John 21:22-23 Commentary: Did the Apostle John Die?

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The following may seem unbelievable.  However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable.  Sources listed at the end.

 “If I want Him to remain alive until I return, what is that to You?”–Did John the Disciple Die?

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Did John the disciple die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: Summary and Highlights

In the following commentary on John 21:22-23, Jesus says, “If I want him [the Apostle John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?[1]  According to church tradition, John the apostle died sometime at the end of the first centuryDid John the disciple die before Christ returned?  Is Jesus talking about the second coming or something else?  In A.D. 66 two first century Roman historians recorded a miraculous event that appears to be Jesus Christ in the presence of a multitude of angels in the sky.  This miracle appears to be the return that Jesus promised that John would see.  What did John see?  For the incredible evidence see the following commentary on John 21:22-23.

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An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

 “If I want Him to remain alive until I return, what is that to You?”–Did John the Disciple Die?

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him [the Apostle John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

Did the Apostle John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: The Second Coming is described in Revelation 19:11-14.  Here Jesus leads an Army of Angels in the Sky. 

In Matthew 24, Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 10:23, Mark 8:38-9:1 and John 21:22 Jesus promises to return within the lifetime of many of the people who witnessed his ministry.  The second coming is described in detail in Revelation 19:11-14.  Here, Jesus rides a white horse leading an army of angels on horseback on the clouds.

Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you, second coming

An artistic depiction of the second coming as it is described in Revelation 19.

                       

Did the Apostle John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: The Second Coming is recorded in Roman History.

An eerily similar event is recorded to have occurred in Iyyar of A.D. 66 at the start of the Israel’s war with Rome:

[O]n the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.[2]

Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you, the clouds of heaven

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

The Jewish historian Josephus describes a heavenly army in the clouds much like the army Jesus leads in Revelation 19:11-14.  The pagan historian Tacitus also mentions this event: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”[3]  The parallels between these two accounts and  Revelation 19 are striking.

second coming Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you

Did the Disciple John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: Jesus must have been present at the Head of this Army.

Though Jesus is never identified at the head of this angelic army in the clouds mentioned by Tacitus and Josephus, I believe that it is clear that he must have been.  Throughout his ministry, Jesus predicted that he would come on the clouds in the presence of the heavenly host within the lifetimes of those present during his ministry.  If this supernatural event did, in fact, occur which LITERALLY fulfills  Revelation 19:11-14 and ALL BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF THE SECOND COMING, then Jesus must have been present at the head of this army on the clouds–this miracle would have been too much of a coincidence if he were not.

lightning Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you

Did the Apostle John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: According to Tacitus, Lightning struck the Temple around the Time of the Second Coming in fulfillment of Matthew 24:27.

Matthew 24:27 reads, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”  This verse seems to suggest that lightning might mark the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds.  Historical confirmation of lightning marking the second coming of Christ may found in the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus:

In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.  A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.  The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure [emphasis mine].[4]

Did the Disciple John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: The Angelic Army of A.D. 66 LITERALLY fulfills all Biblical Descriptions of the Second Coming.

This heavenly army recorded above LITERALLY fulfills ALL Biblical descriptions of the second coming.

1)      In fulfillment of Matthew 24, Matthew 16:28,  Matthew 10:23,  Mark 8:38-9:1, Mark 14:61-62,  John 21:22 and Revelation 1:7 this event occurred within Jesus’ generation and within the lifetime of the Apostle John, who according to church tradition died sometime in the last decade of the first century.

2)      In fulfillment of Matthew 24:30, Revelation 1:7 and  Mark 14:62, this event was witnessed on the clouds.

3)      This supernatural specter pictures what appears to be Jesus, the Son of Man, in the presence of a multitude of angels in the clouds fulfilling Matthew 16:27, Mark 8:38, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, and Jude 14-15.

4)      This event was visible in fulfillment of Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 24:27, Matthew 24:30,  Mark 14:62, Revelation 1:7 and  Acts 1:9-11.

5)      This event was marked by lightning in fulfillment of Matthew 24:27.

6)      In fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, this army was seen in A.D. 66, the same year in which a multitude of spiritual bodies were seen rising out of the earth in what appears to be the start the resurrection of the dead.[5]

Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you resurrection

Ricci, Sebastiano. The Resurrection. 1715-16.

Did the Apostle John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: The Second Coming was seen in the Same Year as the Start of the Resurrection of the Dead.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  This verse implies that the second coming would mark the start of the resurrection of the dead.  As stated above, Josephus indicates that this heavenly army was seen in Iyyar of A.D. 66, the same year in which another miracle was witnessed.

In A.D. 66 when the Jewish revolt began, Nero Caesar was in Greece building a canal.  Concerning the construction of this waterway, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared.  Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.”[6]  In recording this same event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground the sound of a trumpet was heard.[7]  The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead were raised is a clear fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable . . .”  Notice in fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, both the second coming of Christ and the start of the resurrection of the dead are recorded to have occurred at the start of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66.

all eyes will see the second comingsee Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you

Did the Disciple John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: Would All Eyes see the Second Coming?

Having shown how the army seen in the clouds in A.D. 66 fulfills Biblical predictions concerning the second coming, some might argue that this event does not fulfill Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”  If Jesus returned today, would everyone in the world without exception see him riding on the clouds?  Would the blind?  What about people working underground in subways or coal mines? How about prisoners in solitary confinement or people asleep in their beds?  What about the Roman soldiers that pierced him?  “Those who pierced him” in Revelation 1:7 are the first century Roman soldiers that pierced Jesus while he lay on the cross according to John 19:34.  Thus Revelation 1:7 again indicates that the second coming must be a first century event.

