Apostolic Age: St. John and the Revelation


John the Disciple

            Review the life of John as a disciple of Jesus. Have the students take turn reading these Scriptures about John:

            Luke 5:1-11                 Calling of the fishermen

            Luke 9:28-31               Transfiguration

            Matthew 20:20-23      Desire to be first in the kingdom

            John 19:25-27             Presence at the cross

            John 20:1-8                 First disciple to the tomb

John was known as the “Beloved”, or the disciple whom Jesus loved. He seems to have been set apart from the start by the Lord.


John the Apostle:

            At the foot of the cross, John stood with the Mother of God and heard the words of the Lord, “Behold thy mother.” From that day on, served the Theotokos and cared for her until her Dormition. After the Resurrection, John was one of the leaders of the early Church. He helped Peter and James in guiding the church in Jerusalem. Then, John traveled to Asia Minor, surviving shipwreck and fourteen days in the sea, and settled in the city of Ephesus. There, his preaching was accompanied by so many miracles, that the number of believers increased each day. From Ephesus he led the church in Asia. John was known for the loving concern he had for his brothers and sisters; he was called the “Apostle of Love.” A story is told that, while traveling in a certain city, John saw a young man and entrusted him to the bishop of the city to teach him about the Lord. But, when John came back to the city, he was told that the young man had made bad friends and had become a robber. This made John very sad, and he went into the mountains where the robbers lived. He was captured by the robbers and found the young man and told him that Jesus still loved him. The young man then cried and said that he was sorry for his evil way of life and went back to the church. So, the apostle John cared for his churches with love and charity.

            When John was already an old man, loved by Christians everywhere, he was the only one of the twelve still alive. When the Emperor Domitian, a cruel and wicked ruler, came to the throne, he ordered John captured by the soldiers and brought to the Emperor in Rome. There, he tried to kill John in a pot of boiling oil, but John was not hurt at all. (Remember the story of the three men in the fiery furnace?) Since he could not kill the apostle, the emperor sent him to the island of Patmos. On the island of Patmos, John continued to preach; his preaching and miracles attracted the people of the island. Sorcerers also came, boasting to destroy the apostle; instead the demonic articles used by the sorcerers were destroyed by prayer and the greatest of these, Kinops, perished in the depths of the sea. Then, John, with his disciple Prochorus, withdrew to a desolate mountain, and fasted and prayed. The earth quaked and thunder rumbled. There John had the great vision of the Lord and wrote the book we now call “The Revelation”, the last book of the Bible. From this wondrous and fiery vision, St. John has been called John the Theologian, and his symbol, the eagle.

            Finally, Domitian died and John was able to go back to Ephesus. From there he wrote down his memories of the life of Jesus in the Gospel of John and also three letters, which we now have in our Bible as the “Epistles of St. John”. As an old man, John told the people over and over to love each other. John died peacefully in Ephesus and joined the Lord he had loved so well. He departed the city with his disciples and their families and lay down in a cross-shaped grave. When the grave was later opened, it was empty!


The Revelation

  1. Read Revelation 1:9-19: The Revelation is the report of a vision John had while in

exile on the island of Patmos. Locate Patmos on your maps. John’s vision was full of angels and trumpets – the major theme is the Second Coming, when Jesus will come again in glory (as He promised) and judge the world. Jesus Himself spoke about the Second Coming both in parable (Remember the story of the virgins and their lamps?) and as a Last Judgment. Throughout the ages, men have looked to Revelation for detail about the end of the world and have argued vehemently about various passages. But, there is much symbolism – a great mystery.


  1.  In Revelation, God sends a message through John to the 7 churches of Asia. This is much more concrete than the later parts of the vision. Look up the names of these churches in Revelation 1:11. Find each of these churches on a map. Draw a small church shape, write the name of the church, and from Revelation 2 and 3 find one important thing God had to say to each church and write it also on the building. Use thumbtacks or post-its to attach the paper churches in the correct locations on your classroom map or bulletin board. Do any of the messages God gave to those long-ago churches apply to us today? Why or why not?


  1. Angels figure prominently in the Revelation. First ask the students what angels are; you may get some surprising answers since the popular culture is also full of angels. Angels are God’s attendants and messengers. The Orthodox Church teaches that there are 9 “choirs” of angels: angels, archangels, powers, authorities, principalities, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim. Do the students remember any of these mentioned in our liturgy? Angels are invisible (most of the time; can you think of an exception? The Annunciation!), of tremendous power and strength. They don’t have bodies as we know them. Of three, we know their names; who are they? We also know (and read in the Revelation) of powerful fallen angel; who is he? (Lucifer, Satan, the Devil) When Lucifer tried to make himself equal to God, the armies of angels, led by the Archangel Michael, threw him out of heaven. Where did he go? Many other lesser angels sided with Lucifer; what are they called? Popular humanistic culture would list angels and demons as fanciful creatures, like fairies and sprites. But, the Bible shows them to be very real – remember the story of Job and the temptations of Jesus. The great saints of the Church throughout the ages have battled demons and been protected by angels.


Primstav: Add St. John, the Evangelist, the the Primstav on May 8.


Close with prayer.