Revelation 1:10
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
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(10) I was (or, I became) in the Spirit.—The mind, drawn onward by the contemplation of things spiritual, is abstracted from the immediate consciousness of outward earthly forms of life. In great natures this power is usually strong. Socrates is related to have stood rapt in thought for hours, and even days, unconscious of the midday heat, or the mocking wonder of his comrades. To high-souled men, set upon the spiritual welfare of the race, this power of detaching themselves from the influence of the outward is the result of their earnestness; the things spiritual are to them the real; the things seen are temporal. It is the Holy Spirit alone which can give the power of this spiritual abstraction; but it is through the ordinary use of means that this power is bestowed. In St. John’s case it was on the Lord’s Day that this spiritual rapture was vouchsafed.

The Lord’s day.—There is no ground whatever for the futurist interpretation that this expression refers to the “Day of the Lord,” as in 2Thessalonians 2:2. The phrase in this latter passage is totally different. The phrase here is. en te kuriake hemera. The adjective is applied by St. Paul (perhaps coined by him for the purpose) to the Lord’s Supper: from the Supper it came to be applied to the day on which Christians met for the breaking of bread. The day is still called κυριακὴ (kuriake) in the Levant. On the Lord’s Day the vision came to the Apostle. It was the hour of sweetest, closest communion, when the memories of Christ risen, and the fellowship he had enjoyed at Ephesus, would work on his spirit, and aid in raising him in highest adoration, like St. Paul (2Corinthians 12:2-4). When so rapt, he heard a voice, strong, clear, and resonant as a trumpet. The Apostle’s voice could not be heard among his beloved flock at Ephesus; but there was a voice which would reach from the exile at Patmos, not to Ephesus and its sister churches, but to all churches and throughout all time. The mouth which persecution closes God opens, and bids it speak to the world. So St. Paul, through the Epistles of his Captivity, still speaks. Luther, by his translation of the Bible, spoke from his confinement at Wartburg; and Bunyan, by his divine allegory, shows how feeble were the walls of his cell at Bedford to silence the voice of God. If speech be silver and silence golden, it is also true in the history of the Church that from the captivity of her teachers she has received her most abiding treasures.



Revelation 1:9-20.

In this passage we have the seer and his commission {Revelation 1:9-11}; the vision of the glorified Christ {Revelation 1:12-16}; His words of comfort, self-revelation, and command {Revelation 1:17-20}.

I. The writer does not call himself an apostle, but a brother and sharer in the common good of Christians. He does not speak as an apostle, whose function was to witness to the past earthly history of the Lord, but as a prophet, whose message was as to the future.

The true rendering of verse 9 {R.V.} brings all three words, ‘tribulation,’ ‘kingdom,’ and ‘patience’ into the same relation to ‘in Jesus.’ Sharing in afflictions which flow from union to Him is the condition of partaking in His kingdom; and tribulation leads to the throne, when it is borne with the brave patience which not only endures, but, in spite of sorrows, goes right onwards, and which is ours if we are in Christ.

Commentators tell us that John was banished to Patmos, an insignificant rock off the Asiatic coast, under Domitian, and returned to Ephesus in the reign of Nerva {A.D. 96}. No wonder that all through the book we hear the sound of the sea! It was common for the Romans to dispose of criminals in that fashion, and, clearly, John was shut up in Patmos as a criminal. ‘For the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus,’ cannot fairly bear any other meaning than that he was sent there as punishment for bearing witness to Jesus. Observe the use of ‘witness’ or testimony, as connecting the Apocalypse with the Gospel and Epistles of John.

In his rocky solitude the Apostle was ‘in the Spirit,’ -by which is, of course, not meant the condition in which every Christian should ever be, but such a state of elevated consciousness and communion as Paul was in when he was caught up to the heavens. No doubt John had been meditating on the unforgotten events of that long-past day of resurrection, which he was observing in his islet by solitary worship, as he had often observed it with his brethren in Ephesus; and his devout thoughts made him the more capable of supernatural communications. Whether the name of the first day of the week as ‘the Lord’s Day’ originated with this passage, or had already become common, is uncertain. But, at all events, it was plainly regarded as the day for Christian worship. Solitary souls, far away from the gatherings of Christ’s people, may still draw near to Him; and if they turn thought and love towards Him, they will be lifted above this gross earth, and bear that great voice speaking to them, which rose above the dash of waves, and thrilled the inward ear of the lonely exile. That voice, penetrating and clear like a trumpet, gave him his charge, and woke his expectation of visions to follow.

We cannot enter on any consideration of the churches enumerated, or the reasons for their selection. Suffice it to note that their number suggests their representative character, and that what is said to them is meant for all churches in all ages.

II. The fuller consideration of the emblem of the candlesticks will come presently, but we have reverently to gaze upon the glorious figure which flashed on John’s sight as he turned to see who spoke to him there in his loneliness.

His first glimpse told him that it was ‘one like to the Son of man’; for it can scarcely be supposed that the absence of the definite article in the Greek obliges us to think that all that John meant to say was that the form was manlike. Surely it was a more blessed resemblance than that vague one which struck on his heart. It was He Himself ‘ with His human air,’ standing there in the blaze of celestial light. What a rush of memories, what a rapture of awe and surprise would flood his soul, as that truth broke on him! The differences between the form seen and that remembered were startling, indeed, but likeness persisted through them all. Nor is it inexplicable that, when he had taken in all the features of the vision, he should have fallen as one dead; for the truest love would feel awe at the reappearance of the dearest invested with heavenly radiance.

