August 7, 2016

On August 7,  I made a comment that according to church tradition, the Apostle John was placed in a cauldron of boiling oil, but survived and later was used by God to write the Book of Revelation.  Some people asked me for the source of this information.  The sources used to compile this information are listed at the bottom of this writing. John taught Polycarp who taught Irenaeus, who wrote this down about John being placed in the caldron of oil.  So Irenaeus is one source of the information, as is Tertullian.

In Galatians 2:9, John and his brother are in Jerusalem and are helping to lead the church.  This is in about 50 A.D.  Justin Martyr, in “Dialogue with Tryphon” Chapter 81, speaks of John as “one of the Apostles of Christ” who had lived “with us” at Ephesus. Irenaeus declared that John wrote the Gospel of John while in Ephesus (Against Heresies, III.1.1). Tertullian tells us that John was placed in a cauldron of boiling oil before the Porta Latina at Rome, but that he did not die (De praescript., xxxvi). Eusebius tells us that John was banished to Patmos during the time when Domitian was the Emperor (Church Histrry III.13.1). Prisoners were sometimes sent to Patmos to work in the mines. Domitian was the Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 A.D.  After Domitian's death John went back to Ephesus (De praescript., xxxvi).  Irenaeus says that John lived in Ephesus until Trajan became the emperor.  John died there in about A.D. 100 at “a great age”.  (De praescript., xxxvi). Under Trajan, Christians were no longer hunted down and killed as they were when Nero, and Domitian had been emperors. Pliny stated, “These people [Christians] must not be sought out; if they are brought before you and the charge is proved, they must be punished; but any of them who denies he is a Christian and gives visible evidence of that, by praying to our gods... let him be given a pardon for his penitence." (Pliny Letters X.97)

The story of Ephesus is interesting in itself. Paul had been in Ephesus serving the church as indicated in the Book of Acts. Timothy had served as the Pastor in Ephesus after Paul. The Lord Jesus had written a letter to the church at Ephesus using the hand of John while he was in exile in Patmos, and then John the Apostle went from Patmos to Ephesus. There is also a tradition that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had gone to Ephesus and while she had lived there, the Apostle John had taken care of her.