1:9 I, John, your brother and the one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus.
Once God Almighty spoke his very brief words, John identified himself as the next speaker. In a similar way to Rev. 22:6-15, the speaker switches between the Almighty God and Jesus as we see in the following verse (Rev. 22:16).
Here John also identifies the historic circumstances during which he saw the vision and authored the letter in obedience to the Lord’s command. While we would have liked to know the exact year John wrote the Revelation, he thought it sufficient to only write of his exile.
His exile was on the island of Patmos, where the Roman government was known to send political prisoners. Scholars hypothesize that the time that John was on Patmos fits best to either approximately 95 CE during the reign of Emperor Domitian or to 68-69 CE during the reign of Emperor Nero, when persecutions of the Christ-followers were frequent and intense.
1:10a I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…
There are three interpretive options here.
First, the Lord’s Day could be the Sabbath. It would make sense to speak of God’s day, the Sabbath (Shabbat), in this way. What works against this interpretation is that we never see this term used to signify the Sabbath. In addition, if indeed the day of the week was the Sabbath as opposed to other days, it is not clear why this would be important.
Second, this option is the traditional option, identifying the Lord’s Day as the day of his Resurrection – the first day of the Israelite week – Sunday. This theory suffers similar problems.
Never is the first of the week referred to as the Lord’s Day prior to this alleged instance. If this is in fact the case (that this does refer to the first day of the Israelite week) it is not at all clear why John felt compelled to tell his readers/hearers about it.
Third, in our view, this option is far more likely. The day of the Lord is the End Times day of reckoning and judgment that the Hebrew Prophets often spoke about. The phrase “the Day of the Lord/Lord’s Day” is used many times in the Hebrew Bible (Is. 2:12; 13:6-9; Ezek. 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7-14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5). As we read in Malachi 4:5-6: “Look, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me, so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”
Thus, John’s reference notifies the reader that while he is writing from a particular historic location during a particular time in history, the perspective he seeks to communicate to his hearers is rooted in the eschatological reality of the future Day of the Lord. Just as in the case of the Hebrew prophets of the Bible, John was able to speak to the present from the dual perspective of the past (the covenant) and the future (the consummation of the covenant and restoration of all things).
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The phrase “Lord’s day” in Rev 1:10 is κυριακῆ ἡμέρα (kuriakē hēmera), whereas “day of the Lord” in the LXX passages is ἡμέρα κυρίου (hēmera kuriou). If John was referring to the “day of the Lord” in the LXX, then why did he refer to it as the “Lord’s day” rather than the expected and familiar form in the LXX? Was this a meaningful difference for John? It may not be coincidental that the only other use of κυριακος (kuriakos) in the NT (that I can find) is κυριακὸν δεῖπον (kuriakon deipon) in 1 Cor 11:20, meaning “Lord’s supper”. Thus perhaps “Lord’s day” may indeed mean “Jesus’ day,” and thus a reference to his death, resurrection, or ascension or to a regular celebration of it.
Dear Ryan, first of all thank you for your thoughtful comment. I do not think that the difference you are noting is significant enough (Day of the Lord vs. Lord’s Day). Not to mention that NT writers’ familiarity and LXX quotations in NT do not mean that the author actually spoke in exactly the same way LXX translation rendered things. The text of Revelation in particular (due to it often irregular/mistaken Greek grammar) points to the Hebraic linguistic base (I don’t mean that Revelation was first written in Hebrew or Aramaic, but simply that in its oral stage it would have been existing in Hebrew or Aramaic instead.) You can read more about this argument here – http://iibsblogs.wpengine.com/new-testament-originally-written-hebrew/
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
If the Day of the Lord is the end times would Alpha and Omega be a reference to this time period (Lord’s Day) rather than eternity?
I think you are on to something with this, Dr. Eli. I’d assumed the Lord’s Day meant shabbat but your assertion seems far more likely. As far as date is concerned, since John was already serving John the Baptist before Jesus, he would have been really really old at the end of the century. For this reason, I prefer the Nero era estimate.
Bobbie, I think that assertion that Lord’s Day means Shabbat is simply an overreaction to the Lord’s Day being Sunday :-). So yes, I am with you.
Dr. Eli…are you saying that I am incorrect in my comments? I don’t want to speak if I am putting out the wrong info as someone might think it truth.
Dear Debra, there are a lot of teachings out there about changing Saturday to Sunday and etc. Not all of them are accurate, because they do not take into account that there were churches that did not follow what Constantine said or the bishop of Rome decided. Such churches were ostracized but they remained for centuries. The misconception is that Rome represented the entire world of Christ-followers and somehow had a monopoly. They certainly were the powerful majority, but pluralism that existed is ignored. People also often mix up the issues of Sunday and Easter change from 14th of Nissan (which can be any day of the week) to an actual Sunday. If this is important to you I encourage you o study the topic and hear from various sources to form your understanding.
