John the Apostle – Dead or Alive?

This is a controversial and sensitive subject, and one few people properly look into.  It does sound pretty crackpot.

John the Apostle was one of the original disciples of Yehoshua ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Christ).  He wrote the Gospel of John, the three Letters of John (1, 2 and 3 John) and the Book of Revelation (a series of prophecies of the end times given to John in a vision).

There are some interesting passages where Yeshua (Jesus) Himself indicated someone standing there was going to live until the End of Days:

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:27.)

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1.)

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 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. (Matthew 16:27-28.)

Was this man John?  Here are some interesting comments on those passages:

According to Biblical tradition, it is suggested that John the beloved apostle (i.e., Revelator) never died. Instead, he was to remain on earth until the Savior was to come again. The Lord spoke of this to his chosen disciples (i.e., apostles):

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:27.)

While this is not specific to John, Mark also reported this saying but added more substance to what Luke reported:

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1.)

Of course, the kingdom of God had already come in the person of Jesus Christ and he certainly demonstrated power. But he did not come in power. Quite the contrary. He came as a little suckling child . . . in a lowly manger. That’s about as humble an entrance as one could imagine.

However, Jesus’ coming in power would not come until a much later date. This is verified when the Lord spoke to his apostles of his second coming:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
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. (Matt. 16:27-28.)

However, the same problem exists in all three verses by the thee different authors and that is the use of the word “some.” “Some” would imply there would be more than one amongst his audience who would not taste of death.

The other problem here is that all the apostles’ deaths are accounted for—all except for John. Of course, both problems would be overcome were there more than the twelve apostles present. But a previous, more intimate conversation earlier in Matthew 16, would indicate Jesus was alone with his chosen twelve.

On the other hand, Mark 8:34 indicates that other people were present during this major pronouncement:

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

There is no indication between this verse and Mark 9:1 that Jesus had separated his disciples from the crowd. However, the passage in Luke, while reporting on the same conversation as in Matthew 16, was very clear that Jesus had separated the twelve and was speaking to them privately.

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? (Luke 9:18.)

So, when it comes right down to it, we’re left with the same conundrum of the usage of the word “some” in this great, if not shocking, pronouncement regarding the prolonging of death for “some.”

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Greek#5100), the word for “some” in all three of these instances is tis. Strictly speaking, tis means “some or any person or object.”

Therefore, we could easily say that ”some”, in these three instances, means “some person standing here shall not taste of death until . . .”

The translators of the King James Version of the Bible applied any number of different meanings to tis in various places, including, but not limited to, “somebody” and “something.” Therefore, it is my conclusion, for better or for worse, that tis in these three instances, is referring to “some person” rather than “some”, as in many.

On the other hand, we have the problem of the use of “they” in verse 28, referring back to the use of “some” previously. There could be several reasons for this:

  1. Jesus never did say either “some” or “they”; and the translators just took some liberty.
  2. The translators were merely matching “they” with their interpretation of tis as “some”.
  3. There really was more than one person who was not to taste of death until Christ was to come in power.

Regarding option 3, Luke 9:18 would seem to eliminate that prospect. So, we’re left with either option 1 or 2 to consider.

Source: https://thebiblicalapologist.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/john-the-revelator-part-1-did-he-ever-die/

And then of course we have the following famous passage:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: 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? This is the disciple [meaning himself; i.e., John] which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:20-24.)

As John himself wrote, Yeshua’s words don’t absolutely prove that he’ll live for 2000 years.

But John’s own cautionary words are hardly proof of his own death, either.

Continuing where we left off in the above-mentioned article:

Nevertheless, regardless of what the authors meant, it was up to impetuous Peter to drag a little more information out of Jesus regarding this not-tasting-of-death business.

It seems obvious that something was different about John, or Peter wouldn’t have bothered to ask what he did. And here we find the best evidence yet that it was John who would not taste of death:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: 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?

This is the disciple [meaning himself; i.e., John] which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (John 21:20-24.)

The Greek word for “tarry” is mĕnō, meaning “to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). mĕnō has been translated variously as “abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand” (ibid.)—all meaning pretty much the same thing.

Thus we can see that Jesus had in mind that John, in some state of being, would be present, presumably on earth, until such time he would return in glory. And this is not without precedent.

Quite possibly.  There is also a prophecy made directly to John:

THOU [John] must prophesy AGAIN before MANY peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings (Revelation 10:11)

Did this happen during John’s 1st-century AD lifetime?  NO, IT DID NOT!  That in and of itself is strong evidence that he’ll be on the earth in the future – and quite likely still is now.  The above passage – and John’s earlier reference to himself as the “co-sharer in the affliction”, which literally translates as “co-sharer in the tribulation”, that John is in fact one of the Two Witnesses.

