9.3.4. Textual Similarities

Others have highlighted what they see as differences in the text between the book of Revelation and John’s Gospel, but there are many similarities as well. Only in these two books is Jesus called the λόγος [logos] in the NT. Smalley “argues that the three main christological titles—Word, Lamb of God, and Son of Man—are so similar between the Gospel and the Apocalypse that they suggest unity of authorship.”1 Haupt comments on the prominence of μαρτυρία [martyria] as a signature of John’s writings, also found in the Apocalypse. Haupt also notes the frequent use of triplets and septets as a signature of John’s gospel. In the opening chapters of all three of John’s writings, we find a reference to Jesus as the “Word” (John John 1:1; 1Jn. 1Jn. 1:1; Rev. Rev. 1:2+).2

The frequent use of “overcome” also appears to be a signature of John:

The use of νικα῀ν [nikan] , with [the single exception of Rom. Rom. 12:21] is exclusively St. John’s; and the frequent recurrence of it on the one side in his Gospel and Epistles, and on the other in the Apocalypse (thus compare John John 16:32; 1Jn. 1Jn. 2:1;13-14; 5:4-5, with Rev. Rev. 2:11+, Rev. 2:17+, Rev. 2:26+; Rev. 3:5+, Rev. 3:12+, Rev. 3:21+; Rev. 12:11+; Rev. 21:7+), constitutes an interesting point of contact between the language of this Book and of those others whereof he was the author as well.3

Fausset observes John’s unique use of the Greek diminutive for “Lamb,” “The Greek diminutive for ‘Lamb’ (arnion , literally, ‘lambkin’) occurs twenty-nine times in the Apocalypse, and the only other place where it occurs is John John 21:15. In John’s writings alone is Christ called directly ‘the Lamb’ (John John 1:29, John 1:36).”4 Osborne favors the view that the Apocalypse was written by John the Apostle and cites a number of similarities:

(1) the only two books in the NT to argue for the deity of Christ on the basis of the “oneness motif” between God and Jesus are John and the Apocalypse; (2) they share a similar theme—God seeking to bring the world to repentance; (3) Mounce observes that the same Greek verb (ekkenteō ) used in the Septuagint version of Zec. Zec. 12:10 appears both in John John 19:37 and Rev. Rev. 1:7+, but appears nowhere else in the NT; (4) the identification by Ozanne of words and phrases common to John and the Apocalypse such as “conquer,” “keep the word,” “keep the commandments,” “dwell,” “sign,” “witness,” “true.”5

Swete provides a list of some 27 phrases found in common in various parts of the book as evidence of a single author.6 Thomas provides an extensive review of common vocabulary and syntactical similarities between Revelation and the other writings of the apostle John.7

Swete observes that the differences found between the book of Revelation and John’s other writings which are thought to indicate a different author are overrated and fail to take into account the differences in the content and themes of the books:

It is to be remembered that whereas the simple narrative of the Evangelist demands for the most part only commonest words of daily life, the Apocalyptist deals with a great variety of subjects, some of which call for a liberal use of special terms. . . . the enumeration of articles of merchandize in Rev. Rev. 18:11-13+ is responsible for twelve of the words peculiar to this book, and the list of precious stones in Rev. Rev. 21:19+f. for ten more.8


1 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 5.

2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 4-5.

3 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 90-91.

4 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 1:1.

5 Osborne, Revelation, 5.

6 Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998, 1906), xlii-xliv.

7 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 11-15.

8 Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, cxvi.