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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 19 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And I fell at his feet to worship him. At the feet of the angel. Barnes on "Re 19:9".

This is a common posture of adoration in the East. See Rosenmuller's Morgenland, in loc. See Barnes "1 Co 14:25".

John was entirely overcome with the majesty of the heavenly messenger, and with the amazing truths that he had disclosed to him, and in the overflowing of his feelings he fell upon the earth in the posture of adoration. Or it may be that he mistook the rank of him who addressed him, and supposed that he was the Messiah whom he had been accustomed to worship, and who had first (chapter 1) appeared to him. If so, his error was soon corrected. He was told by the angel himself who made these communications that he had no claims to such homage, and that the praise which he offered him should be rendered to God alone. It should be observed that there is not the slightest intimation that this was the Messiah himself, and consequently this does not contain any evidence that it would be improper to worship him. The only fair conclusion from the passage is, that it is wrong to offer religious homage to an angel.

And he said unto me, See thou do it not. That is, in rendering the homage which you propose to me, you would in fact render it to a worship; creature. This may be regarded as an admonition to be careful in our not to allow our feelings to overcome us; and not to render that homage to a creature which is due to God alone. Of course, this would prohibit the worship of the Virgin Mary, and of any of the saints, and all that homage rendered to a created being which is due to God only. Nothing is more carefully guarded in the Bible than the purity and simplicity of worship; nothing is more sternly rebuked than idolatry; nothing is more contrary to the Divine law than rendering in any way that homage to a creature which belongs of right to the Creator. It was necessary to guard even John, the beloved disciple, on that subject; how much more needful, therefore, is it to guard the church at large from the dangers to which it is liable. I am thy fellow servant. Evidently this was an angel, and yet he here speaks of himself as a "fellow-servant" of John. That is, he was engaged in the service of the same God; he was endeavouring to advance the same cause, and to honour the same Redeemer. The sentiment is, that in promoting religion in the world, we are associated with angels. It is no condescension in them to be engaged in the service of the Redeemer, though it seems to be condescension for them to be associated with us in anything; it constitutes, no ground of merit in us to be engaged in the service of the Redeemer, (compare Lu 17:10,) though we may regard it as an honour to be associated with the angels, and it may raise us in conscious dignity to feel that we are united with them.

And of thy brethren. Of other Christians; for all are engaged in the same work.

That have the testimony of Jesus. Who are witnesses for the Saviour. It is possible that there may be here a particular reference to those who were engaged in preaching the gospel, though the language will apply to all who give their testimony to the value of the gospel by consistent lives.

Worship God. He is the only proper object of worship; he alone is to be adored.

For the testimony of Jesus. The meaning here seems to be, that this angel, and John, and their fellow-servants, were all engaged in the same work—that of bearing their testimony to Jesus. Thus, in this respect, they were on a level, and one of them should not worship another, but all should unite in the common worship of God. No one in this work, though an angel, could have such a pre-eminence that it would be proper to render the homage to him which was due to God alone. There could be but one being whom it was proper to worship, and they who were engaged in simply bearing testimony to the work of the Saviour should not worship one another.

Is the spirit of prophecy. The design of prophecy is to bear testimony to Jesus. The language does not mean, of course, that this is the only design of prophecy, but that this is its great and ultimate end. The word prophecy here seems to be used in the large sense in which it is often employed in the New Testament—meaning to make known the Divine will, (see Barnes "Ro 12:6,) and the primary reference here would seem to be to the preachers and teachers of the New Testament. The sense is, that their grand business is to bear testimony to the Saviour. They are all—whether angels, apostles, or ordinary teachers—appointed for this, and therefore should regard themselves as "fellow-servants." The design of the angel in this seems to have been, to state to John what was his own specific business in the communications which he made, and then to state a universal truth applicable to all ministers of the gospel, that they were engaged in the same work, and that no one of them should claim adoration from others. Thus understood, this passage has no direct reference to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and teaches nothing in regard to their design, though it is in fact undoubtedly true that their grand and leading object was to bear testimony to the future Messiah. But this passage will not justify the attempt so often made to "find Christ" everywhere in the prophecies of the Old Testament, or justify the many forced and unnatural interpretations by which the prophecies are often applied to him.

{i} "I fell" Re 22:8,9 {k} "Jesus" Ac 10:43; 1 Pe 1:10,11

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