The elements of the description are symbolical, and, in most instances, drawn from the Old Testament. The long robe, girdled high up with a golden girdle, seems to express at once kingly and priestly dignity. Girded loins meant work. This girdled breast meant royal repose and priestly calm. The whiteness of the hair {comp. Dan. vii. 9} may indicate, as in Daniel, length of days; but more probably it expresses ‘the transfiguration in light of the glorified person of the Redeemer’ {Trench}. The flaming eyes are the symbol of His all-seeing wrath against evil, and the feet of burning brass symbolize the exalted Christ’s power to tread down His enemies and consume them. His voice was as the sound of many waters, like the billows that broke on Patmos, whereby is symbolized the majesty of His utterance of power, whether for rebuke or encouragement, but mainly for the former.

Flashing in His hand were seven stars. The seer does not stop to tell us how they were disposed there, nor how one hand could grasp them all; but that right hand can and does. What this point of the vision means we shall see presently.

The terrible power of the exalted Christ’s word to destroy His foes is expressed by that symbol of the two-edged sword from His mouth, which, like so many prophetic symbols, is grotesque if pictured, but sublime when spoken. The face blazed with dazzling brightness unbearable as the splendors of that southern sun which poured its rays on the flashing waters round John’s rocky prison.

Is this tremendous figure like the Christ on whose bosom John had leaned? Yes; for one chief purpose of this book is to make us feel that the exalted Jesus is the same in all essentials as the lowly Jesus. The heart that beats beneath the golden girdle is the same that melted with pity and overflowed with love here. The hands that bear the seven stars are those that were pierced with nails. The eyes that flash fire are those that dropped tears at a grave and over Jerusalem. The lips from which issues the sharp sword are the same which said, ‘I will give you rest.’ He has carried all His love, His gentleness, His sympathy, into the blaze of Deity, and in His glory is still our brother.

III. His gracious words to John tell us this and more. Soothingly He laid the hand with the stars in it on the terrified Apostle, and gentle words, which he had heard Him say many a time on earth, came soothingly from the mouth from which the sword proceeded. How the calming graciousness rises into majesty! ‘I am the first and the last.’ That is a Divine prerogative {Isaiah 44:6}. The glorified Christ claims to have been before all creatures, and to be the end to which all tend.

Verse 18 should be more closely connected with the preceding than in Authorized Version. The sentence runs on unbroken, ‘and the Living one,’ which is equivalent to the claim to possess life in Himself {John v. 26}, on which follows in majestic continuity, ‘and I became dead’-pointing to the mystery of the Lord of life entering into the conditions of humanity, and stooping to taste of death-’and, behold, I am alive for evermore’-the transient eclipse of the grave is followed by glorious life for ever-’ and I have the keys of death and of Hades’-having authority over that dark prison-house, and opening and shutting its gates as I will.

Mark how, in these solemn words, the threefold state of the eternal Word is set forth, in His pre-incarnate fullness of Divine life, in His submission to death, in His resurrection, and in His ascended glory, as Lord of life and death, and of all worlds. Does our faith grasp all these? We shall never understand His life and death on earth, unless we see before them the eternal dwelling of the Word with God, and after them the exaltation of His manhood to the throne of the universe.

The charge to the Apostle, which follows on this transcendent revelation, has two parts-the command to write his visions, and the explanation of the symbols of the stars and the candlesticks. As to the former, we need only note that it extends to the whole book, and that the three divisions of ‘what thou seest,’ ‘the things which are,’ and ‘the things which shall be hereafter,’ may refer, respectively, to the vision in this chapter, the letters to the seven churches, and the subsequent prophetic part of the book.

As to the explanation of the symbols, stars are always, in Scripture, emblems of authority, and here they are clearly so. But there is great difference of opinion as to the meaning of the ‘angels,’ which are variously taken as being guardian angels of each church, or the presiding officers of these, or ideal figures representing each church in its collective aspect. It is impossible to enter on the discussion of these views here, and we can only say that, in our judgment, the opinion that the angels are the bishops of the churches is the most probable. If so, the fact that they are addressed as representing the churches, responsible for and sharing in their spiritual condition, suggests very solemn thoughts as to the weight laid on every one who sustains an analogous position, and the inseparable connection between th« spiritual condition of pastor and people.

The seven candlesticks are the seven churches. The formal unity of the ancient church, represented by the one candlestick with its seven branches, is exchanged for the real unity which arises from the presence of Christ in the midst. The old candlestick is at the bottom of the Mediterranean. The unity of the Church does not depend on compression into one organization, but on all its parts being clustered around Jesus.

The emblem of the candlestick, or lamp-holder, may suggest lessons as to the Church’s function. Each church should be light. That light must be derived. There is only one unkindled and unfed light-that of Jesus Christ. Of the rest of us it has to be said, ‘ He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.’ Each church should be, as it were, a clustered light, like those rings of iron, pierced with many little holes, from each of which a tiny jet of gas comes, which, running all together, make one steady lustre. So we should each be content to blend our little twinkle in the common light.

