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The Apostle John and Canonization of NT

The Last living Apostle

(published 1984)

by the late Ernest Martin

The Apostle John and Canonization

     The apostle Peter was in Rome when he wrote his second (and
last) epistle. Paul was then dead, and Peter himself had only a
short time to live. This is why he told his readers in Asia Minor
that he was leaving them some official documents (which included
the epistles of Paul) that would keep them informed of the truth
until the return of Christ to the earth. The authority to perform
such a task was essentially in the hands of the three apostles
who had been with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration: Peter
and the Sons of Zebedee (James and John). And since Peter said
that "we have the word of prophecy more confirmed" (2 Pet.1:19)
it strongly implies that the apostle John was still alive and
some way involved with Peter in this canonization. And indeed he
was alive! Christ had given John the promise that he would live
beyond the martyrdom of Peter, even to remain alive "until I
come," or as Christ expressed it in the Greek, "until I am
coming" (John 21:22,23).
     The beliefs of the early church were just as strong that
John was in Asia Minor (notably in Ephesus) from the middle 60's
A.D. until his death, as they were that Peter died in Rome about
A.D.66 or A.D.67. There is little reason to doubt the truth of
these beliefs! This would mean that the apostle John was among
the people in Asia Minor to whom the apostle Peter wrote in his
second epistle. In effect, the epistle was telling John what he
and Paul had done in Rome concerning the canonization of the New
Testament Scriptures. It informed people that Peter was putting
in the hands of the apostle John the final job of sanctioning and
completing an ordained body of inspired Scriptures for the
Christian church. To Peter, John was the only other person who
had the prophetic spirit to accomplish such a task, since he was
the only person left alive who had been given that commission on
the Mount of Transfiguration.
     This special authority of John can be seen in a number of
verses within the New Testament revelation. For one, it should be
noted that the three men who witnessed the Transfiguration were
the only men of the original apostles who were given specific
titles by Christ. There was Simon (whom he titled Peter, a stone)
and James and John (whom he called "The Sons of Thunder"). See
Mark 3:16,17. These are the original apostles who were given
distinctive titles by Christ in order to convey some special
assignments that they were expected to complete. Peter was to be
associated with Christ (the Rock himself) in the creation of the
Christian church. This was accomplished in its initiation phases
with Peter on the Day of Pentecost some 50 days after the
resurrection of Christ (Acts 2). Peter was also given the "keys
of the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 16:19). These were to allow him
the power to open "the doors of the kingdom" to those who would
hear the Gospel. It even entailed an authority to bind or to
loose people regarding their entrance into that kingdom. (This
power was later extended to all the apostles, John 20:23). And it
appears certain that one of the main methods by which Peter would
be able to exercise the power of the "keys" was to be in charge
of the canonization of the New Testament. The information in the
canon would "open the doors" to all people who would read and
heed the written messages therein.
(That is Martin's understanding of Peter having the "keys" to the
Kingdom, there is a much different way of looking at what Jesus
told Peter, covered in my series of studies on "Church
Government" - Keith Hunt)

     The other two apostles who received specific titles were the
sons of Zebedee - James and John. They were reckoned by Christ as
being The Sons of Thunder. This title has proved a little
mysterious to many interpreters of the Bible because it gives one
the impression that the two brothers were headstrong, impetuous,
intolerant and authoritarian. And, this is true! But when it
comes to analyzing the letters of John he appears to sanction a
conciliation among peoples (especially those who claim the common
Christian faith) and that love and harmony ought to exist in
Christian relationships (I John 2:9-11). John was also the one
that Christ had a natural fondness for than the other apostles
(John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). But when one looks at the
Biblical account about the actions of these two brothers, they do
appear to be stern and uncompromising in their attitudes to evil.
They were the ones who asked Christ if fire should come down on
the heads of the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), and (with their mother)
their ambitions were so high that they asked Christ for positions
of supreme leadership alongside him (Matt.20:20-24). They were
certainly not mild-tempered! They were to be men of "Thunder." In
Hebrew "thunder" (kol) meant the "Voice of God" (Exo.9:23;
Psa.29:3; Jer.10:13; etc.). The title could signify that they
were to speak like God Himself - personal spokesmen for God!
This title gave them a special rank of authority and, along with
Peter, they were the only apostles to witness the Transfiguration
and to hear the voice of God the Father Himself (and in vision to
see Moses and Elijah) (Matt.17:1-9). 
(If indeed any human did ever hear the voice of God the Father,
it could well have been an angel speaking in the first person
tense, on behalf of God the Father. The question is open for
debate for sure - Keith Hunt)

     This experience rendered the jurisdiction of those three men
as superior to the other apostles and it singled them out for a
special purpose. Peter was to be in charge of church affairs
(Matt.16:17-19), but James and John were to have the distinction
of being "The Sons of Thunder" - to thunder forth His words to
the people as did Moses! And though James died early without
being able to show that authority in a lasting way, his brother
John was responsible for writing every word of the Book of
Revelation! This was Jesus Christ using John to be his spokesman
- to be the Voice of God to the people of the world. He was "the
Thunderer" to the world of God's message of judgment.

