KEY TEXT: Revelation 1:9-11 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
KEY THOT: In this short introduction, John describes himself as "brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance" (v.9). It implies the early first century church was a persecuted church. It enjoys no special treatment except suffering for their testimony about Jesus. In fact, John was banished to a small island called Patmos because of his faith. Even though he was alone, he was nevertheless worshipping before God "in the Spirit on the Lord's day." (The "Lord's day" was an expression subsequently used by the early church fathers to refer to Sunday, a special day of worship).
The apostle John was banished to a prison-island called Patmos. Nevertheless, on the Lord's Day, he was worshipping the Lord "in Spirit and in truth." True spiritual worship does not require a special dedicated place nor a crowd of believers--it can happen anywhere. For the persecuted church, worship has to be wherever the believers can gather. In China, believers in the house churches are constantly being harassed by the police. They don't meet in special buildings but any place away from the prying eyes of the local police, moving from place to place.
Despite his prison-like environment, he was worshipping "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (v.10). That John's worship is "in the Spirit" suggests he was in a deep spiritual state of alertness to God's revelation. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Paul describes how the Spirit is key to receiving and understanding the things of God:
- For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (1 Cor. 2:10-13).
To both receive spiritual truths from God and to understand these truths, we need to be "spiritual"-- or "in the Spirit". Apart from the Spirit, we cannot receive nor understand spiritual things of God. Those who operate mainly in the flesh (intellect, emotions or will) cannot know the things of God, which is contrary to the flesh. Even Jesus himself affirmed this reality: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).
John received the revelation of Jesus Christ because he was worshipping "in the Spirit on the Lord's day." Worship that is "in spirit and in truth" is prerequisite for any believer who desires to receive from God and interpret what he hears or sees correctly. Such revelation is prophetic, for the entire book of Revelation is a prophetic revelation of God given to John as he worshipped "in the Spirit on the Lord's day."
Abba-Father, help us worship You in Spirit and in Truth so that our spirits may be open to receive from You what You want to show us. And so that we may have a prophetic revelation to share with others. Amen.