Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 1:17

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Faith;   I Am That I Am;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Vision;   Word of God;   Scofield Reference Index - Christ;   Churches;   Holy Spirit;   Inspiration;   Theophanies;   Thompson Chain Reference - At His Feet;   Christ;   Discouragement-Encouragement;   Fear;   Fear Nots;   Feet;   Humility;   Humility-Pride;   I Am's of Christ;   Names;   Overpowering Presence;   Presence, Divine;   Seven;   Titles and Names;   The Topic Concordance - Fear;   Jesus Christ;   Resurrection;   War/weapons;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ Is God;   Dead, the;   Titles and Names of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Prophets;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Glory;   God;   Resurrection;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Holy, Holiness;   Humility;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Ascension of Christ;   Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - A;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Benjamin;   Redeemer;   Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Alpha and Omega;   Hope;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asia;   Faith;   Hope;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Alpha and Omega (2);   Apocalypse;   Enoch Book of;   Eschatology;   Feet;   First and Last ;   Isaiah ;   Justification;   Mediator;   Numbers (2);   Pre-Existence;   Rapture Ecstasy;   Revelation, Book of;   Touch;   Transfiguration (2);   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Christ;   Golden candlesticks;   Laodicea;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Names titles and offices of christ;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Inspiration;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Encampment at Sinai;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adoration;   First;   Lord's Supper (Eucharist);   Revelation of John:;   Unchangeable;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for November 14;   Every Day Light - Devotion for October 30;  

Adam Clarke 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.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

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.”

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-1.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

I fell at his feet ... Paul fell at the feet of Jesus revealed to him as a supernatural person (Acts 26:14); and the phenomenon occurs frequently throughout the Bible, especially in connection with receiving visions. See Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:17; 10:9; and Matthew 17:6.

Fear not ... How fully in the character of the beloved Jesus are these blessed words to the terrified apostle. With similar words he comforted the apostles that night when they were struggling to navigate Galilee, and on the night of his betrayal, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." This is the message that heaven has often shouted to earth, but the need to hear it is perpetual. The night the shepherds beheld the angelic band speaking of "Good tidings which shall be to all people," their message began with, "Fear' not."

I am the first and the last, and the Living one, etc. ... Again, we are reminded of that holy Being who IS and WAS and SHALL BE for ever. See more on this under Revelation 1:8.

This writer has made a practice for many years of reading these two verses as the final committal at the graveside, with only one deviation from the text here, using J. B. Phillips' translation "death and the grave" instead of "death and of Hades," as here.

The Living one ... This is particularly interesting, because it is a title of God himself. This is really the most important title in the verse, because it is as the Living one that Christ holds the keys of death and of the grave. Christ, like the Father, possesses life in his essential nature. "As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son to have life in himself' (John 5:26).

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when I saw him,.... The glorious person here described, who was just behind him, and of whom he had a full view, being so near him:

I fell at his feet as dead; through consternation and fear, the sight was so amazing and terrible; the appearance of a divine person in any degree of majesty and glory, has had some considerable effect upon men, even upon the best of men; but John seems to be more affected with it than any, as the vision was the more grand and illustrious: Manoah was afraid he should die, but did not fall down as dead; Ezekiel fell upon his face, but had his senses; Daniel's comeliness turned into corruption, and he retained no strength, he fainted, and fell into a deep sleep; see Judges 13:22; but John fell down at once, as dead. This panic which good men were seized with, at any more than ordinary appearance of God, or apprehension of his presence, arose from a notion that present death ensues a sight of him; hence Jacob wonders, and is thankful, that he had seen God face to face, and yet his life was preserved, Genesis 32:30; and such an effect as here, upon the body, any uncommon discovery of the divine Being has, partly through the weakness of human nature, which in its present circumstances is not able to bear the rays and glories of a divine person; hence the resurrection of the body in power, glory, and immortality, incorruption and spirituality, is necessary to the enjoyment of God and Christ in a state of bliss and happiness to all eternity; and partly through a consciousness of sin, which ever since the fall of Adam has occasioned fear and perturbation of mind, even in the best of saints, when they have had any sense of the divine Majesty being near, in an unusual form of glory:

and he laid his right hand upon me; even the same in which he had, and held the seven stars; and which showed what an affection he had for him, in what esteem he had him, what care he took of him, and what power he would exert in lifting up, strengthening, and supporting him; for he laid not his hand on him in wrath and angers, but in love; and in order to raise him up and revive his spirits, and remove his fears; hence the Ethiopic version renders it, "and he took hold on me with his right hand, and lifted me up"; as he does all who in a spiritual sense fall at his feet; it is always safe and comfortable falling there:

saying unto me, fear not; language which John had heard from him in the days of his flesh, and might therefore be chose now on purpose that he might the sooner know who he was and be comforted; see Matthew 14:27.

I am the first and the last; a way of speaking used by God when he is about to comfort his people, and remove their fears; see Isaiah 41:4; and is used by Christ for the same purpose here; and so is a proof of his true and proper deity, and is expressive of his eternity, and also of his dignity and excellency: he is the first and last in divine predestination, in the covenant of grace, in creation, in the business of salvation, and in his church, by whom, and for whom, are all things in it; he is the head of the body, the Son over his own house, and the firstborn among many brethren; and so the Alexandrian copy read, here, "the firstborn and the last". ראשון, "the first", is a name of the Messiah with the JewsF20T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 5. 1. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 63. fol. 55. 2. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 171. 2. & Tzeror Hammor, fol. 71. 4. ; See Gill on Revelation 1:8.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

10 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. 11 And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; 12 I am the first and the last:

(10) A religious fear, that goes before the calling of the saints, and their full confirmation to take on them the vocation of God.

