Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: the book of Revelation

Who was “John the Revelator”?

It has become common in some Christian circles to speak of the writer of the book of Revelation as being “John the Revelator.” Who was this guy?

This nom de plume seems to have originated with German Bible scholars of the 19th century who approached the Bible as literature, simply a series of writings produced by human understanding and imagination. For instance, in studying the book of Daniel, they concluded there must have been two authors. The first six chapters were no doubt written by a man named Daniel who lived in the time of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. But the rest, especially chapter eight which contains a thinly veiled description of the conquests of Alexander the Great, the division of his kingdom into four parts and the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, could not possibly have been known by this Daniel who had lived centuries before the events he described. Therefore there must have been a second “Daniel” who wrote after those events.

After studying the book of Revelation, they concluded that the writer had done a masterful job of blending elements of Daniel and Ezekiel with current events. He had spun a wonderful yarn, but they had no idea who the writer could be. He called himself John, but they could not connect him to anyone named John who was known to have lived in that time period. It could not be the apostle John, for his writing style and choice of words did not match those found in the gospel and epistles of John the apostle. So why not just call him “John the Revelator”?

I suppose that all makes sense to those who do not believe in a God who had any part in the events described in the Bible, or in the writing of it. For those who believe that God was very much involved in all of that, there are immense problems with the idea of “John the Revelator.”

The first verse of the book of Revelation identifies it as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which . . . was signified by his angel unto his servant, John.” This revelation was given to John, not by John, therefore it cannot be correct to speak of him as “the Revelator.”

Secondly. if we believe that John actually saw Jesus as he is described in chapter one, standing in the midst of seven candlesticks, his feet glowing as molten brass, his eyes as flames of fire and a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth, it is not hard to believe that his writing style would change.

If we believe that John the apostle actually saw everything he records in the Revelation, it is entirely inappropriate to follow the lead of unbelieving scholars and call him “John the Revelator.” Why don’t we just call him “the Apostle John”?

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