The New Song, Part 1

The New Song to Jesus as Redeemer — Revelation 5:8-10 

[Featured picture above from Paul Gustave Dore in Dante; public domain] 

vs. 8a And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb… .

Heavenly Worship

As we saw in the last post, Jesus has assumed the role of Mediatorial King. 

[We] will understand the meaning of [John’s] tears if we constantly bear in mind that in this beautiful vision the opening of the scroll by breaking the seals indicates the execution of God’s plan. When the scroll is opened and the seals are broken, then the universe is governed in the interest of the Church. Then, God’s glorious, redemptive purpose is being realized; His plan is being carried out and the contents of the scroll come to pass in the history of the universe. (see Hendriksen, p. 89, below). 

We will take note in this post of the impact these events have on believers in Asia Minor and from that we can make application to the church in the 21st Century. Believers in Asia Minor would have seen all the events in Revelation 5:8-10 as impacting their own life mission and church life. 

Review about the meaning of Symbols in Rev. 5:8a

The Four Living Creatures  are an order of angels at the highest station in heaven. They ever live to worship our Holy God! We may see in them a representative function also. “They represent that which is swiftest, wisest, strongest, and noblest in all of animate creation” (See Swete, p. 71; below). 

The Twenty-Four Elders too are an order of angels that surround the throne of God. The number calls to mind the courses of priests that served in the temple of Solomon on a rotating basis. Each course symbolized the whole. This angelic order speaks of 12 tribes plus the 12 Apostles to indicate the church of OT and NT. 

Asia Minor believers would have seen this as a testimony to the powerful ministry of angels in heaven on their behalf. Imperial trappings may surround us in our earthly lives, but God has forces more extensive and powerful we cannot see at present. 

I. We need to see clearly that the true worship of God is exhibited by the angels in heaven and not by the State and Civil Religion. 

Casting down of Images of Zeus in Rome

St. Aemilianus destroyed many pagan idols and temples. Here he is shown using ropes to pull down a pagan idol, while his followers are breaking them up with picks and axes.

Here, again, is “prostration in worship” that we saw before the throne the of God in chapter four. We are commanded to worship God alone in Deut. 5:7-9a.

7 “You [must] have no other gods before me. (literally, “before my face.”) 

8 “You [must] not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You [must] not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God. [ESV]

Notice that I translated the “you shall not” in the ESV as “you must not.” The strongest prohibition in Hebrew is the future tense negated. 

Life in God’s Cosmos is Lived Coram Deo 

Coram Deo

Image is from Coram Deo podcasts by Kyle J. Howard

John Calvin reminds us we all live our lives coram Deo — Latin for “before the face of God.” (see Sproul below). 

“Idols are, at the very best, only masks which man puts upon “the face” of God, insulting His dignity, and tending to conceal Him from our view.” (see Ellicott below). 

Idols — metal, rock, wooden, or mental images — are not a step toward God, but are set up in preference to the One God who made all things. At the end of the day, idolatry is not a step toward God, but is a step away from Him. 

In Rev. 5:8 the inhabitants of heaven worship the Lamb in front of the throne of God. This means that this act occurred with the consent of the One on the throne. It means that Jesus is God — the God-Man.

The worship is evoked by the implications of the Lamb taking the scroll. The plan of God for the entire universe is going forth and nothing can interfere with it until it is consummated. 

Kierkegaard reminds us of what goes on in Christian worship —


I would add this to Kierkegaard’s statement. The worship leaders and musicians are mere prompters, as well. We have to get away from thinking of worship as occurring on a stage for our benefit. 

Worship at Church; don’t expect entertainment! 

I had a doctor relate to me how he and his wife had left a church that preached sound doctrine and traditional music for a contemporary-oriented church. He recently had gone back to their former church for a funeral. He said how he missed the old hymns of the faith with all their sound theology!  He said he grew weary of stadium lighting and amplifiers that made the service into an entertainment. 

Don’t get me wrong. I like some contemporary hymns. They do not have to be made into an entertainment. One of my favorites is Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone.” (Sorry if there is an Ad prior to the music video; skip it as soon as you can!) 