(11) A divine confirmation of this calling, partly by sign, and partly by word of power.

(12) A most elegant description of this calling contained in three things, which are necessary to a just vocation: first the authority of him who calls, for he is the beginning and end of all things, in this verse, for he is eternal and omnipotent (Revelation 1:8). Secondly the sum of his prophetic calling and revelation (Revelation 1:9). Lastly a declaration of those persons to whom this prophecy is by the commandment of God directed in the description of it (Revelation 1:20).

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

So fallen is man that God‘s manifestation of His glorious presence overwhelms him.

laid his right hand upon me — So the same Lord Jesus did at the Transfiguration to the three prostrate disciples, of whom John was one, saying, Be not afraid. The “touch” of His hand, as of old, imparted strength.

unto me — omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

the first  …  the last — (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12). From eternity, and enduring to eternity: “the First by creation, the Last by retribution: the First, because before Me there was no God formed; the Last, because after Me there shall be no other: the First, because from Me are all things; the Last, because to Me all things return” [Richard of St. Victor].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-1.html. 1871-8.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

17. I fell at His feet as a dead man.” We see here that John had a knock- down religion. I have seen much of it. Lord, give us more, to rebuke the dead formality and hollow hypocrisy of the fallen Churches!

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-1.html.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

I fell (επεσαepesa). Late form for the old επεσονepeson (second aorist active indicative of πιπτωpiptō to fall). Under the over-powering influence of the vision as in Revelation 19:10.

He laid (ετηκενethēken). First aorist active indicative of τιτημιtithēmi The act restored John‘s confidence.

Fear not (μη ποβουmē phobou). Cf. Luke 1:13 to Zacharias to give comfort.

I am the first and the last (εγω ειμι ο πρωτος και ο εσχατοςegō eimi ho prōtos kai ho eschatos). Used in Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12 of God, but here, Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13 of Christ.

And the Living One (και ο ζωνkai ho zōn). Present active articular participle of ζαωzaō another epithet of God common in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 32:40; Isaiah 49:18, etc.) and applied purposely to Jesus, with which see John 5:26 for Christ‘s own words about it.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I fell

Compare Exodus 23:20; Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:17sqq.; Daniel 10:7sqq.; Luke 5:8; Revelation 19:10. The condition of the seer, in the Spirit, does not supersede existence in the body. Compare Acts 9:3-5.

The first and the last

This epithet is three times ascribed to Jehovah by Isaiah (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12); three times in this book (here, Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13). Richard of St. Victor comments thus: “I am the first and the last. First through creation, last through retribution. First, because before me a God was not formed; last, because after me there shall not be another. First, because all things are from me; last, because all things are to me; from me the beginning, to me the end. First, because I am the cause of origin; last, because I am the judge and the end” (cited by Trench).

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

And I fell at his feet as dead — Human nature not being able to sustain so glorious an appearance. Thus was he prepared (like Daniel of old, whom he peculiarly resembles) for receiving so weighty a prophecy. A great sinking of nature usually precedes a large communication of heavenly things. St. John, before our Lord suffered, was so intimate with him, as to lean on his breast, to lie in his bosom. Yet now, near seventy years after, the aged apostle is by one glance struck to the ground. What a glory must this be! Ye sinners, be afraid cleanse your hands: purify your hearts. Ye saints, be humble, prepare: rejoice. But rejoice unto him with reverence: an increase of reverence towards this awful majesty can be no prejudice to your faith. Let all petulancy, with all vain curiosity, be far away, while you are thinking or reading of these things.

And he laid his right hand upon me — The same wherein he held the seven stars. What did St. John then feel in himself? Saying, Fear not - His look terrifies, his speech strengthens. He does not call John by his name, (as the angels did Zechariah and others,) but speaks as his well known master. What follows is also spoken to strengthen and encourage him.

I am — When in his state of humiliation he spoke of his glory, he frequently spoke in the third person, as Matthew 26:64. But he now speaks of his own glory, without any veil, in plain and direct terms.

The first and the last — That is, the one, eternal God, who is from everlasting to everlasting, Isaiah 41:4.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-1.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE ‘FEAR NOTS’ OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

‘Fear not!’

Revelation 1:17

My purpose is to ask your attention to the seven ‘Fear nots’ of the New Testament.

I. We take our first ‘Fear not!’ from St. Luke 8:15.—‘But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, Fear not! believe only, and she shall be made whole.’ This is a ‘Fear not!’ teaching us that we are never to give up hope. If there were ever a seemingly hopeless case, it was this of Jairus’s daughter; but when Christ is concerned, or concerns Himself about us, we need never despair.

II. Then the second ‘Fear not!’ is in St. Matthew 10:28.—‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.’ This is the ‘Fear not!’ which defies persecution. How little our enemies can do to us. They cannot touch you. Suppose they even mangled and murdered your body, that is not touching you, and after they have done that, there is no more they can do. Fear not! confess Christ and He will bless thee.

III. The third ‘Fear not!’ is in St. Luke 12:32.—‘Fear not! little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.’ Here we have the ‘Fear not!’ that drives away anxiety with regard to our earthly supplies. No man, by worrying, can add a cubit to his stature. No man, by worrying or by growing anxious, can help lift a single burden of this life.

IV. The next ‘Fear not!’ is in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27:24).—‘Fear not, Paul … lo! God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.’ Now this ‘Fear not!’ is a most important one. It is a ‘Fear not!’ even when almost certain failure seems to be staring us in the face. God is always better than our fears.

V. The fifth ‘Fear not!’ is in Luke 5:10.—‘And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not! from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’ Now this is a ‘Fear not!’ for all weary Christian workers. The Master said to His disciples, ‘Work away!’ they did so, and were rewarded with a tremendous haul; and so the Master will come to every weary, discouraged Christian worker.

