Do Not Be Afraid

DO NOT BE AFRAIDWhen I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17, 18)

Initial Fear – As noted, John had seen Jesus in a similar glorified state at His transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). He had seen His resurrection body after He was raised. He had witnessed His ascension (John 20; Acts 1:2–11). Yet in this vision, the veil was fully lifted, and John saw the One he had known in the flesh. Even though John had been as close as any of the disciples to Jesus, John had not even begun to comprehend the majesty of the One with whom he had walked with for three years. The impact of Jesus’ appearance was so overwhelming(1) that John fell at the Lord’s feet as though he were dead! This is the apostle who leaned on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23) in the upper room. Visions of the exalted Christ can only produce awe and fear (Daniel 10:7–9).(2) For example, Paul was struck to the ground in a similar way when he saw Christ in His glory (Acts 9:4).(3)

Calming Reassurance – The Lord reassured John by touching him and speaking to him (note Daniel 8:18; 9:21; 10:10, 16, 18). Coming from the Lord “do not be afraid” must have been a great encouragement, as it would be for any child of God.

Life – We need not fear life, because He is “The Living One.”

Death – We need not fear death, because He died and is “alive forever,” having conquered death.

Hereafter – And we need not fear eternity because He “holds the keys of death and Hades.”(4)

Though the glorified Christ is to be reverenced, faithful believers like John can be sure they are accepted by the Son of God. The Christian’s death and resurrection are both secure in His hands.(5)

His Authority – The keys are the symbol of authority and honor, much like we honor someone by giving them the keys to the city. Hades here means the unseen world to which death is the portal. Jesus has the keys because of his victory over death. The keys of death and Hades, indicates both physical and spiritual death.(6) Christ has the power to either confine or release from judgment (see John 5:25–29; and compare Matthew 16:19)(7)

Next Up – The Commission.

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  1. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1888). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 570). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 931). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 570). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 931). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 1:18). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  7. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 1:18). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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