The songs of praise in the heavenly temple are tradically structured (Revelation 4). 

The first (Revelation 4:8) is the most obvious; it is a triad of traids. A triple sanctus, followed by a triple name of God (kurios, theos, pantokrator), followed by the name of God in three tenses (was, is, coming). If we are to match the three triadic titles with the three persons, we have these correlations: The Father is thrice holy, the Son is Lord God Almighty, and the Spirit is the rhythm of past, presence, and future coming. In 1:4, the name “was, is, coming” is a name of the Father, an expansion of Yahweh. Here it doesn’t seem to name the Father but, if anything, the Spirit.

The second hymn in 4:11 is also a triad  of triads, if somewhat less obviously: Worthy Lord God; a triple reception of glory, honor, and power; a threefold description of creation (did created, because of will, because of will created). If we are to correlate these to the persons, we have this: The Father is the worthy Lord God; the Son receives glory, honor, and power; the Spirit is the Creator.

Once the Lamb takes the scroll, the song resumes (5:9-10), focused on the Lamb but again with a triadic structure at least in part. The Son is worthy to take the book and break the seals (perhaps a faint triad of worthy, take, break), and this worthiness is based on His triple work: He was slain, He purchased, He made them a kingdom and priests. The purchased people are fourfold (tribe, tongue, people, nation) but also tradic (kingdom, priests, who reign). If we sum up the purchased people, they are a seven; if we multiply them, they are a twelve.

The hymn in 5:12 is again faintly tradic (worthy, Lamb, slain), but the accent is on the heptamerous list of gifts received: power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing. We have moved from the triad of traids in chapter 4 to a creation-based numerology of sevens in chapter 5.

That creation-based numerology is also evident in the final hymn in 5:13: The Enthroned One and the Lamb received a fourfold gift of “blessing, honor, glory, dominion,” a fourfold gift matching the four corners of the creation, the four winds of heaven, the triple-triple God extending dominion to the corners of creation.

More on: Revelation, Trinity

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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