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"his first love';" for, in the days of Claudius, the Church of Ephesus was flourishing in the fresh spring-time of the Gospel, which it had just received from St. Paul.
Under these circumstances we may almost feel disposed to think that there is some error in our present copies of this passage of Epiphanius, and that it was hardly possible for him to have written at least to have written deliberately-that the Apocalypse was composed in the times of Claudius 2.
However this may be, certain it is that this opinion of Epiphanius-if it were really his-never gained ground in the Church; and that the general belief of all the best ancient writers of Christendom was the same as Irenæus had expressed in the century in which St. John died, that he wrote the Revelation at the close of the reign of the Emperor Domitian3.
This opinion is strongly confirmed by the internal evidence of the Apocalypse itself.
The Epistles in it to the Seven Churches of Asia betoken a condition of things later than St. Paul's age; and similar to that which we know from other sources to have prevailed in Asia, at the close of the first century of the Christian era.
In these seven Epistles we see Churches settled with Angels or Chief Pastors at their head; we see that some years have elapsed since they were planted; that time has passed away, in which they have been tried, and some have stood the trial, as Smyrna and Philadelphia; that some of them have declined from their primitive standard, as Ephesus, under fear of persecution, or through worldliness and lukewarmness, as Laodicea; that others have a name to live and are dead, as Sardis; and that heresies have grown up among them, as at Thyatira; and that they have been visited by forms of heretical pravity and moral libertinism, such as the doctrines and practice of the Nicolaitans and Judaizers, which were the scourges of the Asiatic Churches at that time.
Such being the case, the received opinion of Ancient Christendom will not easily be disturbed by that spirit of scepticism which has unhappily shown itself in some quarters in recent times 1o; and which has however over-reached itself. It is not content with rejecting the date assigned to the Apocalypse by ancient testimony, but has proceeded to set itself against the universal consent of ancient Christendom, and to deny that the Author of the Book of Revelation was the Evangelist St. John.
These two theories will probably soon share the same fate, even in that country which gave them birth. They have already been encountered there with learning and ability ", and their unsoundness has been exposed, and the ancient consent of Christendom has been vindicated.
We may therefore hold fast the belief, that the Book of Revelation was written at the close of the reign of Domitian, who died in the year of our Lord 96.
On the Authorship of the Apocalypse.
In order to establish the Genuineness of the Apocalypse, it will be sufficient to refer to the testimony of the next age after it was written, and especially of that Country to which it was originally sent.
1 ii. 4.
2 We may almost be inclined to think, that, instead of mì ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟΥ, he may have written ἐπὶ ΦΛΑΒΙΟΥ, and that the copyist did not remember that the Emperor Domitian was sometimes called Flavius; as he is by Juvenal, iv. 37:
"Cum jam semianimum laceraret Flavius orbem Ultimus, et calvo serviret Roma Neroni."
This passage also will remind the reader that Domitian was also called Nero, and it may serve to explain what is said by some other still later writers, that St. John was banished by Nero, which is another name for Domitian.
The argument which has been derived for a later date of the Apocalypse than Domitian's reign, from the words of the Apocalypse itself (xvii. 10): “And they are Seven Kings; Five are fallen, and One is, and the other is not yet come," will be examined in the note on that text.
3 Thus Primasius, Bishop of Adrumetum in Africa, in the 6th century, in his Commentary on the Apocalypse (Bibl. Patr. Max. x. p. 289, or in Migne, Patrologia, Ixviii. p. 796), says, "Hæc videre promeruit in Patmo Insulâ pro Christo à Domitiano Cæsare exilio missus." And so Bede in Rev. i. 9, speaks of this opinion as generally received in his day: "Historia nota, Joannem à Domitiano Cæsare propter Evangelium in hanc insulam
relegatum; cui tunc congrueret coeli penetrare, cùm certa ter-
5 iii. 8-10.
6 iii. 16.
7 iii. 1.
8 ii. 20.
9 ii. 6. 9. 15. 20; iii. 9.
