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from the peculiar genius of its author, the Apoca-
lypse must have been to its first readers a message
of comfort and power. Its appeal lay in its in-
evitableness. In the situation as described, no
message short of that contained in the Apocalypse
could have seemed worthy of God or a ' testimony
of Jesus Christ.' Prophecy is never in vacua.
God's word is in the mouth of His prophet because
it is first in the events which His providence or-
dains or permits. It would be difficult to rate too
highly the literary and spiritual genius of ' John,'
yet the authoritativeness of his message for his
own time and ours lies not in this but in its corre-
spondence with a situation of crisis for the King-
dom of God. So long as it is possible for a situa-
tion to emerge in which we cannot obey man's
law without dishonouring God's, the Apocalypse
will be an authority ready for use in the hands of
the godly.

(b) Apocalyptic and prophecy. If this view is
just, it contains the answer to two closely related
questions: (1) Is the writer, as he represents
himself, a ' companion in tribulation ' of those to
whom he writes (I 9 ), or does he, like other apoca-
lyptists, including Daniel, write under the name
of some great personage of the past? (2) Is he
really a prophet as well as an apocalyptist ?

(1) The former question should be kept apart
from the question whether the writer can reason-
ably be identified with the Apostle John. There
is nowhere in the book the slightest hint of a
claim to apostleship ; 21 14 and 18- suggest rather
that the author distinguished himself from the
' holy apostles and prophets ' and from the ' 12
apostles.' We do not know enough regarding the
Churches of Asia in the 1st cent, to say with
confidence that only one who was as highly
esteemed as John the Apostle (Ramsay) or John
the Presbyter (Bousset) could be confident that
his message would come with authority to those

* The ' seven kings ' of l7Wff. are the seven emperors exclusive
of the usurpers Galba, Otho, and Vitellius from Augustus to
Nero. The ' eighth that is of the seven ' (v.H) is Domitian, con-
sidered as Nero Redivivus.



to whom it was addressed. On the other hand,
it is more than possible, in view both of the liter-
ary apocalyptic convention of pseudepigraphy and
of the probability that concealment of the author's
name was an act of warrantable prudence, that
' John ' was not the author's real name, and that
(almost by consequence) the banishment in Patmoa
was, so far as he was concerned, fictitious. But
the matter of real importance is not the question
whether the names of person and place are
fictitious ; it is the fact that supposing them to
have been fictitious here the fiction ends. The
writer is a Christian. He is in the same situation
with those he addresses. He neither desires nor
attempts to place himself in the distant past. The
Christian Church has its own prophets. Our
author solemnly claims to be one of them, and the
Church since the beginning of the 3rd cent, has
taken him at his own estimate. *

(2) But is not an apocalyptist, ipso facto, only
a pale shadow of a prophet ? Must not ' John ' be
conceived, as regards inspiration, to stand to a
speaking prophet, say of Ephesus, as ' Daniel '
stands to the real Daniel or to some prophet of the
time of Nebuchadrezzar ? It seems to the present
writer that the entire absence from the Apocalypse
of such a fiction as that in Daniel, in which the
past is in one part (the alleged writer's time)
adorned with legendary features, and in a much
greater part (the centuries between the Exile and
the Syrian Persecution) is treated fictitiously as
future, separates it longo intervallo from apocalyptic
writings of the purely Jewish type, or even from
Christian apocalypses like the Apoc. of Peter, which
resemble the Jewish type in the feature of imper-
sonation. It may be probable, though it is far
from certain, that 'John' conceals his real name,
but the suggestion that he tried to personate any
one, or sought any authority for his message other
than what belonged to it as the testimony of Jesus
given to himself, seerns to be as destitute of proba-
bility as of proof.

What, we may ask, is a Christian prophet but
one who has an dwoKd\v\f/a (revelation) from God
through Jesus Christ concerning matters pertain-
ing to His Kingdom (1 Co 14 24ff -, esp. v. 26 ; cf.
Rev 19 10 ) ? If a Christian could speak so as to
bring home to his brethren the reality of the
promised Kingdom, or so as to flash the light of the
Divine judgment on the darkened conscience of an
unbeliever, he had the x&pwi*- - or gift of prophecy
(1 Co 14 22 - 24 '-). St. Paul himself must have pos-
sessed the gift in an eminent degree. We judge
so not simply from what is told in the Acts or
from what he himself tells regarding the source
from which he derived the contents and manner of
his preaching or the directions necessary for his
missionary journeys. We judge so rather from
the correspondence existing between his claim to
direct access to this source and the still operating
influence of his personality upon the conscience
and conduct of mankind. If it be said that St.
Paul was a preacher, and ' John ' was, so far as we
know, only a writer, it may be asked in reply :
What do we know of Paul the preacher that we do
not learn best from his own writings? No com-
panion of 'John ' has told us (as Luke did of Paul)
how he preached, but surely we may say that no
one could write as 'John does without being,
under favourable conditions, a preacher, and that
probably as much in proportion of ' John's ' Apoca-
lypse as of St. Paul's Epistles might have been

