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Revelation 1:10: The Lord's Day Visitation

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

Verse 10:[1] (Acts 10:10; 2 Cor. 12:2; Rev. 4:2; 17:3; 21:10) I was in the Spirit on (John 20:26; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2) the Lord’s day, and heard behind me (Rev. 4:1; 10:8) a great voice, as of a trumpet…

[I was, etc., ἐγενόμην ἐν Πνεύματι] I was[2] (or, I was constituted; verbatim, I was made [Piscator], understanding, now,[3] [Beza, Piscator]; or, I began to be; or, it happened that I was [Cocceius]) in spirit (Erasmus, etc.). Here he understands spirit, either, 1. as the human and finite spirit, namely, the soul and understanding of John; so that to be in spirit would denote, either, the exercise of his soul in prayer and meditation upon the word; or, the proximate subject of the received Apocalypse, namely, the mind, so that He might show that this revelation is not external, by corporeal senses, but internal, and an object of the soul, as it happened also to the Prophets of the Old Testament. Which properly agrees with the remaining passages where this phrase occurs, as in Revelation 4:2; 17:3; 21:10 (Gomar). He indicates that he saw these things, not with the eyes of the body, but of the spirit, in ecstasy or departure of mind (Pareus): that is to say, I was in an innermost action of the spirit, that is, from the sense of external things I had been turned inward, so that my entire soul was occupied within in the contemplation of these visions (Piscator): indeed ἔκστασις/ecstasy, a departure of mind, happened in me (Piscator, thus Pererius, Ribera, Pareus, Cluverus, Lapide), as in Acts 10:10 (Piscator, Pareus, Grotius); 11:5; 16:9; 18:9 (Pareus). He did not perceive these things with bodily senses, but within the soul (Grotius): that is to say, I was in a spiritual vision (Lapide). Not that he was out of the body, but that he was seized and elevated above the body; neither was he making use of the body at that time, nor of the senses: this is opposite to being in the body, which is to live corporally, and to make use of the members and senses of the body (Ribera). The sense: By the body he saw nothing, heard nothing, sensed nothing, understood nothing; but his spirit, to be taught by the teaching spirit, was taken up (Ribera out of Haymo). Or, 2. the infinite Spirit of God; that is to say, By the Holy Spirit I was seized and inspired with a holy enthusiasm (Gomar out of Camerarius): just as by the Greeks those are said to be ἐν μούσαις, in muses, that are seized by the Muses (Gomar). I was in spirit, that is, with the Spirit of God. Thus also those that are possessed by Demons are said to be ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ, in/with an unclean spirit, Mark 1:23; 5:2. He says the same thing that Ezekiel says in other words, the hand of the Lord was upon him[4] (Grotius). He is able to be said to be in spirit, either, 1. who is habitually spiritual and regenerated, Galatians 5:16, 25; or, 2. who is filled with the Spirit actually and in more eminent degree, Ephesians 5:18, and in particular who abstains from carnal things; or 3. who is in an extraordinary way, or rapture. All which come together here, especially the second and the third; that is to say, Although I be absent from the public assembly of Christians, nevertheless I was in spirit, that is, in the exercise of grace, in the spiritual capacity of the soul; and the Holy Spirit seized me, and elevated my spirit and gave instruction in Prophecies (Durham). To be in spirit signifies to receive by the soul the addresses and ὀπτασίας/visions of the Holy Spirit, with the senses disengaged in the meantime: unless we say that the sounds and forms were also forced upon his eyes and ears by the Spirit (Cocceius). John did not become raving, neither were the functions of reason and the senses caused to sleep; but they were changed and were made more intense by the efficacy of the inspiring Spirit, more vehement and acute, than previously, so that he might discern, not corporeal sights, but spiritual forms, and that in a spiritual way (Cotterius); so that by this sense he might perceive, and comprehend, unto which the senses and reason by their own powers never rise (Cotterius, similarly Brightman).