See the following interview with Stuart Townend’s story of how he came to write “In Christ Alone“. 

More next time on Rev. 5:8-10



Gandhi. (n.d.). “Why Ghandi Didn’t Become a Christian.” Accessed 7 November 2019 from

Hendriksen, W. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sproul, R. C. (2017). “What Does coram Deo Mean?” From Tabletalk magazine. Accessed 7 Novmeber 2019 from 

Swete, H. B. (1917).The Apocalypse of St. John; the Greek text with introduction, notes and indices. New York, NY: Macmillan and Co. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Lamb, Part 2

Brief Review of Part 2 

We saw last time Christ, the apocalyptic, Warrior-Lamb of God, step forth and prepare to take the scroll from the hand of the Father. 

Rev. 5:6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

III. Our Lord pours forth the Holy Spirit upon his people who keeps watch over and empowers them during their earthly sojourn. 

The seven horns symbolize perfect strength. The seven eyes symbolize the Holy Spirit. Through the efficacy of the death and resurrection of the slain Lamb, the Spirit of God has been sent forth into the world.

The background to this figure is Zechariah 3 & 4. In these chapters, the eyes are pictured as the seven-fold Spirit of  God sent to gather information and to observe the progress on the temple. The occurrence here in Rev. 5 seems to point to the world-wide ministry of the Spirit as a result of the death of the Lamb. 

Scroll handed to Lamb

vs. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

IV. Our Lord assumes the Mediatorial Kingdom His Father has Given to Him as reward for His Suffering and Death. 

He came and took the scroll — John uses the perfect tense of lambanô (“to take” or “receive”) to indicate that the Lamb took and retained the scroll. The right hand is symbolic of the place of power and authority. No one could have taken anything out of the right hand of God unless he had the right and ability to do so. This adds to our appreciation of the true nature of the Lamb. He is indeed the second person of the Trinity.

Christ’s Office as King from the Westminster Shorter Catechism 

Q. 26. How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Two Distinctions from Fisher’s Catechism that help us understand Christ as King. 

Q. 26.18. What is [Christ’s] essential kingdom?

A. It is that absolute and supreme power, which he has over all the creatures in heaven and earth, essentially and naturally, as God equal with the Father, Psalm 103:19 — “His kingdom rules over all.”

Q. 26.19. What is [Christ’s] mediatorial kingdom?

A. It is that sovereign power and authority in and over the [entire cosmos for the church’s benefit], which is given him as Mediator, Ephesians 1:22 — And he put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church… .

Let’s picture Christ’s self-humbling and the Father’s subsequent exaltation of Christ as found in Philippians 2:5-11

Christ’s Self Humbling

Note this exaltation is not only in the future. It is true now! It was accomplished at the Ascension of our Lord. Hebrews 2:5-9. We do not see all subjected to Christ at present. However, we do see Christ crowned with glory and honor with the eye of faith. 

Two Days and the In-between Time

We live between two days. It is like our grandparents lived through the Day of Days (D-Day)  in WWII. For all intents and purposes, the war was lost by Axis Powers with that invasion. They didn’t accept it, however. Another day came Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day)! On this last day of the War, the enemy vacated the battle field and surrendered.

All the Evil One’s forces were defeated on Calvary when Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead. The enemy will finally be forced to vacate the battlefield and surrender at the second coming of Christ. We live between these two days.

Between Two Days

As a church under persecution, Christ would have us know He has already won the victory. The time between the two days is the mopping up operation.

Do not give up or lose heart! Or as John Paul II said to the Polish people during his visit under the Communist regime, “Be not afraid!” The communist regime soon fell and Poland was free once again. 

Christ reigns today! 

More next time on the sealed scroll. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Lamb, Part 1

Revelation 5:5-7 (Click on link to read all the verses at once.)

The context of these verses

We have already seen in verses 1-5 that Christ is the worthy executor of God’s decree for the judgment of His enemies for their evil and the redemption of His people from all their troubles. Now in verses 6-8, we are given a symbolic vision of God’s executor of His Last Will and Testament for his people and for the earth. 

