The apostle John tells us about the first part of His vision of heaven.
4 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
11 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Commentary: 4:1. John saw the vision of the heavenly throne after he heard the revelation of the messages to the churches. The time sequence is indicated by the expression after this (meta tauta, in the nasb, “after these things”).
John saw a door . . . open in heaven and heard a voice inviting him, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. The words “what must take place after this” are similar to those in 1:19, “what will take place later.” Whereas 1:19 indicates that the events will take place later, in 4:1b the Greek word dei is used, which means that the events must occur. This points not only to the future but also to the sovereign purpose of God. The similarity of the two expressions confirms the threefold chronological outline given in 1:19. Both the revelation and its fulfillment are chronologically subsequent to chapters 1-3.
- the heavenly throne (4:2-3).
4:2-3. John stated that immediately he was in the Spirit (or “in [my] spirit”; cf. 1:10; 17:3) meaning that experientially he was taken up to heaven though his body was actually still on the island of Patmos. In heaven he saw a great throne with One sitting on it who had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. This jasper (cf. 21:18) is a clear stone in contrast to the opaque jasper stones known today; it may have resembled a diamond. The carnelian, also known as ruby (the niv trans. it “ruby” in the OT and sardius, were a ruby-red color. The jasper and the carnelian were the first and last of the 12 gemstones worn on the high priest’s breast (cf. Ex. 28:17-21). Jasper and sardius were used in relation to the king of Tyre (Ezek. 28:13) and will be in the foundation of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19-20). The throne’s overall appearance was one of great beauty and color, enhanced by a rainbow, resembling an emerald, which encircled the throne. The green color of the emerald added further beauty to the scene.
- the 24 elders (4:4).
4:4. Around the principal throne were 24 lesser thrones on which were seated . . . 24 elders. They were dressed in white and were wearing crowns of gold on their heads. The crowns were similar to those given victors in Greek games (stephanos), in contrast with the crown of a sovereign ruler (diadēma, “diadem”). The crowns seem to indicate that the elders had been judged and rewarded.
There has been much speculation on the identity of the elders. The two major views are (1) that they represent the church raptured prior to this time and rewarded in heaven, or (2) that they are angels who have been given large responsibilities. The number 24 is the number of representation, illustrated in the fact that in the Law of Moses there were 24 orders of the priesthood. (For further discussion of the identity of the 24 elders see the comments on 5:8-10.)
- The seven spirits of god (4:5).
4:5. The impressive scene of heaven was enhanced by flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder. Thunder is mentioned eight times in Revelation (4:5; 6:1; 8:5; 11:19; 14:2; 16:18; 19:6). John also saw seven lamps which were blazing. These seven lamps were said to be the seven spirits of God. These should be understood to represent the Holy Spirit rather than seven individual spirits or angels, with the concept of the sevenfold character of the Spirit (Isa. 11:2-3; cf. Rev. 1:4; 5:6). With God the Father seated on the throne and the Holy Spirit represented by the seven lamps, the stage was then set for the revelation (chap. 5) of Christ Himself as the slain Lamb.
- the four living creatures (4:6-8).
4:6-8. A sea of glass, clear as crystal, was before the throne and reflected all the brilliant colors of the entire heavenly scene (cf. 15:2). In the center of the picture four living creatures were compared to a lion . . . an ox . . . a man and a flying eagle. Each of the . . . creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around. They were said to be continually praising God as the holy . . . Almighty (pantokratōr; cf. 1:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22), and eternal One (who was, and is, and is to come; cf. 1:8; 11:17). This is the first of 14 doxologies in the Book of Revelation (see the chart).
Many interpretations have been given of the four living creatures. As the Holy Spirit was seen symbolically in the seven lamps, probably the four living creatures symbolically represent the attributes of God including His omniscience and omnipresence (indicated by the creatures being full of eyes)—with the four animals bringing out other attributes of God: the lion indicating majesty and omnipotence; the ox, typical of faithful labor and patience; man, indicating intelligence; and the eagle, the greatest bird, representing supreme sovereignty. Another possible view is that they represent Christ as revealed in the four Gospels: in Matthew, the lion of the tribe of Judah; in Mark, the ox as the servant of Yahweh; in Luke, the incarnate human Jesus; and in John, the eagle as the divine Son of God. Another alternative is that the four living creatures are angels (cf. Isa. 6:2-3), who extol the attributes of God.
- worship in heaven (4:9-11).
4:9-11. The worship by the four living creatures is attended by the 24 elders also worshiping the One on the throne and attributing to God glory and honor and power (cf. 5:12-13) and acknowledging that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (cf. John 1:3; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3; Rev. 10:6; 14:7). They lay their crowns before the throne in ascribing all glory to Him as the Sovereign.
You will find that if you show your love, honor and devotion to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, you will receive their love back in so many different ways now and for all of eternity.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about the “Throne Room of Heaven.” Please bless those who read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth and understanding.
May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,