The Prophet John (Revelation 1:9-11)
Throughout history, many “prophets” have been wrong. William Miller predicted the Second Coming would occur on March 21, 1844. Joseph Smith claimed that Zion and its temple would be built in Independence, Missouri, in his own generation. In early October, 1929, Yale economist Irving Fisher wrote in The New York Times, “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Only days later, the market would crash, ushering in the Great Depression.
God warned his people against false prophets. False prophets were to die and cause no fear in the hearts of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). False prophets, Jesus said, would arise and lead many astray before Jerusalem’s destruction (Matthew 24:24).
Because many false prophets have claimed to know the future and many true prophets have—through God—known the future (e.g., Isaiah and Daniel), we have grown accustomed to equating prophet with one who knows the future. However, “prophet” accurately reflects a spokesman for God. Aaron, Moses’ spokesman, is described as Moses’ “prophet” (Exodus 7:1). Micaiah promised to speak whatever the LORD spoke to him (1 Kings 22:14).
In this section of Revelation, we find John called to be God’s spokesman. John did in most of Revelation—from the vantage point of the Christians in Asia Minor—prophesy of future events. Let’s look at The Prophet John. The Prophet John is a—
A Partner, v 9
John identifies himself as a partner with his readers in:
- Tribulation—The early Christians were suffering at the hands of the Jews and Rome; John is also suffering for the faith.
- Kingdom—John and his fellow disciples were members of the kingdom established at Pentecost.
- Patient endurance—John and his fellow disciples were patiently enduring under their affliction.
There is an extremely important principle of Christian leadership here: Identify with those you lead. Christian leadership is not about being in front of people and telling them how to live; Christian leadership is about showing people how to live. Jesus led by showing men how to live. Jesus did before he taught (Acts 1:1). I believe it’s very significant that Luke mentions doing before teaching—Jesus wasn’t interesting in teaching men how to live but walking a different path. Instead, Jesus lived truth before he taught truth. Jesus left us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21).
Paul likewise demonstrated proper teaching through proper living. Paul showed the Ephesian elders that they “must help the weak” (Acts 20:34). Paul urged the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed Christ’s example (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Live the right way before you teach the right way. Parent? Live right as you teach your children to live right. Bible class teacher? Live right as you teach you class to live right. Wish to lead co-workers to Christ? Let them see the way you live and then teach them truth.
A Prisoner, v 9
John was on the island of Patmos because his testimony and the word of God. Some evidence suggests Patmos may have been a penal settlement. The island was small and rocky—it was in the Aegean Sea about 40 miles southwest of Miletus. According to church tradition, John was sentenced to work in the quarries on the island.
John was a prisoner because of his testimony. Jesus had called his apostles to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). John could be a witness in a special way, for he had seen the Resurrected Christ. John was a prisoner because of the word of God—John held fast to the word of God and proclaimed the Word of God; therefore, he was sentenced to Patmos by the Roman authorities.
Persecution is a real threat for every Christian. “All who desire to lie a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).