Revelation chapter 5:

1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Revelation chapter 8:

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

We spend three chapters opening the scroll, with significant events for each seal being opened. But what is the significance of the scroll itself? There's a lot of excitement about finding one worthy to open it, and trouble caused by its opening, but we never find out anything about its contents. Is there some implied information here? Something cultural and assumed by the original audience? An external reference?

What is the scroll with the seven seals?

4 Answers 4


The scroll had seven seals. Each time a seal is opened, certain events are revealed. Thus the content of the scroll is revealed pictorially by the events John sees each time a seal is opened. Each time a seal is opened, a new part of the scroll is revealed.

As to what the significance of the scroll is, these are the facts:
-The scroll itself has text on the inside and on the outside.
-Only Jesus was worthy to open the scroll
-The seven trumpets are part of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1-6)
-At the end of the seventh trumpet (that is, at the very end of the seventh seal), it is said, Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15).
-Thus, at the end of the seals, the world has become God's kingdom. When everything in the scroll has transpired, the universe fully belongs to God.

Deeds to property would often have a brief description of the contents on the outside, visible without opening it, and details on the inside. It is not unreasonable to see the scroll as a sort of "title deed to the universe", as it was written both on the outside and on the inside. This theory explains John's consternation when no one was found worthy to open the scroll: the contents of the scroll are not a mystery to John, because he has read the brief description on the outside of the scroll and knows that it is the document that proves God's ownership of the universe. If no one were able to open it, would the world continue as it was without God's intervention; would there be no relief or justice for the martyrs? Happily, Jesus was worthy to open it, being perfect in justice and in mercy, in authority and in humility.

  • 2
    "The scroll itself has test on the inside and on the outside"? Plus one for a succinct answer. Oct 20, 2013 at 20:16
  • 2
    Haha, thanks! Have changed the "test" into "text", making the inauguration of God's kingdom on Earth sound less like a math quiz.
    – Niobius
    Oct 21, 2013 at 14:11
  • The usefulness of this answer hangs on the validity of the claim that the outside of scrolls often contained a summary of the contents of the scroll. Can you please provide a primary source for that information? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 24, 2017 at 4:55
  • I haven't found scriptural evidence, but having an abstract on the backside of a title deed scroll is called an opisthrograph and was a common practice in the ancient world, evidently. blog.twotwentyeight.com/2017/08/… Jan 25, 2021 at 3:49
  • @Niobius Thank you for a great answer. May I quote and reference your answer within the context of a study on Revelation?
    – user36337
    Sep 20, 2021 at 19:50

As I explain in my new book "God's Strategic Plan", this scroll is a judgement lien. A judgement lien is issued by a court where a debtor (you/me) is unable to satisfy a debt (caused by our sin) and this document authorizes that the debtor's assets (our very souls) be forfeit in judgement. A person subject to a judgment lien is subject to lawful judgement and forfeiture and is often forced to declare bankruptcy (seek protection of the court). The scene in Revelation 5 is in fact a court session being called to order by the strong angel before the Righteous Judge in which man (possibly represented by the weeping John) is subject to sentence. John wept because he knew that man's fate was sealed in that scroll. Then, steps forward, the only Person worthy to take the scroll of judgement from the right hand of the Righteous Judge; the Lamb who was slain and who righteous sacrifice paid the debt on behalf of man.

According to God's law without the shedding of (innocent and worthy) blood, there is no remission or release of judgement for sin. Therefore only the innocent Lamb that was slain was worthy to take the judgement scroll and legally discharge it as a lien on the souls of all men. This was a critical aspect of God's Strategic Plan.

  • 1
    Hi Robert, thanks for this welcome contribution. Your book looks very interesting, I've added a link to it on Amazon (but please feel free to change that if you wish). Apr 6, 2014 at 8:04
  • Thanks Jack. I am new to this so your help is much appreciated. Apr 6, 2014 at 13:36
  • The usefulness of this answer hangs on the validity of the claim that the scroll was a judgment scroll. Can you please provide a primary source for what a judgment scroll is and why that is what this scroll is? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 24, 2017 at 4:58

Here to help - not to hinder.

The answer is simple.The scroll is written on both sides.It is 2 books in one.The chapters do not run consecutively.They run concurrently.To see them running consecutively is a pitfall and a landmine. Chapters 6 to 11 is one .Chapters 12 to 16 is the other.Its a vision of history being unfolded from when John received the vision.Example we are now in the period in Revelation 11:15 that is the 7th and final trumpet.This ties in exactly with chapter 16:17 the last vial.The important message here for us is in 16:15 AND TO KEEP HIS GARMENTS.

Worth a good look at EPHESIANS 5:27 "That he might present it to himself a glorious church , not having spot , or wrinkle , or any such thing : but that it should be holy and without blemish."

When someone important is coming to visit,should not one prepare oneself?.


Daniel was given a prophetic secret with seven "Do Not Open Until Christmas" seals because the fulfillment of those prophecies was still a couple of hundred years away:

[Dan 12:4 NLT] (4) But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase."

Right on Daniel's timeline/agenda given in his prophecies the Messiah appeared to fulfill all of prophecy. Those things written in the scroll concerned the LORD's Day (the first 70 years of the first century). For thousands of years God had promised that Israel's end would one day come with horrific judgment from God. The angel tells Daniel that in the seven (7) years of tribulation that "shatters the holy people" EVERYTHING predicted will have occured:

[Dan 12:6-13 NLT] (6) One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, "How long will it be until these shocking events are over?" (7) The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, "It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened." (8) I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, "How will all this finally end, my lord?" (9) But he said, "Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. (10) Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means. (11) "From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. (12) And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days! (13) "As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you."

[Rev 22:10 NLT] (10) Then he instructed me, "Do not seal up the prophetic words in this book, for the time is near.

[Luk 21:20-24 NLT] (20) "And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived. (21) Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city. (22) For those will be days of God's vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled. (23) How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. For there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. (24) They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.

In complete agreement with the angel in Daniel's prophecy Jesus says:

[Luk 21:27-33 NLT] (27) Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. (28) So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!" (29) Then he gave them this illustration: "Notice the fig tree, or any other tree. (30) When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near. (31) In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. (32) I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have taken place. (33) Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

So Daniel's scroll contained the end of Israel as a holy nation. It was sealed up until the time of the Messiah and the LORD's Day. In Revelation the seals are opened, the judgments unleashed and the cataclysmic end of the KOSMOS (the old covenant, temple-based, Jerusalem based theocracy) and the arrival of the kingdom of heaven/God aka the new Jerusalem aka the body of Christ.

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