10 Especially among the followers of Dr. Friedrich Lücke, whose work on the Apocalypse, Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenbarung, Zweyte Auflage, Bonn, 1852," has exhausted all that can be said on that side of the question. 11 Especially by Dr. E. W. Hengstenberg, Die Offenbarung, Berlin, 1849, 1850. See also Dr. Davidson's Introduction, vol. iii. pp. 539-614 to the end, for an able refutation of the same theory. The edition of Dr. F. Düsterdieck (Gottingen, 1859), which proceeds on a principle of opposition to primitive uniform tradition on the subject, honestly recognizes that tradition as primitive and uniform, and pays a due tribute to its importance, and so virtually commends it to the reader's acceptance. Einleitung, p. 90.
The first witness here is Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, a city at a few miles distance from Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches. He was a disciple of St. John, and in a certain sense a colleague of the Seven Angels whom the author of the Apocalypse addressed. He was very diligent in collecting memorable facts concerning the Apostles and their works: and he received the Apocalypse as the work of the Evangelist St. John'.
His testimony is of greater value, on account of his nearness to Laodicea; for the Church of Laodicea could not have been ignorant of the authorship of a book addressed to itself; and if the Apocalypse had not been the work of St. John, we cannot imagine that the Laodiceans would have allowed such an unfavourable character of their Church, as is given in the Apocalypse, to be circulated throughout Christendom, in the name and with the authority of St. John. If the Apocalypse had been a forgery, they must have known it to be so; and knowing it so to be, they would have exposed it to the world.
This observation applies to others of the Seven Churches, who are addressed in similar terms of rebuke: and it adds weight to the facts, first, that there is a considerable amount of primitive testimony from the Seven Churches, assigning the Apocalypse to St. John; and that there is none from that quarter which ascribes it to any one else.
The next testimony is that of Justin Martyr. About the middle of the second century he came to the city of Ephesus, where he held a two days' conference with Trypho, one of the most learned Jews of his day. In the narrative which he published of this dialogue, Justin Martyr quotes the Apocalypse, and affirms that it is written by one of the Apostles of Christ, whose name is John 2.
This assertion was made only about half a century after the death of St. John, and it was made at Ephesus, the mother city of Asia, the principal of the Seven Churches, the city in which St. John passed a great part of his life, in which he died, and was buried3. This testimony, therefore, of Justin Martyr is of great value, and confirms the belief, that St. John was the Author of the Apocalypse.
We next come to Melito. He was Bishop of one of the Seven Churches, Sardis, in the second century; a successor, therefore, of one of the Seven Angels addressed in the Apocalypse. The witness of Sardis and its Bishop cannot be suspected of partiality; for Sardis, again, is one of the Churches which is rebuked with great severity in the Apocalypse. Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. And the character of Melito stands pre-eminently high both for piety and learning. He showed a laudable zeal with regard to the Canon of the Old Testament. In order to assure himself and the Church of Sardis concerning the Books of the Ancient Scriptures, as received by the Churches of Palestine, he visited that country in person, and he has given the result of his critical inquiries in an interesting and valuable Epistle. And it cannot be supposed that he who was so diligent and circumspect in his inquiries concerning the Old Testament, would have been less careful respecting the New, and especially concerning that Book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse, which contains an address to his own Predecessor, and to his own Church; and to which, on other grounds, his best consideration must have been given, for he wrote a Commentary upon the Apocalypse.
The evidence, therefore, of Melito is important. He also received the Apocalypse as the work of St. John.
The latest witness to whom we shall appeal is S. Irenæus. He was probably a native of Asia Minor, whence he migrated to France, where he became Bishop of Lyons toward the close of the second century. In his youth he had been acquainted with S. Polycarp, who was placed in the see of Smyrna by the Apostles, and, as some affirm, by St. John himself'; and is supposed by some learned men to be no other than the Angel of the Church of Smyrna, who is addressed in the Apocalypse.
In his work against Heresies, published only about ten years after S. Polycarp's martyrdom, S. Irenæus refers to the Apocalypse'. He mentions ancient Manuscripts of it, which he had
1 Andreas and Arethas (Prolog. in Apocalyp.) refer to Papias as vouching for the inspiration of the Apocalypse, and S. Irenæus, who unhesitatingly received it as genuine, refers to Papias as among his authorities. Cp. Iren. ν. 33, Παπίας Ἰωάννου ἀκουστής, Поλνкάρτоν dè èraîpos. Euseb. iii 39. S. Hieron. Catal Script. xviii. tom. iv. p. 109, and Epist. ad Theodoram, iv. p. 581.
