Exegetical look into Revelation 5:1-3

 

  • The right hand refers to God’s power, authority, and eminence.
  • Scroll represents a piece of papyrus or parchment that is usually bound or sewn together and rolled on a wood spindle. In order to read it, it was unrolled. (Codices in the second century—books—replaced this.) If it were an official legal document, as this was, it was tied and sealed with wax. This denotes the power and eminence of His Word. Here, it is depicted as a “Roman will” containing God’s covenant of the deed of creation and our redemption, and His promise and plan (Ex. 32:15; Psalm 2:8; Ezra 2:9-10. Dan. 12:4; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 10:2, 8-10). 
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  • Writing on both sides. This is called “opisthography.” Normally, only one side of the papyrus was written on, the side where the fibers of the papyrus paper line up horizontally. The “recto,” as it was called, was the smooth side designed for writing. The outside, the rough side was used for the title information and address and was called the “verso.” Here, the fibers were vertical and rough and were where the ties and seal were placed. 
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  • Sealed with seven seals meant it was a sealed, legal document so it could not be tampered with. It was impossible to open such a scroll without it showing that it was tampered or tainted with and thus altered. Each seal was a separate witness; the more seals, the greater its relevance and importance, although it was common in Roman wills to have seven seals. Seven, in Jewish writings, was a number meaning completeness and perfect. This image gives us the impression of absolute holiness (Isaiah 29:11; Dan. 12:4). 
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  • Mighty angel infers that a summons goes out of God’s plan, that all may hear (Rev. 18:21). 
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  • Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll meant who has done as Christ has done for us? Who can take His place, His eminence, or His significance? The application is the question of whether money, power, career, success, or failure can take Christ’s place. The answer is, nothing can! The ultimate power is that Christ saved us; His unsealing of the scroll means He accomplished God’s purpose. 
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  • No one, no being in all creation is worthy. The image of Christ opening the scroll means His plan and promise have been accomplished (Ex. 20:4; Phil. 2:10). 
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  • No one in heaven or on earth could open the scroll or even look inside is a colloquial phrase expressing the centrality of “no one,” “no where,” or “no place.” This passage does not teach a threefold division of the universe as some speculate.
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