The Gospel of John:
A Neglected Key to Revelation?
The ancient church was virtually unanimous in claiming that John’s Gospel and Revelation came from the same hand—from John, the son of Zebedee. Nonetheless, most modern commentary dismisses the relevance of the Fourth Gospel in interpreting Revelation.
The following chart displays a literary intertextuality that shows these two great books should be viewed as companion volumes. In fact, we will claim that if they are read alongside each other, as the church fathers suggested, they will interpret each other according to the Reformed hermeneutical maxim Scriptura Scripturas interpres. While several other literary patterns appear to interleave the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse, the parallel chart presented below offers the most readily recognizable and comprehensiveprima facie evidence of the interrelationship of these two books from the pen of the Apostle John.
The pattern of consecutive correspondences consists of significant words, word combinations, and phrases that track between the two companion books, as they are read consecutively and side-by-side. If you imagine John and Revelation as two railroad tracks, the verbal and thematic links within this pattern are like the railroad ties that hold the tracks together as they present the ministry of Jesus from the earthly (John) and heavenly (Revelation) perspectives.
The Book of Revelation
The Gospel of John
In the following chart, the word(s) in bold type are from the same root in the original Greek text. When the verse address is bolded, it indicates that this is the only time that the word combinations in bold are found in both the Gospel and Revelation. The italicized words are terms that are related thematically, but are based on different Greek roots.
John-Revelation Consecutive Correspondence Chart
Gospel of John
1:1 John writes concerning “the Word ofGod”
- 1:2 John witnesses to “the Word of God”
1:5 Jesus is “the Light (that) shines in darkness”
- 1:16 The face of Jesus “shines like the sun”
1:14 “We beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father”
- 1:5-6 “Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…to Him be glory”
1:23 John the Baptist introduces the earthly Jesus: “I am the voice of one crying, ‘In the wilderness’”
- 1:10 John the Apostle “heard … a loud voice, as of a trumpet,” and sees the heavenly Jesus.1
1:42 Jesus gives Peter a new name: “Cephas, which is translated, ‘a stone’”
- 2:17 “To him who overcomes…I (Jesus) will give a white stone, and on the stone2 a new name” 3
2:17 Jesus purges the temple: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me”
- 3:19 Jesus purifies His church: “Be zealous therefore, and repent” 4
2:24-25 “Jesus…knew all men…for He Himself knew what was in man”
- 2:23 “all the churches shall know that I (Jesus) am He who searches the minds and hearts”
3:1,10 “now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus…ateacher in Israel”
- 2:15 “the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (2:6) 5
3:20 “he who does evil hates the light…lest his deeds be reproved”
- 3:19 “as many as I love I reprove” 6
3:29 ”the friend of the bridegroom, whostands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice”
- 3:20 ”Behold, I stand at the door…if anyone hears My voice…I will come in to him and dine with him” 7
4:23 “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”
- 4:9-10 “Whenever the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne…the twenty-four elders fall down…and worship Him”
4:44 “For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country”
- 4:11; 5:12-13 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive…honor…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive…honor…Blessing and honor…to the Lamb forever and ever”8
5:18 “He (Jesus)…was breaking theSabbath” (the seventh day)
- 5:5 “the Lion of the tribe of Judah…has prevailed to open the scroll and to break its seven seals” 9
5:22-23 “the Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father”
- 5:13 “And every creature…I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb”
5:35 John the Baptist “was a burning…lamp”
- 4:5 “seven lamps of fire burning…the seven spirits of God” 10
6:7-9 ”Two hundred denarii worth of bread…five barley loaves”
- 6:6 ”A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius” 11
6:15 ”when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew to the mountain by Himself”
- 6:15 ”the kings…the great men…rich men… commanders…mighty men…hid themselves in the mountains” 12
6:18, 27 ”And the sea was stirred…a great wind was blowing…for this one has God the Father sealed”
- 7: 1-3 ”so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea…until we have sealed the servants of God” 13
6:35 ”He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”
- 7:16 ”they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore” 14
7:38 “rivers of living water will flow from him”
- 7:17 He “will lead them to springs of the water of life”
8:21-22 “you will seek Me, and where I go you cannot come (i.e., you will not find Me); You will die in your sins…(they) said, ‘Will He kill Himself?’”
