Posts Tagged ‘John the Revelator’

Was John the only one who was not to taste of death until a certain time in the far future? What about Enoch? Die he ever taste of death? We know he “walked with God.” We know “God took him.” But what does that mean?

At a time when everyone seemed to be living 700 to 900 or more years (incredible as that sounds), we know that Enoch only lived 365 years.

On the other hand, his son, Methuselah, was the oldest living man on record, dying at the ripe old age of 969 years. So, Enoch’s lifespan of 365 years needs to have an asterisk associated with it.

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Gen. 5:21-24.)

Paul, several thousand years later, knew of this and testified to the Hebrew saints:

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:5-6.)

By inference, we may postulate that John was also translated “that he should not see death,” that he might “tarry” until the coming of Jesus in power and great glory. It appears that John and Enoch still had things to do for God on earth that required their “living” presence.

By this, I mean, that for whatever reason, John and Enoch needed their corporeal bodies to continue God’s work on earth, which they no longer would have had, had they died. Of course, those bodies would need to incur some sort of change so they would not die. Hence, we have translation, whatever that entails.

While it is not specifically mentioned as a translation, it appears that Elijah, and perhaps Moses as well, were translated. Elijah, according to the reports, was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind, while “there appeared a chariot of fire” to distract Elisha from seeing him taken away. (See II Kings 2:1-11.)

We also know that the burial place of Moses was never found, although it is said that he died and was buried by the Lord. (See Deuteronomy 34:5-6.) Still, we have no proof of that.

It is not so much important that Elijah and Moses were translated, but rather that it be understood that translation was a known fact among the early apostles.

While the word “translation” was not mentioned in the context of John, the circumstances surrounding his tarrying and Enoch’s translation are too close to consider mere coincidence. It is therefore my belief and contention that John the Beloved was translated that he might not taste of death so he could perform a special mission for Christ, as outlined in the Book of Revelation.

The question may then be asked: If John and others were indeed translated, does that mean they’ll never have to die? The short answer is, “No.”

Remember, Jesus did not say that John, for instance, should not die, only that he was to tarry. Paul also talked about death in his discourse on the resurrection:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22; emphasis mine.)

Here, we see that Paul made no exceptions for translated beings. And we know he was aware of them.

I suspect that the deaths of translated beings will be short and quick, as those Paul mentioned a few verses later:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52.)

In summary, John was beloved of Jesus; an apostle and special witness of Jesus Christ, his works and mission; a prophet; a great revelator; and a lover of all mankind. He was translated in order to continue his work among the children of men.

We would all do well to emulate this great man.


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According to Biblical tradition, it is suggested that John the beloved apostle (i.e., Revelator) never died. Instead, he was to remain on earth until the Savior was to come again. The Lord spoke of this to his chosen disciples (i.e., apostles):

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:27.)

While this is not specific to John, Mark also reported this saying but added more substance to what Luke reported:

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1.)

Of course, the kingdom of God had already come in the person of Jesus Christ and he certainly demonstrated power. But he did not come in power. Quite the contrary. He came as a little suckling child . . . in a lowly manger. That’s about as humble an entrance as one could imagine.

However, Jesus’ coming in power would not come until a much later date. This is verified when the Lord spoke to his apostles of his second coming:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28.)

However, the same problem exists in all three verses by the thee different authors and that is the use of the word “some.” “Some” would imply there would be more than one amongst his audience who would not taste of death.

The other problem here is that all the apostles’ deaths are accounted for—all except for John. Of course, both problems would be overcome were there more than the twelve apostles present. But a previous, more intimate conversation earlier in Matthew 16, would indicate Jesus was alone with his chosen twelve.

On the other hand, Mark 8:34 indicates that other people were present during this major pronouncement:

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

There is no indication between this verse and Mark 9:1 that Jesus had separated his disciples from the crowd. However, the passage in Luke, while reporting on the same conversation as in Matthew 16, was very clear that Jesus had separated the twelve and was speaking to them privately.

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? (Luke 9:18.)

So, when it comes right down to it, we’re left with the same conundrum of the usage of the word “some” in this great, if not shocking, pronouncement regarding the prolonging of death for “some.”