Revelation 1:10-11. I was in the Spirit — That is, in a trance, a prophetic vision; so overwhelmed with the power, and filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, as to be insensible of outward things, and wholly taken up with spiritual and divine. What follows is one single, connected vision, which St. John saw in one day: and therefore he that would understand it should carry his thoughts straight on through the whole, without interruption. The other prophetic books are collections of distinct prophecies, given upon various occasions. But here is one single treatise, whereof all the parts exactly depend on each other. Revelation 4:1, is connected with Revelation 1:19. And what is delivered in the 4th chapter goes on directly to the 22d. On the Lord’s day — On this our Lord rose from the dead. On this the ancients believed he would come to judgment. It was therefore with the utmost propriety that St. John on this day both saw and described his coming. And I heard behind me — St. John had his face to the east: our Lord likewise, in this appearance, looked eastward toward Asia, whither the apostle was to write: a great voice as of a trumpet — Which was peculiarly proper to proclaim the coming of the great King, and his victory over all his enemies. I am Alpha and Omega, &c. — That these titles should be repeated so soon, in a connection which demonstrates they are given to Christ, will appear very remarkable, whatever sense be given to the 8th verse. The argument drawn in the preceding note upon it would have been strong, wherever such a passage as this had been found; but its immediate connection with this greatly strengthens it. “And I,” says Doddridge, “cannot forbear recording it, that this text has done more than any other in the Bible toward preventing me from giving into that scheme which would make our Lord Jesus Christ no more than a deified creature.” And, What thou seest, and hearest, write — He both saw and heard. This command extends to the whole book. All the books of the New Testament were written by the will of God: but none were so expressly commanded to be written; in a book — So all the revelation is but one book: nor did the letter to the angel of each church belong to him or his church only, but the whole book was sent to them all: and send it unto the seven churches — Hereafter named; and through them to all churches, in all ages and nations. To Ephesus — Mr. Thomas Smith, who, in the year 1671, travelled through all these cities, observes, that from Ephesus to Smyrna is forty-six English miles; from Smyrna to Pergamos, sixty-four; from Pergamos to Thyatira, forty-eight; from Thyatira to Sardis, thirty- three; from Sardis to Philadelphia, twenty-seven; and from Philadelphia to Laodicea, about forty-two miles.

1:9-11 It was the apostle's comfort that he did not suffer as an evil-doer, but for the testimony of Jesus, for bearing witness to Christ as the Immanuel, the Saviour; and the Spirit of glory and of God rested upon this persecuted apostle. The day and time when he had this vision was the Lord's day, the Christian sabbath, the first day of the week, observed in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ. Let us who call him Our Lord, honour him on his own day. The name shows how this sacred day should be observed; the Lord's day should be wholly devoted to the Lord, and none of its hours employed in a sensual, worldly manner, or in amusements. He was in a serious, heavenly, spiritual frame, under the gracious influences of the Spirit of God. Those who would enjoy communion with God on the Lord's day, must seek to draw their thoughts and affections from earthly things. And if believers are kept on the Lord's holy day, from public ordinances and the communion of saints, by necessity and not by choice, they may look for comfort in meditation and secret duties, from the influences of the Spirit; and by hearing the voice and contemplating the glory of their beloved Saviour, from whose gracious words and power no confinement or outward circumstances can separate them. An alarm was given as with the sound of the trumpet, and then the apostle heard the voice of Christ.I was in the Spirit - This cannot refer to his own spirit, for such an expression would be unintelligible. The language then must refer to some unusual state, or to some influence that had been brought to bear upon him from without, that was appropriate to such a day. The word "Spirit" may refer either to the Holy Spirit, or to some state of mind such as the Holy Spirit produces - a spirit of elevated devotion, a state of high and uncommon religious enjoyment. It is clear that John does not mean here to say that he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit in such a sense as that he was inspired, for the command to make a record, as well as the visions, came subsequently to the time referred to. The fair meaning of the passage is, that he was at that time favored, in a large measure, with the influences of the Holy Spirit - the spirit of true devotion; that he had a high state of religious enjoyment, and was in a condition not inappropriate to the remarkable communications which were made to him on that day.

The state of mind in which he was at the time here referred to, is not such as the prophets are often represented to have been in when under the prophetic inspiration (compare Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 40:2; Jeremiah 24:1), and which was often accompanied with an entire prostration of bodily strength (compare Numbers 24:4); 1 Samuel 19:24; Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 10:8-10; Revelation 1:17), but such as any Christian may experience when in a high state of religious enjoyment. He was not yet under the prophetic ecstasy (compare Acts 10:10; Acts 11:5; Acts 22:17), but was, though in a lonely and barren island, and far away from the privileges of the sanctuary, permitted to enjoy, in a high degree, the consolations of religion - an illustration of the great truth that God can meet his people anywhere; that, when in solitude and in circumstances of outward affliction, when persecuted and cast out, when deprived of the public means of grace and the society of religious friends, He can meet them with the abundant consolations of His grace, and pour joy and peace into their souls. This state was not inappropriate to the revelations which were about to be made to John, but this itself was not that state. It was a state which seems to have resulted from the fact, that on that desert island he devoted the day to the worship of God, and, by honoring the day dedicated to the memory of the risen Saviour, found, what all will find, that it was attended with rick spiritual influences on his soul.

On the Lord's day - The word rendered here as "Lord's" (κυριακῇ kuriakē), occurs only in this place and in 1 Corinthians 11:20, where it is applied to the Lord's supper. It properly means "pertaining to the Lord"; and, so far as this word is concerned, it might mean a day "pertaining to the Lord," in any sense, or for any reason; either because he claimed it as his own, and had set it apart for his own service, or because it was designed to commemorate some important event pertaining to him, or because it was observed in honor of him. It is clear:

(1) That this refers to some day which was distinguished from all other days of the week, and which would be sufficiently designated by the use of this term.

(2) that it was a day which was for some reason regarded as especially a day of the Lord, or especially devoted to him.

(3) it would further appear that this was a day particularly devoted to the Lord Jesus; for:

(a) that is the natural meaning of the word "Lord" as used in the New Testament (compare the notes on Acts 1:24); and

(b) if the Jewish Sabbath were intended to be designated, the word "Sabbath" would have been used.

