Revelation 4:1-11 Part 1

1)     After these I looked and, lo, a door having been opened in the heaven and the sound, the first that I heard as a trumpet speaking to me, saying “come up here and I will show you what is necessary to be done after these”.

2)     Immediately I did come in spirit and, lo, a throne set in the heaven, and upon the throne One sitting,

3)     and the One sitting like stone, jasper and sardonyx in appearance, and a rainbow round about the throne like emerald in appearance.

4)     And round about the throne twenty four thrones, and upon the thrones twenty four elders having been clothed in white garments, and upon their heads gold crowns.

5)     And from the throne coming forth lightnings and sounds and thunderings, and seven fiery lamps ablaze before the throne that are the seven spirits of God,

6)     and before the throne as glassy sea like crystal, and in midst of the throne and round about the throne four creatures being entirely of eyes front and back,

7)     and the first creature like unto a lion, and the second creature like unto a calf, and the third creature having the face as of man, and the fourth creature like unto a flying eagle,

8)     and the four creatures one by one of them having six wings each, being entirely of eyes around and within, and they have no pause saying “holy holy holy Kurios The God The Almighty, the Was and the Is and the Coming.

9)     And whenever the creatures will present glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One sitting on the throne, to the One living into the ages of the ages,

10)  the twenty four elders will prostrate themselves before the One sitting on the throne, and they will adore the One living into the ages of the ages, and they will cast their crowns before the throne, saying

11)  “worthy are You, the Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power; for You, You did create all, and by Your will they are and they were created”.


Let me just make a few comments regarding what we’re about to deal with here.  First, having read the Revelation previously in the king’s English, now it’s as if I had never read this before.  And I need to address the language for a minute.

The rules that have been established for the English language have developed over the last several hundred years.  And although many mutilate it, the grammar remains quite intact and rather strict.  We have subjects and predicates and direct objects and indirect objects and prepositional phrases… and we can dissect a sentence to see whether it fits all of the rules; sentences can be terminated by periods or question marks and exclamation points, and then made into paragraphs according to orderly thought processes.

Great literature has great grammar and structure; and if one can’t write, then one lacks a primary skill.  Limitations abound for anyone who can’t communicate in proper English (no matter what text messaging has done to us).

Well, the apostle John never heard an English sentence.  He wrote what he saw and what he heard; and none of it was in English.  And trying to force what he wrote into a language structure that has developed over the last several centuries affects the grandeur and beauty of what was written (and special emphasis is placed on the word “force”).  And that language which has developed over the last centuries doesn’t easily grant immediate, clear access to what John saw and heard and wrote.  It just doesn’t fit those rules.

Now, I’m not attempting to degrade the King James version of the Bible.  It’s wonderful that there’s a reasonably faithful translation into the king’s English, and it’s been instrumental to the spreading of the Gospel to the West.  But, once again, it remains difficult to make Biblical language fit into that developed structure.  That’s why I like to give you the best translation that I can, and explain it.

Now, the difficulty in translating what John wrote, of course, is to retain the “sublime” while providing some semblance of structure for reading and understanding within the Biblical hermeneutic.  And the “dynamic equivalent” is not in view here (as it is in some newer translations).  The attempt is to get as close to what John saw and heard and wrote as we can, even though there is a distinct lack of English-language structure, as you can see, and as you can hear when it’s read. 

To “supply” articles and verbs and subjects and predicates where none appear in his text is to corrupt the text; and it debases what John saw and heard.  When that happens, the reader or hearer receives the Word of God in an English-language structure which diminishes, or, at least, modifies to some degree, what John wrote here in the Revelation.

That doesn’t mean that there’s anything at all wrong with the English language either.  There isn’t!  It’s incredible.  And one should always be taking his use of it to the next level.  However, imposing an English-language superstructure upon this Biblical text causes it to be read like a well-ordered English-language story!  And it just doesn’t work.  It diminishes the grandeur of this Revelation.  Enough of that for now.