- 9:6 “men will seek death, and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them” 15
9:25, 27 “Though I was blind, now I see…I told you (the Pharisees)…and you did not hear”
- 9:20 The wicked are like their idols “which can neither see nor hear” 16
10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”
- 10:4, 8, 9 “I heard a voice from heaven…Then the voice which I heard…spoke…and said, ‘Go…’ So I went…” 17
11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead, and I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there that you might believe… So when Jesus came, he (Lazarus) had been in the tomb four days”
- 11:9-10 “(they) will see their dead bodies(the two witnesses) for three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them”
11:43-44 “with a loud voice He cried out, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot”
- 11:11-12”Now…the breath of God entered them (the witnesses), and they stood on their feet…and they heard a loud voice from heaven saying… ‘Come up here!’” 18
11:48 “if all men believe in Him…they will take away our (the religious leaders’)place”
- 12:8 “and no place was found for them (those who follow the Dragon) in heaven” 19
12:13, 15, 19 ”The next day a great multitude…cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!… ‘Behold, your King is coming’…The Pharisees therefore said… ‘Look, the world has gone after Him!’”
- 12:10 ”Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, ‘Now…the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come.’” “And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become those of our Lord and His Christ” (11:15)20
12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it”
- 12:11 “they did not love their lives to death”
12:28-31 ”then a voice came from heaven…the people who heard…said it thundered. Others said an angel spoke… ‘Now the ruler of this world(Satan) will be cast out.’”
- 12:9-10 ”and Satan, who deceives the whole world…was cast to the earth, and his angels…and I heard a loud voice in heaven… ‘Now has come salvation.’” “there were…thunderings” (11:19) 21
12:32 Jesus says: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself”
- 12:5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” 22
13:29 Judas, who controlled the purse, should “buy those things that we need” Judas challenges: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold…?” (12:5)
- 13:17 The beast controls all who “buy and sell” 23
14:6 ”I am the way, the truth, and the life”
- 15:3, 7 ”just and true are Your ways…God who lives forever”
14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”
- 14:12 “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments”
15:1-6 ”I am the Vine, you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown out as a branch and is dried up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire”
- 14: 15, 18-19 ”the harvest of the earth wasdried up…and another angel who had authority over fire… called… ‘gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth andgathered the vine…and threw it into the winepress” 24
16:8 “He will judge of sin, righteousness, and judgment”
- 16:7 “true and righteous are Your judgments”
16:33 “I (Jesus) have overcome the world”
- 17:14 “the Lamb will overcome them”
17:12 Judas is “the son of perdition”
- 17:8, 11 ”(the beast) will go to perdition”25
17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me…from the foundation of the world”
- 17:8 “And those whose name had not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world”
18:11 “the cup which My Father has given”
- 18:6 the harlot Babylon has a “cup of abominations” (17:4)
18:38 “Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’”
- 19:11 “and He…was called ‘Faithful and True’” 26
19:2 ”they clothed Him in a purple robe”
- 18:16 the harlot Babylon “was clothed in purple” 27
19:5 “Jesus therefore came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe…Behold, the Man!”
- 19:11 “behold…He who was called Faithful and True…and on His head were many diadems, and His robe was dipped in blood” 28
19:13 Pilate “sat upon the judgment seat” to “judge” (18:31)
- 20:11-13 “I saw a great white throne, and He who sat upon it…judged every man” 29
19:17-18 ”Golgotha, where they crucified Him (Jesus), one on either side and Jesus in the midst”
- 22:2 ”in the midst of the street, on either side of the river was the tree of life”
19:19 “Pilate wrote a title…it was written, ‘JESUS OF NAZARETH. THE KING OF THE JEWS.’”
