After this - Greek, "After these things" ; that is, after what he had seen, and after what he had been directed to record in the preceding chapters. How long after these things this occurred, he does not say - whether on the same day, or at some subsequent time; and conjecture would be useless. The scene, however, is changed. Instead of seeing the Saviour standing before him Rev. 1, the scene is transferred to heaven, and he is permitted to look in upon the throne of God, and upon the worshippers there.
I looked - Greek, "I saw" - ̓͂ eidon . Our word "look" would rather indicate purpose or intentions, as if he had designedly directed his attention to heaven, to see what could be discovered there. The meaning, however, is simply that he saw a new vision, without intimating whether there was any design on his part, and without saying how his thoughts came to be directed to heaven.
A door was opened - That is, there was apparently an opening in the sky like a door, so that he could look into heaven.
In heaven - Or, rather, in the expanse above - in the visible heavens as they appear to spread out over the earth. So Ezekiel 1:1, "The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God." The Hebrews spoke of the sky above as a solid expanse; or as a curtain stretched out; or as an extended arch above the earth - describing it as it appears to the eye. In that expanse, or arch, the stars are set as gems (compare the notes on Isaiah 34:4); through apertures or windows in that expanse the rain comes down, Genesis 7:11; and that is opened when a heavenly messenger comes down to the earth, Matthew 3:16. Compare Luke 3:21; Acts 7:56; Acts 10:11. Of course, all this is figurative, but it is such language as all people naturally use. The simple meaning here is, that John had a vision of what is in heaven as if there had been such an opening made through the sky, and he had been permitted to look into the world above.
And the first voice which I heard - That is, the first sound which he heard was a command to come up and see the glories of that world. He afterward heard other sounds - the sounds of praise; but the first notes that fell on his ear were a direction to come up there and receive a revelation respecting future things. This does not seem to me to mean, as Prof. Stuart, Lord, and others suppose, that he now recognized the voice which had first, or formerly spoken to him Revelation 1:10, but that this was the first in contradistinction from other voices which he afterward heard. It resembled the former "voice" in this, that it was "like the sound of a trumpet," but besides that there does not seem to have been anything that would suggest to him that it came from the same source. It is certainly possible that the Greek would admit of that interpretation, but it is not the most obvious or probable.
Was as it were of a trumpet - It resembled the sound of a trumpet, Revelation 1:10.
Talking with me - As of a trumpet that seemed to speak directly to me.
Which said - That is, the voice said.
Come up hither - To the place whence the voice seemed to proceed - heaven.
And I will show thee things which must be hereafter - Greek, "after these things." The reference is to future events; and the meaning is, that there would be disclosed to him events that were to occur at some future period. There is no intimation here when they would occur, or what would be embraced in the period referred to. All that the words would properly convey would be, that there would be a disclosure of things that were to occur in some future time.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Revelation 4:1:
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