The scene setting for the Act of the scroll and seven seals continues from where it left off in chapter 4 of Revelation. When the chapter is read through the eyes of watching a stage drama, the description has both suspense and surprise. It ends with a grand crescendo of a huge chorus (think of a modern musical) before the events of the rest of the Act continue.
The focus of chapter 5 is on the evolving description of Jesus. In the previous Act (the Seven Letters) he was seen as one walking amongst the churches on earth, evaluating their conditions and taking steps to correct, if necessary. In this Act Jesus is described as Lion and pictured as a Lamb who appears to be slain. His equality with God is again reiterated and as such is worthy to open the scroll and to receive praise and worship.
Jesus is no longer pictured on the earth, but in heaven, holding the authority and power to do something about the conflict raging on earth. Christians on earth might feel the oppressive power of Rome, but Revelation reveals that there is one in heaven who is greater than the emperor. The emperor may hold the power over temporal life and death over his subjects, but even he must submit to the Lamb who holds in his hands the scroll (book) of life – life to those whose names are written in it; judgment for those who have rejected the source of life.