VI. The sixth ‘Fear not!’ is also in St. Luke’s Gospel (Revelation 2:10). ‘And the angel said unto them, Fear not! for behold? I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.’ This is a ‘Fear not!’ for each penitent sinner. We realise that God is for us: nay, more, God is with us—our ‘Emmanuel.’

VII. And then we come to the ‘Fear not!’ of the text (Revelation 1:17.)—In this text our Master gives us three reasons, three solid facts why we should at once cease to fear.

(a) On account of His eternal existence.

(b) On account of his victory.

(c) On account of his power and authority.

—Rev. F. Swainson.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/revelation-1.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

Ver. 17. I fell at his feet as dead] The nearer any one comes to Christ, the more rottenness entereth into his bones.

And he laid his right hand] The same right hand wherein he held the seven stars, Revelation 1:16. Christus sic omnibus attentus, ut nulli detentus; sic curat universos quasi singulos, sic singulos, quasi solos. Every godly minister is Christ’s particular care.

Fear not] Till ridden of fear we are not fit to hear.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-1.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Revelation 1:17

The Keys of Hell and of Death.

I. Looking back upon His incarnate course below, our Lord testifies that He, the Eternal, Living One, died in the verity of His human nature. The solemnity and grandeur of this allusion to His death and the wonderful way in which it is connected with His person as the fountain of life conspire to make this testimony of the ascended Lord unspeakably impressive. We cannot but be struck with the fact that, in His review of His past among men, our Lord makes His having died sum up all. It is impossible to do justice to the risen Saviour's words unless we make them the measure of the design of the Incarnation itself. God became man that the Living One might become the dead.

II. "Behold, I," the same who died, "am alive for evermore." Undoubtedly there is here an undertone of triumph over death, such as becomes Him who by dying conquered the last enemy. It is as if the Lord, who confesses that He was dead, asserts that notwithstanding He still and ever lives. In virtue of His essential life, He could not be holden of death, but continued in His incarnate person to live evermore. Having died for mankind, He now lives to be Lord over all, or, as St. Paul says, "Christ both died and rose and revived that He might be Lord of the dead and the living." His own testimony is, "I am alive for evermore." It is His eternal encouragement to His troubled Church and to every individual member of it.

III. No Christian dies but at the time when the Lord appoints. There is a sense in which this is true of every mortal, but there is a very special sense in which the death of His saints is cared for. Their life is precious to Him, and He will see that without just cause it shall not be abridged by one moment. To him who is in Jesus there can be no premature end, no death by accident, no departing before the call from above. The Lord Himself, and in person, opens the door and receives the dying saint.

W. B. Pope, Sermons and Charges, p. 19.


Love in the Glorified Saviour.

I. When the Man of sorrows had ceased to walk in sorrow, and He that was acquainted with grief had all tears for ever wiped from His eyes, do we find that He in any degree laid aside His human sympathies, that He had less love, less compassion, less feeling, for our infirmities? Because, as it seems to me, this was an important crisis in His course. He is lifted far above all personal yearning for human companionship. Receiving the homage of the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, does He still invite to Him, will He still give rest to, the weary and the heavy-laden? This demand of our backward, unready, wayward souls He has fully satisfied. He called Mary by her name, and entrusted her with words of comfort to those whom He still knew as His brethren: that He was ascending to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God. Nor was this the only proof given of His love and sympathy on that memorable day: "Go your way; tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee."

II. We have in the risen Saviour all that our hearts can desire. Not one of His human sympathies has been lost by His resumption of glory; not one of the attributes of Divine omnipotence has been limited by His taking human nature into the Godhead. He remains as He was even when on earth: perfect man. He is in communion with our whole nature. Not a sigh is uttered by any overburdened heart which He does not hear; not a sorrow in the wide world but it touches Him. And herein is the great lesson for our infinite consolation and encouragement: that the Son of God, high as He is above all might, and majesty, and power, is not too high to be a dear Friend to every one among us; that love can never die; that among the glories of the Godhead itself it is uneclipsed, not obscured, but is highest in the highest, and of men, and of angels, and of God Himself, is the brightest crown and the most blessed perfection.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iv., p. 189.


The Living Christ.

This sublime apocalypse is the climax of revelation. It carries us forward from narrative to prophecy, from facts to truths, from present conditions to permanent issues. It crowns the story of redemptive agencies with a vision of redemptive achievements. It is a book of completions, of finishing touches, of final results. It takes up the broken threads of history, and weaves them into the fabric of eternity. It turns our gaze from what has been and is around us, to what is and shall be before us. Above all, it advances our thought from the Christ of history to the Christ of eternity. It translates for us the Man of sorrows into the crowned and conquering Lord of a supreme spiritual empire.

I. This text is Christ's new introduction of Himself to the Church militant, an introduction of Himself from above to His disciples left below. It is the revelation of Himself in His lordship, clothed with the authority and resource of spiritual empire. On His head are many crowns; in His hands are the keys of mastery; to His service yield all God's powers. But I want you to note that right in the centre of this shining vision the old familiar Christ of the Gospels is made clearly discernible. Not only does He introduce Himself as the Living One with the keys, but as the One who became dead, the One therefore who lived and moved within the range of men's observation. Christ was not content to show Himself in His glory, endowed with the splendour of Divine power. He was careful to claim His place on the field of history, to reaffirm His identity as the Son of man, to revive the facts of His incarnate life, and to link what He is in heaven to what He was on earth. The human brow is visible through the Divine halo. The hand that grasps the sceptre bears the nail-marks of the tragedy. His eyes, albeit that John saw them as flaming fires, recall the tear-drops which fell at Bethany and over Jerusalem. And it is the Christ Himself that throws into promise these lineaments of His humanity. He permits us to look at His crown, but while as yet we turn to look at it He lifts before us the vision of His cross, He unveils for us the splendours of His throne, ay, and He bids us to look at the steps which led up to it and at the inscriptions which they bear, and the heavenly writing spells Bethlehem, Nazareth, Gethsemane, Calvary, Olivet.

