Poole on Revelation 5:3: None Worthy...But Him

Verse 3:[1] And no man (Rev. 5:13) in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.


[No one was able] No living thing (Grotius). Silence is taken as consent. No one was thinking himself equal to the task (Cotterius). From this place some gather that the Prophecy of Daniel does not extend beyond the Destruction of Jerusalem; for the Book of Apocalyptic visions had not been opened before this revelation made to John, and that therefore nothing that is contained in this Book had been previously revealed to Daniel or to any other. But, it is sufficiently evident that there are some things in this book which were previously revealed in some way; for example, those things concerning the day of Judgment, and the resurrection, which are the principal scope of the Apocalypse, yet concerning which things there is a treatment in Daniel 7 and 12; concerning the Kingdom of Antichrist, which if not in Daniel, certainly in Paul, 2 Thessalonians 2, there is a revelation. Now, I think that the Prophecies of Daniel and of the Apocalypse were transfused into each other, and that Daniel is the Apocalypse abridged, but the Apocalypse is Daniel unfolded. This only is of concern, that what things were previously revealed summarily and in a general way, were revealed to John particularly and specifically, in a new form, in accordance with the series and order of the Future or of the things to be done; and in this sense this Book was never before unsealed (Mede’s Works 924, 964).


[Not in heaven] That is, Angels (Lyra, Tirinus, Piscator, Cluverus), as perfected spirits, Hebrews 12:23 (Cluverus).


[On the earth] Men (Lyra, Tirinus, etc.).


[Under the earth] That is, either, in the sea, as also in Revelation 5:13. Therefore, in Exodus 20:4, after בַּמַּיִם, in the waters, is added מִתַּ֥֣חַת לָאָֽ֗רֶץ׃, under the earth.[2] See Psalm 24:2 (Grotius): or, the dead sleeping in their graves (Cluverus), or, demons (Piscator, thus Lyra, Durham, Cluverus).



[To open, etc.] Again, ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον, οὐδὲ βλέπειν, to open the book, and to look, in the place of ἀνοιξάμενον βλέπειν, having opened to look: for sealed pages are not able to be examined except the seals be broken, Isaiah 29:11 (Grotius).


[Neither to look upon] Or, to look into (Piscator, Tirinus, etc.). To unroll, read, and learn the contents of the Book (Tirinus). There is a Progression. No one was able to open, nor to read, no, not even to peek into it (Grotius on verse 4, similarly Forbes, Durham). To such a degree is the abyss of God’s judgments deep (Forbes).


None of the angels in heaven, nor any man upon the earth, nor any of them whose bodies are under the earth and their souls in heaven, nor any infernal spirits; none was found sufficient to open the book, and to look on it. There was none who replied to the angel’s question, verse 2.

[1] Greek: καὶ οὐδεὶς ἠδύνατο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, οὐδὲ ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς, ἀνοῖξαι τὸ βιβλίον, οὐδὲ βλέπειν αὐτό. [2] Exodus 20:4: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (וַאֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בַּמַּ֖֣יִם׀ מִתַּ֥֣חַת לָאָֽ֗רֶץ׃)…”

ABOUT US

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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