PHI 1163 ACTS AND THE EPISTLES
The description of the Book of Revelation as “the strangest book of the New Testament” could be the reason for the general neglect that is afforded it today. Such neglect did not characterize the earliest history of the book.
Currently there is a general tendency to identify the book as Revelations as there are multiple revelations in the book. This is not the case. The book is the Revelation of Christ to John. The definition of the term “revelation” is to reveal, as in pulling back a curtain to show or bring to light the subject, in this case Jesus Christ. This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, bringing to light the truth about Jesus. When tempted to refer to it as Revelations please remember it is the revealing of Jesus Christ to the readers, a wonderful and glorious source of the truth of Jesus; his revealing to all who will listen. The Revelation of Jesus Christ in his glory, the Savior who is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords! His Revelation to you.
The early recognition of the book is not surprising, considering the fact that it was originally addressed, and presumably sent to seven Asiatic churches, which would ensure an initial circulation over a considerable area. Moreover, its message possessed such a general application that it would readily spread its influence beyond the boundaries of Asia.
In all probability, it was known during the period of the Apostolic Fathers, although not all scholars are prepared to admit that the parallels with works such as The Shepherd of Hermes or those of Barnabas and Ignatius are sufficient to prove acquaintance with the book. The parallels that exist between the works and the presence of many common images in use by the writers do not prove the existence of mutual recognition.
In the period subsequent to the Apostolic Fathers, the position was very different, for there is clear attestation of circulation over a wide area. Justin knew the book and attributed it to the Apostle John and considerable weight must be attached to his witness. Mileto, who was bishop of Sardis, apparently wrote a treatise on the Apocalypse of John. In the Syrian church, it was equally well known and respected for Theophilis of Antioch cites it. Irenaeus explicitly cites it as by John, a disciple of the Lord, whom he already meant to identify with the Apostle. Since he also mentions ancient copies of the book, it is clear that he knew of its circulation at a much earlier time. The Muratorian Canon shows no doubts existed over the Apocalypse in the Roman church towards the end of the second century.
Although the author calls himself only John, it was traditionally assumed that John was the apostle, so consideration of the evidence supporting this opinion will be given to the case for John’s authorship prior to alternatives.
1. External evidence. In the second and early third centuries, the following writers clearly witness to their belief in apostolic authorship: Justin Clement, Origen, Tertullian, and Hippolytus. They assume it without discussion. So strong is this evidence that it is difficult to believe they all made a mistake in confusing the John of the Apocalypse with John the Apostle. If all of this evidence is due to a mistake, it would be an extraordinarily widespread case of mistaken identity,.
Dionysius, a great influence in the Eastern church, compared the Apocalypse to the gospel of John and concluded it was unlikely the same individual could not be responsible for both works. His conclusion is subjective in nature not considering ancient testimony and requiring the existence of “another John.”
2. Internal evidence. Although the book does not claim to be written by John the Apostle, there are considerations which are difficult to explain unless the author were the Apostle John. He is clearly known by the name John to the seven Asiatic churches and is fully acquainted with the history of each church. He...
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