Revelation 1:9
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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(9) I John, who also am your brother . . .—More literally, I, John, your brother and fellow partner in the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Jesus,. . . . because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He was a fellow-sharer of tribulation with them, and he shares that patience which brings experience, because it is a patience in Jesus. It is not patience for Christ, like 2Thessalonians 3:5, nor patience of Christ, but rather patience which draws its life and energy of endurance from Him.

Patmos.—Professor Plumptre notices how little the scenery of Patmos colours the Apocalypse. “The vision that follows is all but unaffected by the external surroundings of the seer. At the farthest, we can but think of the blue waters of the Mediterranean—now purple as wine, now green as emerald, flushing and flashing in the light as the hues on the plumage of a dove.” The position of the Apostle in Patmos was probably that of an exile, free to roam where he would within the limits of the island. There was at any rate no limit of chains or guard, as in the case of St. Paul (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:20). He tells us what was the cause of his exile. It was his faithfulness in proclaiming, as we know he loved to do, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. “St. John, proclaiming the Word of God, who was before all worlds, who had been made flesh and dwelt among men, who was the King of kings and Lord of lords, struck a blow at the worship as well as the polity of the Roman empire. He opposed the God-man to the man-god” (Maurice on the Revel., p. 20). The contest is incessantly the same. False creeds ever aim to deify man. “Ye shall be as gods” is their motto and their bible. “Emmanuel,” is the motto of the true faith—

“The Lord was God, and came as man; the Pope

Is man, and comes as God.”—Harold.

The crucified, suffering Saviour, God in Christ, very God, and one with man in sorrow, was the stumbling-block in the past, and is the ideal which offends many now. (See Bp. Alexander’s Bampton Lectures, p. 30, et seq.) The terms of the conflict remain unchanged through the ages. (Comp. Revelation 6:9.)



Revelation 1:9 {R.V.}.

So does the Apostle introduce himself to his readers; with no word of pre-eminence or of apostolic authority, but with the simple claim to share with them in their Christian heritage. And this is the same man who, at an earlier stage of his Christian life, desired that he and his brother might’ sit on Thy right hand and on Thy left in Thy Kingdom.’ What a change had passed over him! What was it that out of such timber made such a polished shaft? I think there is only one answer-the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of God’s good Spirit that came after it.

It almost looks as if John was thinking about his old ambitious wish, and our Lord’s answer to it, when he wrote these words; for the very gist of our Lord’s teaching to him on that memorable occasion is reproduced in compressed form in my text. He had been taught that fellowship in Christ’s sufferings must go before participation in His throne; and so here he puts tribulation before the kingdom. He had been taught, in answer to his foolish request, that pre-eminence was not the first thing to think of, but service; and that the only principle according to which rank was determined in that kingdom was service. So here he says nothing about dignity, but calls himself simply a brother and companion. He humbly suppresses his apostolic authority, and takes his place, not by the side of the throne, apart from others, but down among them.

Now the Revised Version is distinctly an improved version in its rendering of these words. It reads ‘partaker with you,’ instead of ‘companion,’ and so emphasizes the notion of participation. It reads, ‘in the tribulation and kingdom and patience,’ instead of ‘in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience’; and so, as it were, brackets all the three nouns together under one preposition and one definite article, and thus shows more closely their connection. And instead of ‘in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,’ it reads, ‘which are in Jesus Christ,’ and so shows that the predicate, ‘in Jesus Christ,’ extends to all the three-the ‘tribulation,’ the ‘kingdom,’ and the ‘patience,’ and not only to the last of the three, as would be suggested to an ordinary reader of our English version. So that we have here a participation by all Christian men in three things, all of which are, in some sense, ‘ in Christ Jesus.’ Note that participation in ‘the kingdom’ stands in the centre, buttressed, as it were, on the one side by participation ‘in the tribulation,’ and on the other side by participation ‘ in the patience.’ We may, then, best bring out the connection and force of these thoughts by looking at the common royalty, the common road leading to it, and the common temper in which the road is trodden-all which things do inhere in Christ, and may be ours on condition of our union with Him.

I. So then, first, note the common royalty. ‘I John am a partaker with you in the kingdom.’

Now John does not say, ‘ I am going to be a partaker,’ but says, ‘Here and now, in this little rocky island of Patmos, an exile and all but a martyr, I yet, like all the rest of you, who have the same weird to dree, and the same bitter cup to drink, even now am a partaker of the kingdom that is in Christ.’

What is that kingdom? It is the sphere or society, the state or realm, in which His will is obeyed; and, as we may say, His writs run. His kingdom, in the deepest sense of the word, is only there, where loving hearts yield, and where His will is obeyed consciously, because the conscious obedience is rooted in love.

But then, besides that, there is a wider sense of the expression in which Christ’s kingdom stretches all through the universe, and wherever the authority of God is there is the kingdom of the exalted Christ, who is the right hand and active power of God.

So then the ‘kingdom that is in Christ’ it yours if you are ‘in Christ.’ Or, to put it into other words, whoever is ruled by Christ has a share in rule with Christ. Hence the words in the context here, to which a double meaning may be attached, ‘He hath made us to be a kingdom.’ We are His kingdom in so far as our wills joyfully and lovingly submit to His authority; and then, in so far as we are His kingdom, we are kings. So far as our wills bow to and own His sway, they are invested with power to govern ourselves and others. His subjects are the world’s masters. Even now, in the midst of confusions and rebellions, and apparent contradictions, the true rule in the world belongs to the men and women who bow to the authority of Jesus Christ. Whoever worships Him, saying, ‘Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ,’ receives from Him the blessed assurance, ‘and I appoint unto you a kingdom.’ His vassals are altogether princes. He is ‘King of kings,’ not only in the sense that He is higher than the kings of the earth, but also in the sense, though it be no part of the true meaning of the expression, that those whom He rules are, by the very submission to His rule, elevated to royal dignity.

