Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Revelation 1:9, An Expositional Commentary

Remember me? I’m John. You know, your brother and companion….
The previous sentence was God speaking in the first person. Now, John wants to make sure everyone understands that it is him talking about himself now.

This is terrible English. My question is: why all the extra verbiage? It’s easy to just delete most of this phrase and end up with “I John, Your brother and companion…", as a lot of translations do, but I can’t get over the feeling I’m missing something if you just ignore the extra words. I actually like the New King James Version to make me feel better about this phrase: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation…" .
It just feeeeels better. I know, that’s probably the worst criteria to use, but I can’t help it.
John, who had to be the most venerated saint of his time, and the only surviving of the original twelve Apostles, didn’t introduced himself in terms of the lofty status he was no doubt held in among those he wrote to. He considered himself nothing more than a brother and companion. Just another servant of God.

This part, I have a real problem with. “Your brother and companion in tribulation."
I have noticed all the servants of Jesus in the New Testament suffered. Then, they rejoiced in their suffering. Acts 5:41 - And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Jesus promised His followers that they would be persecuted. Matthew 24:9 - Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
Christians are persecuted. These TV preachers that come on and tell you that if you just develop your faith, God will bless you with a bulging bank account, a private jet and a house so big, there are some rooms you will never get around to going into, they are selling you a God that will give them a bulging bank account, a private jet and a house so big there are rooms they will never get around to going into.
The way I read it, if you are really serving Jesus and proclaiming His gospel the way He wants it done, you are going to get it. You will fall under tremendous hardships. Here in America, we consider it a hardship if we have to cut back on our cable subscription. Most of us don’t know what persecution is.
In the last couple of years, I’ve seen corporations become the subjects of boycotts because the people that run these companies express Christian values. There have been cake decorators and florists and whatnot lose their businesses over their Christian beliefs. For them to be targeted the way they were, they must have been doing something right.
Meanwhile, those worshiping God and spreading the Gospel in the Near East are beaten for their faith; those in the Middle East are stoned, and those in China are both beaten and thrown in prison.
Me? I started asking God what I did wrong when my car broke down. My wife and I were worship leaders at a church some years ago. We quit going to church altogether and spent years mad at God because we didn’t like the way we were treated by the church board. I really don’t think I’m where I need to be spiritually. I want to serve God, but I don’t want to get beaten up. I don’t think that’s any different than how anybody else feels. Except for those who are getting beaten up. It doesn’t seem to phase them. Those people have the kind of faith that I need. I think. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the idea of being so willing to be beaten, tortured and even killed; even though I want to claim that I serve God.

While in tribulation, you are also in the kingdom. Patience might better be written as “endurance”. It seems to me the tribulation would be what you experience physically; the kingdom would be what is experienced spiritually, and the endurance to suffer persecution is a product of experiencing the kingdom spiritually, and focusing on the kingdom, here on earth. All would be the result of serving Jesus Christ.

Patmos is a very small island in the Aegean Sea. Only thirty miles in circumference. The northernmost island in the Dodecanese group, it is about 20 miles from the shores of Turkey (what was considered Asia at the time of John’s writing), though it belongs to Greece. As Mediterranean islands go, it’s not that pretty. But it has the most incredible natural harbor, and so, was a major stopping point for ships coming from Rome.

John makes it sound like he was on a missionary trip. He was obviously determined not to let any part of this book be about him.
There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement among respected scholars that John was NOT on a missionary trip. He had in fact been exiled to the island by the Roman emperor, Domitian, who was aggravated by John’s incessant spreading of the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Being the last living Apostle, John would have been a very big draw wherever he went. This would have attracted the attention of the emperor. Domitian no doubt figured if he could just get rid of the last apostle, this whole rising religion would just dwindle away.
The problem was, he could not get rid of John. There is even a legend that Domitian had John boiled in oil, but that John wasn’t harmed by the oil, and that is when Domitian exiled him to Patmos. Nobody seems to actually believe this story, but they all love to tell it.
Personally, I want to believe it. I want to believe that God can keep you from being harmed, no matter what they do to you. Like I said before, I want to serve God. But I don’t want to get hurt.

Thanks to the Blue Letter Bible for allowing me to cut and paste all the scriptures I use right from their website. The last thing I want to do is commit a typo on the Word of God.

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