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Vision of the Holy Mystery 5:1-14

The Scroll 5:1

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. - Revelation 5:1

And I saw. . . By writing this, the Apostle John reminds us that this information is not his own invention but a divine revelation. The focus of this part of the vision is something held in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. In the previous chapter it was established that the one on the throne is God the Father (See notes on Chapter 4, verse 2).

. . . a scroll. Scrolls were the "books" of the first century. They were made from papyrus or parchment, sections of which were glued together. Manuscripts of whole books of the Bible could be very long. They were rolled up in such a way that the current "page" could be scrolled to the right or to the left, revealing the previous or the next "page" of text. (See more about scrolls in Volume 1, Chapter 1, verse 4).

It was normal for scrolls to be written inside and on the back. If the quality of the material is good enough, both sides would be used for economy and to minimize the size of the scroll.

This special scroll was sealed with seven seals.

If the content of a scroll was private, it could be sealed by the placement of wax or another substance at the beginning of the rolled-up manuscript which would have to be broken, presumably by the intended reader, before it could be read. The seal would have the imprint of an important person's insignia. A person who was not authorized to read the scroll would not dare to break the seal, fearing the wrath of the one who sealed it.

In this case there are seven seals: one at the beginning, and six more at strategic portions of the manuscript. Thus the reader could scroll through the writing to a certain point, where he would encounter another seal, temporarily gluing the manuscript to the remainder of the roll. This seal would then need to be broken by the intended reader before proceeding. Each of the succeeding seals would likewise need to be broken to continue the story.

Next: Revelation 5:2-4


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