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 of Christian Rosenkreutz 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, or rather the being of Eliah (with other known incarnations: Phinehas during the time of Moses, Raphael, Novalis).

, and what happened during the three years of Christ on Earth with these two individualities, from the birth of the Jesus children onwards, but especially:

  • during the process of the 'raising of Lazarus', the initiation by Christ-Jesus.
  • The fact that after his death, John the Baptist hovered over the twelve apostles as an "overshadowing spirit of the disciples".

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). The spiritual being of John the Baptist participated in this initiation of Lazarus by the Christ-Jesus, lending or infusing him with the consciousness soul, which could not be developed out of the earth forces in this cultural age of the intellectual soul.


  • the name John means 'the herald of the higher self, he who has attained the higher self' (see Man's higher triad), who governs the forces of air (which is the lower which represents the higher) (1906-03-05-GA094)


Lecture coverage and references


John signifies air (Ruach). Thus, John means he who has attained the higher self. This leads us deep into the secret doctrines. Transport yourself back into the time when Man only possessed the lower principles, in the Lemurian epoch.

Man did not then breathe air, he breathed through gills. Lungs and breathing through lungs developed later. This process coincided with the impregnation by the higher self.

Air is, according to the hermetic principle, the lower which represents the higher, the higher self.

If I call somebody John (Johannes), then he is one who has awakened his higher self, who governs the occult forces of air.


John, i.e. to him whose very name indicates that he is a herald of the higher self. He is the representative of air, and master of the higher forces, who, from the perception of the higher self, wrote his Gospel according to St. John


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.


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, Prokofieff, von Halle.

Review of Klunker's: 'Wer ist Johannes?' (2006), by J. Roth

(Taken from, original in german) John reveals imself in the vicinity of the act of Christ. He appears as a preproclaimer, pioneer, witness and baptist, as one of the four first-called disciples, neophyte Lazarus, who goes through death and resurrection, as an intimate disciple who lies on his master's lap and chest, as a witness of the crucifixion, as the disciple who enters a son relationship with Jesus mother, as the one who is up to the Christ's return, as scribe of the 4th Gospel, is to remain three apostolic letters, finally as a looking and acting person in the last book of the New Testament.

This gives Christianity several puzzles at once. Because how many different “historical” personalities are talking about, what individualities are they talking about? These puzzles have already caused some effort to answer the so-called John question. The mind, especially theological one, hopes for a clear answer in the sense of a distinction: it is specific personalities that are to be assigned: that is where it is meant, that one at the other...

Wolf-Ulrich Klünker approaches the Johannes question with the sign of Rudolf Steiner's so-called last address (September 28, 1924), in which a background of Johannes Lazarus's individuality was opened up until then, but only hinted at that point. And like the initial question “Who is John?” impersonating an ontological character, the 20 chapters of this clearly structured script proves that the category of being is not the appropriate category for this subject, but only the category of relationship!

John is a stage of development over time, closeness to Christ; in the individuality of Lazarus, a first-time connection between human being and divine consciousness in this form.

Klünker leads his thoughts and develops many of his terms based on selected testimonies about John (from Origen to the 20th century), which, in chronological order, are compiled in a 30-page appendix that alone is worth acquiring this book.

Of course, some aspects have already been highlighted elsewhere, but Klünker's book presents something new and necessary in his very own conceptual formation, which is always obligated to the development possibilities and goals of the present person.

The author cautiously cites his tissue of relationships, which also brings us into a relationship with nature, anthroposophy and Michael through the quality of Johannes, an offer of terms. It takes the reader with him to an extended term of John in every movement: This is how John reveals himself in the vicinity of a quest for Christ today.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • The Last Address (given by Rudolf Steiner) - translated by George Adams, with preface by Alfred Heidenreich (1967)
  • Johannes Hemleben: Johannes der Evangelist. In Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (1972)
  • Peter Tradowsky: 'Johannes der Täufer und Lazarus-Johannes: Vom Quell der Entwicklung' (1995)
  • 'Mysteriengeheimnisse : Johannes der Täufer und Johannes der Evangelist' (2004, editors Martina Maria Sam and Christiane Haid, texts of congress in 2003)
    • Das Geheimnis der beiden Johannes ist ein tiefes Mysterium; darauf weist auch die Vielfalt der im vorliegenden Buch betrachteten Aspekte: Wer ist Johannes? Wolf-Ulrich Klünker befragt frühchristliche und mittelalterliche Texte.
    • Wer ist der Verfasser des Johannes-Evangeliums? Manfred Krüger befragt das Nikodemus-Evangelium und viele kunstgeschichtliche Darstellungen.
    • Wie sind die geheimnisvollen Hinweise Rudolf Steiners zu verstehen? (Sergej Prokofieff).
    • Philosophische Aspekte der Johannes-Deutung bei F.W.J. Schelling untersucht Harald Schwaetzer.
    • Das Ringen des östlichen Menschen um den Sophia-Begriff und damit um den Zusammenhang von Sophia, Maria, Johannes und Christus untersucht Henrieke Stahl.
  • Karl Konig: 'The Mystery of John: and the Cycle of the Year' (2000)
  • Martina Maria Sam ; Christiane Haid editors: 'Mysteriengeheimnisse : Johannes der Täufer und Johannes der Evangelist' (published 2004, texts from congres of 2003)
  • Sergei O. Prokofieff: 'The mystery of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the turning point of time' (2005, in DE 2004 as 'Das Geheimnis der zwei Johannes-Gestalten an der Zeitenwende Johannes der Täufer und Johannes der Evangelist ; Eine esoterische Betrachtung')
  • Wolf U. Klunker: 'Wer ist Johannes? Dimensionen der letzten Ansprache Rudolf Steiners' (2006)
  • Loek Dullaart: 'Johannes : De Doper en de Evangelist' (2006)
  • Richard Seddon: 'The challenge of Lazarus-John - an esoteric interpretation' (2015)
  • Christiane Haid, Wolf-Ulrich Klünker, Mechtild Oltmann: 'Johannes-Lazarus: Die Geistselbstberührung des Ich' (2016)
  • Judith von Halle - Beiträge zum Verständnis des Christus-Ereignisses:
    • Vom Mysterium des Lazarus und der drei Johannes.: Johannes der Täufer, Johannes der Evangelist, Johannes Zebedäus (2009)
    • Die Johannes-Individualität: Unerschlossene Aspekte zur spirituellen Mission und zum persönlichen Entwicklungsgang (2017)