In Revelation 1:9, the apostle John described some of the circumstances surrounding his writing of what we now know as the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible: “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus.”
Let’s consider John’s geographical surroundings. Patmos is a tiny island in the Aegean Sea. Ten miles by six miles at its longest and widest points yet possessing such an irregular coastline it is a mere 25 square miles, Patmos is positioned about 37 miles southwest of Miletus, an ancient coastal city in the province of Asia. Patmos was one of the many remote and desolate locations where the Romans placed those they wished to banish.
Why was John on this island? In the statement we have quoted above, he said he was there “because of God’s word and the testimony about Jesus” (v. 9). John had faithfully preached the gospel for many decades—ever since Jesus had ascended to heaven to be with His Father. Now it was near the end of the 1st century, and John was an old man. An early church leader named Eusebius wrote that the Emperor Domitian sent John to Patmos in AD 95 and released him one and a half years later. During that time, God gave him a vision of the end times, and John recorded what he saw. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is that written record.
Patmos was practically deserted during the Middle Ages, but near the end of the 20th century it had a population of about 2,000. In 2011 its population was just over 3,000. Today the island is under the jurisdiction of Greece.