Revelation 4:2-11

Revelation 4:2-11
A Women’s Lectionary 49


At onceA I wasB in the spirit,C and thereD

Notes on verse 2a

A “at once” = eutheos. From euthus (immediately, upright, straight and not crooked); {perhaps from eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + tithemi (to place, lay, set, establish)}. This is directly, soon, at once.
B “was” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
C “spirit” = pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breathe, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
D “there” = idou. From eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.

in heavenE stoodF a throne,G with one seatedH on the throne! 

Notes on verse 2b

E “heaven” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
F “stood” = keimai. This is to lie, recline, be set, appointed, destined. It is to lie down literally or figuratively.
G “throne” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne or seat – the place where the king sits. So, it is used figuratively to mean power, dominion, or a potentate. This is where the word “throne” comes from.
H “seated” = kathemai. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + hemai (to sit). This is to sit, be enthroned, or reside.

And the one seated there looksI likeJ jasperK and carnelian,L

Notes on verse 3a

I “looks” = horasis. 4x in NT. From horao (to see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience; to stare at, which implies clear discernment; by extension, attending to what was seen and learned; to see, often with a metaphorical sense, which can include inward spiritual seeing). This is gazing, appearance, sight.
J {untranslated} = lithos. This is stone in a literal or figurative sense.
K “jasper” = iaspis. 4x in NT– all in Revelation. Perhaps borrowed from Egyptian OR related to Hebrew yashepheh (jasper or some other gemstone; its root may mean to polish). This is jasper or some other gem. See
L “carnelian” = sardion. 2x in NT– both in Revelation. From sardeis (Sardis or Lydia); {from Lydian sfard (origin unknown)} + – ion (diminutive). This is a sardian stone, a carnelian. See

and aroundM the throne is a rainbowN that looks like an emerald.O 

Notes on verse 3b

M “around” = kuklothen. 3x in NT. From the same as kuklo (circle, ring, surrounding); from kuklos (circle, cycle); related to kulioo (to roll, wallow); from kulindo (to roll, roll along); from kuma (wave, billow, curve, bend); from kuo (to swell as one pregnant). This is round about, all around.
N “rainbow” = iris. 2x in NT – both in Revelation. Perhaps from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of); from Proto-Indo-European *weh₁i-ro- (thread, cord); from *weh₁i- (twist, weave). This is a rainbow or halo. It is where the word “iris” comes from.
O “emerald” = smaragdinos. 1x in NT. From smaragdos (an emerald or other green precious stone). This is related to emerald, made from emerald, or sharing its color.

Around the throne are twenty-fourP thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders,Q dressedR in whiteS robes,T

Notes on verse 4a

P “four” = tessares. This is four – used figuratively for total coverage.
Q “elders” = presbuteros. From presbus (old man). This is an elder as one of the Sanhedrin and also in the Christian assembly in the early church.
R “dressed” = periballo. From peri (about, concerning, all around, encompassing) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop). This is to thrown around, clothe, array, put on.
S “white” = leukos. Related to luke (light). This is bright, white, or brilliant.
T “robes” = himation. From heima (garment) OR from ennumi (to put on). This is the outer garment, cloak, robe, or mantle. It is worn loosely over a tunic.

with goldenU crownsV on their heads.W 

Notes on verse 4b

U “golden” = chrusous. 18x in NT. From chrusos (gold or something made of gold; symbolic of purchasing power); perhaps from chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request). This is related to gold, golden. It could be decorated with or made from gold.
V “crowns” = stephanos. 18x in NT. From stepho (to twine, encircle). This is something that surrounds i.e. a crown or garland. Properly, this refers to the wreath or garland that the winner of athletic games would win. It symbolized victory and honor from skill as contrasted with a royal crown, which is diadema in Greek. This is the word used for the crown that the saints in heaven wear in, for example, Revelation 4:4.
W “heads” = kephale. This is head or chief. It can be a literal head or, figuratively, a ruler or lord. It can also refer to a corner stone. This is where the word “cephalic” comes from.

ComingX from the throne are flashes of lightningY and rumblingsZ and peals of thunder,AA

Notes on verse 5a

X “coming” = ekporeuomai. From ek (from, from out of) + poreuomai (to go, travel, journey, die; refers to transporting things from one place to another; focuses on the personal significance of the destination); {from poros (passageway)}. This is to go forth, depart from, be spoken, flow out, project. This word emphasizes the result a process or passage – how it impacts the person or thing.
Y “flashes of lightning” = astrape. 9x in NT. From astrapto (to flash with or like lightning, be dazzling); probably from aster (star literally or figuratively); probably from stronnumi or stronnuo (to spread, make a bed). This is lightning, brightness, glare, or ray.
Z “rumblings” = phone. Probably from phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is a voice, sound, tone or noise. It can also be a language or dialect.
AA “peals of thunder” = bronte. 12x in NT. Related to bremo (to roar). This is thunder. It’s part of the root of brontosaurus, literally thunder lizard. This is also where the last name Brontё comes from.

