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The Revelation

of [ST.] JOHN [THE DIVINE]*





EXPLANATORY NOTE

This posthumous work of Pastor Russell (arranged for use as a textbook) is much condensed, including the extracts from the Pastor's pen, all of which are referred back to his works. The abbreviations used are:

A, B, C, D,E, FThe six preceding volumes of "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES".
(Citations to E in italic figures refer to old editions, figures in ordinary type to later editions.)
B. S. M..........."THE BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY."
H....................."What Say the Scriptures ABOUT HELL?"
P-D................. "PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION" Scenario.
T....................."TABERNACLE SHADOWS."
S....................."SPIRITISM" Pamphlet.
Z......................"ZION'S WATCH TOWER," followed by year and page.

The citations to REVELATION and EZEKIEL refer to the comments herein, as well as to the Bible text.
Other abbreviations used are:

Barnes..........Barnes' "Revelation".
Brit................."Encyclopedia Britannica."
Buck..............Buck's "Theological Dictionary".
Coffin............Coffin's "Story of Liberty".
Cook.............Cook's "Revelation" ; a compendium of the presentations of seventy-two leading commentators on Revelation, in all languages and all ages of the Church.
Edgar............Edgar's "Pyramid Passages". Vol. II.
McC...............McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia.
Mosheim......Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.
S. B. D...........Smith's Bible Dictionary.
Smith.............Smith's "Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation".
Weym............Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech.