Secondly, I want to say a couple of things regarding “time and space” issues… issues regarding created things.  Biblical anthropics (there’s a new term for you to remember), Biblical anthropics demands that the entirety of the creation, the cosmos, be understood as the location made for man-in-the-image-of-God… all of it.

In all of its parts it is for man (ultimately for God’s glory, of course, but it is for man-in-His-image).  And this “material” cosmos, in all of its various constituent factors, works together solely for the life of man-in-His-image!

Should one “factor” (always called “laws of nature” by scientists and even some theologians, or “laws of physics”, or “laws of chemistry”, or “laws of thermodynamics”, etc,) (should one “factor”) not be exactly what it is, then life wouldn’t exist.  It was all “made” specifically for the purpose of “life-in-the-image-of-God”.

And therefore all of those who summarily dismiss geocentricity as religious quackery are actually attacking the very environment that was made for their existence!  And even those who call six-day creationists “lunatics”, are, themselves, opposing the very reason that they have life.  They actually militate against their own life and being!

In Biblical anthropics there is created space, created time and created light and created matter – all made, and all working specifically for the purpose of the existence of man-in-the-image-of-God.  There is also a great diversity of creatures – all for man, and all created for God’s glory, for it is all in His “likeness”.

So we can rightly say that man-in-the-image-of-God, created on the earth and in the created cosmos, is the “center” of it all.  That is geocentricity – and all of it “folly” to those in rebellion against the knowledge of God.

All of what we just mentioned is stamped with the imprint of the One Who made it, for it all reflects the Person and surroundings of the One Sitting!  In other words, because of the Revelation of “the heaven” to John (and others) we can see something of the being and power and glory of God in all that He has made (and that’s why all mankind is responsible for knowing Him and acknowledging Him as creator and God).

From physics to chemistry to mathematics and all other branches of scientific study, we find out what God has made – and we study what God is holding together and causing to continue.  And we know that without one of those (what man calls) “laws of nature”, man could not exist.  That’s Biblical anthropics.

So, time and space and life are not tenuous in any way.  It is all held together and caused to continue in all of its complex nature by our God and Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom all things “hold together”. Otherwise the “accident” of annihilation at any moment could occur as easily as the “accident” of life-evolving-from-nothing.  Evolution is an accident waiting for its own termination!

Anyway, although a few other men have been caused to see, briefly, the Source and Origin of our geocentric anthropic cosmos, John was caused to see and hear – at length – not only “the heaven” itself, but also that which was happening, that which had happened, and that which was about to happen quickly, from the Origin Himself.  And the purpose of it was to write it all and send it to the Churches in order that they, too, might know these things.  The purpose, therefore, is the same as that which was revealed, more briefly, to the few before him.

John was shown – at the same time – things which had happened in the created cosmos, that which was happening in the created cosmos, and that which was quickly to take place in the created cosmos.  It is as if it all was happening before his very eyes and ears.

Unlimited by time and space and matter which He had made, God shows John “was, “is” and “coming”, in immediacy and in sequence, in order that he sees, hears and remembers what he is to write to the Churches.

John, on occasion, attempts to stop and write.  But the events, sights and sounds continue to occur before him and around him as the creatures that Almighty God has made to be in His Presence worship the One Who made them – some of whom speak to John directly from the mouth of the One Who they serve.

And what I would like for you to do is to attempt to erase from your minds (as much as is possible) the concepts by which all of us are limited.  Well, maybe “erase” isn’t the best word.  I’m not in any way suggesting a gnostic mysticism in which you “empty” your minds of all content – by no means!  We have before us the “content” of the word of God by which He is revealed.  This is an attempt to know it from God’s perspective.

For example, time is an anthropic necessity for man’s existence.  It was made for man.  So the entire cosmos operates within that necessary creation.  Therefore the thirty five (or so) years between the crucifixion of Jesus and the year John writes the Revelation is half a lifetime to us.  But John sees the Lamb Slain with his very own eyes.  The Judgment Seat/Throne of God is in no such thirty-five-year time limitation, you see.

