Friday, February 6, 2015

Could the second Witness be John?

I've argued before for the second witness being Enoch.  And I still feel strongly convinced by all those arguments.  But I've become aware of a compelling argument being made that the other Witness is John, the Beloved Disciple to whom the Revelation was given, himself.

At the end of Revelation 10 John is told.  "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."  Maybe this just means him preaching the message of Revelation to the world after he finished it.  But early Church tradition doesn't record such an epic final ministry, though Irenaeus says he lived into the reign of Trajan.  The compelling thing is, it's the very next chapter that discuses the Two Witnesses.

Of all the verses Preterists misuse to make it sound like the New Testament says Jesus' Second Coming must happen in the lifetime of his ministry.  Matthew 16:28 (and it's parallels in the other synoptics) is the strongest.
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
 I have for awhile favored the argument of Chuck Missler and others that this refers to the Transfiguration in the next chapter.  Which was a glimpse of the Kingdom.  But I've read recently that the Greek word Tis translated "Some" here can also me "a certain one".

At the end of John's Gospel.  Jesus says concerning the Beloved Disciple who is the book's author.
"If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
We are told that many interpreted this to mean he wouldn't die.  But then we are told that was incorrect, "yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

The correction is often taken as assuring us it doesn't give John any unusual lifespan, or anything else like that, but that this was simply fulfilled in a way by him having the vision that is The Book of Revelation.  But the correction was only about thinking John wouldn't die, The Two Witnesses will die.

John is traditionally believed to have not died a Martyr, a few sources all drawing on Papias who's original work we don't have say he was Martyred during the reign of Domitian.  But our oldest quoter of Papias, Irenaeus, who has supposedly an indirect connection to John via Polycarp, was unaware of this and says John lived into the reign of Trajan.  Zahn T argued that the reference in Papias is actually to John The Baptist.

A work attributed to Hippolytus of Rome called "On the Apostles and Disciples" records certain traditions I don't believe, mainly Peter dying in Rome, and it follows Catholic dogma of confusing certain of the 12 with the Brothers of Jesus.  But what it says about John is interesting.
"John, again, in Asia, was banished by Domitian the king to the isle of Patmos, in which also he wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan's time he fell asleep at Ephesus, where his remains were sought for, but could not be found."
Matthew 10:35 and 20:20 have been interpreted as implying both sons of Zebede would die Martyrs.  James is the only one of the 12 who's death is recorded in the History of the New Testament, in Acts 12.  But if John is one of the Two Witnesses then his is recorded in Prophecy.

Thematically I think it would fit well with my argument for The False Prophet being Judas Iscariot.  Having a disciple on each side relevant to the End Times.

How does this effect Rapture timing disputes?  Any argument that the Two Witnesses ministry can't be during the Church Age would be destroyed by this, since John is absolutely part of The Church.  It would give more credence to an argument that the Rapture of the Witnesses is part of the Rapture of The Church if one of them is one of the 12.  And the statement from John 21 would require their death to be very near when the Rapture happens.

Also, read Acts 3 and 4 carefully.  Peter and John sort of serve as a type of the Witnesses there.  Just as Elijah did during his first ministry.

Thing is, there are still arguments I made for Enoch that I feel are pretty difficult to refute.  And this would require that the early traditions about John's death are false, which they could be, but I'm forced to wonder why they would pop up?  But that he's traditionally the only of the 12 not Martyred is interesting.

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