REVELATION 5

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THE EXECUTOR OF THE PLAN

5:1. And I saw in the right hand. — "The Divine Plan, known only to the Father, Jehovah Himself, was kept in His own power — in His own hand — until some one should be proved worthy to know it, and become its executor as Jehovah's honored Agent and Representative." — E 39, 36.
Of Him that sat on the Throne. — "He that sits upon the Throne is Jehovah. The scroll in His right hand is His Plan for human redemption, sealed from all until One should be found and proved 'worthy.'" — Z.'97-150.
A book. — "Not the Bible, but the Divine Plan, with its times and seasons." (Z.'16-252.) "This was the Mystery, the Secret of the Lord, unknown to any one but Himself — His plan for the salvation of the world." — Z.'97-256.
Written [within] IN FRONT. — The writing in front is the fulfilment of everything prophesied on the outside. Every word of every prophecy of God's Word is sure of fulfilment. "Seek ye out the book of the Lord, and read; no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate; for My mouth it hath commanded, and His Spirit it hath gathered them." (Isa. 34:16.) "That scroll contains a record of everything that is happening now, and all that will occur throughout the Millennial Age, down to its very close — down to the time when every creature in Heaven and in earth and those in the sea, shall ascribe praise, honor, glory and dominion to Him that sitteth upon the Throne and to the Lamb forever. — Rev. 5:13." (Z.'09-243.) "Among the Orientals the lines began from the right hand and ran to the left hand; with the Northern and Western nations, from the left to the right hand; but the Greeks sometimes followed both directions alternately." (McC.)
The Word is plainly written on the outside, where all may read the words, but cannot understand their significance without Divine aid. Meantime, from age to age, the events foretold occur in the manner predicted. The manner of the writing, some of it from left to right and some from right to left, enables the fulfilments to follow the prophecies exactly, item by item, to the last jot and tittle. Write a word on a sheet of paper and then turn the paper over and look at it, holding it in front of a good light Thus it is with the Word of God. The prophecies
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look strange until the due time has come for holding them up to the light, and then they become clear. What could be only imperfectly deciphered until the hindering seal is broken is no mystery after the seal is broken, because the book or scroll or chart can be turned about and held to the light. The fulfilments are seen to fit the prophecies. If the lines are not clear, then for some reason "we are looking upon that much of the record from the outside and not from the inside.
And on the backside. — "Excepting the bare promise (written on the outside of the scroll) of salvation through the Seed of the woman, nothing could be known of the wonderful scheme for human restitution until the Son of God, having left the glory of the spiritual nature, took our nature and by the sacrifice of Himself redeemed us from death. Then, having His righteousness imputed to us by faith, we are counted worthy to look upon the scroll as He opens the seals one after another." — Z.'02-332; Ezek. 2:9,10.
Sealed with seven seals. — "The things that were sealed were not proper to be understood by our Redeemer until He had received the all-power, after His resurrection. The execution of God's Plan was then given into His hands." — Z.'16-253.
5:2. And I saw a strong angel. — Personification of the Law.
Proclaiming. — In types and shadows, pictures, figures and symbols.
With a loud voice. — From the fall of Adam onward.
Who is worthy. — "The inquiry compassed the period from before Jesus came into the world up to His resurrection from the grave. God had given the most honorable One of all the host of Heaven the first opportunity to prove His worthiness to loose the Scroll of God's great Plan, and to fulfill its provisions. And He did not allow the privilege to go by. He accepted it." — Z.'16-252.
To open the book. — "The inquiry, 'Who is worthy to open the book [scroll] and to loose the seats thereof?' had long been made: for four thousand years, from the giving of the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, it had been the query — Who shall be esteemed, by Jehovah God, to be worthy to perform His gracious purposes, and thus be honored above all others as Servant (Messenger) of the Covenant of Grace?" — Z.'97-150.
And to loose the seals thereof. — "John in the symbol hears the proclamation. 'Who is worthy to open the Book and to loose the seals?' — who is worthy to have committed to his care the execution of the great Divine Plan, wonderful for its wisdom and love, and its lengths and
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breadths and depths and heights past human comprehension — that he may open it and execute it?" — Z.'97-256.
5:3. And no man in Heaven. — No angel had been proven worthy. "Which things the angels desire to look into." — 1 Pet. 1:12.
Nor in earth, [neither under the earth]. — No man on earth was worthy. "There is none righteous, no, not one; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." — Rom. 3:10, 23.
Was able to open the book. — "In the picture John looked to see who the worthy one might be, but none was found worthy." — Z.'09-243.
Neither to look thereon. — In the light of this Scripture, who can dare, in his own strength, wisdom or righteousness to interpret the Word of God or take any part in the execution of the Plan? — Heb. 12:18-29.
5:4. And I wept much. — "It seemed to John too bad that God should have some great, wonderful purposes which might come to naught because no one was worthy to be the Divine executor." — Z.'09-243.
Because no man. — No being in the Universe.
Was found worthy to open and to read the book. — "When silence prevailed, and none was found worthy either in Heaven or on earth (representing the condition of things prior to the First Advent), John began saying to himself: Alas! we may never know God's gracious and wise plans for the welfare of His creatures, because none is found worthy to know or execute them." — Z.'97-150; John 1:27; Matt. 8:8.
