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Revelation 5:1

    Revelation 5:1 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back, close sealed with seven seals.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the high seat, a book with writing inside it and on the back, shut with seven stamps of wax.

    Webster's Revision

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back, close sealed with seven seals.

    World English Bible

    I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the back, close sealed with seven seals.

    Clarke's Commentary on Revelation 5:1

    A book written within and on the back side - That is, the book was full of solemn contents within, but it was sealed; and on the back side was a superscription indicating its contents. It was a labelled book, or one written on each side of the skin, which was not usual.

    Sealed with seven seals - As seven is a number of perfection, it may mean that the book was so sealed that the seals could neither be counterfeited nor broken; i.e., the matter of the book was so obscure and enigmatical and the work it enjoined and the facts it predicted so difficult and stupendous, that they could neither be known nor performed by human wisdom or power.

    Barnes' Notes on Revelation 5:1

    And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne - Of God, Revelation 4:3-4. His form is not described there, nor is there any intimation of it here except the mention of his." right hand." The book or roll seems to have been so held in his hand that John could see its shape, and see distinctly how it was written and sealed.

    A book - βιβλίον biblion This word is properly a diminutive of the word commonly rendered "book" (βίβλος biblos), and would strictly mean a small book, or a book of diminutive size - a tablet, or a letter (Liddell and Scott, Lexicon). It is used, however, to denote a book of any size - a roll, scroll, or volume; and is thus used:

    (a) to denote the Pentateuch, or the Mosaic law, Hebrews 9:19; Hebrews 10:7;

    (b) the book of life, Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 21:27;

    (c) epistles which were also rolled up, Revelation 1:11;

    (d) documents, as a bill of divorce, Matthew 19:7; Mark 10:4.

    When it is the express design to speak of a small book, another word is used (βιβλαρίδιον biblaridion), Revelation 10:2, Revelation 10:8-10. The book or roll referred to here was what contained the revelation in the subsequent chapters, to the end of the description of the opening of the seventh seal - for the communication that was to be made was all included in the seven seals; and to conceive of the size of the book, therefore, we are only to reflect on the amount of parchment that would naturally be written over by the communications here made. The form of the book was undoubtedly that of a scroll or roll; for that was the usual form of books among the ancients, and such a volume could be more easily sealed with a number of seals, in the manner here described, than a volume in the form in which books are made now. On the ancient form of books, see the notes on Luke 4:17. The engraving in Job 19, will furnish an additional illustration of their form.

    Written within and on the back side - Greek, "within and behind." It was customary to write only on one side of the paper or vellum, for the sake of convenience in reading the volume as it was unrolled. If, as sometimes was the case, the book was in the same form as books are now - of leaves bound together - then it was usual to write on beth sides of the leaf, as both sides of a page are printed now. But in the other form it was a very uncommon thing to write on both sides of the parchment, and was never done unless there was a scarcity of writing material; or unless there was an amount of matter beyond what was anticipated; or unless something had been omitted. It is not necessary to suppose that John saw both sides of the parchment as it was held in the hand of him that sat on the throne. That it was written on the back side he would naturally see, and, as the book was sealed, he would infer that it was written in the usual manner on the inside.

    Sealed with seven seals - On the ancient manner of sealing, see the notes on Matthew 27:66; compare the notes on Job 38:14. The fact that there were seven seals - an unusual number in fastening a volume - would naturally attract the attention of John, though it might not occur to him at once that there was anything significant in the number. It is not stated in what manner the seals were attached to the volume, but it is clear that they were so attached that each seal closed one part of the volume, and that when one was broken and the portion which that was designed to fasten was unrolled, a second would be come to, which it would be necessary to break in order to read the next portion. The outer seal would indeed bind the whole; but when that was broken it would not give access to the whole volume unless each successive seal were broken. May it not have been intended by this arrangement to suggest the idea that the whole future is unknown to us, and that the disclosure of any one portion, though necessary if the whole would be known, does not disclose all, but leaves seal after seal still unbroken, and that they are all to be broken one after another if we would know all? How these were arranged, John does not say. All that is necessary to be supposed is, that the seven seals were put successively upon the margin of the volume as it was rolled up, so that each opening would extend only as far as the next seal, when the unrolling would be arrested. Anyone, by rolling up a sheet of paper, could so fasten it with pins, or with a succession of seals, as to represent this with sufficient accuracy.