Examining Scripture: The “Lord God Almighty” of Revelation Chapter 4

The book of Revelation is one full of mysteries and types, revealing to the church things future and things heavenly, not as they are, but in symbols. Throughout the book we have many wonderful descriptions of God, His Son, and His Spirit. Within the book the persons are referenced many times by various titles and names, and various descriptions of them are given. Because of all this, the book of Revelation is really a very theological book in that it has much to tell us about God Himself, and the Trinity, even apart from the main focus of the book on the events it describes.

In this article on I want to focus on Revelation’s description of God. He is, of course, spoken of throughout; but chapters four and five will specifically be our focus as they give us a picture of the worship in heaven, and the Trinity.

Revelation Chapter 4, NKJV, reads:

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

11 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.””

Revelation 5, likewise NKJV, continues:

“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. 2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. 5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”

In the above text of scripture, we see a picture given of heavenly worship in which we see the entire Trinity. Immediately, in 4:2, we are told of one who sits on the throne, and given a description of Him, and His throne. Included in that description of the surroundings is that there were “seven lamps burning before the throne”, symbolic in this vision, we are told, of the Holy Spirit.

As we continue through chapter four we have more of the surroundings of the throne described, including the living creatures and the twenty-four elders. In verses 8-10, we at last, in seeing a description of the worship given to the one upon the throne, are given more detail as to His identity.

The person on the throne is the Father. This should be obvious, but given semi-modalists’ attempts to insert the Trinity conceived of as a person (“God the Trinity”) into scripture anywhere they can, this must be addressed in detail. Firstly, let us note that the Spirit is symbolized by the lamps, we are told, and in the next chapter, a continuation of the same vision, we see the Lamb introduced, who is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son. If one were to argue then that it is not the Father pictured on the throne, then the Father would be absent from this scene of heavenly worship altogether, with only the Son and Spirit being mentioned specifically. It is a much more natural reading to understand that all three persons are spoken of distinctly; the Spirit, symbolized by the lamps, the Son, symbolized by the Lamb, the the Father, symbolized by the one sitting upon the throne.

But if we examine the description of the one sitting on the throne in detail, no question can remain that it is the person of the Father. Firstly, let us note the explicitly personal language used by those worshipping the one on the throne, in bold below:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

11 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.””

Not a single line of the worship we see given to the one on the throne does not make reference to the fact that He is a single person. To those semi-modalists, of course, who deny that such language carries significance, little can be done to help. But if anyone believes the words of scripture that “all scripture is profitable for our instruction”, and that every jot and tittle are of value and importance, then surely they must agree that the very language used to describe God in His glory cannot be disregarded as something trivial or meaningless.

So then, if we faithfully believe what scripture says instead of disregarding it, we will acknowledge that the one on the throne is presented as being a single person. This then entirely rules out the possibility that the Trinity is in view, as the Trinity is not a person, but rather is a group of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The use of singular and not plural personal pronouns, then, tells us that the one being worshipped in not the Trinity, whoever He may be. This mere fact alone combined with the separate mention of the Son and Holy Spirit in the vision should be enough for anyone to be able to discern already that it is the Father on the throne. The Son and Spirit being mentioned separately, there is no other divine person it could be on the throne besides the Father.

But we are given still more detail, which precludes the possibility that it could be any other person. We read that the creatures proclaim day and night without end: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” The word “Almighty” here is the Greek word “pantokrator”, which means ‘ruler over all’. This word is only used for the person of the Father in scripture. This is different than the Latin word “omnipotent” (all-powerful), which is more commonly what is thought of as equivalent to the English “Almighty”. Thus “Almighty” here is best read as not referring strictly to God’s divine power and ability, but rather to His supreme dominion over all. This then, if taken in an unqualified and absolute sense, which is natural to the reading of the passage, cannot refer to any other person than the Father, since the Father alone has supreme headship and authority over all; not only over all creation, as His Son and Spirit likewise have, but also over His own only-begotten Son and Holy Spirit (for more detail on this, see: Why There is Only One God: Headship). The Father alone is “pantokrator”, Ruler over all, in an absolute and unqualified sense.

