Unraveling the Mystery of Who Wrote Revelation?

by | Jul 17, 2023

Revelation 1: 3 states

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near.

The Book of Revelation is beautiful, mysterious, apocalyptic, and glorious. It’s book that elicits wonder as well as questions.

It’s the only book of the Bible that comes with a blessing attached for all who read and study it.

Written around A.D.96, the book is a collection of visions and prophecies received and penned down on the Island of Patmos, where the author was banished due to persecution by the early church.

Originally written to the seven churches of Asia Minor, this letter would be circulated throughout faith communities in what is known today as Western Turkey. Each of the visions and prophecies serves as apocalyptic guideposts for God’s redemptive plan and reveals how God’s people are called to live in light of God’s ultimate victory when He establishes His kingdom fully on earth.

And while the Book of Revelation is a vital part of the narrative of Scripture, it still challenges all to manage the tension of its beauty and mystery. There are many questions surrounding the Book of Revelation, such as:

  • Does the Book of Revelation point to the past or the future?
  • What are the key events described in the book of Revelation?
  • How does the book of Revelation relate to other parts of the Bible?

These are a few questions regarding the Book of Revelation, yet one of the most common concerns is its author.

Who Wrote Revelation?

The book of Revelation is believed to be a revelation from Jesus Christ, given by God to show His servants what will soon happen. This divine message was communicated through an angel sent to John, who faithfully testified about everything he witnessed—the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Although there is still an element of mystery surrounding its authorship, many scholars concur that the Book of Revelation was authored by John the Beloved. Banished to the Island of Patmos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, John receives an apocalyptic vision from God that He is instructed to pen down on paper.

Along with authoring the Book of Revelation, John is responsible for other letters in the New Testament. As an original disciple of Jesus, John had an eyewitness account of the life and teachings of Jesus, which would serve as the foundation for the narrative arc of Revelation.

Clarence L. Haynes, Jr., writing about John the Beloved, explains

John was one of the twelve disciples, but he was also part of the “inner circle” along with Peter and James. They had the privilege of experiencing things with Jesus that the other disciples didn’t.

John the Beloved enjoyed a unique intimacy with Jesus, which undoubtedly aided his ability to receive and pen down the various visions and prophecies described in the Book of Revelation.

Haynes, Jr. goes on to write

Remember John had a unique perspective of Jesus. He saw him in his natural form as a human; he also saw him transfigured and in all his glory…I believe that when John saw this vision of Jesus, his mind went back to that mountaintop experience. I believe the combination of being caught up in the spirit and this encounter with Jesus gave John the confidence to write, and more importantly gives us the confidence to believe what he wrote.

Because of John’s unique experience with Jesus, he wrote the Book of Revelation with courage and confidence, living within the tension of the miraculous and the mysterious.

Evidence John Wrote the Book of Revelation

New Testament teacher Paul Hoskins states

A survey of the external evidence from the Church Fathers reveals strong support for the authorship of John the Apostle.

For many early church fathers, there was substantial evidence that John the Beloved wrote the Book of Revelation.

The external evidence from Church Fathers is significant. Justin Martyr’s famous debate with Trypho occurred in Ephesus around A.D. 135. In his work Dialogue with Trypho (81.4), he writes, “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.” Justin is undoubtedly referring to the book of Revelation and associating it with John the Apostle.

Author and minister Matthew Dowling wrote

Another second-century affirmation that the apostle John penned Revelation comes from Irenaeus. He introduced a string of quotations from Revelation with the statement, “John also, the Lord’s disciple, when beholding the sacerdotal and glorious advent of His kingdom, says in the Apocalypse.” Irenaeus’s words are valuable because he was a native of Smyrna, another of the seven churches John addressed in Revelation.

Justin and Irenaeus, along with many other early church fathers, provided evidence to support and authenticate John the Beloved’s authorship of Revelation.

Resources to Study Revelation

Managing the tension found in Revelation between beauty and mystery takes humility, devotion, and grace.

And it is vital that we learn how to approach and study the Book of Revelation effectively.

You can do so by signing up for our new online course: The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ: The Significance of the Book of Revelation in the First Century and Today.

In this course, Dr. Justin W. Bass takes you on a journey through the final book of the Bible to:

  • Explain the key themes, background, authorship, dating, and synthesis of the Book of Revelation.
  • Understand the eschatological views of the Bible: Heaven and the Underworld, the final Judgement and the Lake of Fire, Resurrection and the New Heavens and the New Earth.
  • Explain how the Book of Revelation has influenced key historical events and individuals over the last 1,900 years and still wields global influence to this day.
  • Cultivate a deeper love for God’s Word, specifically Revelation and walk boldly in the Spirit because of the ultimate victory that is ours in Christ Jesus.

With over six hours of in-depth video content, this course provides valuable insight into this beautiful and mysterious book known as Revelation.

If you’d like to learn more about the course and see how it can benefit you in your study of Revelation, click here.

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