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Revelation 1:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I fell at his feet as dead - The appearance of the glory of the Lord had then same effect upon Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:28; : and the appearance of Gabriel had the same effect on Daniel, Daniel 8:17. The terrible splendor of such majesty was more than the apostle could bear, and he fell down deprived of his senses, but was soon enabled to behold the vision by a communication of strength from our Lord's right hand.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 recognize 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 recognize him as the Lord Jesus. The effect here described is one that often occurred to those who had a vision of God. See Daniel 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”; Daniel 8:27, “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king‘s business.” Compare Exodus 33:20; Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 43:3; Daniel 10:7-9, Daniel 10:17.

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

Saying unto me, Fear not - Compare Matthew 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, people 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 Habakkuk 3:16; Luke 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 the notes at Revelation 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.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God. And the apostle saw as though of the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He is with his churches always, to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love. He was clothed with a robe down to the feet, perhaps representing his righteousness and priesthood, as Mediator. This vest was girt with a golden girdle, which may denote how precious are his love and affection for his people. His head and hairs white like wool and as snow, may signify his majesty, purity, and eternity. His eyes as a flame of fire, may represent his knowledge of the secrets of all hearts, and of the most distant events. His feet like fine brass burning in a furnace, may denote the firmness of his appointments, and the excellence of his proceedings. His voice as the sound of many waters, may represent the power of his word, to remove or to destroy. The seven stars were emblems of the ministers of the seven churches to which the apostle was ordered to write, and whom Christ upheld and directed. The sword represented his justice, and his word, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb 4:12. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared. We may well be contented to walk by faith, while here upon earth. The Lord Jesus spake words of comfort; Fear not. Words of instruction; telling who thus appeared. And his Divine nature; the First and the Last. His former sufferings; I was dead: the very same whom his disciples saw upon the cross. His resurrection and life; I have conquered death, and am partaker of endless life. His office and authority; sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal. Let us listen to the voice of Christ, and receive the tokens of his love, for what can he withhold from those for whose sins he has died? May we then obey his word, and give up ourselves wholly to him who directs all things aright.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 467

“If any man's work abide, ... he shall receive a reward.” Glorious will be the reward bestowed when the faithful workers are gathered about the throne of God and the Lamb. When John in his mortal state beheld the glory of God, he fell as one dead; he was not able to endure the sight. But when mortal shall have put on immortality, the ransomed ones are like Jesus, for they see Him as He is. They stand before the throne, signifying that they are accepted. All their sins are blotted out, all their transgressions borne away. Now they can look upon the undimmed glory from the throne of God. They have been partakers with Christ of His sufferings, they have been workers together with Him in the plan of redemption, and they are partakers with Him in the joy of beholding souls saved through their instrumentality to praise God through all eternity. 5T 467.1

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 235.4

When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:3, 5). Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8). It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel (Revelation 1:17). Mar 235.4

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 471

When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6. It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Isaiah 6:3, 5. Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things which it was not possible for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, margin; Ephesians 3:8. It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, that fell as one dead before the feet of the angel. Revelation 1:17. GC 471.1

There can be no self-exaltation, no boastful claim to freedom from sin, on the part of those who walk in the shadow of Calvary's cross. They feel that it was their sin which caused the agony that broke the heart of the Son of God, and this thought will lead them to self-abasement. Those who live nearest to Jesus discern most clearly the frailty and sinfulness of humanity, and their only hope is in the merit of a crucified and risen Saviour. GC 471.2

The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious world carries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the law of God that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocates teach that sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, through faith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. “Only believe,” say they, “and the blessing is yours.” No further effort on the part of the receiver is supposed to be required. At the same time they deny the authority of the law of God, urging that they are released from obligation to keep the commandments. But is it possible for men to be holy, in accord with the will and character of God, without coming into harmony with the principles which are an expression of His nature and will, and which show what is well pleasing to Him? GC 471.3

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 175.3

True holiness and humility are inseparable. The nearer the soul comes to God, the more completely is it humbled and subdued. When Job heard the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind, he exclaimed, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). It was when Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord and heard the cherubim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” that he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:3, 5). Daniel, when visited by the holy messenger, says, “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption” (Daniel 10:8). Paul, after he was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter, speaks of himself as “less than the least of all saints” (Ephesians 3:8). It was the beloved John, who leaned on Jesus’ breast and beheld His glory, who fell as one dead before the angel. The more closely and continuously we behold our Saviour, the less shall we see to approve in ourselves.25 TMK 175.3

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