What or who are the four living creatures in the Book of Revelation?
The Four Living Creatures
The first appearance of the four living creatures comes in Revelation 4:8 where the Apostle John writes about “a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Rev 4:1) and John saw “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal” (Rev 4:4-6a). The “twenty-four elders” who are “clothed in white garments” and had “golden crowns on their heads” may well symbolize the believers who have repented and trusted in Christ and as such, may represent the church. They could also be angelic messengers but other theologians, such as Dr. R.C. Sproul, feels that they are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them which Jesus spoke about to the disciples in John 14:1-4.
The Four Living Creatures Purpose
As we continue in Revelation 4, “the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). These creatures could be cherub angels whose job is to worship God non-stop, 24/7 and “whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying” (Rev 4:9-10). Like the angels, the twenty-four elders also worship Him Who is seated on the throne” and Him “who lives forever and ever” clearly meaning Jesus Christ. Their praise ought to be our praise too as they proclaim “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11). Since Jesus is also known as the Creator, this seems to be angelic beings those redeemed by the blood of the Lamb who are worshiping Christ.
In Revelation chapter 5 we read where, in the Apostle John’s vision, he “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. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals” (Rev 5:1-5). Of course, this “Lamb” is Jesus Christ who was the only one worthy to open the scroll for Jesus is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the root of David.” No one else “in heaven or earth or under the earth (the dead) were “able to open the scroll.” Jesus alone is most worthy.
Who are the Four Living Creatures?
Next, John continues to write about the “four living creatures” in the Book of Revelation chapter 5 where the Apostle John writes that “between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev 5:6-8). Ezekiel also mentions four living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5 where he writes about four living creatures so these creatures are not confined to the Book of Revelation.
All I know for sure is that those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, will join with the four living creatures and they will also worship the Lamb of God for ever and ever for as John writes, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.