Oh, but hang on – it’s almost universally recorded & reported that John died around 100 AD!  The biggest flaw in the “John is still alive” theory (which incidentally is an official doctrine of the Mormon church – although before you react, merely being accepted by Mormons doesn’t make it false or even count as an argument or even evidence of it being false – especially since they didn’t invent it, but merely adopted a pre-existing idea) – the records of his death.

But when you look into what is recorded about John’s death, you’ll find things aren’t so simple.  Hippolytus wrote:

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.

Source: http://allpowertothelamb.com/2007/01/is-john-the-apostle-dead/

So, John simply disappeared without a trace, and was PRESUMED dead – although they had NO evidence of a death.  To clarify, John couldn’t simply escape or fake a death of his own accord:

At the time of his release [from Patmos in 96 AD], John was nearly 100 years old, and history says that John was feeble, and had to be carried to the services of the church at Ephesus.

Source: Ibid.

Was he taken straight to Heaven, in similar fashion to Enoch and Elijah?  Was he teleported to another earthly location, perhaps with a regenerated body?

The article says further:

To me, the most compelling evidence that John is not dead are two prophecies that cannot be fulfilled if John died a natural death in AD 101. The first is Jesus’ promise to James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mk 10:35), that “ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized” (Mk 10:39). What cup did Jesus drink? Jn 18:11 tells us that the cup of which Jesus was drank was the fate of His death on the cross for confessing that He was the Son of God (Mt 26:63-66). The Bible says that King Herod beheaded James the son of Zebedee to vex the church, apparently for James’ testimony that Jesus was the Son of God (Acts 12:2, cp Acts 4:2). However, though Tertullian says that John was plunged into boiling oil by the Emperor Domitian in AD 95 (Tertullian, Early Church Fathers, Vol 3, Part Second, The Prescription Against Heretics, Ch 36, p489), John emerged unscathed and was subsequently sentenced to the mines on Patmos where he received the Revelation. After John was released from Patmos, he returned to Ephesus, from which city he disappeared around AD 100-104. If John died a natural death in Ephesus, as most historians suppose, he did not drink the cup that Jesus and James, John’s brother, and all of the other apostles drank. Since God CANNOT lie, and since John did NOT drink the cup that Jesus drank before his disappearnce in AD 101, John must still live…

The second prophecy that makes the death of John impossible is the promise Jesus made to John on Patmos. Through His angel, Jesus promised John, “THOU must prophesy AGAIN before MANY peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” (Rev 10:11, cp Rev 1:1). Now if John was on Patmos in AD 95 when he received and wrote the Revelation, and John was released from Patmos when Nerva came to the throne in AD 96, then it was only 4 years from the time that John was released until he disappeared from Ephesus. At the time of his release, John was nearly 100 years old, and history says that John was feeble, and had to be carried to the services of the church at Ephesus. There is no historical record whatever of John fulfilling the prophecy made by the angel in Rev 10:11. There is, however, a promise that John will return and apparently witness to the world at end of the age (see quotation above from Asc Isa 4:1-3). Since God cannot lie, the promise that John must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations and tongues and kings must be fulfilled, and in order for it to be fulfilled, John must still be alive.

An interesting side note from the article:

An interesting consequence of the continued life of one of the apostles who was an auditioner of Jesus address in Mt 16:27-28 is the complete negation of the preterit doctrine. In Mt 16:27-28 Jesus speaks of His glorious return to earth at the end of the age and promises that some listening to Him speak would still be alive when He came again. Jesus promises, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 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” (Mt 16:27).

The preterit position is that every prophecy of God was fulfilled by AD 70, and they cite Mt 16:27-28 as proof their doctrine. They use the supposed fact of the deaths of all the apostles to argue that Jesus must have figuratively come in His glory in AD 70. They say Mt 16:27 proves their view because they aver that none of the apostles could still alive. It is, however, impossible to reconcile the preterit world view with God’s revelation, for their teaching that all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 completely destroys the promises to the faithful that they will bodily rise from the dead (cp. Rom 8:11, I Cor 15:12-32) and inherit the kingdom of God (Mt 5:5, I Cor 3:21-22, II Pet 3:13, Rev 22:14). Since the preterit world view obliterates the hope and core of Christianity as it is clearly revealed by God, it cannot be right, and therefore their contention that nobody witnessing Jesus’ discourse in Mt 16:27 could still be living cannot be true. A living apostle stands as an irrefutable negation of their error, for his miraculous preservation to the end of the world is testimony certain that God was not done in AD 70. The living John provides for the literal fulfillment of Mt 16:27 at the Second Coming, for if John still lives, as the prophets say he must, then since he was one standing and listening to Jesus in Mt 16:27, then Jesus’ words can still be literally fulfilled at some future date when Jesus comes in His glory.

