Tag Archives: the meaning of the sealed scroll

The Meaning of the Sealed Scroll (Enthronement 5)

Students of Revelation through the centuries have some up with some 125 different explanations for the sealed scroll of Revelation 5. The more solid biblical options include a last will and testament, the constitution of Israel (Deuteronomy), a record of human history, an emblem of the Lamb’s right to rule, a record of human deeds, the Book of Life, and a list of rewards and punishments for human behavior (that would make it a scroll of judgment).

Many Seventh-day Adventists, based on a comment in a letter of Ellen White, suggest that the scroll contains the history of God’s providences, and the prophetic history of the nations and the church. If one takes that approach, the sealed scroll would represent the plan of salvation. John weeps (Rev. 5:4) because the plan of salvation will not be implemented unless someone is found worthy to open the scroll.

My own view, in harmony with Stefanovic, is that the sealed scroll must be understood in the context of an enthronement scene in heaven on the day of Pentecost. In some sense it could have elements of all the above. But in particular it represents God’s covenant with Israel (both OT and NT) that is ratified in the context of the death of Israel’s Messiah, the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Taking the scroll demonstrates the Lamb’s right to rule and to implement the covenant, including its rewards and consequences (further elaborated in the four horsemen of Revelation six). He is in control of history and implements God’s plan of salvation. The acclamation of the heavenly host (Rev 5:12-13) anticipates the great acclamation at the End (Rev 15:3-4) which affirms the character of God as a major element of the plan of salvation.

How do we know the book (Rev. 5:2, Greek: biblion) is a scroll and not more typical of books today? The codex, the form of a book where pages are glued together at one side, was an invention that took place somewhere around the time of Revelation. Before that books were rolled up scrolls or clay tablets. The form of the book in Revelation 5 and 6 is affirmed in Revelation 6:14 where the “sky receded like a scroll (Greek: biblion) rolling up.” For the author of Revelation a book and a scroll were one and the same thing. So sealing the scroll (by wrapping a piece of cloth around it and sealing it with wax) would hide the entire content of the scroll. All the seals would have to be broken before the content would be revealed. That means that the events unleashed when the seals were broken in chapter six are not the content of the scroll but events that are unleashed when each seal is broken. The scroll cannot be opened until all seven seals are broken.