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Greek#5100), the word for “some” in all three of these instances is tis. Strictly speaking, tis means “some or any person or object.”

Therefore, we could easily say that ”some”, in these three instances, means “some person standing here shall not taste of death until . . .”

The translators of the King James Version of the Bible applied any number of different meanings to tis in various places, including, but not limited to, “somebody” and “something.” Therefore, it is my conclusion, for better or for worse, that tis in these three instances, is referring to “some person” rather than “some”, as in many.

On the other hand, we have the problem of the use of “they” in verse 28, referring back to the use of “some” previously. There could be several reasons for this:

  1. Jesus never did say either “some” or “they”; and the translators just took some liberty.
  2. The translators were merely matching “they” with their interpretation of tis as “some”.
  3. There really was more than one person who was not to taste of death until Christ was to come in power.

Regarding option 3, Luke 9:18 would seem to eliminate that prospect. So, we’re left with either option 1 or 2 to consider.

Nevertheless, regardless of what the authors meant, it was up to impetuous Peter to drag a little more information out of Jesus regarding this not-tasting-of-death business.

It seems obvious that something was different about John, or Peter wouldn’t have bothered to ask what he did. And here we find the best evidence yet that it was John who would not taste of death:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
This is the disciple [meaning himself; i.e., John] which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:20-24.)

The Greek word for “tarry” is mĕnō, meaning “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). mĕnō has been translated variously as “abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand” (ibid.)—all meaning pretty much the same thing.

Thus we can see that Jesus had in mind that John, in some state of being, would be present, presumably on earth, until such time he would return in glory. And this is not without precedent.

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Where the authorship of The Revelation is under some dispute, at least among modern-day scholars, the approximate date it was received is far less in doubt. Following is another sampling of twentieth century Biblical scholars:

As regards to the church’s tradition in the matter, the following facts are known: (a) A diversity of dates was suggested for the book by late writers, including the reigns of Claudius (41-54), Nero (54-68), and Trajan (98-117). Certainly it does not commend these dates that they were proposed only by late writers like Epiphanius, Jerome, and others of the fourth and later centuries and on inconclusive evidence or none. . . . (b) The earlier church writers converged on a date in the reign of Domitian (81-96); such appears to be the united testimony of Melito of Sardis, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus, and Eusebius—church fathers ranging from the second to the fourth century. Jerome, too, knew of this tradition.
A number of modern scholars, rejecting both sets of early tradition, have attempted to establish a date in the reign of Vespasian (69-79) . . . (The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, p. 60.)

On the whole, the Damitianic date appears to accord the best with the thesis of Revelation and with the contemporary condition of the church as represented in it. While it is not impossible that churches other than those mentioned in either the Acts or the Pauline letters existed in the province of Asia as early as the reign of Nero or of Vespasian, it is unlikely that the church had by such an early period reached the low moral and spiritual ebb reflected in Rev. 2-3. . . . Then, too, the attitude of the church toward the Empire had undergone great change from the earlier one reflected in Mark 12:17; Rom. 13:1; and even in I Pet. 2:13-17. Domitian strenuously insisted on the recognition of the divinity of the imperial line and by his day emperor-worship was the one universal cultus in Asia Minor, the one sort of pagan worship which is portrayed in Revelation as intolerable (cf. 13:11-18). Moreover, the Nero Redivivus theory in the developed form in which this figure is seen combining in his own person the characteristics of Beliar and the Antichrist . . . is found in Revelation (17:8-11; cf. 13:1ff)—a fact that which argues for a late date and most likely the reign of Domitian. Finally, a late date is suggested for the book if—as it seems—John employed a number of other NT books in searching for materials for his own (e.g., Matthew, Luke, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, I Peter, and James). (ibid, p.61.)

The generally agreed date of Revelation is in the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96). . . (The Family Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 17, p. 3216.)

