One central theme in the book of Revelation is worship. For instance, in Craig Koester's book, "Revelation and the End of All Things", he considers the worship scene in chapters 4-5 to form the heart of the whole vision, with John's visions returning there repeatedly between the visions of judgment that follow. This theme is also developed as an antithesis between those who worship God and the Lamb and those who worship the beast.

Given the importance of this theme, then, it is conspicuous that we do not see John himself engaged at any point in the Revelation in proper worship. In the first chapter John sees Jesus in a glorified manner, but John’s response to this vision is to fall at his feet as dead (Rev. 1:17). In chapters 4 and 5 worship is given to the one who is on the throne, yet John is not seen as one of those who worship him. And in Chapter 19 John is seen as finally worshiping the one who was speaking to him, and it turns out he was rebuked for worshiping the wrong entity.

My question is why do we NOT see John participating in proper worship in Revelation? And when we do see John worship, why does he get it wrong, as in Rev. 19:10?

  • It would help if you could edit this and quote the verses you think are most relevant.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 11:54
  • 1
    I think there is an interesting question here, that could be stated clearly and briefly this way: "In light of John's experience on Patmos (Rev 1:17), how can his prostration (equated with worship) before created beings in 19:10 and 22:8-9 be explained or understood?" Would that do it?
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 12:44
  • 4
    I'm unclear about what is unclear in this question. Seems pretty straightforward, similar to the question about why God is not mentioned in Esther.
    – Soldarnal
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 16:06
  • In Rev 1:17 John saw "one like the son of man." He did not know that it was Jesus until "after" he had fallen at his feet as dead, and it was then Jesus revealed his identity to John.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 18:35
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    Why don't you consider 1:17 to be worship?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


Revelation contains apocalyptic visions. Whether you take Revelation as an authentic account of apocalyptic visions experienced by John or not, either way it is clear that John's authorial intent was for the book to be taken that way.

Apocalyptic visions are heavenly, symbolic, eschatological, and witnessed. In light of the nature of such visions, it would be a bit weird for John to actively "participate" in them. For an analogy, imagine someone showed you a movie about bobsledding and then after you were done watching, someone else asked you why you didn't "participate in the bobsledding" yourself. The answer would be: "huh? it was just something I was seeing! how could I participate?" The only participation we see in such experiences is where they are explicitly directed to do so by the angelic guide (e.g. eating the scroll; interacting foolishly with the messenger doesn't count as participation in the apocalyptic vision.)

The recounter is often bewildered. Whether we look at Ezekiel, Daniel, John, or someone else, the person recounting the vision is often awestruck by what is going on and baffled by its significance. I imagine that in such a state a person wouldn't be thinking carefully through the proper activities at each shocking turn.

  • I like this one purely for its practicality. If any of us actually had a vision like Revelation, it would be a small miracle if we didn't require a change of underwear afterwards. Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 13:54

This is a good question, and demands scrutiny, as the OP makes a valid point concerning worship.

To answer this question, we must 1st examine an important truth which will explain John's purpose in Revelations:(Matt. 16:28)

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

To put this passage in perspective (John 21:21-23)

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

John "saw" Jesus returning with His Kingdom in power; in order to do that he had to be taken "in the Spirit"(vss 1:10/4:2) in which the laws of space and time were suspended so that he could see and record all the things that were "shortly come to pass"(1:1) so in this regard he is in effect, a 'time traveler', except God is showing him the truth of what will happen versus names, dates, scenes which describe certain individuals, which we see on 'time-traveler' programs.

Worship is of ultimate importance, and in Heaven, everyone worships God, and the Lamb. John does too, as one of the 24 elders who bow before the throne (Rev. 4:10-11),

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

In Matt. 19:28, it says,

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

John is one of the 12 Apostles, and therefore on one of the 12 thrones(out of 24) which shall judge Israel and judge the Kingdom of God for all eternity. Therefore, to say he didn't worship in Revelations is inaccurate; he does worship in his capacity as an elder. However, in Revelations his purpose is to record what is happening, therefore he is like a camera man in the room who notices and records all that is going on, yet is not part of it.

Finally, all in Heaven and Earth bow before God, when God is revealed;(Phil 2:10)

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Satan himself shall bow the knee to Jesus and declare Him as Lord; it will do him no good, as it will do those who worshipped Satan or the Beast in this life no good. But they will all acknowledge Jesus as Lord when all the facades are stripped away and we see things as they really are. So the issue of worship is of primary importance in the book of Revelations.

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