Another example: we exist spacially, so we think of space in terms of distance and depth and height and width.  Spaciality is a created, cosmic, anthropic necessity for our very existence.  It is made and held in existence for us - for mankind. Otherwise we would not be.

But what John sees and hears… experiences… isn’t within this creation that is anthropically necessary for man’s existence.  So what John sees and hears is from the judgment seat of Almighty God.  And His creatures – some that are messengers, others for other purposes – these creatures exist of no anthropic necessity.  They are not “anthropos”- mankind-in-the-image-of-God.

But, as we’ve noted a number of times before, the creation of the nation of Israel, with its twelve tribes and multiple elders, and with the tabernacle in the center and all of the tabernacle objects, reflected the Judgment Seat of Almighty God in the heaven!  It was a man-made replica of what the apostle John now sees and hears in the heaven.  And there’s no doubt that, as John sees it all, he is immediately prompted to remember the full text of Scripture describing the tabernacle in the desert and the temple in Jerusalem.  It is all an analogic replica of all that John sees in the heaven and the very throne of Almighty God.

A third example (and I’ll quit.  There will be more as we go): Light is a cosmic anthropic necessity.  God made light in order for man-in-the-image-of-God to exist.  The quantum physics of energy and light and heat, in all of its intricacies, are perfectly made in order to provide man’s existence; and not one variation in this so-called “law of nature” (quote-unquote) could be possible and man exist.

So, as John sees with his own eyes and hears with his own ears that which is shown to him, it is all without the anthropic necessity of created light.  Created light, with all of its reflections and refractions and colors bears a correspondence to what John saw in the heaven.  It was created to correspond to what John saw in the heaven.  As with everything else created, light is analogical to what John saw and heard in the heaven.  The cosmos bears a likeness to what John saw.

There are more to come as I said, but these three examples are enough to get you started in conceiving the Being – existence – of Father, Son and Spirit, and His living creations attending His judgment seat, all without the limitations and requirements of the anthropically created cosmos.

It’s important that you’re able to conceive these things to some degree, because the text requires some comprehension from you with regard to the viewpoint from which God sees and comprehends.  It is a “given” that we can do that only to the extent that God has revealed it; but that doesn’t relieve us of the responsibility to comprehend that which He has revealed!  Since He has revealed much to us, then we can’t claim incomprehensibility with regard to that Revelation.

The text does, indeed, reveal the ubiquitous nature of God’s knowledge and comprehension; it also reveals the limited nature of our knowledge and comprehension, for the language is quite exalted and quite irregular as far as we’re concerned.  But, you see, the language, from God’s perspective, isn’t irregular.  It’s just exalted.

So, upon John’s seeing a “Lamb Slain”, for example, we mustn’t be perplexed by it, for a perplexed response to it means that you’re hearing the Revelation from your own perspective rather than from the “One Sitting”.  You may say “well, yeah!  This is where we are!”   But, you see, God’s perspective is being shown to you through John!  Therefore, for one being connected to the Christ by Holy Spirit, it is for you to be shown what “is”, what “was”, and “what is coming quickly”.  And it is for you to comprehend it from the perspective of the One showing it to you!  You have no right to impose your own concept from your own vantage point!

Now, one further point with regard to perspective, and we’ll get to the text.  There has emerged, in the last two or three centuries, especially in this country (others too, we could assume), an incomplete and even distorted apprehension of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  How the Christian community now conceives Him, and how He is revealed in Scripture, are radically different.  We’ve forgotten (instead of “remembering” as we should at the Lord’s table) (we’ve forgotten) how He is revealed in Scripture; and we’ve, instead, imposed a different concept of Him from that which has been shown to us.  And I’m fearful that the Church is impaling itself on the first two Commandments, because its understanding of the Christ begins with us rather than from the Word of God.

