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unimpaired memory. His followers were anxious to obtain his Gospel before age and infirmity told upon him. His Gospel differs in one respect very remarkably from that of the other Evangelists. They relate the signs which will precede and warn the Hebrew Christians of the destruction of Jerusalem. He omits that prediction, although he alone of the four Evangelists, heard it from the lips of our Lord. The conclusion is permissible that they wrote before the fall of the Temple. Whereas he had warned the Nazarene Church by means of the Revelation, and wrote his Gospel long after the event.
S. John died when Trajan came to the throne in the year 98. S. Irenæus says that he lived till the time of Trajan. “And all the presbyters of Asia that had conferred with John the disciple of our Lord testify that John had delivered it (sound doctrine) to them ; for he continued with them until the time of Trajan” (Cont. Hær., B. ii.). Again, “ But the Church in Ephesus also, which had been founded by Paul and where John continued to abide until the time of Trajan” (Cont. Hær., B. iii.). S. Jerome relates that age and weakness grew upon S. John so that he was no longer able to preach or make long discourses to the people. He used always to be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his disciples, with great difficulty; and every time said to his flock only these words; "My dear children, love one another.” When his audience wearied with hearing constantly the same thing, asked him why he always repeated the same words, he replied: "Because it is the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough” (S. Hier. in Galat., c. vi. See Jhn. xiii. 34, and xv. 12).
Here it is worthy of note that there were no churches in those days. Assemblies of the faithful were held in private houses, in which the Apostles, generally, lived. It is therefore probable that S. John was so enfeebled in the year 98, that he had to be carried from one part of the house to another.
S. John was, and is, greatly reverenced by Greek Christians, who call him “The Divine."
His feast is kept by the Church on the 27th December, and by the Greeks on the 26th September.
He died and was buried at Ephesus. Eusebius says, "the place of his burial is shown from the Epistle of Polycrates, who was bishop of the Church of Ephesus, which Epistle he wrote to Victor, bishop of Rome.” In this Epistle he writes: “ Moreover, John that rested on the bosom of our Lord, who was a priest that bore the sacerdotal plate, and martyr and teacher, he also rests at Ephesus" (H. E. iii. 31). Polycrates was bishop of Ephesus A.D. 190.
S. John was buried in the mountains above the town of Ephesus. His tomb attracted many pilgrims, and became a famous shrine. Miracles were wrought there. Even the dust of his tomb was venerated as holy, and carried away into far countries by pilgrims (S. Aug. Hom. 124, in Joan; S. Ephrem. Ant. Ap. Phot. Cod. 220; S. Gregory, Tur. de Glor. Mart., c. 30). There could be no mistake or doubt about his tomb. If other Johns were buried at Ephesus, the famous tomb of S. John had no rival. Justinian, A.D. 500, built a Basilica, called the Church of S. John, over the tomb.
Ancient Ephesus was ruined by the Seljuk Turks in 1090 A.D. It was rebuilt on the heights surrounding the Basilica, by the Byzantines, and renamed Hagios Theologos, " The Divine Theologian," S. John's title in the Greek Church. A hundred years later the Turks again took it and converted the Basilica into a mosque. In the year 1403, the hordes of Timur Leng destroyed Ephesus altogether.
HISTORY OF THE BOOK
It has been assumed in the biography of S. John, that on his return from Patmos, he took the custody of the Apocalypse into his own hands and kept a vigilant guard over it. The Neronian decrees were alive in principle, though dormant in practice, and there was that in the Apocalypse which would revive persecution if its contents were known.
Nothing happened to disturb this state of affairs for the rest of S. John's active life. But towards the close of the year 96, when he was in extreme old age, startling rumours of Roman persecution reached Ephesus from Corinth. It was rumoured that the Emperor Domitian, in a dynastic panic, had put to death almost all those who were eminent for virtue at Rome, and that many Christians were involved in this persecution.
Clemens Romanus, the fourth Pope, who was then at Rome, wrote an Epistle to the Church at Corinth (see “ Historic Notes "), in which he referred to persecution as impending, or begun, at Rome. He even compared the persecution with that of Nero, suggesting that it was the outcome of new and fierce Antichristian legislation. Domitian died in the month of September A.D. 96. The Epistle was written about that time. It gave rise, at Corinth, to an alarm of persecution, and the news spread quickly to the East. Rumour, like a river, gathers volume as it flows. We may be sure that when the news reached Ephesus, at the end of 96, the leaders of the Church consulted anxiously together, to prepare for the coming persecution.
It was known that the Revelation of S. John, written in the time of Nero, was a help to the persecuted Church. His Revelation was sought and found. S. John apparently refrained from explaining its esoteric meanings. His reasons for doing so were as strong as ever. Besides, he was too old to take an active part in this exciting rally. He died of old age, two years later. Churchmen copied the Apocalypse freely, both at Ephesus and Rome. They circulated it to the Churches of the East and West. But the meaning of it was lost. This multiplication of
copies shows that the dangers lurking in the political allusions of the Apocalypse were quite unknown.