2 Euseb. iv. 18, διάλογον ἐπὶ τῆς Ἐφεσίων πόλεως πρὸς Τρύφωνα τῶν τότε Εβραίων ἐπισημότατον πεποίηται· μέμνηται τῆς Ἰωάννου ̓Αποκαλύψεως σαφῶς τοῦ ̓Αποστόλου αὐτὴν εἶναι λέγων.
examined; and he speaks of a particular reading' of a passage in the Apocalypse (that concerning the number of the Beast), as being confirmed by the authority of those "who had seen St. John face to face." In this work he quotes the Apocalypse no less than twenty times; he makes long extracts from it; and speaks of it unhesitatingly as inspired Scripture, and as the work of St. John. The testimony of S. Irenæus is of more value, because it was probably derived from Asiatic Bishops; for example, from Papias, whom he mentions; and from S. Polycarp3, whose life, like that of his Master, St. John, seems to have been providentially prolonged to almost a patriarchal duration, in order that he might be a witness of the living Voice of Apostolic Teaching, till the Written Word was generally diffused.
Such, then, is the testimony from the country to which the Apocalypse was originally sent; such is the witness of the Asiatic Churches to which it was addressed. No evidence of a contrary kind can be adduced from those Churches, and from that age.
No doubt was entertained by the Apocalyptic Churches concerning the inspiration and genuineness of the Apocalypse. On the contrary, those were condemned as holding heretical opinions, the Alogi, for instance, of the second century, who denied the Apocalypse to be St. John's". "We can appeal," says Tertullian, at the close of the second century, "to the Churches which are the fosterchildren of St. John; for though Marcion, the heretic, rejects his Apocalypse, yet the series of the Asiatic Bishops derives its origin from St. John "." All the Apocalyptic Churches ascribe the Apocalypse to St. John.
Let us consider now the facts before us.
A Writing, claiming to be from Heaven, dictated in solemn and sublime language, predicting future events, presenting, as it were, a series of pictures of the World's History to the end of Time, is sent to Seven Apostolic Churches of the most distinguished Cities of Asia: to Ephesus, the rich emporium of the East; to Smyrna, the nurse of Poets; and to Sardis, the ancient residence of Kings. It purports to come from an exile on the barren rock of Patmos, an isle almost within sight of Ephesus, and therefore accessible to those to whom the book is sent. It speaks in the voice of authority to those Churches, and to their spiritual Rulers; it pronounces judicial sentence upon them; it rebukes their failings, and commends their virtues; it promises blessings to those who receive the words of its prophecy, and denounces eternal woe on all who add to, or take away from, it. It speaks to men as being itself from God.
And what is the result?
This Book-with these claims, reproofs, promises, and threats-is received by all these Churches as the WORD of God; and is ascribed by them to the beloved Disciple, the blessed Apostle and Evangelist, St. John.
Such is their testimony; and they could not have been deceived in this matter. St. John was no stranger to them. He lived and died among them. If then the Apocalypse is not from God, and if it is not the work of St. John, it cannot be imagined that the Apostolic Churches of Asia would have conspired to receive it. Their duty, both to God and to the Apostle, required them not to do so. So far from receiving it, the Angels of these Churches, with one voice, would have protested against it. Not only they would not have recognized it as divine, not only they would not have received it as the work of St. John, but they would have condemned it as falsely ascribed to the Apostle, and impiously laying claim to the incommunicable attributes of God. It would have taken a place among those spurious Revelations which were ascribed by heretics to Peter, Paul, and Thomas; and the World would have heard no more of the APOCALYPSE of ST. JOHN.
If now we open the Book itself, every thing there harmonizes with this belief".
