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

Patmos (GreekΠάτμος) is a hilly, sparsely vegetated Greek island in the south-eastern Aegean Sea, part of the Southern Sporades, which served as a place of exile for the Romans in ancient times. According to his own account, it was here that the evangelist John, who is also considered the author of the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John, received his revelation, which is recorded in the last book of the New Testament. In 1088, Blessed Christodulos founded a monastery dedicated to Saint John here on the ruins of an ancient temple of Artemis.

„9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.“

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 primordial mystery, the Christian mystery, should 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)

See also


  • Rudolf Steiner: Christianity As Mystical Fact. Translation from the German and with Notes by E. A. Frommer, Gabrielle Hess and Peter Kändler. Introduction by The Rev. Alfred Heidenreich, Ph.D. CW 8. Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, London 1961
  • Rudolf Steiner: Esoteric Lessons 1910 – 1912. CW 266/2. Edited by Christopher Bamford. Translated by James H. Hindes. Anthroposophic Press Inc. 2013. ISBN 978-0880106177


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: URL:
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 - 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.