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. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto 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. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that livethfor ever and ever.
The Trinitarian Question
The Revelation 5 question is one that many trinitarians will not bring up, because of the fact that there are so many holes in the argument. It is the equivalent of Godhead evolution because of its missing links, as well as its animals changing into humans. This is a flawed argument from the start. It is built upon a shaky foundation and gets even flimsier as we go up.
The presentation that will be made from a trinitarian viewpoint concerning this chapter is the following. God the Father is sitting on the throne and being exalted by all the elders and angels. He has a book closed with seven seals in His right hand. There is no one worthy to open it, until the Lion of Judah comes and takes the book out the Father's right hand and opens it. At that point all worship is directed to the lamb, who is also the lion and the root of David. This, they say, shows that the Lion, Lamb and root are Jesus, while the Father, distinct from the son, was on the throne; therefore, two distinct persons of the Godhead are present. They explain it and then wait on us to find an answer to give them concerning who these two persons are.
The Trinitarian Dilemma
This, like the baptism of Jesus question, has a missing persons list. We see three different descriptions of their Jesus in this story. Isn't it kind of funny that they can say, concerning Jesus, that He is the lamb, the lion and the root, yet still be just one person? When we say He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, yet all one person, we are wrong. I guess it only works when it is convenient to their theology. We don't get the same luxury.
Literal or Figurative?
This question, even more than the others, has numerous major flaws in its standing ground. First, is the obvious question: was the lion a literal lion? Was the lamb a literal lamb? Was the root a literal root? If so, do we have 3 separate beings taking the book from the Father's right hand? How many can the Godhead contain before it is finally full?
We see in the book of Revelation throughout that it is full with both literal and symbolic instances. It is literal when it says that Jesus is going to return to reign on the earth (Rev. 19:11). It is literal when it says that there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). It is literal when it says that there is a great city, New Jerusalem, coming toward us from the heavens (Rev. 21:10). These things are obviously literal. We are living in hope of a literal heaven and being in the presence of a literal God as He literally wipes away all tears from our eyes while we literally live eternally never experiencing death (Rev. 21:4).
There are some things, however, that are not so literal in the book of Revelation. Some things were not completely understood, due to lack of familiarity, by the writer so John wrote his best understanding of what he saw. For instance, there will not be a literal beast having seven heads and ten horns rising up out of the sea with literal crowns on his horns having the word "blasphemy" literally written on his head (Rev. 13:1). We know that this represents the nations that will rise up as the beast kingdom. John never could have known this in its fullness, because he is not alive in the time of its fulfillment.
There will also not be a literal woman, a whore, riding on a literal beast, literally clothed in scarlet linens and literally having these horrible words written upon her head (Rev. 17:3-5). People have had different interpretations of what this 3 represents: the harlot Catholic Church, currency, false doctrine, even the trinity. One thing we know for sure is that it will not be a literal woman riding around fornicating with all the kings of the world. Again, how could John have known this when his day had not seen these things come to pass?
Neither should the picture presented in Revelation 5 be taken literally. There was no literal lamb, no literal lion and no literal root. Yes, these things all represent Jesus. If you were to ask who the lamb is, the answer would be Jesus. But Jesus is not a literal lamb or a lion. These are things that have been attributed to Him because of different characteristics of His nature. This picture in Revelation 5 was a symbolism of the great work of the mediator, Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).
The reason John could put this into these words was because he knew the names and titles that were given to Jesus as the savior. He knew he was called lamb by sacrifice (Jn. 1:29), a lion in judgment (Hos. 13:7) and knew that he came from the house of David (Is. 9:7). He was able to effectively attribute these things to Jesus because they had already in his day been fulfilled.
As we have seen, there is also no literal right hand of God. He doesn't have a hand with five fingers located on the right side of His body (Lk. 24:39). Again, John could attribute this to God because it was something that he had already seen done. This was a symbolic story showing the power and authority that Jesus has because of the atonement He gave us through His sacrificial death. Because He was the one who died to save mankind, He also had the authority, as the Savior, to pour out judgement upon those that received Him not (Mk. 16:16).
Where Is The Holy Ghost?
The next problem that faces the doctrine of the triune God in this passage is the absence of the Holy Spirit. If this is a picture of the trinity, where is the third person? Surely at such a momentous occasion the Holy Spirit would be present. The answer that the common trinitarian will give is that He is in the church at this time. Isn't the Holy Spirit Omni-present? Can't He, as a person of the Godhead, be everywhere? Further, wasn't John the Revelator a part of the church. Wouldn't he have mentioned the Holy Spirit that was within him if he recognized it as being there present in some bodily form? The reason we do not see the third person, God the Holy Ghost, mentioned, is because it is not a separate person from the one that was mentioned, God, who was on the throne. The Holy Spirit was present. He was sitting on the throne. The Father and the Holy Spirit are the same thing.
Who Was Found Worthy?
Now we get into the real problems that will face trinitarians using this argument to prove tri-unity in the Godhead.
Verse 2 and 3 of this chapter present quite a predicament for this doctrine. Verse 2 tells us that the angel stood to ask if there was anyone worthy to open the seals of this book. When the question was presented, no one came forth from heaven, from earth or from under the earth. At this point, where was the Son? With all three persons being coexistent shouldn't He have been there the whole time? Why didn't He step up right away? Did He have to have the Father's permission before opening the book? If He was there the whole time, then why do trinitarians say that He came from somewhere else and took the book from the Father? This is a complete contradiction, not only to scripture, but also to their own statements.
