Revelation 1:9-20 provides witness to the beginning of John’s encounter with Jesus. Through this vision, John experiences the majesty of Jesus, his presence as Emmanuel continually with his people, his priestly identity, his holiness, the authority of his word, and his access to the overcoming of death. In his explanation, John begins by communicating empathy with those suffering for their faith as he explains how this letter is a result of similar distress in his own life on Patmos—an isolated prison colony where he suffers for his faithfulness to the spread of the Gospel. Those suffering, as such, are to be seen as the primary audience for John’s first vision.
John’s vision is a prophetic experience that occurred while he was “in the Spirit.” The effects of John’s relationship with (and baptism in) the Holy Spirit were fully realized here. Though he certainly had been living in the power of the Spirit prior to this experience, it manifested during this period of time like never before or after in his life.
Because John’s experience is a prophetic one, it is a revelation of Jesus. Following the Ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church at Pentecost. Throughout the book of Acts, the Bible is consistent in stating that Jesus is the one who baptizes believers in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, consequently, serves as a minister in lives to reveal Jesus continually to them. Just as the Spirit did for John through the prophetic visions recorded in Revelation, so he does to all believers, as they trust in Jesus. Being a believer (having a relationship with God the Father, being saved by Jesus his Son, and having the Holy Spirit dwelling within) means that Jesus will reveal himself through the working of the Holy Spirit.
Prophecy is one of several supernatural gifts given by the Holy Spirit that may be received when Jesus baptizes people in the Spirit. It is a gift that allows the recipient to understand spiritual reality and communicate it effectively with a given audience. It is never for the recipient only but always for the edification of the church. It also must be understood that prophecy is never merely about the future (though it often includes future-oriented promises and/or warnings); first and foremost, prophecy is about the absolute. Finally, it must be seen as something real and certain, despite its often symbolic and mysterious language. These aspects of prophecy must be accounted in a responsible interpretation of Revelation.