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 ) ( Ezekiel 1:28 ) ( Daniel 10:8 Daniel 10:9 ) ; 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 ) ( Luke 12:32 ) .
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 ) ( 44:6 ) ( 48:12 ) ; 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". (Nwvar) , "the first", is a name of the Messiah with the Jews F20; (See Gill on Revelation 1:8).
F20 T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 5. 1. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 63. fol. 55. 2. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 171. 2. & Tzeror Hammor, fol. 71. 4.