5 And one of the elders said to me, … “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 

Liion of the Tribe of Judah

I. Our Lord is Lion-like in His work for His people. 

John expected to see a Lion because a Lion had been described by the elder. Instead he sees a Lamb. The Greek word is arnion. It is a diminutive form — a “little lamb,” or a “pet lamb”. He was looking for someone with Lion-like strength to come and to take the book and to execute the plan of God for the redemption of God’s people. But, this is no ordinary Lamb! This Lamb is a sacrificial Lamb. It still has the marks of sacrifice on it.

Wesley’s Great Hymn “ARISE, MY SOUL, ARISE!” 

Five bleeding wounds he bears
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers
They strongly plead for me:
Forgive him, O forgive they cry.
Forgive him, O Forgive they cry.
Nor let that ransomed sinner die.


A typical stained glass window in many churches depicting the Agnus Dei: the Lamb of God.

II. Our Lord gave Himself up as a sacrificial lamb for His people’s sins.

The Lord has not lost the signs of his passion in glory. He bears the scars as a continual reminder of his victory. His wounds do plead for us. John uses the perfect tense of sphazô (to slay) to indicate the past action with the present results.

Standing in the vicinity of the throne — mesos in Greek is often used to indicate “in the vicinity of” instead of “in the center

In Isaiah the lamb is pictured as a submissive creature who is led passively to the slaughter. In Jewish Apocalyptic, the lamb emerges as a Warrior-Lamb.  

Unfamiliar Apocalyptic Imagery made Clearer 

Jewish Apocalyptic imagery…represents the people of God as the flock of God out of which arises a deliverer who rescues them from their foes. He is a lamb because he is young. He has seven horns and so is strong and able to destroy the beasts which terrorize the flock. (see Beasley-Murray, p. 124-126; below). 

Rather than symbolizing innocent submission, the Lamb in Revelation is a ‘mystic, apocalyptic designation (or title) of the glorified Christ, enthroned with God and destined to be victorious over all the opposing forces in the universe, both human and demonic.’
(see Hastings, “Lamb of God,” p. 562; below)


Zurbarán Agnus Dei, Prado Museum, ca. 1635–1640

It is important to see the two images, that of a Lion and that of a lamb, as being two facets of one person — the Messiah. The Warrior-Lamb has conquered by assuming the 
role of the Passover-Lamb.

More on the sealed scroll next time. 


Beasley-Murray, G. R. (1981). New Century Bible on Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co. 

Hastings, J. (1901). s.v. “Lamb of God,” Hastings Dictionary of the Bible. (New York, NY: C. Scribner’s Sons. 

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Sealed Scroll

Revelation 5:1-5

Click on the reference above to read the whole passage. I will quote them as I explanint hem below. 

Context of the Chapter to the overall Section

This chapter is a part of the section which begins in 4:1 and ends in 8:1. The center of the scene in this chapter is the Lamb who takes the scroll from the One who sits on the throne. 

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 

Asia Minor believers in the first century would have seen the scroll in the hand of God the Father as presenting all of history within the decree of God the Father.

I. The Lord judges his and our enemies and redeems us as His people. 

The Greek word for “scroll” is biblion (from which we derive the English word “Bible”). However, it was not a book like we use for reading literature in the 21st century. It was a papyrus roll. 

Scrolls are fine for reading from front to back in one sitting; however, the benefit of the codex is that a desired passage can be easily found anywhere with the “book format” of the codex. 

What the Scroll Means


Most likely, the above photograph is the kind of scroll that John writes about in Revelation 5.

The scroll in Rev. 5 has been the subject of much inquiry on the part of the commentators down through the years. It is the book containing the sentence of judgment on the foes of the faith—e.g. Ezekiel 2: 9-10 records “words of lament and mourning and woe” concerning the future judgment of the world. Daniel 12:9 says the future prophecies are sealed until the time of the end. 

The scroll in Revelation 5 is a “Last Will and Testament” — Each witness would set his personal seal on the will and only the executor could open it. It is the testament of God concerning the promise of the inheritance of his future kingdom. It is the book of God’s purposes and providence in behalf of His people. (see Ellicott, below)

By using allusions to the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezekiel, John is saying these prophesies are beginning to be fulfilled. They will be completely fulfilled in the end at the return of Christ. 

