Who Wrote The Book Of Revelation? (rev.4:1-2)

Who wrote the Book of Revelation? (Rev.4:1-2)

1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.  

Although John’s Revelation falls into a category that can be called Jewish apocalyptic literature, there are number of distinctive features here. In this case, John gets immediate and unmediated access to the throne room of God, something that is not usually the case in other prominent Jewish apocalyptic works such as for example, The Testament of Levi and 1 Enoch.

It has been a matter of consensus that John’s Revelation displays significant literary dependence on another Jewish apocalyptic text – the Book of Ezekiel. As an interesting side note, in my earlier book “The Jewish Gospel of John” I argue (and some say convincingly) that whoever wrote John’s Gospel was very interested in the Book of Ezekiel. The amount of literary and thematic parallels is too great to deny such a connection. (But what am I doing you should buy and read the book!!!!)

The book of Revelation, authored by a person named John (a common Jewish name – Yohanan in Hebrew), also has obvious interest in the Book of Ezekiel. It was a very common thing to name an apocalyptic Jewish work by the name of some great Biblical character (for example, Apocalypse of Elijah, Apocalypse of Daniel, Apocalypse of Moses and the list can go on and on). What is unusual here is that this apocalypse is attributed to someone named Yohanan (John) seemingly without any prior notoriety, except if indeed John, the Apostle, is in fact in view.

Although evidence is certainly inconclusive (and John’s Gospel does a very good job of remaining an anonymous document although with occasional hints as to its author) it may have been John, the Son of Zebedee, who authored it. There are some very good arguments that show he belonged to a priestly lineage. If this is correct, his preoccupation with the Book of Ezekiel makes a lot of sense. One of the major arguments, however, against the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation being written by the same person (no such problem exists between Gospel of John and John’s letters) is that the Greek of John’s Gospel and that of Revelation is dramatically different. To put it another way the Greek of John’s Gospel is clearly better than the Greek of Revelation. But given that most literature was not written, but dictated to a scribe, the difference in the level of linguistic sophistication could be accounted for by different scribes doing the work, not to mention the genre adaptation from historic narrative (Gospel of John) to apocalyptic literature (Book of Revelation). In other words, if John wrote his Gospel from Ephesus (as some early traditions specify) it would make sense that he would have had access to some of the best scribes, while when he was on the Island of Patmos, even though it was not technically a prison, it is reasonable to assume that his choice of scribes was severely limited, if available at all.

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  1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    Eli, I agree with you. But, Jesus did not die? You are kidding !

    Rom 5:8 Maar God bevestigt Zijn liefde jegens ons, dat Christus voor ons gestorven ( 1 ) is, als wij nog zondaars waren.

    Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth ( 1 ) no more; death ( 2 ) hath no more dominion over him.´

    Rom 8:34 Wie is het, die verdoemt ? Christus is het, Die gestorven is ( 1 ) ; ja, wat meer is, Die ook opgewekt is, Die ook ter rechter hand Gods is, Die ook voor ons bidt.

    1Co 15:3 Want ik heb ulieden ten eerste overgegeven, hetgeen ik ook ontvangen heb, dat Christus gestorven is voor onze zonden, naar de Schriften.

    14 Want indien wij geloven, dat Jezus gestorven is en opgestaan, alzo zal ook God degenen, die ontslapen zijn in Jezus, weder brengen met Hem. (1Th 4:14 SVV)

    Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death ( 2 ) , so that by the grace of God he might taste death ( 2 ) for everyone

    ( 1 ) ἀποθνῄσκω apothnesko = to die.
    ( 2 ) θάνατος thanatos = the dead of the body .

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You misunderstood me Dr… I referred briefly to Matt 18 church anachronism. There was no church in Matt 18! Jesus did not die yet (at that point) and no one rose and no one was even baptized into his name. 🙂

      1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

        Yes, I already mentioned that I had understood you wrong Dr. …. but my posts come and disappear.

  2. yetilived

    I have to ask because I noticed. The Book of John uses words like save, trust, believe, follow…. The Book of Revelation uses the word repent. Is this what makes the Book of Revelation uneloquent?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      These are all common words. But you would agree they are appropriate to each book, because the intent and the messages of those books match those terms exactly. One can tell so much of the authorial intent by the forceful words he uses often.

      1. Kat H

        Yes, but some say Paul did not found the church of Ephesus (for example). And John the Baptist began with the message of repentance. I wonder if the letters of the 7 churches were prior to the death and resurrection of Christ.

        1. Kat H

          From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This was the message Jesus used to call His disciples. A date timeline of the 7 churches would be helpful as the word church speaks A.D. to me.

  3. David Corran

    “There are some very good arguments that show that he belonged to a priestly lineage.”
    Why does that matter, in the Christian Church of Jesus Christ?
    It might be an imperative to a Jew, but Jesus was a Carpenter, his Disciples were Fishermen, a Tax Collector, a Tent Maker (a Roman Citizen).
    And the message via John the Revelator was for Our Day and for All Mankind who would listen. For me it does not matter if that John was John the Beloved but certainly, none of the Disciples were beloved generally and Patmos would be a ‘lucky escape’, even a miraculous preservation, so as to serve the Lord.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      The problem with your comment is precisely how sure about everything you said 🙂 (terms) Jesus was a carpenter (no he was not, the word in Greek is usually someone who works with stone not with wood as we imagine Jesus). Christian Church??? (which one? remember first century? Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, I am talking about Matt.18 (tell it to the church). Jesus did not die, noone was baptized (baptism was at that point a Jewish ceremony!), etc. think about it! Once again you are assuming to many things being far too sure about them.

