John and John: The Last Two Prophets of the Parousia

John and John The Last Two Prophets of the Parousia

St. John The Evangelist by Vladimir Borovikosky and
St. John the Baptist from the Ghent Altarpiece

Prophecy and conscience can be compared to a bride and a groom. Their relative individual strength depends upon the strength of the relationship between them. Prophecy, like a groom, offers itself to the conscience so that the conscience, like a bride, may then be a flowerbed of fruitful change. In the Old Testament, the prophet plants a seed within the soil of the national conscience of Israel. The closest example of this relationship in modern times might be that of Martin Luther King to America. His words stirred the conscience of the United States, and eventually our country bore fruit after his death. The interesting aspect in the planting of prophetic seeds is that they always bear fruit, although sometimes long after the prophet is no more. (Acts 3:25)

This guaranteed fruitfulness of God-inspired prophecy brings about a familiar sound within the landscape of the human heart. That sound is a whirlwind of change and possibility, like a voice crying out in the desert. (Isaiah 40:3, John 1:23) That voice is like the rustling of the leaves of my conscience, trying to make me aware, and ready for the winds that will soon blow harder, and the sands that will be lifted with such a fury so as to blind me. And like Saul of Tarsus, my eyes are subjected to the scales of blindness, the barrenness of exile, but only for a time, and always with the hope of a restored and a renewed sight. (Gen 19:11; Acts 13:11; John 12:40; Isaiah 6:10)

Unfortunately, that nagging sound I hear is a voice I often tend to reject and suppress because of arrogance, ignorance, or fear. I, with only the thought of making progress on my own, somehow grope stupidly toward harm’s way instead of toward safety. I easily dismiss the voice to rid my life of fear and lack of trust in God. It is so easy to convince myself that what I hear is simply extraneous noise; and, that in order to dismiss the fear, I must first dismiss, ignore, or deny the sound.

Like these noises announcing change, the voices of the biblical prophets were ignored, denied, and rejected. They became outcasts, reviled by their King, their families, and their people. They were those voices crying out and attesting to the faithfulness of God to his people, and the faithlessness of a people toward their God. They were the voices of needed change, hope, and restoration for an entire nation, and ultimately the salvation of all mankind.

The prophets of the Old Testament were the interior voices of the nation of Israel. These men and women were called by God to be his mouthpieces. But what they did was more than simply warn and adjure. By virtue of their lives of exile from the community, these men and women declared their allegiance and fidelity to God, and the law given to Moses. The fundamental thread that united all these men and women through time was that of God’s plan for salvation. The end game for the biblical prophet was not simply to predict a cycle of destruction, exile, and eventual restoration for that time. The end game for the biblical prophet was for the renewal of a people chosen and loved by God who were then to be a light unto the gentiles, a beacon in the dark for all generations (Luke 2:32; Isaiah 49:6, 60:3). The end game for all biblical prophets was the eventual coming of a messiah, the eternal beginning and end, namely, the Alpha and the Omega. (Rev 21:5-6) And so it seems that all Old Testament prophetic roads lead to Jesus Christ.

However, after reflecting upon this truth, I find that all the prophetic roads actually coincide prior to Christ’s proclaiming that the kingdom of God has arrived. All the prophetic roads that lead to Christ come together by way of the two last Messianic prophets, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. The entire range of names of Old Testament prophets—including those of Daniel, Ezekiel, Amos, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Isaiah—were all precursors to the two Johns who can be seen as containing all of prophecy within them.

John the Baptist, in no small way, represented a summary of all of the purposes of biblical prophecy. In essence, he, like Christ, is prophecy incarnate. His whole purpose in life was to prophesy under the New Covenant while at the same time being an essential element of the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He is all of the Old Testament voices together, crying out from the wilderness, in a chorus announcing that the promised day of restoration for Israel is at hand.