The term was used generally by the early Christians to denote the first day of the week. It occurs twice in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians (about 101 a.d.), who calls the Lord's day "the queen and prince of all days." Chrysostom (on Psalm 119) says, "It was called the Lord's day because the Lord rose from the dead on that day." Later fathers make a marked distinction between the "Sabbath" and the "Lord's day"; meaning by the former the Jewish "Sabbath," or the seventh day of the week, and by the latter the first day of the week, kept holy by Christians. So Theodoret (Fab. Haeret. ii. 1), speaking of the Ebionites, says, "They keep the Sabbath according to the Jewish law, and sanctify the Lord's day in like manner as we do" (Prof. Stuart). The strong probability is, that the name was given to this day in honor of the Lord Jesus, and because he rose on that day from the dead. No one can doubt that it was an appellation given to the first day of the week; and the passage, therefore, proves:

(1) that that day was thus early distinguished in some special manner, so that the mere mention of it would be sufficient to identify it in the minds of those to whom the apostle wrote;

(2) that it was in some sense regarded as devoted to the Lord Jesus, or was designed in some way to commemorate what he had done; and,

(3) that if this book were written by the apostle John, the observance of that day has the apostolic sanction. He had manifestly, in accordance with a prevailing custom, set apart this day in honor of the Lord Jesus. Though alone, he was engaged on that day in acts of devotion. Though far away from the sanctuary, he enjoyed what all Christians hope to enjoy on such a day of rest, and what not a few do in fact enjoy in its observance. We may remark, in view of this statement:

(a) that when away from the sanctuary, and deprived of its privileges, we should nevertheless not fail to observe the Christian Sabbath. If on a bed of sickness, if in a land of strangers, if on the deep, if in a foreign clime, if on a lonely island, as John was, where we have none of the advantages of public worship, we should yet honor the Sabbath. We should worship God alone, if we have none to unite with us; we should show to those around us, if we are with strangers, by our dress and our conversation, by a serious and devent manner, by abstinence from labor, and by a resting from travel, that we devoutly regard this day as set apart for God.

(b) We may expect, in such circumstances, and with such a devout observance of the day, that God will meet with us and bless us. It was on a lonely island, far away from the sanctuary and from the society of Christian friends, that the Saviour met "the beloved disciple," and we may trust it will be so with us. For on such a desert island, in a lonely forest, on the deep, or amid strangers in a foreign land, he can as easily meet us as in the sanctuary where we have been accustomed to worship, and when surrounded by all the privileges of a Christian land. No man, at home or abroad, among friends or strangers, enjoying the privileges of the sanctuary, or deprived of those privileges, ever kept the Christian Sabbath in a devout manner without profit to his own soul; and, when deprived of the privileges of public worship, the visitations of the Saviour to the soul may be more than a compensation for all our privations. Who would not be willing to be banished to a lonely island like Patmos, if he might enjoy such a glorious vision of the Redeemer as John was favored with there?


10. I was—Greek, "I came to be"; "I became."

in the Spirit—in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut out, and the inner and higher life or spirit being taken full possession of by God's Spirit, so that an immediate connection with the invisible world is established. While the prophet "speaks" in the Spirit, the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit in his whole person. The spirit only (that which connects us with God and the invisible world) is active, or rather recipient, in the apocalyptic state. With Christ this being "in the Spirit" was not the exception, but His continual state.

on the Lord's day—Though forcibly detained from Church communion with the brethren in the sanctuary on the Lord's day, the weekly commemoration of the resurrection, John was holding spiritual communion with them. This is the earliest mention of the term, "the Lord's day." But the consecration of the day to worship, almsgiving, and the Lord's Supper, is implied in Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2; compare Joh 20:19-26. The name corresponds to "the Lord's Supper," 1Co 11:20. Ignatius seems to allude to "the Lord's day" [Epistle to the Magnesians, 9], and Irenæus [Quæst ad Orthod., 115] (in Justin Martyr). Justin Martyr [Apology, 2.98], &c., "On Sunday we all hold our joint meeting; for the first day is that on which God, having removed darkness and chaos, made the world, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. On the day before Saturday they crucified Him; and on the day after Saturday, which is Sunday, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught these things." To the Lord's day Pliny doubtless refers [Epistles, Book X., p. 97], "The Christians on a fixed day before dawn meet and sing a hymn to Christ as God," &c. Tertullian [The Chaplet, 3], "On the Lord's day we deem it wrong to fast." Melito, bishop of Sardis (second century), wrote a book on the Lord's day [Eusebius 4.26]. Also, Dionysius of Corinth, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 4.23,8]. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 5. and 7.12]; Origen [Against Celsus, 8. 22]. The theory that the day of Christ's second coming is meant, is untenable. "The day of the Lord" is different in the Greek from "the Lord's (an adjective) day," which latter in the ancient Church always designates our Sunday, though it is not impossible that the two shall coincide (at least in some parts of the earth), whence a tradition is mentioned in Jerome [Commentary on Matthew, 25], that the Lord's coming was expected especially on the Paschal Lord's day. The visions of the Apocalypse, the seals, trumpets, and vials, &c., are grouped in sevens, and naturally begin on the first day of the seven, the birthday of the Church, whose future they set forth [Wordsworth].

great voice—summoning solemn attention; Greek order, "I heard a voice behind me great (loud) as (that) of a trumpet." The trumpet summoned to religious feasts, and accompanies God's revelations of Himself.

