Revelation 1:9b: John's Exile on Patmos

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Verse 9:[1] I John, who also am your brother, and (Phil. 1:7; 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:8) companion in tribulation, and (Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12) in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, (Rev. 6:9; 1:2) for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.



[And, etc., καὶ συγκοινωνὸς ἐν τῇ θλίψει καὶ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ Ἰησοῦ, etc.] And sharer (or, companion [Beza, Piscator]; partaker [Erasmus]) in tribulation, and in the kingdom (namely, the spiritual kingdom [Pareus]; or, in the same hope of the kingdom of heaven [Ribera, thus Tirinus]) and endurance (either, patient expectation [Beza], or patience: He shows that the kingdom of Christ here consists in the exercise of patience more than in dominion [Cotterius]: The order here ascends: First we suffer, then we reign by suffering: In which wrestling-floor one must persist [Cotterius]: The Greeks do not appear to have read καὶ ὑπομονῇ, and patience, yet it is able to be received, if you interpret βασιλείαν/kingdom as right to the kingdom; namely, so that John calls himself a sharer of adversities, but with a certain hope of the future Kingdom, which would be the reason why those adversities are endured with courage [Grotius]) of Jesus Christ (Montanus, etc.), that is, I, who suffer, even as Christ also suffered (Vatablus). It indicates that Christ is afflicted with us, and that we shall reign with Him (Pareus): or, of Christ, that is, of Christian patience, which endures all things (Menochius): or, in Christ Jesus (Vulgate, thus Grotius), that is, through Christ, with Christ bestowing (Grotius): or, because of Christ (Menochius, Piscator, Gomar): or, which Christ received in advance: or, in which Christ went before as an example to us. Of Christ, therefore, here is able to denote either the efficient, or end, or subject (Gomar).



[I was on the island…Patmos] Where he was banished (Piscator, Cotterius, Durham, Ribera), [either] by Domitian (Piscator, Cotterius, Menochius, Tirinus, Durham); [or] by Claudius (Hammond, Grotius, similarly Lightfoot) [concerning which there will afterwards be a more suitable place for discussion]. Patmos was an island in the Icarian sea (Cluverus, Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 154, Bochart’s[2] Sacred Geography “Canaan” 1:8:411, Ribera), Strabo’s[3] Geography 10 (Cluverus, Lightfoot); or in the Ægean sea (Cotterius, Piscator, Durham), one of the Cyclades (Cotterius, Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Canaan”, Pareus), with the term taken broadly (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Canaan”), or Sporades (Camerarius, Cluverus): the compass of which was thirty miles, as Pliny testifies in his Natural History 5:12 (Ribera, Cluverus). Here he was banished, for this sea was near to those cities of Asia Minor, in which John was teaching (Ribera). That the Apocalypse was written on Patmos Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre, relates; that it was written in Ephesus, Eusebius relates. Both are true with respect to the distinct parts. The earlier part was seen and written out on Patmos; the latter part, in Ephesus, as we shall discuss below. John, as if seditious, was deported to the island, which was a common punishment at that time (Lyra) of a capital crime, etc., especially in the case of sedition, Paulus’ Sentences[4] 5:22:1. Now, among the seditious were also held those that agitated the souls of men with new superstitions (Lyra). Si quis aliquid, The Ordinances of Clement “Of Punishments”.[5] Now, chosen for this generally were islands small and almost deserted, which sort were Scriphus,[6] and Gyaros[7] in Juvenal[8] and Tacitus,[9] Amargus,[10] Cercina,[11] Pandateria.[12] Such also was Patmos in the Ægean. In Tacitus’ Annals 15, To Claudius Quietus, and to Julius Agrippa, etc., as into a herd and number, the islands of the Ægean sea are permitted (Grotius). But yet God, as He is wont to do, most lavishly compensated John’s exile (Cluverus) with visions, etc. (Durham).


