I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…
I. THE REVELATION TO THE IMPRISONED SAINT. Though confined on this prison-isle, the disciple of Christ was not left a prey to regrets or mournful contemplation about the failure of his own or his Master's work. Arabi Pasha from his coffee plantation in Ceylon contemplates without hope the decline of the arms of the crescent under which he fought and the nationality he defended. John Baptist from his dungeon in the Machaerus when Christ was on the earth had sent to make sure that the Messiah had come; but this other John, though a captive, and a disciple of a departed Master, yet beheld the unmistakable marks of victory on that countenance shining as the sun in his strength. The restoration would not come in his day, but the victory was sealed. In the inferences we draw from startling events concerning the coming of the Lord to earth, there are some facts which should be borne in mind. One is the manifold increase of population and human activity with advancing years. There are bound to be with this enlarged area of civilisation a vast series of crises and combinations. Again, the means of communication are such that we read of all the world's calamities summed up in one day's journal. The occasions of trouble are multiplied by our very frequent contact with nations and individuals. We cannot infer, therefore, a disproportionate increase of evils because we hear of them oftener than formerly. Our spirits chafe under the slow advance of reform according to the vernier scale when we wish for the yard measure standard of progress. But we are still with our brother John in the tribulation and patience period of the kingdom, and yet one of hope.
II. THE FULNESS OF THE REVELATION TO A SINGLE SAINT. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." That was a magnificent service which was performed for that troubled soul on his seagirt isle that Sabbath day. The presence of one worshipper is sufficient to start the angelic choir, to secure the entrance of the high priest in his robes of ascended majesty. One troubled spirit requires the whole of the Divine ministry. The disciple of Christ who puts himself in the line with Divine commands, whatever his estate or humiliation, often finds the whole splendid ritual produced for him. It was the Lord's day when this mighty revelation came to the prisoner. He was in the spirit, though depressed and anxious. Many persons will stay away from church because of evils which have come or misfortunes in the family. But they thus fail of the very relief God has vouchsafed to those who seek to serve Him. The choicest blessings are for those who are in the line of appointed duty. The individual is not overlooked. We are taught here how in all the mighty movements of nations and the universe itself Christ has time to spare and disposition to care for His humble, persecuted disciples.
III. THE CONTINUED STORY FOR THE WORLD. "Write therefore the things that thou sawest." After the personal revelation comes the permanent message for the ministry, the Church, and the world. There was to be a book and a commentary by the living One. Attention was here called to the value of permanent records of the Lord's will for the Church in all ages. The Bible was not only largely written by captives, but has been ever the prisoners' book.
(William R. Campbell.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.