II. The historic Christ, who lived, spake, worked, died, and rose again in our midst, is our ultimate ground of verification for the great spiritual truths and hopes which inspire and quicken us today. We are asked to believe that it is possible for us to be just and to believe in lofty and generous thoughts of God and man which today happily fill the Church—we are told we can believe these apart from history; we can accept them as sentiments kindled in us by the direct operation of the Spirit of God. There is a truth in the assertion, but only a half-truth. For in the last analysis of things my faith in these high truths about God and about man runs back for verification to the life God lived amongst us and the sacrifice which He wrought in our behalf.

III. But the text tells us we must not stop there, that the Christ of history is only the beginning, that the cross of Christ is only the finger-post that Christ is yonder and lives, that Christ is here inside and lives, and that the faith of Christ bids us turn from distant history when we have built upon it to find Christ here and now, a living presence in our own hearts and in the world. The grand and fatal blunder of evangelical theology is that it stops with the cross of Calvary, stops before Christ. It forgets that He rose again and lives; it forgets that, while by His death we are reconciled to God, it is by His life that we are saved. It forgets, or is only beginning now adequately to remember, that, while our great structure of faith rests upon solid foundations on the earth, it builds and caps its towers away up in the heavens. It will not do for you and me to stand on the slopes of Olivet gazing up at the departing Christ, or our conception of Christ and of His Gospel, and our character, experience, and hope, will suffer disastrous impoverishment. The men of Galilee had all the facts of Christ's life, and after the Resurrection they had some appreciation of their meaning and scope. But they had no adequate Gospel, they had no large and compelling Christian life, until the Christ of eternity revealed Himself unto them. Although Christ's last words to His disciples were, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth; go ye out and preach," He immediately checked Himself and said, "Not yet; not yet: tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." And that power was the vision of Christ, that pentecostal baptism of the risen Lord, that personal experience of Christ's return and indwelling.

C. A. Berry, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 49.


References: Revelation 1:17, Revelation 1:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1028; W. Cunningham, Sermons, p. 187; W. Brock, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 312; A. M. Fairbairn, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 97; Homiletic Magazine, vol. x., p. 269.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/revelation-1.html.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 1:17. The impression made by the appearance of the Lord(819) is that of mortal terror; for, since death is the wages of sin, no sinful man can stand alive before God.(820) Yet John is supported by Him who is not only absolutely the living, but also, since he himself has passed into death,(821) and has overcome it, has redeemed his people therefrom, as he has the keys of death and hell.

De Wette finds a contradiction in the fact that “the seer beholds all this in spirit, and so represents things as though he had stood opposite to these appearances in his bodily form, and with his ordinary human powers of conception and feeling: cf. Revelation 5:4, Revelation 17:6, Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:8; Daniel 7:15.” But by the ἐν πνεύ΄ατι (Revelation 1:10), his being in the body is not removed. Just as the feeling of those who dream is also customarily expressed in a bodily way, e.g., by actual weeping, it may readily be thought that while John actually sees ἐν πνεύ΄ατι—i.e., in prophetic ecstasy—the actual appearance of the Lord, he bodily sinks down.(822)

ὡς νεκρός is not “like one dying,”(823) but “like one dead.” The laying-on of the right hand is, like in Christ’s miracles of healing,(824) an accompanying friendly sign of the aid peculiarly offered through the Word.

The Lord begins his words just as heavenly beings have ordinarily to address men: ΄ὴ φοβοῦ. Cf. Luke 1:13; Luke 1:30; Luke 2:10; Mark 16:6 (Matthew 17:7). This, as also in general Revelation 1:17 sqq., suits the opinion of Ebrard, that the falling-down of John was not merely an effect of terror, but “an act of love.”

ἐγώ εἱ΄ι πρῶτος, κ. τ. λ. Incorrectly, Wetst., Grot., etc., from dogmatic prejudice: “the highest in dignity—the most despised.” Three times after εἶ΄ι, Eichh. mis-points “I am,”—as, Matthew 14:27; John 6:20, which is entirely inapplicable here; and then, πρ. κ. εσχ. = “the only one in his class,” καὶ ζῶν = “with respect to life, among the living”! Christ is, as the Father (Revelation 1:8), the First and the Last, i.e., he is personally the A and the ω;(825) and in this lies that which is epexegetically(826) added, that he is absolutely the Living One,(827) who, just on that account, can also give life. This reference of the conception ζῶν,(828) which is in itself already necessary, since the personal Eternal One must have his eternity as an energetic attribute, is yet specially emphasized by Revelation 1:18; and that, too, in such way that what is said in both halves of the verse, even though not according to form, yet according to meaning, is related as foundation ( καὶ ἐγεν.

αἱώνων) and consequence ( καὶ ἕχω, κ. τ. λ.). For, just because Christ who suffered death,(829) after having risen,(830) henceforth does not die,(831) but is living to eternity,(832) he has the keys of death and of hell, i.e., power over them, so that he can preserve and deliver therefrom, but also can cast therein.(833) The figurative presentation of the keys(834) must not be regarded a personification of the θάνατος and the ᾅδης;(835) but, on the other hand also, both can be regarded only as a place, when it is said that “both designate one and the same idea.”(836) Yet the θάνατος, after which the ᾅδης, Revelation 6:8, appears, is, more accurately speaking, to be distinguished from the latter.(837) To think of θάνατος as a place, is inadmissible. The gates of death(838) are spoken of in opposition to the gates of the daughter of Zion;(839) here death is personified, and regarded as a possessor or lord of the gates. The place of death, which appears closed in with gates, is ᾅδης.(840) In this double and not completely symmetrical delineation of the idea, according to which “gates” are ascribed to personal death as well as to local hell, the κλεῖς must here be understood.