I was in the Spirit; not only in spiritual employment, suppose meditation and prayer, but in an ecstasy; my soul was (as it were) separated from my body, and under the more than ordinary influence and communications of the Spirit, as Acts 10:10; 11:5; 16:9; 18:9.

[On, etc., ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ] On the Lord’s day (Beza, Piscator, thus the Vulgate, Erasmus, etc.). So great a work was requiring such a day (Cotterius). Thus he calls, either, 1. the day of the Lord’s appearance, after the custom of the Scripture (certain interpreters in Gomar). But in this way no certain day would be here designated, which nevertheless he meant to designate by this phrase: although this also agrees with the first day of the week, on which Christ was wont to appear, as in Matthew 28:1; John 20:26; Acts 1:2 (Durham). Or, 2. the Jewish Sabbath (certain interpreters in Durham). To which it is objected that that always goes by the name of Sabbath, and this new appellation would have obscured the day, instead of illuminating it (Durham). Or, 3. the day of the resurrection of Christ, or dedicated to the commemoration of the resurrection, and that either yearly, or weekly (Hammond). He understands that day which among the Jews is called μία σαββάτων, the first of Sabbaths[5] (Grotius), that is, one of the Sabbath (Ribera out of Jerome), or the first day of the week (Piscator, Pareus, Estius, similarly Camerarius, Beza, Pererius, Ribera, Lapide, Cluverus, Durham, Hammond): which among Christians was called Κυριακὴ ἡμέρα, the Lord’s day (Grotius, thus Ribera), as in Ignatius’[6] epistles to the Trallians and Magnesians, and in Clement’s[7] Constitutions of the Apostles[8] several times, and in a passage of Irenæus which the writer of Responses to the Orthodox[9] preserved for us (Grotius), and in Origen’s Sixth Homily on Exodus, in Tertullian’s Apology, and very frequently in the old Councils (Ribera). Upon which day Christian assemblies were wont to be held (Grotius, thus Cluverus, Beza), as the Epistles of Paul teach us (Grotius), 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Acts 20:7 (Beza), and Justin’s Apology 2 (Grotius, Ribera), where after the fashion of the Greeks he calls that day Sunday. Between the Lord’s solemnities, Tertullian’s Concerning the Soul. Thus formerly feast days were יומי ליהוה, days to the Lord[10] (Grotius). Hence it is clearly discerned how great is the antiquity of the Lord’s day (Pererius), which succeeded into the place of the Jewish Sabbath (Pererius, similarly Ribera). Without doubt he here indicates a day which both was exceedingly well known to the Church, and in a special way has respect unto Christ [who is everywhere called Κύριος/Lord in the New Testament]. Now, this day is called Dominical, or the Lord’s, either, 1. because it was instituted by the Lord for His worship: or, 2. on account of the special signification of that, because it indicated the cessation of Christ from the work of Redemption, Mark 16:1, 2; Luke 24:1, 2; John 20:1, just as also the Jewish Sabbath was called the Lord’s day, Exodus 20:8, because then He ceased from the works of Creation (Durham): or, 3. because this was the day of the Lord’s resurrection (Ribera, thus Pererius, Estius, Lapide, Durham), and through it the day of the resurrection of all men, and the blessedness of the saints, is signified, upon which day after the labors of this age they are bestowed; which by seven days is understood, in which all time is rolled up (Ribera): or, 4. for the honor of the Mediator, so that it might be held among the ordinances of the New Testament. To this there is a unique parallel phrase, 1 Corinthians 11:20, Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, the Lord’s Supper, as it is called on account of its special, 1. institution by the Lord: and, 2. signification, that is, of Christ and of His benefits: and, 3. end, namely, the honor of Christ the Mediator and of the worship instituted by Him under the New Testament (Durham). Question: Could it be that the entire Apocalypse was revealed to John