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 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.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,.... Not on the Jewish sabbath, which was now abolished, nor was that ever called the Lord's day, and had John meant that, he would have said on the sabbath day; much less the Jewish passover, but the first day of the week is designed; so the Ethiopic version renders it "on the first day"; and is so called just as the ordinance of the supper is called the Lord's supper, being instituted by the Lord, and the Lord's table, 1 Corinthians 10:21, and that because it was the day in which our Lord rose from the dead, Mark 16:9; and in which he appeared at different times to his disciples, John 20:19, and which the primitive churches set apart for his worship and service, and on which they met together to hear the word, and attend on ordinances, Acts 20:7; and Justin Martyr (z) tells us, who lived within about fifty years after this time, that on the day called , "Sunday", (by the Greeks,) the Christians met together in one place, and read the Scriptures, and prayed together, and administered the ordinance of the supper; and this, he adds, was the first day in which God created the World, and our Saviour Jesus Christ rose from the dead; yea, Barnabas (a), the companion of the Apostle Paul, calls this day the eighth day, in distinction from the seventh day sabbath of the Jews, and which he says is the beginning of another world; and therefore we keep the eighth day, adds he, joyfully, in which Jesus rose from the dead, and being manifested, ascended unto heaven: and this day was known by the ancients by the name of "the Lord's day"; as by Ignatius (b), Irenaeus (c), Tertullian (d), Origen (e), and others; for it must be some day that was known by this name, otherwise it is mentioned to no purpose, because it would not be distinctive from others; for which reason it cannot merely design the day in which John saw this vision, because the Lord appeared on it to him, for this would not distinguish it from any other day. Some have conjectured that this was not the weekly Lord's day observed by the Christians, but the anniversary of Christ's resurrection; and so the Ethiopians still call Easter "Schambatah Crostos", the sabbath of Christ: to understand it of the former is best. Now, though John was driven from the house and worship of God, and could not join with the saints in the public worship of that day; yet he was employed in spiritual contemplations and exercises, and was under a more than ordinary influence of the Spirit of God; and his spirit or soul was wholly intent upon, and taken up with divine and spiritual things, with visions and representations that were made unto his mind, which he perceived in his spirit, and not with the organs of his body; he was in an ecstasy of spirit, and knew not scarcely whether he was in the body or out of it:

and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet; which was the voice of the Son of God, as appears by what it uttered, Revelation 1:11; and is afterwards said to be as the sound of many waters; and it was behind him, as in Isaiah 30:21, it came to him at an unawares, and surprised him, while he was in deep meditation on spiritual things: and it was a very "great" one; it was the voice of a great person, of the Son of God, and expressed great things, and was very sonorous and loud, it was like the sound of a trumpet; and this was partly to awaken the attention of John to it, and partly to express the certainty of the relation he gives of what it said; had it been a low muttering voice, it might be questioned whether John rightly understood it, and whether he might not be mistaken in the account of what he heard; but it being so loud and clear, there is no room for such a doubt,

(z) Apolog. 2. p. 98, 99. (a) Epist. c. 11. p. 244. Ed. Voss. (b) Epist. ad. Magnes. c. 9. (c) Apud Script. Quaest. & Respons. ad Orthodox. inter Justin. Opera, p. 468. (d) De Corona, c. 3.((e) Homil. in Exod. fol. 41. 7.

I was in the {h} Spirit on the {i} Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

(h) This is a holy trance expressed, with which the prophets were entranced, and being carried out of the world, conversed with God: and so Ezekiel says often, that he was carried from place to place by the Spirit, and that the Spirit of the Lord came on him.

(i) He calls it the Lord's day, which Paul calls the first day of the week; 1Co 16:2.

Revelation 1:10. With ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι we dare not immediately combine ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, in the sense: “I saw in the Spirit the day of judgment;” i.e., “I foresaw it represented.”[702] In contradiction with this[703] are, the fact that the presentation of ΓΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ is in itself complete, the expression Ἡ ΚΥΡΙΑΚῊ ἩΜΈΡΑ, and the circumstance that the contents of the book are not limited to the day of judgment. The ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ[704] designates essentially nothing else than the ἘΝ ἘΚΣΤΆΣΕΙ of Acts 22:18; Acts 11:5. Yet by ΠΝΕῦΜΑ,[705] the Divine Spirit, in his objectivity,[706] cannot be understood,[707] but the πνεῦμα must by all means be interpreted subjectively.[708] The antithesis is γιν. ἐν ἑαυτῷ,[709] or, according to 1 Corinthians 14:14 sqq., ἐν τῷ νοί.[710] The ἐν πνεύματι is understood in one way, Romans 8:9, and in another also in Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36, where the subjective πνεῦμα is designated as sanctified or prophetically illumined by the objective Spirit of God; while in the present passage, as well as in Revelation 4:2, and especially Revelation 21:10, the reference to the efficacy of the Holy Ghost is in no way removed, but by πνεῦμα is understood only the higher, spiritual nature of man,[711] in virtue of which he is capable of receiving a revelation, having visions, and being ἐν ἐκστάσει.

The κυριακὴ ἡμέρα[712] is the first day of the week, the Sunday, which was celebrated as the day of the Lord’s resurrection.[713] On the holy day, John was especially well prepared to receive the divine revelation. [See Note XXV., p. 125.] But there is no foundation for understanding the κυριακὴ ἡμ. of an Easter Day,[714] or for assigning to that Sunday[715] the fulfilment of the expectation, attested by Jerome, that Christ will return on Easter Day.[716]

ὁπίσω μου refers not to the fact that a revelation of the invisible God is presented,[717] nor that John must first be prepared by hearing for the impending sight, as no one can see God without dying.[718] Against both these views, is the fact that John not only actually sees Christ, but also experiences the complete effect thereof.[719] It is also not to be said that “here clearly the awakening to ecstatic consciousness is described,” as though John at first had seen nothing, “at least, nothing remarkable,” but only first heard;[720] for “the awakening to ecstatic consciousness,”[721] which is not everywhere represented, has already occurred, since John hears or sees,[722] viz., in the Spirit. It is only the unexpected, surprising utterance of the divine voice that is here stated.[723] A comparison may, at all events, be made with Ezekiel 3:12, where, however, the presentation seems to be conditioned by the development of the scene itself.