"And I saw another strong angel ... his face as the sun, and his
feet as pillars of fire ... and when he cried, the seven thunders
spake their VOICES. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was
about to write, and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal what
things the seven thunders SPOKE" (Rev.10:1-5).

     The apostle John was specifically commissioned to write what
the Voice of God (like the Thunder) would relate to him. This is
why he wrote his Gospel and the Book of Revelation to be included
in the canon of the New Testament. Such a task shows that John
was more specially selected to produce a canon of Scriptures
which would proclaim the official Voice of God than even Peter or
Paul! This is no doubt the reason that Peter sent his second
epistle (with the canonization that he and Paul had accomplished
in Rome) directly to John in Ephesus. It was recognized that he
was the actual one in charge of authorizing the final Scriptural
books. This is why Peter emphasized the experience that he and
John had witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ (2
Pet.1:16-19). The fact that this display of Christ's authority
was given only to Peter and the Sons of Thunder showed their high
rank among the apostles and the Christian church. It even got
them into trouble, temporarily, with Christ when their mother
(who understood the special relationship of her two sons to
Christ) asked that both of them sit on either side of Him when He
came into His kingdom (Matt.20:20-23). Christ could not give them
that authority since that was only within the power of the
Father, but John did sit by Him and recline in His bosom at the
Last Supper (John 13:23). This may indicate the special
relationship after all.

(It is possible John was selected, called or chosen in advance to
live to the end of the first century A.D. and certainly to write
the book of Revelation, but Martin I believe puts way too much
into thinking Peter, James and John, were some kind of "special"
high ranking THREE MUSKETEERS in the Church of God. Paul in
Galatians says he was not one wit behind the so-called "chiefest
apostle" and very bluntly said, "But of these who SEEMED to be
somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me, God
accepteth no man's person); for they who seemed to be somewhat in
conference, added nothing to me" Gal.2:6. The context of Paul in
those verses of Galatians shows NO "ranking" of ministers. There
are FUNCTIONS, each with gifts of the Spirit, and God used each
apostle according to His will. It is ceratin that the canon of
the New Testament was recognized as being formed by the time Paul
and Peter were to face death. Ceratinly John was recognized as a
true apostle of the Lord by those within the true Church of God -
Keith Hunt)

     There may be more concerning the rank of John than meets the
eye. It is usually not understood, but the mother of James and
John was none other than Salome (Matt.27:56 with Mark 15:40) who
was the sister of Mary, the mother of Christ (Hastings, Dict. of
Christ and the Gospels, vol.I.p.846). This means that Christ and
John were first cousins! James, the head of the church at
Jerusalem (No do not think so as, James was a "pillar" but "head
of" is way too strong a phrase when you understand the truth on
the subject of Church Government - Keith Hunt) and Jude (the
writer of the short epistle) were also his first cousins! Unlike
Peter or Paul, the apostle John would have been acquainted with
Christ from childhood! No wonder he had been close to Christ! It
seems that a "family tie" to Christ was important in an authority
sense. The first cousin status of John to Christ may account, in
one way, why he and his brother were afforded such a high
position of rank. Along with Peter, the two Sons of Thunder were
prominent in the history of the Christian church both before and
after the resurrection of Christ. Note some indications which
show this.

(Again, Martin puts way too much emphasis on trying to make out
these three had some "high ranking position" for some high
ranking work, within the Church of God. They may have been called
and chosen to have "special" work per se, but Paul, in his "work"
and in his "calling" to preach and teach and write 14 books of
the New Testament, as we have seen from Galatians 2, had no
thoughts of being "higher ranked" than anyone, no matter where
they stood with Christ on the physical level when Jesus lived as
a human person - Keith Hunt).

     Besides having been specially selected to witness the
Transfiguration and hear the voice of the Father himself, Peter,
James and John were with Christ when He raised Jairus' daughter
(Mark 5:37). They were a part of the limited group who heard the
Olivet Prophecy of Christ (Mark 13:3). Peter and John (note that
Peter's name is placed first) were the two apostles who were sent
to make ready the Passover (Luke 22:8). In the Garden of
Gethsemane it was Peter, James, and John who were especially near
Christ (note, again, the positioning of their names, Peter first
and John last) (Mark 14:33; Matt.26:37). In the record about the
appearance of Christ after His resurrection at the Sea of
Galilee, Peter and the Sons of Thunder have special mention (John
21:2-7). And when it came time to be sent on assignments by
Christ note that John is the prominent one with Peter doing most
of the executive work. Indeed, when the two are mentioned
together, it is always "Peter and John" (Acts 3:1,11; 4:13;
8:14). And in the last discourse that we have in the Gospel of
John, it is Christ first talking to Peter to tell him that he
would die a martyr's death for his faith, but that John would
continue to live "until I am coming" (John 21:15-23).

