Revelation 5

Rev. 5:1 a book sealed with seven seals

Joseph Smith
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.
(D&C 77:6-7)
Of all the keys given in this revelation, this is the most important of them all. From this clue, we can organize the entire revelation into a logical framework. From this key, we understand that John's vision deals primarily with events to occur in the end of the sixth seal and the beginning of the seventh. Christianity's inability to interpret the Revelation stems primarily from misunderstanding the significance of these seven seals.
"It doesn't take a lot of study of the book of Revelation to come to the conclusion that the imagery of chapter 5 is pivotal to the whole structure of the book. John saw in the right hand of the Father a book (most likely a scroll) which was sealed with seven seals (see 5:1). He also saw that no one in heaven or earth was able or worthy to open the book, except for the Savior (vv. 2-14). Since the rest of the vision describes what John sees as each of the seven seals is opened by the Lamb, an understanding of the sealed book is critical to our whole understanding of the book of Revelation.
"And here it is that the Prophet Joseph Smith made his greatest contribution to our ability to unveil the veiled, to reveal the revelation. He answered two significant questions: What is the meaning of the book and what is the meaning of the seals? Certainly more than any other single thing, his answers to those questions (see D&C 77:6-7) become the key to gaining access to the 'house' of Revelation." (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1985], 262.)

Rev. 5:1 written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals

"John notes that the scroll was full, both on the front and the back, which parallels Ezekiel 2:10. Nothing had been left out, and no more could be added. It was the scroll of destiny. John's imagery bears a mindset frequently found in apocalytpic literature that from the beginning God determined the end of history.
"...Paul understood that God, because of his foreknowledge, had marked or set the course of history through the use of individuals who would bring about his will (see Rom. 8-9). That is, God ordered things through the means of sending down spirits when and where he chose. These spirits, without any other manipulation on the part of God, act in ways he knows. Thus, by selection of these souls, God can order the course of history while still maintaining agency.
"A major thesis of Revelation is that God set the path of all things and nothing will stray from his design. This idea is symbolized in the scroll where the sovereign will of God has been recorded, where all history has been foretold. Though the idea that God has determined the course of world events may grate on some, it was a source of comfort and hope for those to whom John wrote.
"The document is sealed with seven seals. The use of seals was common during ancient times to prevent adulteration of important papers and, more importantly, to prove their authenticity. The verb sphragiz, to provide with a seal, carried the idea of assured content and authenticity. But the idea of ownership was important because the owner protected the document. In John's day, seals carried the mark of the owner who guaranteed the contents and was responsible for carrying out the agreements, if any, contained therein." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 53.)

Rev. 5:3-4 no man... was able to open the book

Spencer W. Kimball
Everyone sins in some degree... Thus we read in John's writings:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:8, 10.)
Likewise the Psalmist sang:
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God.
They are all gone aside - there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Ps. 14:1-3.)
(The Miracle of Forgiveness, chap. 3)

Rev. 5:5 the Lion of the tribe of Juda

Bruce R. McConkie
Christ is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. (Rev. 5:5.) When Father Jacob gave Judah his patriarchal blessing, Judah was likened both to a lion's whelp and to an old lion and was promised that the sceptre should not depart from his descendants until the coming of Christ. (Gen. 49:8-12.) Accordingly, to denominate our Lord as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is to point to his position as a descendant of Judah, to is membership in that tribe from which kings were chosen to reign, and also to show his status as the most pre-eminent of all that house. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 449.)
Charles W. Penrose
[Christ] is not only called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," but also "the Lion of the Tribe of Judah," and He will be seen to be terrible by and by to his enemies. (Conference Report, April 1917, First Day-Morning Session 19 - 20.)
Charles W. Penrose
The time is coming when He will shine forth in that character. When the work is being brought to a consummation and the kingdoms of this world are arrayed against Him He will come forth in His strength and the might and majesty of His power, and the kingdoms of this world will be broken in pieces before the kingdom of our God and His Christ. (Conference Report, October 1915, Outdoor Meeting. 34.)

Rev. 5:5 the root of David

Jehovah came before David. Christ came after David. Jehovah was David's Lord. Christ was David's descendant. This irony was the focus of Christ's bewildering riddle to the Pharisees:
What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?
And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. (Matt. 22:42-46)
Elder McConkie writes, "This designation (i.e. Root of David) signifies that he who was the Son of David was also before David, was pre-eminent above him, and was the root or source from which the great king in Israel gained his kingdom and power." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 657.) If we liken the House of David to a tree, then Christ is both the Root and the Branch (Jer. 23:5; Isa 11:1). As the Root, He is the source of its strength; as the Branch, He is the fruit of its strength. He also holds the key of the House of David:
the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house... (Isa. 22:22-24)
Isaiah's prophecy that upon him shall be "the glory of his father's house" has a dual meaning, for Christ was of both mortal and divine parentage. In the Millennium, He will receive all the glory of the House of David as well as the glory of Heavenly Father. (See commentary for Rev. 3:7) Then will the nail that was fastened in the sure place be removed (Isa 22:25).

Rev. 5:6 in the midst of the throne...stood a Lamb as it had been slain

"The elder instructs John to 'weep not' and to 'behold the Lion,' but unexpectedly John sees a Lamb that possesses the marks of one who was slain. He sees Christ who, though slain for the sins of the world, now stands in great majesty as a lion stands as the king of all creatures. Christ stands now in the inner circle of the multitudes in heaven. He is standing near his Father's throne, which is surrounded by the four beasts and the twenty-four elders.
"Christ is called Lamb twenty-seven times in Revelation. Elsewhere the prophets write of the Lamb: 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world' (John 1:29) 'Christ our passover is sacrificed for us' (1 Cor. 5:7) and 'ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot' (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
"The expression 'as it had been slain' indicates that the Lamb, although risen from the dead and possessing eternal life, in this vision to John carried the marks of his sacrifice in his hands, feet, and side." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 70.)

