I Came to be in Spirit

In his first vision, John “came to be in the spirit” on the Isle of Patmos where he saw a vision of “one like a Son of Man” standing among the “Seven Golden Lampstands.” The “lampstands” represented the seven churches of Asia. In the fourth chapter, he again “came to be in the spirit.” But this time, he was summoned to heaven to receive a vision of the “Throne” at the center of the creation, the “Sealed Scroll,” and the slain “Lamb.”

At four different points in Revelation, John is transported “by the Spirit” to locations where he receives additional visions. The description, “I came to be in spirit,” occurs twice; first, in the opening vision on Patmos, and second, when he is called by the “same voice” to “come up here” before the “Throne”:

  • (Revelation 1:10-20) - “I was in the isle called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I CAME TO BE IN THE SPIRIT on the Lord’s day.”
  • (Revelation 4:2) - “Come up here, and I will show you the things which must come to pass after these. Straightway I CAME TO BE IN THE SPIRIT.”

In the first vision, he hears a trumpet-like voice behind him, then turns and sees the figure “like Son of Man” standing among the “lampstands” in a temple setting. That figure proceeds to dictate the seven letters to the “messengers” of the “churches of Asia.” In them, the reader is provided with insights into the daily struggles and triumphs of the Asian congregations - (Revelation 1:10-3:22. Compare - Daniel 7:13).

In the Book’s second vision, John is summoned before the “Throne” by that same “voice.” He sees the “Sealed Scroll,” then the “Lamb” who breaks open its “Seven Seals” and begins to reveal its contents. This is followed by visions that present events from the perspective of the “throne” and heaven - (Revelation 4:1-16:21).

CARRIED IN THE SPIRIT


The remainder of the Book is divided into two sections, both of which begin when John finds himself “in the spirit” where he receives further visions. In each case, he is “carried away in spirit,” and each time by one of the seven angels that had the “Seven Bowls of Wrath.” In the last two sections, John sees visions of two cities, “Babylon” and the “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 17:1-5, 21:1-8, 21:9-22:15).

Thus, in the third division, John is “carried away in spirit to the wilderness” to see “Babylon.” The scene marks the start of the destruction of the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb,” and it ends with a glimpse of “New Jerusalem” as it descends from “heaven.” This section concludes with promises to overcomers and dire warnings to the unrighteous - (Revelation 17:1-21:8).

In the Book’s final literary unit, John is “carried away in spirit to a great and high mountain” from which he sees the holy city, “New Jerusalem.” And this section also concludes with promises to overcomers and dire warnings to the unrighteous.

Both final sections conclude with the same warning. They are not in chronological order; instead, they serve to contrast the two cities, “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 21:9-22:15).

Thus, John receives glimpses “in the spirit” into HOW the “Lamb” will consummate his past victory on the Cross by defeating all his cosmic foes, and in this way, his people will stand victorious before him and the “Throne” in the holy city of “New Jerusalem.”


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