and in front ofBB the throne burnCC sevenDD flamingEE torches,FF which areGG the seven spirits of God,HH 

Notes on verse 5b

BB “in front of” = enopios. Related to “looks” in v3. From en (in, on, at, by, with) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); from horao (see note I above)}. This is literally “in sight of.” It means before in a literal or figurative sense.
CC “burn” = kaio. 11x in NT. This is to kindle, light, blaze. It is light in a literal or figurative sense.
DD “seven” = hepta. This is seven or seventh. Figuratively, seven is the number of completeness or perfection.
EE “flaming” = pur. This is fire, lightning, heat from the sun. Figuratively, it can refer to strife or trials.
FF “torches” = lampas. 9x in NT. From lampo (to give light literally or figuratively). This is a torch or lantern that was hand held, perhaps made of clay with a flax wick and oil.
GG “are” = eimi. This is to be, exist.
HH “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.

and in front of the throne there is something like a seaII of glass,JJ like crystal.KK

AroundLL the throne, and on each sideMM of the throne, are four living creatures,NN

Notes on verse 6a

II “sea” = thalassa. Perhaps from hals (sea, salt, a boy of saltwater) or halas (salt; can be figurative for prudence). This is the sea, a lake, or seashore.
JJ “of glass” = hualinos. 3x in NT– all in Revelation. From hualos (glass or crystal; a stone that is transparent); perhaps from the same as huetos (rain); from huo (to rain). This is glassy or transparent.
KK “crystal” = krustallos. 2x in NT. From kruos (frost). This is literally ice, which is figuratively used to refer to crystal. It is where the word “crystal” comes from.
LL “around” = mesos. Literally, “in the midst of.” Perhaps from meta (with among, behind, beyond; implies a change following contact or action). This is middle, among, center, midst.
MM “on each side” = kuklo. Related to “around” in v3. 8x in NT. See note M above.
NN “living creatures” = zoon. From zao (to live literally or figuratively). This is literally a thing that is alive. So, it is an animal or living creature.

full ofOO eyesPP in frontQQ and back:RR 

Notes on verse 6b

OO “full of” = gemo. 11x in NT. This is to be full, swell, at capacity, actions taken to fulfill a goal.
PP “eyes” = ophthalmos. Related to “looks” in v3 & “in front of” in v5. From optanomai (see note BB above). This is eye or sight. It is used figuratively for the mind’s eye, a vision, or for envy.
QQ “in front” = emprosthen. From en (in, on, at, by, with) + pros (at, to, toward, with). This is before, against, in the sight of. It can be physically in front of or temporally beforehand. It can be literal or figurative.
RR “back” = opisthen. 7x in NT. Probably from opis (back). This is behind, at the back, after.

the firstSS living creature like a lion,TT the secondUU living creature like an ox,VV

Notes on verse 7a

SS “first” = protos. From pro (before, first, in front of, earlier). This is what is first, which could be the most important, the first in order, the main one, the chief.
TT “lion” = leon. 9x in NT. This is lion, which is where our word “lion” comes from.
UU “second” = deuteros. From duo (two, both). This is second, twice, again. It is part of where “Deuteronomy” comes from, which means “second law” or “a repetition of the law.” See
VV “ox” = moschos. 6x in NT. This is a young cow of either sex or young shoot.

the thirdWW living creature withXX a faceYY like a human,ZZ

Notes on verse 7b

WW “third” = tritos. From treis (three). This is third.
XX “with” = echo. This is to have, hold, possess.
YY “face” = prosopon. Related to “looks” in v3 & “in front of” in v5 & “eyes” in v6. From pros (at, towards, with) + ops (see note BB above). This is the face, surface, or front. It can imply presence more generally.
ZZ “human” = anthropos. Related to “looks” in v3 & “in front of” in v5 & “eyes” in v6 & “face” in v7 Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (see note BB above). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.

and the fourthAAA living creature like a flyingBBB eagle.CCC 

Notes on verse 7c

AAA “fourth” = tetartos. Related to “four” in v4. 10x in NT. From tessares (see note P above). This is fourth or a quarter. Figuratively, it is a large amount – a totality that is not everything.
BBB “flying” = petomai. 5x in NT. This is to fly.
CCC “eagle” = aetos. 5x in NT. Perhaps from the same as aer (air that we breathe); from aemi (to breathe or blow). This is eagle or vulture. It could also refer more generally to a bird of prey.

And the four living creatures, eachDDD of them withEEE sixFFF wings,GGG are full of eyes all around and inside.

Notes on verse 8a

DDD “each” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
EEE “with” = echo. Same as “with” in v7. See note XX above.
FFF “six” = hex. 13x in NT. This is six. It is part of where “hexagon” comes from.
GGG “wings” = pterux. Related to “flying” in v7. 5x in NT. From pteron (feather, wing); from petomai (see note BBB above). This is a wing or pinion.

