Six arguments in favor of John the apostle as author

In my opinion, the jury is still out on the authorship of Revelation. But here are the arguments in favor of John the apostle:

  1. The evidence from the early church fathers is early and strong.
    • The early tradition is unanimous in ascribing the book to the apostle, from second century Justin Martyr on.
    • Irenaeus, who met John’s disciple Polycarp, said John the apostle wrote Revelation.
  2. The author didn’t feel the need to distinguish himself from other Johns. Some take this to mean that it must have been the John that needed no introduction, John the apostle.
    • (David Aune’s response is that the author and readers clearly know each other intimately. And John would have sent this book with a messenger who could clear up any doubt as to the identity of the author. So no matter which ‘John’ wrote the letter, he wouldn’t need to specify anything more than his name).
  3. Leon Morris lists the similarities between Revelation and the Gospel attributed to John the apostle
    • Similar vocabulary (lamb, water of life, he that overcomes, keeping the commandments, the adjective ‘true’
    • Invitations to thirsty people (John 7.37, Revelation 22.17)
    • Commandments received by Christ from the Father (John 10.18, Revelation 2.27)
    • White clothing (John 20.12, Revelation 3.4)
    • Sharp contrasts between good and evil
    • Emphases on bearing witness and keeping commandments
  4. Robert Mounce (14) adds two more parallels:
    • The Greek word ‘logos’ is used in both as referring to a person (John 1.1, Revelation 19.13)
    • The prophecy of Zechariah 12.10 is quoted in both Revelation 1.7 and John 19.37 using the same Greek verb, a verb used neither in the Septuagint or the rest of the New Testament
  5. Mark S. Wilson (38-39) adds a long list of themes that the two books have in common
    • Christ as witness, as ‘I am’, as victor, as the lamb, as shepherd, as judge, as the temple
    • Christ’s unity with God; also, both God and Christ are presented as the truth and the light
    • The Holy Spirit speaking to churches
    • Believers / the church as witnesses, as true Jews, as sheep and lambs, as the bride of Christ; hating evil and characterized by love
    • Satan as ‘the devil’ and as a ruler and general
    • Themes and imagery such as atoning blood, servants of God, life in heaven, manna, living bread, doors, wine, vines, child-bearing, brides and grooms
    • Both contain present eschatology and future eschatology; both contain unnumbered lists of sevens
    • See Wilson’s book for verse references for each.
  6. David Aune mentions H. B. Swete observation about several personality traits of John the apostle that would make him a likely candidate to be the author of this book:
    • He was one of the ‘sons of thunder’ (Mark 3.17)
    • He witnessed the transfiguration and the resurrection of Jesus
    • He prohibited non-disciples from exorcising demons in Jesus’ name
    • He wanted to call down fire from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans (Luke 9.52-55)

Sources: David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997); Leon Morris, Tyndale NT Commnetaries: Revelation, revised edition. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987), p. 32. .Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: The Book of Revelation, revised edition. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998), p. 14; Mark S. Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), pp. 38-39.

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