Neither to look thereon. — "So it was that, even our Lord Jesus, prior to the finishing of His sacrifice, as He then declared, did not know all about the Father's plans, times and seasons (Mark 13:32.)" — Z.'97-150.
5:5. And one of the elders. — The deathbed prophecy of Jacob. It is the identification of this elder that enables us to recognize the other twenty-three. — Rev. 4:10.
Saith unto me. — "Judah is a lion's whelp. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be." — Gen. 49:9, 10.
Weep not: behold, the Lion. — "The Holy One, and the Just." — Acts 3:14; 22:14.
Of the tribe of Juda. — "The great prize, for which Israel had been longing for centuries, was won by the Lion of the tribe of Judah. (Heb. 7:14.)" — B85.
"For an illustration of latter time assumptions, note the fact that a late pope, upon ascending the throne, took the title of Leo XIII, and shortly after subscribed himself 'Leo de tribus Juda,' i, e., 'The Lion of the tribe of Judah.'" — B316.
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The Root of David. — "It was not the pre-human Logos, nor yet the man Jesus, that was David's Lord and David's Root; hut the resurrected Messiah." — E151, 136; Isa. 11:1; Rom. 15:12; Rev. 22:16.
Hath prevailed to open the book. — "When our Lord Jesus had proven His loyalty to the Heavenly Father by His obedience, 'even unto the [ignominious] death of the cross,' then and thereby He did prove Himself worthy of every confidence and trust." — E39, 37.
And to loose the seven seals thereof. — "Great was the favor bestowed upon the Just One of the tribe of Judah, in being permitted to open the seals; and great is the privilege of those who are permitted to look thereon as the seals are opened." — Z.'02-332; Rev. 5:2; 6:1.
5:6. And I beheld, [and lo,] in the midst of the Throne. — "In the bosom of the Father." — John 1:18.
And of the four beasts. — "The express image of His person." — Heb. 1:3.
And in the midst of the elders. — The central theme of all their prophesies. — Rev. 4:10.
Stood a Lamb as It had been slain. — "It was not possible for Him to know the completeness of the Divine Plan until after He had demonstrated His worthiness by His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross." — Z.'06-39; Isa. 53:7; John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19.
Having seven horns. — Perfect power. "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth." — Matt. 28:18; 1 Sam. 2:1, 10; Deut. 33:17; 1 Ki. 22:11.
And seven eyes. — Perfect wisdom. "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." — Col. 2:3; Zech. 3:9; 4:10; Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 2 Chron. 16:9.
Which are the seven Spirits of God. — Or lamps of fire. —Rev. 4:5.
Sent forth into all the earth. — See Rev. 1:4.
5:7. And He came and took the book. — "To Him was the scroll or book entrusted, that in due time all the wonderful provisions of the Divine Plan might be fully executed in the glorification of the Church and the blessing of all the families of the earth." — Z.'06-39.
Out of the right hand. — See Rev. 5:1.
Of Him that sat upon the Throne. — Jehovah. If Jesus and His Father are a Trinity, "One in person, equal in glory and power," how is it that one has to come to the other for something, or how can He come to Himself and take something He already has and give it to Himself?
5:8. And when He had taken the book. — His worthiness to do so having been proven by His resurrection to the Divine nature,
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The four beasts. — Justice, Power, Love and Wisdom. — Rev. 4:6. 7.
And four and twenty elders. — Messages of the four and twenty Prophets. — Rev. 4:10.
Fell down before the Lamb. — Gave their joint homage and adoration to the Conqueror of sin and death.
Each having [every one of them harps] A HARP. — Yielding the most exquisite harmony that ever fell on mortal ears. — Rev. 15:1-4; 4:10.
And golden vials. — Incense cups, "spoons," similar to those used at the Golden Altar. — Ex. 25:29; 30:1-9.
Full of odors. — The sweet fragrance of patient hearts, precious in the Father's memory, pleading for love and wisdom Divine. — Psa. 141:2; Ex. 30:34-38; Lev. 16:12, 13; Lu. 1:9, 10; Acts 10:4.
Which are the prayers of saints. — Every one of which, by the Father's arrangement, has been made in the name of the One here honored. — John 16:23; Eph. 2:19.
5:9. And they sung a new song. — "This means that the Divine Plan as a whole was here made known to Him — for He already had knowledge of much of this — but all things were now given Him." — Z.'16-253; Psa. 40:3; Rev. 14:3.
Saying, Thou art worthy to take the book. — Worthy of "a name which is above every name." — Phil. 2:9.
And to open the seals thereof. — Disclose the wonderful method by which the Father will develop the saviors of the world. — Obad. 21.
For thou wast slain. — He had sacrificed His will, but this was not sufficient. "God wished Him to sacrifice not only His will, but actually to lay down His human life. When all His testings were completed at His death on the Cross, God gave Him a name, to which all should bow, both in Heaven and in earth." — Z.'16-252.
And hast redeemed. — "Agorazo. This word signifies to purchase in the open market" — E443, 429; 1 Cor. 6:20; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19.
[Us]. — Oldest MS., with evident propriety, omits us, since the Divine attributes and prophecies were not redeemed. — Z.'97-151.
To God. — "What say the Scriptures respecting the sacrifice of Christ, the offering which He made? Do they say that it was made to Satan or to Jehovah God? We answer that in all the types of the Jewish dispensation, which foreshadowed this better sacrifice, which does take away the sins of the world, the offerings were presented to God, at the hands of the priest, who typified our Lord Jesus." — E461, 449.
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By Thy blood. — 'If the blood of bulls and of goats . . . sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal spirit, offered Himself without spot to God." — Heb. 9:13-15.
Out of every kindred. — "In thy Seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." — Acts 3:25.
And tongue. — "Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." — Isa. 45:23.
And people. — "The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory." — Psa. 97:6.
And nation. — "And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." — Gen. 26:4, 22:18; Rev. 14:6.
