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An additional argument for the identity of St. John with the writer of the Apocalypse is derivable from the use of peculiar words. The word aprior which occurs so frequently in the Apocalypse, (a word seldom used in the LXX.) is found no where else in the New Testament, except in the Gospel of St. John." The form of expression ποιειν αληθειαν and ποιειν ψεύδος is used Apoc. xxii. 15, and in the first Epistle of St. John i. 6. Further, in Apoc. i. 7, there is a quotation from Zechariah xii. 10, not according to the text of the LXX, but with a different reading, used by St. John when he saw Christ pierced on the cross, but quoted by no other of the sacred writers. "+
Lardner reinforces this argument. Our Saviour says to his disciples, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Christian firmness under trials is several times represented by "overcoming, overcoming the world, or overcoming the wicked one," in St. John's first Epistle. And it is language peculiar to St. John's writings in the New Testament. Our Lord says, " To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father on his throne."||
Further instances of similarity of phrase may be found in Mill's Proleg. No. 176, 177.-Wells— Beausobre, and L'Enfant preface sur l'Apocalypse.
The argument is still stronger where there is an identity of thought as well as of phrase. St. John in the Gospel is remarkable for habitually appealing to the evidence of the eye. "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory." Again; when the soldier pierced our Lord's side. "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true."**
Chap. xxi. 15.
Chap. ii. 13, 14.-iv. 4.-v. 4. 5. Chap. ii. 7, 11, 17, 26.-iii. 5, 12, 21, and xxi. 7. ¶ Chap. i. 14. ** Chap. xix. 35.
Michaelis, vol. iv. p. 535. § Rev. iii. 21.
Again; his first Epistle commences with, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled of the Word of Life. For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness."
Again; "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things."* Nothing like this frequency and force of appeal to personal cognizance is to be found in the other sacred writers.
But the Apocalypse bears the same characteristic on its front. It is declared to have been sent and signified to John, "Who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw."
An additional argument for the identity of the writers may exist in the verses at the close of the Gospel and beginning of the Apocalypse. "This is. the disciple which testifieth of those things (o uaprvpwv,) and wrote those things, and we know that his testimony (μaprupta) is true."+
"He sent and signified it to his servant John, who bare record of the word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things which he saw." (Os εμαρτύρησε τον λογον του Θεου και την μαρτυριαν.§) This expression is repeated, when the writer describes himself as "John, their companion in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, of the Isle called Patmos, for (dia, on account of) the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Tov 2o7ov του Θεου και την μαρτυριαν.) The identity of expression in these three passages of the original seems to imply, that the second had a direct reference to the first, and that the third assigns the fact of St. John's writing the Gospel as a ground of his exile. The connexion runs
Gospel, xxi. 24. § Apoc. i. 2.
† Chap. i. 2.
John xxi. 24. ¶ Chap. i. 9.
thus. In the close of the Gospel, St. John declares himself to have been an eye-witness of our Lord's ministry, and to have been the writer of the history. In the commencement of the Apocalypse, he declares himself to be one who had given his evidence "to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." A few verses further, he declares that he was banished to Patmos on account of having given this evidence to the "word of God and testimony of Jesus."
The usual way of interpreting the verse at the commencement* is, that the writer is merely intending to express his having given a faithful account in the Apocalypse. But this is overthrown by the 9th verse, which states, that it is in consequence of "the testimony," &c. that he has been exiled. It refers to something previous to the Apocalypse. It is true, that "the word and testimony" sometimes express merely the doctrine. But the peculiarity of their use by St. John in the very places where we should look for them, if it were his purpose to state himself the writer of both, makes the evidence nearly conclusive. And there would be a value in the identification. It must. have been important to the general acceptance of the Apocalypse by the early Churches, that it should be known as the work of an Apostle.
It is unnecessary to multiply discussion on this point. Yet there is one argument, which, so far as I can observe, has been altogether overlooked; and which, as it offers an explanation of a passage hitherto baffling all interpretation, and even giving rise to one of the oldest and most curious misconceptions in Christian history, may be worth proposing.
In our Lord's interview with the Apostles,† perhaps his last, he declared to Peter that he should die a violent death. Peter turning and seeing John, the favoured disciple, inquired what death he too should
* Apoc. i. 2.
† John xxi. 18, &c.
die. "Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" This has been generally taken simply as a rebuke, and such it may have in some measure been, though the inquiry may have proceeded as much from friendship as from curiosity. But the disciples, who heard the words and saw the countenance of the Divine Speaker, evidently took it for more, for a prophecy, a new miracle, by which John was to be immortal. "Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die." St. John, in writing of this many years after, does not contradict the idea of its having been a prophecy; he merely objects to the interpretation as urged too far. "Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till Í come, what is that to thee?" At that coming, St. John evidently understands, that he was to die.
The commentators have conceived that our Lord here spoke of his "coming," at the siege of Jerusalem. But words like his are not to be taken in so loose a way; for St. John long survived that date. He wrote his Gospel nearly thirty years after the siege, without allusion to that date. But at the very time of his writing the Gospel, he was on the eve of receiving a Revelation, in which it was declared that our Lord was "coming," and that his advent was to punish and purify the Asiatic Churches by withdrawing the protection which had hitherto saved them from the pågan sword. The Apocalypse opens with the announcement of this "coming." 29 It closes with the declaration, "Surely I come quickly." The writer responds, like one who felt that it was to be the termination of life and the beginning of happiness, "Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen."
It has been supposed that the "coming" applied
* Hammond, Stanhope, Lightfoot.
merely to the general fates of Christianity. But this must be wrong; for the prophecy of the future, the ta μenoura, is distinguished in the strongest manner, by location, circumstances, and even by the peculiar solemnity of its declaration, from that of the Asiatic. Churches, to all and each of which the threat is repeated, that the Lord is coming quickly to them, and that his coming should let loose the pagan persecutor upon them. Thus, to the Church of Ephesus, he says, "Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to thee quickly."* To Pergamus, "Repent or else I will come to the quickly." And so of others. But to the Church of Philadelphia, the declaration is, that, in consequence of her purity, she shall be protected under her trial. "I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world." This proves that the persecution was to be immediate and local, as regulated by the degrees of impurity in the several Churches. It was finally to visit every Church of the Roman empire, then looked on as equivalent to the world.
And the history is conformable. The Apocalypse is stated to have been made public (about A. D. 97,) in the reign of Nerva.t That Emperor died in 98; and, from the accession of Trajan, the great persecution had begun in Asia Minor, one year after the publication of the prophecy. In two years from that time (A. D. 100) St. John died. Thus then would be, at once, substantiated the identity of the writers of the Gospel and the Apocalypse; and would be cleared
*Apoc. ii. 5.
* Lardner, vol. vi. p. 638.
Jerome, in his book "Of Illustrious Men," says, "The Apostle John lived in Asia in the time of Trajan, and dying at a great age in the 68th year after our Lord's passion, was buried in the city of Ephesus." Supposing the crucifixion to have been in the year 32 (Jerome's opinion,) 68 years will reach to the year 100, or 3d of Trajan, in which year the death of St. John is placed by Jerome in his Chronicle. Lardner, vol. vi. p. 169.