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The Place

That the visions of Revelation were seen upon the island of Patmos is a fact that rests upon the testimony of the writer himself. It is the universal testimony of the early church, that John survived the destruction of Jerusalem, that when the storm of war was gathering around that devoted city he, in obedience to the Lord's warning (Matt. 24:16), fled from the coming desolation, and finally took up his abode in Ephesus, in 409the midst of the churches of Asia, founded by the apostle Paul. During his long sojourn in this region, which extended until the close of his life, he was banished in the persecution of the latter part of the reign of Domitian. Patmos, the place of exile, is simply a rocky prison house in the sea. It consists of three rocky masses connected by isthmuses, is about thirty miles in circuit, lies in the south part of the Aegean Sea, and one of a group called the Sporades. It is seldom visited as it is reached by no regular lines of ships and has comparatively little intercourse with the mainland. The writer passed between it and the shore of Asia in 1889, and was enabled by comparison with the adjacent islands to form a realistic conception of the prison house of John. Its mountain peaks are bare, there is some grass in the valleys on which a few sheep and cattle are pastured, and there are some fruit trees, but the general appearance is lonely and desolate. Yet it is set in one of the brightest of seas with an almost cloudless sky above, and from its higher points John could sweep his vision over a range of forty miles, embracing the surrounding islands and the mountains of Asia in the distance.

Though the visions were granted while John was an exile on Patmos many have held, it seems to me with too little reason, that the work was actually written in Ephesus. There is nothing in proof of this view but conjecture. It is also opposed to the fact that the first of the seven letters is addressed to “the angel of the church of Ephesus” (2:1). Had John, at the time of writing, been a resident of Ephesus, this fact cannot be reasonably explained. It is better to accept the plain inference of the narrative, that the visions were not only seen in, but that they were recorded in Patmos.

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