Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parallels Between Revelation 4 & 5

I've recently preached on Revelation 5 at my Church in Brisbane (Acacia Ridge Presbyterian Church). In my thinking it is crucial to see how Revelation 4 & 5 go together. In terms of the high christology of Revelation, we can observe the parallels between the praise ascribed to God in Revelation 4 and that ascribed to Christ in Revelation 5. Charles Talbert (Apocalypse, 26-27) notes the parallelism between the two chapters:

God's glory (4.2b-8a) - Lamb's glory (5.4-7)
Worship of God (4.8b-11) - Worship if the Lamb (5.8-12)
First hymn (4.8b) - First hymn (5.9-10)
Narrative (4.9-10) - Narrative (5.11-12a)
Second hymn (4.11) - Second hymn (5.12b)


pennoyer said...

Nice - another way the rather explicit high Christology in Revelation shows through. And did you notice that the "throne" of God, which forms the setting of these two chapters, converges and becomes "the throne of God and of the Lamb" in Revelation 22:1-3 (cf. Rev 7:10). For a non-Trinitarian, all this must be horrifying. But for those of us who believe the Jesus was the God-man who was voluntarily slain for our redemption, it is glorious indeed.

Jason B. Hood said...

There are connections beyond 4-5 as well, i.e., seven traits in 5:12 for the Lamb and seven traits for God in 7:12.
Michael what do you think of Talbert's commentary on Apoc?

Victor said...

Revelation 4-5 is one great theophany that draws from several Old Testament images. There is an interesting correlation between the thematic flow from chapter 4 to chapter 5 and the canonical sequence of the OT Prophets.

Revelation 4 draws primarily from the vision of God's chariot in Ezekiel 4. Note the parallels:

Heavens are "opened"
God's Throne in sight like precious jewels
A rainbow around God's Throne
Light and brightness
Four living creatures
"Full of eyes" phrase
Circular forms (wheels within wheels in Ezekiel and several mentions to elements "around" God (Gk. kuklos, cycle).

Just like Revelation 4 strongly echoes Ezekiel, Revelation 5 strikingly reflects Daniel's vision in chapter 7. There are several connections, like those above and others like the Messianic figure who approaches God's Throne and the unique phrases "ten thousand times ten thousand" and "thousand thousands". (See more at

Just like Daniel follows Ezekiel in the book order, the motifs in Revelation 5 (which draws mostly from Daniel) follow the themes in Revelation 4 (which draws mostly from Ezekiel).

But there's more: just like the chapters in Revelation that describe the theophany are numerated as 4 and 5, Ezekiel and Daniel are respectively the fourth and fifth book of the Prophets according to the canonical sequence!

Note also that the Number 4 itself features prominently in Ezekiel's theophany. And the kingdom of the Son of Man and the saints in Daniel is the fifth (!) kingdom in sequence that succeeds the four beastly kingdoms previously described.

Talk about self-reflection! The structure of Scripture is saturated with this phenomenon.

sujomo said...

I think Beasley-Murray said that chs 4 & 5 are the heart of the book of Revelation.

Michael Barber said...

Great stuff. Here's a follow-up:

Michael J. Gorman said...

I have a table of the parallels between 4 and 5 and a long discussion (a full chapter) on their significance in my Reading Revelation Responsibly.