St Bede the Venerable’s Commentary on Revelation 5:1-10
Posted by Dim Bulb on September 18, 2016
Rev 5:1 And I saw, in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book, written within and without, sealed with seven seals.
book. This vision represents the mysteries of holy Scripture, as laid open to us through the Incarnation of the Lord. And its concordant unity contains, so to say, the Old Testament without, and the New within.
seals. That is, it was either covered by all the fulness of the hidden mysteries, or written as a roll by the direction of the sevenfold Spirit.
Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book and to loose the seals thereof?
angel. He indicates the promulgation of the Law. For “manyl” prophets and wise men “desired to see the things which the Apostles saw;” and, “of this salvation,” as Peter saysm, “the prophets inquired diligently, and searched.” This is the book which is closed both to the learned and unlearned in Isaiahn, but of which even there the opening is thus announced, “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the booko.” And of this Ezekiel also saysp, “And I saw, and behold a hand was sent unto me, in which was the roll of a book, and He opened it before me, and it was written within and without;” when he also added that which John concealed, namely, that which was written in the book, saying, “And there was written therein lamentations, and a dirge, and woe.” For the whole course of the Old and New Testament forewarns, that sins are to be repented of, the kingdom of heaven to be sought, and the wailings of hell to be escaped.
Rev 5:3 And no man was able, neither in heaven nor on earth nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it.
able. Neither an angel, nor any one of the just, although delivered from the bond of the flesh, was able to reveal, nor to search into the mysteries of the divine law, nor to look into the book, that is, to contemplate the brightness of the grace of the New Testament, even as the children of Israel could not look upon the face of the lawgiver of the Old Testament, which contains the New.
Rev 5:4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it.
wept. He was grieved, as recognising the common misery of the human race.
Rev 5:5 And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not: behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Weep not. He is forbidden to weep, because even then had been fulfilled in the Passion of Christ the mystery which long lay hidden, when, as He yielded up His spirit, the veil of the temple was rent For to Him it is saidq, “Judah is a lion’s whelp: to the prey, my son, thou art gone up: resting, thou couchedst as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall raise him up?” He proceeds to describe how, and when, the Lion of the tribe of Judah prevailed.
Rev 5:6 And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing, as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.
a Lamb. The same Lord, Who is a Lamb in dying innocently, became also a Lion in boldly conquering death. Tichonius says that the Lamb is the Church, which has received all power in Christ.
seven. The sevenfold Spirit in Christ is compared with horns, because of the excellency of power; and with eyes, because of the illumination of grace.
Rev 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.
took. The Son of Man is said to have taken the book from the right hand of God, namely, the economy of the Incarnation, appointed by the Father and by Himself, in that He is God; because both dwell with the Holy Spirit upon the throne. For Christ, Who in His humanity is a Lamb, is also in His deity the right hand of the Father.
Rev 5:8 And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
opened. For that the Lord, by His Passion, proved that the announcements of both Testaments were fulfilled in Himself, the Church gives thanks, and offers herself to suffering, that, as the Apostle saysr, “She may fill up that which is wanting of the sufferings of Christ in her flesh.” For by “harps,” in which strings are stretched on wood, are represented bodies prepared to die, and by “bowlss” hearts expanded in breadth of love.
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book and to open the seals thereof: because thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation:
sang. They laud the sacraments of the New Testament, which are complete in Christ, while they extol with praise that same dispensation of it which they confess to belong to Christ alone.
redeemed. Here is further declared, that the living creatures and the elders are the Church, which is redeemed by the blood of Christ, and gathered out of the nations. For he shews in what heaven they are by saying, “And they shall reign upon the earth.”
Rev 5:10 And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.