Rev. Ch5:1-6 has always intrigued me as to why John is weeping. If the book in the Father's hand is Revelation (which the seven seals indicate) why could John not open or look on the book he was instructed to write?

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    Once the seals are opened and it is revealed what happens when they are opened, it becomes clear why none had (yet) been found who was worthy to open up such consequences. Up-voted +1 .
    – Nigel J
    Nov 22, 2023 at 8:02
  • So do you think the book of Revelation that John is told to write (Rev.Ch.1:19), the book in the Father's hand that Jesus takes and breaks the seals (Ch.5:1-5), and the little book in
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 15:44
  • I'm sorry I was trying to ask if you thought all 3 books I mention in my comment are the same? Somehow I was cut off. Will go back and rewrite if necessary.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 16:04
  • I find this question quite stupefying, which I think you now realize judging from your first comment to @Dottard. It's an unapologetic downvote from me. Nov 25, 2023 at 2:58
  • Which Bible's Rev Ch.5:1-5 are you citing and why did choose that version and drop the rest? Nov 28, 2023 at 20:32

5 Answers 5


"If John wrote Revelations why could he not look at it?"

Because the sealed scroll is not the Book of Revelation. In the Book, John writes of several powerful visions and messages from Jesus. One of them is the vision in which he is told he is unworthy to open the scroll with seven seals. So the OP's question rests on a faulty assumption. The fact that there are seven seals on the scroll is not an indication that scroll is the same as the Book of Revelation.

  • Just a thought of mine, but the book in the Father's hand seems connected to the Book of Life. Since Jesus alone shed HIS blood to redeem us.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 16:24
  • Starting in chapter 6, the seals are broken and read. Some of the content is connected to the Book of life (such as the prophecy of 144,000) but several the sealed chapters refer to tribulations. See chapter 8 (the seventh seal) as an example. Nov 22, 2023 at 16:45
  • I don't know if everyone will see this comment of mine or just @ Dan Fefferman but here goes: In Rev.1:19 John is told " Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. This is 3 categories. Rev.4:1 says......Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. So taking all comments into appreciation can we all agree that the sealed book is the prophecy part only of Revelation that is Future to John's present time when he experienced chapters 1-3. Other words the time quoted as "hereafter" in ch.4:1.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 23, 2023 at 4:13
  • @RHPclass79... everyone can see it. Not sure I can agree that everything in the sealed book is in the future. For example in ch 6: "When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, “How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?” -- I read this as something happening in the present... although time in the spiritual world is hard to tell! --Try a new question on that? Nov 24, 2023 at 14:07
  • Now that would be a great discussion: Is there time in Heaven? Glad you hinted to it.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 24, 2023 at 19:10

The question asked is three-fold, (1) "Why is John weeping?" (2) Is it because he wrote the book of the Revelation but could not open, or look at it (read it)?" (3) Is it because only Jesus could open the seven-sealed book?"

  1. John is weeping because he had already started receiving visions and instructions from the risen Jesus Christ, who had appeared to him in a spectacular, knee-knocking vision. After hearing what Christ was pronouncing about the seven stars in his hand, representing seven congregations of believers in Asia Minor, he dutifully wrote those messages down, so that others could read the messages. That written part of what was to become the first three chapters of the book of Revelation shows a clear line of division between them and chapter four onward, which John could not possibly write down until the sealed book in God's hand had been opened. He could not even know what the seven seals were hiding until they had been opened. That was why he was weeping. There was more to be revealed. He could not reveal it. God knew who, alone, would open the seven-sealed scroll. Until the Lamb in the center of God's throne took the scroll from God (Revelation 5:6), John wept, distressed that the meaning of what the seals kept hidden might not be revealed.

  2. It should be clear now that John had heard and seen what could be called "the first opening" of the entire vision, up until the end of chapter three. From chapter four comes "the second opening" (to the end of chapter six) which expands on what has so far been revealed. John had been told to write, on Earth, what had been revealed to him in the first opening, but that only amounted to what has been categorised as the first three chapters of 22 chapters. Whatever God had in his hand could not be what John had written, not least because that was not sealed - it was to be sent to other Christians. Now came a new scroll with seven seals, and God in heaven held it. John had not written this scroll, let alone touched it! And, given what the Lamb then went on to reveal when he opened each seal in order, the contents were staggering news to John. Only after he had been privileged with witnessing each broken seal could he then write about them, for the upbuilding of the saints until Jesus' return.

  3. John was told to stop weeping, once one of the elders told him that the Lamb in the centre of the throne had prevailed to open the seals; he alone in all creation was worthy to open them (Revelation 5:5). And John did. We can rightly imagine that John's last tear fell as that elder told him to stop weeping - the mystery of the seven seals was about to be revealed, and he was to be privy to that revealing!

Here is a summary quote from a 600+ page book expounding the whole book of Revelation:

Chapter 4 envisages Almighty God, the Creator, upon the throne in heaven. The vision makes clear that no divine right to the Creation, or to world dominion, has at any time been relinquished despite the disastrous consequences of the Fall throughout the history of man. On the contrary, it is seen that God's claim to the earth, and those claims in their entirety, are not only asserted but are certain of vindication.

Judgment would be brought forth unto victory. But how? How, in a world more deeply revolted than ever, and man more abandoned in lawlessness than at any time hitherto? This was a sealed mystery.

In Chapter 5 John discloses that he saw in the right hand of him that sat upon the throne in heaven a book written within and on the backside, having seven seals. To John's immense sorrow, no man was found worthy to take and open the book, no, not in heaven, neither on earth, nor under the earth.

But John is consoled. In the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, 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.

The Lamb came, and he took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. All that is of God in heaven and earth thunder forth their praise, echoing and re-echoing from the vault of heaven down the steeps of time to the caverns of the deep.

