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On the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, Part 1: An Introduction
Here, after eleven years, we shall revisit our commentary on the Revelation of Yahshua Christ with a new presentation, and of course it shall be based on the text as it is presented in the Christogenea New Testament. Our first version of this commentary was originally presented in fourteen podcasts from December of 2010 through April of 2011. While there are several reasons for wanting to replace our old commentary, here I will only state that I hope to expand some portions of the original while also offering some clarifications, rewriting or further expounding on some of our explanations. I also hope to more thoroughly cross-reference portions of parallel prophecies which are found in the books of the prophets, especially in Ezekiel, Daniel, Obadiah, Zechariah and Malachi.
Later that same year I first published Christreich, which is the title of a book which had encapsulated the original podcast commentary. While we hope this new commentary will be more comprehensive, I do not foresee adding much to the interpretations themselves. But while I cannot yet rule that out completely, I do not think that this new version will invalidate anything I had written there, except for one note which must be corrected at Revelation chapter 20, verse 5, which I shall discuss further below. This commentary, and even this introduction, shall be founded on the edited text of Christreich rather than the notes for the original podcasts. For that reason, I was tempted to title this series “Christreich 2.0” or something similar, but I decided to stay with our more traditional scheme. That title may be appropriate if Yahweh God permits me to publish a second edition of the book, something which I certainly hope to achieve.
As I also asserted in our preface in the original volume, in a statement which was directed at denominational Christians, there is no “Rapture” in the Revelation. Yahshua Christ Himself had taught His disciples to pray to God that the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth, as it is in Matthew chapter 6, that “Your kingdom must come; Your will must be done, as in heaven also upon the earth.” Therefore that certainly must be the will of Yahweh our God, as Christ would not ask His disciples to pray for anything which is contrary to His will. As it is recorded in Luke chapter 10, where it is also repeated more than once, Yahshua Christ had His disciples announce to people that “The Kingdom of Yahweh comes nigh upon you!” Later, in Luke chapter 11, He told His adversaries “20 But if by the finger of Yahweh I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of Yahweh has overtaken you!”
Likewise, Paul of Tarsus had affirmed in 2 Timothy chapter 4 that: “1… Christ Yahshua… is going to judge living and dead, [at] His manifestation, and His kingdom.” Then in Colossians chapter 1 he had explained to his readers that God had already “13… gave us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Christians have a responsibility to help build the Kingdom of God here on earth, and the false teaching of an imminent rapture has taught them to shirk that responsibility. Rather than hoping to be taken out of the world, so that they may leave the world behind, they should be struggling to build the kingdom of God within this world as a testimony against the world. For that Christ had said in Matthew chapter 24 that “14… this good message of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the Nations, and then shall the end come.” The Revelation describes the very same end which Paul of Tarsus had described in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, where he wrote in part: “22 Just as in Adam all die, then in that manner in Christ all shall be produced alive. 23 But each in his own order: the first fruit, Christ; then those of the Anointed at His arrival. 24 Then the consummation, when He should hand over the kingdom to Yahweh who is also the Father; when He shall abolish all rule and all license and power. 25 Indeed it is necessary for Him to reign, until He should place all of the enemies under His feet.” Christ will ultimately fulfill the commission given to Adam in Genesis chapter 1, which was to have dominion, a term which comes from a Hebrew word meaning to trample. Adam failed when he mingled with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than trampling it down. Likewise Christians shall ultimately confront and destroy the enemies of God here on earth, and not escape them in some fantastic rapture by being magically carried off into heaven.
However the “Rapture” is not our only difference with other Christian sects, and many of them do not hold to such a doctrine. At Christogenea we present a worldview which is vastly different from all of the other Christian sects. First, we recognize that it was inevitable, especially once men began reading the Bible for themselves, for sects to arise. Paul says at 1 Corinthians 11:19: “For there must also be sects among you, in order that those approved will become evident among you.” But most importantly to us in relation to the Revelation, we believe in the historical view of prophecy: that prophecy is history written in advance so that men may look back upon it and know that God is true. This is the view of prophecy held by both the Reformers and by the earliest Christian writers, as these pages shall demonstrate. Yet since not all prophecy is fulfilled, not all of its fulfillment may be discerned by men, and when men attempt to force unfulfilled prophecy into an interpretation as if it were fulfilled, the errors are most often readily apparent.
While there are many clear allegories in Scripture, we believe that Greek and Hebrew words mean just what they had meant to ancient Greeks and ancient Hebrews, as they were used in the vernacular of their own time, and not necessarily what modern churchmen claim that they mean today. Words do not have special definitions simply because they appear in the Bible. So we also believe in the literal meanings of the words of the covenants of God, that they are true. Abraham was told that his seed would become many nations, and his belief in that statement and his trust in God that it would be fulfilled are why he was considered righteous, as Paul explains in Romans chapter 4. We also believe those words, exactly as both Moses and Paul had taught them. Identifying those nations is one key to understanding the Revelation. So we also believe, through a study of ancient and classical history and archaeology in concert with Biblical prophecy, that those nations which sprung from Abraham's seed are indeed the later nations of Europe, while the earlier White nations of Europe had developed from the various other tribes of Japhethite and other Shemitic peoples from the Near East. The European nations being the seed, or offspring, of the descendants of Noah and Abraham – along with the nations of the Near East as they were several thousand years ago – that is why the world empires of the prophecies of Daniel are centered around those peoples. Like Daniel, the prophecy found in the Revelation is Eurocentric because these truly are the people of Yahweh, the God of the Bible. These European nations are “the nations”, or “the Gentiles”, of New Testament scripture, and most Bible translators erroneously render the Greek word ethnos as gentile. The Greek word ethnos never meant “non-Jew”, and neither did the Latin word gentilis.
