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(The things which you have seen)

This begins the first of three major divisions of this Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a vision of Jesus that is quite different from the way His followers had pictured Him before. They had correctly thought of Him as the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of mankind, the perfect human, the greatest teacher in human history, their best friend, their King, and, in hundreds of other ways, the most amazing of all people. To them He was infinitely loving, forgiving, and wonderful.

He called Himself "meek" (Matthew 11:29). That expression is misunderstood in our days, but the original listeners knew that the Greek word to for "gentle." did not mean weakness. To be gentle one must first have great strength. A gentle person is careful how that strength is used.

He claimed equality with God in a variety of ways, including some of his descriptions of Himself. He said things like, "I AM the light of the world" (John 8:12), "I AM the bread of life" (John 6:35) and "I AM the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25).

Jesus has been the subject of more paintings, more poems, and more books than any other person. People have tried to summarize His greatness with masterpieces like "One Solitary Life," and "The Incomparable Christ." But no one has stated His greatness and His fame as well as the Apostle John, the writer of The Revelation, at the end of his Gospel.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. - John 21:25

Still, in addition to all that was known about the Lord Jesus, the things that John saw next, and described for us, are totally beyond any concept that people had held to that point. There will be new and shocking information about Jesus in this section. But first, we need to learn about the background of this new material.

Preparation for the vision 1:9-10

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. - Revelation 1:9

The writer identifies himself as "I, John." It would not have been necessary to also include the personal pronoun, "I," (Greek ego), but by doing so, he emphasized the fact that this vision could be trusted since he was by now a very old and very respected person, and the last of the original Apostles. He had also written the Gospel of John and three letters or epistles: First, Second, and Third John.

However, when he identifies himself as "your brother," he shows the humility of a true Christian, not lording it over them because of his age or his position, but speaking to them as a brother - a member of God's family. What he wants to share with them is something that every family member should know.

He also speaks as a companion in the tribulation that most of them were enduring at the end of the First Century.

The word used for tribulation (Greek thlipsis) also means "persecution." Much of the material in the Revelation is about suffering for the cause of Christ. Persecution and martyrdom are prominent themes, in chapters 2 and 3 where the history of the Church Age is depicted, Again, during the Tribulation Period, starting with the 5th chapter, we will learn about a growing number of believers who were killed for believing in the Word of God.

Christians had been persecuted since the beginning of the Church Age. In Acts chapter 4 Peter and John were threatened by authorities for preaching about Jesus. In Acts 5 Peter and other Apostles were imprisoned for their faith. In chapters 7 and 8 a young man named Stephen was arrested for sharing the Gospel, and he became the first Christian martyr. Another young man, a Pharisee named Saul, gave permission for the event, but this Saul was witness to a special revelation of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), and he eventually became the Apostle Paul. Paul himself suffered great persecution (Acts chapters 13 to 15; 2 Timothy 3:11; 2 Corinthians 11:23-26). He was imprisoned for his missionary work while Nero was Emperor of Rome (Acts chapters 23 through 28), and according to tradition he was beheaded. Nero set fire to Rome and accused the Christians of causing the destruction.

Tradition also taught that ten of the original twelve Apostles were put to death - by sword, crucifixion, and beheading. Judas killed himself after betraying Jesus. And, according to Tertullian (AD 160-225), the Emperor Domitian tried to kill John by throwing him into a cauldron of boiling oil, but it had no effect on him. Jesus may have alluded to John's escape from death in John 21. In verses 18-19 of that chapter Jesus gave Peter an idea of how he would have a martyr's death. Peter then asked about John's future.

22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?" - John 21:22-23

John also told the readers of this prophecy that he was a companion with them in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, The Revelation focuses on the Kingdom (Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven) - See the earlier discussion about verse 5 where this issue is explained. Here is a quick review of that section: Jesus is King, and those who belong to Him are citizens of His heavenly kingdom. However, the Kingdom is still "in heaven," and we are taught to pray that it might come to earth. This prayer will be answered when Jesus returns as King of Kings. In the meanwhile, we do have Kingdom work to do, including evangelism and discipleship. And we are ambassadors to the world while we are here.

John and his fellow-believers experienced the patience of Jesus. Jesus had demonstrated the utmost patience in His own suffering, and is still incredibly long-suffering in regard to the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

This vision was given while John was in exile on the island that is called Patmos. Since tradition says John survived the boiling oil, he was banished to the little barren volcanic island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea near Asia Minor where the Seven Churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation were located (modern Turkey). Like most other major religious revelations, this great vision was given to John in the setting of a wilderness experience.

John's "crime" was his faith in Jesus Christ and his determination to share that knowledge with others. He said he had been sent to Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Again, "testimony" is the Greek word martus, from which we get the name "Martyr."

Next: Revelation 1:10a


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