5:10. And hast made [us] THEM unto our God [Kings] A KINGDOM. — "It will be the Kingdom of the saints, in that they shall reign and judge and bless the world in conjunction with their Lord, Jesus. (Rom. 8:17, 18.) The Kingdom class proper will consist only of our Lord and His 'elect' Little Flock." — D618.
And [priests] PRIESTHOOD. — "The Divine provision for a 'Royal Priesthood' implies weakness, imperfection, on the part of some whom the priests are to help, and instruct, and from whom they are to accept sacrifice and offerings for sin, and to whom they are to extend mercy and forgiveness." — E486, 476; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 20:6.
And [we] THEY shall reign. — "But before the Royal Priesthood begin their reign, they must 'suffer with Him,' sharing in the antitypical sacrifices. (2 Tim. 2:12.)" — T 26.
On. — Epi, over. — Rev. 6:16.
The earth. — "The Kingdom and dominion, even the majesty of the Kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and all rulers shall serve and obey Him. (Dan 7:27.)" — D618.
5:11. And I beheld. — John beheld this in vision and will behold it in reality.
And I heard. — John heard in the vision, and will hear in the reality.
As it were the voice of many angels. — Besides the angels, the Great Company are in this happy throng. The events to the end of the chapter have their fulfilment in the future.
Round about the Throne. — "In the circuit of Heaven" (Job 22:14), the circle of the Universe.
And the beasts. — Justice, Power, Love and Wisdom. — Rev. 4:6, 7.
And the elders. — The prophecies. — Rev. 4:10.
And the number of them. — "Whose number no man knoweth." — Rev. 7:9.
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Was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. — The number of the Great Company will apparently exceed one hundred millions. Num. 4:46-48 and Ex. 28:1 indicate but one priest to each 2,860 Levites, which would make the number of the Great Company approximate 411,840,000. — T118, 119; Dan. 7:10.
5:12. Saying with a loud voice. — The Great Company will be very enthusiastic workers on the other side of the veil, for they really love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30), and need only to be liberated to give full expression to that love.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. — "Our Lord Jesus demonstrated before the Father, before angels, and before His 'brethren,' His fidelity to the Father and to the Father's Law, demonstrating that it was not beyond the ability of a perfect being, even under the most adverse conditions." — E134,120.
To receive power. — The Great Company class humbly realize that their faithfulness and zeal was not sufficient to warrant their own exaltation to power.
And riches. — They realize they did not lay up all the Heavenly treasures they might have done, but hid their talents in earthly pursuits.
And wisdom. — They realize their own unwisdom in seeking the praise of men and that the Christ Company, though apparently fools for Christ's sake, were really the wisest of the wise.
And strength. — They know that they used their own strength for the support and maintenance of institutions which really hindered rather than helped the Bride to make herself ready.
And honor. — They know that, as a class, they sought and obtained the honor that cometh from men, but failed to properly seek the honor that cometh from God only.
And glory. — They know that they failed to meet the high conditions of self-sacrifice, and were therefore unworthy of the high reward.
And blessing. — They feel that the blessings which the Lord gave to them were thoughtlessly appropriated to themselves and their families, with hardly a serious thought about the needs of the Lord's dear family; and that appropriately, the chiefest of all blessings, the privilege of extending God's blessings to the needy world, should go to those who most earnestly "by patient perseverance in well doing (did) seek for glory, honor and immortality." (Rom. 2:7.) Thus they reverence the Lamb, and His Bride, for they are one. — Rev. 19:7.
5:13. And every creature. — After the destruction of the
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incorrigible at the end of the Millennial Age (and this, in itself, is a blessing to those who refuse to make a right use of life).
Which is in Heaven. — "Let all the angels of God worship Him." (Heb. 1:6.) "Worship Him. all ye gods." — Psa. 97:7.
And on the earth, [and under the earth,]. — All mankind.  — 1 Cor. 15: 25.
And such [as are] in the sea. — The class that continues to be "in the sea," i. e., not under religious restraint, will cease to exist. They no longer are, but even their terminated existence will be to the praise of the One who died for them on Calvary; for they will have had a perfect chance.
And all that are in them. — "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth." — Phil. 2:10; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20.
[Heard I] AND I HEARD THEM saying, THE Blessing.  — The myriads of happy beings, on all created planes of intelligence, from the highest to the lowest, in Heaven and earth, acknowledge with joy the source of all their blessings. — Rom. 9:5.
And honor. — By that time all will have come to see what a great honor has been conferred on any creature to receive the unspeakable boon of life on any plane, and will gladly own its fountain. — 1 Tim. 6:16.
And glory [and power] OF THE ALMIGHTY. — Each will have come to know the glory of life on his own plane. "There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory." — 1 Cor. 15:40, 41; Rom. 16:27; 1 Pet. 4:11; 5:11,
Be. — Be ascribed to.
Him that sitteth upon the Throne. — Our Father and Friend. — 1 Chron. 29:11.
And unto the Lamb. — Our Redeemer and Brother.
For ever and ever. — "For the Ages of the Ages," Greek.
5:14. And the four beasts said Amen. — Justice, Power, Love and Wisdom unitedly declare this to be the happy outcome.
And the [four and twenty] elders fell down and worshipped [Him that liveth for ever and ever]. — The prophecies plainly declare that neither men nor devils can in any wise thwart this perfect ending of the Plan which began so strangely and still progresses — the perfection, through suffering, of the Little Flock, the Great Company and, indeed, the world of mankind itself. — Rev, 4:10.
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