Did the Apostle John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: Does All or Every Always mean All or Every?

In Matthew 2:1-3 the Magi appear before King Herod with news that the Messiah had been born.  Verse 3 then says, “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”  Why would all Jerusalem be disturbed about the Messiah’s birth?  Wouldn’t most Jews in Jerusalem be happy?

In Matthew 4:8 the devil took Jesus “to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world.”  The world is round.  It is impossible even from an infinitely high vantage point to see all the kingdoms of the world.

showing all the kingdoms Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you

Doré, Gustave. The Temptation by the Devil. 1870.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells the disciples, “All men will hate you because of me.”  Would all Christians hate the disciples because of Jesus?  Would all the disciples also hate each other because of Christ?  Would even all non-Christian Jews hate the disciples because of Jesus?

The Bible often uses hyperbole for emphasis.  All or every does not always mean all or every.  When the Bible says that every eye will see Jesus at his return, it does not mean that every person in the world will see him without exception.  Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.”[8]  The Gospels show Jesus only preaching his message in and around Israel because the coming judgment was Israel’s eminent war with Rome.  It is for this reason that the second coming which marked the coming judgment was seen in Israel and not outside the Roman Empire.

maccabean army in sky Commentary on John 21, John 21:22 commentary, Did John the apostle die, did John the disciple die, John apostle death, if I want him to remain alive until I return what is that to you

West, Benjamin. Destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet. 1804. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis.

Did the Disciple John Die? John 21:22-23 Commentary: The Second Coming mirrors Past Events recorded in the Bible in which God appeared to People.

One might expect that when people see Jesus, the Son of Man, coming on the clouds of heaven during his second coming that this appearance would be similar to previous events in the Bible in which God had come on the clouds.  When people think of the second coming, they often think of a single event; however, the Bible is a book full of types and multiple fulfillments.  The “second coming” appears to be no exception.  The second coming or parousia as it had been fulfilled through the various miraculous appearances of Christ in A.D 66, A.D. 70 and A.D. 79 is a first century climactic repetition of the various ways in which God manifested himself throughout Old Testament history.

The coming of Christ on the clouds with a myriad of angels in A.D. 66 mirrors the coming of the Lord as it is described in Deuteronomy 33:2: “The Lord came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran.  He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes.” The parousia of A.D. 66 as it is recorded in The Wars of the Jews and The Histories is also identical to an event seen in the sky at the start of the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C. according to 2 Maccabees 5:1-4. For a restatement of the above evidence, multifaceted historical evidence suggesting that this event did in fact occur, Biblical evidence that Christ rules the world from a heavenly throne as well as evidence from near-death experiences suggesting that the new Jerusalem exists right now see Historical Evidence that Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.

Dore, Gustave. The Army Appears in the Heavens (II Maccabees 5:1-4)

Dore, Gustave. The Army Appears in the Heavens (2 Maccabees 5:1-4).

This was not the only time Jesus had come on the clouds in judgment around the time of the Jewish War.  In The Second Coming of A.D. 70–like You’ve Never Heard it Before!, Biblical and historical evidence is presented showing that Christ had come on the clouds in judgment on Israel at the head of an invading army at the start of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  This manifestation of Christ is a perfect reflection of the way in which God had come on the clouds in judgment on cities in the past according to the Hebrew prophets.

As explained in The Miraculous Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20, what appears to be the final miraculous appearance of Christ came in a supernatural event surrounding the death of the beast in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2:8: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”  This appearance of Christ at the death of the beast bears an uncanny resemblance to the descent of the Lord on Mt. Sinai according to the Book of Exodus.  Since the Law was given by God at Sinai, could this appearance of Christ be a final sign of the fulfillment of the Law and the establishment of a new covenant?

Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse?  It DID happen just like the Bible says!  If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!

Have an “impossible question” concerning Christianity or Christian Theology? Wrestling with questions like, “DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SUGGEST THAT THE EARTH IS 6000 YEARS OLD?” or “WHO OR WHAT CREATED GOD?” See ANSWERS TO CHRISTIANITY’S HARDEST QUESTIONS. You have never heard these questions answered like this!

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[1] John 21:22.

[2] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.

[3] Tacitus The Histories 5.13.

[4] Ibid.

[5] As is implied in Revelation 15:8, these spirits, however, do not finally enter heaven until the seven plagues are completed.  I believe these spirits that had been resurrected at the start of the Jewish War are taken to an undisclosed location away from Satan’s reach for 1260 days, corresponding with the interval between the time of the arrival of the Romans during the month of Tishri in A.D. 66 until Passover of A.D. 70 when Titus began his attack on Jerusalem at the last trumpet.

[6] Cassius Dio Roman History 63.16.

[7] Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.

[8] Matthew 10:5-6.

John 21:22-23 Commentary: “If I want Him to remain alive until I return, what is that to You?”–Did John the Disciple Die?: Conclusion

In the above commentary on John 21:22-23, Jesus says, “If I want him [the Apostle John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”  Having died sometime at the end of the first century, John the apostle did see Christ return before his death.  

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John 21:22-23 Commentary: Did the Apostle John Die?