The Life of St. John the Theologian – Chapter 7

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian



“When John had performed many other signs and the splendor of his achievements flashed forth everywhere, the demon who dwelt in the temple of Artemis, fearing that he would be cast out by John and the temple destroyed, took on the appearance of a magistrate. He then sat in a prominent place holding various papers and began to weep bitterly. It happened that two magistrates passed by who were indeed court officers of the city of Ephesus. When the beheld what they assumed to be a colleague shedding tears, they were moved to pity and inquired why he was sitting thee and weeping. The demon would not answer, but the two officers urged him, saying: ‘Tell us why thou art weeping and we promise that we will help thee in thy misfortune,’ Weeping and wailing, the demon answered: ‘Brethren, I am in profound distress, wretch that I am, and am no longer able to keep on living. If ye are able to assist me, I will tell you my misfortune, but if ye can be of no use to me why should I disclose my secret to you?’ They answered him: ‘Tell us thy problem ad thou shalt see that we can be helpful to thee.’ The demon continued: ‘Swear in the name of the great goddess Artemis that ye will struggle til death for thy friend, and then I will tell you the matter. Therefore, show your love and good intention to a friend and foreigner; for not only will you ave my life, but you will receive recompense as well.’ He then indicated how much money he would promise to them. So they made vows that, with all their strength, they would do whatever had to be done. The demon, still weeping, then explained: ‘I, the cursed one, am an aide from the imperial court at Caesarea in Palestine. I was given two notorious sorcerers from Jerusalem, named John and Prochorus, who were imprisoned. At trial, they were found guilty for the multitude of their evil deeds. The procurator, however, put them in prison again for another interrogation. I was taking them to the prison when, through their sorcery, they escaped from my hands. The centurion learned of this and took pity on me, and said: ‘Depart, miserable one, pursue and capture them, or thou shalt lose thy life. If thou findest them, bring them back; if not, appear not here again.’ I took some money and left my country, abandoning my home, my wife, and my children. Behold these writs. (And he showed them false documents.) I have learned that they are in this city. Therefore I beseech you to have mercy on me and help me, a stranger.’ When the two officers heard and saw this, they said: ‘Do not grieve, friend, for the men whom thou seekest are here.’ The devil replied: ‘I fear that through their great magic they will elude me; but this ye can do my friends: shut them up in a house unknown to all, slay them, and take this remaining money.’ The two replied: ‘It is better that thou thyself apprehend them and take them live, for if thou slayest them here, how wilt thou return to thy country?’ The devil replied: ‘Slay them, my friends, and I do not care if I return to my own country.’ Therefore, they agreed, being moved by avarice.

“By the grace of the Holy Spirit, John knew this and said to me: ‘Prochorus my child, I want thee to be aware and to prepare thy soul for temptations, for the demon that dwelleth in the temple of Artemis hath prepared many afohn flictions  for us. Behold, two of the court officers spoke to a demon, and they are coming for us. The Lord hath revealed the entire matter to me.’ Indeed, within a short period of time, two officers arrested us the moment we were not with Dioscorides. John said to them: ‘For what cause have ye come to arrest us?’ They answered: ‘On account of thy magical sorcery.’ John then said: ‘And who hath accused us of sorcery?’ They replied: ‘First come tot he prison and behold thine accuser.’ John continued: ‘It is not proper that ye should put us in prison, if the accuser hath not come forth.’ They then struck John, and pushed and shoved us all the way, not to the public prison, but to a private house, where they intended to slay us in accordance with the demon’s plot.

“Romana learned this and hastened to inform Dioscorides. He straightway came to where we were incarcerated, and, meeting the soldiers outside, spoke to them harshly, condemning them: ‘It is not permitted to imprison untried individuals without charging them, and furthermore, not in the city jail, but in a house out of the way, s that you might mistreat them or even slay them. Behold, let these men remain  in my house, and whoever hath a case against them, let him approach in accordance with the law to require justice.’ The officers then went to the place where the demon had been sitting in the guise of a magistrate and, not finding him there, they fell into great distress and despair saying: ‘Since we can not locate the accuser, we will be viewed as slanderers by Dioscorides, and this is not without danger for us, for he is very strict.’

