What is the Scroll in Revelation?

Rev 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?”


Revelation 4-5 is the perspective of the ascension of Jesus from heaven. Jesus in his ascension is the one who comes to sit at the right hand of the throne. It’s what we confess, “He is seated at the right hand of God”, and here is the event when this happens. But what is the scroll? And why is it significant? The answer is debated (Lamb’s book of life, the book of the new covenant, the Torah fulfilled in Christ, a record of the future tribulation, a bill of divorce, the record of human sin, the book of what remains for humanity, etc).

I have been convinced that the significance has to do with Jesus’ kingship. Recall in the Torah, there were provisions for the office of king. If and when the nation of Israel had a king, there were certain instructions given to the king by God. One of them was that he would have the book of the law by his side.

Deut 17:18 And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom,  he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by  the Levitical priests.19 And  it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life,  that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

When Saul is anointed as king over Israel, Samuel gives him a book in accordance with the Law

1 Sam 10:24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted,  “Long live the king!” 25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home.

It was a book entailing all of his duties of the kingdom and God’s Law. So then he would study it and as he studied it, it would guide him in his rule. When Joash is made king the ceremony is repeated

2 Kgs 11:12 Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said,  “Long live the king!”

When the king has a book in his hand, it is his authority by which he rules. It is guidance for the office, even though the man may change, the standard has been established by God. And so when Josiah discovers the Book he enters into God’s perverted worship and cleans it by breaking the idols of the false gods.

These Davidic kings all pre-figure the ultimate son of David, Jesus Christ. He enters into his throne room and receives the testimony, the Book, the Scroll as is fitting for a king. He alone is worthy to open it, which raises the next question, “What are the contents?”


Recall when the prophet Ezekiel is given a scroll

Ezek 2:9 And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. 10 And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. 3:1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.

Ezekiel eats a scroll that is described like the scroll in Rev 5, a scroll “scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” Both scrolls are described as being written on front and back. And both prophets (Ezekiel and John are told to eat the scroll and it will taste like honey)

Rev 10:9 So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”

For Ezekiel the Scroll contained the message he was to deliver to the people. But for John the scroll is sealed and no one is able to open it but the ascended Lord Jesus who is the King.

At this point John is not privy to the contents. Following the example of Ezekiel, who received words of future judgment and lamentations, the contents of the scroll in Rev 5 contain the promises and warnings that will be the contents of John message. These contents are laid out in Rev 12-16.

Daniel received a book and he was told to seal it and shut it up till the end of time

Dan 12:4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end.

Now is the end of time. Now is when the book can be opened. And all that is written on both sides will come to pass. The writings, as I understand it, are the unveiling of the rest of history for the church. There is nothing that can be added, the scroll is full. His servants will be vindicated, his throne will be over heaven and earth. So the angel will cry out with heaven

Rev 11:15 …“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of  his Christ, and  he shall reign forever and ever.”