Revelation 5:1-7 / Who is Worthy?

Posted on April 26, 2015


This is the fifteenth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of April 26, 2015. This message continues to detail John’s vision of the throne room in Heaven, detailing the scroll and the Lamb. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.


Rev. 5:1-7



What is this scroll, and where did it come from?

This book is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the word “revelation” means an unveiling of things previously concealed. The Scroll seen here is the very picture of the unveiling of a previously hidden mystery. This is a scroll that has been sealed, obviously sometime in the past. It has been sealed with seven seals, just as a legal contract would have been. Though the scroll has writing on both sides, the contents remain a mystery until it is opened.

The book of revelation deals with the time of the end, and now we have a previously sealed scroll which is about to be opened. It’s been sealed for some time, and obviously it was not meant to be opened until the end times.

It’s not uncommon in the New Testament to see the word “mystery”. This word is often used in the New Testament to refer to a truth which was hidden in the Old Testament, and not revealed until the New Testament. After the seventh seal of this scroll is loosed, we are told that the mystery of God is finished.

  • Revelation 10:7

As noted, this is after the seventh seal is opened, which reveals the seven trumpets. This is at the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

Now, we can see that this scroll is a “mystery”, so it must have been hidden somewhere in the Old Testament. So we must ask “have we seen this scroll in the Old Testament?” And if so, where?

The answer is yes!

  • Daniel 12:4-9

Daniel is told to seal up the book until the time of the end. Not only was it to be sealed and remain a mystery until the end times, not even Daniel understood what he wrote.

Next we see an angel raise his right hand and make an oath that it will be time, times and half a time until these things are finished. In Revelation 10, we see who is apparently the same angel, giving a similar oath.

  • Revelation 10:5-7

Here, he gives the oath that there will be no more delay.

Also, we are told that the prophecy which Daniel was given concerns the tribulation.

  • Daniel 12:1

Given the description of the magnitude of the tribulation, and the promised deliverance of Israel, this must refer to the great tribulation. Of course, the great tribulation and the deliverance of Israel is exactly what we will see unveiled in the book of Revelation.

Though many commentators have posed many different explanations of this scroll, we can be confident that it is the same scroll which Daniel was told to seal. The time for the unveiling has arrived, and the scroll is opened.

The identity of this angel is uncertain, but it may refer to the angel Gabriel, whose name means “strength of God”.

  • Daniel 8:16

This would not be at all surprising, given the connection between Daniel and Revelation.

Notice that not even the strong angel is worthy to open the scroll, as he himself asks who is. This is certainly a rhetorical question. Surely the angel knows who is worthy. In fact, the elders knew the answer to the question (v.5), and the angel certainly did as well.

Here we see the purpose of the angel’s question. His wording denotes the entire universe, and his point is that no one in the created universe is worthy.

John’s weeping is understandable. imaging being being called into a meeting with one of the most powerful people on earth. imagine being told that you were going to receive some new information that no one else knows. Then imagine that this information is in a locked filing cabinet, and no one has the key. What a let down.

Imagine how John felt. He was called up into heaven, to the throne room of God. He was told that he would be shown the things which were to come. These things are contained in a scroll, which is in the very presence of John. Then, all of a sudden, he hears from an angel that no one is worthy to open the scroll. Disappointment wouldn’t even begin to describe what he was feeling.

This statement/question from the angel, was not meant to portray hopelessness. As already mentioned, it was meant to make the point that no part of the creation is worthy. This is ultimately meant to emphasize the power, glory and worthiness of the creator, which becomes clear in this verse.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is one of the earliest titles of Jesus Christ. It was first alluded to in Genesis 49:9-10

The Root of David is another title of Jesus Christ which originated in the Old Testament.

  • Isaiah 11:1-5
  • Revelation 22:16

Jewish apocalyptic literature used the figure of a lion to designate the conquering Messiah who would destroy Rome, but this is far more reaching than Rome. The lion is a symbol of a victorious conqueror, and a king.

Being the root of David reenforces the notion of a king.

Christ is the victory.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:57

He is the King of Kings

  • Revelation 17:14

He is God, and this scroll is His word, and, in it are His judgments. Christ is God, Christ has prevailed, and only Christ has the authority to execute these judgments.

  • John 5:26-27

This is why no one else is worthy to open the scroll.

Here we see, in the midst of the church, an amazing picture of Christ. Jesus is the Lamb of God.

  • John 1:29

Through His death, He took away the sin of the world. The lamb that had been slain shows us the true victory of Christ. Christ’s victorious death on the cross is the basis of his authority to redeem the world by taking and opening the scroll.

In Scripture, horns always symbolize power, because in the animal kingdom they are used to exert power and inflict wounds in combat. Seven is the number of completeness/perfection, the seven horns signify complete or perfect power. Unlike other defenseless lambs, this One has complete, sovereign power.

The seven eyes which are the seven Spirits, gives us a picture of the unity (oneness) of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ and the Father are also one.

  • John 10:30

If Christ is one with the Father, and also one with the Holy Spirit, then the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God, and all one.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4

Being “sent out into all the earth” paints a picture of both the omniscience and omnipresence of God.

Here we see authorization from the throne for Christ to execute His judgment, and ultimately His plan for the redemption of the World. Just as Christ spoke of in John chapter 5, judgment is being given over to Him.

The Lamb of God, the King of Kings, the Lion of Judah has already defeated sin and death. He already has the victory. The Lamb was slain for your redemption. His blood paid the wage of death for your sin. He can both forgive sin, and judge sin.

Will you accept the gift He has presented for you, and stand forgiven? Or will you present yourself to Him for judgment, and stand condemned? The choice is yours.