What does Revelation 4:5 mean?
ESV: From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,
NIV: From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
NASB: Out from the throne *came flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God;
CSB: Flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder came from the throne. Seven fiery torches were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.
NLT: From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God.
KJV: And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
NKJV: And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Verse Commentary:
John tells us in this verse that he saw flashes of lightning and heard rumblings and peals of thunder. He also saw seven burning torches before the throne. He tells us further that the burning torches are the seven spirits of God. Exodus 19:16 informs us that thunder and lightning occurred on Mount Sinai when God came down to give Moses the Ten Commandments. This phenomenon caused the Israelites below the mountain to tremble. At the same time, God set limits around the mountain and told Moses to command the people not to break through to look (Exodus 19:21–23). It seems in view of this Mount Sinai event that lightning and thunder are signs that no one is allowed to approach God without His permission. The flashes of lightning and thunder in Revelation 4:5 may also indicate that God is all powerful, authoritative, and greatly opposed to sin.

The seven burning torches mentioned in this verse probably symbolizes seven attributes of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2–3), perhaps connected to the reference John made to seven spirits in Revelation 1:4.
Verse Context:
Revelation 4:1–6 describes the apostle John's experience of being in the Spirit and being transported to heaven. There, he sees the radiance of God described as precious jewels. Further, he sees twenty-four other thrones, occupied by twenty-four elders. He also witnesses seven burning torches and a sea of glass in front of God's throne. Near the throne are four creatures that ascribe threefold holiness to God.
Chapter Summary:
John reports in the opening verse of Revelation 4 that he saw a door open in heaven and heard a voice beckoning him to come up to heaven. From heaven's vantage point John would witness future events. Upon his arrival in heaven, John saw God. He was sitting on a throne surrounded by twenty-four other thrones. A sea of glass lay in front of God's throne, and four living creatures were beside the throne. When the living creatures ascribed honor and praise to God, the elders who occupied the twenty-four thrones fell down and worshiped God. They cast their crowns before Him and praised Him.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 3 concluded the description of ''the things that are'' (Revelation 1:19). Chapter 4 begins the final section of Revelation, regarding ''the things that are to take place after this'' (Revelation 1:19). Chapter 1 describes the appearance of Jesus to John on the island of Patmos, at which time He commanded John to write to seven churches in Asia Minor. Chapters 2 and 3 provide us with the contents of Jesus' letters. Whereas chapters 1–3 relate events on earth, chapters 4 and 5 describe what John saw in heaven. Because the word ''church'' does not appear in this ''after this'' section of Revelation, we may assume the church does not experience the judgments described in chapters 6 and beyond.
Book Summary:
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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