The Author calls himself John. "I, John, who am also your brother, and companion in
1 Iren. v. 30. Cf. Euseb. v. 8. Irenæus also quotes the Apocalypse as St. John's in Fragm. Pfaff. p. 26.
2 Rev. xiii. 18.
3 Euseb. iv. 14; v. 20.
4 Mr. I. C. Knight, in pp. 12-15 of an ingenious Essay on the Apocalypse (Lond. 1842), has shown reason for believing, that S. Ignatius, in Epist. ad Philad. 6, imitated the words in Rev. iii. 12.
5 Epiphan. Hæres. li. 3, 4. 32, 33. Philastr. Hæres. lx. al. 13. 6 Tertullian, c. Marcion. iv. 5. See ibid. iii. 14.
7 Some remarks have already been offered above on the objec
tions derived from the difference of style between the Apocalypse and St. John's Gospel (Euseb. vii. 25). This question has been well discussed by Guerike, Einleitung in das N. T. § 60, p. 555. And, after all, the subject of the Apocalypse is so different from that of the Gospel, that arguments from style are scarcely admissible here. No one would argue from the Satires of Horace that he did not write the Odes. And yet how different is the style! What has been said above on the difference of style between St. Peter's two Epistles (pp. 71-77), may be applied, mutatis mutandis, here. Cp. above, p. 145, note.
tribulation." "John to the Seven Churches which are in Asia." "I John saw these things, and heard them 3.5 Whom would this name suggest, placed thus by itself, without any epithet or accompaniment? Whom but the Apostle and Evangelist, St. John? He, and he alone, was John; their brother, their pastor, and their guide: and no one else in his age, writing to St. John's own Churches, would have ventured to assume the name of John, in this bold and unqualified simplicity.
Again; the Author writes from the isle of Patmos, where he was, "for the testimony of the Lord Jesus ;" and we know that St. John was banished to that island by the Emperor Domitian, when he persecuted the Church".
It may be asked, perhaps, Why then does he not call himself an Apostle? We may ask, in reply, Why does not St. John himself, in his Epistles? Why does not St. James? Why does not St. Jude? The name John would suffice to identify him; and, by withholding the title of Apostle, and calling himself only a servant of God, and their brother in tribulations, he would show, that though he had "the gift of prophecy, and was permitted to understand all mysteries, and to speak with the tongue of Angels"," yet he was not elated above measure "by the abundance of his Revelations";" and the more he was exalted by God, the more he would humble himself with men. "The secret of the Lord is among them that fear him";" "and mysteries are revealed to the meek "."
Further; the Author of the Apocalypse, modest as he is in the description of himself, speaks, as we have seen, to the Angels of Asia with all authority: he distributes praise and blame like a Ruler and a Judge. Now, there was only one person then alive in the whole world who was entitled to use this language; and that one person was not only entitled to use it, by his double character as the last surviving Apostle, and as Metropolitan of Asia, but he was most solemnly bound to use it. By reason of his office, he was obliged, in duty to CHRIST, Who called him to it, to "speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority"." He was bound to be no respecter of persons; to "be instant in season, out of season; to reprove, rebuke, exhort 1o." This ST. JOHN.
Again; we find that the Author of the Apocalypse, who writes to the Seven Angels, or Bishops, gives them an Apostolic Benediction,—The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you "And without all contradiction," says the Apostle, "the less is blessed of the better," or greater 1. Therefore we may infer that the writer of the Apocalypse is some one greater than the Bishops of Asia. He is some one entitled to bless them. Now, there was one person in the world, and one alone, who, in a spiritual sense, was greater than the Bishops of Asia, and so was entitled to bless them, and might justly be expected to do so; and that person was ST. JOHN.
Lastly; the Catholic Church from primitive times, which is the Body of Christ, and to which He has promised His Spirit and His presence 13, receives the Apocalypse as Canonical Scripture and as the work of St. John ". Her testimony is the testimony of Christ, Who is present with her; it is the testimony of the Holy Spirit, Whom Christ sent to be in her 15.
There was a remarkable fitness in the selection of St. John, particularly of St. John at Patmos, for writing the Apocalypse.
He was the beloved disciple; he had been with our Lord in His Agony and on the Cross; his brother Apostles had now been removed by death; and he was left, aged, an exile, and a prisoner, in a lonely island, for the testimony of the Truth in Christ.
