Then, I saw another mighty angel coming down from the heavens, having been wrapped about in a cloud, and the rainbow on his head, and his face like the sun, and his feet like fiery pillars, and having in his hand a little scroll that had been opened up.

Then, he placed his right foot upon the sea, and the left upon the land, and exclaimed in a loud voice exactly like a lion’s roar. And when he roared, spoke the voices of the seven thunders.

Then, after the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write—and I heard a voice from the heavens saying, “Conceal the things that the seven thunders spoke, and so you may not write these things.”

Revelation 10:1-4
The Angel with the little book | By Auftraggeber: Otto III. oder Heinrich II. – Bamberger Apokalypse Folio 25 verso, Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, MS A. II. 42, Public Domain

So intriguing!

As soon as I read John was not to reveal what the seven thunders had spoken, that became the one thing I wanted to know most. What did they say? Why tantalize with this astonishing scene, but deny the pronouncement framed within it?


Commentators in this camp follow the arc of western history and show a transition of power from the fallen Roman Empire in 476 CE to the rise of Papal power. The steady corruption of the Medieval Church  gave way to the cleansing action of the Reformation in the west (both through the Protestant movement and within the Catholic Church).

The mighty angel

… is seen as Christ.

The little scroll

in His hand, which has been opened, is none other than the seven-sealed scroll introduced in Revelation Chapter 5.

From the historicist’s perspective, the little scroll is the Bible, which had been largely inaccessible to the general public, written in languages—Hebrew, Greek, Latin—that few could understand.

But, just as reformation was beginning to stir in the West, Gutenberg created the printing press, ca. 1440. (Similar printing press capability had already been developing in China and Korea, beginning around 800.)

In a little over a hundred years, “little opened book” became widely available and readable in the West, as Greek scholars entered European universities and began teaching Greek in the mid-fifteenth century.

  • 1516, Erasmus printed the Greek scriptures.
  • 1518, Zwingli printed the Swiss New Testament.
  • 1522, Luther published a German New Testament.
  • 1526, Tyndale published an English New Testament, and the Swedish Bible.
  • 1537, the Danish Bible was published.
  • 1539, English Bibles were migrated to every pew in England.
  • 1611, the eponymous King James English Bible was completed.

The lion’s roar

becomes Jesus’s challenge (via the Reformers) of certain doctrines that had arisen in the Roman Catholic Church.

The seven thunders

… could be the seven crusades, or the seven wars that occurred between the rise of the Reformation and the French Revolution, or the seven kingdoms that embraced the Protestant Reformation, or, finally, the various Papal statements that denounced Luther and other reformers.


Expositors concentrating on the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE agree the mighty angel must be Jesus Himself.

The mighty angel

Several key phrases make this connection unmistakable.

Feet on land and sea

The whole earth is encompassed, including Gentile nations.

The little book

… the seven-sealed scroll introduced in Revelation 5, is now little precisely because it has been opened and its contents emptied through the six trumpets. With only one trumpet remaining, there is not much left of the scroll.

Or else, it might be a less-important prophecy when compared to the more important prophecies contained in the seven-sealed scroll. This little scroll perhaps spoke of the downfall of the Roman Empire, to come after the destruction of God’s temple.

The seven thunders

… are the angelic heavenly host responding antiphonally to the lion’s roar of God speaking.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl
    and strips the forest bare,
    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

Psalm 29:3-9 (NRSV)

Seal up the words

God intended to convey there are many things to come that are already spoken of in heaven, but are not revealed on earth. Some of God’s purposes, plans, and work are hidden until they happen.

Alternatively, the prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall was imminent, whereas the little scroll contained prophecy that would happen beyond the lifetimes of John’s original audience.


Scholars who look to future fulfillment see the mighty angel as either Christ or simply another angel with much power and authority (perhaps an archangel?).

The little book

Perhaps this book authorizes the one holding it to complete what God has given the angel to do, or it might be the title deed to the earth itself, considering the angel’s stance. Perhaps it is a message for believers, given during this interlude. It might represent the far-future oracles delivered by Hebrew prophets of old, pointing to Jesus’s Second Coming.

Seal the words

Possibly, because the words spoken are for John alone, the little scroll represents John’s inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven, and John himself is a picture of each believer’s translation (Rapture) into that kingdom.

On the other hand, the sealed words may speak of the horrors of God’s judgment against sin, which no believer need know, for they will never suffer them.


Theologians who take the broader, spiritual view, note this intermission between the sixth and seventh trumpet corresponds to a similar pause between the sixth and seventh seal.

The mighty angel

… is either Jesus, or an emissary who is made to appear as Christ based upon John’s use of the word ἄλλος | allos, meaning “another.” Not, in other words, Jesus Himself, but another just like Him. Jesus used something of the same language when He spoke to His disciples of the coming Holy Spirit, saying,

So also I will ask the Father and another Paraclete He will give to you all in order to be with you into the ages.

Jesus to His disciples, John 14:16

In the same way that the Holy Spirit was another just like Jesus, so now this mighty angel is another just like the other angels.

Feet on land and sea

The message this angel has is for the whole world. Though the book is little, what it contains is significant. Its size makes it accessible to John.

Seal up the words

There are other instances in the scriptures where God does not reveal everything.

From Moses

The secret things belong to the Lord our God,

but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 29:29 (NRSV)


“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

John 16:12-13 (NRSV) 

From Paul

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. … or now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:9, 12 (NRSV)

Paul had also written of an incandescent experience of which he could not speak more,

“… caught up into paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.”

2 Corinthians 12:4 (NRSV)

By Nicholas Roerich – Эстонское общество Рериха, Public Domain

The four perspectives taken from Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg

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