We rule over ourselves, which is the best kingdom to govern, on condition of saying:-’Lord! I cannot rule myself, do Thou rule me.’ When we put the reins into His hands, when we put our consciences into His keeping, when we take our law from His gentle and yet sovereign lips, when we let Him direct our thinking; when His word is absolute truth that ends all controversy, and when His will is the supreme authority that puts an end to every hesitation and reluctance, then we are masters of ourselves. The man that has rule over his own spirit is the true king. He that thus is Christ’s man is his own master. Being lords of ourselves, and having our foot upon our passions, and conscience and will flexible in His hand and yielding to His lightest touch, as a fine-mouthed horse does to the least pressure of the bit, then we are masters of circumstances and the world; and all things are on our side if we are on Christ’s side.

So we do not need to wait for Heaven to be heirs, that is possessors, of the kingdom that God hath prepared for them that love Him. Christ’s dominion is shared even now and here by all who serve Him. It is often hard for us to believe this about ourselves or others, especially when toil weighs upon us, and adverse circumstances, against which we have vainly striven, tyrannize over our lives. We feel more like powerless victims than lords of the world. Our lives seem concerned with such petty trivialities, and so absolutely lorded over by externals, that to talk of a present dominion over a present world seems irony, flatly contradicted by facts. We are tempted to throw forward the realization of our regality to the future. We are heirs, indeed, of a great kingdom, but for the present are set to keep a small huckster’s shop in a back street. So we faithlessly say to ourselves; and we need to open our eyes, as John would have his brethren do, to the fact of the present participation of every Christian in the present kingdom of the enthroned Christ. There can be no more startling anomalies in our lots than were in his, as he sat there in Patmos, a solitary exile, weighed upon with many cares, ringed about with perils not a few. But in them all he knew his share in the kingdom to be real and inalienable, and yielding much for present fruition, however much more remained over for hope and future possession. The kingdom is not only ‘of but ‘in’ Jesus Christ. He is, as it were, the sphere in which it is realized. If we are ‘in Him’ by that faith which engrafts us into Him, we shall ourselves both be and possess that kingdom, and possess it, because we are it.

But while the kingdom is present, its perfect form is future. The crown of righteousness is laid up for God’s people, even though they are already a kingdom, and already {according to the true reading of Revelation 5:10} ‘reign upon the earth.’ Great hopes, the greater for their dimness, gather round that future when the faithfulness of the steward shall be exchanged for the authority of the ruler, and the toil of the servant for the joy of the Lord. The presumptuous ambition of John in his early request did not sin by setting his hopes too high; for, much as he asked when he sought a place at the right hand of his Master’s throne, his wildest dreams fell far below the reality, reserved for all who overcome, of a share in that very throne itself. There is room there, not for one or two of the aristocracy of heaven, but for all the true servants of Christ.

They used to say that in the days of the first Napoleon every French soldier carried a field-marshal’s baton in his knapsack. That is to say, every one of them had the chance of winning it, and many of them did win it. But every Christian soldier carries a crown in his, and that not because he perhaps may, but because he certainly will, wear it, when the war is over, if he stands by his flag, and because he has it already in actual possession, though for the present the helmet becomes his brow rather than the diadem. On such themes we can say little, only let us remember that the present and the future life of the Christian are distinguished, not by the one possessing the royalty which the other wants, but as the partial and perfect forms of the same kingdom, which, in both forms alike, depends on our true abiding in Him. That kingdom is in Him, and is the common heritage of all who are in Him, and who, on earth and in heaven, possess it in degrees varying accurately with the measure in which they are in Christ, and He in them.

II. Note, secondly, the common road to that common royalty.

As I have remarked, the kingdom is the central thought here, and the other two stand on either side as subsidiary: on the one hand, a common ‘tribulation’; on the other, a common ‘patience.’ The former is the path by which all have to travel who attain the royalty; the latter is the common temper in which all the travelers must face the steepnesses and roughnesses of the road.

‘Tribulation’ has, no doubt, primarily reference to actual persecution, such as had sent John to his exile in Patmos, and hung like a threatening thunder-cloud over the Asiatic churches. But the significance of the word is not exhausted thereby. It is always true that ‘through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom.’ All who are bound to the same place, and who start from the same place, must go by the same road. There are no short-cuts nor by-paths for the Christian pilgrim. The only way to the kingdom that is in Christ is the road which He Himself trod. There is ‘tribulation in Christ,’ as surely as in Him there are peace and victory, and if we are in Christ we shall be sure to get our share of it. The Christian course brings now difficulties and trials of its own, and throws those who truly out-and-out adopt it into relations with the world which will surely lead to oppositions and pains. If we are in the world as Christ was, we shall have to make up our minds to share ‘the reproach of Christ’ until Egypt owns Him, and not Pharaoh, for its King. If there be no such experience, it is much more probable that the reason for exemption is the Christian’s worldliness than the world’s growing Christlikeness.

No doubt the grosser forms of persecution are at an end, and no doubt multitudes of nominal Christians live on most amicable terms with the world, and know next to nothing of the tribulation that is in Christ. But that is not because there is any real alteration in the consequences of union with Jesus, but because their union is so very slight and superficial. The world ‘loves its own’ and what can it find to hate in the shoals of people, whose religion is confined to their tongues mostly, and has next to nothing to do with their lives? It has not ceased to be a hard thing to be a real and thorough Christian. A great deal in the world is against us when we try to be so, and a great deal in ourselves is against us. There will be ‘ tribulation’ by reason of self-denial, and the mortification and rigid suppression or regulation of habits, tastes, and passions, which some people may be able to indulge, but which we must cast out, though dear and sensitive as a right eye, if they interfere with our entrance into life. The law is unrepealed-’If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.’