- 19:16 “On His outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’” 30
19:23 “when they crucified Jesus, they took His outer garments”
- 19:16 “On his outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS’”
19:28, 30, 40, 42 “Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished…said, ‘It is finished!’…and they took the body of Jesus and bound it…and placed it in a tomb.”
- 20:2, 3, 5 “He laid hold of the dragon…and bound him, and shut him in the abyss…that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished…and the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” 31
20:15 “Jesus said… ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’”
- 21:4 “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” 32
20:17 “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold to me yet, for I have not yet ascended to My Father…to My God and your God.’”
- 21: 2 “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…” 33
20:27 ”Be not unbelieving but believing”
- 21:8 ”But the fearful and unbelieving”
21:15 “Feed my lambs”
- 19:9 “the wedding supper of the Lamb” 34
21:24 “this is the disciple who…wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true”
- 21:5 “And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true” 35
21:25 “And there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
- 22:18-19 “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part…from the things which are written in this book.”
© 2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter
1 John the Baptist, who is about to be cast into prison (John 3:24), announces the coming of the earthly Jesus. John the Apostle, who is upon the prison isle of Patmos, describes a vision of the heavenly Jesus (Rev 1:9). It is noteworthy that John the Baptist “bears witness” about Jesus in the Gospel, while John the Apostle “bears witness” about Jesus in Revelation (John 1:7 and Rev 1:2). The two books open with the witness of “John” about Jesus.
2 There is a homophony in Greek between ‘kephas’ (Cephas) in John 1:42 and ‘psephos’ (stone) in Rev. 2:17.
3 Peter is given a new name, “Cephas,” or stone in John 1:42. The overcoming believer is promised a white “stone” with a new name in Revelation 2:17.
4 As noted by the verse address in bold, the only occurrences of the word ‘zeal’ are found in these books that describe the Lord’s determination to cleanse the churches of Revelation just as He had purged the earthly temple in Jerusalem. In His letter to the Laodiceans, Jesus exhorts the believers to imitate His own zeal for purity in the house of God. The zeal of Christ drives Him to cleanse the temple (John 2:17). That same zeal is what will drive God’s people to repent, bringing purity to the church (Rev 3:19). This ‘consuming’ zeal (John 2:17) is thus the remedy to Laodicean lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16). Moreover, the cleansing of the earthly temple by the zeal of Jesus (John 2) is balanced by the cleansing of the seven churches, which constitute the heavenly temple, by the zealous call of Jesus (Rev 2-3). Consequently, both Johannine books begin with a cleansing of the “house of God” as temple or church. There is thus a thematic equipoise to the beginning of both the Gospel and Revelation. This literary equipoise is sustained throughout the parallel reading of John’s two great works, as we shall see.
5 The meaning of “Nicodemus” and “Nicolaitan” is virtually identical in Greek (“victory of the people”). If Nicodemus is taken as a representative of the Pharisees, the ground of the Lord’s hatred of the teaching of the Nicolaitans is clearly established (Rev 2:6). Moreover, the juxtaposition of these names (and a Hellenistic name for the teacher of Israel is unusual, to say the least) in light of the history of Nicodemus’ faith would give hope of repentance to the Nicolaitans of Ephesus and Pergamum.
6 The reproof of Jesus is the evidence of His love (Rev 3:19). The teaching of this parallel reading constitutes a loving invitation to all those afraid of the light because of their evil deeds to come to Him nonetheless (John 3:20).
7 The invitation to dine with Jesus is a reference to communion at the Lord’s Table. The suggestion in this parallel is that the Lord’s Supper is in fact an anticipation of the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). The Laodiceans are being invited into a celebration of love and intimacy by the Bridegroom of heaven at the bridal meal He hosts for them.