The date of the Revelation is given by the great majority of critics as A.D. 95-97. Irenaeus says: ‘It [i.e., the Revelation] was seen no very long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the close of Domitian’s reign.’ Eusebius also records that, in the persecution under Domitian, John the apostle and evangelist was banished to the island Patmos for his testimony of the divine word. There is no mention in any writer of the first three centuries of any other time or place, and the style in which the messages to the Seven Churches are delivered rather suggests the notion that the book was written in Patmos. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 563.)

The interesting thing here is that even among the early church fathers, it was recognized that

1. This Revelation was given to the apostle John; and
2. It was given at a time long after the last of the other apostles of Jesus Christ had died. In other words, John was the last living apostle on the face of the earth.

This is also interesting because of the claim of the Mother Church that Peter was the last of the living apostles. However, according to most Biblical scholars, it is believed that Peter died a martyr for the cause of Christ in Rome circa 64 or 65 A.D.

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Who was this John, the writer of the Book of Revelation? We know he was exiled on a small penal colony on the Isle of Patmos for his testimony of Jesus Christ. Was he John, the beloved apostle, or John Mark, or some other John, known or unknown to modern Christendom?

Modern-day Biblical scholars, so-called, continue to quibble over who the writer of The Revelation was. However, it is generally accepted by most Christians that he was the apostle whom Jesus loved. Modern Bible scholars choose to believe otherwise.

Following is a representative sampling of what scholars of the twentieth century have said of John:

. . . from the beginning of the church’s history much speculation has been rife about him. It was the almost universal belief of the ancient church from the middle of the second century that the author was the apostle John. Justin and Hippolytus at Rome, Tertullian in North Africa, Clement and Origen of Alexandria, Irenaeus of Lyons, all spoke of this John as one of the Lord’s apostles (or disciples). Modern scholarship, however, has remained unconvinced, preferring to identify the John of Revelation rather with John Mark, John the Elder, an otherwise unknown John, or a pseudonymous writer claiming for his work the prestige attaching to the name of the apostle. (The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, p. 60.)

. . . it cannot be said that John the seer of Revelation has been identified with any known John in the first century of the church’s life. There must have been many Christians of this name in those early days, and there is no internal proof that the church’s tradition identifying the seer with the apostle of the same name is correct. We know the John of Revelation only as the seer or prophet and shepherd that he claims to be. (ibid.)

. . . the author could have been one of several people having the common name John (JOHN THE APOSTLE; JOHN THE BELOVED DISCIPLE; JOHN THE DIVINE). (The Family Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 17, p. 3216, Curtis Books, Inc., New York, 1972.)

And lastly:

Was St. John the apostle and evangelist the writer of the Revelation? The evidence adduced in support of his being the author consists of (1) the assertions of the author, and (2) historical tradition. (1) The author’s description of himself in the 1st and 22d chapters is certainly equivalent to an assertion that he is the apostle. He names himself simply John, without prefix or addition. He is also described as a servant of Christ, one who had borne testimony as an eye-witness of the word of God and the testimony of Christ. He is in Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. He is also a fellow sufferer with those whom he addresses, and the authorized channel of the most direct and important communication that was ever made to the Seven Churches of Asia, of which churches John the apostle was at that time the spiritual governor and teacher. Lastly, the writer was a fellow servant of angels and a brother of prophets. All these marks are found united in the apostle John, and in him alone of all historical persons. (2) A long series of writers testify to St. John’s authorship. Justin Martyr (cir. 150 A.D.), Eusebius, Irenaeus (A.D. 195), Clement of Alexandria (about 200), Tertullian (207), Origen (233). All the foregoing writers, testifying that the book came from an apostle, believed that it was part of Holy Scripture. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, pp. 562-563, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984.)

So, what it comes down to is this:

  1. We have modern-day Biblical scholars, who lived some two thousand years after the fact, arguing over who did and who did not write The Revelation; and
  2. We have near contemporary Christian authors’ assertions that John, the beloved apostle, wrote The Revelation.

Who am I therefore to believe? Who would you believe?

Setting my own prejudices aside, I would still have to believe the near contemporaries who were closer to the situation than our modern-day scholars. One would have to believe their knowledge exceeds the knowledge of those up to two thousand years removed. At least, I am convinced.

Therefore, it is my conclusion that John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, was indeed the author of the Book of Revelation.

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