Many claim there is a hearing/seeing theme in the book of Revelation, where John hears something, then sees something (or the other way around), and that both what he sees and hears have the same referent. The classic example is Revelation 5:5,6, where one of the elders tells John to look at a lion, and then sees a lamb. That both the lion and the lamb refer to Christ is sufficiently clear.

Many scholars use this hearing/seeing principle to identify referents throughout Revelation. For example, some scholars identify the 144,000 with the Great Multitude (Rev 7), because John hears the number 144,000, and then sees a great multitude. Some identify the new heavens and new earth with the New Jerusalem (Rev 21), appealing to the fact that one is seen and one is heard. (New Jerusalem is actually seen, but see Beale.)

However, it seems the only clear example ever appealed to for such a hearing/seeing principle is Rev 5:5,6. The identifications in Rev 7 and 21 are very disputable and rest on this hearing/seeing principle already existing. They cannot, in my view, be used to establish such a principle. At most, they demonstrate that John often sees something and then hears something, not necessarily that what he sees and hears are in fact the same thing.

Is it reasonable to establish a seeing/hearing principle merely on the basis of one clear example, namely Rev 5:5,6?

Are there other examples of hearing and seeing that clearly have the same referent and might lend credibility to such a hearing/seeing principle?

  • You say, "two symbols or visions are juxtaposed, one heard and one seen", but John doesn't HEAR a vision. What he does hear, is an instruction to BEHOLD a lion, but when he looks, he BEHOLDS a lamb. So, we are really looking for instances where John is told to behold a certain thing, but then is shown something other than he would expect.
    – enegue
    Dec 24, 2016 at 5:42
  • @enegue I adjusted the language in my question, hopefully clearer now. Dec 27, 2016 at 14:21
  • @למה זה תשאל לשמ ''a voice or sound, noise'' or simply 'speech' which is 'heard' in many places in scriptures signifies 'deeds' NOT narrated in the account but are the reason for the things said. E.g in Job 21:14 , the wicked 'say' to God the things, but some don't even believe there's a God to start with, indicating that their 'deeds' are the 'speech' which 'says' to God 'depart, we desire not to know your ways. In the case of Mal 1:12-13, no Israelite, no Israelite who 'sacrifices' would ever utter words written in these verses against God. Yet their 'deeds' before God 'say', even 'worse'
    – Ted O
    Mar 9, 2017 at 13:31
  • As to the seeing, God gives understanding for the 'signs' that He 'makes' in scriptures or in visions through what is written elsewhere in the same scriptures. There's NO symbol in REVELATION that isn't mentioned elsewhere in the writtings, including some relegated to, or simply rejected as 'extra biblical'
    – Ted O
    Mar 9, 2017 at 13:35

3 Answers 3

  1. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
    -- Revelation 5:5-6 (KJV)

    John is exhorted to behold the LION OF JUDAH, but when he looks he beholds a SLAIN LAMB.

    Implication: the SLAIN LAMB == the LION OF JUDAH

    This, then, is the model for what I believe the OP requires, i.e. John is being exhorted/instructed to behold a certain thing, but then is shown something other than he would expect.

  2. 9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
    -- Revelation 21:9-11 (KJV)

    John is beckoned by an angel to come and see THE LAMB'S WIFE, but when carried away to a mountain top, he is shown THE NEW JERUSALEM.

    Implication: the NEW JERUSALEM == the LAMB'S WIFE

  3. 1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
    3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
    -- Revelation 17:1-3 (KJV)

    John is beckoned by an angel to come and see THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT WHORE SITTING ON MANY WATERS, but when carried away into the wilderness he is shown A WOMAN SITTING ON A SCARLET COLOURED BEAST.

    Implication: the SCARLET BEAST arose from the MANY WATERS (Revelation 13:1)

Pretty well everything John witnessed in his vision would have been unexpected, but these examples fit the model as it was defined by the OP.

At this time I am unable to find an example in regard to the 144,000 that fits the model. I am still looking for other examples, though, and will add any that are found.

  • Those are good examples. What I'm primarly interested in is whether it can be sustained that the hearing/seeing model implies identification. If so, then the lamb's wife is the New Jerusalem (example 2), and the many waters are the scarlet coloured beast (example 3). Dec 27, 2016 at 14:31
  • @enegue, when you say you're unable to find an example in regard to the 144,000 do you mean one that fits the example when describing the 144,000? Or an example that is similar to the description of the 144,000? May 1, 2018 at 5:39

Some answers already covered many of these, but one that was missing was the "hearing" the genealogy/census of the 144,000 (cf. Numbers chapter 1 for an example of a census), but seeing a multitude "which no man could number" from every nation and speaking every tongue.

Genealogies are very important in Ancient cultures--their identities are found in their familial lines. So when John hears the 144,000, he hears Israel "receiving the kingdom of God" again (cf., The disciples' question to Jesus about Israel receiving the kingdom in Acts 1).

When John hears this, he hears that what his people have hoped for is coming to pass. When he "looks," he sees an innumerable number of people from all walks of life receiving the kingdom:

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 7:13-17

So the "hear/see" motif is present here as well, and is reminiscent of Romans 9, where it is the children of the promise of Abraham, not just his physical descendants, who are regarded as "offspring"


The theme throughout the Bible is hearing , seeing, walking, as symbols of being drawn to, understanding and living. Or it's opposite: deaf, blind and lame.

John was drawn to the lion as a sheep who hears the voice of a shepherd, without understanding the words. He understood the works of the lamb.

The words light and lion are puns in Hebrew, suggesting that the lion is like God's holiness. It is also a pun to skin. Adam was covered with something like God's holiness.

The word said/word is a pun to lamb. Only modern vowels separate them. When God said: Let there be light., He created light by the lamb. God's Holiness is revealed by the lamb at the cross.The lamb created light.

  • Not sure what needs sourced. Details?
    – Bob Jones
    Dec 3, 2017 at 23:46

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