While all of these prophets, inclusive of the Baptist, always focused their vision on the purposes (teleology) of salvation, John the Evangelist can be said to have focused his prophetic vision on the eschatology of salvation. His focus was the full compendium of time: past, present, and future. This eschatological approach is not rooted in his prophetic role per se, but rather in his role as prime witness of the fruits of the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4). And it is from these fruits that the Evangelist is able to write a Gospel that is documentary, prophetic, and mysterious, but nevertheless representative of the truth that although Jesus was the fulfillment of all Old Testament prophecy by his incarnation in time, he existed before time and will continue to exist when time is no more.

In his fruitful, albeit contentious, article, The Phenomenon of Man, (Harper 1955), the Jesuit theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (d. 1955) saw the process of organic evolution as a sequence of progressive syntheses whose ultimate convergence point is that of God. When humanity and the material world have reached their final state of evolution, and exhausted all potential for further development, a new convergence between them and the supernatural order would be initiated by the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ. Teilhard asserted that the work of Christ is primarily to lead the material world to a cosmic redemption, while the conquest of evil is only secondary to his purpose. Evil is represented by Teilhard as analogous to “growing pains” within this cosmic process: the disorder that is implied by order in process of realization. Undoubtedly, this theory was controversial, and received by the Church with great skepticism. However, there is a measure of orthodoxy in the view that in Christ all is consummated, and that history was designed to take creation to the point where heaven and earth are once again reconciled bridging a hole left by original sin, thus allowing the souls of men to regain a chance for eternal life after physical death. And it is within this understanding of Christ, as de Chardin’s “Omega point,” that the prophetic Book of Revelation is rooted.

So, what is the relevance of these reflections upon my life as a modern day Christian? If I am to be a reflection of the person of Christ in all that I do, I must bear fruit. We are all called to be priest, prophet, and king. In my role as one who professes Christ, my actions must be consistent with my teaching, otherwise I am a hypocrite. Understanding the consistency of the prophets’ commitment to their vocation makes it easier to understand what we must expect, what we must do, and what we must overcome in the process. The prophets, including John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, preached the Word of God by word and action. One was the precursor to Christ, and the other a disciple and witness for both the precursor, and for the Messiah. It is no small item that John the Evangelist alone stands as both apostle and prophet, and thus, as representative of God’s plan for humankind.

However, the words of the prophets are not consoling all the time. For those of us who have gained material wealth, successes, and the comforts of life, there is that nagging question regarding the call to sell all, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Christ. (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22) As I speak to the inmates at the detention facility, I must consciously formulate my message so that I am not simply reading words that had only historical relevance to a people long gone. I must formulate a message with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the teachings of the Catholic Church, in such a way that those who are thirsty for hope will receive “living water” (Rev. 7:16; John 4:10). The words of the prophets must light the way to a fuller understanding of Christ’s centrality to all of history, and his centrality to our lives in space and time.

These unfortunate souls are looking for light. Hopefully, my humble witness to them of my own imperfections will help them to see that their rejection by others can, and might be, a part of God’s plan for these souls. They are in good company, along with the prophets who, not unlike John the Baptist, were imprisoned, persecuted, and put to death. Hopefully, my witness can show that perseverance like that of the Evangelist will result in recognition of their son-ship with the Father, and brotherhood, or sisterhood, with Christ. Through perseverance, the evangelist was able to outlast his imprisonment, and perceive the glories of heaven in his prophetic visions.

The biblical prophets are not particularly relevant to me when held strictly to the contexts of their epochs in time. But when the full continuum of time is considered, with all its apparent disorderliness and randomness, one can see that there is a pattern, a purpose, a visionary signature of God speaking to us. One begins to see the consistency of vision among the prophets up through the New Testament. That vision makes the statement that through the voice of these prophets, God emphatically states that he is: (1) Faithful and merciful; (2) His chastisements are designed to lead us away from the brink of eternal punishment; and, (3) Ours is the destiny (by virtue of our Baptism), to be prophets, priests, and kings.

