Revelation 5:7
And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
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(7) And he came . . .—Better, And He came, and He has taken (omit the words “the book,” and supply) it (i.e., the roll) out of the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. There is a change of tense (“came,” “has taken”), which seems to be due to the rapt attention of the seer, whose narrative trembles with his own intensity of feeling. He wept awhile ago; now he need not weep. The Lamb conquered; He came; He has taken the roll. He is the wisdom of the Church; among all pre-eminent; all things will be reconciled in Him; the purpose and meaning of all life’s mysteries and sorrows will be made plain in Him. (Comp. 1Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:18.)

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 he came and took the book out of the right hand ... - As if it pertained to him by virtue of rank or office. There is a difficulty here, arising from the incongruity of what is said of a lamb, which it is not easy to solve. The difficulty is in conceiving how a lamb could take the book from the hand of Him who held it. To meet this several solutions have been proposed:

(1) Vitringa supposes that the Messiah appeared as a lamb only in some such sense as the four living beings Revelation 4:7 resembled a lion, a calf, and an eagle; that is, that they bore this resemblance only in respect to the head, while the body was that of a man. He thus supposes, that though in respect to the upper part the Saviour resembled a lamb, yet that to the front part of the body hands were attached by which he could take the book. But there are great difficulties in this supposition. Besides that nothing of this kind is intimated by John, it is contrary to every appearance of probability that the Redeemer would be represented as a monster. In his being represented as a lamb there is nothing that strikes the mind as inappropriate or unpleasant, for he is often spoken of in this manner, and the image is one that is agreeable to the mind. But all this beauty and fitness of representation is destroyed, if we think of him as having human hands proceeding from his breast or sides, or as blending the form of a man and an animal together. The representation of having an unusual number of horns and eyes does not strike us as being incongruous in the same sense; for though the number is increased, they are such as pertain properly to the animal to which they are attached.

(2) another supposition is that suggested by Prof. Stuart, that the form was changed, and a human form resumed when the Saviour advanced to take the book and open it. This would relieve the whole difficulty, and the only objection to it is, that John has not given any express notice of such a change in the form; and the only question can be whether it is right to suppose it in order to meet the difficulty in the case. In support of this it is said that all is symbol; that the Saviour is represented in the book in various forms; that as his appearing as a lamb was designed to represent in a striking manner the fact that he was slain, and that all that he did was based on the atonement, so there would be no impropriety in supposing that when an action was attributed to him he assumed the form in which that act would be naturally or is usually done. And as in taking a book from the hand of another it is wholly incongruous to think of its being done by a lamb, is it not most natural to suppose that the usual form in which the Saviour is represented as appearing would be resumed, and that he would appear again as a man?

But is it absolutely certain that he appeared in the form of a lamb at all? May not all that is meant be, that John saw him near the throne, and among the elders, and was struck at once with his appearance of meekness and innocence, and with the marks of his having been slain as a sacrifice, and spoke of him in strong figurative language as a lamb? And where his "seven horns" and "seven eyes" are spoken of, is it necessary to suppose that there was any real assumption of such horns and eyes? May not all that is meant be that John was struck with that in the appearance of the Redeemer of which these would be the appropriate symbols, and described him as if these had been visible? When John the Baptist saw the Lord Jesus on the banks of the Jordan, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" John 1:29, is it necessary to suppose that he actually appeared in the form of a lamb?

Do not all at once understand him as referring to traits in his character, and to the work which he was to accomplish, which made it proper to speak of him as a lamb? And why, therefore, may we not suppose that John in the Apocalypse designed to use language in the same way, and that he did not intend to present so incongruous a description as that of a lamb approaching a throne and taking a book from the hand of Him that sat on it, and a lamb, too, with many horns and eyes? If this supposition is correct, then all that is meant in this passage would be expressed in some such language as the following: "And I looked, and lo there was one in the midst of the space occupied by the throne, by the living creatures, and by the elders, who, in aspect, and in the emblems that represented his work on the earth, was spotless, meek, and innocent as a lamb; one with marks on his person which brought to remembrance the fact that he had been slain for the sins of the world, and yet one who had most striking symbols of power and intelligence, and who was therefore worthy to approach and take the book from the hand of Him that sat on the throne." It may do something to confirm this view to recollect that when we use the term "Lamb of God" how, as is often done in preaching and in prayer, it never suggests to the mind the idea of a lamb. We think of the Redeemer as resembling a lamb in his moral attributes and in his sacrifice, but never as to form. This supposition relieves the passage of all that is incongruous and unpleasant, and may be all that John meant.