The intention of this entire detailed address is so far in advance of merely freeing John from his terrors of death, as John is the prophet, who himself must experience and understand the majesty of the Lord, whose coming he is to proclaim, in order that he may bring to the churches full testimony concerning the same.(841) Thus Revelation 1:19 suitably concludes.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 1:17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet, &c.— "I have just been describing the appearance of Jesus Christ to me, with which I was favoured on the Lord's day, while I was engaged in such devout sentiments as were suitable to the time and occasion: and I now add, that when I saw him in this awful, this glorious and resplendent form, I was perfectly overwhelmed with the majesty of his appearance, so that I fell down at his feet dead; and he immediately condescended to raise me up, with great indulgence; for he laid his right hand upon me, and said to me, Fear not, John, for I appear to thee for purposes of mercy; I am, indeed, as I have proclaimed myself, the First and the Last, possessed of divine perfections and glories, from eternity to eternity the same."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-1.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The effect which this glorious representation of Christ in this vision had upon St. John; he was astonished and amazed at it, and fell down at Christ's feet as one almost dead.

Note from hence, That the holiest man on earth is not able to bear the presence of Christ here, nor able to stand before his gracious manifestation of himself, when he comes to reveal himself in mercy towards him. See Habakkuk 3:15-16.

Lord, how unable then will the wicked be at the great day to stand before the manifestation of thy fury! If at this visionary representation of Christ, St. John trembled, and fell at his feet as dead, how unable will the impertinent world be to look him in the face at the great day, when he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, rendering vengeance to them that know not God!

Observe, 2. The seasonable care of Christ for St. John's relief in this great exigency: He laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not. Hereby Christ discovered both his readiness to help, and his ability to help; the right hand is the supporting hand, the strengthening hand; Christ did not send an angel to comfort St. John, but laid his own hand upon him, to assure him both of safety and succour.

Observe, 3. As what Christ did, so what he likewise said, for St. John's comfort and support under the burden of his fears: Fear not, says Christ, for I am the first and the last; that is, I am an eternal Being, without either beginning or end.

Again, I am he that liveth, and was dead. As if Christ had said, "Fear not death or dying, for I have overcome death by dying, and conquered the king of terrors in his own territories; but, behold, I am now alive for evermore, for the benefit of my church, and to protect and defend my faithful servants."

Nay, farther, to show that his life was not a bare subsistence, but clothed with power, Christ adds, "I have also the keys of hell and of death; that is, a sovereign power over the whole invisible world, to let into heaven, and to lock into hell as I please." The keys are an emblem of authority and power; the steward who has the keys of the house, commands the house.

There are four keys which Christ keeps in his own hands; the key of the womb, the key of the clouds, the key of the earth as of a granary of corn, and the key of the grave.

When Christ says here, I have the keys of hell and of death, the meaning is, that he has a sovereign dominion over both worlds; over this in which we live, and over that into which we die, whether the one or the other part of it, heaven and hell both: for the words must not be understood with a debasing limitation, only respecting hell, as if Christ had only the keys of the bottomless pit: but the original word Hades, signifies the invisible world, consisting of both heaven and hell; and he has a power over both, and also over death too, which is the common passage into both places.

Learn hence, 1. If Christ has the power of death, and keeps the key of the grave, in his own hand, that men do not die at random, by accident and chance, but by determination and judgment; Christ by an authoritative act turns the key, and gives man his exit out of the world.

Learn, 2. That Christ, who has the key of death, has also the key of Hades, the upper and lower Hades; heaven and hell; and such as go out of the world, go not out of being, but go into one of those states and places.

Learn, 3. How admirable, and yet how amiable, Christ should be in all our eyes, who hath these keys in his own hand, with such merciful intentions towards us; and how willingly should we die, when the keys of death are in so great, so kind an hand as his! O how happy is it when this power of our great Redeemer over death and the grave, and a placid resignation to his pleasure, do concur and meet together, not from stupidity, but trust in him that keep the keys!

Lord, when the key is turning, and thou art letting in souls into the invisible world, let thy servant depart in peace, and everlastingly see thy salvation!

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-1.html. 1700-1703.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 1:17. [ ὡς νεκρὸς, as dead) Great contrition of nature usually precedes a large bestowing of spiritual gifts.—V. g.]— πρῶτος καὶ ἔσχατος, the first and the last) A most glorious title. In Hebrew ראשון אחרון, Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12; where the Septuagint renders it, ἐγὼ πρῶτος καὶ ἐγὼ μετὰ ταῦτα, πλὴν ἐμοῦ οὐκ ἔστι θεός: and again, ἐγώ εἰμι πρῶτος, καὶ ἐγώ εἰμι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. In both passages the translators appear to have considered the word ἔσχατος as insufficient to express the dignity of the speaker, and yet in fact it answered admirably to the Hebrew. Isaiah 41:4, ἐγὼ θεὸς πρῶτος, καὶ εἰς τὰ ἐπερχόμενα ( את אחרנים) ἐγώ εἰμι. The Messiah is speaking of Himself. Comp. Isaiah 48:16. Hence in the Apocalypse the Lord Jesus applies this description to Himself, and explains it by the words which follow. Let the Form be observed:

I am the First,

and the Last:

and the Living One:

and I became dead, and

behold, I am alive, etc.

