HIS LIFE :
St John was the disciple who was closest to the Lord.He was a fisherman like St Peter. We celebrate his day on the 8th May each year. He wrote the Fourth Gospel. He is buried at Ephesus. The local people say that on his name day a dust comes out from his tomb which they call "manna." The people pick up this dust and they use it to cure all kinds of ailments and sickness because of its miraculous healing powers.
St John was the second son of Zebedee and Salome. He was the brother of James the Elder. He lived in Bethsaida in Galilee.He is the Apostle of Love. He is also the Theologos of the Christian Faith.He was an uneducated man, yet the Holy Spirit gave him the power to write the Gospel. His words are the words of God.
THE LAMB OF GOD:
John The Baptist first introduced St John to the Lord with the words " There is the Lamb of God." ( John 1:36-37). St John was with St Andrew at the time. The Bible says the two Apostles then spent the whole day with the Lord.Jesus officially called St John and his brother St James to be his disciples when they were overhauling their nets on the Sea of Galilee. The two men " leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men," followed the Lord straight away (Mark 1:19-20).
THE LAST SUPPER:
At the Last Supper, it was St John who asked the Lord, who it was that was going to betray him. The Lord replied "It is the man to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." (John 13:26). The Lord then gave the bread to Judas.
When all the other Apostles had abandoned Jesus, it was only St John who followed him to the cross. Jesus entrusted St John to look after Our Holy Theotokos with the words "Mother,there is your son," and to St John he said "There is your mother." (John 19:26-27). From that moment St John took the Virgin Mary into his home.
St John preached in Asia and Ephesus. He wrote his Gospel, Revelations and the three Epistles in the New Testament. He ordained bishops,clerics and built churches. When the second persecution of the Christians started in the reign of Domitian in 96 he was bound and taken to Rome. He was thrown in a vat filled with boiling oil. He came out unharmed and was exiled to Patmos where he wrote Revelations. He returned to Ephesus after the death of the tyrant Domitian, and wrote his Gospel after Matthew,Mark and Luke had wrote theirs along with his three Epistles. He lived till the age of 95.
EXILE AND REVELATIONS:
Whilst on Patmos St John had the visions which are described in Revelations 1:1-11. Christ made known to St John things which are happening and which will occur in the future.
"He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,who, in telling all that he saw, has borne witness to the Word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ." Rev 1: 2.
Christ is the Mediator between God and man. The serpent,dragon or beast, represent the evil one. Victory over the enemy is assured as Revelations show. The Cross,and the Resurrection indicate the absolute sovereignity of Christ.
"Then I watched as the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals.....And there before my eyes was a white horse,and its rider held a bow.He was given a crown , and he rode forth conquering and to conquer." Rev 6:1-2
Christ appears as King of Kings, Judge of all. War is waged by the beast and the false prophet. Both are captured Rev 19:20-21: "The beast was taken prisoner ,and so was the false prophet..." Evil will be destroyed and the hostile forces of the evil one will be thrown into the " lake of fire with its sulphurous flames."
We are told of the time that satan fell to earth in Revelations 9:1-2 .." Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet:and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth,and the star was given the key of the shaft of the abyss." The abyss is opened up and all evil is let out. In chapter 12 of Revelations we see that satan failed to kill the infant Christ.." The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth,so that when her child was born he might devour it.She gave birth to a male child, who is destined to rule all nations with an iron rod. But her child was snatched up to God and his throne..." This Child is Christ who conquered evil through the Holy Cross,and was resurrected to his throne. With faith in Christ and his blood the Saints will be victorious.." By the sacrifice of the Lamb they have conquered him, and by the testimony which they uttered;"(12:11.)
St John sees the faithful in all their glory in 20:4 They sit on their thrones with authority to judge. He also sees the souls of the martyrs. They will reign with christ for one thousand years. After that all the other dead will be resurrected ( 20:4-6)
There are three more scenes ending with the final destruction of the evil one in Revelations 20:1-10. In the first part of this chapter we are told how an Angel binds satan ,who offers no resistance, for a thousand years.After a thousand years he will be let loose for a short while.The power of satan will be limited for a thousand years but these figures are symbolic. Only God knows the true time period.