Further, if the Lamb was the only one who was worthy to open the seals, does this mean that the Father was not worthy? No one in heaven was worthy until the Lamb came. This must mean that the Father was not worthy to do the work Himself. He is a person, right? This is borderline blasphemous. Beyond being blasphemous, it is a contradiction to scripture. This says that the Lamb (God the Son) was more worthy than the Father, while Jesus said the Father was greater than Him” (Jn. 14:28), and the triune doctrine itself says they are equal. So are they equal or what? Who is greater? I think scripture has proven its validity over the years. I will stick with the bible.
Who Holds The Scroll?
Another problem presents itself when we look at who was sitting on the throne. The scripture doesn't say - though trinitarians would like it to - that the Father was on the throne or that it was the Father's right hand that the book was in. It says God Almighty was the occupant of the throne (Rev 4:8). This, according to the doctrine of trinity, is not just the Father. God Almighty would be all three persons in one. The Athanasius Creed tells us that "the Father is Almighty, the Son is Almighty and the Holy Ghost is Almighty, yet there are not three Almighty's but one Almighty..." So with this understanding the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were sitting on the throne, all three holding the book. If this is so, who is the Lamb that took the book from their hands? It would be the Son, of course. If the Son was the Lamb taking the book, from all three persons, are there two sons; one Son on the throne holding the book as part of the trinity and another taking the book from Him as the Lamb? We are adding persons to this Godhead continually.
This is an obvious contradiction to the word of God of course there are not two Sons. In fact, there are not even two persons. John said he saw one throne and one sat on the throne (Rev. 4:2). He saw Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment oi the Father. He saw all the fullness of God sitting on the throne in the body of Jesus. This was clear when the angels sang unto Him "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." (Rev. 4:8). "Which was, and is and is to come" is an apparent reference to Jesus.
The Appearance of the Lamb
Finally, another point that will bring us more understanding to this passage is the location of the Lamb at His appearance in the story. Some would have you to believe that the Lamb kind of walked up from the distance as everyone searched for one who could prevail in opening the seals. This could be no farther from the truth. If you look in verse 5 the Lion of Judah was said to have prevailed to open the book. In verse 6 we first behold this Lamb as it had been slain. Where was He standing? Do we see Him walking up from some other place? No. We see Him standing in the midst of the throne. We see this Lamb rise up from the very throne that the Lord God Almighty was upon.
If we are to see this from the trinitarian perspective than we would have the literal Lamb (God the Son) taking the book from His own hand as He sat upon the throne. They would never say this because it obviously makes no sense scripturally. Bottom line, this is not the second person (God the Son) taking the book from the less worthy first person (God the Father). This is a beautiful harmony of scripture seen in a divine vision of the heavens.
What a Vision
What is actually being portrayed is a symbolic depiction of the work of Almighty as Father in authority and as Son in redemption. We are seeing the oneness of God in its most perfect clarity.
Remember the mount of transfiguration, where Jesus showed forth the indwelling Father and the disciples did not want to leave? From the earthly view we saw the Son of God as the vessel of the Father who emanated from His person. As natural humans, they could see Jesus and He revealed to them who was inside of Him: the Father. In the heavenly vision, it was almost opposite, if you would. Here we see the Father seated on His throne and the Lamb coming forth from Him (Jn. 16:28). This Lamb, a symbol of the sacrifice for atonement, stood up from the throne, yet when John saw the throne there was only one sitting on it (Jn. 4:2). This is because the Lamb that we see is a symbol of the work of reconciliation that God did as He dwelt in His son Jesus. It is literally showing, through symbolism, that the Lamb, who came from God, was God (Jn. 1:1).
Remember, this is a symbolic event and not a literal lamb at the throne. This is a representation of Jesus being the only one worthy to invocate judgment upon the world that rejected His offer of emancipation. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, making this lamb a symbol of the work of the Father in the Son - namely, the atonement. The Lamb standing up from the midst of the throne is clear statement that the only one truly worthy to redeem and judge mankind is the Father Himself. It is almost as though God looks around and sees there is no man to open the seals, and He seizes the opportunity to show His limitlessness so the heavens can celebrate His greatness. When John sees that NO MAN could do it, God shows forth His own MAN, His own person, Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God to open the seals, thus proving that God was the only person who could do the work of redemption.
One Name, One Face
The opponents of oneness will always ask for a specific scripture for everything (though they don't appreciate when we ask them to follow the same rules). That is no problem, however. We have an abundance of scripture to provide to make our case.
Just look at Revelation 22:1, 3, and 4 for our proof text to seal this position in stone.
Verse 1: "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb."
The throne of God and of the Lamb. It did not say the thrones of God and the Lamb. It is just one throne for God and the Lamb. This takes away any reason to believe that there were two separate and distinct thrones to occupy.
Verse 3: "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him:"
His servants shall serve Him. Did it say their servants shall serve them? Of course not! That would be ludicrous. This takes away any reason to believe that there were two distinct persons present. The so-called "THEY" is called "HIM". It cannot get any more oneness than that, can it?
Verse 4: "And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads."
So, not only are "THEY" declared to be one "HIM", but that "HIM" has only one face and one name. This takes away any reason to talk about this any further.
This is why the oneness of God makes so much sense. Who else could redeem man but God, Himself? Who could be righteous enough to be able to judge us in integrity, but God? Paul said it perfectly, "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory." (1 Tim. 3:16). This celestial vision is a portrait of the oneness of God at its finest.