The One Sitting on the Throne held a scroll sealed with seven seals. A universal search was made for one “worthy” to open it – Revelation 5:1-4.
Next, John saw a scroll sealed shut with seven seals and held in the “right hand” of the “One Sitting on the Throne,” who dispatched a “mighty angel” to discover someone from the created order who was “worthy” to take and open the scroll. Despite an exhaustive search, at least momentarily, no one “worthy” could be found.
The “mighty angel” even looked “under the earth,” yet found no one “worthy” to break open the seals of the scroll. If it remained sealed, its contents would not be revealed and implemented. This caused John to weep profusely.
- (Revelation 5:1-4) – “And I saw upon the right hand of him that was sitting upon the throne a scroll; written within, and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and to unloose its seals? And no one was able in heaven or on earth or under the earth to open the scroll or to look in it. And I began to weep much because no one worthy was found to open the scroll.”
“Written within and without.” This alludes to a passage from Ezekiel, but there is a key difference – (“Behold, a scroll was in it, and he spread it before me. And it was written within and without; lamentations and mourning and woe”). The scroll that Ezekiel saw was opened already, but in Revelation, it was sealed shut and would remain so until someone worthy to open it appeared – (Ezekiel 2:9-10).
The significance of the scroll being written “within and without” is not clear. Most likely, the “writings without” are related to the “seven seals,” which must be broken before the scroll can be unfolded. In chapters 6 through 8, the contents of the seals are unveiled before the contents of the scroll itself.
The more prominent scriptural background is the “scroll” the prophet Daniel was commanded to seal shut:
- (Daniel 12:4-9) – But you, Daniel, close up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end; many will run to and fro, and knowledge shall abound…And I heard but could not understand, so I said, O my lord! what shall be the issue of these things? Then said he, Go your way, Daniel; for closed up and sealed are the words until the time of the end.”
The connection between Daniel and Revelation was established previously in the book’s prologue, a connection confirmed again in its epilogue:
- (Revelation 1:3) – “Happy is he that reads, and they who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things therein written; FOR THE SEASON IS NEAR.”
- (Revelation 22:10) – “And he saith unto me—DO NOT SEAL UP THE WORDS OF THE PROPHECY OF THIS SCROLL, FOR THE SEASON IS NEAR.”
What Daniel was commanded to seal shut was intended for a distant future. In Revelation, that promised “season” has arrived, and the contents of the “revelation of Jesus” are revealed.
“Written.” The Greek verb rendered “written” represents a perfect verb tense, which signifies completed action; what had been written was not subject to change. It represented God’s predetermined plan for creation and humanity. This was the reason why anyone who added to or subtracted from the scroll would be excluded from “New Jerusalem.” His will is unalterable – (Revelation 22:18-19).
“Seven seals.” Daniel was ordered to “seal” his scroll until the determined time. Revelation has serialized Daniel’s single “seal” into “seven seals,” signifying the completeness of what will follow when the “seven seals” are broken. The execution of the scroll’s contents will bring God’s redemptive plans to their intended conclusion.
“Sealed shut” translates a Greek compound verb katesphragismenon – (Strong’s – #G2696), which means “to seal down” – to seal something tight. No one could view the contents until the seals were broken, and that required someone who was “worthy” to do so. The opening of the scroll itself would put its contents into action.
As we will learn next, only one person in the entire Cosmos was “worthy” to open the “sealed scroll,” and humanly speaking, the most unexpected figure of all.