David on the issue of Patmos Island was Paul not imprisoned there?
Guantai: I do not know where you get that idea from. Scripture only mentions Patmos in Revelation.
Debra, Jesus rose from the dead very early in the morning on “the first day of the week” (John 20:1) – not the Jewish Sabbath, but the following day, our Sunday. He died at ‘the ninth hour’ (3pm) and was placed in the tomb just before the Passover Sabbath began, on “the day of preparation”. So Jesus died on the Friday afternoon (Day 1). Day 2 was the Sabbath. Day 3 was when Jesus rose from the dead – on the first day of the Jewish week – our Sunday. After Jesus’ resurrection his believers met together on the first day of the week (our Sunday) to worship – see
Acts 20:7. However in Rom 14:5-8, and in Col 2:16, Paul says that it is not which day we meet but our attitude that is important.
I think it is very important to understand (Ann I agree with you) that Paul wrote most of what he wrote to non-Jewish followers of Jesus to whom Acts 15 ruling applied.
Ann——- Corect me if i am wrong and anyone else that may know . i do make mistakes ! —— in the beginning GOD called one day was 12hrs of day light and 12hrs. of night add them up you have 24hrs .3 days dead would be 72hrs. in all . acording to the newtestment Jesus would not have been dead that long .
Edward, you make a very common mistake: Thinking that a word has a single, well-defined meaning. This is not true in any language that I know of (English, Koine Greek, French, Russian). Take the English meaning of “day”: It can, of course, mean 24 hours, but often it means less than that (and at times much more). For instance, if I say “I am going to London for the day” I most probably mean less than 24 hours, in fact, I could mean only 5-6 hours. If I say “I am going for 3 days” I might well mean only 48 hours or so.
Thus when the bible talks about “3 days” it can perfectly well mean “part of day 1, all of day 2, and part of day 3”.
David are you trying to tell me 12 hrs day and 12 hrs night is not well – defined ? if so explan please . mister SINCERE
Edward, what I meant was not that 12 hours + 12 hours = 24 hours was not well defined, but that the word “day” has a range of related meanings, only one of which is “24 hours”. I have shown several examples i n English and, if they would help, could do the same in Greek.
As for the Genesis account, it no-where mentions hours. In fact it does not even mention the whole 24 hours: “And there was evening and there was morning…”. No mention of the afternoon at all. It is the change of day that is significant.
It is also a fairly recent thing to insist on a literal 24-hour day here: that it is a “day” as in “period” was accepted, or posited, at least as far back as Augustine (C4).
Peter———— Can you show some light on my statement ? And thanks David for your coment .
David is correct, Edward. In a western, modern, scientifically precise world people are used to precise and exact formulations like a day = 24 hours. But in the world in which the Bible was written and read it is a very different matter, estimations are much more common and numbers are not always precise.
Ann, actually in the KJV, John 20:1 is rendered as “The first of the week, cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away form the sepulcher.” The word ‘day’ is not in the original, as indicated by the word being type set in italics. Also, we are used to the Roman time keeping system of days starting at midnight. The Hebrews consistently used their system of the day starting at sunset. Therefore, in this verse, the first day of the week started on what we would call Saturday, at sunset, and Mary M. has showed up at the sepulcher after sundown some time, before sunup on the first day of the week.
Further, since the day started at sunset, it cannot be stated that He rose in what we call the morning, meaning after midnight. We can state that He was already risen after Mary M arrived, while still dark, the first day of the week as reckoned by Hebrew methods, but this also fits with a sundown Wed burial and a sundown resurrection.
This makes me wonder…Where did Constantine get the idea to change the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day…a Sunday. From recent teachings I have learned about the Sabbath the day of rest that The Father gave to us…and that God never changes..so Christians should keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. Also Yeshua did not rise from the dead on Sunday but the Sabbath. And I think the Pope knows this so why doesn’t he change this? Because tradition is strong with the Catholics even if wrong. I know as I used to be one. I think I would have problems on a tour to Isreal. They’d probably ask me to leave the tour I have a big mouth when it comes to Biblical truth..
Debra, it was not Constantine who changed the day, that happened a long time before he came along. Justin Martyr, writing about 150 A.D. says that the Christians met early on Sunday. And before him, Ignatius, bishop os Syrian Antioch (98-117 A.D.) wrote “Those, then, who lived by ancient practices arrived at a new hope. They ceased to keep the Sabbath and lived by the Lord’s Day, on which our life as well as theirs shone forth, thanks to Him and His death.” (1 Magnesians 9:1)
So it is clear that the change to Sunday happened within a generation of Jesus’ death and has absolutely nothing to do with Constantine, the Pope, or Catholicism (though it is a very common error).