While many people today who are steeped in modern globalist multicultural propaganda will bristle at these ideas, it does not mean that they aren't true, and these things were common knowledge to men such as Martin Luther only 500 years ago. But the people of Daniel's world empires were also steeped in that same multicultural propaganda, and Yahweh God had destroyed all of those empires, the beasts of Daniel's visions. The Tower of Babel was the foreshadow of all of those world empires, and it is also the type for today's Mystery Babylon, the globalist commercial order built up over these past several centuries where the one-world multicultural propaganda has once again been revived. The Revelation in its later chapters prophecies the fall of Mystery Babylon, and therefore of the modern globalist commercial order. One may continue to believe the futurist fantasies and escapist rapture religion of the Judeo-Christian sects, or one may examine Biblical prophecy and World History as they truly harmonize. Here we aspire to do just that, as we have in all of our Bible commentaries. We must warn, however that while we shall discuss history, we are not venturing to teach history itself. We shall only endeavor to present enough of a historic narrative that its correlation with the prophecy of the Revelation may be clearly elucidated.
Like all students of the Scriptures, I am also indebted to a long list of teachers. Most of the authors that have influenced me lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries: George Rawlinson and Sharon Turner and the great British and sometimes American scholars who had translated and annotated the early Loeb Classical Library editions of the classics, who are too numerous to list. It is a shame that their works are not a staple in schools today, since the classics are indeed timeless. Of the more modern Christian writers, I am indebted to Howard Rand and especially to Bertrand Comparet, both of whose works in the historical interpretation of prophecy made an indelible impression upon and helped to lay the foundation for this work. However I am especially indebted to Clifton Emahiser, who had been my fellow-worker and a great encouragement and motivator to me for twenty years, from 1998 to 2018.
A Basic Introduction to the Text
Like the rest of the New Testament, there are many witnesses to the text of the Revelation which are quite old, however when the translation found in the Christogenea New Testament was created, the concern centered exclusively with those manuscripts which are esteemed to date to the 6th Century and earlier, since from the 6th century and the time of Justinian the Roman church had first begun to extend its reach and consolidate its emperor-granted power over Christendom. So that the reader has an idea of the age of sources for the text, here are the relevant witnesses to the Revelation which are from that remotest antiquity:
The Papyri (P) designated 18, 24, 47, 85 and 98. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition (NA27) informs us as to where each of these Papyri are located, which is typically a university, library or museum, and gives a catalog number for each. These details will not be included here. We shall also take for granted the ages of the manuscripts as they are dated by archaeology and linguistics, that they are generally accurate.
P-98 is from the 2nd century and contains Revelation 1:13-20.
P-18 is from the 3rd or 4th century and contains Revelation 1:4-7.
P-24 is from the 4th century and contains parts of chapters 5 & 6.
P-47 is from the 3rd century and contains much of chapters 9 through 15.
P-85 is from the 4th or 5th century and contains parts of chapters 9 and 10.
It is obvious here that most of the papyri which have survived are only fragments, and discoveries of additional papyri fragments are always ongoing in archaeology. The 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland text had catalogued fragments, some of which are substantial, from 98 New Testament papyri fragments while the newer 28th edition catalogues readings from 127 fragments. Only one of the additional fragments contains any portion of the Revelation, which is P-115. While our translation is based on the 27th edition, for this commentary I will examine and consider any variations of the text supplied by that papyrus, in which fragments of Revelation chapters 2 through 10 have survived.
Next are the Great Uncials, which are Koine Greek vellum manuscripts that, unlike the papyri, were made from animal skins and which are very durable:
The Codex Sinaiticus (א): From the 4th century, this is the only complete copy of the Revelation from antiquity which is esteemed to predate the 5th century. While, with the information that we have, no manuscript can be imagined to be perfect, this is probably the most reliable single ancient copy that we currently possess. The entire Codex Sinaiticus is legible and may be freely viewed on the internet at codexsinaiticus.org, although the presentation is limited.
The Codex Alexandrinus (A): From the 5th century, it contains all of the Revelation although portions of the text have been damaged. It is my opinion that generally the New Testament manuscripts derived or descended from this manuscript and others like it can be exhibited to be unreliable in many respects. Yet out of all the ancient manuscripts, the King James Version is closest to this one. As a digression, after the 19th century scholars I consider the Codices Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Syri and other similar manuscripts to be the Alexandrian tradition where today they are commonly referred to as the Byzantine Text Type. This codex may be viewed freely on the internet at a website operated by the British Library.
The Codex Ephraemi Syri: Also known as the Ephraemi Rescriptus, is from the 5th century and closely follows the Codex Alexandrinus, although they do not always agree. It contains text from many chapters of the Revelation, but is not complete. This manuscript is also a palimpsest, which is a manuscript that was written over another which usually had been scraped or washed off, and it is therefore much more difficult to read, and in my opinion, far less reliably.
Other less famous codices containing fragments of the Revelation are known only by identifying numbers:
0163: From the 5th century, it contains Revelation 16:17-20.
0169: From the 4th century, it contains parts of Revelation chapters 3 and 4.
0207: From the 4th century, it contains part of Revelation chapter 9.
There are many other manuscripts after these, which contain all or parts of the Revelation, which like the rest of the New Testament is attested rather consistently down through the centuries. There are also witnesses for the text of the Revelation in the manuscripts of early Christian writers such as Tertullian, Irenaeus, Cyprian, and Victorinus of Pettau, who are all from the second and third centuries.
