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Revelation 1:10

in the Spirit
All prophetic revelation has its origin in the Holy Spirit (1Pe. 1Pe. 1:20-21) and never from man (Gal. Gal. 1:12-16; Gal. 2:2). Mysteries, things which are unknown and unknowable by man , are revealed only by the Spirit (Eph. Eph. 3:3). Often, spiritual revelation by the Holy Spirit involves a transporting of the prophet, physically or in a vision, to a different location where information is revealed (Eze. Eze. 8:3; Eze. 11:24; Eze. 37:1; Dan. Dan. 8:2; 2Cor. 2Cor. 12:2; Rev. Rev. 4:2+; Rev. 17:3+; Rev. 21:10+). Here, John mentions he was in the Spirit indicating that what he is about to describe involves supernatural revelation by means of a vision. This statement puts an end to all speculation as to the motives and initiative of John himself in writing the book of Revelation. For John didn’t write the book, he recorded it! Revelation from the Spirit is found both in the OT and NT.1 Being ‘in the Spirit’ in the sense John describes is not something initiated by man. It is a sovereign action initiated by God in order to impart divine instruction. As Ezekiel describes it: “the hand of the Lord was upon him” (Eze. Eze. 1:3). Luke describes the similar experience of Peter (Acts Acts 10:10) and Paul (Acts Acts 22:17) as an “ecstasy” (ἔκστασις [ekstasis] ):

A throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, whether such as makes a lunatic or that of a man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself, so that in this rapt condition, although he is awake, his mind is drawn off from all surrounding objects and wholly fixed on things divine that he sees nothing but the forms and images lying within, and thinks that he perceives with his bodily eyes and ears realities shown him by God.2

Peter, Paul, and John were passive recipients of that which God initiated. In this sense, the experience is diametrically opposed to the ecstatic frenzies associated with cultish prophets (1K. 1K. 18:28) and some modern movements wherein the person actively participates in bringing about an altered state of consciousness.

the Lord’s Day
There are several views concerning the meaning of this passage. One view holds that it refers to Sunday, the first day of the week. The phrase uses the same adjective (“Lord’s”) as does Paul when describing the Lord’s Supper: “Therefore when you come together in one place, is it not to eat the Lord’s Supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον [kyriakon deipnon] )” (1Cor. 1Cor. 11:20)?

Deissmann has proven (Bible Studies, p. 217f; Light, etc., p. 357ff) from inscriptions and papyri that the word (Grk: kuriakos, Strongs: G2960) was in common use for the sense “imperial” as imperial finance and imperial treasury and from papyri and ostraca that (Grk: heemera, Strongs: G2250) (Grk: Sebastee, Strongs: G4575) (Augustus Day) was the first day of each month, Emperor’s Day on which money payments were made (cf. 1Cor. 1Cor. 16:1f). It was easy, therefore, for the Christians to take this term, already in use, and apply it to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection on that day (Didache 14, Ignatius Magn. 9).3

Others note that Sunday, which came to be the day of Christian worship, is nowhere else referred to using this phrase, but is described instead as “the first day of the week” (Mtt. Mat. 28:1; Mark Mark 16:2, Mark 16:9; Luke Luke 24:1; John John 20:1, John 20:19; Acts Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 1Cor. 16:2). It also appears that John’s use of the phrase predates its use among Christians to designate the day of Christ’s resurrection.4 Another view is that the phrase does not describe the first day of the week, but denotes the eschatological “Day of the Lord”:5