The immediate construction, The first and the Last, declares, that His Life, by the brief intervention of death, was interrupted in such a manner, that it ought not even to be considered as interrupted at all. Artemonius, in his treatise de Init. Evang. Joh., interprets the First and the Last as the most excellent and the most abject, p. 248; but if this were the meaning, the order of the events would require to be inverted, and that it should be written, The Last and the First. It is plainly a title of Divine glory, the First and the Last, in Isaiah; and in his writings Artemonius in vain endeavours so to bend the same title, that it may denote the Beginning and the End: p. 249, and the following.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-1.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I fell at his feet as dead; astonished at the majesty and glory of the appearance: see Joshua 5:14 Daniel 8:17,18 Mt 17:6 Acts 9:4.

And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; to comfort me, and let me know, that I had no reason to be afraid, he would do me no harm.

I am the first and the last: see Revelation 1:8,11.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-1.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

пал к ногам Его Обычная благоговейная реакция при виде славы Господа (Быт. 17:3; Чис. 16:22; Иез. 1:28; Ис. 6:1-8; Деян. 9:4).

Первый и Последний Иисус Христос называет Себя именем, которым Бог назван в Ветхом Завете (22:13; Ис. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12), ясно указывая на Свою сущность Бога. Идолы приходят и уходят. Он был до них, и Он останется после них.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-1.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

As dead; being overcome by the divine majesty and glory of the Redeemer.

The first and the last; a direct ascription to himself of the attributes of deity. See Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:6. A full view of the Saviour’s glory would be more than any man in his life could bear; and in the future life, while it will be unfolding to the admiring eye of his people with greater and greater clearness for ever, all that they will see will only enlarge their conceptions of the infinitude of what remains unseen.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And when I saw him I fell at his feet as one dead.’

We can compare this with Ezekiel 1:28 where Ezekiel ‘fell on his face’ before God. Here too John is seeing the ‘appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord’, and is traumatised. If we really consider Him Who is seen in the vision we may well do the same. Here again Jesus Christ is paralleled with God.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-1.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This revelation of Jesus Christ in His unveiled glory took all the strength out of John. He could not stand in the presence of such a One. Paul had a similar experience on the Damascus road ( Acts 9:4; cf. Job 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:5; Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:17; Daniel 10:5-20). However the glorified Christ laid His comforting, powerful hand on John and encouraged him to stop fearing (cf. Jesus" action following the Transfiguration, Matthew 17:7). He introduced Himself as the self-existent, eternal One. "I am" recalls Jesus" claims in the Gospels (cf. Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; John 8:58) and connects Him with Yahweh ( Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 48:12). The title "the first and the last" is essentially the same as "the Alpha and the Omega" ( Revelation 1:8) and "the beginning and the end" ( Revelation 22:13). All three titles stress the eternal sovereignty of God. The consoling words, "Do not be afraid," came from a sovereign being. [Note: Mounce, pp80-81.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-1.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

I am the first and the last. These are the words of the Son of man, or of him that represented our Saviour, Christ, to St. John. To be the first and the last, is another expression agreeing only to him who is the true God, as it is divers times applied by the prophet Isaias. (Witham) --- From the 12th verse to this place we have a description of the Son of man, i.e. Christ. The different emblematical descriptions of his countenance, his dress, &c. are similar to what are used by other prophets, and easily explained of his attributes, his eternity, vengeance, &c. &c. (Omnes passim.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

fell. Greek. pipto. See Revelation 7:16 (light).

at. Greek. pros. App-104.

dead = one dead. App-139.

unto me. The texts omit.

I am . . . Last. Compare Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:11, Isaiah 48:12.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

So fallen is man, that God's manifestation of His presence overwhelms him.

Laid his right hand upon me - so Jesus at the transfiguration to the three prostrate disciples, of whom John was one, saying, "Be not afraid." The 'touch' of His hand imparted strength (Daniel 8:18; Daniel 10:10; Matthew 8:3; Matthew 8:15; Matthew 9:29).

Unto me. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A C h, Vulgate.

The first and the last - (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12.) From eternity, and to eternity: 'First by creation, the Last by retribution: First, because before me there was no God; Last, because after me there shall be no other: First, because from me are all things; Last, because to me all things return' (Richard of Victor).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) I fell at his feet as dead.—At the sight of Him, the Evangelist fell as one dead. “Was this He whom upon earth St. John had known so familiarly? Was this He in whose bosom He had lain at that Last Supper, and said, ‘Lord, which is he that betrayeth Thee?’ When I saw Him thus transformed, thus glorified, I fell at His feet as one dead. Well might such be the effect, even upon the spirit of a just man made perfect—and St. John was still in the body—of such an open revelation of the risen glory of Christ” (Dr. Vaughan). It was pity, and the pang felt at the severity of retribution which overtook sin, which made Dante fall as a dead body falls (Inferno, v.); it is the felt consciousness of unworthiness which seems to have overcome the Evangelist. This consciousness has its witness outside the Bible as well as in it. “Semele must perish if Jupiter reveals himself to her in his glory, being consumed in the brightness of that glory.” (Comp. Exodus 33:18; Exodus 33:20, “Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me and live.”) For every man it is a dreadful thing to stand face to face with God. Yet the consciousness of this unworthiness to behold God, or to receive a near revelation of His presence, is a sign of faith, and is welcomed as such. Of him who said, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof,” Christ said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:8-10).

He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not.—The words “unto me” should be omitted. The gesture is designed to give the assurance of comfort; the hand which was raised up to bless (Luke 24:51), which was reached forth to heal the leper, to raise the sinking Peter (Matthew 14:31), and to touch the wounded ear of Malchus, is now stretched out to reassure His servant; and the words, like those which John had heard upon the Mount of Transfiguration, and when toiling against the waves of Galilee, bid him not to be afraid. (Comp. Daniel 10:10.)