Being a modern day Christian in today’s world of distractions and allurements, places a heavier yoke to bear as ministers attempt to lead people, by humble service, out of the darkness of fear, ignorance, and alienation. Yet, the Holy Spirit strengthens those weak enough to trust him: “The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one ‘anointed’ by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king” (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1241). Graced now with the Holy Spirit, the baptized are thus conformed to the Christ, filii in Filio (sons in the Son), and so, likewise, are able to share now in the supernatural powers of Christ: “Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit, and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ… (Catechism of the Catholic Church §783). Like the prophets of old, a minister’s anointing will offer a physical connectivity in time that transcends time. It offers an outward sign of what is, and what has been, a spiritual reality since Baptism. It is incumbent upon ministers to witness Christ with that bold willingness to be humiliated, which is exemplified by the prophets before them. How ministers witness Christ must reflect the spirit of both Johns of the Bible, in the current age, and ages yet to come.

Deacon Thomas Baca About Deacon Thomas Baca

Thomas Baca is a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, currently assigned to St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Shrine in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Deacon Baca maintains a blog at: . He has degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication, Philosophy, and Public Administration. He has served in several parishes in both the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and the Diocese of Las Cruces where he served as Executive Director of Catholic Charities and where he also served Bishop Oscar Cantu as an advisor for Campaign for Human Development. He was ordained in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2007.


  1. Avatar Bernadette says:

    There are several things that come to mind in regard to prophesy and conscience.- first, we must remember there are true and false prophets. The way we determine if one is a true prophet sent by God is when what the prophet proclaims comes to pass. The time span over which prophesies come to past vary from seventy years to four hundred or even seven hundred years. As well, when we speak about prophesy we must take into consideration that the eyes and mind of those to whom the word of God is proclaimed has been closed and hardened. As deacon Baca pointed out pride can be one such block in being well disposed to hearing the word of God and conforming to it. There are so many reasons other than pride that hinders one from adhering to God,s word. For example today the conscience of the world is reduced to moral relativism. There is no absolute Truth. There is no belief in God.Faith is dying out in the face of atheism paganism satanism.The moral fabric of human beings in relation to God ‘s laws is obliterated by the fact that human beings created in the image of God is no longer recognizable as male and female.Furthermore,the intellect and will of many today is not guided primarily by the word of God nor by the will of God’s love. Hence if we compare the prophesies of old to the prophesies of today though there is a continuation in the moral trend of returning to God through repentance that leads to restoration of the soul redeemed from sin, the darkness cause by the intensification of evil is much worse than in the past.

    • Blessings to you Bernadette for your kindness in taking the time to read this little essay. I agree that there is a broad array of reasons that are hindrances from adhering to God’s will and word. However, the underlying foundation of all sin is the first sin of pride, the “non servium” of Lucifer. Moral relativism is rooted in a kind of pride that feigns at dissolving moral responsibility as if it were a true justification when all it is is an excuse to hold to one’s desire to be guiltless in a so called ever-changing world. Pride destroys marriages, it allows for retribution against neighbor, it is the chief basis for a self-righteous indignation not unlike that of the scribes and Pharisees. Pride is the subtle seemingly innocuous and unmoving “action verb” of our being that it achieves a level of stealthiness disguised in relativism, intolerance, and all the other 7 deadly sins. The lack of recognizability you write of is another disguise of a pride that is the very breath of Satan. Smell sin? there in is the smoke of Satan’s pride. I would also say that the intensification you write of is a factor of the persistent smoke of pride which is air borne. Like second hand smoke, it is more dangerous than can originate from ourselves. These indeed are “powers and principalities” at work in this era. John the Evangelist’s prophecies regarding the Red Dragon apply to the present moment. But as Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “the devil has his hour; but the Lord has His Day.” Peace be with you and thank you so much for reading. DT