1:9 John now addressed the seven churches to which he sent this epistolary prophecy directly. He described himself to his readers as their brother in Christ and a partaker with them in three things. These were, first, the religious persecution they were presently experiencing as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ.36Second, they shared in the future kingdom of Jesus Christ (cf. ch. 20; Luke 12:32; 22:29; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5; James 2:5). Third, they were exercising perseverance as they remained steadfast in the midst of affliction.
"This illustrates the broad spectrum of other areas, besides afflictions, that are shared by believers, but fellowship in suffering is one of the most frequent, if not the most frequent, among the stock of primitive Christian ideas. This is an indispensable element of Christian discipleship and following the example of Jesus (1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:13; cf. also 2 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 5:1)."37
John was on Patmos as a result of his witness, not primarily to receive this revelation from God (cf. 6:9).38According to the writings of several early church fathers (i.e., Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, and Victorinus), the Romans sent John as a prisoner from Ephesus, where he pastored, to the island of Patmos in A.D. 95.39There he worked in the mines (quarries). Patmos stood in the Aegean Sea just southwest of Ephesus. It was 10 miles long and six miles wide at its widest (northern) end, and it served as a penal colony for political prisoners of Rome. John remained there until shortly after the Emperor Domitian died in A.D. 96. Domitian's successor, Nerva, allowed John to return to Ephesus.40
"Referring kyriake hemerato Sunday agrees with the terminology of a number of Christian writings from the same general area of Asia Minor a short time after the writing of the Apocalypse there. The Lord's day' came to be the customary way of referring to Sunday by the end of the second century because it was the day of the week on which the Lord was raised from the dead . . ."45
The New Testament writers never called Sunday the Lord's day elsewhere in Scripture.
A loud trumpet-like voice instructed John to write down what he saw and send it to seven churches in Asia Minor. The trumpet reference probably implies that submission to its command was necessary. The voice belonged to Jesus Christ (vv. 12, 17-18).
1:11 This is the first of twelve times that John wrote that he received instruction to write what he saw (cf. v. 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5). The "book"in view was a roll of papyrus made from a plant that grew in Egypt. Normally papyrus scrolls were about 15 feet long.46
The cities where these churches met formed a wedge on the map pointing northwest. A messenger carrying John's revelation would have traveled north from Ephesus to Smyrna and on to Pergamum. He would then have turned southeast to reach Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Note that all the Book of Revelation was to go to these churches, not just the special letter to each one contained in chapters 2 and 3.
Why did God select these churches in these particular towns? Obviously He did not do so because of their superior spirituality. Their popularity was not the criterion either since we read about only Ephesus and Laodicea elsewhere in Scripture. Probably they were representative congregations from which this book could circulate easily.47