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Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (1871) Volume 2. pp.61-68.  An account of the decease of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist



AND S. John was with the blessed brethren, rejoicing and being glad in the Lord.

And on the next day, which was Sunday, when the brethren were assembled, he began to say: "My brethren and fellows, and heirs and sharers of  the  kingdom  of  the  Messiah,  ye  know how much God hath given to you through me,—how  many signs, how many wonders, how many gifts, rests, services, teachings, rulings, graces, honours,—how many things ye see before your eyes, which are given to you, which are not seen by these eyes and are not heard by these ears. Be strong in Him, therefore, remembering Him in your every deed, and knowing well the mystery of the dispensation that is (come) unto men, why it was wrought. The Lord beseeches you—the Lord through me beseeches, my brethren, and implores—who beseeches us that we should remain not insulting, not injured, not defiled. |62 For He knows insult which (comes) from you, He knows contempt, He knows degradation, He knows torture, when ye do not obey His holy commandments. Let not, therefore, your good God be grieved, the gracious, the merciful, the holy, the undefiled, the only one, the immutable, the true, the guileless, the slow to anger, who is exalted above every appellation that is spoken or thought by you — the God Jesus. Let Him be glad, therefore, whilst ye conduct yourselves well and live purely; let Him glory, whilst ye conduct yourselves chastely; let Him not be anxious, whilst ye live continently in the world; let it be pleasant to Him that ye are in fellowship; let Him glory in your chastity; let Him rejoice, whilst ye love Him. These things I speak unto you, my brethren, whilst I hasten to the work which is appointed, which is already perfected in the Lord. For what is there to say to you? Ye have the surety of God; ye have the pledge of His grace; ye have His coming, which cannot be deprecated. If, therefore, ye sin not again, those things which ye have done without knowledge He will forgive you; but if, when ye have known Him, and have obtained mercy from Him,|63 ye walk in courses which (are) like (unto those), both those former (sins) will be imputed unto you, and ye shall not have part in Him or mercy."

And when he had said these things unto them, he prayed thus : " Jesus, who didst twine this garland with Thy twining; who hast attached these many flowers to Thy flower which falleth not; who hast sown these words of Thine;  (who) alone hast compassion on Thy servants; physician that healest for nought; (who) alone art a minister and not haughty; Jesus, who alone art gracious and merciful; do Thou with Thy grace cover all those who hope in Thee, Thou who knowest well the artifices and the plundering of the adversary."

And when he had asked for bread, he prayed thus: "What praise, or what offering, or what thanksgiving, when we break the bread, shall we render unto Thee? But Thyself alone, Thee Jesus the Messiah, we praise, the Name of the Father which was spoken. We glorify Thy entrance by the door; we glorify the resurrection, which through Thee has been announced unto us; we glorify Thy word, Thy glory, Thy ineffable pearl, Thy treasury, Thy net, Thy greatness, Him who for our sake was called the Son of Man, the truth, the knowledge, the rest, the strength, the command, the freedom of speech,|64 the liberty which (is) in Thee as in the truth. For Thou art the Lord, who wast called the root of immortality, and the fountain of incorruption, and the foundation of the universe. Because of this we acknowledge Thy majesty, which is now invisible."

And when he had broken the bread, and stretched out his hand to them, and prayed for every man, that he might be worthy of the grace which (is) in the Lord and of the holy Eucharist, he too did eat, and said: "And to me in the same manner (let there be) a portion with you, and peace, and love."

Then he said to Birrus (Byrrhus): "Take with thee two brethren, who have with them baskets and spades,and come after me." And Birrus, without neglect, did what was ordered him by John, the servant of God.

The blessed John, therefore, went forth from the house, and was walking before the gate, and said to many that they should depart from him. And when he came to the grave of a brother of ours, he said to the youths, "Dig, my sons." And they were digging; but he was urging them exceedingly, and saying: "Let the trench be deep." And whilst they were digging, he was conversing with them, and was exhorting them, with himself and with those who had come forth from the house, edifying (them)|65 and speaking to them of the majesty of the Messiah, and praying over each of them.