on one Lord’s day? Response 1: I do not think so, although all things indeed appear to cohere in one thread. For Christ did not wish His servant to be overburdened with visions so various and prolix. Intervals everywhere clearly appear, as in Revelation 4:1, 2; 17:3; 21:1; and elsewhere where that phrase, after these things, occurs. Add that not all things were revealed to John in the same place, but some things on Patmos, some in heaven, some on the shore of the sea, some in the desert (Pareus). The Visions that are comprehended in this book did not appear to John at one time, no more than those things contained in the books of the Prophets did appear to the Prophets at one time. Now, John began to be in Patmos, and to be illuminated with Visions of God, during the times of Claudius[11] (Grotius on Revelation 17:9). Some things [as it was said on the preceding verse] were seen and written out on Patmos, under Claudius: some things in Ephesus, and in the time of Vespasian[12] (Grotius on Revelation 1:9). Response 2: It is believed that John had all the visions described in this book on one day (Pererius). All were exhibited on the same day, and thus flowed in an uninterrupted series without any intermission (Brightman). [It is proved:] 1. Because it is not mentioned that these visions were perceived in separated intervals, as among the rest of the Prophets it was done (Brightman, thus Pererius); who exactly and carefully note the diverse times of the diverse visions, as one may see in Ezekiel and Daniel (Pererius). See Daniel 7:1 and 8:1 (Anonymous 27). 2. From the mandate to write to the Churches. For if a certain space had intervened, the matters would have been written out to the Churches member by member and bit by bit, not with those expected things which would follow, unless perhaps he would have expressly advised them otherwise; which it is not read was done in the Prophecy (Brightman). It was mandated to John that he immediately and at once write down all his visions, and at once send them to the Churches, Revelation 1:11; 10:4; 22:10. It is proven out of Revelation 1:19, Write, says He, what things thou hast seen, that is, the vision of the seven candlesticks, Revelation 1:12-16, and what things are, that is, what things regard the present state of the seven Churches, Revelation 2; 3, and what things are going to be afterwards, that is, the Prophecies from Revelation 4 to the end of the Apocalypse. The book, sealed with seven seals, in which we shall show that all the prophecies of the Apocalypse are contained, was revealed once and at the same time; just as also the seven trumpets, Revelation 8:2, and the seven vials, Revelation 15:7; for he did not see one trumpet or vial in one year or under one King, and another at another time. And unto these two pertain all the Prophecies from Revelation 8 to the end of the book, which were hence revealed at once, not successively. There was not any intermission between the visions, except of the one half-hour until the opening of the seventh Seal, Revelation 8:1, where the intermission was not in the ecstasy of John, who was yet in the spirit, but until further revelations. Response 3: John received all the Visions while he was in spirit or in ecstasy, and that in Patmos, even indeed on the Lord’s day, in the singular number, not on Lord’s days. Now, John was in ecstasy only the one time, of which we read. If anyone should think that He received his Visions at diverse times, let him show which visions then he perceived at this time, and which visions at another time; otherwise he deserves not confidence. If some things were seen and written in the time of Claudius, other things, as they maintain, in the time of Domitian[13] or Vespasian, thus there would be two books of the Apocalypse written in those diverse times. And since they concede that John returned from exile in the time of Claudius, let them say whether at the individual times in which he received a vision he was seized by the Spirit in Patmos, etc. These arguments do not befit learned men (Anonymous 25, etc.).

