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Our readers asked:

Who is the “John” that we read about in the book of Revelation?

Joe Paprocki Answers:

Although John is a very common name, there’s nothing “common” about the John we encounter in the Book of Revelation and elsewhere in the New Testament. If, in fact, the Gospel of John, the 3 Letters of John, and the Book of Revelation can all be attributed to the same author – the Apostle John – than we are in fact dealing with a very extraordinary author.

The introduction to the Book of Revelation in the New American Bible tells us that, although the author identifies himself as John, he never claims to be John the Apostle. Even so, he was identified as such by a number of Church Fathers while an equal number of Church Fathers denied this identity. The bottom line is that we really don’t know who this “John” is other than what he tells us himself, namely, that he is a Christian who has found himself on the island of Patmos, exiled there by the Romans for his proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus (Revelation 1:9). Although, contemporary Scripture scholars doubt that the Book of Revelation was written by the same author who wrote the Fourth Gospel, at the same time, they believe that the Book of Revelation may have been written by a disciple of John the Apostle, since there are similarities in language and theology between the two books and the author seems to carry a great amount of authority when speaking to the seven churches of Asia – an area that the Apostle John is traditionally associated with. It should be noted that early Christianity also identified the author of the Letters of John (1John, 2John, and 3 John) as the author of the Fourth Gospel. Today, Scripture scholars conclude that these works at least came out of the same “school of Johannine Christianity,” as described in the Introduction to 1John in the New American Bible.

The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
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