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

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