The mighty, loud[724] voice is like the sound of a trumpet. In connection with the use of the ὡς σάλπιγγος[725] purely as a comparison, the remark is not applicable that the assembling of congregations, and the appearances or revelations of God and Christ, are announced with the sound of a trumpet.[726]

The voice which imparts the command, Revelation 1:11,[727] belongs not to “an angel speaking in the person of Christ,”[728] nor to the angel mentioned in Revelation 1:1,[729] nor to God speaking in distinction from Christ, who speaks in Revelation 1:15.[730] It has been thought that the voice proceeds from him whom John, Revelation 1:12 sqq., sees, and therefore from Christ himself;[731] but on account of Revelation 4:1, this cannot be admitted. It is therefore, as in Revelation 4:1, Revelation 10:4; Revelation 10:8, entirely undecided as to whom this voice belongs. This also agrees very well with the ὁπίσω μου.

[702] Wetst.; cf., also, V. d. Honert, Dissert. Apocalypt, p. 77 sqq.; Winer, p. 173; Züll.

[703] Cf., also, De Wette, Hengstenb.

[704] Cf. Revelation 4:2, Revelation 21:10.

[705] Cf., especially, Revelation 21:10.

[706] Cf. LXX., Jdg 11:29 : ἐγένετο ἐπὶ Ἰεφθάε πνεῦμα κυρ. (Numbers 24:2).

[707] As Grotius, who compares Mark 1:23; Mark 5:5; and Ebrard, who compares Acts 4:8 sqq.; and also Klief.,—say more clearly than many other expositors who appear to be of the same opinion.

[708] Cf. 1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:14; 1 Corinthians 14:31.

[709] Acts 12:11.

[710] Cf., also, 2 Corinthians 12:2 sqq.

[711] Cf. Romans 8:16.

[712] Cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20.

[713] 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 20:7; cf. Dionys. Cor. in Euseb., H. E., iv. 23: τήν

κυριακὴν ἁγίαν ἡμέραν διάγομεν (“We keep the holy Lord’s day”). Barnabas, Ep., c. Revelation 15 : ἄγομεν τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ὀγδόην εἰς εὐφροσύνην, ἐν ᾖ καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν, κ.τ.λ. (“We devote the eighth day to gladness, on which also Jesus rose from the dead”), etc.

[714] Eichh.

[715] Beng.

[716] On Matthew 25:24, “The apostolic tradition that, at the time of the Easter vigils, it will not be allowed to dismiss the people before midnight, expecting the coming of Christ” (“Traditionem apostolicum—ut in die vigiliarum paschae ante noctis dimidium populos dimittere non liceat, expectantes adventum Christi”).

[717] C. a Lap.

Revelation 1:10. Ecstasy or spiritual rapture, the supreme characteristic of prophets in Did. xi. 7 (where the unpardonable sin is to criticise a prophet λαλοῦντα ἐν πνεύματι), was not an uncommon experience in early Christianity, which was profoundly conscious of living in the long-looked for messianic age (Acts 2:17 f., cf. Ephesians 3:5), when such phenomena were to be a matter of course. Throughout the Apocalypse (Revelation 21:5, etc.) John first sees, then writes; the two are not simultaneous. While the Apocaiypse is thus the record of a vision (ὅρασις, Revelation 9:17), the usual accompaniments of a vision—i.e., prayer and fasting—are significantly absent from the description of this inaugural scene, which is reticent and simple as compared, e.g., with a passage like Asc. Isa. iv. 10–16. It is possible, however, that the prophet was engaged in prayer when the trance or vision overtook him (like Peter, Acts 10:9-11, cf. Ign. ad Polyc. ii. 2, τὰ δὲ ἀόρατα αἴτει, ἵνα σοι φανερωθῇ), since the day of weekly Christian worship is specially mentioned on which, though separated from the churches (was there one at Patmos?), he probably was wrapt in meditations (on the resurrection of Christ) appropriate to the hour. The Imperial or Lord’s day, first mentioned here in early Christian literature (so Did. xiv., Gosp. Peter 11, etc.) contains an implicit allusion to the ethnic custom, prevalent in Asia Minor, of designating the first day of the month (or week?) as Σεβαστή in honour of the emperor’s birthday (see Thieme’s Inschr. Maeander, 1906, 15, and Deissmann in E.Bi. 2813 f.). Christians, too, have their imperial day (cf. Introd. § 2), to celebrate the birthday of their heavenly king. With his mind absorbed in the thought of the exalted Jesus and stored with O.T. messianic conceptions from Daniel and Ezekiel, the prophet had the following ecstasy in which the thoughts of Jesus and of the church already present to his mind are fused into one vision. He recalls in spirit the usual church-service with its praises, prayers, sudden voices, and silences. (Compare Ign. Magn. ix. εἰ οὖν οἱ ἐν παλαιοῖς πράγμασιν ἀναστραφέντες εἰς καινότητα ἐλπίδος ἦλθον, μηκέτι σαββατίζοντες ἀλλὰ κατὰ κυριακὴν ζῶντες, ἐν ᾗ καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἡμῶν ἀνέτειλεν διʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦκαὶ διὰ τοῦτο ὑπομένομεν.) John’s service of God (Revelation 1:2) involved suffering, instead of exempting him from the trials of ordinary Christians; the subsequent visions and utterances prove not merely that in his exile he had fallen back upon the O.T. prophets for consolation but that (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:28-29) he was anxiously brooding over the condition of his churches on the mainland. Cf. Dio Chrys. Orat. xiii. 422, where the philosopher dates the consciousness of his vocation from the period of his exile. Upon the other hand, the main criterion of a false prophet (Eus. H. E. Revelation 1:17; Revelation 1:2), apart from covetousness, was speech ἐν παρεκστάσει, i.e., the arrogant, ignorant, frenzied rapture affected by pagan Cagliostros, who were destitute of any unselfish religious concern for other people. ὀπίσω μου, the regular method of spiritualistic voices and appearances: σάλπιγγος, loud and clear, not an unusual expression for voices heard in a trance (cf. Martyr. Polyc. xxii. 2, Moscow MS). The following Christophany falls into rhythmical expression. As a revelation of the Lord (Revelation 1:1, cf. 2 Corinthians 12:1), with which we may contrast Emerson’s saying (“I conceive a man as always spoken to from behind and unable to turn his head and see the speaker”), it exhibits several of the leading functions discharged by Jesus in the Apocalypse, where he appears as (a) the revealer of secrets (Revelation 1:1 f., Revelation 5:5), (b) the guardian and champion of the saints (Revelation 1:2-3, etc.), (c) the medium, through sacrifice, of their relationship to God, (d) associated with God in rewarding them, and (e) in the preliminary overthrow of evil which accompanies the triumph of righteousness. Compare the main elements of the divine nature as conceived by the popular religion of contemporary Phrygia, viz., (a) prophetic power, (b) healing and purifying power, and (c) divine authority (symbolised by the axe): C. B. P., ii. 357.

