Revelation 1:9-11: Living in the Spirit


When John received his visions, he was on the island of Patmos. While in Patmos, John had the experience of being "in the Spirit." He uses this expression four times in Revelation: 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; and 21:10. All four times, John refers to himself. On the last two occasions, John was carried away in the Spirit "into a wilderness" (17:3) and "to a great and high mountain" (21:10). Obviously, these were unusual experiences in the Spirit.

One, let us hear and apply "the testimony of Jesus."

John refers to "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" in 1:9." The "testimony of Jesus" can mean the testimony of John about Jesus. Also, this phrase can refer to the truth that Christ taught and authenticated. Either way the phase refers to truth that is meaningful and applicable to the disciples.

Our role is to hear, accept, and apply the testimony of Jesus to our lives. We are to assimilate all that Jesus taught and all that John says about Jesus. The truth is abundant and powerful. The message originates with God, is authenticated by Jesus, and taught by ministers of the Word of God. We, too, can have a part in sharing the truth with the world.

Two, let us live "in the Spirit."

A couple of points stand out about this.

First, the term spirit could refer to John's spirit, to the Holy Spirit, or to John's spirit inspired by the Spirit. The more common position is that John refers to the Holy Spirit. In support of this position, we note that the human spirit alone would not have produced the content of Revelation.

In my view, John refers to the Holy Spirit, but it was John who was "in the Spirit." Thus, John is very much involved. The human spirit is inspired by contact with the Spirit of God. Even though the human spirit is involved, the Holy Spirit has the key role in revealing the unfolding drama of Revelation. Clearly, the Holy Spirit had a powerful impact on John's spirit.

Second, the phrase "in the Spirit" has a range of meaning from the normal, everyday condition of the believer walking with God to moments that are very special and powerful. Moreover, no matter where a given experience is on this range of meaning, the human spirit is under control of the Holy Spirit. The key point is that the Holy Spirit inspires the human spirit. Most agree that John's experience was an usual moment.

Our experience of the Spirit may not be as dramatic as John's but we surely can walk "in the Spirit." The Spirit of God can powerfully influence all aspects of our lives. As we live "in the Spirit," He helps us conform to the image of Christ and does mighty things through us.

Three, let us honor "the Lord's Day."

Scholars divide over the meaning of "the Lord's day." This designation can refer to the Day of the Lord or Yahweh or to Sunday, the weekly Christian day of worship. Some writers hold that the phrase refers to Easter Sunday. Although either view is possible, the position that John refers to Sunday, the day of worship, seems best to me.

John was "in the Spirit" on the Lord's Day. No doubt he had a special reverence for this day of the week. The Lord's Day is a day each week that we set aside to worship Him and to build our relationship with Him. What we gain on this day has an impact on all other days of the week.

Four, we must listen to Christ and the Spirit.

John writes (verse 10), "and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet." Although some believe that this was the voice of an angel, it seems apparent that it was the voice of Christ. Christ commanded John to write to the angels of the seven churches of Asia. These letters would apply not only to the historic seven churches but to all churches throughout the ages.

Christ is still speaking today. In each of the letters Christ exhorts us to hear the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit will apply the truths of the seven letters to our lives and other truths as well. We are a "people of the Spirit" and the Spirit should permeate all aspects of our lives.


While John was on the island of Patmos, he was "in the Spirit." Without doubt, this was an unusual experience. While in the Spirit, he received many visions that he would record in the Book of Revelation. Because he was "in the Spirit," we have an authoritative book that speaks of future things. The Spirit inspired the visions and the truths taught.

Is it possible for us to be "in the Spirit" today? The answer is a resounding "Yes." Many times we worship while "in the Spirit." It is every preacher's desire to be "in the Spirit" when preaching. We long to be "in the Spirit" when God leads us in our activities in life. No more Scripture is being written, but many aspects of our lives are inspired by the Spirit. Today, as in the early church, the Spirit has a powerful impact on our lives.