Patmos

And companion in tribulation: the pagan persecutions were now begun. Nero first began them about twenty-three years after Christ was ascended into heaven, but he died within three years’ time after he had began that course. Then the Christians had some rest for twelve years, by reason of the short reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, and the kindness of Flavius and Titus Vespasianus; but about eighty-two years after Christ began Domitian to reign, and to persecute the Christians about the year AD 90. He lived not long, for he was slain AD 97, but in those seven years he put to death, imprisoned, and banished many. John is said to have been banished by him, AD 91, and to have had this revelation, 94 and 95. Domitian lived but four or five years after this. After his death John is said to have come back to Ephesus, and to have died there three years after, about the year AD 98. But for five years John was the Christians’ companion in tribulation. And in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ; either the kingdom of grace, a member of the Christian church; or the kingdom of glory, which is to be arrived at both by patient waiting and by patient suffering for Jesus Christ, or waiting for the second appearance of Christ, in order to his glorious kingdom. Was in the isle that is called Patmos: this island, geographers tell us, was an island in the Icarian or Ægean Sea, about thirty-five miles in compass, one of those fifty-three islands called the Cyclades.


[Because of the word of God (that is, the preaching of the word [Piscator, Durham]) and the testimony of Jesus Christ] That is, by which he testified that Jesus is the only Savior of the world (Piscator), Messiah and God (Menochius), King, Priest, and Prophet of the Church (Durham). In Revelation 1:2 he had described the Gospel by these parts. For the Gospel has its own precepts with promises; has also the history of events which adds authority to the precepts (Grotius). He replies to the scandal (Pareus); that is to say, Not because of evil deeds and seditions (Cluverus, similarly Pareus), but on account a steadfast profession of the doctrine of Christ (Pareus). Now, this doctrine, as new, hated no less by Pagans than by the Jews, was drawn unto the crime of sedition, as it appears in Acts 17:6 and 21:28. Now, the great consolation of Christians was in this, that heaven was opened to John, who had been shut out of the earth (Grotius).


For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ: he tells us how he came to be in Patmos, namely, for preaching the word of God, and those truths to which Christ had given testimony: he did not voluntarily go thither to preach the gospel, (for those isles have in them few inhabitants,) but he was banished thither by the emperor Domitian’s officers. Banishment was a very ordinary punishment amongst the Romans, in case of what they would call sedition. Eusebius tells us, that one Flavia Dometilla, though she was niece to the consul, was banished upon the same account at this time.[13]

[1] Greek: Ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης, ὁ καὶ ἀδελφὸς ὑμῶν καὶ συγκοινωνὸς ἐν τῇ θλίψει καὶ ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ νήσῳ τῇ καλουμένῃ Πάτμῳ, διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.


[2] Samuel Bochart (1599-1667) was a French Protestant pastor and scholar with a wide variety of interests, including philology, theology, geography, and zoology. Indeed his works on Biblical geography (Geographia Sacra) and zoology (Hierozoicon, sive Bipertitum Opus de Animalibus Scripturæ) became standard reference works for generations. He was on familiar terms with many of the greatest men of his age.


[3] Strabo (c. 63 BC-c. 24 AD) was a geographer and historian.


[4] Julius Paulus Prudentissimus (flourished in the late second-, early third-century) was a Roman jurist. His Sententiæ survives in fragments.


[5] The Constitutiones Clementis consisted of the canons of the Council of Vienne (1311) and the decretals of Pope Clement V. They were originally published by the direction of Clement, but they were revised and republished in their current form by Pope John XXII in 1317.


[6] Scriphus is a small rocky island, one of the Cyclades.


[7] Gyaros is an unpopulated island in the northern Cyclades.


[8] Decimus Junius Juvenalis was a Roman poet, flourishing at the turn of the second century.


[9] Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56-c. 117) was a Roman historian. The information that he preserves about his era and its emperors is invaluable.


[10] Amargus is an island in the eastern Cyclades.


[11] Cercina, now known as Kerkennah, is a group of islands off the east coast of Tunisia.


[12] Pandateria, now known as Venetotene, is an island off the west coast of Italy.


[13] Due to some confusion in the historical accounts, it is uncertain whether Flavia Domitilla was the wife or the niece of consul Titus Flavius Clemens. It is possible that there were two Domitillas, an aunt and a niece. In any cause, it is recorded that Flavia Domitilla was exiled to the island of Pontia, off the western coast of Italy.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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