Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

3 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.

4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.

5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.

7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,

10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,


MEMORY VERSE: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. —Revelation 4:11


CENTRAL THOUGHT: John’s vision continues as a new scene unfolds—the throne of God and its surroundings. The elders and the living creatures round about the throne are symbolic of the redeemed of all ages and the ministry of both Old and New Testament dispensations.




Revelation 4:1 “After this”: after these things. “I looked”: I saw. “And behold, a door was opened in heaven”: “The angel with trumpet voice gave summons for him to ascend to heaven ‘in the spirit’ (or under the influence of the spirit of prophecy) to behold the events of the future, passing before him as a vast moving picture. This fact of John’s ascension to heaven to behold certain visions of the future (which begin properly with chapter 6) will serve to explain many allusions to things said to occur in heaven, merely signifying that John was in heaven when these things were revealed to him, although their fulfilment was intimately connected with the affairs of the church on earth, for whose benefit the Revelation was given and unto whom it was sent” (Revelation Explained).

Revelation 4:2 “A throne”: a symbol, not of God, but of His power and authority. “No symbol of God is given, for the reason that there is no analogous object that can be chosen as his representative” (Revelation Explained).

Revelation 4:3 “And he that sat upon was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone”: not symbolizing God, but “like” or describing his glory. Most likely the jasper stone refers to a diamond, as described also in Revelation 21:11 as “a stone most precious, clear as crystal.” The sardine stone was a brilliantly red gem. This would refer to kingly garments of a great Majesty upon his throne. “And there was a rainbow round about the throne”: “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” (Matthew Henry). “The rainbow on the cloud, to Noah and his descendants, constitutes the sure pledge of God’s covenant promise not to destroy the earth with another deluge; so, also, the bow surrounding the throne is a symbol of God’s covenant favor with his people eternally” (Revelation Explained).

Revelation 4:4 “Four and twenty seats”: thrones; for those twenty-four elders who represent all the redeemed; God’s people as “kings and priests” (chapter 5:10). Twenty-four is understood to be a number representing God’s people from the Old Testament, as literal Israel formed from twelve tribes; plus God’s people of the New Testament, spiritual Israel, formed under the ministry of the twelve apostles. Some have thought that the twenty-four- course priesthood arranged by David (II Chronicles 24:1-19) points to the spiritual priesthood of believers represented by these twenty four elders in John’s vision. “White raiment”: righteousness. “Crowns of gold”: power and authority.

Revelation 4:5 “Lightnings and thunderings and voices”: symbols of that righteous power which can show itself in judgment (Psalm 97:2) as in the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. This was also accompanied, as shown in verse one, by the trumpet-voice, as at Sinai. “Seven lamps of fire…which are the seven Spirits of God”: Also referred to in Revelation 3:1 and 5:6, this represents the seven-fold operation of the Spirit of God. “May there not be allusion to the covenant with Abraham, which was ratified by fire? Lamps, or torches, of fire went between the divided pieces of the heifer and the she-goat. If this be correct, the vision of this chapter reminds us that God is ever mindful of His covenant. The rainbow, the token of the covenant with Noah; the flaming torches, tokens of the covenant with Abraham; and the thunderings and lightnings, the tokens of the covenant at Sinai, are ever with Him” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

Revelation 4:6 “A sea of glass like unto crystal”: “a broad expanse spread out before the throne with a glassy or transparent appearance like crystal” (Revelation Explained). The actual Greek wording, “as it were a sea of glass,” is the same as in Revelation 15:2. This is similar to the description of the throne scene in Exodus 24:10 and again in Ezekiel 1:26-28. “Four beasts”: this Greek word is zoon, which means living beings, or living creatures; not therion, which is used for the word beast thirty-five times in Revelation, referring to a wild animal disposition. These creatures also represent the redeemed of all ages, as seen in their activity before the throne in the next chapter. They and the twenty-four elders fall down “before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.” They sing a new song, which contains praise to the worthy Lamb, who has made them “kings and priests” (Revelation 5:8-10).




After John’s initial vision of the glorified Christ, who gave him epistles to write to each of the seven churches of Asia, he saw, in a visionary way, an open door and heard a trumpet voice inviting him to “Come up.” Transported in the spirit (just as Ezekiel was brought “to Jerusalem” and saw, through a door in the temple, the things transpiring there), John witnessed through this open door the majestic throne and the worshippers about it.

