Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Revelation 4:2

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I was in the Spirit - Rapt up in an ecstasy.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And immediately I was in the Spirit - See the notes on Revelation 1:10. He does not affirm that he was caught up into heaven, nor does he say what impression was on his own mind, if any, as to the place where he was; but he was at once absorbed in the contemplation of the visions before him. He was doubtless still in Patmos, and these things were made to pass before his mind as a reality; that is, they appeared as real to him as if he saw them, and they were in fact a real symbolical representation of things occurring in heaven.

And, behold, a throne was set in heaven - That is, a throne was placed there. The first thing that arrested his attention was a throne. Tiffs was “in heaven” - an expression which proves that the scene of the vision was not the temple in Jerusalem, as some have supposed. There is no allusion to the temple, and no imagery drawn from the temple. Isaiah had his vision Isaiah 6:1-13 in the holy of holies of the temple; Ezekiel Ezekiel 1:1, by the river Chebar; but John looked directly into heaven, and saw the throne of God, and the encircling worshippers there.

And one sat on the throne - It is remarkable that John gives no description of him who sat on the throne, nor does he indicate who he was by name. Neither do Isaiah or Ezekiel attempt to describe the appearance of the Deity, nor are there any intimations of that appearance given from which a picture or an image could be formed. So much do their representations accord with what is demanded by correct taste; and so sedulously have they guarded against any encouragement of idolatry.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 385

Verse 2

In the Spirit. — Once before in this book we have had this expression; namely, in chapter 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,” where it was taken to express the fact that John had a vision upon the Sabbath, or Lord's day. If it there expressed the state of being in vision, it would denote the same thing here; and consequently the first vision ended with chapter 3, and a new one is here introduced. Nor is it any objection to this view that John, previous to this, as is learned from the first verse of this chapter, was in such a spiritual state as to be able to look up and see a door opened in heaven, and to hear a voice, like the mighty sound of a trumpet, calling him up to a nearer prospect of heavenly things. It is evident that there may be such states of ecstasy independent of vision, just as Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, could look up and see the heavens opened, and the Son of man on the right hand of God. To be in the Spirit denotes a still higher state of spiritual elevation. On what day this vision was given, we are not informed.DAR 385.2

Being again fully wrapped in heavenly vision, the first object which he beholds is a throne set in heaven, and the Divine Being seated thereon. The description of the appearance of this personage, clothed in the mingled colors of the jasper, frequently a purple, and the blood-red sardine stone, is such as at once to suggest to the mind a monarch vested with his royal robes. And round about the throne there was a rainbow, both adding to the grandeur of the scene, and reminding us that though he who sits upon the throne is an almighty and absolute ruler, he is nevertheless the covenant-keeping God.DAR 385.3

The Four and Twenty Elders. — The question once proposed to John concerning a certain company, has frequently arisen concerning these four and twenty elders: “Who are these? and whence came they?” It will be observed that they are clothed in white raiment, and have on their heads crowns of gold, which are tokens both of a conflict completed and a victory gained. From this we conclude that they were once participants in the Christian warfare, once trod, in common with all saints, this earthly pilgrimage, but have overcome; and for some good purpose, in advance of the great multitude of the redeemed, are wearing their victor crowns in the heavenly world. Indeed, they plainly tell us as much as this in the song of praise which they, in connection with the four living beings, ascribe to the Lamb, in the 9th verse of the following chapter: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” This song is sung before any of the events in the prophecy of the seven seals transpire; for it is sung to set forth the worthiness of the Lamb to take the book and to open the seals, on the ground of what he had already accomplished, which was their redemption. It is not, therefore, thrown in here by anticipation, having its application in the future; but it expresses an absolute and finished fact in the history of those who sung it. These, then, were a class of redeemed persons, — redeemed from this earth, redeemed as all others must be redeemed, by the precious blood of Christ.DAR 386.1

Do we in any other place read of such a class of redeemed ones? — We think Paul refers to the same company when he writes to the Ephesians thus: “Wherefore he saith, When he [Christ] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” The marginal reading is, he led a “multitude of captives.” Ephesians 4:8. Going back to the events that occurred in connection with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, we read, “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:52, 53. Thus the answer to our question comes back, gathered unmistakably from the sacred page. These are some of those who came out of their graves at the resurrection of Christ, and who were numbered with the illustrious multitude which he led up from the captivity of Death's dark domain when he ascended in triumph on high. Matthew records their resurrection, Paul their ascension, and John beholds them in heaven, performing the sacred duties which they were raised up to accomplish.DAR 386.2