    2. Drs. Charles van den Berg

      David Corran …..The baptism (Hebr. ‘T’vila’) by immersion in Jesus, is one of many ritual immersions within Judaism, although by far the most important. According to Torah, should anyone who is unclean, immersed in living water (Mayim Chayim) to be clean again. The ritual bath is called ‘Miq’va’. It is a reference to Jesus, the Source of living water. The command for immersion for cleansing and sanctification of men and women can be found in Lev.15. Special cleaning laws for women can be found in Lev. 12:1-5. The ‘Gi’ur’ is the process by which someone proceeds to Judaism. “Tevila’and ‘Miq’va’ is an important part to be cleansed to be cleaned of pagan impurity. Surfacing from ‘ Miq’va ‘ symbolizes the rebirth as with the New Testament baptism. Farizeeers would not have gone to John the Baptist for immersion, if they were not familiar with this practice. A necessary part of the inauguration of a priest was ‘T’vila’ in het ‘Miq’va’. (Ex. 29:4,40:12; Lev. 8:6. The High Priest had to be cleaned by immersion, before he was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies on the day of Atonement. (Lev. 16:4.24). A centuries-old Jewish wedding ritual includes the cleaning by immersion of the woman, while she confesses her sins to God. The church of Jesus is a priesthood (1 Petr. 2:5.9) . The members of His Church, that is, His Body have to be baptized by immersion to be allowed to enter into the heavenly sanctuary. The Church is His Bride and Jesus is the Bridegroom (Ef. 5:25-27; Rev. 22:17; 19:7) and who is baptized is together with Jesus part of a centuries-old Jewish wedding ritual. I want to finally say that Judaism has no sprinkling as infant baptism in the traditional church. This was in the first centuries, no part of the Church. They find her origin in pagan rituals. The first official ruling was at the Synod of Carthage (251 A.D.) and even in the fourth century is still an object of discussion.

  4. Ralston bishlaam Jansen

    Shalom Sir, you have this uncanny ability touch on subjects that interest me. Been looking at and wondering exactly if the thoery that the Gospel, the Epistles and the book of Revelation was written by the beloveth Apostle. Totally agree with you and Mr Samuel on this one.
    Stay blessed

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Great to hear! 🙂

  5. JB

    If tradition says John the Apostle wrote it then why the obsession with who wrote it?
    This obsession is not going to give me “the reader” anything of importance in terms of faith or help for living out the faith.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I agree. The obsession is not justified. I am with you. But I don’t think that this post abscesses with it :-).

    2. Paul Walton

      Tradition is most often not correct. Look at the tradition of Christmas and other such traditions that are not mentioned in the Word. and to deny a tradition, I have been chastised for not believing it the virgin birth which has nothing to do with a tradition, but fact. Fact says that because of when Zechariah was priest and the father of John the Baptist, which is a known historical fact. When Elizabeth was 6 months along, Mary visited and John leapted in the womb at the announcement of Jesus. So then nine months later, Jesus was born and it could not have been beyond Oct. 15 of that yeqar….. Not December 25 no matter how you slice that cake.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        I did not realize we are talking about Christmas :-).

  6. yetilived

    Eloquent? Sometimes suffering changes language because we learn to fix our eyes on Jesus. According to your Book (page 16), a key theme in Ezekiel was the reunification of Southern and Northern Israel. I noticed that “what would take place” was made known by an angel (heavenly messenger) in Levi, Enoch, and John (Rev 1). Rev 4 does seem different because the door is standing open (something has already taken place). How does this reunite Israel? What I most notice is that there are 7 lamps instead of 7 lampstands and seven spirits of God instead of seven angels. This is the kingdom, not the assemblies? Is in spirit the completed spirit of Christ in us vs drops of rain?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      These are all questions hard to answer with certainty. Fun to try, but then our subjectivity… we have to be honest with ourselves.

  7. Adan Ayup Perez

    Gracias doctor , me edificaron sus comentarios al respecto de la tutoría de Juan el Amado sobre el libro de la revelación y el evangelio según San Juan.

  8. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    The thought that he would not have developed his notes, seems to me very unlikely. The thoughtful construction and structure of the book say what else. The building does not seem to be chronological display of all he has seen. The many numeric structures that runs through the whole book, witnesses there also. See for example the seven blessings in one of the first episodes in this series.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I agree, there is a level of sophistication in themes and structure.

  9. Elender Góis Gallas

    There are also references about the book of Daniel in Revelation.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes of course.

  10. premkumar samuel

    John has been directed to write down what he saw and heard.It is like taking notes during a lecture or writing a review while watching a movie.The soud and light effects could have traumatised him and finally he has been ordered not to add or delete anything from it so he could not polish or develop his notes, this would have made the different styles of his Gospel and Revelation.
    the motiff of lamb , logos,light ,door and shepherd lends credibility to the claim that the Gospel and the book of revelation were written by the beloved Apostle.

    1. Joyce Howe

      I had in fact had those very thoughts, as I was reading the comments above the lower comment, He was older possibly and not in such a good physical or mental state at the time he was on Patmos. So think this could be a very fair assumption!

    2. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes, true.

    3. Kori Hayes

      The evidence seems to supports that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was Lazarus.