The “Root of David” is a proper name used in Scripture, in particular in the book of Revelation1. As is typical in Bible books of prophecy, a highly figurative and visual term is used to describe something…but what? Many times, we are not able to absolutely assert the prophets’ meaning without another inspired writer’s help. Doing so is outside our authority. However, interpreting what John meant by the “Root of David” isn’t one of those instances.

How Scripture answers "Who is the Root of David?"

Jesus2,4 is/was the “Root of David”1 that was prophesied3,5 approximately seven hundred years earlier. This fulfilled a promise5,6 from God that was made even earlier. Along with and similar to “Root”, the image of a “Branch” of righteousness5, bearing fruit3 is used for Jesus. From these inspired-confirmed interpretations, we might infer Jesus being described in other prophetic texts7,8.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

And one of the elders said to me, Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.
One of the elders told me [John] not to weep because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, had conquered all and was able to open the scroll and the seven seals.

John’s vision of the throne scene (chapters 4,5). Specifically here, there is “one seated on the throne” mentioned several times beginning in chapter four, eventually identified as God, the Father (4:11).  Surrounding and singing praises to Him are “four living creatures” (4:6) and “twenty-four elders” (4:4). He is holding a scroll that cannot be opened by anyone, except one standing beside the throne and identified as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (vs 5), and a “Lamb” (vs 6).

The vision continues through the rest of Revelation.

Scripture-block application to this question

The “Root of David” is also the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” as well as the “Lamb” (vs6).

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Jesus has sent His angel to bear witness to you [John] about these things concerning the churches.  He is the root and descendant of David, the bright and morning star.

The closing verses of John’s apocalyptic vision providing several warnings and promises.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus confirms to John1 that He is the “root”, or descendant, of David.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

A shoot from the stump of Jesse, a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

Isaiah chapters 11-12 serve as a near continuous vision of things/events/signs “in that day”. In fact, chapter 11 begins with a near identical statement to vs 10 – “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (11:1). Later quoted by Paul in Romans 15:12 speaking of Jesus.

Qualifiers that jump out as familiar New Testament themes include:

  • descendent of David to emerge (11:1),
  • God’s Spirit will be on Him (11:2),
  • He will judge the world (11:3-4),
  • He will be a “signal” to the nations/Gentiles that gathers to Him along with the Jews (11:12),
  • The people “will draw water from the wells of salvation” (12:1-3),
  • God will be in their midst (12:6)
Scripture-block application to this question

God, through Isaiah, prophecies about a “branch” that will come from the “root” of Jesse (David’s father).

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Verse 10 restates this and several other characteristics about “in that day” emerge in this context.

And again Isaiah says, ‘The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.’
And again Isaiah says that the root of Jesse will come and arise to rule the Gentiles and in Him they will have hope.
Paul has made the case that the gospel is for all – Jew and Gentile – and that all are in Christ through the “obedience of faith,” a phrase that bookends his letter (1:5, 16:26). He uses Old Testament principles and confirms many prophetic statements throughout the letter to make his point.  Here in chapter 15, confirms a series of prophetic statements:

  • vs 3 from Psalms 69:9,
  • vs 9 from 2 Samuel 22:50 (and Psalms 18:49),
  • vs 10 from Deuteronomy 32:43
  • vs 11 from Psalms 117:1
  • vs 12 from Isaiah 11:1 and 10,
  • vs 21 from Isaiah 52:15
Scripture-block application to this question

Paul confirms God’s prophecy through Isaiah3 that Jesus is the “root of Jesse” (David’s father8).

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

God declares that a time is coming when the promise He made to Israel and Judah will be fulfilled.  In these later times, it will happen by His power that a descendant of David, a righteous Branch, will arise to execute justice and righteousness in the land.

This section of Jeremiah (chapters 30-33) stands out from the preceding and following chapters where a historical account is given.  These chapters make several references to “days that are coming” and includes a frequently quoted/referenced passage in

31:31-34
that’s interpreted for us by New Testament writers.

Scripture-block application to this question

God, through Jeremiah, foretells of a time when He will fulfill His promise6 of a “Branch” coming from [the Root of] David bringing righteousness.

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.

And after He [God] removed him [Saul as king], He raised up David to be their [Israel’s] King.  It was of David, the son of Jesse, that God said He had found a like-minded man that would do all that He commanded.  From this man’s offspring, God brought to Isreal a Savior in Jesus, just as He had promised.

Paul’s gospel sermon while in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia on the Sabbath day.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul preaches that Jesus is the offspring of Jesse/David, the very fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy5.

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

He grew up before him like a young plant and branch out of dry ground; he was not of prominent stature that anyone should admire or desire him.  Mankind rejected and scorned him so that he was sorrowful and grieved to the point people could not look at him.

God, speaking through Isaiah, beginning back in chapter 52:13 about His servant that would suffer.  This text contains numerous verses that are directly related to Jesus by NT writers. This specific passage is not quoted elsewhere.
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus is likely foreshadowed here as one coming up like a branch in a barren land, therefore it’s probable that this applies.

And say to him, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
Say to him [Joshua, the son of Jehozadak] the Lord of hosts says, ‘Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

Zechariah prophesied to those Jews that returned to the land after the seventy years of Babylonian captivity.  In this immediate context, God is telling Zechariah to crown Joshua the priest in a ceremony ushering the imminent building of the temple in their day.

Scripture-block application to this question

This is also a probable application as again, Jesus is likely foreshadowed since He would build God’s temple, a spiritual household under the new covenant of peace (Ephesians 2:13-22).

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