Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Who Wrote Revelation?

"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John" (Revelation 1:1)

The proper title of the book we shall study this month is The Revelation of Jesus Christ, not The Revelation of John or the book of Revelations (plural). It is also properly called the book of Revelation (singular), or simply Revelation. The human author of this book identifies himself as John.

Who is this John? The author does not call himself the apostle John, but from earliest times the church has held to the tradition that he was the apostle, the same man who wrote the gospel of John and the epistles of John. We also have testimony from outside the church, in that heretical gnostics who wrote counterfeit books of Revelation claimed that these were also written by the “apostle John,” indicating that the apostle was commonly regarded as the author of Revelation.

There have been those, however, who have questioned this because the literary style of Revelation differs markedly from that of the gospel of John. Supposedly, the Greek style of Revelation is far more crude than that of the gospel of John; in fact, it is simply much more Hebraistic. Why would this be?

One possibility, of course, is that Revelation was written by another John. Against this is the fact that only in John’s gospel and in Revelation is Jesus called the Lamb of God and the Word of God. There are other similarities as well. Both books focus on the idea of truth quite a bit, and both reveal a great interest in the Jewish temple, festivals, sacrifices, and other rituals. Thus, the idea that the author of Revelation is a different John is not widely held.

Another possibility is that John worked through a scribe when he wrote his gospel, and this scribe put his words into more polished Greek. The argument goes that when John wrote Revelation, he was imprisoned on Patmos and wrote in his own highly Hebraic form of Greek.

Perhaps a simpler explanation is that the Old Testament is used so much in Revelation, far more than in any other book in the New Testament, that its Hebrew style influenced the way Revelation was written. The book deals with Hebraic concepts, and thus takes on a Hebraic style.

In December, most people remember the first coming of Jesus. The book of Revelation concerns various comings of Jesus into history to deal with His people, preparatory to His final coming at the end of all things. Today, ask Him to come to you to help you deal with your sins and to make you more faithful to Him.