During this time period, when satan is in his dungeon, all those who had died for the Word of God,and who had not worshipped the beast or received its mark on their foreheads,will be raised to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead will not come to life until the one thousand years are over. This is the first resurrection."Happy indeed,...is the man who shares in this first resurrection! Upon such the second death has no claim;but they shall be priests of God and of Christ,and shall reign with him for the thousand years."(Rev 20:6)
When the thousand years are over, satan will be let loose from his dungeon.He will "come out and seduce the nations in the four quarters of the earth and to muster them for battle." (Rev 20:8-9).
Fire will come down from heaven to consume them and the devil will be flung "into the lake of fire and sulphur,where the beast and the false prophet had been flung, there to be tormented day and night for ever." (Rev 20:10)
In Chapter 2 St John has visions of the state of the Church In Asia. Christ tells its leaders to be strong and to repent from their sins. "To him who is victorious I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that stands in the Garden of God." Revelations 2:7
In Chapters 4-5 John is in heaven. "..I looked , and there before my eyes was a door opened in heaven;and the voice that I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said,'Come,up here, and I will show you what must happen hereafter.'" Rev 4:1-2
He saw God's throne in all its glory -" There in heaven stood a throne, and on the throne sat one whose appearance was like the gleam of jasper and cornelian;and round the throne was a rainbow,bright as an emerald.In a circle about this throne were twenty four other thrones, and on them sat twenty four elders, robed in white and wearing crowns of gold. From the throne went out flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. Burning before the throne were seven flaming torches, the seven spirits of God, and in front of it stretched what seemed like a sea of glass, like a sheet of ice." Rev 4:2-6
In the centre around the throne itself were four creatures with eyes all over.One was like a lion,the other like an ox. The third had a human face and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.Day and night they sang praises to God " Holy, Holy,Holy is God the Sovereign Lord of all ,who was, and is , and is to come." (Rev 4:8)
As often as the four creatures sing praises to God, the twenty four elders fall down and worship him singing " Thou art worthy,O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, because thou didst create all things;by thy will they were created, and have their being!" (Rev 4-11)
At God's right side there is a book sealed with seven seals. No one can understand, or open or look at the book except Christ. The book is the eternal will of God for the destiny of the world and what is to happen to it. "Then I saw standing in the very middle of the throne, ...a Lamb with the marks of slaughter upon him. ...the Lamb went up and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. When he took it,the four creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the lamb" and sang " Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, for thou was slain and by thy blood didst purchase for God men of every tribe and language, people and nation;thou hadst made of them a royal house, to serve our God as priests;and they shall reign upon earth." (Rev 5:6-10)
THE BREAKING OF THE SEVEN SEALS
In Revelations 6 Christ opens the first seal .St John then saw a white horse.Its rider held a bow.He was given a crown "and he rode forth ,conquering and to conquer." The first rider must be Christ,his Church and the Gospel ready to face the other riders, the wordly powers. This will be the struggle of the church over evil and the ultimate victory of God by the blood of Christ.
Christ breaks the second seal. A red horse comes out. Its rider was given "the power to take peace from the earth and make men slaughter one another;and he was given a great sword." Rev 6:4
The third seal when broken released a black horse whose rider held a pair of scales in his hands. The fourth seal released a "sickly pale" horse. Its rider's name was "Death,and Hades came close behind. To him was given power over a quarter of the earth,with the right to kill by sword and by famine,by pestilence and wild beasts." (Rev 6:8)
The fifth seal revealed the altar underneath which "the souls of those who had been slaughtered for God's word and for the testimony they bore."(Rev 6:9) They all yearned for justice,but they were told to wait a little longer until the tally of all their brothers who died for Christ should be completed.
The sixth seal when broken, showed the foundations of the earth destroyed. The sun turned black and there was a violent earthquake. The moon was red like blood. The stars fell out of the sky. The "sky vanished and ...and every mountain and island was moved from its place." Rev 6:14-15. Every man and woman ran and hid in caves and crags and begged them to fall on them to hide them from the dreadful day of the Lord's vengeance.