8 Jesus’ teaching to the Samaritan woman about true worship (John 4:23) is echoed by all of heaven being filled with worship (Rev 4:9-10). Similarly, Jesus’ observation that a prophet has no honor ‘among his own’ is contrasted with all of heaven ascribing Him honor (Rev. 4:11, 5:12-13). The heavenly and earthly scenes are full of ironic contrasts!
9 The boldness of Jesus on earth in asserting His right to work healing on the Sabbath provoked the charge that He was making Himself “equal with God” (John 5:18). The corresponding passage in the heavenly throne room depicts Jesus as equal with God, worthy to open the seven-sealed book, and boldly ‘taking’ it from the right hand of the Lord God sitting upon the throne (Rev 5:7). Jesus is thus in the posture of a co-regent, not a supplicant, as He approaches the throne of His Father.
10 John the Baptist, of course, experienced the fullness (cf. “seven spirits of God”) of the Spirit even before his birth (cf. Luke 1:15).
11 The apocalyptic horseman who brings famine to the earth is sent by Jesus to vindicate the justice of God against man’s rebellion (Rev 6:5). But the context of the parallel correspondence encourages the believer to remember that Jesus was mindful of the hunger of His people in the wilderness and that He is able to supply whatever they need.
12 Strikingly, Jesus fled the honor of man as much as the wicked will flee the wrath of God!
13 The pattern of unique correspondences between John 6 and Revelation 6-7 reveals in both books that the people of God are delivered from the wind and the sea, i.e., from natural or elemental chaos. Their safety and security is the seal of God.
14 This correspondence sets forth a promise-fulfillment pattern. The promise pronounced upon earth is realized in heaven.
15 The religious leaders conjecture that Jesus intends to kill Himself (John 8:21-22). Ironically, their conjecture is paralleled with the inability of the wicked in judgment to find death (Rev 9:6). The wicked, who are dead in their sins, will suffer a torment that will not die. Once again, the irony is fully appreciated only by a companion reading of these two books.
16 The Gospel describes the religious leaders who are blind to the Light of the World and deaf to the Word of God. The revelation of their true character is unveiled in the parallel reading. The religious leaders of the second temple are idol worshippers, and the temple of Jerusalem has become an idol sanctuary. John’s polemic against apostate Judaism expresses a shocking irony.
17 John’s immediate obedience is intended as an example of Jesus’ teaching about following Him.
18 The resurrection of Lazarus in the Gospel becomes a powerful picture of the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation. The murderous hostility of the Jews against Lazarus (John 12:10-11) corresponds to the bestial opposition to the two witnesses of Revelation (Rev 11:7).
19 In yet another shocking irony, the religious leaders are compared to the followers of the dragon. The religious leaders feared that they might lose their earthly sanctuary as a consequence of the wrath of Rome. But a far worse wrath awaited them — the wrath of God. And for their rejection of Jesus their place in the heavenly sanctuary was taken away. Their loss of “place” (Rev 12:8) contrasts with believers for whom Jesus is preparing a “place” (John 14:2).
20 The cry of the multitude at the triumphal entry is echoed by the cry of the multitude in heaven. Heaven and earth alike declare the kingdom authority of Jesus. The battle on earth against Jerusalem, described in the Gospel, is being simultaneously waged from heaven against Babylon, as depicted in Revelation. The correspondence between the two wicked cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, and the warfare of heaven against them, is a major thematic parallel between the Gospel and Revelation.
21 These verses constitute the literary axis of the Johannine books. The thunderous voices of the heavenly angels are heard on earth as the dragon is cast out of heaven to earth. This correspondence is like an open window between the Gospel and the Revelation through which those on earth are permitted to hear the war in heaven (Rev 12:7).
22 The cross foreshadows the victory of the ascension, when Jesus in His “lifted up” glory will draw all nations to Himself as a community of worshippers.