However for the Revelation, and only for the Revelation, the medieval manuscripts commonly used by the churches and collectively known as the Majority Text are divided into two groups. Identified by the differences which these groups reflect in the text of the Revelation, the first group are a subset of manuscripts known as the Koine tradition, which are of the majority, as contrasted to a minority of manuscripts believed to originate from one Andreas of Caesareia. Andreas was a medieval monk, possibly of the 9th century AD or a little earlier, who wrote a commentary on the Revelation. Apparently some of his notes or revisions were later incorporated into the text, and those manuscripts which were copied from that had created a second camp of Revelation manuscripts that contain differences and interpolations. The King James Version of the Revelation is apparently based on those divergent manuscripts.
Unfortunately, due to an oversight on the part of the editors of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece through its 27th edition, it was esteemed that a portion of Revelation 20:5 was one of those additions made by Andreas, where it reads “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” While we are still persuaded that these words from that verse do not belong in our Bibles, they are found in the text of the Codex Alexandrinus. The correction first appeared in the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland text, and now I have verified it for myself from existing copies of that codex which are available in internet libraries.
A section of the Codex Alexandrinus with the text in question from Revelation 20:5 underlined in red.
In spite of that, the passage in question is not found in the Codex Sinaiticus, or in the text as it was cited by 3rd century Christian writer and bishop Victorinus of Pettau. Neither is it found in the manuscripts of the Majority Text which follow the Koine tradition, which are the majority. Because it is found in the Majority Text manuscripts from Andreas of Caesareia, and had been overlooked in the Alexandrinus, it was previously ascribed to him. It is found in the Latin Vulgate, so I do not understand how the error of the attribution was not discovered earlier. However this example nevertheless shows how one's entire view of the Bible or its prophecy may be changed with a single misunderstanding or an interpolation in just one verse. Yet while textual criticism can be taken beyond reason, it is important in determining just what writing it is that we should call our Bible.
An Introduction to the Revelation
The Revelation of Yahshua Christ opens by declaring itself to be: “A revelation from Yahshua Christ which Yahweh had given to Him to show to His servants the things which are necessary to happen quickly, and He having sent explained through His messenger to His servant Iohannes, who bore witness to the Word of Yahweh and the testimony of Yahshua Christ, as many things as he had seen.”
It is clear from John chapter 1 that John believed Yahshua Christ to be Yahweh God come in the flesh. There the apostle writes: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Yahweh, and the Word was Yahweh. 2 He was in the beginning with Yahweh. 3 All things were through Him, and without Him was not even one thing. That which was done 4 in Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness; yet the darkness comprehends it not.… 14 And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His splendor, splendor as the most-beloved by the Father, full of favor and truth.” So although Yahshua Christ is the physical expression of God as a man, Yahweh God incarnate, the language which was consistently used by both Christ and His apostles professes that all knowledge, wisdom, power and authority originate with Yahweh, the invisible God and Father. For that reason in his epistle to the Hebrews Paul had referred to Yahshua Christ as the image of the person of God.
Where the Revelation testifies that it is written by "His servant Iohannes, who bore witness to the Word of God", so that John may “show to His servants the things which are necessary to happen quickly,” that can only mean that this John who wrote the Revelation is the same John who wrote the Gospel bearing that name, the “Word of God” which is mentioned here. That also indicates that the gospel of John was already written, and I am of the opinion that it was the cause of his exile to Patmos. So our intent here is to demonstrate that the same John who wrote the Gospel identified by that name had also written the Revelation, as the Revelation itself clearly informs us here that he had, and also that he was indeed confined to Patmos for a time during the reign of the emperor Domitian. After the death of Domitian, John was able to leave Patmos and retire to Ephesus, where he probably also wrote all three of his surviving epistles.
This John being a humble man had never mentioned his own name in his gospel, although in other ways in his text he did fully indicate that he was the disciple whom the others had called John, the son of Zebedee. In his epistles, the first of which also attests to having been written by the author of that same gospel, he only referred to himself as the elder or presbyter. It is also my opinion that here in the Revelation he mentioned his own name because by that time he was a well-known elder of the Church, and by his mention he sought to distinguish the document as having had an authentic apostolic origin.
Since Domitian ruled from 81 to 96 AD, we see that John was indeed quite aged when he wrote the Revelation. But he is attested to having been a very young man during the ministry of Christ, and if he were as young as 16 when that ministry began in 28 AD, as he seems to have been, then his age may be estimated to be around 84 years in 96 AD. He may have been even younger at the start. It is apparent in the Greek moral standards of the time, as they are expressed in Classical and Hellenistic literature, that leaning on the breast of another man during a meal would have been inappropriate for a grown man, but not inappropriate for a youth. John’s youth would also explain how he was so close to Christ as to recollect intimate conversations and debates which the other apostles had apparently not witnessed, while at the same time the adversaries of Christ seem to have neglected to consider John himself as either an enemy or a threat.
Furthermore, there is the ministry of Paul to consider in relation to John’s presence in Ephesus. From about 53 or 54 AD, Paul had founded the Christian assemblies in that city, apparently with the help of Priscilla and Aquila, and perhaps even Apollos. Paul stayed there for three years, as it is recorded in Acts chapters 19 and 20. Yet just before his stay in Ephesus, Paul had visited Jerusalem and Antioch, where he wrote of having seen John at that time, in his epistle to the Galatians written just before his sojourn in Ephesus as it is recorded in Acts chapter 18, so it is clear that John had not yet been in Ephesus. Then, since here in the Revelation John criticizes the church at Ephesus for having left their first love, it is fully apparent that John’s ministry in Ephesus must have been long after the time of Paul’s passing and therefore the Biblical narrative is consistent with the late date which is ascribed to the Revelation by the early Christian writers.
