P. Johnson, 1979
“I John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and patience, in Jesus, was in the island called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9).
“The Tribulation and kingdom and patience” – These 3 thoughts are connected together. These are the circumstances that lead John to write as he does. In these circumstances, we are found even ourselves. Today, the kingdom is connected with tribulation and patience. This differs from what we understand about the coming kingdom of our Lord which will be in power and glory.
Tribulation and patience are the attendants of the kingdom at this time.
The believer’s hope – It is not only the Lord’s coming for His saints, but it is the Lord’s coming with His saints to which we look forward (Titus 2:13).
The Present Moral Aspect of the Kingdom
“Who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated [us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Colossians 1:13).
This is a moral kingdom, and we have been brought under the moral sway of God and His righteous government in His kingdom. We read also in Romans 14:17 that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in [the] Holy Spirit”. It is a moral kingdom into which we have been brought today.
We seek to follow the principles of the kingdom. What are these principles?
Consider Isaiah 2 (which passage speaks of the coming millennial kingdom which is still to come).
- Vs. 3 – “He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”
- Vs. 11 – “The lofty eyes of man shall be brought low, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day.”
- Vs. 17 – “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low, and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day.”
Man in the flesh will be brought down, and the Lord alone will be exalted. The people will walk in His paths and in His ways. This will be carried out universally, openly, and in power in that coming day. It will be carried out in power, such that those who do not follow the principles of the kingdom will be judged right away.
Today, the kingdom is not presented in this way, but it is presented in testimony according to a moral character. Despite the world rejecting this today, we seek in our testimony to follow the principles of the kingdom — “His ways and His paths!” And in view of the Lord’s glory, we have no admiration for man after the flesh!
The Christian comes into tribulation because he is cut off from the world and by the world when seeking to follow Christ. This was the spirit of John – to walk in the paths, to walk in His ways, to exalt the Lord and abase man after the flesh. We can support one another like John who identified himself as a “brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and patience, in Jesus.”
Patience, or Endurance
Whenever we take up a position of seeking to follow the Lord in this world (being “in the kingdom” and following its principles, and being identified with the rejected Lord), we have to endure. Because of tribulation, we need endurance. This is not about losing one’s salvation; however, one is encouraged to be faithful and endure. There are many things in the world that are calculated to distract believer’s from “His ways and His paths.”