fit to reveal and make known the counsels of God registered in this book, and to bring them into execution? And no man — Greek, ουδεις, no one, no creature; no, not the Virgin Mary herself; in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth — That is, none in the universe; for these are the three great regions into which the whole creation is divided; was able to open the book — To declare the counsels of God; neither to look thereon — So as to understand any part of it.5:1-7 The apostle saw in the hand of Him that sat upon the throne, a roll of parchments in the form usual in those times, and sealed with seven seals. This represented the secret purposes of God about to be revealed. The designs and methods of Divine Providence, toward the church and the world, are stated, fixed, and made a matter of record. The counsels of God are altogether hidden from the eye and understanding of the creature. The several parts are not unsealed and opened at once, but after each other, till the whole mystery of God's counsel and conduct is finished in the world. The creatures cannot open it, nor read it; the Lord only can do so. Those who see most of God, are most desirous to see more; and those who have seen his glory, desire to know his will. But even good men may be too eager and hasty to look into the mysteries of the Divine conduct. Such desires, if not soon answered, turn to grief and sorrow. If John wept much because he could not look into the book of God's decrees, what reason have many to shed floods of tears for their ignorance of the gospel of Christ! of that on which everlasting salvation depends! We need not weep that we cannot foresee future events respecting ourselves in this world; the eager expectation of future prospects, or the foresight of future calamities, would alike unfit us for present duties and conflicts, or render our prosperous days distressing. Yet we may desire to learn, from the promises and prophecies of Scripture, what will be the final event to believers and to the church; and the Incarnate Son has prevailed, that we should learn all that we need to know. Christ stands as Mediator between God and both ministers and people. He is called a Lion, but he appears as a Lamb slain. He appears with the marks of his sufferings, to show that he pleads for us in heaven, in virtue of his satisfaction. He appears as a Lamb, having seven horns and seven eyes; perfect power to execute all the will of God, and perfect wisdom to understand it, and to do it in the most effectual manner. The Father put the book of his eternal counsels into the hand of Christ, and Christ readily and gladly took it into his hand; for he delights to make known the will of his Father; and the Holy Spirit is given by him to reveal the truth and will of God.And I saw a strong angel - An angel endowed with great strength, as if such strength was necessary to enable him to give utterance to the loud voice of the inquiry. "Homer represents his heralds as powerful, robust men, in order consistently to attribute to them deep-toned and powerful voices" (Prof. Stuart). The inquiry to be made was one of vast importance; it was to be made of all in heaven, all on the earth, and all under the earth, and hence an angel is introduced so mighty that his voice could be heard in all those distant worlds.

Proclaiming with a loud voice - That is, as a herald or crier. He is rather introduced here as appointed to this office than as self-moved. The design undoubtedly is to impress the mind with a sense of the importance of the disclosures about to be made, and at the same time with a sense of the impossibility of penetrating the future by any created power. That one of the highest angels should make such a proclamation would sufficiently show its importance; that such an one, by the mere act of making such a proclamation, should practically confess his own inability, and consequently the inability of all of similar rank, to make the disclosures, would show that the revelations of the future were beyond mere created power.

Who is worthy to open the book, ... - That is, who is "worthy" in the sense of having a rank so exalted, and attributes so comprehensive, as to authorize and enable him to do it. In other words, who has the requisite endowments of all kinds to enable him to do it? It would require moral qualities of an exalted character to justify him in approaching the seat of the holy God, to take the book from his hands; it would require an ability beyond that of any created being to penetrate the future, and disclose the meaning of the symbols which were employed. The fact that the book was held in the hand of him that was on the throne, and sealed in this manner, was in itself a sufficient proof that it was not his purpose to make the disclosure directly, and the natural inquiry arose whether there was anyone in the wide universe who, by rank, or character, or office, would be empowered to open the mysterious volume.

2. strong—(Ps 103:20). His voice penetrated heaven, earth, and Hades (Re 10:1-3). There were no weak angels, but possibly this angel might, in appearance to John, look as if he were stronger than others; or rather, so judged from the great and

loud voice he used.

Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? Not that he thought any was able, or worthy. We can only conclude from hence the impotency of men to search, and find out, and expound the deep things of God, and consequently the unlawfulness of too narrow a prying into his secret mysteries. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,.... This was not the uncreated angel, Jesus Christ; for he is after spoken of as the lion of the tribe of Judah, and as the Lamb in the midst of the throne, but a created one; though who he was, whether Gabriel, as some say, because his name signifies the strong or mighty One of God, is not material to be known; angels are said to be mighty, and to excel in strength: this is called so here, chiefly with respect to his voice, which he, by reason of his great strength, exerted so loudly, as to be heard by all the creatures in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth however, this was not John the Baptist, but if a minister of the Gospel, rather some one since, making the following proclamation:

who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? suggesting, that if there was any such person, that he was desired to come, and do it; and it seems, that he must not only be one of power and ability, but of dignity and authority, a person of greatness and worth, from whence his ability arises; as he ought to be that can engage his heart to draw nigh to God, and take a book out of his right hand, this mysterious book of the Revelation, as it was indeed while sealed; and open and explain it to others, unseal it or exhibit it, as it afterwards was in the following scenes and visions, and gave a view of all that is contained in it; and not only so, but fulfil and accomplish all the prophecies in it; and who can, or is worthy to do all this, but he that sits at the right hand of God, and who is God as well as man? and this proclamation was made to stir up an earnest desire in John, and all the saints he represents, to know what was in this book; and to show the impotence of all creatures to make any discovery of it; and to illustrate, and set off with a greater foil, the glory, excellency, ability, and worth of Jesus Christ. There seems to be an allusion to the president of the temple calling to the priests under him, to attend to the several parts of service assigned them, saying unto them, , "whosoever is worthy, let him" do so and so (c).

(c) Misna Tamid, c. 1. sect. 4. & c. 5. sect. 4. 5.

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 5:2 sqq. ἰσχυρὸν. The adjective[1860] is by no means without meaning;[1861] but does not, however, designate an angel of higher rank,[1862] having reference to the κηρύσσ. ἐν φωνῇ μεγὰλῃ, as Revelation 10:1; Revelation 10:3. The angel must have great power, because with his call he is to penetrate all regions of the creation.[1863]

ἄξιος. As John 1:27, where, however, not the inf., but ἵνα, follows. Cf. also ἰκανός, Matthew 8:8. The “worthiness” is the inner, ethical presupposition of the “being able,” Revelation 5:3.

ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον καὶ λῦσαι τὰς σφραγ. αὐτ. A hysteron proteron.[1864]

ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς, Revelation 5:3. Incorrectly, Grot.: “In the sea.” It designates[1865] the entire sphere of creation, according to its three great regions.[1866] By ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς is meant[1867] Hades,[1868] as the place, not of demons,[1869] to think of which here is very strange, but of departed souls.

βλέπειν is not “by reading to understand,”[1870] but designates the seeing, following the opening of the book, therefore the looking in, the reading, of the same.[1871]

[1860] Cf. Psalm 103:20.

[1861] “A mere ornamental epithet,” Eichh.

[1862] C. a Lap., Züll., Stern; cf. also De Wette. N. de Lyra Gabriel.

[1863] Vitr., Beng., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Ew. ii.

[1864] De Wette.

[1865] Cf. Revelation 5:13; Php 2:10.

[1866] Beng.

[1867] Otherwise than Exodus 20:4.

[1868] Ebrard.

[1869] Cf. Vitr.

[1870] Bretschneider.

[1871] Ew., De Wette, etc.Revelation 5:2. The καὶ after ἀνοῖξαι is either epexegetic or the mark of a hysteron proteron (cf. the awkward οὔτε βλέπειν of 3–4, unless look here means to look into the contents). The cry is a challenge rather than an appeal.Revelation 5:2. Ἰσχυρὸν, strong) Psalm 103:20.Verse 2. - And I saw (see on ver. 1). A strong angel; ἰσχυρόν, rendered "mighty" in Revelation 10:1. Possibly, as De Wette and others think, so called because of higher rank - De Lyra says Gabriel; but probably on account of the great voice, which sounded "as a lion roareth" (Revelation 10:3). Proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? with a great voice. "Worthy" is ἄξιος, fit morally, as in John 1:27. Strong

Either as being of higher rank, or with reference to the great voice.

Worthy (ἄξιος)

As in John 1:27. Morally entitled.

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