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John On Patmos
by Wayne Blank
"The isle that is called Patmos"
And so it was that John, the "apostle that Jesus loved," (John 21:20), who was given the responsibility of caring for Mary the mother of Jesus Christ for the rest of her life after the Jesus' Crucifixion (John 19:26-27, see also Aunt Mary?), and who wrote the Gospel of John (John 21:24), found himself exiled on Patmos. There, he had one more important job to do.
The island of Patmos is today part of Greece. It is located among the Sporades group of islands in The Aegean Sea near the west coast of Turkey. It is a relatively small member of the group, measuring only about 6 by 10 miles / 10 by 16 kilometers, with a very irregular coastline.
The Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome) used Patmos, and numerous other legally remote (i.e. where the prisoners had no legal rights but were held indefinitely without charge or trial, subject solely to the whim of the Roman emperor) bases like it as a place for political or religious prisoners (similar in purpose to the modern-day "detainee" concentration camp run by the US in communist Cuba during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars). According to Eusebius, John was sent to Patmos in the year 95 by the Roman emperor Domitian (see New Testament Roman Emperors), but was released less than 2 years later. Since he, and all of The Twelve Apostles were roughly the same age as Jesus, John would by that time have been well over 90 years old - making him very likely the only apostle to survive to old age. All the rest were martyred (see Martyrs) much earlier (see What Happened To The Apostles?).
Fact Finder: While on Patmos, the apostle John was given to write the Apocalypse. What does "Apocalypse" mean?