In any event, the plain facts surrounding the time when the Revelation was written clearly rebuke the doctrine of Preterism, a view of prophecy adopted by medieval Jesuits for political reasons, since Preterists insist that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD. Preterists, like the Futurists and those who believe in the Rapture, should take note that their doctrine is the invention of men who sought to protect the papacy of Rome from the true Historicist interpretation of prophecy. The historicists of the time, the 15th and 16th centuries, rather accurately understood that the papacy was at least one of the beasts of Revelation chapter 13, and whether they were right or wrong, many also had esteemed it to be the Mystery Babylon of Revelation chapter 18. For that reason, defending the papacy and the Church of Rome the doctrines of Preterism and Futurism were contrived in the 16th century.
Now we shall endeavor to further establish the historical context of John’s writing and later ministry. The following excerpts are all taken from The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, as they were published electronically by Logos Research Systems. By Fathers here, using the term in the Roman Catholic sense which we ourselves may reject, they mean to refer to all of those early Christian bishops and other writers whose works have been preserved to one degree or another. Some of these writings are, of course, of greater import than others. While we may not agree with all of their doctrines, and while they often did not fully agree with one another, Christianity at this time was quite different than what the organized Roman Catholic Church later professed, and the historical accounts found in these documents cannot be lightly dismissed.
Our first witness is found in The Epistle of Ignatius to the Tarsians, which is esteemed to be one of the spurious epistles of Ignatius. Ignatius was a 2nd century bishop of Antioch in Syria. Of the fifteen surviving epistles attributed to him there are some eight which are esteemed to be spurious by modern academics, and seven which are esteemed to be legitimate. While a full study of them cannot be made for our purposes here, as it would be very lengthy and we do not even agree with all of the reasons for which they are rejected (for example, Tarsians is rejected primarily because it rejects the so-called trinity), this is nevertheless a document of early antiquity which expresses many things commonly known among early Christians.
From Chapter III. — The True Doctrine Respecting Christ:
Mindful of him, do ye by all means know that Jesus the Lord was truly born of Mary, being made of a woman; and was as truly crucified. For, says he, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus.” And He really suffered, and died, and rose again. For says [Paul], “If Christ should become passible, and should be the first to rise again from the dead.” And again, “In that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.” Otherwise, what advantage would there be in [becoming subject to] bonds, if Christ has not died? what advantage in patience? what advantage in [enduring] stripes? And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord? But, [in truth,] none of these sufferings were in vain; for the Lord was really crucified by the ungodly.
That word passible means to be capable of fear or suffering, the author citing Acts 26:23. Now, from The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians, which is generally esteemed to be one of the legitimate epistles of Ignatius:
Surely I may point out some of the proverbial wisdom of this great disciple, which has often stirred my soul, as with the trumpet heard by St. John in Patmos. In him, indeed, the lions encountered a lion, one truly begotten of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”
Twice here the epistles attributed to Ignatius affirm that the original apostle John, the disciple of Christ, was banished to Patmos. Now, turning to the 2nd and early 3rd century Christian writer Clement of Alexandria, from the Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus, titled part XII. — Fragments Not Given in the Oxford Edition, from a treatise titled Who is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved? [Translated by Rev. William Wilson, M.a.]:
And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.
Hippolytus of Rome was a contemporary of Clement, who died circa 235 AD. From the Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus in the section described as Containing Dubious and Spurious Pieces, from a treatise entitled Hippolytus on The Twelve Apostles, Where Each of Them Preached, And Where He Met His End:
John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan’s time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.
From the same, in a treatise entitled Treatise on Christ and Antichrist:
For he sees, when in the isle Patmos, a revelation of awful mysteries, which he recounts freely, and makes known to others.
Later we shall see that Irenaeus, an even earlier writer, also attested that John had lived to the time of Trajan, which is to at least 98 AD. For now, we shall cite Justin Martyr, or Justin of Caesareia, who lived from approximately 103-165 AD, a time very close to that of the apostle John, although he could not have known him. This is from Chapter LXXXI of the Dialogue of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew:
And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.
Of course, we do not have to accept Justin’s interpretation of the Revelation, but the historical fact he expresses is that the John who wrote it is also John the apostle. Now Irenaeus, who lived until 202 BC, was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons in France. From Irenaeus, from his Against Heresies, Book 3 Chapter 1 Paragraph 1, where we indeed see that it was the Apostle John of the Gospel of that name who had lived in Ephesus:
We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed “perfect knowledge,” as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect [which does not mean that the Gospel of Matthew which we have now is a translation, but rather Matthew was capable of producing it in both languages, having been a publican - WRF], while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome [this may be the earliest surviving assertion that Peter was in Rome - WRF], and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter [so the Gospel of Mark, according to Irenaeus, is Peter's Gospel, which I accept. Mark is mentioned at 1 Peter 5:13 - WRF]. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. [So here from antiquity we have a direct statement corroborating something which is evident from the New Testament, that Paul's gospel message is indeed that Gospel which Luke had recorded. - WRF] Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
This testimony from Irenaeus would have been written less than a hundred years after the Revelation was published. While the lengthy citations may be arduous, the wider passage is necessary in order to see the full historical context of the statements. So once again, from Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 3, Paragraph 4:
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,—a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,—that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
Many of these writers we cite here were actually contemporaries, as for example, Irenaeus died in 202 AD, Clement in 215, Tertullian in 220 and Hippolytus in 235, while Ignatius and Justin Martyr had lived earlier. Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD, so John had lived until at least the year 98 and perhaps a bit longer. Now we shall turn to Tertullian, who lived from 160 to 220 AD and who was the bishop of Carthage and a prolific Christian apologist and writer. So, from Tertullian, from a lengthy work titled The Five Books Against Marcion, from Book 4 Chapter 5:
We have also St. John’s foster churches. For although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, the order of the bishops (thereof), when traced up to their origin, will yet rest on John as their author. In the same manner is recognised the excellent source of the other churches. I say, therefore, that in them (and not simply such of them as were founded by apostles, but in all those which are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel of Christ) that Gospel of Luke which we are defending with all our might has stood its ground from its very first publication; whereas Marcion’s Gospel is not known to most people, and to none whatever is it known without being at the same time condemned. It too, of course, has its churches, but specially its own—as late as they are spurious; and should you want to know their original, you will more easily discover apostasy in it than apostolicity, with Marcion forsooth as their founder, or some one of Marcion’s swarm. Even wasps make combs; so also these Marcionites make churches. The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was. For even Luke’s form of the Gospel men usually ascribe to Paul. And it may well seem that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters. Well, then, Marcion ought to be called to a strict account concerning these (other Gospels) also, for having omitted them, and insisted in preference on Luke; as if they, too, had not had free course in the churches, as well as Luke’s Gospel, from the beginning. Nay, it is even more credible that they existed from the very beginning; for, being the work of apostles, they were prior, and coeval in origin with the churches themselves. But how comes it to pass, if the apostles published nothing, that their disciples were more forward in such a work; for they could not have been disciples, without any instruction from their masters? If, then, it be evident that these (Gospels) also were current in the churches, why did not Marcion touch them—either to amend them if they were adulterated, or to acknowledge them if they were uncorrupt? For it is but natural that they who were perverting the gospel, should be more solicitous about the perversion of those things whose authority they knew to be more generally received. Even the false apostles (were so called) on this very account, because they imitated the apostles by means of their falsification. In as far, then, as he might have amended what there was to amend, if found corrupt, in so far did he firmly imply that all was free from corruption which he did not think required amendment. In short, he simply amended what he thought was corrupt; though, indeed, not even this justly, because it was not really corrupt. For if the (Gospels) of the apostles have come down to us in their integrity, whilst Luke’s, which is received amongst us, so far accords with their rule as to be on a par with them in permanency of reception in the churches, it clearly follows that Luke’s Gospel also has come down to us in like integrity until the sacrilegious treatment of Marcion. In short, when Marcion laid hands on it, it then became diverse and hostile to the Gospels of the apostles. I will therefore advise his followers, that they either change these Gospels, however late to do so, into a conformity with their own, whereby they may seem to be in agreement with the apostolic writings (for they are daily retouching their work, as daily they are convicted by us); or else that they blush for their master, who stands self-condemned either way—when once he hands on the truth of the gospel conscience smitten, or again subverts it by shameless tampering. Such are the summary arguments which we use, when we take up arms against heretics for the faith of the gospel, maintaining both that order of periods, which rules that a late date is the mark of forgers, and that authority of churches which lends support to the tradition of the apostles; because truth must needs precede the forgery, and proceed straight from those by whom it has been handed on.
We would agree that the view of Tertullian in regard to these Scriptures and the Revelation is quite correct, and he was writing in opposition to the perverts of his own time, as for some reason the Marcionites had accepted only the Gospel of Luke, but they also made a perversion of that, cutting out many of its passages. Now once again from Tertullian, from his treatise entitled The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 26:
Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still preeminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. Achaia is very near you, (in which) you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi; (and there too) you have the Thessalonians. Since you are able to cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile! See what she has learned, what taught, what fellowship has had with even (our) churches in Africa! One Lord God does she acknowledge, the Creator of the universe, and Christ Jesus (born) of the Virgin Mary, the Son of God the Creator; and the Resurrection of the flesh; the law and the prophets she unites in one volume with the writings of evangelists and apostles, from which she drinks in her faith. This she seals with the water (of baptism), arrays with the Holy Ghost, feeds with the Eucharist, cheers with martyrdom, and against such a discipline thus (maintained) she admits no gainsayer. This is the discipline which I no longer say foretold that heresies should come, but from which they proceeded. However, they were not of her, because they were opposed to her. Even the rough wild-olive arises from the germ of the fruitful, rich, and genuine olive; also from the seed of the mellowest and sweetest fig there springs the empty and useless wild-fig. In the same way heresies, too, come from our plant, although not of our kind; (they come) from the grain of truth, but, owing to their falsehood, they have only wild leaves to show.
Once more from Tertullian, from a treatise entitled De Fuga in Persecutione [or Flight in Persecution], section 9:
Accordingly John also teaches that we must lay down our lives for the brethren; much more, then, we must do it for the Lord. This cannot be fulfilled by those who flee. Finally, mindful of his own Revelation, in which he had heard the doom of the fearful, (and so) speaking from personal knowledge, he warns us that fear must be put away. “There is no fear,” says he, “in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear has torment”—the fire of the lake, no doubt. “He that feareth is not perfect in love” —to wit, the love of God. And yet who will flee from persecution, but he who fears? Who will fear, but he who has not loved? [With this passage, where we see that Tertullian quotes from the Gospel, epistles, and Revelation of John, and attributes them to the same John, he clearly exhibits a firm belief that the same John wrote all of them. - WRF] Yes; and if you ask counsel of the Spirit, what does He approve more than that utterance of the Spirit? For, indeed, it incites all almost to go and offer themselves in martyrdom, not to flee from it; so that we also make mention of it. If you are exposed to public infamy, says he, it is for your good; for he who is not exposed to dishonour among men is sure to be so before the Lord. Do not be ashamed; righteousness brings you forth into the public gaze. Why should you be ashamed of gaining glory? The opportunity is given you when you are before the eyes of men. So also elsewhere: seek not to die on bridal beds, nor in miscarriages, nor in soft fevers, but to die the martyr’s death, that He may be glorified who has suffered for you.
I must say, laying down one’s life for one’s brethren, which may also entail merely dedicating one’s life to one’s people, cannot be fulfilled by those who flee, and it cannot be fulfilled by those who merely anticipate being rescued in some sort of “Rapture”. The men who place their hopes in a rapture are self-righteous and self-absorbed cowards having no care for anyone but themselves. Perhaps that is why they find such a false doctrine so appealing.