However, such an interpretation is open to the objection that (1) such a meaning has no relevance to the context; (2) the term is never so applied in Scripture, where the day of Christian worship is uniformly called the “first day of the week”; (3) such an interpretation does not agree with the Patristic understanding of the verse; (4) the interpretation is a reading back into the text of a term subsequently applied to Sunday. The term “Lord’s day” is better understood as John’s way of expressing the common Hebrew term “day of the Lord,” in a manner in Greek which places the emphasis upon “Lord’s” (by placing it in an initial position) in the same manner as the Hebrew expression places emphasis upon “Lord” (by placing it in the final position) in “day of the Lord.” Supposing the expression refers to Sunday cannot account for the presence of the Greek article “the” used in the expression. When the article is lacking, there are several possible explanations to account for the fact, but when an interpretation cannot account for the presence of the Greek article, the interpretation stands self-condemned (J. B. Smith, Comm. on Revelation, Appendix 5, p. 320). The expression “on the Lord’s day” would better be translated “in the Lord’s day,” as a reference to this specific prophetic time period. The Greek preposition en is more usually rendered “in,” only once in Revelation is it translated “on,” in the expression “on the earth,” Rev. Rev. 5:13+. Everywhere else where en is followed by the word “day” it is rendered “in” (Rev. Rev. 2:13+. Rev. 9:6+. Rev. 10:7+. Rev. 11:6+. Rev. 18:8+). Understanding this term to refer to the “day of the Lord” emphasizes that the events which transpire in the third division of the book (“things which shall be hereafter”) are events which take place during the “day of the Lord,” a future time which begins at the Great Tribulation and concludes with the judgment of the Great White Throne at the end of the Millennium, and specifically ties in the prophecies of this book with the rest of Scripture relating to this coming day.6

The key that unlocks the door to the understanding of this book is, we believe, that it relates to The Day of the Lord , and not to any tradition which limits the reception of this Vision to a particular day of the week; and that day Sunday. . . . Thus did Abraham also see Christ’s Day. He saw it, and rejoiced, and was glad. It must have been “in Spirit,” whatever meaning we may put upon the expression. There was no other way of his seeing Christ’s Day; and that is the way in which it says John saw “the Lord’s Day.” . . . The majority of people, being accustomed from their infancy to hear the first day of the week called the Lord’s Day, conclude in their own minds that day is thus called in Rev. Rev. 1:9+ because that was the name of it. But the contrary is the fact: the day is so called by us because of this verse. In the New Testament this day is always called “the first day of the week.” (See Mtt. Mat. 28:1; Mark Mark 16:2, Mark 16:9; Luke Luke 24:1; John John 20:1, John 20:19; Acts Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 1Cor. 16:2). Is it not strange that in this one place a different expression is thought to refer to the same day? And yet, so sure are the commentators that it means Sunday, . . . There is no evidence of any kind that “the first day of the week” was ever called “the Lord’s Day” before the Apocalypse was written. That it should be so called afterwards is easily understood, and there can be little doubt that the practice arose from the misinterpretation of these words in Rev. Rev. 1:9+.7

A difficulty with this view is the difference in wording when compared with the phrase “Day of the Lord” found elsewhere in the NT: “Some feel that John was transported into the future day of the Lord, the prophetic day of God’s great judgment and the return of Christ . . . The major objection to this is that John does not use the common expression for the eschatological ‘day of the Lord’ (hēmera kyriou).”8 “The Greek phrase translated the Lord’s day (τη κυριακη ἡμερα [tē kyriakē hēmera] ) is different from the one translated ‘the Day of the Lord’ (τη ἡμερεα του κυριου [tē hēmerea tou kyriou] , or ἡμερεα κυριου [hēmerea kyriou] ; cf. 1Cor. 1Cor. 5:5; 1Th. 1Th. 5:2; 2Th. 2Th. 2:2; 2Pe. 2Pe. 3:10) and appears only here in the New Testament.”9 Proponents of the eschatological view attempt to explain this difference as one of the Hebraism’s in Revelation.10 A third view is that John is describing neither a day of the week nor the “Day of the Lord,” but is referring to his condition in the Spirit:

