Posted by: Bay Presbyterian Church | February 27, 2011

A Walk with Paul – John in Exile

John’s Exile in Patmos Greece

 Rembrandt’s Apostle John

 The Apostle John is the author of the Book of Revelation. He wrote it when he was about 92 years old, while a prisoner of Rome on the remote desert penal colony of Patmos, an island in the Aegean Sea.

Patmos was a quarry mine for the Roman Empire, and was home to many political and religious prisoners or slaves. John, the beloved apostle of Jesus, was being held as a prisoner of Rome on this island for his incessant preaching about Jesus. Rome believed that banishing the old man John to the remote and forsaken island of Patmos, that his voice would be quieted. John was aged in years, and close to the end of his life, probably sent to Patmos in the year 95 by the Roman emperor Domitian, who was reportedly angry at the fact that John was not killed. Since John was a contemporary of Jesus, John would have been by that time, well over 90 years old – making him very likely the only apostle to survive to such an old age. The rest of Jesus apostles and disciples were martyred decades earlier. It was as if God supernaturally preserved John to bare record of The Revelation!

“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (Revelation 1:9).

This small volcanic island sits in the Aegean Sea, 37 miles from the Turkish city of Miletus. Here the Apostle John was exiled and received his visions recorded in the Book of Revelation. This view of the island is from the village of Chora to the northeast. In the center is the ancient and modern harbor, where the modern town of Skela is located.

St. John’s Monastery sits on top of the acropolis in Patmos


About halfway up to the Monastery of St. John on Patmos is the Cave of the Apocalypse. This sacred grotto is believed to mark the spot where St. John received his visions from Christ that he recorded in the Book of Revelation. As you wind your way through the monastery to the cave you pass these beautiful bells.


The Church of Revelation and the entrance to John’s Cave.   A mosaic portraying John’s visions appear above the door.

Monks carefully guard John’s cave.  No pictures are allowed to be taken inside and silence is strictly enforced.

Below are pictures of what the interior of  Apostle John’s Cave looks like today. The left side shows a stone broken into three sections during a fierce storm.  The locals say they represent The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The right side is where John slept and prayed. and inside the small grotto, you can see the nightly resting place of John’s head, fenced off and outlined in beaten silver.

 The Left Side of the Cave      

The Right Side of the Cave

 Just what did John see?

The book of Revelation seems to reflect life on the island. Weather phenomena like white clouds (14:14), thunder and lightning (11:19; 14:2), great hail (8:7; 11:19; 16:21) and rainbows (4:3; 10:1) are common. From the peak of Mt. Elias, 883 ft above sea level, one has a spectacular view of the Aegean Sea islands to the west and the mountains of Asia Minor (Turkey) to the east. There are at least 22 references to the “sea” in Revelation (4:6; 5:13; 7:1, 2, 3; 8:8, 9; 10:2, 5, 8; 12:12; 13:1; 14:2, 7; 15:2; 16:3; 18:17, 19, 21; 19:6; 20:13; 21:1).

 J.C. Fitzpatrick, visiting the island in the 1880’s, observed:

The islands to the west stand out darkly against the brightness of the horizon; and the others are lighted up with the glory of the setting sun, whilst the track of its last rays is a “sea of glass, mingled with fire” Revelation. 15:2.

In Revelation 6:14 and 16:20 John describes the islands of the Aegean and the mountains of western Turkey disappearing. As of the summer of 1998, I can personally attest they are still there—awaiting future fulfillment.

Only one spring exists on the island, at Sykamia on the road from Chora to Groikos. Tradition has it John baptized some of his converts nearby. What a contrast this small spring was to the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:1, NKJV) in the New Heaven and New Earth (21:1). John recognized that he was to worship the One who made heaven and earth and the sea and springs of water Revelation 14:7.

In Revelation 13:1, John wrote that he stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

Source:  Bible Probe;

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