(All of this by Martin is still fancy ideas based on a scene of
shifting sand, based on what men may guess and add to a context
of human lives around Christ, for reasons that were never meant
to teach you that some individuals had pre-eminense in "rank" or
"favorit-ism" with Christ or God the Father. Paul BLOWS AWAY in
his letter to the Galatians chapter one and two, any notions such
as Martin puts forth. Whatever God allows or dis-allows when
working with human beings is entirely His will, but He has no
respect of persons, nor is He giving them the green light to some
"ranking position" in the Church of Christ - Keith Hunt)
     The association of Peter and John together in crucial times
for preaching the Gospel, or in receiving important doctrinal
teachings from Christ was no accident! And even the fact that
Peter's name appears before that of John's (when they are
mentioned together) shows a rank of authority. It is significant
that in the manuscript order of the New Testament books, Peter's
two epistles among the seven General Epistles are positioned
before the three of John. This arrangement of names is according
to the rank of authority of the men.

(Not so, if it was so, then Paul "out-ranked" Peter and John, as
his letters come before Peter and John. Hummmm .... with this
reasoning of Martin, then Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, out-
ranked Paul, Peter, James, and John, as they come first in the
New Testament. This thinking is all topsy-turvy, and just
rediculous to get into. Paul blows it all away into the dust by
his teaching in Galations 2. There was NO "RANK" of authority in
the Christian church of God. There were FUNCTIONS - ones chosen
by God to do certain things that God, wanted done, when He wanted
them done - Keith Hunt)
     One more thing about John should be mentioned. Not only were
his mother and Christ's mother sisters (and this gave John some
preeminence) but we find that Mary (and obviously her sister,
Salome) were in some way connected with priestly ancestry. How
this occurs is not easy to determine because the New Testament
makes it clear that Mary (and Salome) were of the house of David
(Luke 1:32,69). But for some strange reason, Mary was a kinswoman
of Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah and the mother of John the
Baptist. There can be no doubt that Zechariah and John the
Baptist were legitimate priests of the lineage of Aaron.
Obviously, the laws of the Old Testament demanded that the wife
of a priest, as Zechariah was, also had to be of priestly
ancestry. So, in some way, John the Baptist, the Sons of Thunder
(James and John), and Christ Jesus were all kin to one another
through their mothers! Does this mean that there was some
priestly blood in them as well? It seems almost impossible for
this to be so, but there are a few indications that this may in
fact have been the case, though how this is possible no one is
presently aware! For example, it is interesting that the apostle
John, of all the apostles, was the one who was acquainted with
the High Priest at the time of Christ's trial (John 18:16). There
was an early tradition that John was of priestly ancestry.
Polycrates in the late second century said that "John, who leant
back on the Lord's breast, became a sacrificing priest wearing
the mitre, a martyr and a teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus"
(Eusebius, Eccl.Hist. 111.31). Interestingly, Hegesippus who
belonged to the first generation after the apostles said that
James, who was the first cousin of John, wore priestly garments
and was able to enter the Holy Place in the Temple at Jerusalem
(ibid. II.23). Epiphanius a little later also recorded that
James, the Lord's brother, was a priest (Haer. XXVII.14).
Whatever all of these indications mean is not sufficiently
understood by us moderns, but it does show that the kinsmen of
Christ (John the Baptist, James of the Jerusalem church, and the
Sons of Thunder) were recognized in early times as having high
ranks among the Jews because of noble births, Davidic and perhaps

(Interesting maybe, to a point. God does use at times people of
the same general family. We had Moses and Aaron. Abraham and Lot.
Joseph and his 11 brothers to form the nation of Israel. But God
uses INDIVIDUALS many times, with no relation to any other that
He uses before, after, or at the same time. Paul had no
relationship in the physical blood line with Jesus or any other
of the apostles as far as we know. How much greater can any man
have been used in the first century A.D. (other than when Jesus
was physical man) than Paul, who was inspired to write 14 books
of the New Testament. Ernest Martin is here trying to build a
house or argument on sand. It is surfice to know that the
apostles of the first century KNEW from the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit WHAT was to be canonized as NEW Testament Scripture.
The Holy Spirit worked in many a POWERFUL and MIGHTY way during
the lives of the first apostles. John was one of them, and so he
would have been inspired to pass on to the NT church exactly what
the canon of Scriptures were to be for the New Testament till the
return of Christ - Keith Hunt) 

     What has all this, however, to do with the canonization of
the New Testament? The blood relationship of these men to Christ
gave them a decided advantage over all the other apostles. 

(Not so, or only so, if you take away the INSPIRATION of the Holy
Spirit. God does not need "blood lines" or "physical relationship
lines" to do His work. Paul, Peter, John, etc. were quite capable
of being INSPIRED to KNOW exactly what God wanted as inspired
canon Scripture of the New Testament - Keith Hunt) 

     The Sons of Thunder would no doubt have grown up around
Christ in Galilee. They would have known Him very well! This is
why John (with Peter) had "the word of prophecy more confirmed."

(Not so as such, he had the word of prophecy more confirmed
simply because God chose it to be so - Keith Hunt)

     This special rank is no doubt the reason Peter handed the
material that he had collected and arranged in Rome to John in
Ephesus for the final canonization of the New Testament. 

