Chapter 10 of Revelation: Take and Eat

Clouds“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you.

Be not rebellious like that rebellious house;

open your mouth and eat what I give you.

And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me,

and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.” (Eze 2:8-9).

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

What does it mean to eat a book and who is asking?

Let me start with the second question. The apostle John writes: “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven” (Rev 10:1).

Mighty here means big because v. 2 reports: And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land (Rev 10:2). The placement of his feet suggests authority over both, as in: “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Ps 8:6) which alludes to the authority of the Messiah.

Although this angel might be confused with God himself because he is: wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire (Rev 10:1), this same description appeared earlier asking: “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” (Rev 5:2). It seems that this angel speaks with the authority of God and is tasked with keeping this scroll and commissioning prophets, as we learn later (Rev 10:11).

So what does it mean to eat a book?

The angel says to John: “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey” (Rev 10:9 ESV). Beale and Carson (1117) see the sweet taste of the scroll referring to the life-sustaining attributes of God’s word, but the bitterness arising because of the judgment woes to follow.

In his book, Eat This Book, Peterson (90-117) sees this verse inviting us to read scripture differently. He commends to his readers a method of devotional study first introduced by Saint Benedict called Lectio Divina: reading (lectio), meditating (meditatio), contemplation (contemplatio), and praying (oratio). The purpose of reading scripture multiple times with different attitudes is to enhance spiritual reflection rather than simple to approach scripture through the mind. In this sense, Lectio Divina is a means of eating the text.

Bon appetite!


  1. How was your last celebration of Holy Week? Did you do anything special for Easter? Good Friday? Maundy Thursday?
  2. What is the key verse in chapter 10? Why?
  3. How does the key verse alter your opinion about the rest of the chapter?
  4. When the angel speaks, how does the angel sound? (v 3)
  5. Is the voice from heaven the same voice as the angel? (vv 4, 8)
  6. Is this angel the same angel described in Rev 5:2?
  7. What is Lectio Divino? What are the four aspects?


Beale, G.K. and D.A. Carson [Editors]. 2007. Commentary on the NT Use of the OT. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Peterson, Eugene. 2006. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Chapter 10 of Revelation: Take and Eat

Also see:

Chapter 9 of Revelation: The Paradox of the Cross 

Chapter 1: Alpha and Omega 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

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