This Headship over all, signified by “Almighty”, is not an essential attribute of God, of course. Headship and authority are by nature relational, not essential. To say that the Father is the Supreme Authority over all does not tell us what He is in His divine nature, but rather describes the relationship of authority and headship that He has with all else. Thus, we can regard the Father alone as “Almighty” in terms of being the Supreme Authority over all, while at the same time affirming with scripture that the Son and Holy Spirit share the Father’s divine nature.

We see then, a clear picture of the Trinity painted in these chapters: the Lord God Almighty, the Father, seated on His throne, seven lamps signifying the Holy Spirit, and the Lamb, the Son. So much more could said here about this passage of scripture, and the beautiful descriptions of God’s glory that are given. But for now, it suffices for our purposes to have briefly noted the Trinity pictured so clearly in this divine vision.

 

7 thoughts on “Examining Scripture: The “Lord God Almighty” of Revelation Chapter 4”

  1. Hello! Im glad i just seen your page, im starting to fight this heresy of Modalism its a very strange and exciting heresy for the confusion that it is. I have a comment on what you said, you have made a small error let me show you and
    I quote “We read that the creatures proclaim day and night without end: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” The word “Almighty” here is the Greek word “pantokrator”, which means ‘ruler over all’. This word is only used for the person of the Father in scripture.”

    “The word “Almighty” here is the Greek word “pantokrator”, which means ‘ruler over all’. This word is only used for the person of the Father in scripture.”

    The above quote where it says “The word Almighty” you said that the word Almighty is only used for the person of the Father, that is not correct in Rev 1:8 we see the word Almighty which in greek is “Pantokrator” is being used here for Jesus for he himself is speaking. There could be other places but I haven’t checked, please make sure to correct it God bless. Thanks for all the info!!

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    1. Hi Cesar,

      I would understand Rev 1:8 as being spoken by the Father, actually. The text there is contextually ambiguous about Who is speaking, as Rev 1:8 is sort of an ellipses between what was said previously, ending in “Amen”, and what comes next, when John introduces himself as speaking. We are therefore left only with the words of that verse itself from which to determine Who is the one speaking- and I would see the word “Almighty” being used there as an indicator that it is indeed the Father speaking there, as well as the other parallels to the way the Father in particular is spoken of throughout the book, such as the one speaking referring to Himself as “He Who was, and is, and is to come”. All that taken into account, I believe that within the context of Revelation as a whole it makes the most sense to understand that verse as referring to the Father.

      In Christ,

      Andrew Davis

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      1. Ah i see your point brother, Rev 21:22 makes a distinction in the passage. What do you with Rev 16:14 For Rev 16 the great battle will be between Jesus and satan and his sons and daughters etc.
        Another question what dose it mean which was and IS TO COME? Rev 16:15 Jesus says he is coming. How is God the father coming or “going” to a place? Thanks!

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  2. As far as “the day of the Lord” mentioned in 16:14, I wouldn’t see that as a reason to think “God Almighty” there is referring to the Son, since we know that the defeat of Satan and the judgement of the world is accomplished by the Father through the Son. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,” (John 5:22 NKJV) “because He [the Father] has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:31 NKJV). I think in Rev 4-5 we are given a key to understanding the rest of the book in reference to Who is being referred to by the names “the Lord God, the Almighty”, and “the Lamb”, when the “Lord God Almighty” is used of the Father in particular, and “the Lamb” of the Son. This pattern is continued throughout the rest of the book, in my opinion.

    To address your second question I would take “is to come” as simply referring to God’s eternal existence into the future, especially in light of the context in which it usually appears- “He Who was, and is, and is to come”- this seems to be addressing God’s eternality in terms of His omnipresence in time, that He always has existed in the past, always exists in the present, and that He always will exist in the future. However, this could also be read with reference to God’s “coming” to earth in some way in the future, because, as is spoken of in Rev 21:22, God will dwell among His people in the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven and rests in the new earth. While God is omnipresent, there is a special sense in which the scriptures presently speak of heaven as His dwelling, and in the future, seem to ascribe that special presence of God to the heavenly city on the new earth, so that could possibly be related in terms of His “coming”.

    In Christ,

    Andrew Davis

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    1. Makes sense. Thanks brother! Illbe surely reading you website more, im sharing it to others as well! If you have an instagram account ill like to take a follow.

      Like

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