(Really no such proof exists of this happening, in or out of the
Bible - only conjecture from Martin - Keith Hunt)

     He was a "Son of God's Voice" and eminently qualified to do
the job. The title that Christ gave him points to that authority,
and the fact that he witnessed the Transfiguration was another

(It does not prove anything as to what Martin wants it to prove -
he's "reading into" the texts something of his own imagination -
Keith Hunt)

     John, then, became the final "Thunder (Voice) of God" to the
Christian church. He became the official spokesman for the truth.
This role seems reflected in the introduction of his first
epistle. He represented many of the original apostles when he
wrote First John. Note how clear this fact is in John's prologue.

"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have
seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and our hands handled,
concerning the word of the life (and the life was manifested, and
we have seen and witness, and declare to you the life, the
eternal, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us);
what we have seen and heard declare we to you also, that you also
may have fellowship with us, yes and our fellowship is with the
Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, and these things WE WRITE
that our joy may be full. And this message which we have heard
from him and announce to you, that God is light and in him is no
darkness at all" (I John 1:1-6).

(True John was writing with inspired authority on the things he
was going to reveal in his book - Keith Hunt)

     John makes it plain that when he wrote his first epistle,
many of the original apostles and others must have still been
alive. They were now associated with him as witnesses to the
truth of what John was saying. But then, beginning with chapter
two, John ceases to mention the "WE" and starts a singular
pronoun: "My little children, I write unto you" (I John 2:1). His
reference to the first person singular continues throughout the
rest of the first epistle, and is only abandoned in one verse (I
John 4:14) where he reverts to the "WE." The point is, the role
of John in the writing of that epistle shows him being a
Spokesman for a body of witnesses who saw Christ in the flesh!
This is John exercising his commission as being a Spokesman for
others which was given to him by Christ.

(Well he was inspired of Christ, and as John lived to old age,
outliving in one way or another, the other apostles, he was the
spokesman of apostolic inspiration - Keith Hunt)

John's Final Canonization

     The Gospel of John must have been written for the generality
of the Christian church as a final summing-up of the teachings of
Christ. It has seemed reasonable to most people that John had the
other three Gospels in front of him when he wrote his account,
and that his Gospel was an attempt to round-off and complete the
message which Christ had given in the flesh. Everything points to
it as being the latest of the Gospels to be written. Not only is
it squeezed into a position between the Gospel of Luke and the
Book of Acts (which normally should be in tandem to one another),
but it records events which people of a later time would find
relevance. For example, the raising of Lazarus from the dead is
one of the most outstanding miracles in the Bible, but it has
been a headscratcher why the other three Gospels said not one
word about it. But if the other Gospels were written sometime
earlier (when Lazarus was still alive) and they recorded the
occurrence of that miracle, it stands to reason that such
publicity would have made it impossible for Lazarus to carry on
any kind of normal life. He would have been deluged with
questions from his admirers, and his enemies would have wanted to
silence his testimony to the extraordinary power which was
manifested by Christ. But by the time John wrote his Gospel,
Lazarus could have been dead and the account of his miraculous
resurrection could be given without personal injury to Lazarus.
This explanation is as good as any as to why that glorious
miracle was not recorded in the earlier Gospels. It can also show
that John's Gospel was not written early.

(Again, this is just deductions from the mind of Martin. Lazarus
he says, "could have been dead" - notice the words "could have" -
Lazarus could also have been in Britain as some histories record.
John did not need the other Gospels in front of him either, maybe
could have had them, but could have not as well, for John was
inspired to write what he wrote, and the Holy Spirit of
inspiration does not have to have help from the physical world of
pen, parchment, and humans. When we believe God inspires as He
wills, we need not try to figure out the "could have been" this
or that in the physical world - Keith Hunt)

     The Gospel appears to be a late composition because there is
a fully developed theological position presented on every major
event in the life and teachings of Christ. In fact, John's
account is a thorough-going interpretation of Christ's life
rather than a simple historical narrative. It is decidedly
contrary to the materialistic concepts that were often associated
with the Messianic beliefs in ordinary Jewish theology. John
gives a "spiritual" twist to almost all the various teachings of
Christ. His concepts show that a good deal of long and
well-thought-out principles had been determined as representing
Christianity, and they were very distinct from Judaism.

(Inspiration is the simple answer to such human thoughts of
trying to figure the nuts and bolts of it all - Keith Hunt)

     The general feeling that one gets in reading John's Gospel
is that it was written to supplement and to round-out the
information supplied by the first three Synoptic Gospels. John
emphasized the fact that "all the truth" was then in one's grasp
through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and that all future events
which were important for the Christian church to know were then
completely available. 

(Of course, inspiration from God in the Lord's own time frame can
have John writing with inspiration, HOW, and WHEN, and WHY -
Keith Hunt)

     Note once again the teachings of Christ in John 16:12,13.

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them
now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he shall guide you
into ALL the truth, for he shall not speak from himself; but
whatsoever things he heareth, these shall he speak, and he will
declare unto you the things to come."

     It is significant that John insists that the Holy Spirit
will deliver "all the truth," that it will come through divine
inspiration, and that it would involve the understanding of
future (prophetic) events! These two verses given by John are
powerful vindications that the Christian message was complete
when John wrote his Gospel. John's final comments in his Gospel
reflect this same conclusion.