[And I heard behind me, ὀπίσω μου] From behind (Beza, Piscator). This has regard to Isaiah 30:21 (Grotius). But why from behind? Response 1: So that He might affect John to a greater extent, and excite in him a desire to inquire (Durham). 2. So that He might shadow forth the mercy of God, which recalls us, being secure, remiss, negligent, unto occupation with the most worthy matters (Brightman). Rather, what things come up from behind are unforeseen (Grotius). 3. So that it might be signified, either, that we by nature are turned away from Christ, that is, that He was unknown to us (Cotterius, similarly Durham), and that these mysteries were not yet perfectly known to John (Ribera); and that he introduced nothing concerning himself with respect to these visions, but that they were divine (Pareus): or, that the body was to be completely reversed (Cluverus, Durham), and that the eyes were to be turned in another direction, unto the contemplation of matters which were going to be in many ages retrospectively, which matters neither he, nor any mortal, was hitherto able to foresee in front (Cluverus): or, that after the times of John, even quickly indeed, things which he saw were going to happen (Pareus, similarly Menochius): or, that Christ is near to His own as a pedagogue, indeed as a father, who follows his son and observes all his steps (Cotterius).

[A great voice (as in verse 15 [Durham], that is, very intense; either, because it was the voice of a great One, that is, God [Pareus]; or, because here great mysteries were to be heard [Ribera, thus Pareus]) as of a trumpet] That is, Very loud (Grotius, similarly Pareus, Cotterius): for whatever is loud is compared to a Trumpet, Isaiah 18:3 and 58:1. It has respect to Psalm 47:5 and Zechariah 9:14 (Grotius). It denotes a sound, not confused or inarticulate, but certain and distinct, like that of a trumpet, and with gravity and majesty. It signifies, therefore, the majesty of the One speaking, and how great is the distance between Him and John; and at the same time it excites attention and calls forth to action, as in 1 Corinthians 14:8 (Durham). Christ signifies that He wills that these visions resound far and wide (and continually [Pareus]) in the ears of all (Menochius, similarly Pareus), and lie hidden from no one; for the entire Apocalyse treats of the struggles of the Church (Cluverus). There was a use for the trumpet both in solemnities for the calling together of the people, Psalm 81:3; Hosea 5:8, and so that soldiers might be stirred up for war (Ribera).

On the Lord’s day; upon the Christian sabbath, called the Lord’s day, (as the eucharist, or breaking of bread, is called the Lord’s supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20,) because Christ instituted it; or, because the end of its institution was the remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, (as the end of the Lord’s supper was the commemoration of Christ’s death,) or because it was instituted for the honour of Christ. And heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet: John in the isle of Patmos was keeping the Christian sabbath in spiritual services, meditation and prayer, and fell into a trance, wherein he had a more immediate communion with the Holy Spirit, which begun with his hearing a loud voice, as it were, behind him, as loud as the sound of a trumpet.

[1] Greek: ἐγενόμην ἐν Πνεύματι ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ· καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς σάλπιγγος.

[2] Γίνομαι can signify to be, or to become.

[3] Now, used as a conjunction.

[4] For example, see Ezekiel 1:3.

[5] Matthew 28:1a: “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week (μίαν σαββάτων)…”

[6] [6] Ignatius (c. 40-c. 110) was Bishop of Antioch. He was arrested for the faith, and, as he was being transported through Asia Minor to Rome in order to be executed, he wrote seven letters, encouraging the churches.

[7] Clement of Rome (died c. 100) was an early bishop of Rome.

[8] The Apostolic Constitutions (late fourth century) is a collection of treatises on the doctrine, government, and worship of the Church. It appears to have been intended as a manual, primarily for the use of the clergy. It claims to be the work of the Apostles, and it was supposed to have been compiled by Clement of Rome (died c. 100), Bishop of Rome.

[9] Quæstiones et Responsiones ad Orthodoxos is a pseudonymous work, probably dating from the late fourth to earth fifth century, known as Pseudo-Justin, and long ascribed to Justin Martyr (100-165), although ascribed by some to Diodorus of Tarsus (died c. 391) or to Theodoret (393-457).

[10] For example, Leviticus 23:34: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord (יָמִ֖ים לַיהֹוָֽה׃).”

[11] Claudius (10 BC-54 AD) reigned from 41 to 54.

[12] Vespasian reigned from 69 to 79.

[13] Titus Flavius Domitianus (51-96 AD) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 AD.

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