Porter (op. tit. 183) asks whether the Apocalypse is 'a
iirect or a secondary product of that new inspiration ' [Chris-
;ian prophecy], and he replies, rather disconcertingly : ' Our
mpression is that it is secondary.' No one has a better right
XJ speak with authority than Porter. But if the inspiration of
ihe Apocalypse is secondary, what measure have we by which
;o judge of that which is primary ?



APOCALYPSE



APOCALYPSE



77



preached as it stands to his own contemporaries.
When it is remembered how apocalypses incom-
parably inferior in spiritual quality to the Apoca-
lypse were cherished by the early Church and even
quoted as Scripture, it will not seem hazardous to
assert that in the Apostolic Age the distinction
between apocalypse and prophecy, which is marked
in the pre-Christian period by the separation of
Daniel in the Hebrew Canon from ' the Prophets,'
has ceased to exist. Two things, unnaturally
separated (through the spirit of artifice), have come
together again. The prophet is the man who has
a 'revelation,' and the man who has a 'revelation,'
whether he speak it or write it, is a prophet. If
our argument is sound, we may venture to say
that once at least this ideal unity of apocalypse
and prophecy has been realized. It is realized in
the Apocalypse of John.

(c) The hortatory and dogmatic teaching of the
Apocalypse. The best proof of the soundness of
the above argument lies in the abundance of
hortatory and dogmatic material of permanent
value to be found in the Apocalypse. ' John ' is,
in a sense, the Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel of
the NT. This is eminently true of the messages
to the Seven Churches (chs. 2 and 3). Ramsay's
Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (Lond. 1904)
probably exaggerates the extent to which the
writer may have had in his mind facts of geography
and history relating to the places mentioned ;
but such a book from the pen of an unrivalled
authority on the antiquities of Asia Minor could
not have been written of the messages in chs. 2
and 3 of the Apocalypse did they not proceed from
one who was thoroughly conversant with every-
thing in the environment of the Churches of Asia
which had a bearing on their spiritual condition.
A writer who closes each message with the formula,
'he that hath ears, etc.' (2 7 - " " 3 6 - I3 - 22 ;
cf. Mt 13 9 - **, etc. ), claims to stand to those whom
he addresses in the relation of a speaking prophet
to his hearers. Those who remember the function
these chapters still serve in that best type of
Christian oratory in which preaching is prophesy-
ing, may justly feel that the onus probandi rests
with those who deny the claim. But the immedi-
ately edifying elements of the Apocalypse are not
confined to these chapters. The book is written,
as it claims to be, in an atmosphere of worship.*
The inspiration came to ' John ' on the day in
which Christians remembered the Resurrection of
the Lord. The book is a message from the Lord
in heaven. Those who read and obey are blessed
because the time of their deliverance is at hand.
The sense of holy omnipotent power, not domin-
ated by but manifested through suffering for
the power is redemptive pervades the book. Its
refrain is Glory to God and to the Lamb (I 5 *-), and
the note of the triumphant thanksgiving of the
faithful sounds, throughout, loudly behind the
curtain of judgment that shrouds the wicked
world (5 4 ' 14 6 9ff - 7 3 ' 7 8 3f - l! 15ff - 12 10 ' 12 13 9f - 14 1 ' 7 - I2f -
151-4 191 -9. n-i6 20" 21.22). The worship-element
in the book is exquisitely beautiful as literature,
but it was too vital to the spiritual situation to
be intended as ornamental. The crucial element
in the situation is the liberty of worship. His-
tory has proved that the day of martyrs is emi-

* HO. The opinion of scholars is against the rendering : ' I
was, through the Spirit, in the Day of the Lord (or the Day of
Judgment),' though this rendering cannot be said to be gram-
matically impossible ; and though it has the advantage of
attaching a good traditional meaning to 'Day of the Lord,'
which would thus retain its OT sense (Is 2i 2 , Am 5 2 , etc.). .vet it
is hardly likely that tv would be used both in the instrumental
and the local sense in one short sentence ; and the analogy of
173f. 2110 suggests that, had the author intended this meaning,
he would have used a verb of transference (' I was carried by
the Spirit to, etc.'). The ' Day of the Lord' is, therefore, the
Christian Sabbath, the day of worship.



nently the day when this liberty is denied or
ignored.