"And many other things did Jesus also do, the which if they be
written every one, I suppose that not even the world itself would
in the future find a place to contain the books written" (John
21:25, Greek expanded).

     These concluding remarks by John make one feel that John
thought any further Gospels were redundant. In paraphrase, John
was saying "Thousands of Gospels could be written in the future
about Christ, but these four are enough! So be content and don't
be desirous of obtaining more information about Christ and his
teachings other than that which I have given you!"

(I can accept what Martin says here, for now he is using inspired
Scripture. John was the last of the apostles to live, he lived
the longest of all the apostles, to near the very end of the
first century, hence indeed he would, being inspired, KNOW
exactly which writings God wanted as the New Testament canon -
Keith Hunt)

When Was the Book of Revelation Written?

     It is important to date the times of composition of the
various New Testament books because this is the first step in
providing a benchmark to help determine when the final
canonization took place. The Book of Revelation is cardinal to
the whole issue. Since there is strong tradition that the apostle
John lived till the end of the first century and that Revelation
was written by him near his death, this would seem to date the
completion of the canon to about A.D.96 to 98. 

     There have been, however, a good number of scholars over the
past hundred and fifty years who have leaned heavily towards the
early or mid-60's A.D. for its composition simply because the
historical indications within the book point directly to that
time. And true enough, if John was recording historical events
contemporary with the writing of the book, then the composition
must be dated to about A.D.60. Let us look at some of the reasons
for this.

     It will be recalled in previous chapters that the apostles,
and many Jews and Gentiles, were expecting the soon appearing of
the Messianic kingdom on earth. The critical date for the
apostles appears to have been the sabbatical year of A.D.62 to
A.D.63. Up to that time the apostle Paul was emphasizing the
nearness of the second advent, 

(Not fully so, for Paul KNEW certain events HAD TO COME TO PASS
before Jesus could return, as he wrote about in the letters to
the Thessalonians [see 1 Thes.5 and 2 Thes.2] and those letters
are by most scholars, recognized as his FIRST letters of all that
he wrote to various churches and people, about 50/51 A.D. - Keith

but by A.D.63 or A.D.64 he had adopted a completely different
attitude to the matter. 

(No, his attitude had not changed, certain events had to come to
pass, as he already knew that fact before 63 A.D.; and so there
was never any change of theology by the time of 63 A.D. and after
- Keith Hunt)

     The apostles Peter and John may have waited until after the
miraculous events in the Spring of A.D.66 concerning the Temple
before they decided for certain that Christ was not returning in
that generation, but whatever the case, the period before A.D.62
was alive with expectation.

(Not one single word backs up Martin's statement here - there is
not one word in the entire New Testament to prove what Ernest
Martin has just said - Keith Hunt)

     This fact brings us to the first reason why the Book of
Revelation could have been written around A.D.60 (if there is a
historical basis to its contents). This is because the book
presents, in a profound way, the nearness of the second advent.

(And it still does today, for it is an ever living book, in the
main for the last 42 months of this age, before Jesus comes again
- Keith Hunt)

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show
unto his servants things that must shortly come to pass ... for
the time is at hand" (Rev.1:1,3).
"The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto
his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I
come quickly ... for the time is at hand ... And, behold, I come
quickly ... Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so come, Lord
Jesus" (Rev.22:6,7,10,12,20).

     This appeal to the soon advent of Christ is also found in
the messages to the Seven Churches of chapters two and three.

"I will come unto thee quickly ... Repent; or else I will come
unto thee quickly ... hold fast till I come ... thou shalt not
know what hour I will come upon thee ... Behold, I come quickly
... Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev.2:5,16,25;

     Coupled with these verses about the imminence of the second
advent, there was John's reference that some of the people who
actually pierced Christ at his crucifixion would seemingly be
alive at his return (Rev.1:7). 

(This could just mean, the "Jews" - they, or the race of people
who in effect crucified Jesus. It does not have to refer to the
actual physical people who nailed Him to the cross - Keith Hunt)

     Further, John describes the Temple at Jerusalem as being
very much in existence in Revelation 11:1,2 and this would demand
a pre-A.D.70 period before the Temple was destroyed. John's
indication that Jerusalem had a population of about 70,000
persons (Rev.11:13) could only apply to the time before the war.
In fact, the Tenth Legion occupied the central area of Jerusalem
after A.D.70 and in no way could the population be then about

(This prophecy has nothing to do with the THEN Jerusalem of
before 70 A.D. Where Martin gets the number 70,000 from is beyond
me, for verse 13 says "seven thousand" and nowhere in the entire
chapter is 70,000 mentioned. This is an end time prophecy of the
two witnesses and contains a period of 42 months, verse 2. No
such period is recorded in history concerning Titus' armies
destroying Jerusalem in 70 A.D. - Keith Hunt)

     Another point that shows an early date of composition are
two statements made by John in which he indicated that to be
reckoned as Jewish was, in that time, an honorable and desirable
thing. The two references concern the desire of some people in
the church to be Jewish, though in actual fact they were not Jews
(Rev.2:9; 3:9). These two statements indicate an early writing of
Revelation because after the Jewish/Roman War of A.D.66 to 74,
there was hardly a heretical Christian (or any Gentile Christian)
who wanted to be identified with the Jewish people. During and
after the war the Jewish people were held in disdain throughout
the Roman Empire because of the war and (what Gentiles
considered) their anti-social behavior. But before A.D.66 it was
quite popular among Christians to be "Jewish." 

