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And when He had taken the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-our elders

fell down

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before the LAMB; each of them had a harp and golden bowls

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full of incenses,

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which are the prayers required for a pure life.


And when He had taken the message, the representatives of all living things and the representatives of all types of authority showed their submission to THE ONLY EFFICACIOUS SACRIFICE, ready to show Him honor with songs of praise and with the collection of pure lives, especially the prayers required for a pure life.



“Fell down” is a quasi-symbol which means they knelt down before Him with their faces to the ground as a sign of submission.


A bowl was for collecting things, often collecting the evidence for the need for punishment. Here it is the actions, attitudes and prayers of the faithful saints that have been collected.

Gold stands for purity. Since these are the collections of the lives and prayers of the faithful ones, God sees them as “golden,” i.e. pure.


“incenses” here is plural. The word “prayers” is also plural. “Incenses” are the prayers of the saints; the bowls collect and hold those prayer.

Incense is explained here because it is a slight variation from the normal idea of incense. Incense represented one’s entire life, every aspect of it. Giving one’s life to God is our purest form of worship to God. However, prayer is a very important part of living a pure life, and in this case prayer is being highlighted above the other aspects of life. (See my note on Revelation 8:3 for a fuller explanation of the normal use of incense and how it represents one’s entire life, of which prayer is an important part.) This was intended to encourage those who had been faithful amid persecution or stiff opposition to keep praying, for God does not forget even one prayer, but collects them.

Think about the accumulation of your deeds in general, and specifically of your prayers. Would there be much to accumulate or collect? Would there be much to show for the time you claim to have been a follower of Christ?