The old Hebrew Servants of God were dead, “ The kingdom" had passed into the hands of the Gentiles. On the fall of Jerusalem, the primacy of the East passed to Antioch, a Gentile Church, where first the followers of Christ were known as Christians. At Rome, Linus, a native of Volterra, succeeded S. Peter. He was followed by Cletus in the second year of Titus, A.D. 81 (Euseb. H. E. iii. 13). Cletus was a Roman by birth. Clemens Romanus, the fourth Pope, living in the year 96, was also a Roman. The bishops of the Church in that year were everywhere, except at Jerusalem, men of Gentile birth. Even the Church of Jerusalem was drifting into the hands of Gentiles. Eusebius says of Hadrian's war with the Jews (A.D. 134): “Since this event we have shown that this Church consisted of Gentiles after those of the circumcision, and that Marcus was the first Bishop of the Gentiles that presided there” (H. E. v. 12). It seems probable, moreover, that the Gentile leaders of the Early Church were out of sympathy with the Jews and their religion. The Hebrew Scriptures were disliked as Jewish. The O.T. cypher of Revelation must have entirely escaped the knowledge of these men. It is certain that only those who were well acquainted with the verbal details of the Hebrew prophecies of the Old Law, could unravel the mysteries of the Apocalypse.
We assume that the Book was published and disseminated widely towards the close of Domitian's reign, and that later writers would connect the Book with that date.
Cerinthus, the Gnostic, of Ephesus, made the first attempt at Exegesis. He was not in the least likely to have seen the Book before this time. “That enemy of truth,” as S. John called him, was the last person to whom he would have shown his Revelation. Cerinthus was deeply impressed with the parousial views of the first century. He seized upon that part of Revelation containing the passage, “They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (R. xx. 4), and gave it a grossly material interpretation. Caius, a Roman Presbyter, who lived about a hundred years later, tells us something about him. “But Cerinthus said that after the resurrection there would be an earthly Kingdom of Christ, and that the flesh-i.e., menagain inhabiting Jerusalem, would be subject to desires and pleasures, that there would be a space of a thousand years for celebrating nuptial festivals” (Euseb. H. E. iii. 28). This Cerinthian view of a chiliad of years of sensual pleasures got the name of “Chiliasm.” It was accepted, with modifications
as to the nature of the earthly happiness, by a large and everwidening circle, whose chastened view of the thousand years of terrestrial pleasure was known as Millenarianism.
Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, early in the second century was a Millenarian. His Book, “Logion Kuriakon Exegesis," has perished, but portions of it are found in the works of Eusebius and other writers. Eusebius says that Papias relates some matters“ rather too fabulous.”... “In them he says there would be a certain millennium after the resurrection, and that there would be a corporal reign of Christ on this very earth.”... “He was the cause why most of the ecclesiastical writers, urging the antiquity of the man, were carried away by a similar opinion, as for instance Irenæus" (H. E. iii. 39). We may anticipate a little here by saying that Eusebius was one of the strongest opponents of Millenarianism.
S. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch 109-115 A.D., wrote letters to S. Polycarp, the Ephesians, Smyrnians, Philadelphians, Magnesians, Trallians, and Romans, in which there are no references to the Revelation of S. John, although the Revelation contains “ Letters " addressed to three of these churches by name, viz., Ephesus, Smyrna, and Philadelphia. Assuming that he had seen the Apocalypse, he evidently did not see the connection between the warnings and the Churches named.
S. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, a follower of S. John, wrote a letter to the Philippians in which there is no reference to the Apocalypse. He endorsed S. John's teaching as regards AntiChrist." "Everyone who hath not confessed that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is Antichrist " (Epist. to Philippians).
Montanus, a Mysian student of the Apocalypse, C. 136 A.D., proclaimed himself a prophet, and predicted that Christ was coming down quickly to Pepuza in Phrygia, to begin his millennial reign. He called upon all Christians to get ready for the second coming by repairing to Pepuza, there to lead lives of self-denial, abstinence from marriage, etc. He accepted the Cerinthian Millennium and applied it to his own time and country. He obtained his ideas from a literal interpretation of the “ Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia." In the Letter to the Angel of the Church of Philadelphia we read: “Behold I come quickly, hold fast that which thou hast that no man take thy crown" (R. iii. 11). And in the Letter to the Angel of the Church of Laodicea, we read, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. ... To him that shall overcome I will grant to sit with me in my throne, as I also have overcome, and have sat with my Father on his throne" (R. iii. 20, 21). These passages were taken by Montanus as foretelling an earthly kingdom to be established in the region of Philadelphia and Laodicea. His