That’s enough of that, I think.  We can talk some more about it in the second hour if you like.  And we’ll be touching on it again… often I’m sure.  But let’s just ease our way into the text for the remainder of our time.

John writes, “After these….”  Our God and Savior Jesus Christ has appeared to John in all His glory; and He has given John messages to the seven Churches, to be incorporated into the whole of what John saw and heard.  And the “whole” was to be sent to the Churches – not only in western Asia Minor, but also circulated to all of Christ’s Churches.

But the words “after these” refers to the things that have just happened, that is the appearance to John and the seven messages to the Churches.  The phrase occurs again at the end of verse one as our Lord refers John once again to that which has just happened.

But after these, John “looked, and, lo, a door having been opened in the heaven….”  I’d like for you to note that the door, or the opening, was “in the heaven”.  It was not “into” the heaven.  Also, “a door having been opened” is a perfect passive participle; so the “opening” had been caused to occur in order that John could see “in” the heaven.  And, thirdly, the article is attached to the noun; and the noun, “heaven”, is singular.  Therefore, “lo, a door having been opened in the heaven”.

The “door” has been discussed previously, at length.  Our Lord said that He was the “David Key”; and having opened the door, no one could shut it.  And having shut it, no one could open it.  He, Himself, in our flesh, entered once into the holy of holies (in the heaven) to make atonement for sin.  No one can close that opening for His covenant people; and no one can open it to those who He has cut off from His covenant.  The shepherds of Israel had shut the door of the Kingdom to all of Israel, but the true Shepherd has entered the sheepfold once and for all; and His sheep are safe, having entered through that one opening, or gate, or door.

The apostle John looks and, lo, a door having been opened, and it’s obvious to me that the “door having been opened” is a direct reference to the one entrance into the holy of holies by a man – the God/man.

That was prophesied, by the way, by Ezekiel as he was made to see, through an “opening” in the heaven, many of these glorious things described for the Church by the apostle John.  Here is the King James text of the first few verses of Ezekiel chapter one:


1) Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

2) In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity,

3) The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

4) And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

5) Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures……

There are, as I said earlier, a few before John who were made to see through a door, or an opening, in the heaven.  But one more shall suffice.  Isaiah, after five chapters of frightening condemnation of Israel, says this – beginning chapter six:

1) In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2) Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3) And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4) And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5) Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.


As Isaiah looked at the opening in the heaven, he saw the same things that the apostle John saw.  He saw the “seraphim” – the creatures crying out “holy holy holy”.  He saw the “hosts” of the heaven, reflected in the “lights” that God made in His creation.  And he made the connection between what he saw in the heaven and what is made in our anthropic creation.

He saw the throne-room/judgment seat of the Lord of Hosts (as did the apostle John eight hundred years later).  And, as the apostle John was, Isaiah was immediately stricken by what he saw there.  And he was driven to confess his uncleanness.

And what he saw was a correspondence in the cosmos to everything revealed in the heaven… a “likeness” of every aspect of the created cosmos to everything he saw in the heaven.

Foremost was the One Sitting.  And around Him the host of the heaven.  And it was all reflected in the man-made Holy of Holies, the Holy Place, the courtyard, and the twelve tribes of Israel gathered around the tabernacle, and the cloud of creatures making incredible sounds, and the voice of Almighty God trumpeting.

And just outside the door in the tabernacle was the altar of whole burnt offering without which there was no entrance to the Presence of the Lord of Hosts.  The door to the holy of holies was closed to all except for one priest, once a year.

The apostle John also sees all of these things…. with one exception: the Lamb Slain.  There is no more altar of whole burnt offering.  And the door into the holy of holies is open.  All of those covered by the blood of the Lamb Slain are priests; to all else, the door is closed, and no one can open it, but to those washed in His blood, it’s open all the time – and no one can close it.

These are the things that we must see and recognize and comprehend as we come to the table of our Lord.  And we must remember them.  Surely it is a time of great celebration of our liberty and freedom in Him, for we are set free from the curse; and it is a time of remembering what John saw and what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.