JST Rev. 5:6 elders... having twelve horns and twelve eyes, which are the twelve servants of God

The Prophet Joseph understands the difference between the seven servants previously mentioned in the Revelation and the elders that John sees associated with the Lamb. The twelve servants are the apostles of the Lamb. Their eyes are a representation of light and knowledge (D&C 77:4). Their horns are likely a representation of their strength in fighting the dragon (Rev. 12:1-11) as they are "sent forth into all the earth."

Rev. 5:8 golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints

In the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon, there was an altar of incense made of gold. Upon it sat the candlestick (candelabra) and an altar for offering incense. Every morning, when the candlestick was dressed and every evening when the lamps were lit, sweet incense was burned to the Lord (Ex. 30:7-8; 40:4-6). The smoke of the incense rising up to heaven was symbolic of the prayers of his people ascending to God. King David's petition was, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense." (Ps. 141:2)
Similarly, the golden vials full of sweet odors are a similitude of the prayers of the saints of God. It would seem that the prayers of the righteous are the perfume of heaven.

Rev. 5:10 has made us unto our God kings and priests

Orson Pratt
Many persons have worn crowns in this life; tyrants have had crowns of diamonds and gold; but what benefit are they? None at all, except to a being who has made himself perfectly happy by his obedience. But what are we to understand by this crown of righteousness, which is to be given to the Saints? We understand that it is actually to be a crown of glory; that they are to be kings in reality. John speaks in the first chapter of his Revelations to the Churches in his day, and represents the Saints to be Kings and Priests...
Compared with this, what are all the little, petty kingdoms of this earth worth? They are not worth one snap of the finger. The kings of the world exercise a certain authority over the nations-over their subjects, issuing laws, and framing governments, and controlling them; and do you suppose that the Saints will be kings in the eternal world, and sit down upon thrones, in silence, not exercising the functions of their office? No. That is not the way the Lord has organized His creations; if there are kings, you may depend upon it they will have kingdoms under their control; they will have authority and dominion, they will give laws to those subjects over whom they bear rule; they will control them by the priestly office, for it is combined with the kingly office...
We do not believe that everything has got to be limited to this little space of time in this world; but the Saints will be doing a work that will be adapted to beings that are the sons of God in the fullest sense of the word, that are precisely like their Father; and if so, they will be like Gods, and will hold dominion under that Being who is the Lord of lords; and they will hold it to all eternity. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 1: 291.)
Spencer W. Kimball
You are entitled to a kingdom or a queendom. You are princesses and princes. Do you prize your inheritance? Will you abdicate and relinquish your heavenly rights to all that is your due? Do you but realize what the Lord has in store for you? Do you know what you could discard in a moment of carelessness and heedlessness? The Lord told his servants:
. . . Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor. 2:9.)
The king's highway-the royal road to eternal joys and exaltation-is a hard road, full of full of sacrifices and restrictions and hard work. The way is narrow but it is straight, well-marked, and strongly-beamed. But if you get off course, the dot and dash tapping gets dimmer and fainter till it fades out entirely.
The permanent kingdom is yours, not for the asking, but for the earning.
Will you abdicate it? That is much easier than to claim it. Will you, like [many], voluntarily renounce the throne? And through carelessness and heedlessness voluntarily relinquish your right to this powerful and blessed privilege? Will you forfeit your crown? Will you turn over your scepter to another? It follows easily. To do so, you need only to forget the Lord, ignore His commandments, become critical or bitter or inactive. Other things follow in turn and your kingship and queenship are in jeopardy! (February 15, 1966, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1966 17.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Priesthood is given us for two purposes, first, that we may ourselves receive exaltation, and, second, that we may be the means of helping others to obtain like blessings. We are informed that if we are worthy of exaltation we are to become like our Father in heaven... We are to become priests and kings (Rev. 1:6 and Rev. 5:10), and are to have dominion and be given rule. This means responsibility. Now, it is a self-evident truth, that if we do not use the talents given us now and do not exercise the responsibility we have received in this life, that we will not be prepared or worthy to exercise authority and have responsibility there. If such authority is given us here and we have refused to use it, then we surely could have no right to the reward and cannot receive responsibility and power there, for responsibilities then will be many times greater than now. Here we prove ourselves through service as well as through obedience to the law of the Gospel.
...The third and highest kingdom-the celestial-is where God and Christ dwell. There are, even in this kingdom, different degrees of glory, but it is the privilege of every member of the Church, who will receive and be true to every covenant and obligation, to gain the exaltation. All who gain the highest exaltation, the Lord has said, are made "equal in power, and in might, and in dominion." All power is given unto them, they become "gods, even the sons of God, wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's." These are made priests and kings. ("The Wisdom of President Joseph Fielding Smith," New Era, July 1972, 21)

Rev. 5:12 Worthy is the Lamb

Bruce R. McConkie
Salvation is in Christ. His is the only name given under heaven whereby this priceless gift may be won. Without him there would be no resurrection and all men would be forever lost. Without him there would be no eternal life, no return to the presence of a gracious Father, no celestial thrones for the saints.
No tongue can tell, no mind can envision, no heart can conceive of all that comes to us because of him. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (Rev 5:12.) ("Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith," Ensign, Nov. 1974, 34)

Rev. 5:13 every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth

Joseph Smith
John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven,-all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven,-actually there, giving glory to God. How do you prove it? (See Rev. 5:13.) "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,-strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.
Says one, "I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts." Any man who would tell you that this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true. John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them. The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect: they were like angels in their sphere. We are not told where they came from, and I do not know; but they were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 291.)