Now from the writings of Victorinus of Pettau, a town in Pannonia which was called Poetovio [poe-touio], and which is Ptuj [ptoi] in modern Slovenia today. Victorinus died around 303 AD. From his Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John, in which he maintains without doubt that the author of the Gospel is the author of the Revelation, from the tenth chapter [Translated by the Rev. Robert Ernest Wallis, Ph.D.]:
“And He says unto me, Thou must again prophesy to the peoples, and to the tongues, and to the nations, and to many kings.” He says this, because when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse; and when grown old, he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus subsequently delivered the same Apocalypse which he had received from God. This, therefore, is what He says: Thou must again prophesy to all nations, because thou seest the crowds of Antichrist rise up; and against them other crowds shall stand, and they shall fall by the sword on the one side and on the other.
The interpretation seems to be a summary referring to events prophesied in Revelation chapters 19 and 20, although earlier I had thought that perhaps it was citing a now-lost work of the apostle John. Now, from the Apocryphae of the New Testament, Acts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, from the part entitled About His Exile and Departure. This work is esteemed to have been widely circulated as early as the 2nd century, which would predate Tertullian, but which evidently does not contain the account of Domitian boiling John in oil. However it is not our intent to comment on its authenticity at this time. Here at length, after some background history, a meeting and discourse between John, a prisoner, and the Emperor Domitian himself is described, whereafter Domitian decides to exile John rather than execute him. Here is one short paragraph which represents a summary of the aftermath:
And straightway John sailed to Patmos, where also he was deemed worthy to see the revelation of the end. And when Domitian was dead, Nerva succeeded to the kingdom, and recalled all who had been banished; and having kept the kingdom for a year, he made Trajan his successor in the kingdom. And when he was king over the Romans, John went to Ephesus, and regulated all the teaching of the church, holding many conferences, and reminding them of what the Lord had said to them, and what duty he had assigned to each. And when he was old and changed, he ordered Polycarp to be bishop over the church.
While it is clear from the arguments of Tertullian that the second century heretic Marcion disputed the authorship of the Revelation, another early writer who doubted that the apostle John wrote the Revelation was Dionysius of Alexandria. We are going to present his disputations at length, because it exemplifies the errors of those who are otherwise faithful, unlike Marcion, but who doubt the authorship of the Revelation simply because they themselves could not understand its prophecies. Dionysius was originally a pupil of Origen, and eventually he was the bishop of the assembly at Alexandria. He lived until around 265 AD. He wrote a lengthy treatise attempting to prove mostly from the appearance of the name “John” in the Revelation that the writer was a different John than the apostle. This is obvious sophistry, since the Revelation itself tells us that it was written by the same John who had also written and bore witness to the Gospel. However Dionysius himself noticed that, and therefore he asserted that John Mark, another John, was the writer. However the style is so much like that of John the apostle, in spite of what Dionysius claims below, and the opening statements like those of the first epistle of John, that Dionysius' position is found to be incredible, let alone contrary to so many earlier witnesses who had accepted the identification with John the author of the Gospel.
From The Works of Dionysius Extant Fragments [Translated by the Rev. S. D. F. Salmond, M.a.] , from the Two Books on the Promises, who introduces each paragraph of the text.
3. Then, a little further on, he speaks of the Revelation of John as follows:—Now some before our time have set aside this book, and repudiated it entirely, criticising it chapter by chapter, and endeavouring to show it to be without either sense or reason. They have alleged also that its title is false; for they deny that John is the author. Nay, further, they hold that it can be no sort of revelation, because it is covered with so gross and dense a veil of ignorance. They affirm, therefore, that none of the apostles, nor indeed any of the saints, nor any person belonging to the Church, could be its author; but that Cerinthus, and the heretical sect founded by him, and named after him the Cerinthian sect, being desirous of attaching the authority of a great name to the fiction propounded by him, prefixed that title to the book. For the doctrine inculcated by Cerinthus is this: that there will be an earthly reign of Christ; and as he was himself a man devoted to the pleasures of the body, and altogether carnal in his dispositions, he fancied that that kingdom would consist in those kinds of gratifications on which his own heart was set,—to wit, in the delights of the belly, and what comes beneath the belly, that is to say, in eating and drinking, and marrying, and in other things under the guise of which he thought he could indulge his appetites with a better grace, such as festivals, and sacrifices, and the slaying of victims. But I, for my part, could not venture to set this book aside, for there are many brethren who value it highly. Yet, having formed an idea of it as a composition exceeding my capacity of understanding, I regard it as containing a kind of hidden and wonderful intelligence on the several subjects which come under it. For though I cannot comprehend it, I still suspect that there is some deeper sense underlying the words. And I do not measure and judge its expressions by the standard of my own reason, but, making more allowance for faith, I have simply regarded them as too lofty for my comprehension; and I do not forthwith reject what I do not understand, but I am only the more filled with wonder at it, in that I have not been able to discern its import.
We shall continue this, but interrupt only to say that the fact that the Revelation could not be understood in its own time, and yet if we interpret it historically it is absolutely clear to us today, is further proof that it is indeed from Yahweh God and it is indeed everything which it claims to be. Now to continue with Dionysius of Alexandria:
4. After this, he examines the whole book of the Revelation; and having proved that it cannot possibly be understood according to the bald, literal sense, he proceeds thus:—When the prophet now has completed, so to speak, the whole prophecy, he pronounces those blessed who should observe it, and names himself, too, in the number of the same: “For blessed,” says he, “is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book; and I John who saw and heard these things.” That this person was called John, therefore, and that this was the writing of a John, I do not deny. And I admit further, that it was also the work of some holy and inspired man. But I could not so easily admit that this was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, and the same person with him who wrote the Gospel which bears the title according to John, and the catholic epistle. But from the character of both, and the forms of expression, and the whole disposition and execution of the book, I draw the conclusion that the authorship is not his. For the evangelist nowhere else subjoins his name, and he never proclaims himself either in the Gospel or in the epistle.
