9.4. External Evidence

Those who deny apostolic authorship of the book of Revelation must explain how it came to be that this important body of prophetic revelation was given through an individual who lacked the intimacy with God which characterizes other revelatory writers within Scripture? In other instances, especially significant passages in the Word of God are given through individuals who have a special intimacy with God. For example, the Torah (Pentateuch—first five books of the Bible) were given through Moses whom God spoke with “face to face” (Num. Num. 12:7-8). Next to Jesus, no other prophet had the status and access to God as Moses (Deu. Deu. 18:18). In the case of prophetic revelation of the distant future, Daniel is also unique. Having no sin on record1 and called “greatly beloved” of God (Dan. Dan. 9:23; Dan. 10:11, Dan. 10:19), it was through him that God chose to give prophecies of great significance to the subjects of the book of Revelation. Are we now to hold that this capstone of all prophetic revelation, the book of Revelation, is the work of some obscure secondary and not the Apostle John? How much more sound to expect God to entrust this important work to the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John John 19:26; John 20:2; John 21:7, John 21:20).

Here we find the disciple whom Jesus so dearly loved. John had been with the Savior since the beginning. He had left the family fishing business to follow the carpenter from Nazareth. He was in the “inner circle” with Peter and James. At the Last Supper, he was seated next to Jesus and leaned over on his shoulder to talk to Him. He was the only disciple to show up at the cross. It was there that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother, Mary, to His beloved disciple (John John 19:25-27).2

It is against the very character of God, as revealed throughout Scripture, to entrust such a significant work to someone whose identity the critics would have us believe has been lost to history.

If external evidence of historic testimony is given primacy, especially that of those closest to the time and area of authorship, then it seems best to understand the human author as the Apostle John who had the great privilege of being the servant through whom God would close the canon.3


Notes

1 But being a sinner nonetheless (Rom. Rom. 3:19).

2 Edward Hindson, Revelation: Unlocking the Future (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 20.

3 “Indeed, it would be a serious mistake to regard John as the originator of this book, for it would then become merely a human being’s comments and prediction of the future, which would deprive the book of all its authority and impact. We therefore need to recognize, right at the outset, that this book was virtually dictated by God, and that John was merely the privileged scribe who recorded what he saw and heard (this is not to suggest that God dictated all Scripture, but this certainly holds good in large measure for Revelation).”—Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), s.v. “Introduction.”