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Revelation chapter 4

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New International Version

New American Standard Bible

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King James Version

New King James Version

What does Revelation chapter 4 mean?

Chapter 4 is brief, but it sets the stage for much of the rest of Revelation. It also makes the transition from John's description of things which are—or were, at the time he wrote—to those things which are yet to happen—again, at least at the time he wrote. Among the interesting properties of this passage is that the word "church" no longer appears in Revelation, until the very end when it is only used to repeat that "the churches" should take the message seriously. This absence of references to the church supports the view that those who are believers will be taken in the rapture and not subject to the tribulation.

This passage opens with John referring again to the voice which sounded like a trumpet. This voice was first mentioned in Revelation 1:10–11 and later identified as Jesus. Here, the voice calls John "up here," which seems to mean to heaven, and shows him events which will happen in the future (Revelation 4:1–2).

Next, John sees a vision "in the Spirit." He sees twenty-four thrones, each with an elder dressed in white, surrounding "the" throne of God. The twenty-four "elders" on the thrones may symbolize the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel plus the twelve apostles. John describes the throne in terms of gemstones, which are associated with certain symbolic ideas. There is also a sea of glass and four fantastic creatures (Revelation 4:3–6).

John describes these creatures as animals. Some commentators have suggested that each of these animals embodies traits parallel to the depiction of Jesus in one of the four Gospels. These creatures seem to constantly praise God. In response to their praise, the twenty-four elders fall in worship, casting their crowns down before God (Revelation 4:7–11).
What is the Gospel?
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