[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
The book was a scroll, sealed to prevent unauthorized access. John saw the seven seals, so they had to all be on the outside of the scroll. The events that occur with the breaking of the seals are not part of the scroll, they are the events that must take place before the opening the scroll. The scroll contains the judgment of God, also known as the wrath of God. The seals are not God’s wrath, but God will allow the events to occur.
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?
Three times in Revelation, John mentions a “strong angel” (5:2′ 10:1; and 18:21). Michael is described, in Daniel 10:21, as a strong angel, and Jude 1:9 calls Michael an archangel, so apparently this is one of the archangels.
The angel is not asking for a challenger, or if anyone knows someone worthy enough. The angels in heaven already know the answer to the question. No one, but God, is worthy to open the book. This is more of a proclamation that there is no one else worthy enough.
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
John was taken to heaven to see the things which would come to pass (Revelation 4:1), and now he feels that nothing will be revealed to him.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Only Jesus has the authority to break the seals and initiate the wrath of God. Three times John identifies Jesus as being the one worthy to open the seals. He calls Jesus the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Hosea 5:14), the Root of David (Revelation 22:16; Isaiah 11:1-10), and in the next verse, the Lamb (John 1:36). The two titles, used here, refer to the man/God attributes of Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 1:23).
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Jesus was called a lion and a conqueror, but John sees a lamb. Jesus defeated Satan through total submission to God the father. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb of God (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7).
Seven horns symbolize that Jesus has absolute power and authority. Seven eyes symbolize that He has absolute knowledge and wisdom (Zechariah 4:10).
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
It’s worth noting that no one else ever held the scroll. The scroll contains the wrath of God, and only God the father, and God the son, have authority to even hold it.
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The vials, or bowls, of prayers will be offered to God on the alter of incense in Revelation 8:2-6, just before the sounding of the seven trumpets. These bowls should not be confused with the seven bowls of wrath given to seven angels in Revelation, chapter 15.
The word saints literally means “holy ones”. It is used 13 times in Revelation, and always refers to followers of Christ, but may also include God-fearing Jews.
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19; Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 1:7).
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
The KJV uses the words “us, we”, but the original Greek clearly says “them, they”. It seems unlikely that the 24 elders are saints, but are probably angels. It also appears that the four living beings are singing this praise, and they are certainly not redeemed saints. We should also consider that they are referring to being made kings and priests, on earth during the millennium (Revelation 20:6; Daniel 7:27), which would not apply to the 24 elders regardless of their identity.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
My personal opinion is that one hundred million, and millions is not an exact count (see also- Daniel 7:10; Psalm 68:17).
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Chapter 6 will cover the opening of the first six seals. The scroll contains the wrath of God, and all seven seals must be broken before the wrath of God is poured out. The first four seals deal with laying the groundwork, and the giving of authority, for the Great Tribulation. The fifth seal contains most of the Great Tribulation. The sixth seal contains cosmic events that proclaim the coming of God’s wrath which will be released with the breaking of the seventh seal. Though Satan is given authority during much of this time, it is Jesus who opens the seals and who is in control.