The first entry in this series can be found here.
The previous entry can be found here.
When people introduce themselves to others, the first things they say typically speak volumes about who they are as a person. “I’m Josh, a believer in Jesus, who wants to be a writer, but who currently works for a paycheck as a substitute high school teacher.” Therefore you know religion is important to me–potentially making some assumptions of my political views as well–and you know i am not yet in a place where i want to be career-wise, but you also recognize that i do have a source of income.
John, the author of Revelation, does much the same thing when he introduces himself in Revelation 1:9.
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus.
The first thing John says is that he is the brother of the person reading/hearing the words of the book. This is referring to his spiritual family. John’s assumption at the outset is that the primary consumer of this book is a Christian. In fact, as we will see throughout, despite many calls for people to repent, Revelation explicitly states several times that people refuse to repent. The point being: repentance must happen now; later it might be too late!
The second thing John tells about himself is that he is the reader/hearer’s partner. However, this partnership is spoken of in three different terms, all of which are in Jesus.
First, John says he is your partner in the tribulation that is in Jesus. This means that for a Christian to expect that life in Jesus is trouble free is to misunderstand the belief system to which he subscribes. Two thousand years ago, when John wrote this book, he was a partner in the tribulation. For this simple reason, it is foolish to say, “After the rapture, the tribulation will start.” John says he is our partner in it, and he lived 2,000 years ago. If you are living the Christian life to which you were called, you should identify yourself as a partner in the tribulation also. I pray you do.
Second, John says he is your partner in the kingdom that is in Jesus. One of the most persistent and potentially divisive theological debates today centers around the question of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus came on the scene announcing the imminence of his Kingdom (Mark 1:15), so it makes perfect sense that John says he is a partner in the kingdom NOW, 2,000 years ago. The debate too often centers around Revelation 20, but if the debaters would start in chapter 1 of the focal book, they would quickly see that we are in the kingdom now, on earth.
However, we must not miss the in Jesus attached to the Kingdom. It is not a visible kingdom. It is more of a spiritual kingdom. We are in Christ spiritually, and He reigns on earth through the Holy Spirit in His Church. I pray you are part of this kingdom NOW.
Third, John says he is your partner in the endurance that is in Jesus. Christianity is all about endurance. Jesus said in Mark 13:13b, “The one who endures to the end will be delivered.” No Christian, not even one of Jesus’ closest apostles, is exempt from having to persevere and endure.
However, you must be in Jesus to endure. This is where endurance happens. It cannot happen on your own strength. It WILL NOT happen on your own power. John 15:1-11 describes the process of remaining in Christ. Do what John describes there, and you can know you are abiding in Jesus. John 13:35 is another explanation of how we abide in Jesus. Let’s walk in love! I pray you are enduring. Pray that i endure too.
These three categories in which John is a partner with us set up the three main themes we will see throughout the book. There is tribulation because we are in Jesus, we are part of a kingdom because we are in Jesus, and the way to enter the reality of the kingdom–heaven–is to endure to the end by the power of Jesus alone.
Then, in the second half of the verse John tells us where he was when he saw the vision Revelation focuses on:
I . . . was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus.
By the time this book was written, John was the only apostle still living. The rest had already been killed for their faith. Emperor Domitian had attempted to kill John–placing him in boiling oil–but when it failed to do the job he exiled John to Patmos instead. John was in exile on the island of Patmos because he followed Jesus.
Jesus is worth following. It won’t be an easy life, but Jesus is worth enduring through trials and pain and potentially even death. Will you trust Him? I pray you do.
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.
The next entry can be found here.