I am the first and the last.—The “last” must not be taken here to mean the least and lowest, as though it referred to our Lord’s humiliation; the last points forwards, as the first points backwards. He was before all things, and so the first; and though all things change, folded up as a vesture, yet His years shall not fail, and so He is the last. “The first because all things are from Me; the last because to Me are all things” (Richard of St. Victor). (Comp. Colossians 1:16-18; Hebrews 1:11-12.) This pre-eminence of first and last is thrice claimed for the Lord Jehovah in Isaiah (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12), and thrice for the Lord Jesus in this book (in this passage, in Revelation 2:8, and Revelation 22:13).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
I fell
Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:18; 10:8,9,17-19; Habakkuk 3:16; Matthew 17:2-6; John 13:23; John 21:20
And he
Daniel 8:18; 10:10
Fear not
Genesis 15:1; Exodus 14:13; 20:20; Isaiah 41:10; Daniel 10:12; Matthew 28:4; Mark 16:5,6; Luke 24:37-39
I am
8,11; 2:8; 22:13; Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12
Reciprocal: Genesis 17:3 - GeneralGenesis 26:24 - fear;  Genesis 28:17 - he was;  Exodus 3:6 - hid;  Exodus 3:14 - I AM hath;  Exodus 33:20 - Thou canst not;  Numbers 24:4 - falling;  Deuteronomy 32:39 - I kill;  Judges 13:6 - terrible;  1 Chronicles 21:30 - he was afraid;  2 Chronicles 9:4 - there was;  Job 4:14 - Fear;  Psalm 93:2 - thou;  Psalm 102:12 - thou;  Psalm 102:27 - thou art;  Psalm 119:120 - My flesh;  Psalm 139:5 - and laid;  Isaiah 6:5 - said I;  Isaiah 43:11 - GeneralLamentations 3:57 - thou saidst;  Lamentations 5:19 - remainest;  Ezekiel 3:23 - and I fell;  Ezekiel 44:4 - and I fell;  Daniel 8:17 - I was;  Daniel 10:19 - fear not;  Amos 9:1 - I saw;  Haggai 2:5 - fear;  Zechariah 13:7 - the man;  Matthew 14:26 - they were;  Matthew 14:27 - it;  Matthew 17:7 - touched;  Matthew 28:5 - Fear;  Mark 9:6 - GeneralLuke 1:12 - he;  Luke 2:10 - Fear not;  Luke 5:8 - he;  Luke 9:34 - and they;  John 1:15 - he was;  John 6:20 - It is;  John 8:18 - one;  John 8:58 - Before;  John 13:19 - that I;  John 14:28 - Father;  Acts 7:32 - Then;  Acts 27:24 - Fear not;  Romans 16:26 - everlasting;  2 Corinthians 1:19 - was not;  2 Corinthians 4:10 - that;  2 Corinthians 13:4 - yet;  Ephesians 1:20 - and set;  Philippians 2:6 - thought;  Colossians 1:17 - he;  1 Timothy 3:16 - God;  1 Timothy 6:16 - only;  Hebrews 1:11 - thou;  Hebrews 7:26 - made;  Hebrews 12:2 - the author;  Hebrews 12:21 - Moses;  Hebrews 13:8 - General1 John 1:1 - That which;  Revelation 21:6 - I am

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-1.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The sight and sound of this wonderful being so overcame John that he was prostrated with fear. Not that he was rendered unconscious for then he could not have been benefited by encouraging words which were spoken to him. Fear not indicates that John was affected with a feeling that perhaps something was about to happen for which he was not prepared. Hence he was given this assurance that the one who was before him was Hebrews -that was the first and the last. Verse8 tells us that the phrase refers to the Lord who is being represented by this angel.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-1.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 1:17

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead," etc.

The apostle was not "dead" not in a swoon, but rather in a trance, as Peter was, { Acts 10:10} and astonished, as Daniel was, { Daniel 8:27} whose comeliness was turned in him to corruption. { Daniel 10:5-6; Daniel 10:8} Did not God hold back the face of his throne, as Job speaketh { Job 26:9} or put us into the cliff of the rock, as he did Moses, while his glory passeth by, { Exodus 33:22-23} we should not be able to behold the glimpses of his glory; nor can sanctified believers behold the shining light of the glory of God, but in the face of Christ, { 2 Corinthians 4:6} and that glory of the LORD, they must behold in the glass of the gospel. { 2 Corinthians 3:18} Such raptures and ravishments of soul in the Revelation, and manifestations of Jesus Christ put Paul into so great an ecstasy, that he knew not, whether he was in the body of out of the body. { 2 Corinthians 12:1-4}

"And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I AM the First, and the Last"

John the servant of Jesus Christ now lying at his "feet," not only as one deeply humbled, but as one "dead," not at all alive, but a mere passive creature; his gracious LORD showed him mercy, and laid his right hand upon him to strengthen him with strength in his soul, (as he did his poor worm Jacob; Isaiah 41:8-10), saying unto him,

"Fear not, I AM the First and the Last"