Vision of the Son of Man, Revelation 1:10-2010. I was in the spirit] Was caught into a state of spiritual rapture. Song of Solomon 4:2 and (nearly) Revelation 17:3, Revelation 21:10; cf. 1 Kings 18:12; Ezekiel 3:12; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 37:1; also 2 Corinthians 12:2-3.

the Lord’s day] Undoubtedly here used (though for the first time) in the sense now traditional throughout Christendom. Many of the early Fathers, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, &c. use the word of the First Day of the week. A few commentators have proposed to translate, “I was, in spirit, on the day of the Lord,” i.e. was carried away in spirit to the Great Day of the Lord’s Coming; but the reference to Revelation 4:2 refutes this.

as of a trumpet] As loud, and perhaps as clear.

Revelation 1:10. Ἐγενόμην) A sentence consisting of three members: ἐγενόμην· ἐγενόμην· καὶ ἤκουσα: Revelation 1:9-10.—ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, on the Lord’s day) That there is a Lord’s day, and that it is so called, is plain even from this passage: moreover, that the Lord’s day is that day which was called by the Gentiles the day of the Sun, which is the first day of every week, and which is opposed to the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, is clear from the universal stimony of Christian antiquity. We may also learn the reason of this title from the Scripture itself of the New Testament. Many seek the origin of the title in the fact of the Lord’s Resurrection on that day. This indeed is true, but it cannot have been the principal or the only reason. The days of the Lord’s Nativity, of His Baptism, Transfiguration, Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, and Coming in glory, are all remarkable. Which of these is in the highest sense the Lord’s day? The Lord’s Supper is the supper of the Lord: the Lord’s day is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; under which name the style of the apostle denotes the one day of His coming, which also is spoken of absolutely as the day, or that day. The opinion of the ancient Christians is not at variance with this view; respecting which opinion these things are read in Jerome on that passage, at midnight, Matthew 25 : Let us say something, which perhaps may be useful to the reader. There is a tradition of the Jews, that Christ will come at midnight, in consonance with the time in Egypt, when the passover was celebrated, and the destroying angel came, and the Lord passed over the tents [of Israel]: the door-posts of our foreheads, too, have been consecrated with the blood of a Lamb. Whence I suppose, also that the apostolical tradition has continued, that on the eve of the passover it is not permitted to dismiss the people before midnight, expecting the coming of Christ: and when that time shall have passed, security being now presumed upon, all keep the festival. The Lord was expected on every Lord’s day, although the solemn expectation of His Coming was especially celebrated before the Paschal Lord’s day. The seventh day is a memorial of the creation: the first day is a memorial of the final consummation. The former is the day of Jehovah: the latter, the day of the Lord. Undoubtedly, whoever perceives beforehand in his mind, that the first day of the week is called the Lord’s day, because that is the day of the Lord’s coming, he then, and not till then, perceives with what remarkable propriety it happened to John, that he should, on the Lord’s day, both see and describe the Lord as coming.

I once thought that the vision, which Ezekiel relates from ch. 40, was on the day of the Sabbath, and that that day of the Sabbath might be compared with the Lord’s day mentioned in this passage; but I now of my own accord give up that idea. For indeed, in the year of the world 3374, in which Calvisius places that vision, the first day of Tisri was the Sabbath; but the vision was three years afterwards, on the tenth day of Tisri, in the middle of the week. The Lord’s day opens another inquiry. Irenæus, nearly a contemporary writer, affirms that the Apocalypse was seen Πρὸς τῷ τέλει, at the end of the reign of Domitian; and, besides others, Newton vainly opposes him, in his Observ. on the Ap. p. 163. See Exeg. Germ. p. 174. But Domitian was slain in the 96th year Dion., on the 18th Sept., on the Lord’s day: and since Irenæus thus accurately marks the time of the vision by the well-known death of the persecutor, it will be most safe to depart as little as possible from the very day. But what if that Lord’s day in that year was the 3d April, that is, the paschal feast; or the 19th June: comp. Ord. Temp. p. 389 [Ed. ii. p. 334, sq.]; or the 18th of September itself? I define nothing: I follow the footsteps of Irenæus. At any rate, the fact of the Apocalypse being given before the death of Domitian supplies another observation. Apollonius of Tyana was addressing the people at Ephesus, and in the middle of his speech he exclaimed, Strike the tyrant; and again, Be of good courage, the tyrant is slain. And on that day, and at that hour, Domitian was slain at Rome. Whether Apollonius had been aware of the conspiracy against Domitian, or perceived from any other source what was taking place, the Apocalypse at the same time supplied the Ephesians with a much greater discovery of future events, to check the followers of Apollonius, and to vindicate the glory of Jesus Christ.—ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου, I heard behind me) John’s face had been turned towards the east; and in like manner the Lord, while He appears to him, directed His face to the east, towards Asia, to which the writing was to be sent.