DayHHH and night without ceasingIII they sing,
“Holy,JJJ holy, holy,

Notes on verse 8b

HHH “day” = hemera. Related to “seated” in v2. Perhaps from hemai (see note H above). This is day, time, or daybreak.
III “ceasing” = anapausis. 5x in NT– including “you will find rest for your souls” from Matthew 11:29. From anapauo (a break from work, which implies being refreshed; denotes that rest that one gets once a necessary task is finished); {from ana (up, again, back, among, between, anew) + pauo (to stop, refrain, pause, restrain, quit, come to an end)}. This is an intermission, refreshment, recreation, rest from work. It can also refer to inner tranquility.
JJJ “holy” = hagios. From hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). God is totally different from humanity and thus set apart. That which is consecrated to worship God (elements of worship) or to serve God (as the saints) are holy because they are now set apart for God’s purposes. Holy because important to God. This is sacred physically, pure. It can be morally blameless or ceremonially consecrated.

the LordKKK God the Almighty,LLL
    who was and is and is to come.”MMM

Notes on verse 8c

KKK “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
LLL “Almighty” = Pantokrator. 10x in NT– 9x in Revelation. From pas (all, every, each) + krateo (being strong or mighty so, by extension, to prevail or rule; to seize, grasp hold of, control; to arrest); {from kratos (strength, power, dominion; vigor in a literal or figurative sense; power that is exercised)}. This is almighty or omnipotent. It is the one who rules everything. It is always used of God.
MMM “come” = erchomai. This is to go or come. It can also be figurative.

And whenever the living creatures giveNNN gloryOOO and honorPPP

Notes on verse 9a

NNN “give” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
OOO “glory” = doxa. From dokeo (to have an opinion, seem, appear, suppose; a personal judgment; to think); from dokos (opinion). This is literally something that evokes a good opinion – something that connects to our understanding of intrinsic worth. The ultimate expression of this is, of course, God and God’s manifestation. So, this is opinion, honor, and dignity, but also praise, glory, renown, and worship.
PPP “honor” = time. From tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value). This has to do with worth or something’s perceived value. Literally, it means price, but figuratively, it means the honor or value one sees in someone or something else. It can be esteem or dignity. It can also mean precious or valuables.

and thanksQQQ to the one who is seated on the throne, who livesRRR forever and ever,SSS 

Notes on verse 9b

QQQ “thanks” = eucharistia. Related to “at once” in v2. 15x in NT. From eucharistos (thankful, well favored); {from eu (see note A above) + charis (grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks; being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit; literal, figurative, or spiritual; grace as abstract concept, manner, or action); {from chairo (to rejoice, be glad or cheerful; a greeting); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards)}}. This is thankfulness or thanksgiving. It is active gratitude. It is related to the word “eucharist.”
RRR “loves” = zao. Related to “living creatures” in v6. See note NN above.
SSS “forever and ever” = eis + ho + aion + ho + aion. Literally, “to the ages of the ages.” Aion is from the same as aei (ever, always, unceasingly, perpetually; on every occasion). This is an age, cycle of time, course, continued duration. It is also used to describe the eternal or forever. This is the word used to discuss the present age or the messianic age.

10 the twenty-four elders fallTTT beforeUUU the one who is seated on the throne and worshipVVV the one who lives forever and ever;

they castWWW their crowns before the throne, singing,

Notes on verse 10

TTT “fall” = pipto. This is to fall literally or figuratively.
UUU “before” = enopios. Same as “in front of” in v5. See note BB above.
VVV “worship” = proskuneo. From pros (advantageous for, at, to, toward, with) + kuneo (to kiss); {may be related to kuno (dog)}. This is to do reverence, kneel, to prostrate oneself in homage, to worship.
WWW “cast” = ballo. Related to “dressed” in v4. See note R above.

11 “You are worthy,XXX our Lord and God,
    to receiveYYY glory and honor and power,ZZZ
for you createdAAAA all things,BBBB
    and by your willCCCC they existedDDDD and were created.”

Notes on verse 11

XXX “worthy” = axios. From ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive, go). This is related to weight or worth – deserving, suitable, corresponding, due reward.
YYY “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
ZZZ “power” = dunamis. From dunamai (to be able, have power or ability). This is might, strength, physical power, efficacy, energy, and miraculous power. It is force literally or figuratively – the power of a miracle or the miracle itself.
AAAA “created” = ktizo. 15x in NT. Probably akin to ktaomai (to get, purchase, possess). This is to build, create, form, shape. It refers to God’s acts of creation.
BBBB “all things” = pas. Related to “Almighty” in v8. See note LLL above.
CCCC “will” = thelema. From thelo (to desire, wise, will, intend). This is the act of will, choice, purpose, or decree.
DDDD “existed” = eimi. Same as “are” in v5. See note GG above.

Image credit: Photo of the Church of Saint Magdalene in Barcelona. Photo by Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca, 2012.

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