I would think the opposite, that those who read the Gospel and epistles knew it was John who had written them, while John wanted to make certain that readers of the Revelation, which may not have been widely distributed until John was dead, would also know it was John who had written it. So to continue:
And a little further on he adds:—John, moreover, nowhere gives us the name, whether as of himself directly (in the first person), or as of another (in the third person). But the writer of the Revelation puts himself forward at once in the very beginning, for he says: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which He gave to him to show to His servants quickly; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bare record of the Word of God, and of his testimony, and of all things that he saw.” And then he writes also an epistle, in which he says: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia, grace be unto you, and peace.” The evangelist, on the other hand, has not prefixed his name even to the catholic epistle; but without any circumlocution, he has commenced at once with the mystery of the divine revelation itself in these terms: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes.” And on the ground of such a revelation as that the Lord pronounced Peter blessed, when He said: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” And again in the second epistle, which is ascribed to John, the apostle, and in the third, though they are indeed brief, John is not set before us by name; but we find simply the anonymous writing, “The elder.” This other author, on the contrary, did not even deem it sufficient to name himself once, and then to proceed with his narrative; but he takes up his name again, and says: “I John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” And likewise toward the end he speaks thus: “Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book; and I John who saw these things and heard them.” That it is a John, then, that writes these things we must believe, for he himself tells us.
In his Gospel, John informs us as to the identity of the author of the Gospel by that name where in chapters 13 and 21 he describes himself only as the disciple whom Yahshua had loved, who had leaned on His breast at the dinner. In John 13:23 we read: “There was reclining in the bosom of Yahshua one from among His students whom Yahshua loved.” In our commentary for that passage I said the following, in part:
I find it quite incredible that so many supposed scholars would doubt the identification of the “disciple whom Yahshua loved” with John, as it certainly is John. As we have seen in our citation from Irenaeus [supplied with our commentary for verses 21-22 of the same chapter], he was also confident that it was John. But John neglected to mention his own name in any of his writings until the Revelation, where he mentioned his own name five times. This certainly is John the apostle, who was too humble to mention his own name here. John is also the unnamed apostle in chapter 1 of this gospel, who at the beginning had heard John the Baptist testify of Christ, along with Andrew [John 1:40, compare Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:29], and he is also the unnamed disciple in chapter 18 of his gospel who was somehow known to the high priest. That is not unreasonable, as John must have been with Christ during the many confrontations which Christ had with the rulers in the temple, many of which only John had recorded. Ostensibly, at that time his young age had allowed him to escape accusation. Elsewhere in his gospel, in chapters 19, 20 and 21 (19:26, 20:2, and 21:7 and 20), he refers to himself in this same manner that he does here.
The Revelation informs us that its author was John, and also informs us that its author had written the Gospel, which is the one that we know as John. Comparing the first epistle of John, we can also be confident that it was also written by the same John. We shall compare the introductory language of the epistle and the Revelation as we comment on the text itself. Now to continue with Dionysius of Alexandria, he once again expresses his doubts:
5. What John this is, however, is uncertain. For he has not said, as he often does in the Gospel, that he is the disciple beloved by the Lord, or the one that leaned on His bosom, or the brother of James, or one that was privileged to see and hear the Lord [this is wrong, as we shall comment below - WRF]. And surely he would have given us some of these indications if it had been his purpose to make himself clearly known. But of all this he offers us nothing; and he only calls himself our brother and companion, and the witness of Jesus, and one blessed with the seeing and hearing of these revelations. I am also of opinion that there were many persons of the same name with John the apostle, who by their love for him, and their admiration and emulation of him, and their desire to be loved by the Lord as he was loved, were induced to embrace also the same designation, just as we find many of the children of the faithful called by the names of Paul and Peter. There is, besides, another John mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, with the surname Mark, whom Barnabas and Paul attached to themselves as companion, and of whom again it is said: “And they had also John to their minister.” But whether this is the one who wrote the Revelation, I could not say. For it is not written that he came with them into Asia. But the writer says: “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.” I think, therefore, that it was some other one of those who were in Asia. For it is said that there were two monuments in Ephesus, and that each of these bears the name of John.
Where Dionysius disputed that the author of the Revelation “was privileged to see and hear the Lord”, in its second verse we learn that ita author was he “who bore witness to the Word of Yahweh and the testimony of Yahshua Christ, as many things as he had seen”, so the denial is nonsense as only a disciple of Christ could have said such things. Once again, continuing with Dionysius of Alexandria, he makes the same case that we would have concerning the identity of the Gospel of John and the general epistle we know as 1 John:
6. And from the ideas, and the expressions, and the collocation of the same, it may be very reasonably conjectured that this one is distinct from that. For the Gospel and the Epistle agree with each other, and both commence in the same way. For the one opens thus, “In the beginning was the Word; ”while the other opens thus, “That which was from the beginning.” The one says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father.” The other says the same things, with a slight alteration: “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life: and the life was manifested.” For these things are introduced by way of prelude, and in opposition, as he has shown in the subsequent parts, to those who deny that the Lord is come in the flesh. For which reason he has also been careful to add these words: “And that which we have seen we testify, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us: that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” Thus he keeps to himself, and does not diverge inconsistently from his subjects, but goes through them all under the same heads and in the same phraseologies, some of which we shall briefly mention. Thus the attentive reader will find the phrases, “the life,” “the light,” occurring often in both; and also such expressions as fleeing from darkness, holding the truth, grace, joy, the flesh and the blood of the Lord, the judgment, the remission of sins, the love of God toward us, the commandment of love on our side toward each other; as also, that we ought to keep all the commandments, the conviction of the world, of the devil, of Antichrist, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the adoption of God, the faith required of us in all things, the Father and the Son, named as such everywhere. And altogether, through their whole course, it will be evident that the Gospel and the Epistle are distinguished by one and the same character of writing. But the Revelation is totally different, and altogether distinct from this; and I might almost say that it does not even come near it, or border upon it. Neither does it contain a syllable in common with these other books. Nay more, the Epistle—for I say nothing of the Gospel—does not make any mention or evince any notion of the Revelation and the Revelation, in like manner, gives no note of the Epistle. Whereas Paul gives some indication of his revelations in his epistles; which revelations, however, he has not recorded in writing by themselves.
