In Revelation 5:1, John introduces a scroll with seven seals:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.

The Lamb is found worthy to open the scroll, and in chapter six the Lamb opens the seals one by one with various judgments ensuing. Some commentators seem to take this as a progressive unrolling and reading of the scroll as the seals are broken. For instance, Paige Patterson (NAC) writes:

Already the nature of the scroll has been described by John as one that had writing literally on the front and back sides (see 5:1). The necessity was to open the seals so that the scroll could be unrolled and the text deciphered. Logically then, the scroll, having been opened one-seventh of the way, would make possible John’s reading of the scroll, and he would be summoned to read it.

However, others insist that the scroll cannot be read until all seven seals are opened. For instance, Grant Osborne writes in the BECNT:

It is also important to realize that the scroll is not opened up until all seven seals are opened.

Is there any archaeological evidence that would help us understand how scrolls and seals operated? (A seven-fold sealing seems like it is in itself unusual, so maybe this is a blind alley?) Should the judgments be taken as a progressive reading of the scroll as it is opened 1/7th at a time? Or is Osborne correct that the reading of the scroll awaits the opening of all seven seals?

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According to BDAG, the seven seals of Revelation 5:2, 9, 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, etc, are "the substance which bears the imprint made by a signet and seals a document, seal", usually with hot wax as a substrate on the rolled scroll or parchment.

I have always imagined that the scroll sealed with seven seals looked something like the illustration below. They were presumably made with wax but could also be made with soft damp clay that was allowed to dry but these latter tended to spall and crack easily. Therefore, wax was preferred as the substrate on the scroll.

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I have to agree with Patterson's interpretation, because that is exactly what the sixth chapter describes.

A brief summary of ch6 is that each time a seal is broken, something happens. The best way of understanding this effect is to take the event itself as the newly revealed "content" of the scroll. Thus the breaking of the first seal allows the opening of the scroll to the extent that we can see the first portion of "content", namely the arrival of the first horseman. And so on.

In this way, the sixth chapter represents the progressive unrolling and reading of the first six portions of the scroll. In support of this interpretation, we would have to ask when exactly, otherwise, the reading of the scroll is known to take place. If Osborne was right, the reading would be postponed until ch8. But there is no evidence of any such reading in ch8 itself.On the opening of the seventh seal, the scroll is apparently forgotten. On my theory, the content of the seventh portion is the remainder of the book of Revelation (including the seven bowls).

If the purpose of the seals is to enforce a progressive reading, then contemporary practice (which wouldn't normally have this intention) doesn't help us. Instead, we have to work out what would be necessary to achieve this special effect.

In a modern office (or at least a nearly modern pre-digital office) it could be done through the use of paperclips or staples. The scroll could be rolled up from the bottom up to the beginning of the last section, and then "sealed" to prevent easy opening. Then up to the beginning of the sixth section and sealed again. And so on, until the top seal, the first seal to be broken, is placed over all the rest. It would not look tidy and artistic, but it would do the job. And spiritual seals might look neater than waxen ones.


It is a will, after a manner. Roman law required a will to be witnessed and sealed by 7 witnesses. When it was to be opened, the 7 witnesses and /or their representatives had to be present. That is historical for the times. My personal take for the opening is that the 4 creatures and the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are th 7 witnesses. That is not meant to be doctrinal , only my take on the witness part.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 19:54

Perhaps, the seals represent the governance of satans rule on earth, conquer through religion, war, commerce, sickness, plague and death. The Depiction is the final warning in heavens throneroom, a seal comes off and the oppressive force, (black horse) is told to Get Out! "Go!" Yeshua is cleaning house.7 witnesses makes sense, 7 is also the number of totality or completion. satan had total control after Adam lost it. I suppose whenever the 7th millennium actually starts, Yeshua having attained All Authority can begin throwing the bum out. Eventually he is cast down, and gives all his power to AC, maybe AOC, but that's a stretch. : ) But all 4 horses equates to peace leaving the earth, and that it has. Shalom Family Shalom.


One scroll 7 seals. the scripture says Jesus the Lamb broke open the first seal, John heard a voice- and heard as it were a great thunder and one of the beasts/Creatures say come and see! it never says The Lamb read what was on the scroll- And it continues the same with the others -

It is revealing that the Lamb, with supreme authority breaks the seals starting the final judgment- nothing is read but the breaking of the seals are the setting in motion what has for millennia been known by God- The breaking of the first second third fourth seal the creature tells John to come and see- not read out - fifth, sixth John just sees what he sees, no voice- All this time the words are not read out from the scroll because it could not unfold until the 7th was broken chapter 8 Then ..... there was silence in heaven for about 30 mins-

The scroll was now unfurled and what was on it could be seen. But this does not mean it would be read out, it could mean the words on the scroll were living and active like a 2 edged sword, the very words themselves were the power of God being let out to do their works, as in the beginning The world was first formed by the Word of God in creation, the word is the power of God.

Never had heaven been silent it was a reverence so sublime, because this was the consummation of all things, Jesus's final bringing forth of His travail, His earthly work was complete, now His Bringing in His Sovereign Kingdom work was being completed to end sin and wrong forever- By that same word- The heavenly host stood to attention as a mark of awesome respect to what was finally about to happen.

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