(The phrase "which say they are Jews and are not" can just as
easily be applied to "spiritual Jews" - as Paul wrote a "Jew" is
really one that is one inwardly (Romans 2:28,29), and may have
nothing at all to do with what Martin has just stated - Keith

     The biggest problem that Paul had to cope with among his
Gentile converts was their persistent hankering to become Jews or
to adopt Jewish ways. Paul even found them wishing to be
supervised by Jewish/Christian authorities (2 Cor.ll & 12). But
this desire of Christians to identify with the Jews stopped
forthwithly by the end of the Jewish/Roman War. Indeed, the "Book
of Barnabas" which was written near the end of the first century
by a Jewish/Christian was decidedly anti-Jewish in its themes. It
is well recognized that even the Gospel of John, from beginning
to end, is never flattering to the Jews. So the references in
Revelation that people were still desiring to be identified with
Jews is evidence against a post-A.D.70 period for its

(No, simply because the phrase in Revelation may have nothing to
do with anything just stated by Martin. It may well be just a way
of saying that some people called themselves "spiritual" Jews,
inward Jews, as Paul said a true Jew was, but God knew they were
not true Christians or "spiritual Jews" at all - Keith Hunt)

     Another reason for suggesting an early writing is the
mention that some heretics were calling themselves "apostles"
(Rev.2:2). To imagine that one could be an apostle like the
original ones selected by Christ was seldom, if ever, imposed
upon the Christian church after A.D.70. This is because there
were special New Testament requirements to become an apostle that
later people had no hope of meeting. For one, it was essential
that each apostle had to have "seen" Christ (I Cor.9:1) and there
had to be many miraculous signs associated with their ministries
(2 Cor.12:12). It is noteworthy that the later church, after
A.D.70, had no quarrel over who was or was not an apostle. But in
pre-A.D.70 times, this was a major problem (2 Cor.11:13-15). So,
the reference to false apostles of Revelation 2:2 would tend to
place the writing of the book before the fall of Jerusalem if a
historical basis is what John intended.

(No again, I say, for the word "apostle" mearly means "one sent
forth" - so within a certain "context" such as Revelation being
written much later than 70 A.D. the word "apostle" means some
people were saying God had sent them forth with His truth to
preach it, but were in fact "false prophets" and "false teachers"
and were not sent forth by God, inspired by God, or had any true
connection with God at all - Keith Hunt)

     There are other reasons to suspect a pre-A.D.70 date for the
writing of the Book of Revelation. If one will observe closely
the historical features that seem to be found in the book, one
has to look within the emperorship of Nero or the rule of Agrippa
the Second to find such occurrences. For example, when John wrote
the book he mentioned that five rulers had already seased to have
power and that a sixth was then having the sovereignty
(Rev.17:10). All realize that at the time John wrote the Book of
Revelation the principal world empire was Rome. If John had in
mind the Roman emperors when he spoke of the sixth ruler, then
the composition of Revelation was in the time of Nero (A.D.54 to
A.D.68). Though Nero was actually the fifth emperor, but in a
prophetical sense the Jews reckoned Julius Caesar as the first
emperor (cf. Antiq.XVIH.33,225). The second was Augustus; the
third, Tiberius; fourth, Gaius; fifth, Claudius; and the sixth
was Nero.

(As Martin says "if John had in mind" - but John did not have in
mind. John was in vision in "the Lord's day" - the prophectic
time mentioned in many prophecies in the Old Testament. As Martin
will later say, this prophecy for Revelation was NOT for the time
of the Roman Empire of the first century - Keith Hunt)

     Or, if one thinks John was talking about the rulers of
Jerusalem rather than Rome (since it is clear that John's
"Mystery Babylon" was Jerusalem), it could reasonably be
suggested that Herod the Great was the first king of the prophecy
and that Agrippa the Second was the "sixth." [Eusebius quoted an
early prophetic belief that once the Jews ceased having native
kings, the Messiah would then be able to arrive on earth (Eccl.
Hist. I.6). The prophecy was interpreted as starting with Herod.]
So, if Herod, the non-Jew, were reckoned as being the first king,
the second would have been his son Archelaus, the third the Roman
government which controlled Judaea until the rule of Agrippa the
First (who would have been the fourth) (A.D.37-45). The fifth was
again the Roman government (A.D.45-56), and the sixth king (if
Jerusalem, not Rome, is made the center of John's prophecy) would
have been Agrippa the Second (A.D.56 to 70).

(It is all to no avail this idea, for the book of Revelation is
clearly in the most part for the "Lord's day" or "Day of the
Lord" or "the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be
able to stand" [Rev.6:17]. It has nothing to do with the first
century A.D. - Keith Hunt)

     Whether one looks at Rome or Jerusalem as the political
power being discussed, we find the historical indications are
almost parallel to the years of Nero's rule. Thus (if a
contemporary historical basis is found in the Book of
Revelation), the date for its writing was somewhere in the period
A.D.54 to A.D.68. But there is a further factor that could help
pinpoint the time even closer.

