“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.”
King James Version (KJV)
4:6 And before the throne is a sea as of glass, like crystal - Wide and deep, pure and clear, transparent and still. Both the seven lamps of fire and this sea are before the throne; and both may mean the seven spirits of God, the Holy Ghost; whose powers and operations are frequently represented both under the emblem of fire and of water. We read again, #Rev 15:2|, of a sea as of glass, where there is no mention of the seven lamps of fire; but, on the contrary, the sea itself is mingled with fire. We read also, #Rev 22:1|, of a stream of water of life, clear as crystal. Now, the sea which is before the throne, and the stream which goes out of the throne, may both mean the same; namely, the Spirit of God. And in the midst of the throne - With respect to its height. Round about the throne - That is, toward the four quarters, east, west, north, and south. Were four living creatures - Not beasts, no more than birds. These seem to be taken from the cherubim in the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, and in the holy of holies. They are doubtless some of the principal powers of heaven; but of what order, it is not easy to determine. It is very probable that the twenty - four elders may represent the Jewish church: their harps seem to intimate their having belonged to the ancient tabernacle service, where they were wont to be used. If so, the living creatures may represent the Christian church. Their number, also, is symbolical of universality, and agrees with the dispensation of the gospel, which extended to all nations under heaven. And the new song which they all sing, saying, Thou hast redeemed us out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, #Rev 5:9|, could not possibly suit the Jewish without the Christian church. The first living creature was like a lion - To signify undaunted courage. The second, like a calf - Or ox, #Ezek 1:10|, to signify unwearied patience. The third, with the face of a man - To signify prudence and compassion. The fourth, like an eagle - To signify activity and vigour. Full of eyes - To betoken wisdom and knowledge. Before - To see the face of him that sitteth on the throne. And behind - To see what is done among the creatures.
Re 4:6 A sea of glass like unto crystal. This deep, transparent sea before the throne is supposed to symbolize the purity and calmness of the Divine rule. It stands solid, calm and clear. In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne. The four forms which are next described were to the right and left of the throne in the midst between these extremes. The throne was in their midst. Four beasts. "Four living creatures", as in the Revised Version. Four "beasts", as in the Common Version, is an incorrect idea. The Greek for "beasts" is different ("thiria"). They are four "zoa", "living forms". Full of eyes. Their eyes looked backwards as well as forward. The description of these wonderful objects is next given.