As we embark on our study of the Coming Parousia, the book of Revelation is a good place to start. The whole scope of Bible prophecy involves much more than just the book of Revelation, “but [this] book will serve as a base [and] primary background” for our study (Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah, p 8). Before finishing this post, take some time to read Revelation chapter one.
While liberal scholars have questioned the authorship of Revelation (was John the beloved Apostle really the author?), famous church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Irenaeus cite John the Apostle’s return from Patmos after Emperor Domitian’s assassination in AD 96 (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p13). All credible evidence points to John the Apostle as the author of Revelation.
John was probably in his 90’s at the time of the Patmos vision. Think of the time that had passed since he last saw Jesus! He was probably a teenager when he left his father’s fishing boat along with his brother James. We know John had a special relationship with Jesus and was known as “the disciple that Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 19:26, John 21:7). He and his brother must have had tremendous zeal as Jesus referred to them as “the sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). He was probably around the age of 20 when Jesus was crucified and charged with the care of Jesus’ mother. He was the last living apostle, having seen the rest of Jesus’ original disciples die a martyr’s death. John was instrumental in the early church and spoke boldly of the Gospel wherever he went. He lived to see the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 by Titus of Rome. John was eventually exiled by Domitian (Titus’ brother) to the isle of Patmos “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9 NASB1995). (Information on the age of John is from got questions.org).
Walvoord says, “The exile of John to the isle of Patmos is in itself a moving story of devotion to Christ crowned with suffering. This small island, rocky and forbidding in its terrain, about 10 miles long and six miles wide, is located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus just beyond the island of Samos. Early church fathers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Eusebius state that John was sent to this island as an exile under the ruler Domitian. According to Victorinus, John, though aged, was forced to labor in the mines located in Patmos. Early sources also indicate that about AD 96, at Domitian’s death, John was allowed to return to Ephesus when the Emperor Nerva was in power.”
“Although John was far removed from fellow Christians and the possibility of spiritual fellowship, he was given instead the transcending experience of seeing the Lord in glory and the unique revelations contained in the book he wrote” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p 41-42).
It had been at least 60 years since he had last seen Jesus. Can you imagine what it must have been like to see him again? Did the sight of Jesus remind John of the Transfiguration? What joy and thanksgiving he must have felt to see the Lord again with his physical eyes.
Domitian didn’t choose Patmos for its ocean views! As beautiful as the island was with its rocky cliffs, it was a cruel place for banishing the elderly Apostle to a lifetime of hard labor. Despite the weariness and isolation, John chose to worship God. Revelation 1:10 tells us that John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (NASB 1995). This doesn’t necessarily mean it was Sunday, but it was a day like many others that John lived in surrender to the Lord. It was on a day like this that John saw the Lord.
Walvoord continues, “It was in these bleak circumstances, shut off from friends and human fellowship, that John was given the most extensive revelation of future things shown to any writer of the New Testament. Though men could circumscribe his human activities, they could not bind the Spirit of God nor the testimony of Jesus Christ. John’s experiences paralleled those of the Old Testament prophets. Moses wrote the Pentateuch in the wilderness. David wrote many psalms while being pursued by Saul. Isaiah lived in difficult days and died a martyr’s death. Ezekiel wrote in exile. Jeremiah’s life was one of trial and persecution. Peter wrote his two letters shortly before martyrdom. Thus, in the will of God the final written revelation was given to John while suffering for Christ and the gospel” (Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p 41-42).
Do you find yourself in a time of suffering? Do you resonate with feelings of weariness, isolation, and loneliness like the prophets of old because of your testimony for Jesus? Whatever your suffering, are you choosing to worship despite the circumstances? When we choose worship and surrender, that is when we see Jesus. We won’t see Him physically in the same way John or Isaiah did, but we will see Him with spiritual eyes. When we respond to Him in worship, He will give us the strength to carry on until the day we see Him face to face!
Week One: Homework Reflections
Day One: The Revelation of Jesus Christ
- Based on Revelation 1:1, where did this Revelation originate?
- List everything you learn about the Revelation from verse one. (Hint: use the 5 W’s and an H to describe what you learn).
- What do you learn about John in Revelation 1:1-2?
- Take a moment to record the promise in Revelation 1:3 in your journal as we will refer back to it at the end of the week.
Day Two: The Recipients
- 1. Who was the message specifically written to according to Revelation 1:4? (We saw a hint of this in verse one).
- Although the seven churches were actual churches in Asia at that time, they also seem to represent the Church throughout history. We will go into more detail on this in a couple of weeks. For now, list everything you learn about the Church in Revelation 1:4-6.
- What do you learn about Jesus in Revelation 1:4-8?
Day Three: The Suffering Bond Servant
- How does John describe himself and the reason he is on the island of Patmos in Revelation 1:9-10?
- Suffering seems to be a common theme in the life of a bond servant. List some of the sufferings of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 11:24-30.
- What does Paul have to say about suffering in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18?
- What other stories come to mind of people in the Bible who suffered greatly for the Gospel?
- What do you learn from Philippians 1:29?
Day Four: John’s Vision
- List everything John saw including descriptions in Revelation 1:9-16.
- Read Matthew 17:1-7. How was the response of the disciples to Jesus and Jesus’ response to them similar to the interaction between Jesus and John in Revelation 1:17-18? Is there any detail of the Transfiguration that reminds you of John’s vision?
- How did Jesus describe Himself in Revelation 1:17-18?
- What three things did Jesus tell John to write about in Revelation 1:19?
- What do the seven stars and seven golden lamp stands represent according to verse 20?
Day Five: Watching & Waiting
- On Day One, you wrote down the blessing found in Revelation 1:3. I love that the word for “keep” can also be translated as “watch.” Although the following verses don’t necessarily refer directly to watching for Jesus’ return, they express the general idea of what it means to “watch.” Read these verses and record what you learn: Psalm 5:3, Micah 7:7, and Habakkuk 2:1.
- Now read Titus 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, and Mark 13:31-33. These verses specifically refer to Jesus’ return. What do you learn about how we are to watch for His coming?
- What does Paul tell Timothy awaits those who love Jesus’ appearing in 2 Timothy 4:8?
- As we close this week in preparation for next week’s study about Daniel and Times of the Gentiles, read 2 Peter 3. List everything you learn about what God says will happen in the last days and the exhortation you see about how to live in the midst of these times.