The Book with Seven Seals

18 Jun
Seven Seals Scroll

from Google Images

John saw the One who sat upon the throne, and “in his right hand” was a scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals (Revelation 5:1). If we are to understand that the scroll was actually in the hand of the One sitting on the throne, the Greek word should have been en (G1722). However, instead the word is epi (G1909) and should be translated upon or at the right hand of the One sitting on the throne.[1] So, John doesn’t see a scroll in the right hand of the Father but, rather, sees a scroll, lying at the right side of the One sitting on the throne. This is significant, which we shall discover in later studies.

John describes the book as a scroll that is written within and without (i.e. on both sides), and it was sealed with seven seals. Some seem to believe this scroll “is a book of the destiny of mankind and God’s culmination of history,”[2] but, clearly this isn’t so. Rather this scroll is: “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show to his servants…” (Revelation 1:1). If not, then where do we find “the revelation of Jesus Christ” within this book? Within this scroll, we find Jesus revealed as the High Priest, the Prophet, and the Messiah (King of kings) and what he does, as he executes those divine offices. It is not so much a revelation of what happens to man, as it is a revelation of Jesus in the things he does.

I believe the significance of the scroll being written on both sides implies that nothing can be added to it (cf. Revelation 22:18; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). Jesus showed that, by adding to the word of God, the scribes and Pharisees made the word of God of no effect upon the lives of God’s people (Matthew 15:5-9). If this is the revelation of Jesus, which God gave him (Revelation 1:1), then no man has the right to add to the things written in this book. All of what we say about these things should express what the words and context say, not our own imaginations or traditions.

Moreover, the scene is probably supposed to contrast with the scene we see in Ezekiel 2:9-10 where the prophet was given a scroll to eat. It, too, was written on both sides, and it contained lamentations, mourning and woes. The point is, that Ezekiel was sent to a rebellious house (Ezekiel 2:8), but John was sent to the servants of Christ (Revelation 1:1). On the one hand Ezekiel was sent to a people who were not expected to listen and heed the word of God (Ezekiel 2:3-6). In contrast, a blessing was pronounced upon those who read and believed the prophecy John had written down (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:7).

Whether there were seven literal seals upon the scroll or not is difficult to say. The number seven, however is a sacred number, implying completeness. Therefore, the contents of the scroll were completely sealed. The prophets were told to seal up the prophecies they were given (Isaiah 8:16; Daniel 8:26; 12:4-9), and even they couldn’t understand what they wrote, because it was revealed to them that, technically, it wasn’t unto their generation that they preached. Rather, all that was written in the prophets was meant for the very generation, to which the Apostles were sent in the first century AD (cf. 1Peter 1:10-12).

The seven seals may only indicate that the book was completely sealed and no one would be able to understand its contents without further revelation. In previous chapters Jesus sent messages to the seven churches, but, really, there is only **one** church. The Lamb had seven eyes, but, in reality, the phrase simply means he sees all. His vision is complete. Of course, this is not to say there couldn’t have been seven literal seals upon the book, but such a thing isn’t necessarily so, and we are not to concentrate on the seals, themselves, but upon the fact that the book cannot be understood without Jesus revealing the contents (cf. Isaiah 29:10-12). While on the one hand those to whom the ancient prophets were sent were rebellious and the word of God remained sealed for them (Isaiah 29:13-14), it was not so for the servants of Christ (Revelation 1:1), for Jesus would remove the seals and let us understand the contents of the revelation that God gave his Son (Revelation 1:1; 5:5).


[1] See Robertson’s Word Pictures; also Thayer’s Greek Lexicon has epi: (1)  upon, on, at, by, before; (2)  of position, on, at, by, over, against; (3)  to, over, on, at, across, against. Agreement with this is found in other translations: ACV, ANT, EWWB-CB, Diaglott NT, ECB, HRB, Moffatt NT, Lamsa NT, LITV, MKJV, Murdock, WPNT, YLT.

[2] See Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible, Study Guide and Commentary (Revelation 5:1)

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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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