The ethical teaching of the book is perhaps best
seen in such passages as 6 9 ' 11 13 8 ' 10 14 11 " 13 20 7f -. The
essential virtues of the saints are patience and
courage. The weapon of force is not permitted
to them (13 10 ; cf. Mt 26 52 ), but patience and faith
prevail. On the other hand, patience is not mere
passivity. The command to worship the Beast
must be courageously disobeyed. Compliance is
fatal. First among those who have their part in
the ' second death ' are ' the fearful ' (21 8 ). The
vital connexion of this teaching with the situation
is obvious. Not less but even more obvious is its
connexion with the dogmatic teaching of the book.
As we have seen, the Apocalypse must be con-
sidered, so far as the Apostolic Age is concerned,
a thing of Jewish origin and growth.* There are,
indeed, few direct quotations from the OT in the
Apocalypse ; but there are more OT reminiscences
in it than in almost any other book of the NT.f
This, no doubt, is due largely to the comparatively
stereotyped character of the apocalyptic imagery.
But, in view of the emphasis in some cases
excessive which many scholars have laid on the
Jewish character of the Apocalypse, a word seems
necessary on the question of how far the distinc-
tive Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah has
modified the type of teaching peculiar to a Jewisn
apocalyptic book.

At first sight the change seems more formal
than real. The Apocalypse comes from Jesus
Christ (I 1 ), but, beyond the features of His death
and resurrection, there is nothing in the descrip-
tion of the sublime Personage who overwhelms
' John' with His manifestations (I 17 ) suggestive of
any feature distinctive of the human Jesus of the
Gospels. The description of the Figure in I 7 - 13ff -
and in 19 nff - owes more to Daniel, J Zechariah,
and Isaiah || than to anything that is original in
the Gospels. Such a fact gives a certain colour
to the view, propounded by Vischer in 1886, that
the book is a Jewish Apocalypse set in a Christian
framework (chs. 1-3, and 22"- 21 ), and slightly inter-
polated. This extreme view has, however, yielded
to the strong impression of its unity and Christian
character, which, in spite of its eclectic form, the
book produces on the mind of the critical no less
than of the ordinary reader. As to the alleged
absence of the features of the Christ of the Gospels,
two considerations seem specially relevant. The
one is that the absence of the human features of
Jesus is scarcely more marked in the Apocalypse
than it is in every other book of the NT outside
the Gospels. Are references to the human Jesus
frequent or marked in the Acts of the Apostles,
though that book was written by a man who also
wrote a Gospel ? Are they marked or even, in
the latter case, at all present in the Epistles which
bear the names of Peter and John ? Notoriously
they are so little marked in the known writings
of the greatest figure of the Apostolic Age that
their absence has supplied its one position of
apparent strength to the 'modern Gnosticism'
associated with the names of Jensen and Drews,
and has made the effort to exhibit real points of
contact between St. Paul and Jesus of Nazareth
a main task of modern Apologetics. Yet one of
St. Paul's companions was Mark, and another was
Luke. We do not know all that St. Paul either

* That is to say, its affinities with pagan mythology may be
ignored, as belonging to the sphere of OT research.

t According to Huhn, Matthew has 37 direct quotations from
the OT against 3 in the Apocalypse. But the latter has 453
reminiscences against 437 in Matthew. Thus Matthew comes near
the Apocalypse in this respect ; Luke, with 474 reminiscences,
goes beyond it. All the other books are much behind it
(Alttegt. Citate u. Reminiscenzen im ST. 1900, p. 269 ff.).

:Dn73l05ff-. Zee 1210. || Is ]!* 63iff-.



78



APOCALYPSE



APOCALYPSE



spoke or wrote, but we do know that, contempo
raneously with the accomplishment of his mission
to the Gentiles, or, at least, well within the Apos-
tolic Age, a demand for written reminiscences of
Jesus arose both in the Jewish and in the Gentile
portion of the Church. Men possess reminiscences
of personalities who have exercised a determinin|
influence upon them long before they think o
committing them to writing, and often, if not
usually as witness the cases of Matthew and
Mark the task of writing is undertaken only by
request (-Euseb. HE iii. 39). If, then, the silences
of St. Paul, the contemporary of Jesus (who yet
possibly never saw Him in the flesh), do not, on
fair consideration, surprise us, why should those
of a man some thirty years younger, a Chris-
tian prophet of the time of Domitian, offend
us?