And when these young men had finished the trench, as he wished, without our knowing any thing, he stripped off the garments which he wore, and cast them like bedding into the bottom of the trench. And standing in his mantle only, he lifted up his hands, and prayed thus: "God, who hast chosen us for the apostleship of the nations; who hast sent us to the world; who hast shown Thyself through Thy Apostles; who hast never been at rest from the foundations of the world, but who constantly hast saved those who were able (to be saved); who hast made Thyself known through all nature, and hast proclaimed Thyself even among the beasts; who hast made the desolate soul, that had become savage, be peaceable and quiet; who, when it was thirsting for Thy word, hast given Thyself to it; who, when it was dead, hast quickly appeared unto it; who, when it was plunged in sin, hast alone shown Thyself unto it; who, when it was overcome by Satan, hast already manifested Thyself unto it; who hast not left it to be agitated like the body; who hast shown it its enemy; who hast made a clean union; God Jesus, Father of those that are above the heavens, and Lord of the celestials, and God of the celestials, and law of those that are in |66 the ether; course of the aerials, and guardian of those that are on the earth; fear of the terrestrials, and peace of Thine own;  receive the soul of Thy John, which perhaps may be worthy before Thee, Jesus, who hast thus preserved me to Thyself pure until this hour, and free from intercourse with woman; who didst appear to me in my youth, when I wished to take to myself a wife, and didst say to me, 'Thou art needful to me, John;' who didst choose for me infertility of body, when three times, being disobedient, I wished to marry; who didst say to me on the sea, 'Thou art needful to me, John, and if not, I would let thee take a wife, to mourn and weep;' who in the third year didst open for me the eyes of my understanding,  and didst present me with my visible eyes; who didst make it hard for me to see and gaze upon a woman; who didst deliver me from temporal show (or fancy), and preserve me for that which produceth fruit always;  who didst deliver me from the madness of uncleanness that is in the flesh; who didst separate me from bitter death, and didst raise me up who had need of Thee; who didst restrain the hidden disease of the soul, and didst cut off its evil action; who didst afflict and expel from the boundary him who caused disturbance in me; who didst preserve my affection to Thee without spot; who hast established my course towards Thee without slipping; who hast given my faith in Thee (to be) without doubting; who hast traced out for me the pure knowledge which is in Thee; who givest to every work the due reward; who hast placed it in my soul that I should  not have  any  possession save |67 purity; for what can I find that is better than Thou?  Now, Lord, I have accomplished the stewardship with which I was entrusted; make me worthy of Thy rest, presenting me with the perfection that is in Thee, which is salvation unutterable and ineffable. And when I am going to Thee, let the fire depart, let the darkness be overcome, let the pit be enfeebled; let the furnace be slackened, let Gehenna be extinguished; let the angels accompany, let the demons be afraid; let the princes be cast down, let the powers of darkness fall; let the places on the  right stand, but those on the left not stand; let the Slanderer be muzzled,   let Satan be laughed to scorn; let his work be undone, let his glory be put to shame, let his anger be rendered vain; let his children be beaten, let his whole root be crushed. But my path unto Thee do Thou render for me free from insult and from spoliation, and (grant) that I may receive the things which  Thou  hast  promised to those who have lived purely and have loved Thee alone."

And he turned to the east and glorified (God), standing full in the light, and said: "Be Thou with me, Jesus the Messiah our Lord." Then he went down into the trench, where he had spread his clothes, and saying to |68 us  "Concord and peace be with you, my brethren," he rendered up  his spirit, rejoicing. May his  prayer be with us.  Amen.

Here ends the account of John the Evangelist. May his prayer be with us.  Amen. 

[All footnotes and biblical references have reluctantly been omitted apart from these. Note that a complete reprint of this book with all notes, page divisions and Syriac text can be bought online by visiting Gorgias Press,  (and search on Wright)]

1. Compare Clark's Ante-Nicene Library, vol. xvi., p. 449.

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This text was transcribed by Colin Tunnicliffe, UK, 2004.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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