But this participation in the tribulation that is in Christ has another and gentler aspect. The expression points to the blessed softening of our hardest trials when they are borne in union with the Man of Sorrows. The sunniest lives have their dark times. Sooner or later we all have to lay our account with hours when the heart bleeds and hope dies, and we shall not find strength to bear such times aright unless we bear them in union with Jesus Christ, by which our darkest sorrows are turned into the tribulation that is in Him, and all the bitterness, or, at least, the poison of the bitterness, taken out of them, and they almost changed into a solemn joy. Egypt would be as barren as the desert which bounds it, were it not for the rising of the Nile; so when the cold waters of sorrow rise up and spread over our hearts, if we are Christians, they will leave a precious deposit when they retire, on which will grow rich harvests. Some edible plants are not fit for use till they have had a touch of frost. Christian character wants the same treatment. It is needful for us that the road to the kingdom should often run through the valley of weeping. Our being in the kingdom depends upon the bending of our wills in submission to the King; then surely nothing should be more welcome to us, as nothing can be more needful, than anything which bends them, even if the fire which makes their obstinacy pliable, and softens the iron so that it runs in the appointed mould, should have to be very hot. The soil of the vineyards on the slopes of Vesuvius is disintegrated lava. The richest grapes, from which a precious wine is made, grow on the product of eruptions which tore the mountain-side and darkened all the sky. So our costliest graces of character are grown in a heart enriched by losses and made fertile by convulsions which rent it and covered smiling verdure with what seemed at first a fiery flood of ruin. The kingdom is reached by the road of tribulation. Blessed are they for whom the universal sorrows which flesh is heir to become helps heavenwards because they are borne in union with Jesus, and so hallowed into ‘ tribulation that is in Him.’

III. We note the common temper in which the common road to the common royalty is to be trodden.

‘Tribulation’ refers to circumstances-’patience’ to disposition. We shall certainly meet with tribulation if we are Christians, and if we are, we shall front tribulation with patience. Both are equally, though in different ways, characteristics of all the true travelers to the kingdom. Patience is the link, so to speak, between the kingdom and the tribulation. Sorrow does not of itself lead to the possession of the kingdom. All depends on the disposition which the sorrow evokes, and the way in which it is borne. We may take our sorrows in such a fashion as to be driven by them out of our submission to Christ, and so they may lead us away from and not towards the kingdom. The worst affliction is an affliction wasted, and every affliction is wasted, unless it is met with patience and that in Christ Jesus. Many a man is soured, or paralyzed, or driven from his faith, or drowned in self-absorbed and self-compassionating regret, or otherwise harmed by his sorrows, and the only way to get the real good of them is to keep closely united to our Lord, that in Him we may have patience as well as peace.

Most of us know that the word here translated ‘patience’ means a great deal more than the passive endurance which we usually mean by that word, and distinctly includes the notion of active perseverance. That active element is necessarily implied, for instance, in the exhortation, ‘Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.’ Mere uncomplaining passive endurance is not the temper which leads to running any race. It simply bears and does nothing, but the persistent effort of the runner with tense muscles calls for more than patience. A vivid metaphor underlies the word-that of the fixed attitude of one bearing up a heavy weight or pressure without yielding or being crushed. Such immovable constancy is more than passive. There must be much active exercise of power to prevent collapse. But all the strength is not to be exhausted in the effort to bear without flinching. There should be enough remaining for work that remains over and above the sorrow. The true Christian patience implies continuance in well-doing, besides meek acceptance of tribulation. The first element in it is, no doubt, unmurmuring acquiescence in whatsoever affliction from God or man beats against us on our path. But the second is continual effort after Christian progress, notwithstanding the tribulation. The storm must not blow us out of our course. We must still’ bear up and steer right onward,’ in spite of all its force on our faces, or, as ‘ birds of tempest-loving kind’ do, so spread our pinions as to be helped by it towards our goal.

Do I address any one who has to stagger along the Christian course under some heavy and, perhaps, hopeless load of sorrow? There is a plain lesson for all of us in such circumstances. It is not less my duty to seek to grow in grace and Christlikeness because I am sad. That is my first business at all times and under all changes of fortune and mood. My sorrows are meant to help me to that, and if they so absorb me that I am indifferent to the obligation of Christian progress, then my patience, however stoical and uncomplaining it may be, is not the ‘ perseverance that is in Christ Jesus.’ Nor does tribulation absolve from plain duties. Poor Mary of Bethany sat still in the house, with her hands lying idly in her lap, and her regrets busy with the most unprofitable of all occupations-fancying how different all would have been if one thing had been different. Sorrow is excessive and misdirected and selfish, and therefore hurtful, when for the sake of indulgence in it we fling up plain tasks. The glory of the kingdom shining athwart the gloom of the tribulation should help us to be patient, and the patience, laying hold of the tribulation by the right handle, should convert it into a blessing and an instrument for helping us to a fuller possession of the kingdom.

This temper of brave and active persistence in the teeth of difficulties will only be found where these other two are found-in Christ. The stem from which the three-leaved plant grows must be rooted in Him. He is the King, and in Him abiding we have our share of the common royalty. He is the forerunner and pathfinder, and, abiding in Him, we tread the common path to the common kingdom, which is hallowed at every rough place by the print of His bleeding feet. He is the leader and perfecter of faith, and, abiding in Him, we receive some breath of the spirit which was in Him, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame. Abiding in Him, we shall possess in our measure all which is in Him, and find ourselves partakers with an innumerable company ‘in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Christ Jesus,’ and may hope to hear at last, ‘Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations, and I appoint unto you a Kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me.’Revelation 1:9. I John — The instruction and preparation of the apostle for the work are described from the 9th to the 20th verse: your brother — In the common faith: and companion in tribulation — For the same book peculiarly belongs to those who are under the cross. It was given to a banished man; and men in affliction understand and relish it most. Accordingly, it was little esteemed by the Asiatic churches after the time of Constantine; but highly valued by all the African churches; as it has been since by all the persecuted children of God. In the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ — The kingdom stands in the midst. It is chiefly under various afflictions that faith obtains its part in the kingdom. And whosoever is partaker of this kingdom, is not afraid to suffer for Jesus, 2 Timothy 2:12. I was in the isle that is called Patmos — A desolate island in the Archipelago, now called Palmosa, mountainous, but moderately fruitful, especially in wheat and pulse, though defective in other commodities. The whole circumference of the island is about thirty miles; and on one of its mountains stands a town of the same name, having on the top of it a monastery of Greek monks; and on the north side of the town the inhabitants, by tradition, show a house in which the Apocalypse was written, and, not far off, the cave where it was revealed; both places of great esteem and veneration with the Greeks and Latins. To this island, after he had come unhurt out of a caldron of boiling oil, he was banished for the word of God — Namely, for preaching it; and for the testimony of Jesus — For testifying that he is the Christ: in other words, he was banished for the confession of the gospel. This, according to the testimony of Irenæus, who was the disciple of Polycarp, who had been the disciple of St. John, was in the reign of the Emperor Domitian; and, if we may credit ecclesiastical history, he was here employed in digging in a mine. But the historical evidence produced for this is very uncertain. One thing, however, is certain, that it was in this island he received the wonderful discoveries which make the subjects of this book. There he saw and wrote all that follows. And it was a place peculiarly proper for these visions. He had over against him, at a small distance, Asia and the seven churches; going on eastward, Jerusalem and the land of Canaan; and beyond this, Antioch, yea, the whole continent of Asia. To the west he had Rome, Italy, and all Europe, swimming as it were in the sea; to the south Alexandria and the Nile, with its outlets; Egypt and all Africa; and to the north, what was afterward called Constantinople, on the straits between Europe and Asia. So he had all the three parts of the world which were then known, with Christendom, as it were before his eyes: a large theatre, for all the various scenes which were to pass before him: as if this island had been made principally for this end, to serve as an observatory for the apostle.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 John, who also am your brother - Your Christian brother; who am a fellow-Christian with you. The reference here is doubtless to the members of the seven churches in Asia, to whom the epistles in the following chapters were addressed, and to whom the whole book seems to have been sent. In the previous verse, the writer had closed the salutation, and he here commences a description of the circumstances under which the vision appeared to him. He was in a lonely island, to which he had been banished on account of his attachment to religion; he was in a state of high spiritual enjoyment on the day devoted to the sacred remembrance of the Redeemer; he suddenly heard a voice behind him, and turning saw the Son of man himself, in glorious form, in the midst of seven golden lamps, and fell at his feet as dead.

And companion in tribulation - Your partner in affliction. That is, he and they were suffering substantially the same kind of trials on account of their religion. It is evident from this that some form of persecution was then raging, in which they were also sufferers, though in their case it did not lead to banishment. The leader, the apostle, the aged and influential preacher, was banished; but there were many other forms of trial which they might be called to endure who remained at home. What they were we have not the means of knowing with certainty.

And in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ - The meaning of this passage is, that he, and those whom he addressed, were not only companions in affliction, but were fellow-partners in the kingdom of the Redeemer; that is, they shared the honor and the privileges pertaining to that kingdom; and that they were fellow-partners in the "patience" of Jesus Christ, that is, in enduring with patience whatever might follow from their being his friends and followers. The general idea is, that alike in privileges and sufferings they were united. They shared alike in the results of their attachment to the Saviour.

Was in the isle that is called Patmos - Patmos is one of the cluster of islands in the Aegean Sea anciently called the "Sporades." It lies between the island of Icaria and the promontory of Miletus. It is merely mentioned by the ancient geographers (Plin. Hist. Nat., iv., 23; Strabo, x., 488). It is now called Patino or Patmoso. It is some six or eight miles in length, and not more than a mile in breadth, being about fifteen miles in circumference. It has neither trees nor rivers, nor has it any land for cultivation, except some little nooks among the ledges of rocks. On approaching the island, the coast is high, and consists of a succession of capes, which form so many ports, some of which are excellent. The only one in use, however, is a deep bay, sheltered by High mountains on every side but one, where it is protected by a projecting cape. The town attached to this port is situated upon a high rocky mountain, rising immediately from the sea, and this, with the Scala below upon the shore, consisting of some ships and houses, forms the only inhabited site of the island.

Though Patmos is deficient in trees, it abounds in flowery plants and shrubs. Walnuts and other fruit trees are raised in the orchards, and the wine of Patmos is the strongest and the best flavored in the Greek islands. Maize and barley are cultivated, but not in a quantity sufficient for the use of the inhabitants and for a supply of their own vessels, and others which often put into their good harbor for provisions. The inhabitants now do not exceed four or five thousand; many of whom are emigrants from the neighboring continent. About halfway up the mountain there is shown a natural grotto in a rock, where John is said to have seen his visions and to have written this book. Near this is a small church, connected with which is a school or college, where the Greek language is taught; and on the top of the hill, and in the center of the island, is a monastery, which, from its situation, has a very majestic appearance (Kitto's Cyclopoedia of Bib. Literally). The annexed engraving is supposed to give a good representation of the appearance of the island,

It is commonly supposed that John was banished to this island by Domitian, about 94 a.d. No place could have been selected for banishment which would accord better with such a design than this. Lonely, desolate, barren, uninhabited, seldom visited, it had all the requisites which could be desired for a place of punishment; and banishment to that place would accomplish all that a persecutor could wish in silencing an apostle, without putting him to death. It was no uncommon thing, in ancient times, to banish people from their country; either sending them forth at large, or specifying some particular place to which they were to go. The whole narrative leads us to suppose that this place was designated as that to which John was to be sent. Banishment to an island was a common mode of punishment; and there was a distinction made by this act in favor of those who were thus banished. The more base, low, and vile of criminals were commonly condemned to work in the mines; the more decent and respectable were banished to some lonely island. See the authorities quoted in Wetstein, "in loco."

For the word of God - On account of the word of God; that is, for holding and preaching the gospel. See the notes on Revelation 1:2. It cannot mean that he was sent there with a view to his "preaching" the Word of God; for it is inconceivable that he should have been sent from Ephesus to preach in such a little, lonely, desolate place, where indeed there is no evidence that there were any inhabitants; nor can it mean that he was sent there by the Spirit of God to receive and record this revelation, for it is clear that the revelation could have been made elsewhere, and such a place afforded no special advantages for this. The fair interpretation is, in accordance with all the testimony of antiquity, that he was sent there in a time of persecution, as a punishment for preaching the gospel.

And for the testimony of Jesus Christ - See the notes on Revelation 1:2. He did not go there to bear testimony to Jesus Christ on that island, either by preaching or recording the visions in this book, but he went because he had preached the doctrines which testified of Christ.

9. I John—So "I Daniel" (Da 7:28; 9:2; 10:2). One of the many features of resemblance between the Old Testament and the New Testament apocalyptic seers. No other Scripture writer uses the phrase.

also—as well as being an apostle. The oldest manuscripts omit "also." In his Gospel and Epistles he makes no mention of his name, though describing himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Here, with similar humility, though naming himself, he does not mention his apostleship.

companion—Greek, "fellow partaker in the tribulation." Tribulation is the necessary precursor of the kingdom," therefore "the" is prefixed. This must be borne with "patient endurance." The oldest manuscripts omit "in the" before "kingdom." All three are inseparable: the tribulation, kingdom and endurance.

patience—Translate, "endurance." "Persevering, enduring continuance" (Ac 14:22); "the queen of the graces (virtues)" [Chrysostom].

of, &c.—The oldest manuscripts read "IN Jesus," or "Jesus Christ." It is IN Him that believers have the right to the kingdom, and the spiritual strength to enable them to endure patiently for it.

was—Greek, "came to be."

in … Patmos—now Patmo or Palmosa. See [2674]Introduction on this island, and John's exile to it under Domitian, from which he was released under Nerva. Restricted to a small spot on earth, he is permitted to penetrate the wide realms of heaven and its secrets. Thus John drank of Christ's cup, and was baptized with His baptism (Mt 20:22).

for—Greek, "for the sake of," "on account of"; so, "because of the word of God and … testimony." Two oldest manuscripts omit the second "for"; thus "the Word of God" and "testimony of Jesus" are the more closely joined. Two oldest manuscripts omit "Christ." The Apocalypse has been always appreciated most by the Church in adversity. Thus the Asiatic Church from the flourishing times of Constantine less estimated it. The African Church being more exposed to the cross always made much of it [Bengel].

I John, who also am your brother; the same mentioned Revelation 1:4, the apostle of Jesus Christ, yet he disdaineth not to call those his brethren whom his Lord so called.

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 90. He lived not long, for he was slain Anno 97, but in those seven years he put to death, imprisoned, and banished many. John is said to have been banished by him, Anno 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 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.

For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ: he tells us how he came to be in Patmos, viz. 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. I, John, who also am your brother,.... Here begins the narrative of the visions and prophecies of this book, the former verses containing a general preface to the whole; and this, and the two following verses, are the introduction to the first vision, which John saw; who describes himself by his name, "I John", the evangelist and apostle, a servant of Christ, and a beloved disciple of his; one that was well known to the seven churches to whom he writes, and who had no reason to doubt of his fidelity in the account he gives them; and also by his relation to them as a "brother", not in a natural, but in a spiritual sense, they and he belonging to that family that is named of Christ, to the household of God, and of faith, and having one and the same Father, even God: thus, though he was an elder, an evangelist, yea, an apostle by office, yet he puts himself on a level with the several members of these churches, as he was a believer in Christ:

and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ; many are the afflictions and tribulations of the saints; these lie in the way to the kingdom; and they are companions and partners with one another in them, both by enduring the same, and by their sympathy and compassion with each other; and as they go sharers in the troubles of this life, so they do, and shall in the kingdom; in the kingdom of grace now, being all of them made kings and priests unto God, and in the kingdom of Christ on earth, where they will all reign with him a thousand years, and in the kingdom of glory, where they shall reign together to all eternity; and in the mean while, they join in the exercise of the grace of patience, of which Christ is the author, exemplar, and object; they are directed by the Spirit of God into a patient waiting for Christ, or a patient expectation of his coming, kingdom, and glory: the Alexandrian copy reads, "patience in Christ"; and the Complutensian edition, "patience in Christ Jesus": this same person John, who gives this account of himself,

was in the isle that is called Patmos; but now "Palmosa"; it is one of the islands of the Cyclades, in the Archipelago, or Icarian sea, and sometimes called the Aegean sea, and had its name from the turpentine trees in it; it is, as Pliny (u) says, about thirty miles in circumference; and it lay next to the churches on the continent, and is said to be about forty miles southwest of Ephesus, from whence John came thither, and to which church he writes first; how he came here he does not say, concealing, through modesty, his sufferings; he did not come here of his own accord; Ignatius says (w), John "was banished to Patmos": by Domitian emperor of Rome, as Irenaeus says (x), at the latter end of his reign, about the year 95 or 96; and, as Tertullian (y) after he had been cast into a vessel of flaming oil, where he got no hurt: and this banishment was not for any immorality, and capital sin he had committed, but

for the word of God; for believing in Christ, the essential Word of God, and for professing and bearing record of him, both in preaching and writing:

and for the testimony of Jesus; for the Gospel of Christ, see Revelation 1:2; for embracing it, adhering to it, and publishing it: it is generally thought that John wrote his Revelation in this isle, though some think it is not to be concluded from these words, but the contrary that he had been here, but now was not, but at Ephesus, where he wrote what he had a vision of there,

(u) Nat. Hist. l. 4. c. 12. (w) Epist. ad Tarsenses, p. 76. (x) Irenaeus adv. Haeres. l. 5. c. 30. (y) De Praescript. Haeret. c. 36.

{7} I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is {g} called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

(7) The narration, opening the way to the declaring of the authority and calling of John the evangelist in this singular revelation, and to procure faith and credit to this prophecy. This is the second part of this chapter, consisting of a proposition, and an exposition. The proposition shows, in Re 1:9 first who was called to this revelation, in what place, and how occupied. Then at what time, and by what means, namely, by the Spirit and the word, and that on the Lord's day, which ever since the resurrection of Christ, was consecrated for Christians: that is to say, to be a day of rest, as in Re 1:10 Thirdly, who is the author that calls him, and what is the sum of his calling.

(g) Patmos is one of the islands of Sporas, where John was banished according to some historians.

Revelation 1:9. Ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης. The name as in Revelation 1:3. [See Notes on Introduction, pp. .] The combination of the ἐγώ with the name[667] is after the manner of Daniel.[668] In the same way, the authors of 4 Ezra[669] and the Book of Enoch[670] conform to Daniel’s model. The formula must not be regarded as determined by the intention of the composer to distinguish himself from the speaker in Revelation 1:8.[671]

John not only calls himself the brother of the readers, in the sense justified by the communicative style of Revelation 1:5-6,[672] but especially emphasizes what is supposed in the relation of a brother: ΚΑῚ ΣΥΓΚΟΙΝΩΝῸς ἘΝ Τῇ ΘΛΊΨΕΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ. The inner combination of this idea with Ὁ ἈΔΕΛΡῸς ὙΜῶΝ is to be inferred from the fact of the non-repetition of the article. The ΈΝ[673] designates the ΘΛῖΨΙς, etc., as the sphere in which the fellowship[674] occurs, in distinction from the objective conception of the customary genitive. So, too, the ἐν stands in the ἐν Ἰησοῦ, belonging to all three terms, θλιψ., βασιλ., and ὑπομ., whereby the Lord and Saviour represents himself as the personal ground of the tribulation and kingdom and patience of all those to whom Revelation 1:5-6 pertain. A comparison has here been incorrectly made with the dissimilar ideas of Colossians 1:24, 2 Corinthians 1:15.[675] Cf., on the other hand, Php 2:1, παράκλησις ἑν Χριστῷ.

The θλῖψις (ἐν Ἰησοῦ) is the affliction,[676] which, “for the name of Christ,”[677] has been infallibly prepared for believers, on the part of the hating and persecuting world.[678] But, as this suffering, so also does the royal glory possessed already by believers, and yet hoped for[679] in its full manifestation, lie “in Jesus” himself. Hence, e.g., Revelation 3:21, the promise in the mouth of Christ.

Finally John adds yet the ὑπομονή (ἐν Ἰησοῦ), as the item ordinarily mediating between the two preceding,[680] which, therefore, is an important subject of the prophetic exhortation.[681] There is no hendiadys, either in the first or the last of the two conceptions.[682]

[667] Revelation 22:8.

[668] Daniel 7:15; Daniel 8:1; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:2; Daniel 12:5.

[669] 4 Ezra 2:42.

[670] Enoch 12:3, 24:7, 92:3, 105:15.

[671] Ewald.

[672] Cf. Revelation 19:10.

[673] Cf. Matthew 23:30; Galatians 6:6; Acts 8:21; Acts 26:18.

[674] Respecting the expression συγκοιν., cf. Revelation 18:4; Php 1:7; Romans 11:17; 1 Corinthians 9:23; also, Ephesians 3:6.

[675] De Wette, Hengstenb., etc.

[676] Revelation 2:9-10, Revelation 3:14.

[677] Matthew 24:9; cf. Matthew 13:21.

[678] John 16:33; Acts 14:22.

[679] Cf. 2 Timothy 2:12; Romans 8:17; Acts 14:22.

[680] So that the juxtaposition of these terms is not entirely without order (De Wette).

