John vs Gnostics and Nicolaitans:

In her article titled, ‘Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book of Revelation and Paul’ Elisabeth Fiorenza explains that John is against the Gnostics and their notion of ‘knowing’ the secrets of Satan which supposedly grants the ability to safely partake in that which would rh-johnonpatmosotherwise be considered sinful. John is also against Nicolaitans because of their claim to know the ‘mysteries’ of God and calls them the ‘synagogue of Satan.’ Fiorenza seems to argue that John is simply against any claim of being able to ‘know’ the mysteries of the spirit world. John’s reasoning behind labelling the Nicolaitans the ‘synagogue of Satan’ may come from the idea that he considers the Nicolaitans ‘blindly,’ worshipping the Devil. John stresses that, “Satan was thrown down to the earth (Revelation 12:9) and is now the force behind the beast and his worship.” The Nicolaitans are ‘blind’ because they mistake Satan for God and so in John’s view preach a ‘practiced error.’

Revelation and Paul:

Fiorenza compares Revelation to the Pauline letters particularly  1 Corinthians. She notes that the composition of Revelation is quite similar to that of the Pauline letters and shares features such as greetings, concluding admonitions, and extended praescripto.
While The apostle Paul, 1635, by Rembrandt (1606-1669), oil on canvas, 135x111 cm. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)Revelation is a work on Christian apocalyptic theology it was not intended to be so.  Fiorenza notes that Revelation was written as an official letter to the churches of Asia Minor. This would help explain why an apocalyptic book like Revelation bears semblance to a Pauline letter to Corinth. However while their works agree in structure both Paul and John differ on the issue of gnosis. It has been noted that John is against gnosis but Paul is not. Paul argues that gnosis should be limited by love rather than rejected altogether.


Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler. “Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book of Revelation and Paul.” Journal of Biblical Literature 92.4 (1973): 565-81. Web