God’s testament or will signifies that he rules the world for the benefit of his Church and all will result in God’s glory. In the right hand of the Father lies a scroll (cf. 6:14). It represents God’s eternal plan. His decree…is all-comprehensive.” (see Hendriksen, p. 89, below). 

We like first century believers should see God is Sovereign over all creation and His decree determines the circumstances in which we live. 


A depiction of Aeneas Carrying Anchises from Troy. He left all and carried his father on his back. His father carries the household gods who protect hearth and home. This is often cited as a picture of pietas — “duty”, “religious behavior”, “loyalty”, “devotion”, or “filial piety” (the English word “piety” derives from the Latin) — which was one of the chief virtues among the ancient Romans. (Aeneas flees burning Troy, Federico Barocci, 1598; Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy; WikiMedia Commons). 

Rome Claimed its Empire Benefited the Conquered — Imperial Propaganda 

The decrees of the Emperor are the ultimate and must be carried out by all people in the Empire. 

This passage from Virgil’s Aeneid is Imperial spin at its best—

“Others [that is, Greeks] shall hammer forth more delicately a breathing likeness out of bronze, coax living faces from the marble, plead causes with more skill, plot with their gauge the movements in the sky and tell the rising of the constellations.

“But you, Roman, must remember that you have to guide the nations by your authority, for this is to be your skill, to graft tradition onto peace, to spare those who submit, but to crush those who resist.”

Every statue, money, public building would have cried out to the citizens of Asia Minor — “Though you are Ephesian by birth, you are Roman by the grace of the gods!” 

The truth was less appealing. The Romans enriched the elite class and forced common people to labor to grow wheat to be shipped back to Rome. They gave the masses Roman baths, theaters, and temples. “Eat, drink. and make merry, for tomorrow we die!” The epicurean mantra was for the masses under Roman rule. 

The Sealed Scroll’s Significance for us 

It is indeed beneficial for those being persecuted to see One seated on the Throne of the Cosmos in control of all things for one’s benefit and His glory! God alone is worthy of our prayers in time of need. We do not look to government under the control of elitists today who do the same as their Roman counterparts in the days of John the Apostle. 

2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.

II. God’s people have the Risen, Ascended Christ as their champion to execute God’s degrees. 

The mention of these boundaries indicates that literally no one in the inhabited universe was worthy to open the scroll or to look upon its contents. He did not say that brute strength was enough. The requirement was moral fitness. 

4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

John knew the significance of the scroll and its importance to redeemed humanity. The earth is the rightful place of mankind. God’s will has always been for redeemed man to live on a redeemed earth. If no one can open the scroll, the redemption cannot take place. John senses this and begins weeping profusely. 

5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

In vs. 5 one of the elders commands him literally to “stop weeping.” He uses the negative particle plus the present imperative of klaiô to indicate that the weeping was in process and John was commanded to cease immediately.


“The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.” By referring these two titles to Jesus, the elder connects Jewish Messianic hopes to the Person and Work of Jesus. The image is taken from Gen. 49:9-10 — “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Note: the marginal reading = “until Shiloh comes”). 

root of david

The image of “the Root of David” is taken from Isaiah 11:1. The Messiah is said to be “a shoot from Jesse’s stem.” Jesus is said to have overcome (nikaô). This occurred at
Calvary. (cf. Col. 2:13-15) The result of Jesus’ overcoming is that he is worthy to open the
scroll and to look upon its contents. At last One has come to the fore who has the right, as well as the ability, to open the seven-sealed document. John has no reason to
continue his weeping any further.

More about Christ as God’s worthy executor and our champion next time. 


Ellicott, C. J. Ellicott’s Bible Commentary For English Readers, Volume 3 (Fort Collins, CO: Delmarva Publications.) Kindle Edition.

Faulkner, Neil. The Official Truth: Propaganda in the Roman Empire. Accessed 25 October 2019 from

Hendriksen, W. (1939). More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.) Kindle Edition.

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved