Three things blow me away about these few verses.
First, that John was “on Patmos” but still “in the Spirit,” a solid
reminder that our present circumstances—however dire—ought not to deter
us from experiencing the presence of God. “On Patmos” John was a
political exile, a prisoner forced to work in chains in the local
quarries under the mean whips of his masters. But that didn’t stop him
from being “in the Spirit,” which is to say that he allowed the
invisible world to penetrate the visible one, and him in the process as
Secondly, I find it fascinating that there is apparently some
cooperation between suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance. But
how can this be? How can we suffer and yet experience the kingdom
simultaneously? Did Christ promise us a kingdom of suffering? (Because,
if so, I think I’d like to reevaluate the terms of my contract.) The
truth is that the the only way to achieve victory is through suffering
well. I’ll expand on this as our blog posts continue, but I think it’s
one of the most often-missed themes in the Revelation: victory is
achieved through suffering, not through strength of arms. Jesus suffered
and died, and he intends that we win our victory in much the same way.
Third, and related to the second, it seems to me that the only way
you can move from ‘suffering’ to ‘kingdom’ is through patient endurance.
That word “patient” is probably better translated “persistent” or, even
better, “conquering.” Meaning, if you want to win…don’t quit.
Don’t quit when you’re on Patmos.
Don’t quit when you’re suffering.
Don’t quit when the kingdom is still only a promise, a down payment, and seems a long way off in the future.