Three things blow me away about these few verses.
First, that John was “on Patmos” but still “in the Spirit,” a solid reminder that our present circumstances—however dire—ought not to deter us from experiencing the presence of God. “On Patmos” John was a political exile, a prisoner forced to work in chains in the local quarries under the mean whips of his masters. But that didn’t stop him from being “in the Spirit,” which is to say that he allowed the invisible world to penetrate the visible one, and him in the process as well.
Secondly, I find it fascinating that there is apparently some cooperation between suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance. But how can this be? How can we suffer and yet experience the kingdom simultaneously? Did Christ promise us a kingdom of suffering? (Because, if so, I think I’d like to reevaluate the terms of my contract.) The truth is that the the only way to achieve victory is through suffering well. I’ll expand on this as our blog posts continue, but I think it’s one of the most often-missed themes in the Revelation: victory is achieved through suffering, not through strength of arms. Jesus suffered and died, and he intends that we win our victory in much the same way.
Third, and related to the second, it seems to me that the only way you can move from ‘suffering’ to ‘kingdom’ is through patient endurance. That word “patient” is probably better translated “persistent” or, even better, “conquering.” Meaning, if you want to win…don’t quit.
Don’t quit when you’re on Patmos.
Don’t quit when you’re suffering.
Don’t quit when the kingdom is still only a promise, a downpayment, and seems a long way off in the future.