[681] Cf. Revelation 2:2-3, Revelation 3:10, Revelation 13:10Revelation 1:9. The personality of the seer is made prominent in apocalyptic literature, to locate or guarantee any visions which are to follow. Here the authority with which this prophet is to speak is conditioned by his kinship of Christian experience with the churches and his special revelation from God. ἀδελφός (cf. Revelation 6:11, Revelation 12:10): for its pagan use as = fellow-member of the same (religious) society, cf. C. B. P. i. 96 f., and Dittenberger’s Sylloge Inscr. Graec. 474, 10 (ἀδελφοὶ οἶς κοινὰ τὰ πατρῷα). θλίψει, put first as the absorbing fact of their experience, and as a link of sympathy between writer and readers; καὶ βασιλείᾳ, the outcome of θλίψις in the messianic order: distress no end in itself; καὶ ὑπομονῇ, patient endurance the moral condition of participation in ἡ θλίψις and ἡ βασιλεία, by which one is nerved to endure the presence of the former without breaking down, and to bear the temporary delay of the latter without impatience. While μακροθυμία is the absence of resentment at wrong, ὑπομονή = not giving way under trials. See Barn, ii., “the aids of our faith are fear and patience, long-suffering and self-control are our allies”; also Tertullian’s famous aphorism, “ubi Deus, ibi et alumna eius, patientia scilicet”.—ἐν Ἰησοῦ (a Pauline conception, only repeated in Apocalypse at Revelation 14:12), either with all three substantives or merely (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:5) with ὑπομονή. In any case ὑπ. is closely linked to ἐν Ἰ.; such patience, as exemplified in Jesus, and inspired by him, was the cardinal virtue of the Apocalypse and its age. In the early Christian literature of this period “we cannot name anything upon which blessedness is so frequently made to rest, as upon the exercise of patient endurance” (Titius, 142). ἐγενόμην ἐν (“I found myself in”: implying that when he wrote he was no longer there), not by flowing waters (as frequently, e.g., En. xiii. 7), but in the small, treeless, scantily populated island of Patmos, one of the Sporades, whither criminals were banished sometimes by the Roman authorities (Plin. Hist. Nat. iv. 12, 23). Relegatio to an island was not an infrequent form of punishment for better-class offenders or suspects under the black régime of Domitian, as under Diocletian for Christians (cf. Introd. § 6). No details are given, but probably it meant hard labour in the quarries, and was inflicted by the pro-consul of Asia Minor. Why John was only banished, we do not know. As “the word of God and the witness of Jesus” are not qualified by any phrase such as ὅσα εἶδεν (Revelation 1:2, and thereby identified with the present Apocalypse), the words indicate as elsewhere (cf. διὰ, κ.τ.λ., reff.) the occasion of his presence in Patmos, i.e., his loyalty to the gospel (cf. θλίψις), rather than the object of his visit. The latter could hardly be evangelising (Spitta), for Patmos was insignificant and desolate, nor, in face of the use of διὰ, can the phrase mean “for the purpose of receiving this revelation” (Bleek, Lücke, Düsterdieck, Hausrath, B. Weiss, Baljon, etc.). Either he had voluntarily withdrawn from the mainland to escape the stress of persecution (which scarcely harmonises with the context or the general temper of the book) or for solitary communion (cf. Ezekiel 1:1-3), or, as is more likely, his removal was a punishment (cf. Abbott, 114–16). The latter view is corroborated by tradition (cf. Zahn, § 64, note 7), which, although later and neither uniform nor wholly credible, is strong enough to be taken as independent evidence. It can hardly be explained away as a mere elaboration of the present passage (so, e.g., Reuss, Bleek, Bousset); the allusion to μαρτύριον is too slight to have been suggested by the darker sense of martyrdom, and it is far-fetched to argue that the tradition was due to a desire to glorify John with a martyrdom. Unless, therefore, the reference is a piece of literary fiction (in which case it would probably have been elaborated) it must be supposed to be vague simply because the matter was perfectly familiar to the circle for whom the book was written. It is to those exercised in prudence, temperance, and virtue that (according to Philo, de incorrupt, mundi, § 1, cf. Plutarch’s discussion in defect. orac. 38 f.) God vouchsafes visions, but John introduces his personal experience in order to establish relations between himself and his readers rather than to indicate the conditions of his theophany.9. I John, who &c.] Better and more simply, 1 John your brother and partaker with you (for the condescending choice of titles, cf. 1 Peter 5:1) in the tribulation and kingdom and patience in Jesus. The collocation of the latter words is peculiar, and it is not very clear why “the kingdom” should be placed between “the tribulation” and “patience.” Alford refers to Acts 14:22 for the association of the kingdom with the tribulation.

was] Had come there, found myself there. Here and in the next verse he avoids, perhaps intentionally, the use of the word for continuous and absolute “being:” see note on Revelation 1:4.

Patmos] One of the Sporades, the south-eastern group of the islands of the Aegean. According to the tradition, as given by Victorinus, he was condemned to work in the mines—which, if trustworthy, must mean marble quarries, as there are no mines, strictly speaking, in the island. Christians were sent to the mines (Roman Christians to those of Sardinia) at least as early as the reign of Commodus (Hipp. Ref. Haer. IX. 12), and this was much the commonest punishment during the Diocletian persecution in which Victorinus suffered himself. In St John’s time it was commoner to put Christians to death; but the tradition is probably right; ‘deportation,’ confinement without hard labour on a lonely island was then and afterwards reserved for offenders of higher secular rank.

for the word, &c.] See note on Revelation 1:2. Comparing Revelation 6:9 and Revelation 20:4, it is hardly doubtful that these words support the traditional view, that he was banished there for being a Christian; that they do not mean, as else they might, that he had gone to the island to preach the Gospel, or (by special revelation or otherwise) had withdrawn there to await this vision.Revelation 1:9. Ἐν τῇ θλίψει, in tribulation) This book has most relish for the faithful in tribulation.[16] The Asiatic Church, especially since its most flourishing time under Constantine, set too little value upon this book. You can scarcely find any trace of a quotation from the Apocalypse in the doctors of Constantinople: where it is quoted in the works of Chrysostom, this very fact is a proof of interpolation. The African Church, more exposed to the cross, always valued this book very highly.—καὶ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ, and in the kingdom and in patience) These things are also joined together, 2 Timothy 2:12. Patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3) has abundant nourishment in the Apocalypse. The order of the words is worthy of notice: affliction, and the kingdom, and patience: together with the first and third of these, the second also is given.—ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ νήσῳ) γενέσθαι ἐν Ῥώμῃ, is to arrive at Rome, 2 Timothy 1:17. John therefore in this passage conveys the idea, that he had been conveyed to the Isle of Patmos, and that, after his arrival, he had heard and seen these things, which he relates. Nor does the past time here used prevent us from thinking that the Apocalypse was written in Patmos: for the ancients, in writing, adapted the tenses of the verbs to the time at which the writing was read, and not to that at which it was written: Acts 15:27, We have sent. This appears an unimportant observation, but it applies a remedy to great errors.—τῇ καλουμένῃ, which is called) There are some who omit this participle; and rightly so, as it seems.[17] Whether you read it or not, Patmos; although near to Asia, was not known to all the inhabitants of Asia: therefore John mentions that Patmos is an island. But Cyprus, a celebrated island, is mentioned by itself, Acts 13:4; nor is it called the island Cyprus; much less, the island which is called Cyprus.—Πάτμῳ, Patmos) (John) was there in the time of Domitian and Nerva. Artemonius (in L. de Init. Ev. John, 350) thinks that the opinion held respecting the life of John, as continuing until the close of Domitian’s reign, or the commencement of Trajan’s, is false indeed, and had its origin in a confounding of two Johns. But Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero: and John long survived Peter: John 21:22. But he wrote the Apocalypse not long before his death. For you cannot say that one part of it was written under Claudius, another under Domitian or Nerva, since it is one Apocalypse, one prophecy, one book. Nor is Epiphanius, who thinks that it was published under Claudius—that is, before the death of Peter under Nero—alone of the ancients to be preferred to Irenæus and all the rest. The title of the Syriac version is still more recent. But you will ask, Why does John use more Hebraisms in the Apocalypse than in the Gospel? Was it not at the time of his writing the Apocalypse that he became accustomed at length to the Greek language? For he wrote the Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem, but the Apocalypse after it. But in fact the whole style of John, and especially in the prophetical parts, takes its form, not from accustomed habit, but from Divine dictation, the resources of which are boundless.

