Summary: Second in a Revelation series focusing on the appearance of Jesus to John.
I. PROLOGUE 1:1-20
A. John identified his source 1-2
B. John offered a blessing for exposure to Revelation 1:3
C. John identified himself and his audience (readers) 1:4a
D. John prayed for an outpouring of God’s grace and peace on us
E. John offered a grand doxology of gratitude and praise to Jesus
F. John introduced his theme – Jesus is coming!
G. John encountered the resurrected Jesus
1. John shares his circumstance 1:9-10
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Physical Circumstance (9)
As to His physical circumstance, the authorities exiled John to the Roman prison Island of Patmos; a barren, 10x6mile nearly treeless chunk of volcanic rock with some mountain peaks reaching 800 feet located off the coast of modern day Turkey. (An ancient Alcatraz)
The aging apostle identified with his readers on a personal level rather than a pastoral one.
He used the terms “brother” and “companion”. He referenced the persecution that was affecting Christians everywhere. He called their attention to the reason they were being singled out. They were citizens of a rival kingdom. He also referenced their “perseverance” (purposefully remain under) in the midst of it all because of their commitment to Jesus.
John mentions this particular character trait six more times in connection to the events of Revelation. (2:2; 2:3; 2:19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12)
The authorities exiled John to the Patmos prison colony for preaching the Gospel.
“Because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
The theme reoccurs throughout the book. They naively thought exiling John might diminish his influence. Surprise! It only resulted in one of the most influential books of the New Testament.
Stephen was the first Christian to be killed for the faith. Herod’s henchman executed John’s own brother James early in the church history. By the time of this writing, Peter had been crucified, the other apostles killed and Paul beheaded in Rome. Some date the circulation of Revelation during Domitian’s rule when both Christians and Jews suffered significant persecution. He even slaughtered some of his own relatives suspected of sympathizing with Jews and Christians. It was “open season” on Christians all across the Roman Empire.
Domitian perceived Christianity a threat to the empire and his own claim to deity. Because John posed a threat – preaching the Kingdom of God – he was exiled. Perhaps because of his popularity and notoriety or maybe his age, he wasn’t executed but exiled instead. Conditions on the Island would have been severe.
The conditions under which he lived would have been harsh. Exhausting labor under the watchful eye (and ready whip) of a Roman overseer, insufficient food and clothing, and having to sleep on the bare ground would have taken their toll on a ninety-year-old man. It was on that bleak, barren island, under those brutal conditions, that John received the most extensive revelation of the future ever given.(John MacArthur)
Jesus had no trouble finding John even on such a remote Island in the middle of nowhere.
Spiritual Circumstance (10)
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day
This is a curious expression that bears some inquiry. Reference to this Spiritual state appears three more times in Revelation (4:2; 17:3; 21:10). Ezekiel uses a similar expression in connection to his futuristic visions (Ezek. 3:12, 14; 8:3; 11:1, 24; 43:5).
What does it mean to be “in the Spirit?” Some consider it a reference to the spiritual state generated by the Holy Spirit in which visions of the future were communicated. I think, due to the casual nature of the statement, that John was in a state of worship on the Lord’s Day.
It sounds as if this were a regular thing for him along the lines mentioned in John 4 and Phil 3.
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3
Jude 1:20 mentions “praying in the Spirit.”
It is a state where we are completely surrendered to the work of the Spirit in our lives.
He has control of our whole being to the point where all our senses (physical and spiritual) are tuned to Him and we are able to relate on a level beyond the emotional and physical. It is along the lines of the “filling of the Spirit”; “walking in the Spirit”; “Living in the Spirit.” In that state, John was opened up to an even deeper spiritual dimension. Peter experienced such an encounter (Act 10). Paul experienced several such encounters. At his conversion (Acts 10) and twice later (Acts 22 and 2 Cor 12). Ezekiel was also “caught up in the Spirit” where he was shown future events (Ezek 2, 3).