What does Revelation chapter 5 mean?In this chapter, John describes a scene of drama and praise in heaven. Chapter 4 set a scene around the throne of God, where there were twenty-four elders and four animal-like beings (Revelation 4:1–7).
Chapter 5 begins by describing a scroll in the right hand of God. This scroll is sealed seven times over, and written on both sides. This scroll seems to symbolize the judgment of God on sin and wickedness (Revelation 5:1–2).
An angel "proclaims" a question, making it more of a challenge: "who is worthy" to take this scroll and open the seals? At first, it seems that there is no one. Nobody on heaven or earth has both the moral authority and the legal right to take up the judgment of God. In response to what seems a hopeless situation, John beings to weep (Revelation 5:2–4).
Then one of the twenty-four elders reassures John that there is One who can take this scroll: Jesus. Here, He is described as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" and the "Root of David." John then describes Jesus symbolically, as a Lamb that has been slaughtered, who takes the scroll from the hand of God. In response to this, the beings described in chapter 4 begin to sing a new song to God (Revelation 5:5–10).
This passage ends with a series of praises and responses. The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures sing a song praising Jesus for His worthiness to enact God's judgment. In response, a mind-boggling number of angels respond by praising Jesus. This praise is then echoed by every creature in creation: "in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them" (Revelation 5:9–14).
After seeing Jesus take the scroll, John will begin to describe the judgments which follow. These "seal judgments" will be described specifically in Revelation chapters 6 through 8. The seventh seal includes the judgments contained in the seven "trumpet judgments," which begin in chapter 8.