23 This parallel correspondence between Judas and the beast is reinforced by the juxtaposition of John 17:12 and Revelation 17:8, 11, set forth below.
24 This pattern of unique vocabulary indicates a thematic interdependence. The judgment in Revelation is upon the wild grapes, the apostate Israel (cf. Isa 5:7), namely, all those who do not “abide” in Jesus.
25 We have already seen the bestial character of Judas in John 12:5 and 13:29 in light of Revelation 13:17. This parallel is significant because of the unique occurrence of the word “perdition.”
26 Pilate’s question in the Gospel is answered in Revelation. The irony of Pilate’s question is astonishing when John the Seer, like Elisha for his servant, opens the heavens so that we might see the Lord of Glory, Faithful and True.
27 In a striking juxtaposition, Jesus in his suffering is paralleled to the harlot Babylon. Both have a loathsome cup to drink, and both wear a purple robe. Moreover, Jesus suffers the indignity of false accusations of blasphemy (John 10:33) and fornication (John 8:41), crimes that John charges against the whore (Rev 17:2-3). Shocking as it may seem, it is clear that John’s portrait of Jesus in the Gospel has the Lord taking upon Himself the reproach of the whore of Babylon, as depicted in Revelation. Jesus’ suffering in the place of the whore suggests a truth no less wonderful for its being obvious: the Gospel is laying the foundation in the sufferings of Christ for the redemption of Revelation’s Babylonian whore!
28 Heaven and earth are full of shocking opposites! Pilate, the Roman judge, brings Jesus forth and invites all Jerusalem to behold the mockery of Christ’s royal claim. There He stands, crowned in thorns and arrayed in royal purple, and Pilate announces, “Behold, the Man!” The contrast in Revelation could not be more arresting. John invites us to “Behold the Faithful and True One!” crowned with kingly diadems and clothed in a robe dipped in blood. Revelation balances the ridicule of earth with the triumphant glory of heaven!
29 Ironically, Pilate is himself being judged by heaven for his unjust judgment upon earth.
30 Both of John’s books climax in the judgment of Jesus. Upon earth He is condemned by Pilate, who writes a title to mock His kingdom. But in heaven the Lord God vindicates the kingship of Jesus, writing Him a glorious name.
31 The career of Satan counterfeits the earthly history of Jesus. Satan is bound and placed in the abyss just as Jesus was bound and placed in a tomb. Lest he deceive the nations (Rev 20:3, cf. Matt 27:63), Satan is sealed in the earth (Rev 20:3, cf. Matt 27:66). Afterward, Satan imitates the resurrection in being “released” from the abyss (Rev 20:3).
32 The Gospel concludes with a woman and Jesus in an earthly garden (John 20:15). Jesus tells Mary that He must ascend to His Father (John 20:17). Revelation concludes with the bride descending from the Father to be received by her Groom (Rev 21:9-10), coming to a heavenly garden with the river of crystal and the tree of life (Rev 22:1-2). The Gospel’s picture of the bride, corresponding to the bride of Revelation, is Mary Magdalene. Now the choice of this Mary to represent the bride is remarkable due to her reputation within the Christian community as the one from whom the Lord had cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2). Consequently, one who had known every form of demonic defilement (cf. Luke 11:26) is chosen by John to represent the bride of Jesus. When read thematically in parallel with Revelation, the redemption of Mary Magdalene is juxtaposed to the redemption of the whore of Babylon, who becomes the bride of Christ. Once again, the parallel maintains a perfect thematic equipoise with Revelation.
33 The marriage imagery in the Gospel is an implicit Adam typology, with the Lord awakening in the garden tomb as a new Adam. His wounded side (John 19:34) having been healed, Jesus beholds Mary Magdalene, who has become the new Eve.
34 The parallel is striking. The pastoral oversight of Peter is made emblematic of the wedding supper of the Lamb.
35 These remarks constitute the seal of John as a faithful witness to all he has written.