Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Meditation: I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation

Rev 1:9: I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

 The only brotherhood of which the Bible speaks is the brotherhood of believers. God is the creator and maker of all men and in that sense all men are His offspring, but God is Father only to those who believe.
Patmos was a lonely isle in the Aegean Sea. It was about 30 miles in circumference. It was barren and desolate rock. John was banished to this island because of his loyalty to God’s Word and because he refused to hush his testimony to the saving, sanctifying, and satisfying power of Jesus Christ. Had John despised or refused the tribulation we may never have received such a revelation. The desolate places of life may bring the Divine Presence near to us. Tribulation and revelation generally go together.

 John’s sharing in the tribulation seems to be explained in the rest of the verse. John was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. This is all that is told to us. It is believed that the island of Patmos was used by the Roman Empire as a place of exile, but there is little evidence of anyone being banished there. So we must be careful not to make too much of John’s condition while on the island of Patmos. John appears to be telling his readers that he is on Patmos because he is suffering on account of the word of God and testimony of Jesus. John’s preaching of the word of God concerning Jesus has landed him in trouble. This persecution could have been brought about by the Jews or by the Romans. We read through the book of Acts that the Jews were trying to use the Roman authorities against Christians (see Jews take Jesus to Pilate for trial, Jews take Christians for judgment with the city authorities in Thessalonica, Jews take Paul to the Roman tribunal in Corinth). We also read Paul and Silas getting into difficulties with Roman authorities in Philippi because, “They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:21). John could be on Patmos because of the Romans directly dealing with him or because of the instigation of the Jews. Either way, John is telling the Christians that I am with you in the suffering. We are together in this. --Revelation Made Clear