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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 1 - Verse 17

Verse 17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. As if I were dead; deprived of sense and consciousness. He was overwhelmed with the suddenness of the vision; he saw that this was a Divine being; but he did not as yet know that it was the Saviour. It is not probable that in this vision he would immediately recognise any of the familiar features of the Lord Jesus as he had been accustomed to see him some sixty years before; and if he did, the effect would have been quite as overpowering as is here described. But the subsequent revelations of this Divine personage would rather seem to imply that John did not at once recognise him as the Lord Jesus. The effect here described is one that often occurred to those who had a vision of God. See Da 8:18, "Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright." Da 8:27, "And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business." Compare Ex 33:20; Isa 6:5; Eze 1:28; 43:3; Da 10:7-9,17.

 

And he laid his right hand upon me. For the purpose of raising him up. Compare Da 8:18, "He touched me, and set me upright." We usually stretch out the right hand to raise up one who is fallen.

Saying unto me, Fear not. Compare Mt 14:27, "It is I; be not afraid." The fact that it was the Saviour, though he appeared in this form of overpowering majesty, was a reason why John should not be afraid. Why that was a reason, he immediately adds—that he was the first and the last; that though he had been dead he was now alive, and would continue ever to live, and that he had the keys of hell and of death. It is evident that John was overpowered with that awful emotion which the human mind must feel at the evidence of the presence of God. Thus men feel when God seems to come near them by the impressive symbols of his majesty—as in the thunder, the earthquake, and the tempest. Compare Heb 12:21; Lu 9:34. Yet, amidst the most awful manifestations of Divine power, the simple assurance that our Redeemer is near us is enough to allay our fears, and diffuse calmness through the soul.

I am the first and the last. See Barnes on "Re 1:8".

This is stated to be one of the reasons why he should not fear—that he was eternal: "I always live—have lived through all the past, and will live through all which is to come—and therefore I can accomplish all my promises, and execute all my purposes."

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