Summary: Revelation 1:9-20 provides 1) The Setting for the vision (Revelation 1:9–11), it 2) Unfolds the vision itself (Revelation 1:12–16, 20), and it 3) Relates its effects (Revelation 1:17–19).
A hate speech law that generated years of heated controversy over free speech before being repealed in 2013 could be making a comeback, at least in some form. Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act made it a discriminatory practice to convey messages over the phone or internet that contain “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt,” as long as those people were “identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.” If a Section 13 complaint was upheld, the tribunal could levy fines of up to $ 10,000 and issue cease-and-desist orders.
Seeking to divert public suspicion that he had caused the great fire in Rome (July 19, A.D. 64), Nero blamed the Christians for it. As a result, many Christians were executed at Rome (including, according to tradition, both Peter and Paul), but there was yet no empire-wide persecution. Three decades later, Emperor Domitian instigated an official persecution of Christians. Little is known of the details, but it extended to the province of Asia (modern Turkey). The apostle John had been banished to the island of Patmos for speaking the truth of God, and at least one person, a pastor, had already been martyred on Patmos (Rev. 2:13). The persecuted, beleaguered, discouraged believers in Asia Minor to whom John addressed the book of Revelation desperately needed encouragement. It had been years since Jesus ascended. Jerusalem had been destroyed and Israel ravaged. The church was losing its first love, compromising, tolerating sin, becoming powerless, and distasteful to the Lord Himself (this is described in Revelation 2 and 3). The other apostles were dead, and John had been exiled. The whole picture looked very bleak. That is why the first vision John received from the inspiring Holy Spirit is of Christ’s present ministry in the church.
John’s readers, and all believers can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ will one day return in glory and defeat His enemies. The description of those momentous events takes up most of the book of Revelation. But the vision of Jesus Christ that begins the book does not describe Jesus in His future glory, but depicts Him in the present as the glorified Lord of the church. In spite of all the disappointments, the Lord does not abandoned His church or His promises. This powerful vision of Christ’s present ministry to them must have provided great hope and comfort to the wondering and suffering churches to whom John wrote. Revelation 1:9-20 provides 1) The Setting for the vision (Revelation 1:9–11), it 2) Unfolds the vision itself (Revelation 1:12–16, 20), and it 3) Relates its effects (Revelation 1:17–19).
Believers can have comfort and hope in the Manifestation of Christ’s glory as seen through:
1) The Setting of the Vision (Revelation 1:9–11)
Revelation 1:9–11 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (ESV)
This is the third time in the first nine verses of this book that John referred to himself by name (cf. vv. 1, 4). This time, his amazement at receiving this vision caused him to add the demonstrative personal pronoun I. John was astounded that, despite his utter unworthiness, he had the inestimable privilege of receiving this monumental vision. John was an apostle, a member of the inner circle of the twelve along with Peter and James, and the human author of a gospel and three epistles. Yet he humbly identified himself simply as your brother. He did not write as one impressed with his authority as an apostle, commanding, exhorting, or defining doctrine, but as an eyewitness to the revelation of Jesus Christ that begins to unfold with this vision.
John further humbly identified with his readers by describing himself as their partner/fellow partaker, sharing with them first of all in tribulation. Paul says in Philippians 1 that it has been granted us not only to be saved by Christ but to suffer with Christ. Philippians 3, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). Colossians 1, we are “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24). 2 Corinthians 1:5, “We share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings.” 1 Peter 4:13, “Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings.”( Platt, D. (2012). The Indescribable Christ and His Indestructible Church. In David Platt Sermon Archive (p. 3578). Birmingham, AL: David Platt.)