Four angels then stood at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds so that no wind should blow.Another angel rose out of the sea "carrying the seal of the living God;and he called aloud to the four angels who had been given the power to ravage land and sea:'Do no damage to sea or land or trees until we have set the seal of our God upon the foreheads of his servants." (Rev 7: 2-4)
There were to be 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. St John then saw a "vast throng which no one could count,from every nation, of all tribes,peoples and languages,standing infront of the throne and before the Lamb." (Rev 7:9)
These people were dressed in white. They were the men who had passed through the great ordeal. "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev 7: 14-15).They will never again feel hunger or thirst.The "Lamb ...will be their shepherd and will guide them to the springs of the water of life;and God will wipe all tears from their eyes." (Rev 7:17)
In Revelations 8, the seventh and last seal is broken by the Lamb. St John felt there was silence for what seemed like half an hour. When he looked again ,the seven angels who stand in the prescence of God were given seven trumpets. Another angel came with great quantities of incense to offer up with the prayers of all God's people before the throne. The angel then took the censer filled with altar fire and flung it down to earth. "There were peals of thunder,lightning and an earthquake."(Rev 8:5)
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS ARE BLOWN:
In Revelations 8: 6 the seven angels that hold the seven trumpets blow them."Hail and fire mingled with blood" falls to earth. A third of the earth is burnt. A third of the sea is turned to blood and a third of the creatures in it die. When the third trumpet is blown " a great star shot from the sky " falling on a third of the rivers and springs, poisoning the waters killing many men. When the fourth angel blows his trumpet, a third of the light of the day will fail and a third of the night. The last three trumpets will bring the three woes. After the fifth trumpet is blown, locusts are released with the power to torment those "who had not received the seal of God on the foreheads" (Rev 9:4-5.) They were allowed to torment these people for five months but they were not allowed to kill them. "During that time, these men will seek death, but they will not find it;they will long to die but death will elude them." (Rev 9:6)
The sixth trumpet will bring the second woe. The four angels bound at the river Euphrates will be released to kill a third of mankind. After the second woe is released, St John sees a "mighty angel coming down from heaven " with a scroll .(Rev 10). St John is then told to go and take this scroll and eat it. This will give him power to prophesy "over peoples and nations and languages and many kings." (Rev 10:11)
In Revelations 11 we are told of the Temple of the Lord and the two witnesses.These witnesses are killed by the beast but God breathes life back into them after three and a half days and they are raised up to heaven on a cloud in full view of all their enemies.
At the blowing of the seventh trumpet, voices are heard in heaven shouting " the sovereignity of the world has passed to our Lord and his Christ,and he shall reign for ever and ever!" (Rev 11:15) The 24 elders who are seated on their thrones before God, fall on their faces and sing praises to the Lord. "We give thee thanks, O Lord God...thy day of retribution has come.Now is the time for the dead to be judged;now is the time for recompense to thy servants the prophets,to thy dedicated people, and all who honour thy name,both great and small,the time to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Rev 11:17-18)
"Then God's temple in heaven was laid open ,and within the temple was seen the Ark of his Covenant.There came flashes of lightening and peals of thunder ,an earthquake and storm of hail." (Rev 11:19) The second Coming of the Lord (His Parousia) is here. Judgement will come upon the enemies of God. This Parousia will herald the end of the present plan of salvation and the beginning of the Kingdom of God.
GOD AND CHRIST INSEPERABLE:
Christ who opens the book is the centre and ruler of the world. God and Christ are inseperable.The Church glorifies them together. "Praise and honour,glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever! " (Rev 5:13 ). God and Christ together control everything. Truth and love will conquer evil.
A new life will then begin." Then one of the seven angels.....came and spoke to me...he carried me away to a great high mountain, and showed me the Holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the Glory of God." (Rev 21:9-11)
And again at verses 22-27: " I saw no temple in the city;for its temple was the sovereign Lord God and the Lamb.And the city had no need for sun or moon to shine upon it;for the glory of God gave it light,and its lamp was the Lamb.By its light shall the nations walk...nothing unclean shall enter,nor anyone whose ways are false or foul,but only those who are inscribed in the Lamb's roll of the living."
And again at Rev 22:3-5 "Every accursed thing shall disappear.The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there ,and his servants shall worship him;they shall see him face to face,and bear his name on their foreheads. There shall be no more night, nor will they need the light of lamp or sun ,for the Lord God will give them light;and they shall reign for evermore."
JESUS PROMISES TO RETURN:
In Revelations 22:12 Jesus promises to return."Yes, I am coming soon, and bringing my recompense with me, to requite everyone according to his deeds! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last ,the beginning and the end.Happy are those who wash their robes clean! They will have the right to the tree of life and will enter by the gates of the city. Outside are dogs, sorcerors and fornicators,murderers and idolators,and all who love and practice deceit."