The other consideration is more positive in char-
acter. It is that of what may be called the
eschatological outlook of the Apostolic Age. It
was believed by all the NT writers of the first
generation that the return of Christ to His own
in glory and power would be witnessed by some in
their own time while they were yet in the flesh.
The expectation appears in the Gospels (Mk 9 1 13||),
and it is a matter much discussed how far it is due
to convictions definitely entertained and expressed
by our Lord Himself. It was certainly entertained
by St. Paul (1 Co 15 61 , 1 Th 5 13ff -) ; and, though on the
whole it hardly aft'ected, and never un wholesomely,*
his ethical teaching, it surely explains why letters
to fellow-Christians, who had been for the most
part his own converts and catechumens, in so far as
they were not occupied with matters of immediate
perplexity and duty, should be concerned rather
with prospects of the Lord's coming and glory than
with reminiscences of the days of His flesh. If
St. Paul had been asked to state his essential creed
as briefly as possible, he might fairly be conceived
to reply : For the past, Christ died in the flesh for
our sins ; for the present, Christ rose and lives for
our justification ; for the future, Christ will come
to confirm and receive His own to Himself in the
glory of God. Would the modern religious man,
whose creed has any title to be associated with the
NT, say anything, even in regard to the future,
that is really different from this ?

Whatever worth may belong to these considera-
tions in reference to St. Paul belongs to them a
fortiori in reference to a writer whose express aim
is to show to the servants of God the ' things that
must shortly come to pass' (I 1 ). Even if we put
out of account the limitations of apocalyptic
literary method, the last thing we shall expect
such a writer expressly to deal with will be
reminiscences of the historic Jesus. If we assume
that the Apostolic Age, whatever may be its
defects, supplies the norm of the religion which
is final, we shall require of the Christian prophet
'John' only that he accomplish his declared
purpose in a manner conformable both to the
situation he has in view and to the spirit and
teaching of the apostolic faith. No critic con-
tends that chs. 2 and 3 do not indicate a writer
who is in the matters of main account in close
touch with the communities he addresses, and
who writes to them in prophetic vein, on the
whole just as he might be conceived to speak. In
the rest of his book, he drops special reference
to the Asiatic Churches, devotes himself to the
recounting of visions, mainly of final judgment,
which are of account for the whole Church and
world of his time, and makes, as the nature of his
theme requires, larger use of material that is more
or less common to all imaginative religious speech

* 1 Co T 29 ^ seems to the present writer an illustration rather
than an exception.



or literature.* He has the definite belief that
the last instrument of Antichrist is the Roman
Imperial system, and that with the removal of
the 'Great Whore' (19 2 ) the 'Babylon' which is
Rome especially the cult of the Emperor, the
last obstacle to the glorious advent of the Kingdom
will be taken away. It is true there is nothing
in his general estimate of the situation of the
worshippers of the true God, suffering from the
Roman persecution, that might not have been
conceived by 'Daniel' or any other OT prophet.
There is scarcely a detail in the wonderful lament
of triumph over the fall of the Roman Babylon
(ch. 18) that has not its close parallel in Isaiah
and Jeremiah (for the details see Porter, op. tit.
267).

But what significance has such a fact other
than that of illustrating, in general, the claim of
Christianity to fulfil OT prophecy, and, in par-
ticular, the claim of this Christian seer to be in
the succession of the prophets (1 s 10 7ff - 19 10 22 18ff -)?
Once it is seen that it is the work of a Christian,
and that every detail in it has to the author's
own mind a significance, determined by his own
attitude and that of his readers to the Messiah
who was crucified (1 5L II 8 12 11 ), the book must be
allowed to possess a unique value for edification
both in itself and in reference to the place assigned
it by Christian authority that or closing the
canonical record of revelation contained in the
Bible.

