The Geneva Bible Translation Notes, , at sacred-texts.com
rev 4:1After (1) this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
(1) Hereafter follows the second part of this book, altogether prophetical foretelling those things which were to come, as was said in (Rev 1:19). This is divided into two histories: one common to the whole world, till Chapter 9 and another unique to the Church of God, till Chapter 22. These histories are said to be described in several books (Rev 5:1, Rev 10:2). Now this verse is a passage from the former part to this second: where it is said, that heaven was opened, that is, that heavenly things were unlocked and that a trumpet sounded in heaven, to stir up the apostle, and call him to the understanding of things to come. The first history has two parts: one the causes of things done and of this whole revelation in this next chapter, another of the acts done in the next four chapters. The principal causes according to the economy or dispensation of it, are two: One the beginning, which none can approach, that is, God the Father, of whom is spoken in this chapter. The other, the Son, who is the secondary cause, easy to be approached, in that he is God and man in one person; (Rev 5:5-9).
rev 4:2And (2) immediately I was (a) in the spirit: (3) and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.
(2) The manner of revelation:
(a) See (Rev 1:10). (3) A description of God the Father, and of his glory in the heavens, explained to men by his office, nature, attending company, effect, instruments and events that follow afterwards. In this verse he is presented in office as a judge as Abraham said; (Gen 18:25) which is declared by his throne as sign of judgment, and his sitting on it.
rev 4:3(4) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and [there was] a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
(4) By his nature, in that he is the Father, most glorious in his own person, and with his glory outshining all other things.
rev 4:4(5) And round about the throne [were] four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
(5) By the company attending about him in that, as that most high Judge, he is accompanied with the most honourable attendance of prophets and apostles both of the old and new Church, whom Christ has made to be priests and kings; (Rev 1:6, Rev 5:10).
rev 4:5(6) 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.
(6) By effects, in that most mightily he speaks all things by his voice and word, (Psa 29:3) and with the light of his Spirit and prudence peruses and passes through all.
rev 4:6(7) And before the throne [there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
(7) By instruments used, in that he has both a most ready treasury and a workhouse excellently furnished with all things, to the executing of his will, which things flow from his commandment, as repeated in (Rev 15:2) and has also the angels ready administers of his counsel and pleasure to all parts of the world, continually watching, (in this verse) working by reason otherwise than the instruments without life last mentioned, courageous as lions, mighty as bulls, wise as men, swift as eagles (Rev 4:7) most apt to all purposes as furnished with wings on every part, most piercing of sight, and finally, pure and holy spirits always in continual motion (Rev 4:8).
rev 4:8And the (b) four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not (8) day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
(b) Every beast had six wings. (8) By events, in that for all the causes before mentioned, God is glorified both by angels, as holy, Judge, omnipotent, eternal and immutable and also after their example he is glorified by holy men (Rev 4:9) in sign and speech (Rev 4:10).
rev 4:9And when those beasts (c) give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
(c) God is said to have glory, honour, kingdom, and such like given to him, when we godly and reverently set forth that which is properly and only his.
rev 4:10(9) The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
(9) Three signs of divine honour given to God, prostration or falling down, adoration and casting their crowns before God: in which the godly, though made kings by Christ, willingly empty themselves of all glory, moved with a religious respect for the majesty of God.
rev 4:11(10) Thou art worthy, O Lord, (11) to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
(10) The sum of their speech: that all glory must be given to God: the reason, because he is the eternal beginning of all things, from whose only will they have their being, and are governed: and finally in all respects are that which they are.
(11) That is, that you should challenge the same to yourself alone. But as for us, we are unworthy, that even by your goodness we should share in this glory. So far has been discussed the principal cause unapproachable, which is God.