Our lesson today focuses on the description of the throne area and introduces the elders and the living creatures. The next two lessons will zoom in on the four creatures and their meaning.

The twenty-four elders, described as sitting on twenty-four thrones “round about the throne” of God, were clothed in white raiment and crowned with gold crowns. Although both elders and beasts represent the blood-washed redeemed who sing praises around God’s throne, the twenty-four elders are separately designated from the four beasts, or living creatures. Their thrones and crowns indicate the power and authority given to them as God’s ministering servants, those among God’s people who serve by preaching the gospel throughout the earth, healing the sick and casting out devils. The close connection between the elders and four living creatures can be found in the twenty-four wings of the four creatures (six wings on each creature, verse 8), signifying how God calls from among the redeemed ones messengers who “fly” throughout the earth proclaiming the gospel message. The characteristics of the beasts, which we will study later, are thus applicable to both the laity and the ministry as well.

The lamps of fire which are also located “before the throne” portray such a beautiful picture of God and His church: the behind-the-literal-scenes, on-going, ever-refining, ever-renewing, never-ceasing illumination, inspiration, activity, worship, ministry, and power of the Spirit of God working with His people!

The sea of glass has been variously interpreted: some say it speaks of the laver that was in Solomon’s temple; some say baptism; others are sure it means the blood of Christ; still others maintain it represents the Holy Spirit. I believe the mention of it in Revelation 15:2 gives clues. There it is “mingled with fire,” while in this 4th chapter, lamps of fire are mentioned as co-occupying the place “before the throne.” Elsewhere in Scripture, God’s judgments are described as a “great deep” (Psalm 36:6), and as a “glass” (James 1:22-25). Its close connection to the throne and the rainbow “round about” it speaks of God’s Word, promises, covenants and laws upon which His throne is established. The saints triumphant over the beast and victorious through sufferings “stand” upon this sea. If we take the position, then, that this sea of glass represents God’s Word, mingled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that actually takes in His judgments, covenants, baptism, the blood, and the laver! We as redeemed saints of all nations and ages stand—are recognized, victorious, approved—on God’s Word because we believe it, trust in it, base our lives and convictions upon it, obey it, prove it true by our lives and proclaim it to the world.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



1. Jasper and Sardine Stone: What was described by these?

2. Rainbow: What does this symbolize?

3. Twenty-four Seats: To what do these refer?

4. Twenty-four Elders: Who do these represent?

5. Lamps of Fire: Explain the meaning of these.

6. The Sea of Glass: Discuss the precious truth portrayed by this symbol.




“We stand upon the sea of glass, that’s mingled with Jehovah’s fire;

Our robes are white, our feet as brass, We stand upon the foe’s empire.

We bow no more to gods of men, we shout the victory o’er the beast;

Yea, o’er his mark and o’er his name, we overcome through Jesus Christ.”


The song, “If You Would Be a Pillar” in our Evening Light book also comes clearly to mind when thinking about overcoming. The song highlights several important things we need to focus on.

1. “You must overcome the world.” How? “Die to fame and reputation; take the path that Jesus trod.”

2. “You must triumph over sin.” How? “Be cleansed from every evil through the Savior’s precious blood.”

3. “You must conquer in his name.” How? “Take the holy Bible way and live beneath the cleansing flood.”

“He that overcometh shall be clothed in white, And shall eat the hidden manna in the realms of light.

Reign on earth as king with Jesus in the Word we’re told, And in heaven shall forever walk the streets of gold.”

One day I was meditating on a message the Lord gave me: “Our concept of grace is measured by the size of our excuses.” For example, people say, “ I would overcome my weight problem but . . . I would testify more in church and at work but . . . I would be more spiritual if… I would be more patient if…I would be on time to church but…” and the list goes on and on.

It’s clear that people don’t overcome because they make too many excuses. May the Lord help us all to stop making excuses for ourselves and overcome the many thoughts, feelings, temptations, and wishes that can keep one held captive. Eating the hidden manna in the realms of light is a secret treasure reserved for those who overcome.

—Bro. James Bell