7. The book lay on the open hand of Him that sat on the throne for any to take who was found worthy [Alford]. The Lamb takes it from the Father in token of formal investiture into His universal and everlasting dominion as Son of man. This introductory vision thus presents before us, in summary, the consummation to which all the events in the seals, trumpets, and vials converge, namely, the setting up of Christ's kingdom visibly. Prophecy ever hurries to the grand crisis or end, and dwells on intermediate events only in their typical relation to, and representation of, the end. This Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, having been slain, and having prevailed with his Father to open this book, mentioned Revelation 5:1, of all the secrets, counsels, and purposes of God relating to his church, he came and took it of his Father, in whose right hand it was, as Revelation 5:1.

From hence to the end of this chapter, are nothing but songs sang by the living creatures which John saw, and the twenty-four elders which he saw, and an innumerable company of angels, to the honour and glory of Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer of man, and the Head of the church, upon this taking of the book from the right hand of his Father.

And he came,.... He drew nigh to the throne of God, he engaged his heart to approach unto him, and came up even to his seat, which a mere creature, without a Mediator, cannot do:

and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne; See Gill on Revelation 5:1; it being given unto him, as in Revelation 1:1; and a commission and authority to open it, and make it manifest to others, and to accomplish the several events, in the several periods of time, it points unto.

{8} And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

(8) The fact of Christ the Mediator: that he comes to open it. That he opened it is first expressed Re 6:1.

Revelation 5:7. Καὶ ἦλθε καὶ εἴληφε. The perf. has,[1919] as also elsewhere among those later,[1920] the sense of the aor.,—which is the easier here because an aor. precedes.

The Lamb “took” it (the book) out of the hand of God offering it.[1921] Ebrard wishes to translate it “received,” because “the active taking does not suit the Son’s position with respect to the Father.” But while of course it is self-evident that no one, not even the Lamb, can take the book if God do not give it, yet the idea of the active taking on the part of the Lamb lies more in the course of the entire connection, as it presents the glory of the Lamb eminent above all creatures, and not the possible subordination of the same to God. The Lamb can take the book for the reason indicated already in Revelation 5:5,[1922] but in no way because of having meanwhile received from God permission which had been previously asked.[1923] To consider with Vitr. as to whether the Lamb also had hands, etc., is unnecessary and without point.

[1919] Cf. Revelation 8:5.

[1920] Winer, p. 255.

[1921] Cf. Revelation 5:1.

[1922] Cf. Revelation 5:9.

[1923] Ew. i.

Revelation 5:7. A realistic symbol of the idea conveyed in John 3:35; John 12:49, etc.

Verse 7. - And he came and took the book; or, and he came and he hath taken it. "Hath taken" is perfect (εἴληφε), while "came" is the aorist (η΅λθε). If the differ-once is intentionally significant, it renders the description somewhat more vivid. (For the consideration of the question how the Lamb could do this, see on ver. 6.) Wordsworth contrasts the spontaneous act of the Lamb in taking the book of his own accord as his right, with the call to St. John to take the little book (Revelation 10:8). Out of the right hand. The position of power and honour. He to whom all power was given in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28.) is the only One who can penetrate the mysteries and dispense the power of God's right hand. Of him that sat upon the throne; of him that sitteth. That is, the Triune God (see on Revelation 4:2). The Son in his human capacity, as indicated by his sacrificial form of the Lamb, can take and reveal the mysteries of the eternal Godhead in which he, as God, has part. Revelation 5:7Took (εἴληφεν)

Lit., hath taken. The perfect, alternating with the aorist, is graphic.

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