As the winds blew, and the waves dashed on the rocky shores of Patmos, so the winds and waves of persecution were now beating on the Church. But the aged Apostle, who was confined within the narrow limits of Patmos, was admitted in the glorious visions of the Apocalypse to the presence of God. The Exile of earth became a Citizen of heaven; the cliffs of Patmos appeared more beautiful than Paradise. He was "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." The Man of sorrows, Whom St. John had once seen crowned with thorns before Pilate, and bleeding on the Cross at Calvary, was now seen reigning in heaven adored by myriads of Angels, and coming on the clouds of heaven to judge the Quick and Dead.
This is very appropriate; it harmonizes well with the tender care of Christ for those who love
Him, and suffer for Him. It is expressive of His love for His Church, left a widow for a while in this world. When on the Cross, He committed His Mother to St. John's care. By St. John, He reveals to His Church the future glory which will be hers, when she will be reunited to Him, and be the Bride in heaven.
Here, therefore, is a source of comfort to all Christians.
Here on earth we are exiles; we are
in Patmos. Especially, in these latter days, the heavens are dark; the sea is high; the waves dash upon the rock: "the floods are risen, O Lord; the floods have lift up their voice'." This is an age of storms. The beach is strewn with wrecks. Yet in the gloom of this world, in this solitude and exile, we may have inward peace, and light and hope and joy. Loving Christ with St. John, suffering for Christ with him, we, like St. John, shall be visited by Christ. St. John's vision will be ours. His Revelation will be ours. Our Patmos will be Paradise. And we may pass from the storms of earth to the sunshine of heaven; and from the solitude of our worldly banishment to the mansions of our Father's House.
On the Text of the Apocalypse.
THE History of the Original Greek Text of the APOCALYPSE is very remarkable.
Erasmus, its first Editor after the invention of printing, had only one MS., and that an imperfect one, of the Apocalypse. He supplied the last six verses, which were wanting in that MS. from the Latin Vulgate, translated by himself into Greek; and some words of Erasmus, not authorized by any MS., still remain in some editions of the Apocalypse printed at this day.
The second edition of the New Testament was that of the Complutensian Polyglott, so called from Complutum, or Alcalà in Spain, the place at which it was printed. This was in the year 1520. The Complutensian Editors, says Wetstein', had only one MS. of the Apocalypse. They were followed in the Apocalypse by Erasmus in his fourth and fifth editions in 1527 and 1535, and by Robert Stephens in the year 1546, and again in 1549, 1550, and 1551. Wetstein* affirms that Robert Stephens had only two MSS. of the Apocalypse, and that these were not accurately collated. The third edition of Stephens formed the basis of those of Theodore Beza, which appeared at Geneva in 1565, 1576, 1589, 1598, and also of the Elzevir edition, or received text, as it is commonly called, published at Leyden in 1624.
Beza's edition of 1598 was the groundwork of the English AUTHORIZED VERSION of the New Testament, published in 1611, and "appointed to be read in Churches."
Here two remarks may be made. The ENGLISH AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION of the APOCALYPSE does not rest upon the same sound foundation of MS. authority as the Authorized Translation of the other books of the New Testament. It stands in a place by itself, and ought to be regarded accordingly.
No one need be startled by this statement. If the Apocalypse now existed only in the single MS. of Erasmus, no article of Christian Doctrine would be in the least degree different from what it is. The numerous MSS. of the Apocalypse which have been collated since it was first printed, have not affected any doctrine of Christianity; but they have placed the received Articles of the Faith on a more solid basis.
In the interval of time which has elapsed between the publication of the Authorized Version and the present day, much has been effected for the confirmation and establishment of the Original Text of the Apocalypse by the labours of Bishop Fell, Dr. John Mill, Bentley, Wetstein, Bengel, Matthæi, Alter', Birch, Woide, Griesbach, Scholz, Ford", Barrett 12, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles 13, Scrivener, and Mai'; and little now remains but to use diligently and faithfully the materials collected by them.
Their attention has been devoted mainly to the critical examination of Manuscripts; and it is due to them that at this time, nearly a hundred MSS. of the Apocalypse have been collated, some of which are of great antiquity and value.