Mystery of John

From Anthroposophy

The 'Mystery of John' refers to what is also known as the 'Mystery of the two Johns', John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, and their special relationship at the single and unique initiation of a human being by Christ Jesus: the so called 'raising of Lazarus'.

More specifically:

  • Lazarus-John, the apostle that was initiated by Christ-Jesus and afterwards wrote the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation, and especially the individuality that lies behind this person (with other known incarnations: Hiram Abiff, Christian Rosenkreutz, Count of St-Germain)
  • John the Baptist, as an incarnation of the individuality of the prophet Elijah (with other known incarnations: Pinehas during the time of Moses, Raphael, Novalis)
  • and what happened during the three years of Christ on Earth with these two individualities, and especially during the process of the 'raising of Lazarus', the initiation by Christ-Jesus.

Background: in the Last Address of 1924-09-28-GA238, Rudolf Steiner links the above two individualities in a mysterious way without explaining it fully. Due to his illness he was never able to give the full explanation, but additional information did become available via Marie Steiner afterwards, as documented by Hella Wiesberger in GA265 in 1987 (see below).


Lecture coverage and references

1924-09-28-GA238 is the Last Address where Steiner talks about the incarnations of Elijah or John the Baptist, as per earlier lectures where he discussed Raphael and Novalis. However in this case he links the being of Elijah to Lazarus-John, also known as John the writer of the Gospel and Book of Revelation.

.. we have shown how in the course of time the being who was present in Elijah appeared again at the very most important moment of human evolution, appeared again so that Christ Jesus Himself could give him the Initiation he was to receive for the evolution of mankind. For the being of Elijah appeared again in Lazarus-John — who are in truth one and the same figure, as you will have understood from my book “Christianity as Mystical Fact.”


And thus was he, who on Earth had unfolded so great a love for art, whose soul had been aflame with love for colour and for line, transplanted now into the sphere of Venus, which in turn lovingly bore him across to the Sun, to that Sun existence which lived in all his incarnations so far as they are yet known to us. For it was from the Sun that he, as the prophet Elijah, brought to mankind through the medium of his own people the truths that belong to the goals of existence.

We see how in the Sun sphere he is able to live through over again in a deep and intimate sense — in another way now than when he was on Earth as a companion of Christ Jesus — he is able to live over again what he underwent when, through the Initiation of Christ Jesus, he, Lazarus, became John.

GA265 on The initiation of the Hiram Abiff or John individuality through Christ Jesus (page numbers refer to the EN version published 2007)

  • p 417-432: notes from five instruction lessons of ao 1908-04-15 and 1913-02-10
  • p 433-448 additional research by Hella Wiesberger, on page 441-3 is stated what was recorded by friends who asked Rudolf Steiner about the last address of 1924-09-28-GA238 (see The Last Address printed as separate volume, with further explanations by Alfred Heidenreich)

At the awakening of Lazarus, the spiritual being of John the Baptist, who since his death had been the overshadowing spirit of the disciples, penetrated from above into Lazarus as far as the Consciousness-Soul. The being of Lazarus himself, from below, intermingled with the spiritual being of John the Baptist from above. After the awakening of Lazarus, this Being is Lazarus-John, the disciple whom the Lord loved. ...

Lazarus could only develop fully out of the earth-forces at this time as far as the intellectual soul; as the Mystery of Golgotha took place during the fourth post-Atlantean period and at that time the intellectual soul was being developed. Therefore another cosmic being had to lend him the forces from the consciousness soul upwards: manas, buddhi, and atman. [editor note: see Man's higher triad]

Through that, a human being confronted Christ .. who extended from the depths of earth into the highest heaven, and who bore the physical body in perfection throughout all its members into the spiritual bodies of manas, buddhi, and atman, as they will one day be developed by all humankind in a far distant future.

Concerning the unanswered questions regarding the union of the two individualities in context of succeeding incarnations, Marie Steiner adds the following:

We are ever and again led to it [the Novalis-Raphael-John-Elijah secret] from the most varied angles. The last, most dif­ficult riddle, because it is intercepted by the line of another's individuality, was given to us on Michaelmas Eve—and then was broken off. Rudolf Steiner did not say all he wanted to say. He gave us the first part of the mystery of Lazarus—at that time he not only said to me, but later wrote it on the cover of the first copy: Do not give it to anyone until I have given the second half. One nevertheless got it out of him, as with so many other things. Now he will never give the second half. It will be left to our powers of judgement to distinguish between the incarnation and incorporation secrets, the line of interception of individualities. He ended with what had run like a red thread through all his revelations of wisdom, with the mystery of Novalis, Raphael and John.


See below for several books regarding this topic by ao Seddon, Konig and Prokofieff.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • The Last Address (given by Rudolf Steiner) - translated by George Adams, with preface by Alfred Heidenreich (1967)
  • Richard Seddon: 'The challenge of Lazarus-John - an esoteric interpretation'
  • Sergei O. Prokofieff: 'The mystery of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the turning point of time'
  • Karl Konig: 'The Mystery of John: and the Cycle of the Year'
  • Judith von Halle - Beiträge zum Verständnis des Christus-Ereignisses:
    • Die Johannes-Individualität: Unerschlossene Aspekte zur spirituellen Mission und zum persönlichen Entwicklungsgang
    • Vom Mysterium des Lazarus und der drei Johannes.: Johannes der Täufer, Johannes der Evangelist, Johannes Zebedäus