IN CONCLUSION

It is at least a good possibility that the Apostle John COULD possibly still be alive.

53 thoughts on “John the Apostle – Dead or Alive?

  1. The Heavenly Kingdom (aka the Kingdom of God) is New Jerusalem. John certainly saw a vision of her at Patmos, and wrote that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb would be between Christ and New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-14) after she descends from the New Heaven to the New Earth. Christ abdicates His throne as the Prince of Peace in Heaven to become King of kings of the Earth/New Earth. There had to be a New Jerusalem as the current incarnation is a defiled harlot referenced mystically as Sodom, Egypt, and… MYSTERY BABYLON! See http://bit.ly/RevelationEvents and http://bit.ly/MysteryBabylonIsJerusalem.

    See? We humans — even when we have incorruptible bodies — do NOT reside in Heaven; that is the domain of the Elohim. See http://bit.ly/AfterlifeInSheol.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven while alive; they have not experienced the first death yet, but they will in Jerusalem. They are being specially prepared to serve as the two witnesses. As they will literally destroy their enemies via fire from their mouths (other than Leviathan), they are no longer human.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and well researched as usuual. I don’t think the apostle John is alive on earth right now. But, it is possible that he was taken up to heaven alive just like Enoch. I also believe that since God told him that he will prophesy in the latter days he will be one of the witness sent to earth during that time. I mention this in the book, “Harm not the oil and wine.” All things are possible with God so your theory is also possible. Blessings.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yep, that’s equally possible, as mentioned in the article. I deliberately left the conclusion “open” as coming to a definite, absolute conclusion on what happened to John is almost impossible. As you said, all things are possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good argument. But John wrote Revelation by seeing the Kingdom of Jesus as He is,when he was taken up to the Third Heaven. As for human histrory, none can be trusted fully, one must look to other witnesses of history for the Word says that two are more witnesses must be in the same truth, to prove any of our Gods precepts. Please go to other historys of that time and if two come together with the same conclusion then consider this as correct. I am not an apologest but I think that man’s history of Johns death is more true than the boiled in oil. Possibly he will be one of the two prophets sent back to earth. (sent back,being the fact of , from heaven, being my premise). I always enjoy your view of things. Ty. :))

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  4. J-M, well stated. I had taken the position in the book that John will most likely be one of the two witnesses in order to fulfill what he was told; and of course the fact that the two witnesses are prophesied following this promise to him is interesting. The usual thinking concerning who are the two witnesses, is that they are Elijah and Moses (some do say Enoch), but there is Scriptural proof that Moses was buried, even though it was by God. So John is no less a candidate.
    Also if it were Enoch and Elijah then both witnesses would be Gentile, as Elijah the Tishbite was most likely a Gentile converted to Israel.
    Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting. First I’ve heard of this ‘theory’. But I really like (and agree) with your comment at the very beginning of the post, “It does sound pretty crackpot.”

    The whole theory is predicated on a limited definition of what the ‘kingdom of God’ means and entails in the quoted passages. There also seems to be a good deal of “reading meaning into the passages” so that they support the idea that is being proposed. Both of those ways of dealing with the word of God lead to, using J.M.’s wording, ‘crackpot’ ideas.

    Shalom, -Yosef

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Here’s a thought that will cause all sorts of havoc, but then my blogs tend towards that direction anyway, although I don’t’ think I’ve ever touched on this particular subject. In my research, John is said to have received and written The Revelation on or about AD 96. The Catholic Church says that Peter was the last living apostle and thus became the head of their Church, having become a bishop, I believe. The only problem with that was that the “office” of an apostle was to the world, not a particular congregation, which means he would have to have abrogated his calling as an apostle for him to become a bishop, and there is no scriptural record of Peter ever having become a bishop, other than the Catholic Church’s say so. But seeing as how Peter was NOT the last living apostle, their claim on Peter as their head is made null, as it’s clear that John was alive at the time of even Peter’s death in AD 64, which means that he still had the authority that Jesus gave him in Matthew 10 and was over any other authority extent at the time. And there is also no scriptural record of there being anything like a Pope or Cardinal, nor the fancy duds they wear. I have a hard time imagining Peter, let along Jesus Christ, wearing that kind of garb and engaged in the sort of pomp that goes on in the Vatican. But that’s just me, one man’s opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

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