(Once more, the fact of the book itself and its prophecy is for
the END TIME - the last 42 months, 1260, a time, times, and
dividing of a time, as mentioned in the book itself - for then
the last 42 months of this age - Keith Hunt)

     In Revelation there is given a clear reference to the city
of Laodicea as being rich and prosperous (Rev.3:17,18). But in
A.D.60/61 Laodicea suffered a devastating earthquake (Tacitus,
Ann. 14.27). It is hardly possible that Laodicea could have been
rebuilt and once more rich and prosperous by the beginning of the
Jewish/Roman War in A.D.66 - or even before the death of Nero
(A.D.68). Thus a date around A.D.60 for the composition of the
book could make good sense. And, as stated earlier, A.D.60 is
just before the critical sabbatical year of A.D.62 to A.D.63
which was expected to usher in the major events leading up to the
second advent of Christ. 

(No! The NT is silent on the dates of 62 and 63 A.D. They are NOT
mentioned anywhere. Nor is the idea that the apostles were
looking to those years as some BIG mile-stone in a prophetic time
table. Laodicea could well have been once more re-built and
prosperous by the near end of the first century, as that is the
most recognized time for John to have written Revelation. Many
have said, using an historical base that it could apply to the
time of Domitian [A.D.81-96] - Keith Hunt)

     The Book of Revelation was certainly emphasizing the soon
appearing of Christ's return from heaven! From all of this, it
seems reasonable that Revelation could have been written about
A.D.60, just before the end-time events were expected to occur.

(The "soon appear" of Christ in the context of the last 42 months
and "day of God's wrath" on this age, proves Jesus will soon
appear WHEN those last 42 months of this age are upon us. It is a
living prophecy still for the future - Keith Hunt)

     This, however, is just the problem with the early date for
its composition. Since the information within the Book of
Revelation is reported to have come from Jesus Christ Himself,
and not John (Rev.1:1), this seems to indicate that even Christ,
some 30 years after His resurrection and ascension to heaven, was
confident of His return to earth very quickly. He was persistent
in the book that "I come quickly." But Christ, of course, did not
come back as depicted in the Book of Revelation or the other New
Testament books. It would be daft indeed to imagine that Christ
actually did come back to earth between A.D.63 and A.D.70. Yet,
strange as it may seem, there appears to have been a few people
who insisted that he did! By the year A.D.65 Paul was reporting
the errors of some people who believed that a resurrection from
the dead had already occurred (2 Tim.2:18). Since the apostles
taught that Christ's second advent would be accompanied by the
resurrection from the dead, there must have been some who taught
that Christ had somehow "returned" - perhaps in a mystic or
secret manner! Paul, however, assured Timothy that this in no way
had happened!

(Those teaching the resurrection had already come, may not have
been trying to tie it up with Jesus having also then come. It is
not explained to us by Paul, the "theology" behind such a
teaching that the resurrection had already come. Guessing at the
theology behind it is just that - guessing - Keith Hunt)

     The fact is, Christ did not return "quickly" in the decade
of the 60's A.D. This is one of the many reasons why the book
cannot have a contemporary historical basis to it! If it does,
the book records that Christ's predictions of "I come quickly"
were a failure and no self-respecting Christian would want to
perpetuate in a canon of official books (or any other serious
library) such a book of falsehood. On the other hand, if the
contents of the book apply to the period of the endtime, all can
then make reasonable sense!

(Now Ernest Martin begins to start getting into the truth of the
matter, where I can agree - Keith Hunt)

     As for me, the answer seems clear. The Book of Revelation
has no chronological or historical relevance in its message as
far as the first century is concerned. (Amen!! Keith Hunt) 

     It is describing a special time in the future called the Day
of the Lord in which all end-time events will take place. The
text simply says that John "came to be in the Spirit in the
Lord's Day" (Rev.1:10), that is, he was transported in vision
into the Day of the Lord. Even his "seeing" the visions in the
Isle of Patmos had a visionary aspect to them because, again, the
text says: "I came to be in the isle called Patmos." It was a
spiritual, or visionary, experience that took him to Patmos, not
something literal! Indeed, the whole book is made up of symbolic
and allegorical teachings which must be carefully interpreted to
understand their literal applications.

     The allegorical illustrations throughout the book were
intended to describe events at the end of the age, not those of
the first century!!

     We find that John was witnessing in vision the crucial
events leading up to the Day of the Lord, those that incorporated
it, and those concerning the outcome of the "Day" (Rev.1:19).
Thus, when Christ said throughout the book that His return from
heaven was to occur very quickly, those statements have to be
interpreted within the time period near the Day of the Lord. If
this is the way Revelation is to be understood, then the events
must be reckoned as allegorical and prophetic without reference
to any past historical events or chronological time periods.

     When was Revelation written? If one looks at the traditional
evidence that comes to us from the middle second century and
shortly afterward, one has to date the composition of the Book of
Revelation to the LAST DECADE of the FIRST century (Irenaeus,
Adv. haer. 5.3 0.3). There is little doubt in my mind that this
period is the correct one!!

