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Revelation 4:2-11

Context
4:2 Immediately I was in the Spirit, 1  and 2  a throne was standing 3  in heaven with someone seated on it! 4:3 And the one seated on it was like jasper 4  and carnelian 5  in appearance, and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald 6  encircled the throne. 4:4 In 7  a circle around the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders. They were 8  dressed in white clothing and had golden crowns 9  on their heads. 4:5 From 10  the throne came out flashes of lightning and roaring 11  and crashes of thunder. Seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God, 12  were burning in front of the throne 4:6 and in front of the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal. 13 

In 14  the middle of the throne 15  and around the throne were four living creatures 16  full of eyes in front and in back. 4:7 The 17  first living creature was like a lion, the 18  second creature like an ox, the third creature had a face like a man’s, and the fourth creature looked like an eagle flying. 4:8 Each one of the four living creatures had six wings 19  and was full of eyes all around and inside. 20  They never rest day or night, saying: 21 

Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, 22 

Who was and who is, and who is still to come!”

4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, 23  and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground 24  before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns 25  before his 26  throne, saying:

4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

since you created all things,

and because of your will they existed and were created!” 27 

1 tn Or “in the spirit.” “Spirit” could refer either to the Holy Spirit or the human spirit, but in either case John was in “a state of spiritual exaltation best described as a trance” (R. H. Mounce, Revelation [NICNT], 75).

2 tn Grk “and behold.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) at the beginning of this statement has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).

3 tn BDAG 537 s.v. κεῖμαι 2 gives the translation “stand” for the term in this verse.

4 tn Grk “jasper stone.”

sn Jasper was a semiprecious gemstone, probably green in color (L&N 2.30).

5 sn Carnelian was a semiprecious gemstone, usually red in color (L&N 2.36).

6 tn Or “a rainbow emerald-like in appearance.”

7 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

8 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation by supplying the words “They were” to indicate the connection to the preceding material.

9 sn See the note on the word crown in Rev 3:11.

10 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

11 tn Or “sounds,” “voices.” It is not entirely clear what this refers to. BDAG 1071 s.v. φωνή 1 states, “In Rv we have ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταί (cp. Ex 19:16) 4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18 (are certain other sounds in nature thought of here in addition to thunder, as e.g. the roar of the storm?…).”

12 sn Some interpret the seven spirits of God as angelic beings, while others see them as a reference to the sevenfold ministry of the Holy Spirit.

13 tn This could refer to rock crystal, but it is possible this refers to ice (an older meaning). See BDAG 571 s.v. κρύσταλλος.

14 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

15 tn Perhaps, “in the middle of the throne area” (see L&N 83.10).

16 tn On the meaning of ζῴον (zwon) BDAG 431 s.v. 2 states, “Of the four peculiar beings at God’s throne, whose description Rv 4:6-9 reminds one of the ζῷα in Ezk 1:5ff, the cherubim. S. also Rv 5:6, 8, 11, 14; 6:1, 3, 5-7; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4.”

17 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

18 tn Both here and before the phrase “the third,” καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

19 tn Grk “six wings apiece,” but this is redundant with “each one” in English.

20 tn Some translations render ἔσωθεν (eswqen) as “under [its] wings,” but the description could also mean “filled all around on the outside and on the inside with eyes.” Since the referent is not available to the interpreter, the exact force is difficult to determine.

21 tn Or “They never stop saying day and night.”

22 tn On this word BDAG 755 s.v. παντοκράτωρ states, “the Almighty, All-Powerful, Omnipotent (One) only of God…() κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ π. …Rv 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 21:22.”

sn A quotation from (or an allusion to) Isa 6:3.

23 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

24 tn Grk “the twenty-four elders fall down.” BDAG 815 s.v. πίπτω 1.b.α.ב. has “fall down, throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion or humility, before high-ranking persons or divine beings.”

25 sn See the note on the word crown in Rev 3:11.

26 tn The pronoun “his” is understood from the demonstrative force of the article τοῦ (tou) before θρόνου (qronou).

27 tc The past tense of “they existed” (ἦσαν, hsan) and the order of the expression “they existed and were created” seems backwards both logically and chronologically. The text as it stands is the more difficult reading and seems to have given rise to codex A omitting the final “they were created,” 2329 replacing “they existed” (ἦσαν) with “have come into being” (ἐγένοντο, egeneto), and 046 adding οὐκ (ouk, “not”) before ἦσαν (“they did not exist, [but were created]”). Several mss (1854 2050 ÏA sa) also attempt to alleviate the problem by replacing ἦσαν with “they are” (εἰσιν, eisin).



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