What does “I was in the Spirit” in Revelation 1:10 mean?

In this article, I want to answer the question I was asked about the passage in Revelation 1:10, in which is the expression “I was in the Spirit.”

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.  (Revelation 1:10 NASB)

In Revelation 1, the apostle John relates his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and he says in verse 9:

I, John, your brother and fellow participant in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet. (Revelation 1:9-10 NASB)

So, regarding the Lord’s Day, a specific day is not specified here, so that we can say that it was Sunday or that it was a Sabbath day, but we can assume this, because the Christians of that time also worshiped on the Sabbath day, because many of them were Jews and this day was kept for worship, which was later changed to Sunday. This day celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who rose on the first day of the week, which is Sunday.

I think the above question is more about this “I was in the Spirit” state. To understand this expression well I want to follow several biblical passages. Immediately after John mentioned that “he was in the Spirit,” he says he heard “a loud voice, like the sound of a trumpet.” So, immediately follows an extraordinary spiritual revelation, which the apostle John never saw again.

The next place we see this expression is:

 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and someone was sitting on the throne. (Revelation 4:2 NASB)

If what is written in chapter 1 is a spiritual revelation, that he has seen the Lord Jesus Christ, it was in a way that he has never seen before and no one has since seen him as described in chapter 1. In chapter 4 the state of things in heaven is revealed to John, he sees the throne in heaven, the 24 thrones, he describes all the atmosphere he sees in heaven.

The next chapter where we see the given expression is:

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3 NASB)

Here again the apostle John describes spiritual things. In all these passages you have noticed that it is a state of being, when exceptional spiritual things are revealed to John that he has never seen before, as he describes them.

The following passage from the Bible is from Matthew 22:41-44:

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question:  “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,‘The Lord said to my Lord,“Sit at My right hand,Until I put Your enemies under Your feet”’?

Here the Lord Jesus refers to the condition of David, in which he was then, and says that he was in the Spirit, so God revealed to him a truth which was hidden, it was a mystery forever to men. But God revealed to them through the Spirit of David that the Lord Jesus is both with God and that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.

God made things known in the future through the apostle John, who then wrote the book of Revelation. For those who are interested in studying about things that will happen, you can purchase the inductive Bible study manual Revelation, which is studied in 4 parts. For more details contact the number (+373) 67629102.

Then another passage is Acts 10:10-33:

But he became hungry and wanted to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and on it were all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the sky. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”…

Here is described the revelation that the apostle Peter had, when he rose on the roof to eat and fell into a rapture. There Peter saw many unclean animals, and he was invited to eat from them. 3 times he saw the same vision. Then Peter resisted, saying that he could not eat of them, and God said to him, “What I have sanctified you shall not call unclean.” After this vision, the people from Cornelius came and called him to come to them. In this way God made an exceptional revelation to him through the Holy Spirit, which no one had understood until then. Why did God give in the Old Testament this law concerning clean and unclean animals, and now by this vision God revealed to them by the Holy Spirit that all this separation between clean and unclean animals was a shadow of a future thing, namely, that the Jews they were separated from the Gentiles. But now, through the Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel had the same power and both Jews and Gentiles had access to it.

The following passage is from 2 Corinthians 12:2-4:

I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

Here again we see a revelation, a spiritual discovery. Deep spiritual truths are revealed to man, which are not normally revealed to all people.

So, John had such a state in Revelation 1:10 when he says that “I was in the Spirit”, it is a state in which deep things were revealed to him, which then through these people were transmitted to us, on which God has allowed us to know.

For example, in Paul’s case, he says that he heard some words that are not allowed for a man to utter. The spiritual world we know, of course, is limited, we are to know it when we enter the Kingdom of God, when we are transformed, when we are resurrected in the spiritual bodies, when we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, then we will know the spiritual things fully and we will not cease to marvel at these revelations.

Now, as the apostle Paul said in the Epistle to 1 Corinthians, we see in a mirror a dim face. Nowadays the mirror does not show you a dim face, but at that time you did not see well in the mirror, because it was made of a piece of polished silver. This is how we see spiritual things, we do not see them clearly yet. But when it is this state in which the people of God, the prophets, were, profound spiritual truths are revealed which they then transmitted to us.

Here you can access articles on the same topic:

  1.  Is the Revelation True? 
  2. About the importance of studying the book of Revelation 
  3. When will the second beast of Revelation 13: 11-17 be active? 

Translated by Nicoleta Vicliuc