I Came to be in Spirit

Photo by Frank Zinsli on Unsplash
Four different times, John found himself “in the Spirit” and transported to a new location where he received another vision. In the fourth chapter, John “came to be in the spirit” and was summoned to heaven where he saw the “Throne,” the “sealed scroll,” and the “Lamb.” Likewise, in his first vision, he came to be “in the spirit” where he saw a vision of “one like a son of man” standing among seven “golden lampstands” - [Photo by Frank Zinsli on Unsplash].

John “came to be in the spirit.”  At four different points, John was transported “by the Spirit” to locations where he received new visions. This first descriptive clause first occurs twice - in the opening vision on Patmos, and when he was called by a “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, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpetAnd I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the lampstands one like unto a son of man… Write the things that you saw, what they are, and the things which shall come to pass after these.”
  • (Revelation 4:1-2) - “After these things I saw, and behold, a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, a voice as of a trumpet speaking with me, one saying, 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, John “came to be in spirit” where he heard a trumpet-like voice behind him. When he turned, he saw a figure “like Son of Man” standing among “seven golden lampstands.” This figure proceeded to dictate the letters to the seven “churches of Asia” recorded in the next two chapters - (Revelation 1:10-3:22Compare - Daniel 7:13).

In his next vision, John was summoned by the same trumpet-like “voice” to ascend to the “Throne” where he saw a slain “Lamb” who was declared “worthy” to receive all power because, by his shed blood, he “purchased men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.” This scene was followed by a series of visions about events viewed from the perspective of the “Throne set in heaven.” In the process, the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb” were introduced - The “Dragon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” the “Beast from the Earth,” and “Babylon, the Great Whore” - (Revelation 4:1-16:21).

The remainder of the book is divided into two major sections. As with the first two literary units, each of the last two division begins when John finds himself “in the spirit” and receives further visions. The only difference is that in the last two sections he is “carried away in spirit,” each time by one of the seven angels that had the “bowls of wrath.” In the final two division, John saw contrasting visions of two cities – “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem.”

As with the first two divisions, there are distinct verbal clues that link the last two sections - (e.g., “carried away in spirit”). Note well the highlighted items:
  • (Revelation 17:1-5, 21:1-8) – “And there came one of the seven angels, who were having the seven bowls, and he spoke with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore, who is sitting upon the many waters, with whom the kings of the earth did commit whoredom; and made drunk from the wine of her whoredom were those inhabiting the earth; and HE CARRIED ME AWAY IN THE SPIRIT to a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of evil-speaking, having seven heads and ten horns, and the woman was arrayed with purple and scarlet-color, and gilded with gold, and precious stone, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and uncleanness of her whoredom, and upon her forehead was a name written: ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of the Whores, and the Abominations of the earth…And I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And he that sits on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for THESE WORDS ARE FAITHFUL AND TRUE. And he said unto me, They are come to passI am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”
  • (Revelation 21:9-12, 22:1-15) – “And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spoke with me, saying, Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And HE CARRIED ME AWAY IN THE SPIRIT to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates…And he showed me a river of water of life…And he said unto me, THESE WORDS ARE FAITHFUL AND TRUE: and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angels to show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass…And behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he that keeps the words of the prophecy of this bookI am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone that loves and makes a lie.”
In the third division, John was “carried away in spirit to the wilderness” by one of the seven angels where he saw “Babylon.” The scene marked the start of the destruction of the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb,” only in reverse order from their introduction in the second division - “Babylon,” the “beast from the Earth,” the “beast from the Sea,” and the “Dragon.” This section ended with a glimpse of “New Jerusalem” as it descended from “heaven.”

The third division ended with promises to overcomers and dire warnings of doom to the unrighteous, especially to liars - (Revelation 17:1-21:8).

In the final division, John was “carried away in spirit to a great and high mountain” where he saw the holy city – “New Jerusalem” – And its glories. It, likewise, concluded with promises to overcomers and dire warnings of doom to the unrighteous, especially to liars - (Revelation 21:9-22:15).

Thus, in the book of Revelation, John received glimpses into HOW the “Lamb” would consummate his past victory by defeating all his cosmic foes so that, in the end, his people stand victorious before him and the “Throne” in “New Jerusalem.”


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