“So they decided to wait near the place where they had  seen the demon. After a very long while, the demon arrived in the guise he formerly assumed. They told him all that had transpired, and that those he sought were in the house of Dioscorides, saying also: ‘He said that if thou wilt accompany us, we might take them.’ So the demon went with them, weeping and wailing, bearing the false warrants for their arrest. A crowd began to assemble, and the demon explained the situation to them as he id to the court officers. The people became very angry at these words, and in a disorderly manner, with shouts and screams they went to the house of Dioscorides, and beat upon the door loudly, crying: ‘ Surrender to us the two sorcerers, or we will burn down your house! Since thou art a ruler of our city, it is not fitting that thou shouldst harbor and protect these magicians and malevolent men.’ Now John observed the wrath and and unrest of the multitude, and said to Dioscorides: ‘As for us, O brother, neither money nor our bodies interest us. We have been taught to bear the Cross daily and to follow Christ.’ Dioscorides replied: ‘Behold, let them burn my home, and both my son and myself with thee, if only we gain Christ.’ But John answered: ‘Neither thyself, nor thy house, nor thy possessions will be destroyed; only surrender us to those men.’ He told Dioscorides that he had foreseen in the Spirit that the people’s revolt would lead to good, and then said: ‘Be at peace in thy house, and thou shalt behold the glory of God.’

“We then we left Dioscorides’ house and gave ourselves over to the mob. Drawn along by the mob, we reached the temple of Artemis, when John asked: ‘To whom is this vast temple dedicated?’ They answered: ‘It is the temple of Artemis.’ John asked them if he might stand in a certain place for a moment; then he raised his hands to heaven and silently besought God at length with sighs. Then the idol of the temple toppled, but no one was injured. Thus, straightway his entreaty was answered, and the rest of the pagan temple collapsed. The blessed one then addressed the demon which dwelt in the temple: ‘I adjure thee, O unclean demon: answer me.’ The demon spoke: ‘What is it?’ The apostle of  the Lord asked: ‘Tell us how many years hast abode in this place, and confess whether it was thou who hast incited the officers and the people against us.’ The demon then, compelled the power of God, cried aloud: ‘I have dwelt here for two hundred forty-nine years, and yea, it was I who incited all against you.’ Then John said: ‘I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to dwell here no longer.’ And straightway, the demon departed the city.

“Upon witnessing this spectacle, the crowd marvelled and were astonished; and that very hour, many of them believed on Christ, and attained salvation. The rest delivered us to the proconsul, who had certain Jews  advising him. One was named Mareona, who strove exceedingly to have us slain. He charged that we were sorcerers, and maintained that a bailiff from the imperial court had arrived with warrants. When the proconsul heard this, he ordered us placed in prison, and sent public messengers throughout the city for three days. Failing to find anyone, the proconsul decided: ‘Since there is no one to verify the charges against these foreigners, I am unable to penalize them or detain them in prison.’ He then set us at liberty.

The city’s inhabitants put away their anger over the collapse of the temple of Artemis , because of all the signs and wonders worked by John. Numberless crowds hearkened and came to believe in Christ and disdained the worship of idols. However, certain inhabitants brought news of what had transpired in Ephesus to Domitian, Emperor of Rome, complaining that most there had become Christians who performed sorcery, set at naught the laws, and had contempt for the deities, destroying the most distinguished and largest temple and all its sacred appurtenances.”

“At that time, Domitian Emperor of Rome, raised a great persecution against the Christians, and John was slandered before him. The Prefect of Asia, having arrested the holy one, sent him bound to Caesar in Rome, where John first had to endure beatings for his confession of Christ, and afterwards was compelled to drink a cup full of deadly poison. But when, in accordance with the Lords words, “If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them” [Mk 16:18], he received no harm from it, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, yet emerged unscathed. Then cried the people: “Great is the God of the Christians!” Caesar, not daring to torture John further, considered him immortal and sentenced him to exile on the island of Patmos, as the Lord had told John in a dream: “Thou shalt suffer much, and shalt be exiled to a certain island, which shall be much to thy benefit.”

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