The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Did the Apostle John write the book of Revelation?


There was much dispute about the book of Revelation in the early church. It was the last book of the Bible to be accepted as part of the Christian canon of Scripture. In the Eastern branch of the Church, distrust of Revelation persisted until the 15th century.

Early church tradition puts the time that the book was written as being at the end of Domitian’s reign. That would be A.D. 96. Though early church tradition also assigns the authorship to the apostle John, it is unlikely that John would have been still alive at that date.

Another factor to be noted, is that the author of Revelation states 4 times in the book that his name is “John.” Rev 1:1, 1:4, 1:9, and 22:8.

However, in the two books known to have been written by the apostle John, that is, the gospel of John and 1 John, John never mentions his name. And the author of 2 and 3 John refers to himself simply as “the elder.” The word “John” does not occur even once in 1, 2, or 3 John, and in its occurrence John’s gospel, it never refers to the author.


Not a popular view, but it was quite common to claim to be someone you are not, in order to get your ideas taken seriously. Not unlike today, really. However, doing that today with someone currently living is much harder to pull off. Back then, it would have been far easier.


:question: The word John <Ἰωάννῃ> and its various parsings appears no less than 22 across the Gospel of John.


The Days of Vengeance by David Chilton…

Although the author’s identity has been much debated, there is really no reason to doubt that he was the same St. John who wrote the Fourth Gospel, as the virtually unanimous testimony of the early Church affirms. He identifies himself simply as “John” (1:1, 4,9; 21:2; 22:8), apparently assuming that he will be recognized by his first-century audience on the basis of his name alone; and he writes in an authoritative, “apostolic” style, not to individuals merely, but to the Church. Taking into account the Church’s highly organized government, which existed from its inception, it is unlikely that any but a recognized apostle could have written in this manner. In addition, there are numerous points of resemblance between the Revelation and the Gospel of John. Even a cursory glance reveals several expressions (e.g. Lamb of God, Word, and witness) which are common only to the Gospel of John and the Revelation; no other New Testament writer uses these terms in the same way. Austin Farrer draws attention to a number of stylistic similarities between the Gospel and Revelation: Both books are arranged in series of “sevens”; both are structured in terms of the Biblical/heavenly liturgy and festive calendar; and both books use numbers in a symbolic sense that transcends their literal significance (this is obvious in Revelation; cf. John 2:6, 19-20; 5:2, 5; 6:7, 9, 13; 8:57; 13:38; 19:14, 23; 21:11, 14, 15-17). Pg. 1-2


Is Chilton’s book a good one?


It is excellent… the guy was not a full prêterist when he wrote this, i.e., in this book he holds to a good dash of futurism, but when I read it (1990) I was without knowing it myself then a partial prêterist. I author is now dead, but he came to embrace the more FULL position later on and acknowledged that had someone pointed out the logical conclusions of some of his positions in the book he’d have come to move forward in his thinking much earlier than he did. Either way, it is a full of some interesting stuff. There are free PDF versions of it online.


Thanks. That must be a big PDF, I think I’ll get it.


From my years as a Theology professor, I routinely received the latest NT Introductions in the publisher’s hope that I’d use theirs as college text book. Not one claimed the John the son of Zebedee is the author of Revelation. Papias (60-130 AD) was in contact with what the immediate disciples of he apostle said about their apostle mentor’s teaching. He reports that James and John the sons of Zebedee had been martyred, but was in direct contact with 2 of Jesus’ disciples, John the Elder and Aristion, both of whom were still alive, but neither of whom was 1 of the 12. Because the author of 2-3 John calls himself “the Elder,” he is likely the John the Elder who communicates with Papias. Because there is a common style shared by the 4th Gospel and 1-3 John, John the Elder is probably the author/ editor of the 4th Gospel as well.
The Greek style of Revelation is so different from the 4th Gospel and 1-3 John that modern scholars dismiss claims that Revelation has the same author. Yet John the Seer seems to have once been Palestinian. His Greek is so bad that it seems to be his 2nd language, Aramaic probably being his native tongue. So modern NT scholars recognize 3 different Johns instead of 1 .

This comes as no surprise once it is recognized that the Church early Fathers tend to conflate different NT figures: e. g. Philip the Evangelist with 4 prophetess daughters with Philip the Apostle and Mary Magdalene with Martha’s sister Mary as well as with the prostitute of Luke 7:36-50 who anoints Jesus with expensive perfume just as Martha’s sister Mary does.


Here are some other viewpoints and discussions:


I regret that slip. The only excuse I have is my age. I am scheduled to be 81 next month.
In fact, I noticed it myself when I was going over my printed statement to share in Sunday School.
I have now corrected it in my post.


The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation


Got it! Thanks.


All good… you had me confused though and I had to read your sentence a few times just to make sure I was reading it right :slight_smile:


I think Revelation was written early and by John but I don’t think that is any proof of preterism.


Good tip. I’ve been reading it; I think it’s safe to say that the guy is detail-oriented. Points out things I’d not have seen otherwise. Educational.


The very fact that you all are discussing this is interesting…:roll_eyes:


Toward the end of Revelation , John has a vision where he sees Jesus as the Word but in the gospel of John he calls Jesus the Word very early in John 1 , so it seems to me that chronologically the vision would come first and then John believes the vision and opens his gospel using that description of Jesus.
So IMO this is an indication Revelation was written first, probably in the 60s and then John used that understanding from Rev 19 to open his gospel with that same language.


Chapter and verse, please.


That’s an interesting thought, Steve.

However, the writer of Revelation ALSO seems to distinguish “The word of God” from Jesus in the following verses:

Re 1:2 who bore witness to the word of God AND to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
Re 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God AND the testimony of Jesus.
Re 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus AND for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.


Rev 19:13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Cf Jn 1:1, 14