One by one the Lamb breaks the seals asunder, till, at last, all seven opened, everything stands revealed. But there is a difference. Chapter 6 reveals the opening of the first four, then the fifth, and finally the sixth seal. This ushers in the Last Judgment. The seventh seal is an entirely different matter, leading on to yet another sevenfold disclosure, unique in itself.
Source: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, John Metcalfe, pp. 143-4, reprint 2022

  • Anne thank you for jumping in here. I can tell from your previous post that you gravitate toward prophecy, as do I. It is hard for me to see John weeping to see mankind almost wiped out by the future seal,trump, and vial events. I felt like there might be something more here than just the obvious. Rev.5:9&10 reference a "new song" predicated on redemption by Jesus' blood. This singing of a new song is rejoicing not weeping as John had been doing. Surely the "Revelation" of Jesus or second coming will be destruction for the unsaved but just the opposite for the saved.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 17:53
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    Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone! Whoops probably broke a rule, please forgive me.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 17:57
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    @RHPclass79 At the time of weeping, John had not seen any of the plagues that were to be poured out, nor the climax they would lead to, the Day of Judgment. He wept because it seemed as if he would not get to see what the scroll contained! The book I quoted from explains how the time-sequences run in Revelation; seven 'unfoldings' adding to the previous ones, enlarging the vision. May every day be one of thanks-giving from you and yours.
    – Anne
    Nov 22, 2023 at 18:14
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    @Anne I positively agree with your teaching that we are to endure the tribulation, not escape it. I take it that neither of us believe in Rapture theory. What I meant by "rescue" is that God responds against the persecutors and finally defeats them in the Return of Christ. There is no space here to discuss the lesson of ch12, that the tribulation of the church is Satan's revenge for the Atonement. Nov 23, 2023 at 9:28
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    This was a good answer to, let's face it, a badly worded/devised question. Well done, + 1. Nov 25, 2023 at 3:02

The reason John wept is explicitly stated in Rev 5:4 -

And I began to weep bitterly, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it.

That is, John wept because no one was worthy, until the Jesus came forward who is given three distinct titles in V5 & 6 -

  • the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
  • the Root of David
  • Lamb who appeared to have been slain

It was as a direct result of Jesus coming forward to open the seven seals that John was told NOT to weep (V5).

John could not look open the seven seals because, like everyone else (V3) except Jesus, John was unworthy to open the seven seals.

Rather simple actually.

  • I guess the question becomes why was John crying before the seals were broken. At that point how did John know whether it was good or bad?
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 22, 2023 at 18:37
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    @RHPclass79 - again, John wept because no one could be found that was worthy to open the seals!! Why is that difficult to grasp?
    – Dottard
    Nov 24, 2023 at 10:43
  • you are stating the obvious. I can read. Look at the response to this question. Obviously many others are interested as well. I base my questions on 20 years of Bible study and teaching, plus what many others have noticed and asked. When looking at other instances of prophets in the Bible like Jeremiah I see a strong common. Get it! Jeremiah the weeping prophet. I use the whole Bible to answer questions not commentaries. Maybe just as Jeremiah had warned Israel to repent and follow God ( but they did just the opposite) he weeped much for he new the wrath and judgement that was coming
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 24, 2023 at 18:58
  • Simple and obvious answer for sure, + 1. Nov 25, 2023 at 3:06

"Seven" is a number indicating "belonging to God".

The seven seals identify God as the author of the scroll, not John. So nobody in the created world (heaven or earth or under the earth) can open it. The event of the Cross, which makes the Lamb worthy, comes out of the relation between the Lamb and the one sitting on the throne. We know from John ch1 v3 ("All things were made through him") that the Son is not part of the creation but sits on the "Creator" side of the boundary between Creator and created things. He is now in heaven having returned to his Father in the Ascension.

The scroll is not the written book Revelation (how could John see a book he had not yet written?) Rather it contains the events of the rest of Revelation, which John can see once the scroll has been opened up, and the written book should be understood as the copy which John makes as he remembers those events.

  • What is the basis for the assertion in your first sentence?
    – Dottard
    Nov 24, 2023 at 10:43
  • It is an induction drawn from the use of the number in Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible, and applied as a generalisation. The meaning of symbols can't be proved absolutely. Nov 24, 2023 at 10:54
  • I appreciate your response although since God owns it all I will go with the established statement that seven in Heaven represents spiritual completion. Also the writing on the front and back of the scroll indicates the same. Not relevant though since I don't think anyone disagrees that it is Definitely God the father sitting on the throne. I think I have a new question as a result of this one. Can anyone tell me: should I open it as a new question .
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 24, 2023 at 19:53
  • I ran out of space on the last comment. What is the proper way of addressing a new question coming as a result of an existing one. Also myself and Stephen Disraeli have touched slightly on this thought in our previous remarks but it was not the primary subject. Are there plain rules on associated questions. Please do not reference previous rules on duplicate questions as they are too opinionated.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 24, 2023 at 20:04
  • Good answer, + 1. Loved your first paragraph. Do not however hold with your first and separate sentence. Seven represents "spiritual completion" just like the OP says in his first comment to you. Nov 25, 2023 at 3:19

The best answer for a scriptural question comes from the Bible itself. The Bereans searched the scriptures daily in Acts 17:11

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Paul taught in 2 Timothy 3:10

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

So we see a model for how to approach the interpretation of scripture given by scripture itself. The book of Jeremiah has a great example of a man of God warning of God's coming judgment but no one listened. In fact, they did just the opposite and died as a result. The fact that John was weeping is much similarity to Jeremiah also known as the "weeping prophet". I see significance in this parallel. Let those that have ears hear.

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