Apocalypse of John

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John views the Apocalypse on Patmos, altarpiece by Hans Memling, created 1474-79

The Apocalypse (Greekαποκάλυψις "unveiling, revelation") or Revelation of John is the last book of the New Testament of the Bible. It comprises 22 chapters and gives a preview of the future development of humanity and the Earth and at the same time reveals the nature of the Christ and is thus, according to the opening words, the Apocalypsis of Jesus Christ (GreekἈποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ Apokalypsis Jesu Christou), the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Its author is considered to be the Evangelist John, who is also said to have written the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John. According to the traditional theological view, he is identical with the apostle John and with Jesus' favourite disciple, who is not mentioned by name in the Gospel of John and who, according to Rudolf Steiner, was none other than Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by the Christ and thus became the first person initiated by the Christ himself. The Revelation of John is the fruit of a comprehensive spiritual vision, which he says he received on the island of Patmos (Rev 1:9–20).

Spiritual background

Rudolf Steiner sees in the "Apocalypse of John" a renewal of the ancient mysteries, which should be made accessible to all people in Christian form.

„In place of the many mysteries, the one, the primal mystery, the Christian mystery, was to take its place. Jesus, in whom the Logos became flesh, was to be the initiator of a whole humanity. And this humanity was to become his own mystery community. Not the segregation of the elect, but the union of all was to take place. According to his maturity, everyone should be able to become a myst. The message resounds to all; those who have an ear to hear it hasten to hear its secrets. The voice of the heart should decide for each individual. Not this one or that one should be led into the mystery temples, but the word should be spoken to all; the one will then be able to hear it less strongly, the other more strongly. It is up to the demon, the angel in man's own breast, how far he can be initiated. The whole world is a mystery temple. Not only those shall be blessed who behold in the special mystery temples the marvellous performances which are to give them a guarantee of the eternal, but "Blessed are those who do not behold and yet believe". Even if they grope in darkness at first, perhaps the light will come to them. No one should be deprived of anything; the way should be open to everyone. - The Apocalypse then goes on to describe the dangers that can threaten the Christian from the Antichrist, and how the Christian must nevertheless triumph. All other gods are absorbed into the One Christian divinity: "And the city hath no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon, to shine unto it: for the revelation of God lighteth it, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof" (chap. 21, v 23). It is the mystery of the "Revelation of St. John" that the mysteries should no longer be closed. "And he saith unto me, seal not the words of prophecy in this book: for the Godhead is at hand." - What faith the writer of the Apocalypse had about the relation of his Church to the ancient Churches: this he set forth. He wanted to speak out about the mysteries themselves in a spiritual mystery. The author wrote his mystery on the island of Patmos. In a grotto he is said to have received the "Revelation". In this communication, the mystery character of the Revelation is itself expressed. - So Christianity emerged from the mysteries. Its wisdom is born in the Apocalypse itself as a mystery; but as a mystery that wants to go beyond the framework of the old mystery world. The individual mystery is to become universal mystery. - A contradiction could be found in the fact that it is said here that the mysteries of the Mysteries were revealed through Christianity, and that then again a Christian mystery is seen in the experience of the spiritual visions of the apocalyptic. The contradiction is resolved as soon as one considers that the secrets of the ancient mysteries were revealed through the events in Palestine. Through this, what was previously veiled in the mysteries has been revealed. A new mystery is now what has been inserted into the development of the world through the appearance of Christ. The old initiate experienced in the spiritual world how development points to the still 'hidden Christ'; the Christian initiate experiences the hidden effects of the 'revealed Christ'.“ (Lit.:GA 8, p. 143ff)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.