The living creatures in heaven give glory, honor and thanks to the Enthroned One (Revelation 4:9). But when the elders sing, they don’t offer “thanks,” but praise the worthiness of God to receive “glory, honor, and power” (4:11).

This isn’t glory, honor, and power given by one Person of the Trinity and received by another. The elders are raising the “One who sits on the throne,” the Father, and they say He is worthy of receiving power.

We can make sense (somewhat) of the notion that God receiving glory and honor from creatures. It makes sense to say that God receives our thanks. But can God receive power from the praise of creatures? 

We can make sense sense of saying that God is worthy of praise, honor, glory, and thanks. But worthy of receiving power? Hasn’t He always had all power?

Perhaps we should soften this by saying that the elders say God is worthy to receive their attributions of power, their accolades to Him as the powerful one. They don’t actually add anything to God’s glory or honor either; they only acknowledge glory and honor that He already had.

I’m inclined to go for something more racy and paradoxical. Cornelius Van Til liked to speak of the “full-bucket paradox.” God is eternally full of all glory, yet it is still true to say that God is glorified in creation and redemption and in our praise. Might we say something similar of God’s power? While He always had all power, yet in the creation of the world (the focus of Revelation 4:11), He somehow not only displays His power but is empowered - that in creating all things He proves Himself worthy to receive power. 

The praise of heaven suggests that we might say this much, but it is difficult to say more.

More on: Revelation

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

Loading...