There are many analogies which are found in Paul’s epistles but which are not found in the others, and very few of his epistles are ever mentioned in the others, so the entire argument concerning the Revelation not being mentioned in the epistles of John is unfair. It is not even certain that the epistles were written either before or after John was confined in Patmos. So when John wrote his Gospel and epistles he may well have not yet known Patmos or the Revelation. Furthermore, the Revelation is not the words of John, as the Gospel is his own description of Christ and of things which Christ had said and done. Rather, the Revelation represents the words of Christ and a record of the visions which John was shown and told to record, so it was made for an entirely different purpose than to teach the Gospel, and from a different perspective.
However it does state in the Revelation that Christ is “The Word of God” (19:13), and that He is the beginning, even “the beginning of the creation of God” (1:8, 3:14, 21:6, 22:13). Concerning love, the church at Thyatira is commended: “19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” It speaks of the flesh of Christ as the Lamb and those attaining salvation as having washed their garments in His blood (7:14, 12:11). Concerning the commandments, three times those who keep the commandments of God are mentioned, and their salvation is promised (12:17, 14:12, 22:14). Elsewhere in the Revelation, John also described Christ as the Light of the world, in chapters 21 and 22. For example, where the City of God is described in chapter 21 we read: “23 And the city has not need of the sun nor of the moon that they would illuminate her, for the effulgence of Yahweh illuminates her, and her lamp is the Lamb.” Earlier in that same chapter we see a reference to the living water of John chapter 4: “6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Finally, the nature of the Jews as devils, or as a synagogue of Satan, is clarified in the Revelation and explained just as it is in the Gospel and epistles of John, but to a far lesser extent in the other gospel accounts. So all of the arguments against John as its author are entirely unfair and without merit. They are all discredited, and it is revealed that the Revelation has much more in common with the other writings of John than with those of any of the other apostles. Nevertheless we shall continue with Dionysius of Alexandria for one more paragraph:
7. And furthermore, on the ground of difference in diction, it is possible to prove a distinction between the Gospel and the Epistle on the one hand, and the Revelation on the other. For the former are written not only without actual error as regards the Greek language, but also with the greatest elegance, both in their expressions and in their reasonings, and in the whole structure of their style. They are very far indeed from betraying any barbarism or solecism, or any sort of vulgarism, in their diction. For, as might be presumed, the writer possessed the gift of both kinds of discourse, the Lord having bestowed both these capacities upon him, viz., that of knowledge and that of expression. That the author of the latter, however, saw a revelation, and received knowledge and prophecy, I do not deny. Only I perceive that his dialect and language are not of the exact Greek type, and that he employs barbarous idioms, and in some places also solecisms. These, however, we are under no necessity of seeking out at present. And I would not have any one suppose that I have said these things in the spirit of ridicule; for I have done so only with the purpose of setting right this matter of the dissimilarity subsisting between these writings.
The perfection of language is also relative. For example, the Gospel of John is replete with present tense verbs, where by today’s standards we may expect a past tense. The Greek word σολοικισμός, the word which was apparently translated as solecism here, is an incorrectness in the use of language, but was also used of incorrect reasoning, citing the 3rd century BC Stoic philosopher Chrysippus. According to Liddell & Scott, the word was used in the same manner which it appears here, which is in company with βαρβαρισμός or barbarisms, by the 1st century BC philosopher Philodemus and the 2nd century AD Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata. Liddell & Scott further explain that σολοικισμός was generally distinguished from βαρβαρισμός in that the first is incorrectness in the use of language, while the later is more specifically incorrectness in the construction of sentences. However I would contend that Dionysius, complaining that he could not understand the Revelation, thought poorly of its language for that reason. Once the meaning of its prophesies are revealed, which we would assert cannot be accomplished until the prophecies themselves have come to pass, then the complaints about its language are no longer relevant.
Dionysius accepted the Book of Revelation as an inspired work, but rejected the apostle John as its author on subjective and mainly hypothetical grounds. The points that he made concerning barbarisms and solecisms being left without witness they remain unsubstantiated, and even if he had made examples those by themselves would be little actual proof of his thesis. As the statement was made at the beginning of this introduction, the Revelation claims that same John who wrote the Gospel of John as its author, where it begins thus: “...and He having sent explained through His messenger to His servant Iohannes, who bore witness to the Word of God and the testimony of Yahshua Christ, as many things as he had seen." Yet Dionysius seems to have not even considered this testimony which refutes a large portion of his argument.
Many of the ancients thought that the Revelation consisted of things that could not be understood, and in their day they were certainly correct. For prophecy is indeed history written in advance. Yet prophecy is not written so that men can read it and tell the future from what it describes. Rather, it is written so that men can read it and look back and know that God is true, and that He keeps His Word. If the Revelation is true, then John the apostle is its author, as it professes. In the chapters which follow, we shall indeed see that the Revelation is true, and that therefore, God is also true, and that He does indeed keep His Word.