Yes. I agree, David. Although it must be clarified that the change (Sunday) was first of all was gradual in that Sabbath and Sunday was first observed together (in some eastern church traditions it is still observed together). The change was not universal and it (absolute Sunday only) change was true only of non-Jewish forms of Christ-following movement. Jewish Christ-followers never quited keeping the Sabbath as holy (even if they also commemorated Christ resurrection on the first day of the Jewish week).
Debra——– I have the same problem about Biblical truths . I also ask questions no one wants to answer . I have even been called the DEVIL and the antichrist .
roots of words maybe change during this period time if scientific also roots try to be civil in trips.
Dr. Eli, you state that “His exile was on the island of Patmos, where the Roman government was known to send political prisoners.” but is this, in fact, true? John himself makes no reference to being in exile. His statement that he was there “because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus” could just as easily mean he was on a missionary journey.
As I recall, there is very little, if any, evidence of Patmos being used as a place of exile outside of the later Christian tradition, and certainly no external (to the Christian tradition) evidence of John being sent there. Do you know of any, or is this just the second/third century traditions being taken as true?
Since Dr. Eli did not answer yet, if you do not mind, David, I will chime in. You have a good point. The “exile” is a tradition. There is little evidence from Roman sources that Patmos area was a place for exile. We know Romans did this to “politically dangerous” people. There are some patristic references to exile of John. For some this is not enough, for others that is sufficient to accept the tradition. It is possible that John was there for his own reasons and not confined and that later history recast him as the martyr. He does however mention persecution explicitly. Either way this does not change the message of the book itself. Good point…
Thank you Peter. I was mostly trying to find out if my memory was correct (it is many years since I studied this).
It is true that John mentions persecution, but he is mentioning it as something that unites him with his readers in Asia Minor and not as the reason he is on Patmos. He links it with the Kingdom and perseverance, so it would be equally viable, in my opinion, to make the spread of the Kingdom his reason for being on Patmos.
It may well be that the early tradition is correct, but I try to always question such things: I find too many Christians who believe things that may well not be true simply because they have heard it or read it (or read it into Scripture even).
I think questioning assumptions is a good method. I am there with you. I love tradition, but it is just tradition. Most people have hard time drawing the line between tradition and concrete facts. Much of our reading of the Bible is “traditional” even by those who would normally reject tradition. Take the Masoretic vowels in Hebrew, for example… tradition. Take them away and meaning can be different. But there is much unknown out there and often tradition fills in the vacuum. It is the same in Judaism and Christianity.
thanks PETER————- i needed that . lells me to prove all things before i believe it to be true.
Prof. I agree with you. An example is v’yirdu and radah in Gen.126.
The tension still exists between rabbinic reading and those who rely on Strongs.
Your doubts about the “exile” of John to Patmos are well-founded, as Prof. Shirokov notes. Patmos was actually a rather flourishing island in Hellenistic and Roman times, and known for its sanctuaries to the gods, especially Diana (Artemis). This may support John’s choice of the island for proselytizing, as you suggest. The Greek of verse 9 is ambiguous, διά τον λογον του θεου could just as well mean he was there “for the sake of the word of God”. i see no ancient evidence for it being an island of exile. What is peculiar is his emphasizing it as an “island called Patmos”, i.e. as a rather unknown place even to an audience in Asia Minor.
I love learning from all of you, guys! Thank you for being a part of this forum!
Excellent point – διά τον λογον του θεου can be understood in many ways. “because of the word of God” as in “persecution connected with the word of God” is but one option.
New book on the subject of Patmos: Patmos in the Reception HIstory of the Apocalypse, by Ian Boxall, Oxford University Press, 2013. It is also available as an eBook. I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure it has a great deal of new information and insight.
The Christian tradition came to this conclusion because John said he was in on the island of Patmos “tribulation”. Rev. 1:9
So it is possible that the tradition is based on truth.
Dear Dr. Eli,
I agree absolutely with your interpretation of “The Lord’s day” in Rev. 1:10a, which is mine too.
Very deep insight, indeed: congratulations!!!
Thank you for your kind words.
The Hebree termiinology has cleared a lot of. Misnterpretation. Yah is revealiing Himself to us non-Jewish people too as the only Elohim n showing that there one Torah for all who choose His salvation Yahushuwah My children n I have made our teshuva n chose the El of Israel for all eternity. Thanx, Baruch HaShem Abba Yahuwah.
Isaac, welcome to our forum.