* A good instance of the author's eclecticism, acting 1 under
control of spiritual insight, is his combination of an earthly
and a heavenly view of the Consummation. The binding of
Satan and the thousand years' reign of the martyred saints
precedes the final destruction of the Antiehristian power and
the descent of the Heavenly City (ch. 20 ; cf. with chs. 21 and
22). Why does the prophet not close his book at 19N>? It is
the poorest conceivable answer to say that he continues his
text for literary reasons, having a desire to utilize traditional
material that was too good to be neglected. But the reason
may well be that, while the destruction of the colossal im-
posture of the Roman Imperial cult is the last preliminary to
the Consummation that comes within his definite conviction,
a complex instinct, which we may consider part of his prophetic
equipment, warns him against the danger of confounding
definiteness of result with definiteness of time and manner.
The large doings of God permit of fluctuation in detail, and
the prophet is practical as well as inspired. One matter that
genuinely concerned him as a prophet, and had concerned
brother-prophets before him (cf. Dn 121^-, En. 91i2ff., Bar 40^,
and, for a Christian example, 1 Co 15 208 -), was the question what
special reward would be granted to those who had maintained
their faithfulness to God at the cost of their lives. And here
the traditional idea of a reign of the saints preliminary to the
Final Consummation came to his aid. In En, 91 12f - (cf. Bar 40 3 )
we find a scheme according to which all human history, in-
cluding the reign of the Messiah, is divided into heavenly
weeks. In U Ezr. T 28 the period of the reign of the Messiah is
400 years a number which, as the Talmud (Sank. 99) explains,
is obtained by combining Gn 15 3 with Ps 90 1 *. The 1000 years
of our prophet would be obtained in a somewhat similar fashion
by combining Gn l lff - (the 'day* of the Creation-narrative)
with Ps 90*. The 'day ' (=1000 years) is the rest-day of God's
saints, who are in particular the martyrs. In the Jewish tradi-
tion (cf . Jub. 4 30 and Secrets of Enoch 33 lf -) the seventh ' day '
was the reign of the Messiah. With 'John' it is the reign of
the Messiah with His faithful martyrs, and of course neither
they nor He die at the end of it, as in k Ezr. T 28 . Satan, however,
is unbound and leads the powers of evil in a final assault upon
the saints of the earth. He is overthrown and cast into the
'lake of fire" with the Beast and the False Prophet. Then
follows the General Judgment, in which those whose names are
not found in the ' book of life* are cast into the lake of fire, and
the rest who are faithful join the saints of the Millennium in
the final bliss. It is obvious that these details are not strictly
reconcilable with those of the Apocalypse that ends at 19 1U ,
and again at 1921. But surely we may credit the prophet with
being aware of the inconsistency. He handles his manifold
material freely. What is important to him is not to reconcile
discrepant details, but to express through them ideas of destiny
that are worthy of God and His Messiah. And it was mani-
festly important to him, as it was also, in part, to St. Paul, to
express the ideas : (1) that believers who died before the Advent
suffered no disadvantage above others (1 Th 4 13ff - ; cf. Rev &B-) ;
(2) that the earth needed to be prepared for the final glory by
the prevailing presence in it of the saints (1 Co lo^f- 62 f - ; cf.
Rev 20-1-10) ; (3) that there were special rewards for those who
made special sacrifices, in particular the sacrifice of life, for the
sake of the Kingdom (2 Ti 2"& ; cf. Mk lO^tr.n, and passages in
Rev. above cited).



APOCALYPSE



APOCALYPSE



The following examples may be given of the
teaching of the Apocalypse on definite articles
of the Christian creed. (1) The Messiah is the
historical Person of the seed of David, who was
crucified at Jerusalem (5 5 II 8 ). (2) Grace and
peace come from Him equally with Him who ' is
and was and is to come' and with the 'seven
spirits which are before the throne' (manifest
apocalyptic equivalents for the Father and the
Spirit). He is the 'faithful witness,' the 'First-
begotten of the dead, the Prince of the kings of
the earth ' (I 4 *- 7 10 ). (3) The ' revelation ' contained
in the book is not only mediated by Jesus Christ,
it is the revelation of Him (I 1 ). The prophets
are those who have the ' testimony of Jesus, and
the latter is the 'spirit of prophecy' (19 10 ). The
prophet is a fellow-servant and companion of all
faithful believers in Jesus. For they also have
the testimony. They are made prophets as well
as priests and kings (I 6 - 9 ). (4) The fundamental
work of the Messiah is the redemptive self -sacrifice.
No doubt the 'Lamb' is a leader and a warrior,
whom His servants follow. His 'wrath' is the
destruction of His enemies. Yet even in the glory
of His power 'in the midst of the throne He
remains for the Christian seer a ' Lamb as it had
been slain,' and the innumerable multitude of the
glorified faithful in heaven are those whose robes
have been 'made white in the blood of the Lamb.'
The motive of service even in heaven is the



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