Verse 10. - I was in the Spirit. I came to be (see on ver. 9) in a state of ecstasy capable of receiving revelations; like γενέσθαι με ἐν ἐκστάσει (Acts 22:17; comp. 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4). On the Lord's day. The expression occurs here only in the New Testament, and beyond all reasonable doubt it means "on Sunday." This is, therefore, the earliest use of the phrase in this sense. That it means Easter Day or Pentecost is baseless conjecture. The phrase had not yet become common in A.D. , as is shown from St. Paul writing, "on the first of the week" (1 Corinthians 16:2), the usual expression in the Gospels and Acts (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; comp. Mark 16:9). But from Ignatius onwards, we have a complete chain of evidence that ἡ Κυριακή became the regular Christian name for the first day of the week; and Κυριακή is still the name of Sunday in the Levant. "No longer observing sabbaths, but fashioning their lives after the Lord's day" (Ign., 'Magn.,' 9.). Melito, Bishop of Sardis (A.D. 170), wrote a treatise περί Κυριακῆς (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' IV. 26:2). Dionysius of Corinth (A.D. 175), in an epistle to the Romans, mentions that the Church of Corinth is that day keeping the Lord's holy day (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' IV. 23:11). Comp. also Clem. Alex., 'Strom.,' VII. 12:98 (p. 377, Potter); Tertull., 'De Con.,' 3. and 'De Idol.,' 14, where Dominicus dies is obviously a translation of Κυριακὴ ἡμέρα; and fragment 7 of the lost works of Irenaeus. That "the Lord's day" (ἡ Κυριακὴ ἡμέρα) in this place is the same as "the day of the Lord" (ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυίου) is not at all probable. The context is quite against any such meaning as that St. John is spiritually transported to the day of judgment. Contrast Revelation 6:17; Revelation 16:14; 1 John 4:17; John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; John 11:24; John 12:48. Whereas, seeing that the visions which follow are grouped in sevens (the seven candlesticks, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials), the fact that they begin on the first day of the seven is eminently appropriate. Great voice. The voice is evidently Christ's; but throughout the Apocalypse the speaker is frequently not named. By a construction common in Hebrew, "saying" agrees with "trumpet," the nearest substantive, instead of with "voice" (comp. Ezekiel 3:12; Matthew 24:31). "Therefore it is from behind, for all the symbols and references are to be sought for in the Old Testament" (I. Williams); comp. Isaiah 30:21. Revelation 1:10I was (ἐγενόμην)

See on Revelation 1:9.

In the Spirit (ἐν πνεύμην)

The phrase I was in the Spirit occurs only here and Revelation 4:2 : in the Spirit, in Revelation 17:3; Revelation 21:10. The phrase denotes a state of trance or spiritual ecstasy. Compare Acts 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 2 Corinthians 12:4. "Connection with surrounding objects through the senses is suspended, and a connection with the invisible world takes place" (Ebrard). "A divine release from the ordinary ways of men" (Plato, "Phaedrus," 265).

"You ask, 'How can we know the infinite?' I answer, not by reason. It is the office of reason to distinguish and define. The infinite, therefore, cannot be ranked among its objects. You can only apprehend the infinite by a faculty superior to reason; by entering into a state in which you are your finite self no longer; in which the divine essence is communicated to you. This is ecstacy. It is the liberation of your mind from its finite consciousness.... But this sublime condition is not of permanent duration. It is only now and then that we can enjoy this elevation (mercifully made possible for us) above the limits of the body and the world.... All that tends to purify and elevate the mind will assist you in this attainment, and facilitate the approach and the recurrence of these happy intervals. There are then different roads by which this end may be reached. The love of beauty which exalts the poet; that devotion to the One, and that ascent of science which makes the ambition of the philosopher; and that love and those prayers by which some devout and ardent soul tends in its moral purity towards perfection. These are the great highways conducting to heights above the actual and the particular, where we stand in the immediate presence of the Infinite who shines out as from the deeps of the soul" (Letter of Plotinus, about A D. 260).

Richard of St. Victor (died 1173) lays down six stages of contemplation: two in the province of the imagination, two in the province of reason, and two in the province of intelligence. The third heaven is open only to the eye of intelligence - that eye whose vision is clarified by divine grace and a holy life. In the highest degrees of contemplation penitence avails more than science; sighs obtain what is impossible to reason. Some good men have been ever unable to attain the highest stage; few are fully winged with all the six pinions of contemplation. In the ecstasy he describes, there is supposed to be a dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit as by the sword of the Spirit of God. The body sleeps, and the soul and all the visible world is shut away. The spirit is joined to the Lord, and, one with Him, transcends itself and all the limitations of human thought.

Sufism is the mystical asceticism of Mohammedanism. The ecstasy of a Sufi saint is thus described:

"My tongue clave fever-dry, my blood ran fire,

My nights were sleepless with consuming lore,

Till night and day sped past - as flies a lance

Grazing a buckler's rim; a hundred faiths

Seemed there as one; a hundred thousand years

No longer than a moment. In that hour

All past eternity and all to come


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