It does not refer to a specific day of the week, such as the Sabbath (Saturday) or Sunday. Rather, it was a day in which John was enraptured by prophetic and divine ecstasy and received divine revelation. It was a day in which he fell under the control of the Holy Spirit and was given prophetic inspiration. Thus, for him, it was a “lordy day.”11


as of a trumpet
Much of what John sees or hears is new, different, or unearthly and therefore difficult to describe precisely. John frequently employs simile in which two different, but similar things are compared. Later, this same voice will beckon John to heaven saying, “come up here” (Rev. Rev. 4:1+). Elsewhere in Scripture, trumpets attend events of great importance. A trumpet announced the manifestation of God’s presence upon Mount Sinai (Ex. Ex. 19:16; Ex. 20:18). The year of jubilee when all debts were forgiven was heralded by the blast of a trumpet (Lev. Lev. 25:9). The sounding of trumpets attended the downfall of Jericho (Jos. Jos. 6:4-20). A trumpet will attend God’s overthrow of the kingdoms of the earth (Ps. Ps. 45:7) and warns that the Day of the Lord is at hand (Joel Joel 2:1). A trumpet signals the gathering of the Church at the Rapture (1Cor. 1Cor. 15:42; 1Th. 1Th. 4:6) and of the elect prior to the Millennial Kingdom (Mtt. Mat. 24:31). Trumpets also attend significant events in this book (Rev. Rev. 8:2+, Rev. 8:6+, Rev. 8:13+; Rev. 9:14+). Here, we do not have a trumpet, but a voice as of a trumpet, signifying its power and the attention it commands.

Notes

1 Gen. Gen. 26:2, Gen. 26:24; Gen. 46:2; Num. Num. 12:6; 1S. 1S. 3:15; 1K. 1K. 22:19; Job Job 33:15; Isa. Isa. 1:1; Isa. 6:1; Eze. Eze. 1:3; Eze. 8:3; Eze. 11:24; Dan. Dan. 2:19; Dan. 7:2; Dan. 8:1, Dan. 8:16; Dan. 9:21; Dan. 10:1; Joel Joel 2:28; Acts Acts 2:17; Acts 9:10-12; Acts 10:3, Acts 10:11; Acts 11:5; Acts 16:9-10; Acts 18:9; Acts 22:18; Acts 23:11; Acts 26:19; Rev. Rev. 1:10+; Rev. 4:2+; Rev. 9:17+.

2 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), G1611.

3 A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2003), Rev. 1:10.

4 “Some have assumed from this passage that ἡμέρα κυριακή [hēmera kyriakē] was a designation of Sunday already familiar among Christians. This however, seems a mistake. The name had probably its origin here.”—Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 23.

5 “Sunday belongs indeed to the Lord, but the Scriptures nowhere call it ‘the Lord’s day.’ None of the Christian writings, for 100 years after Christ, ever call it ‘the Lord’s day.’ . . . I can see no essential difference between ἡ Κυριακη ἡμερα [hē Kyriakē hēmera] —the Lord’s day,— and ἡ ἡμερα Κυριου [hē hēmera Kyriou] —the day of the Lord. They are simply the two forms for signifying the same relations of the same things. . . . And when we come to consider the actual contents of this book, we find them harmonizing exactly with this understanding of its title. It takes as its chief and unmistakable themes what other portions of the Scriptures assign to the great day of the Lord.”—J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 18.

6 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), s.v. “Not Sunday.”

7 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), xvi-xvii, 9.

8 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 29.

9 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 1:10.

10 “Objection has been taken to the interpretation of ‘the Lord’s Day’ here, because we have (in Rev. Rev. 1:9+) the adjective ‘Lord’s’ instead of the noun (in regimen), ‘of the Lord,’ as in the Hebrew. But what else could it be called in Hebrew? Such objectors do not seem to be aware of the fact that there is no adjective for ‘Lord’s’ in Hebrew; and therefore the only way of expressing ‘the Lord’s Day’ is by using the two nouns, ‘the day of the Lord’—which means equally ‘the Lord’s Day’ (Jehovah’s day).”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 11-12.

11 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 16.

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