Christ's deity "I Amos," and his eternity "the First and the Last" revealed and believed, and by himself applied unto sanctified believers, will abate their fears, and remove them. { Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 8:12-14; Matthew 14:27; Mark 5:36; 1 Peter 3:14}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-1.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 1:17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead, and he laid his right hand on me, and said: Fear not. John understands the twofold aspect of the appearance, recognizes that the glory of the Lord and the energy of his righteousness have the church as well as the world for the field of their operations, and, forgetting his prophetical office, penetrated by the feeling of his personal sinfulness, sinks overwhelmed to the ground. But He, who once also in the days of his flesh, when he was transfigured before his disciples, and his countenance shone as the sun, and they fell upon their face and were greatly afraid, had in so gentle and powerful a manner touched them and said, "Arise, and be not afraid" (Matthew 17:6-7), the same here also laid hold of his servant. Bengel: "Before the sufferings of Jesus, John enjoyed such confidential intimacy with him, that he lay in his bosom during the feast of the last Supper; and now, scarcely sixty years after, was this elder, this aged apostle, so overwhelmed with a look. What a brightness must there have been in the appearance of the Lord!" How deep, we add, must the conscience of daily sin also be in the very holiest! That John, when he saw Christ, fell down at his feet as one dead, forms a practical commentary on his words, 1 John 1:8, "If we say, we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." That Christ laid his right hand upon him and said, "Fear not," in this is found a proof of the truth declared in the words that immediately follow, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and purifies us from all uurighteousness." Had John not been free from reigning sin, and truly penitent in regard to his sins of infirmity, he could not have received the comfort of the address, bidding him not to fear. Under the Old Testament, such immediate intercourse with heavenly beings, even with angels (Daniel 8:17-18, Luke 2:10), but most of all with the Lord and his Revealer, especially when he appeared in his glorious Majesty, filled with a profound terror the minds even of his holiest servants. The fervid appearance of the Lord's glory which Isaiah saw, Isaiah 6 (comp. Isaiah 6:4, "And the house was full of smoke, from the fire on the golden altar), primarily had respect, not to him, but to the ungodly people to whom he was going to be sent as a messenger of wrath. Yet even he cried out on beholding it, "Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips, and mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 1:28, falls upon his face when the Lord appears to him in his burning glory, although the indignation was kindled not against him, but against incorrigible sinners, comp. Ezekiel 3:23, Ezekiel 42:3. Daniel falls down, Daniel 8:17-18, when Gabriel comes to him, in utter impotence on the ground, but the angel touches him and raises him up again, so that he is able to stand. But Daniel 10:7, ss., comes nearest to the passage before us. Daniel falls on the ground when he sees Michael, the angel of the Lord, in his burning glory, "and lo! a hand touched me and set me on my knees, and on my hands." In regard to the laying hold here with the right hand, what Hvernick has remarked on that passage of Daniel is quite applicable: "As the result and object of the touching with the hand, we have not merely to think of the raising up of Daniel, which always presupposes a strengthening that had already been experienced, but the entire agency of the angel as manifesting itself in beneficent working toward Daniel (attactus sanitatem et vires conferens, Geier), of which the outward touch is to be regarded as the symbol." Bengel says: "In former times the Lord Jesus had healed much sickness, and strengthened much weakness by the laying on of his hand, and in the same manner he imparts here to John a plentiful supply of living energy. How gently and graciously was this done to John!"

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-1.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Saw him—Instantly as his sight takes in the whole person and the sun-like countenance, our seer falls as dead; just as he and his fellows fell into a stupor at the transfiguration; and just as Daniel fell into lethargy, Daniel 10:9. We all know with what tremor often the bravest man thinks of encountering even an apparition from the spirit world. The blood curdles at the idea of meeting the shade of even the dearest departed friend. Such are the dread relations in which we stand to that world into which we soon must enter. Still more dread seem to be the sensations of meeting a being in its resurrection power.

Laid his right hand upon me—By gentle touch and voice the seer is wakened and brought into sympathy and communion with his heavenly visitant.

The divine person now (Revelation 1:17-20) identifies himself as Jehovah-Jesus, the ever-living, who by his death and resurrection has attained dominion over the domains of death and hades. He thereupon commissions the seer for his work, symbolized by the significance of the stars and candlesticks. This self-annunciation we translate thus: Fear not! I am the first and the last and the living one; and I became dead; and lo! living am I unto ages of ages, and I have the keys of death and of hades. Write, therefore, etc.

Fear not—Same consoling address as to Isaiah, Isaiah 6:7; to Daniel 10:12; and at the transfiguration, Matthew 17:7.

I am the first and the last— Jehovah’s own self-assertion in Isaiah 48:12. “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” Also Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6. He is first, as originating all things; he is the last, as eternal and enduring, even though all created and contingent things should fail. “First,” says St. Victor, “because no God existed before me; last, because no other shall be after me.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-1.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 1:17. . . ., the stereotyped behaviour (cf.Numbers 24:4) in such apocalyptic trances (Weinel, 129, 182, R. J. 375 f.; for the terror of spiritual experience cf. Schiller’s lines: “Schrecklich ist es Deiner Wahrheit | Sterbliches Gefäss zu seyn”); Jesus, however, does here what Michael (En. lxxi. 3) or some other friendly angel does in most Jewish apocalypses. There is no dialogue between the prophet and Christ, as there is afterwards between him and the celestial beings— . The triple reassurance is (1) that the mysterious, overwhelming Figure reveals his character, experience and authority, instead of proving an alien unearthly visitant; (2) the vision has a practical object (“write,” 19) bearing upon human life, and (3) consequently the mysteries are not left as baffling enigmas. All the early Christian revelations which are self-contained, presuppose the risen Christ as their source; the Apocalypse of Peter, being fragmentary, is hardly an exception to the rule. The present vision presents him as superhuman, messianic, militant and divine. But the writer is characteristically indifferent to the artistic error of making Christ’s right hand at once hold seven stars and be laid on the seer (Revelation 1:16-17). Cf. the fine application of the following passage by Milton in his “Remonstrant’s Defence”. The whole description answers to what is termed, in modern psychology, a “photism”.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-1.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

17. I fell down. Shock and fright! Don’t be afraid. The old love (John 14:1-3). The first and the last. Compare Revelation 1:8. Note the similarity between God and Christ.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:17". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.