In a relatively short time (probably around A. D. 96) after writing his letter to Gaius, John was exiled to Patmos. This was a small island just off the coast of Asia Minor near Ephesus. It was in this setting one Lord’s Day that he was in a type of supernatural out-of-body state. An angel (heavenly messenger) came to him with a revelation from Christ.
The revelation which was a prophecy from Christ consisted of “things which must shortly take place.” Since man’s concept of time is different from that of God, “shortly” probably referred to events that have now already occurred and to others that may not happen until the end of time. The purpose of this revelation was/is to encourage Christians in the time of persecution—that ultimately the Lord’s church will be victorious over the adversities of life.
John addressed Revelation to the seven churches of Asia. There were more than those seven churches at the time, so the principles stated applied to all other congregations of the universal church of Christ, both present and future.
The apostle began his letter by identifying himself and greeting the seven churches which are in Asia. He informed them that his message was actually from God who is eternal, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead (first to rise and never die).
John gave a brief description of man’s blessings from Christ and a glimpse of His second coming. He then related Christ’s description of His own eternal existence.
Following his introductory remarks, John began describing the vision that he had experienced on that Lord’s Day. He first heard a voice that sounded like a loud trumpet. Through that voice, Christ identified the Asian churches and instructed him to write what he was about to see in a book and to send it to them.
When he turned to see the source of the sound, John saw “One like the Son of Man” standing among seven golden lampstands representing the seven churches. The Form which he saw represented Christ amid His church. Its characteristics represented the glory and power of the Son of God. The seven stars in His right hand represented the messengers or ministers of the churches.