In this view we are not alone. Wesley speaks as follows concerning the four and twenty elders: “Clothed in white raiment.] This, and their golden crowns, show that they had already finished their course, and taken their places among the citizens of heaven. They are never termed souls, and hence it is probable that they had glorified bodies already. Compare Matthew 27:52.”DAR 387.1

The particular attention of the reader is asked to the fact that the four and twenty elders are said to be seated on thrones. Our translation, it is true, reads “seats;” but the Greek is ??????, “thrones;” and so the Revised Version reads: “And round about the throne were four and twenty thrones, and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting.” This passage, consequently, throws light on the expression found in Daniel 7:9, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down.” These are the same thrones; and, as has been shown in comments upon that passage, the meaning is not that the thrones were overturned, or cast down, in the ordinary sense of that expression, but placed, or established; and the figure is taken from the Eastern custom of casting down, or placing, mats or divans for distinguished guests to sit upon. These four and twenty elders (see on chapter 5) are supposed to be assistants of Christ in his mediatorial work in the sanctuary on high; and when the judgment scene described in Daniel 7:9 commenced in the most holy place, their seats, or thrones, would be set, or placed, there, according to the testimony of that passage.DAR 387.2

The Seven Lamps of Fire. — In these lamps of fire we have an appropriate antitype of the golden candlestick of the typical sanctuary, with its seven ever-burning lamps. This candlestick was placed, by divine direction, in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary. Exodus 25:31, 32, 37; 26:35; 27:20; etc. And now when John tells us that a door was opened in heaven, and in the apartment thus disclosed to view he sees the antitype of the candlestick of the earthly sanctuary, it is good proof that he is looking into the first apartment of the sanctuary above.DAR 388.1

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
After the Lord Jesus had instructed the apostle to write to the churches "the things that are," there was another vision. The apostle saw a throne set in heaven, an emblem of the universal dominion of Jehovah. He saw a glorious One upon the throne, not described by human features, so as to be represented by a likeness or image, but only by his surpassing brightness. These seem emblems of the excellence of the Divine nature, and of God's awful justice. The rainbow is a fit emblem of that covenant of promise which God has made with Christ, as the Head of the church, and with all his people in him. The prevailing colour was a pleasant green, showing the reviving and refreshing nature of the new covenant. Four-and-twenty seats around the throne, were filled with four-and-twenty elders, representing, probably, the whole church of God. Their sitting denotes honour, rest, and satisfaction; their sitting about the throne signifies nearness to God, the sight and enjoyment they have of him. They were clothed in white raiment; the imputed righteousness of the saints and their holiness: they had on their heads crowns of gold, signifying the glory they have with him. Lightnings and voices came from the throne; the awful declarations God makes to his church, of his sovereign will and pleasure. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne; the gifts, graces, and operations of the Spirit of God in the churches of Christ, dispensed according to the will and pleasure of Him who sits upon the throne. In the gospel church, the laver for purification is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, which cleanses from all sin. In this all must be washed, to be admitted into the gracious presence of God on earth, and his glorious presence in heaven. The apostle saw four living creatures, between the throne and the circle of the elders, standing between God and the people. These seem to signify the true ministers of the gospel, because of their place between God and the people. This also is shown by the description given, denoting wisdom, courage, diligence, and discretion, and the affections by which they mount up toward heaven.
Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 70.1

Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne ... and there was a rainbow round about the throne. Revelation 4:2, 3. AG 70.1

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 326.1

Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Revelation 4:2, 3. Mar 326.1

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 462.1

What to Do With Sorrow—Are you filled with sorrow today? Fasten your eyes on the Sun of righteousness. Do not try to adjust all the difficulties, but turn your face to the light, to the throne of God. What will you see there? The rainbow of the covenant, the living promise of God. Beneath it is the mercy seat, and whosoever avails himself of the provisions of mercy that have been made and appropriates the merits of the life and death of Christ has in the rainbow of the covenant a blessed assurance of acceptance with the Father as long as the throne of God endures. 2MCP 462.1

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