Rev. 22:8 – I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (HCSB)
Don’t do that!
In verse 8, John identifies himself one last time as the one to whom these visions are given. “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things,” he declares. This harks back to chapter 1, in which the apostle calls himself Christ’s “slave John, who testified to God’s word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ in all he saw” (1:1b-2). He begins verse 4 with, “John: To the seven churches in Asia.” Shortly thereafter he writes, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus” (1:9). As in his Gospel and letters, so in Revelation John is careful to emphasize the importance of eyewitness testimony concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.
He begins his first epistle with these words:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we have observed and have touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of life –
that life was revealed,
and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you
the eternal life that was with the Father
and was revealed to us –
what we have seen and heard
we also declare to you,
so that you may have fellowship along with us;
and indeed our fellowship is with the Father
and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3)
A fellow slave
Even with all his experience as an eyewitness, however, John seems at times overwhelmed with the glory of these visions. For the second time in Revelation, John falls down to worship at the feet of the angel who has shown him these things. “Don’t do that!” the angel replies. “I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Rev. 22:9). This is nearly identical to what occurs in Revelation 19, after the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb: “Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God …” (Rev. 19:10).
According to the HCSB Study Bible, “Near the beginning of the Ten Commandments, God’s people are prohibited from the worship of any being other than God (Ex. 20:3-6). Nevertheless, in sheer amazement, John fell prostrate to worship the angel. The angel immediately corrected him…. Apparently the reader is to understand that worship of angels (who are majestic) is an easy mistake to make, even for a mature Christian like John” (pp. 2225, 2230).
Equally important, the angel is quick to point out that he has no special status; “as God’s servant, he stands equal with the members of the earthly church” (Jurgen Roloff, Revelation: A Continental Commentary, p. 250).
Next: Don’t seal the prophetic words – Revelation 22:10-11