[16] Comp. not. Gnom. on the phrase ἅ δεῖ γενέσθαι, ver. 1.—E. B.

[17] Hence the Vers. Germ, also omits it, although the margin of each Edition left a choice to the readers.—E. B.Verses 9-20. - The introductory vision. This section is introductory, not merely to the epistles to the Churches, but to the whole book. In it the seer narrates how he received his commission; and with it should be compared Isaiah 6; Jeremiah 1:1-10; Ezekiel 1:1-3; Daniel 10, especially vers. 2, 7, where "I Daniel" is exactly parallel to "I John" here. The Revised Version is again much to be preferred to the Authorized Version. Verse 9. - In the tribulation and kingdom and patience. The order of the words is surprising; we should have expected "kingdom" to have come first or last. But "and patience" seems to be added epexegetically, to show how the tribulation leads to the kingdom (comp. Revelation 2:2, 3, 19; Revelation 3:10; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12). "In your patience ye shall win your souls" (Luke 21:19). "Tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3); and "through many tribulations, we must enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Bengel notes that it is in tribulation that believers specially love this book. The Church of Asia, particularly after the prosperous time of Constantine, had a low opinion of the Apocalypse; while the African Church, which was more subject to persecution, highly esteemed it. "Everything tends to show that the Apocalypse was acknowledged in Africa from the earliest times as canonical Scripture" (Westcott, 'On the Canon of the New Testament,' p. 238). Was in the isle. Here and in ver. 10 "was" is literally "came to be" (ἐγενόμην), implying that such was not his ordinary condition; comp. γενόμενος ἐν Ρώμη (2 Timothy 1:17). That is called Patmos. St. John does not assume that his readers know so insignificant a place. He does not say simply "in Patmos," as St. Luke says "to Rhodes" or "to Cyprus," but "in the isle that is called Patmos." Now Patmo or Patino, but in the Middle Ages Palmosa. Its small size and rugged character made it a suitable place for penal transportation. Banishment to a small island (deportatio in insulam or insulae vinculum) was common. "Aude aliquid brevibus Gyaris et carcere dignum" (Juv., 1:73). Compare the cases of Agrippa Postumus (Tac., 'Ann.,' 1:3) and of Julia (4:71). For a full account of the island, see Gudrin's 'Description de File de Patmos,' Paris: 1856. For the circumstances of St. John's banishment, see Introduction. It was in exile that Jacob saw God at Bethel; in exile that Moses saw God at the burning bush; in exile that Elijah heard the "still small voice;" in exile that Ezekiel saw "the likeness of the glory of the Lord" by the river Chebar; in exile that Daniel saw "the Ancient of days." For the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus. No doubt the Greek (διὰ τὸν λόγον) might mean that he was in Patmos for the sake of receiving the word; but Revelation 6:9 and Revelation 20:4 are decisive against this (comp. διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου in John 16:21). These passages and "partaker in the tribulation" here prove that St. John's "coming to be in Patmos" was caused by suffering for the Word of God. The testimony of Jesus. This, as in ver. 2, probably means the testimony that he bore, rather than the testimony about him. "Christ" is a corrupt addition to the text in both places in this verse. IJohn

Compare Daniel 7:28; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:2.

Who am also your brother (ὁ καὶ ἀδελφὸς ὑμῶν)

Omit καὶ, also, and render as Rev., John your brother.

Companion (συγκοινωνὸς)

Rev., better, partaker with you. See Philippians 1:7, and note on partners, Luke 5:10. Κοινωνὸς, is a partner, associate. Σύν strengthens the term: partner along with. Compare John's favorite word in the First Epistle, κοινωνία fellowship, 1 John 1:3.

In the tribulation, etc.

Denoting the sphere or element in which the fellowship subsisted.

Tribulation (θλίψει)

See on Matthew 13:21 Persecution for Christ's sake, and illustrated by John's own banishment.

Kingdom (βασιλείᾳ)

The present kingdom. Trench is wrong in saying that "while the tribulation is present the kingdom is only in hope." On the contrary, it is the assurance of being now within the kingdom of Christ - under Christ's sovereignty, fighting the good fight under His leadership - which gives hope and courage and patience. The kingdom of God is a present energy, and it is a peculiality of John to treat the eternal life as already present. See John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47, John 6:54; 1 John 5:11. "In all these things we are abundantly the conquerors (Romans 8:37 sqq.). This may go to explain the peculiar order of the three words; tribulation and kingdom, two apparently antithetic ideas, being joined, with a true insight into their relation, and patience being added as the element through which the tribulation is translated into sovereignty. The reference to the future glorious consummation of the kingdom need not be rejected. It is rather involved in the present kingdom. Patience, which links the life of tribulation with the sovereignty of Christ here upon earth, likewise links it with the consummation of Christ's kingdom in heaven. Through faith and patience the subjects of that kingdom inherit the promises. "Rightly he says first 'in the tribulation' and adds afterwards 'in the kingdom,' because, if we suffer together we shall also reign together" (Richard of St. Victor, cited by Trench). Compare Acts 14:22.



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