Revelation 4:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 4:7, NIV: "The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle."

Revelation 4:7, ESV: "the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight."

Revelation 4:7, KJV: "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

Revelation 4:7, NASB: "The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature like a calf, the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle."

Revelation 4:7, NLT: "The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight."

Revelation 4:7, CSB: "The first living creature was like a lion; the second living creature was like an ox; the third living creature had a face like a man; and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle."

What does Revelation 4:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

It is possible the four living creatures represent Christ as the four Gospels portray Him. They're certainly literal, in the sense that John is actually seeing them in heaven. Their description, however, makes for a convenient parallel to Jesus' primary depiction in each of the four Gospels.

John describes the first living creature as resembling a lion. The lion is purported to be the king of animals, so it is a fitting symbol of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew that was written to present Jesus as Israel's king. We find in Matthew's Gospel many references to Israel's king and his kingdom.

The ox, used in Bible times for sacrifice and service, is an appropriate symbol for Mark's Gospel that presents Jesus as having come to earth "to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

The third living creature had a man's face. This creature symbolizes Luke's presentation of Jesus as the perfect man. Often the Gospel of Luke calls Jesus "the son of man" (see, for example, Luke 9:22, 26).

The fourth living creature to catch John's eye was a flying eagle. The eagle flies high above other birds and typically builds its nest in a lofty crag. As such, it aptly portrays Jesus in John's Gospel as the Son of God. Jesus is high above mortals, but He descended from this home in heaven to give Himself as the sacrifice for our sins (John 3:13–16).