     The main evidence that persuades me of this is in the Bible
itself. In the last chapter of the Gospel of John we find Christ
telling the apostle Peter that he would die an old man by
martyrdom (John 21:18,19). But Christ also had something to say
about the apostle John (the one who wrote the Gospel and the Book
of Revelation). Twice he said: "I am willing that he be remaining
until I am coming" (John 21:22,23).

     This statement by Christ has been an enigma to many for
generations. Just what did he mean that John would live beyond
the death of Peter "until I am coming"? Even in the first century
there was confusion over the prophecy. Some people thought it
meant that John would continue to live until the second advent
(verse 23). John, however, assured his readers that Christ did
not mean that. Indeed, he couldn't have intended that meaning
because Christ had earlier prophesied that John and his brother
James would both undergo martyrdom (Matt.20:23). The New
Testament said that his brother James was killed by Agrippa the
First (Acts 12:2), and other early records relate that John was
also martyred for his faith in his later years of life (Eusebius,

     What then, did Christ mean when he said John would live to
an old age beyond Peter's death "until I am coming"? The answer
is simple if one will let examples within the Biblical Revelation
be the guide. A similar statement was made by Christ in Matthew
16:27,28. Let us quote it in full.

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with
His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his
works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which
shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in
his kingdom."

     In Luke's Gospel the parallel account says that the
fulfillment of that very prophecy happened just eight days later
(Luke 9:28). And true enough, some of those apostles (namely
Peter, James and John) did see or observe Christ "coming" in the
glory of his Father. That occurred when they were taken to the
Mount of the Transfiguration and Christ was glorified in their
presence. It was like a "second advent" because Moses and Elijah
were also seen with him, and that type of experience would only
be actually seen at the resurrection of the dead which was to
happen at the exact time of His second advent (I Cor.15:50-55; I
Thess.4:13-18). And most importantly, it should be noted that the
glorious event of the Transfiguration was not an actual "second
advent." The whole affair was a vision (Matt.17:9). This prophecy
of Christ, that some would not die before they would see him
coming in His kingdom, did in fact take place 6 days later (or 8
days later inclusively). That is when the vision of Christ's
second advent took place!
     With this example in mind, look once again at what Christ
told Peter in John 21:22,23. Peter was to be martyred in old age
(which happened to the apostle about A.D.67), but John would
remain on earth "until I am coming." This is what transpired.
Christ had told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would inspire
the apostles into a knowledge of "all the truth" and also
"declare to you the coming things" (John 16:13). They were to be
given an understanding of prophecy, of future events! And in John
21:22,23 Christ was informing Peter who it would be who would
remain "until I am coming," to see "those things." It was to be
the apostle John.
     Christ's statement in John 21:22,23 was nothing more than a
prophecy that the apostle John would remain on earth beyond
Peter's death to see Christ's coming in vision - like the vision
on the Mount of Transfiguration. In short, he was giving him a
prophecy about the message in the Book of Revelation which would
be shown to John after Peter's death! And remarkably, we are told
four different times in Revelation that John was taken in spirit
(which means in vision) into a period of time or locations to see
the prophesied end-time events (Rev.1:10; 4:1,2; 17:3; 21:10).
     All of this concerned the "coming" of the Lord back to
earth. But more than that, the exact Greek word which described
the time unto which John would live was "erchomai," - "I am
coming" (John 21:22,23). And note what is found in the Book of
Revelation itself. In Revelation 2:5 we find the same word
"erchomai" - and it occurs throughout the book (Rev.2:16; 3:31;
16:15; 22:7,12,20). These occurrences of the same word as found
in John 21:22,23 represent a link-up of John's Gospel with the
Book of Revelation.

     All of this shows that Christ was telling the apostle John
that he would live long after the death of the apostle Peter to
witness the second advent of Christ (and the events associated
with it) in the visions of the Book of Revelation. This is the
main reason why it seems appropriate to date its composition LONG
AFTER the 60's A.D. It is more compatible with the teaching of
Scripture and the early traditions that the book was written in
the LAST DECADE of the first century. This also has the virtue of
relieving Christ Jesus of making statements that His second
advent would occur very quickly in the time of Nero (A.D.54 to

     The upshot of this matter means that the final canonization
by John must have taken place long after Peter and Paul were
dead. Things will make far better overall sense when this is
accepted as nearest to the truth. (I fully agree with Martin's
last deduction of this chapter - Keith Hunt). 
     In a later chapter we will show why this understanding
becomes important in evaluating the proper manuscript order of
the New Testament books. It means that the complete number of 27
books was sanctioned by the apostle John (and his helpers). Those
writings were placed in their various divisions and in a
particular order so that the Christian church, from the close of
the first century, would have a divinely inspired set of books
which would dovetail with the 22 Old Testament books to form the
complete Bible.

     It is now time to look at the divisions and order of those
New Testament books which were canonized by John. The next
chapter begins with a survey of the Gospels and the Book of Acts.


To be continued

Entered on this Website May 2008

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