Who Wrote the Revelation?


Many Christians believe that the Revelation was written by Apostle John. What is the prevailing opinion among the biblical scholars?

There is no concensus. The majority of early church leaders such as Melito, bishop of Sardis, Ireneus, Tertullian, Clement, Eusebius and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis believed that the Revelation was written by John, the son of Zebedee, who wrote the Gospel of John.

On the other hand, Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria and a disciple of Origen, asserts that it is written by Cerinthus. St. Jerome also expressed doubts of Johannine authorship.

Who is right?

Both camps are right and wrong partly.

Both schools are erroneous in that they both believe the Revelation was written by a single author. Some scholars now believe that there might be three writers: Apostle John, John who was exiled to Patmos island, and Presbyter John. In the Second and Third Epistles of John, the author is known only as elder. The conjecture that this elder was Presbyter John is derived from St. Papias' statement in the Fragment of Papias that he leared from the elders. It was written during the period when the oral tradition was important and believers paid more attention to the words of the teachers who were firsthand eyewitness of the teachings of Jesus. St. Papias treat Apostle John and Presbyter John as two distinct persons. The latter seemed to have been younger than the former. The author of the Second and Third Epistles of John was Presbyter John, not Apostle John. According to the UB, Apostle John wrote only the First Epistle.

More than 90% of the surviving Revelation was written not by John, but by another person, perhaps long after the Gospel of John was written (about 100 AD). It was also the tradition for a disciple to attribute his own writing to his teacher.

The seer states that the Revelation (at least some verses in Chapter 1) was written while he was banished on the island of Patmos, probably toward the end of Domitian’s reign (81 – 96 AD).

John's priority was NOT in recording his complex visions or revelations, but in preserving the teachings of Jesus and the life Jesus lived.

If not Apostle John, then Who?

Other than the greetings and the statement that he was exiled to Patmos island, much of the theology and revelation were was written by another, who may also have been called John, more likely Presbyter John.

Words like “life,” “grace,” “light” and “truth” do not appear in the Apocalypse. Hades or “hell” does not appear in John’s Gospel, because Jesus did not teach the doctrine of hell to his apostles, at least according to John.

Revelation 14: 4 states that only 144,000 Jewish men who have not defiled themselves with women were redeemed. Thus, the latter part of the Revelation was written by a Jew.

“Dragon” never appears in the four Gospels, never in Jesus teachings, but appears numerous times in the Revelation. John never heard the word “dragon” from Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus never taught “the wrath of God” throughout his life. So it does not appear in Apostle John’s vocabulary. But the writer of the Revelation mentions “wrath of God” six times, and even “the wrath of Lamb” once. Apostl John and the Revelator were two different personalities. Old Testament authors and even John the Baptist mention the wrath of God.

Apostle John (or his disciple Nathan) never mentioned hades or hell in his Gospel. Hell is an important concept in the Revelation.

Jesus or Apostle John never taught the idea of Lamb of God, that his blood is shed to atone for the sins of men. It was Paul who taught the theology of atonement. It is clear that the writer was a disciple of Apostle Paul or John the Baptist who later followed Apostle Paul.

The Gospel according to John was written in fluent Greek, but the Apocalypse was written in poor Greek, most likely a Jew.

What is the content of the Revelation?

After the introduction, the Revelator describes a vision, a statement to the Seven churches of Asia (Chapters 1 - 3): Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea . In the second vision (Chapters 4-22) contains eschtology or a prediction of the end of the age, the second coming of the Messiah and his 1000 year rule. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be thrown into a lake of fie or Hades. It was written by a Jew who longed for the end of the age, not by Apostle John or his disciple Nathan.

Should Christians or UB readers take the Apocalypse serious?

P.1555 - §7 When in temporary exile on Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation, which you now have in greatly abridged and distorted form. This Book of Revelation contains the surviving fragments of a great revelation, large portions of which were lost, other portions of which were removed, subsequent to John's writing. It is preserved in only fragmentary and adulterated form.

Thus, the answer is: probably not. It is the least valuable part of the New Testament.