The Apostle John – His Exile & Martyrdom 

Notes compiled by Michael Miano


I am very much indebted to Ed Stevens and his book, The Final Decade Before The End. While disagreeing with some of his conclusions, his work of putting together the chronology and history of the New Testament writings and the 1st century, has served as foundational to my continued studies. 

Yesterday, in two separate places, I heard conversations regarding the exile and death of the Apostle John. In The Final Decade Before The End, Stevens offers some important insights to consider in that discussion. 

Apr. 62 – John exiled to Patmos 

“John was probably exiled to Patmos as a result of Ananus II’s arrest of “James and some of his companions” (see, Josephus, Antiquities. 20:200 (20.9.1). The book of Revelation was evidently written sometime very soon after this, after April 62 and before July 64 when some of the signs predicted in Revelation began to occur (e.g., the Neronic persecution)”. 

“It is no great surprise that Ananus II would have sent John into exile rather than have him executed, since John tells us in his gospel that he was personally “known to the High Priest” Ananus b. Seth (John 18:15-16) who was the father of Ananus II that arrested “James and some of his companions”. This relationship between John and the family of Ananus evidently spared John’s life by allowing him to be exiled rather than killed”. 

Fall 64 – John’s martyrdom 

“Apostle John was “killed by the Jews” (most likely in the Neronic persecution ), according to Papias (Papias 5:5; 6:3 in the “Fragments of Papias”). Since the Island of Patmos was a Roman-controlled exile island, it does not seem to be likely that John was killed by Jews there. It is more likely that he would have been released from Patmos and resettled in nearby Ephesus where the Jews would have easily had access to him, and there are traditions which would suggest this”. 

“Whether on Patmos, or in Ephesus, we can be sure that the outbreak of the Neronic persecution in late Summer and early Fall of AD 64 would have proven fatal for the apostles like Peter, Paul, and John. The Jews would have taken full advantage of this Roman persecution to settle old scores against the Christians. Papias said that the Apostle John was “killed by the Jews”, just as Jesus had predicted in Matt. 20:23 and Mark 10:39. That would fit the tradition that he died in Ephesus at the hands of the Jews there, who used the Neronic persecution as their authority to kill John). 


Resources: 

Ed Stevens book review – https://powerofpreterism.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/book-review-final-decade-before-the-end-by-mr-ed-stevens/

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