Beale comments, “The book in Revelation 5 concerns a predestined plan that is eschatological in nature, since its contents are revealed in chs. 6-22 and are summarized in 4:1 as ‘what must take place after these thing,’ a Danielic allusion indicating end time…It is explained that the historically conclusive work of Christ’s death and resurrection has begun to fulfill Daniel’s prophecies, so that now the seals have been removed” (Beale, Revelation, 342-47).
5:2) And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?"
Verse 2 asks the question that introduces the worthiness of Christ, who being incarnate deity is the only one who accomplishes God’s redemption and recreative plan for Adam, Israel and humanity as a whole.
5:3) But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.
Silence is the only response to the angel’s question in verse two. There is a gross inability among any of God’s creatures to execute His plan of redemption and judgment.
Apparently there is a three level cosmos consisting of, heaven, earth, and the underworld. John’s use of this expression is the same as saying nowhere in the entire universe was there anyone able to open the book.
5:4) I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
Until the scroll is opened God’s purpose is not yet accomplished. John is hoping that God will fulfill all of his prophecies in the OT and vindicate his name by punishing evil and by rewarding the righteous.
Where is the agent who will accomplish God’s work?
5:5) Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
These two designations for Christ come from Gen. 49:9-10 and Isa. 11:1, 10 respectively.
Because Christ has already begun to overcome the enemy based on the activity of the cross, he is worthy to open the scroll.
Christ is also pictured as the hope of all OT and NT promises. He has fulfilled them, and thus he is worthy.
Beale writes, “the basis and hope of the repeated exhortation to the churches to ‘overcome’ (nika,w) in chs. 2-3 is the fact that the Lamb has already ‘overcome’ the malevolent forces that threaten the church” (Beale, Revelation, 350).
5:6) Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.
The picture of Christ that we see is the same that is presented in the Gospels, it is of a messiah who conquers by means of the suffering servant language in the OT (Isa 53).
John calls Jesus the fulfillment of OT prophecy by giving him the title “lion of the tribe of Judah” and “root of David.” This Messianic reference is combined with two other OT allusions: The OT Passover Lamb (Ex 12; Jn 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:19; Col 2:15) and the suffering servant (Isa. 53:7ff). This combined picture is the history of salvation with all of its imagery and theological panorama.
He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Horns typically represent power in the OT and also in ancient Near Eastern texts (Deut. 33:17; 1 Kgs. 22:11; Ps. 89:17; Dan 7:7-8:24; 1 En. 90:6-12, 37). The lamb has “seven” horns and “seven” eyes; this probably signifies that he has complete strength and sovereignty (omniscience) cf. Zech 1:7-17. See also Zech 4:10 “These seven are the eyes of the Lord, which range throughout the earth.”
On omnipotence Storms writes, “A highly simplistic definition of ‘power’ would be that it is the ability to produce effects, or to accomplish what one wills. The Scriptures clearly affirm not only that God has such an ability but that he has it without limitations. Hence, we speak of God as being omnipotent , infinite in power” (Storms, Systematic theology Notes , 8). See also Psalm 135:6; Isa 14:27; 46:10; Job 42:1; Dan 4:35.
“ The slain Lamb thus represents the image of a conqueror who was mortally wounded while defeating an enemy. Christ’ death, the end-time sacrifice of the messianic Lamb, becomes interpreted as a sacrifice that not only redeems but also conquers” (Beale, Revelation, 351).
5:7) He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
In a similar manner, Dan 7:13 portrays a messianic figure approaching the throne of God. That God intended to give him the scroll is inferred from the fact that it is in his right hand.
According to Aune, the right hand had positive associations of success and good fortune, and the right hand was the acceptable hand for the act of giving and thanking.
5:8-10 The inner heavenly circle that praises the Lamb.
5:8) And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
The immediate result of the Lambs reception of the scroll is worship on the part of the inner heavenly circle of beings.
the prayers are not merely praise; however, they should also be associated with the appeal from the saints for divine judgment and vindication (see Rev 6:9-11 and 8:4ff).
5:9) And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Verses 9-10 illustrate the content of the “new song.” Beale would link this “new song” as an inaugurated element to the “new creation” (Beale, Revelation, 358).
This song puts Jesus on the same level as God. Notice that in the NT, the only being that does not turn away worship is God himself. Here, Jesus pictured as the Lamb of God receives worship.
The reason or basis by which the Lamb is “worthy” is that he was slain and that this purchased men for God.
Notice also the imagery of blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:7, 12, 14, 18, 22; 10:19; 13:12, 20).
God is not ethnocentric. He redeems some from every race.
5:10) You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
In the same way that Israel of the Old Covenant was chosen from all nations to be a “kingdom and priests” so also God has chosen men from every nation to be a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6; cf. Rev 1:5-6).
Just as blood purchased Israel from the domination of Pharaoh, so also the blood of Christ bought Christians from the domination of sin. The blood of Christ has freed us to serve a new master: Christ.
In what sense should we understand the verb, basileusousin “they will reign” in 5:10. There is a good degree of evidence that would support a present tense verb in this context. If this is the case then it would be a natural reading of the text in light of the context of 1:5-6 where it says that the saints are presently reigning.
The New Jerusalem Bible translates verse 10 in this manner. NJB Revelation 5:10 and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world.
With this being noted, verse 10 should be understood as an inaugurated reigning of the saints. The new creation and the priesthood of believers has already begun to break onto the scene of this fallen world.
5:11-12 The outer heavenly circle that praises the Lamb. Angels make up the next choir that praises the Lamb.
5:11) Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
Typically in Revelation songs or hymns interpret the content of the vision. The hymn that these angels sing is a further interpretation which is similar to that of vv. 9-10.
Both Beale and Aune contend that the phrase “thousands upon thousands” comes from Daniel 7:10. Here the Ancient of Days is said to be attended by thousands upon thousands (Beale, Revelation, 364 and Aune, Revelation, 363).
5:12) In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
It has been suggested that 1 Chron 29:11-12 is the OT background for this statement of praise. There “power”, “wealth”, “strength”, and “glory” are combined to praise the glory of God in a temple context. Also, “wisdom” could have been added to this list based upon Dan. 2:20. In Daniel wisdom is associated with an apocalyptic and divine kingdom.
5:13-14 The whole Cosmos praises both God and the Lamb. “ The destiny of the entire universe is here adumbrated. All things find their fulfillment and the true meaning of their being in a climax of service to God and revelation of his glory” (Poythress, The Returning King, 112)
5:13) Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
Christ’s death and resurrection made him worthy of all praise.
The outburst of praise that we see in the throne will ultimately be echoed at the final climax of all time. Eschatology will find its fulfillment in praise and glory to both Christ and God (cf. Phil 2:10-11; Col. 1:20).
5:14) The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.
The praise chorus ends with the living creatures affirming “let it be so” the truth of God and Christ’s glory. This is followed by a visible manifestation of worship. The word for worship (“ proskuneo” ) literally means to prostrate yourself before someone or to bow down and kiss someone’s feet. Here the elders worship in voice and in action.