Poole on Revelation 4:5: The Court of the Most High, Part 2

Verse 5:[1] And out of the throne proceeded (Rev. 8:5; 16:18) lightnings and thunderings and voices: (Ex. 37:23; 2 Chron. 4:20; Ezek. 1:13; Zech. 4:2) and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are (Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 5:6) the seven Spirits of God.



[From the throne…lightnings, etc., ἀστραπαὶ, etc.] Lightnings and thunderings, and voices[2] (Montanus, Erasmus, etc.), or, noises (Piscator). He understands the voices as articulate and, as it were, human, which seemed to emerge from the very thunderings, as a comparison with Revelation 10:3 demonstrates. Or, he signifies that those thunderings are emitted, so that they might be, as it were, the voices of God, and they might terrify men. But I prefer the former (Ribera). Others: It is ἕν διὰ δύο, an hendiadys; thunderings and noises, that is, noises of thunderings (Piscator). These three words occur in this book repeatedly, and always with the same sense (Forbes). Now, they designate, either, 1. the power, majesty, and magnificence (Menochius, thus Pareus) of God (Menochius), or of Christ the judge (Pareus). Or, 2. the utmost power of the Church and institutions of God, by which even the most powerful will be able to be terrified and confounded. See Song of Solomon 6:4, 10; Revelation 11:3, 5 (Durham). Or, 3. the preaching of the word of God, which, like thunder, is the voice of God, by which, as by thunder, men are stricken and moved to fear God (Cluverus). Or, 4. prodigies by which the word of God is confirmed, according to Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43 (Zegers). Or, 5. the threats of God against the impious, as in Revelation 8:5; 10:3, 4; 11:19; 14:2; 16:18; 19:6 (Grotius). Or, terrors and torments (Forbes), or punishments to be sent into the earth (Gomar). The voices are in the very thunderings, Revelation 10:3, that is, He threatens, not only generally, but He also foretells specific punishments (Grotius). The voice is to be dreaded as the rebuke of an angry God, as in Psalm 2:5; Hebrews 12:19, 25. Now, these are said to proceed from the throne; for, just as He reveals salvation from Zion, so also from the same He is Jealous and angry at those that fight against it. See Psalm 48:2, etc.; Jeremiah 25:30; Joel 3:16 (Forbes). He alludes here to the mode of the giving of the law, Exodus 19 (Durham, thus Gomar).


And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: these words denote a very glorious and terrible appearance of God, denoting his majesty, and power over his enemies. There is, possibly, an allusion to God’s appearance at the giving of the law, Exodus 19:16; only we read there but of one voice, and that of a trumpet, inarticulate.



[And seven lamps burning, etc.] Either, of fire, or burning fiery, etc. (Montanus, Piscator, etc.). Thus they are called on account of the glory and splendor with which Angels are wont to appear (Hammond). A symbol of the Spirit of sanctification. Seven, because of the perfection of every grace; lamps, because He pours the oil of grace into our hearts, and nourishes in them faith and charity; burning, on account of the force of the illumination and cleansing (Forbes, similarly Durham). They are said to be before the throne, as in Revelation 1:4, so that it might be signified that illumination is to be furnished for the elders and Church around the throne, just as the thrones and halls of Kings are illuminated by lamps and torches (Durham). This is a symbol of the illumination of minds to know God, and of the kindling of hearts to love God (Piscator). God reveals Himself to be the preserver of the Church by His Spirit, by whom He enlightens, renews, and directs the faithful (Gomar). There is, therefore, in this verse a twofold dispensation of God, favorable here, and terrible in the preceding member (Forbes). There is an allusion to the Lampstand of the Temple, which had seven lamps (Grotius, similarly Cluverus), by which the house of God was illuminated, Exodus 27:20 (Cluverus). Now, by the Lampstand is signified [either] the Jerusalem Church, like the other Churches in Revelation 1:20 (Grotius); [or] the Holy Spirit who illuminates the entire Church, John 16:13; 20:22; 1 Corinthians 2:11, 12 (Cluverus, similarly Gomar). And, just as those lamps were kindled in the morning by the sons of Aaron, so also the gifts of the Spirit are not to be quenched, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, but to be stirred up by the diligence of ministers, 2 Timothy 1:6 (Cluverus).


[Which are (namely, in a mystery [Grotius]) the seven spirits of God] That is, images or symbols of the seven spirits, concerning which see Revelation 1:4 (Piscator). The seven lamps in the Lampstand signify the many ways of Divine providence by which the Jerusalem Church is governed, just as the World is governed by the seven Planets[3] (Grotius). Others: These are seven Angels, who like attendants, or lictors, etc., were ministering to God, who are here represented by the seven Deacons that were ministering to the Bishop in the Jerusalem Church[4] (Hammond). Others: It denotes the Holy Spirit and His diverse gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4, 5 (Durham), which are manifold, most excellent, and perfect (Cluverus).


The lamps of fire before the throne, have a correspondence with the seven lamps of the tabernacle, which gave light to the whole house of God, Exodus 27:20; and are here expounded to be the seven Spirits of God, that is, the Holy Spirit in his sevenfold (that is, manifold) dispensations of grace, 1 Corinthians 12:4, 5, by which he enlighteneth, quickeneth, healeth, and comforteth the several souls that are the true members of his church. See the notes on Revelation 1:4.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου ἐκπορεύονται ἀστραπαὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ φωναί. καὶ ἑπτὰ λαμπάδες πυρὸς καιόμεναι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου, αἵ εἰσι τὰ ἑπτὰ πνεύματα τοῦ Θεοῦ. [2] Greek: φωναί. [3] Ancient astrologers ascribed the government of the earth and of man’s life to the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), and to the Sun and Moon. [4] See Acts 6.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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