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III. PROPHETIC.

REVELATION (Apocalypse) of John the Divine. This is the only prophetic book of the New Testament, and much of it remains still unfulfilled. It closes the Canon of Scripture, and the revelation of God to man. There is satisfactory evidence of its genuineness. Justin Martyr, living sixty years after its supposed date, ascribes it to John; Papias acknowledges its inspiration; Irenseus (disciple of Polycarp, who was John's own disciple) testifies to his authorship, and that he had himself received the explanation of one passage in it from those who had conversed with the apostle about it. To these may be added Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Athanasius, &c.

John was banished by Domitian to Patmos, after a vain attempt to martry him; but on the Emperor's death (A.D. 96) he returned, under a general amnesty, to Ephesus, and resumed the supervision of that Church. While in exile he saw and recorded these visions, in the introductory chapters of which incidental evidence is furnished that a considerable interval must have elapsed between the foundation of the Asiatic Churches and the composition of this book: e.g. they are reproached for faults and corruptions that do not speedily arise; the Nicolaitans had separated themselves into a sect; there had been open persecutions, and Antipas had been martyred at Pergamos (ii. 13).

Summary. I. Prefatory: The Divine authority of the record. The narrative of the first vision, respecting the Churches of proconsular Asia (i.).

II. The Messages to the seven Churches (ii., iii.), viz. (1) Ephesus: reproof for forsaking its first love and first works. (2) Smyrna: commendation of works, poverty, endurance of persecution. (3) Pergamos: reproof for false doctrine, immoral conduct, idolatrous pollution. (4) Thyatira: reproof to one party for similar corruptions; commendation to the other for their fidelity. (5) Sardis: reproof for spiritual deadness with mere nominal life. (6) Philadelphia: approval of its steadfastness and patience. (7) Laodicea: rebuke for lukewarmness. These predictions have long been fulfilled, but the remainder of the book is still a mystery, though generally regarded as prophetic of the history of the Church from the close of the first century to the end of time. By some the major part is considered to have had its fulfilment in the early ages of the Church; by others to have been gradually realized by successive religious revivals and persecutions; by others it is regarded as a picture of the historical epochs of the world and the Church. Its outline is as follows:—

III. The Prophetic Visions: viz.—

1. The Divine glory, sealed book, and the Lamb (iv., v.).

2. The vision of the opening of six seals; the sealing of 144,000 Israelites; the worship by innumerable multitudes of saints; and the opening of the seventh seal (vi., vii.).

3. The vision of an angel offering incense on the golden altar, followed by the sounding of six trumpets (viii., ix.).

4. The vision of an angel with an open scroll; seven thunders, and the angel's proclamation (x.); measuring the temple and altar; the two witnesses; sounding of the seventh trumpet (x., xi.).

5. The vision of the woman and the dragon; the conflict between Michael and the dragon; rescue of the woman; the rising of a beast from the sea, and of another from the earth (xii., xiii).

6. The vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Sion; the proclamations of the three angels; the harvest and vintage (xiv.)

7. The pouring out of seven vials of wrath (xv., xvi.); the woman sitting upon the beast (xvii.); the angel's proclamation of the fall of Babylon, followed by songs of praise and triumph (xviii., xix. 1–10).

8. The vision of the "Word of God," attended by the faithful, who destroy the three great enemies, viz. the beast, false prophet, and confederate kings (xix. 11–21); the binding of the dragon for 1,000 years; the reign of righteousness, and final conflict (xix. 11–xx. 10).

9. Visions of the final judgment, me new heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem (xx 10–xxii. 5), with closing addresses from the angel, Christ, and John, enjoining the universal proclamation of these visions, and attesting the certainty of the predictions (xxii. 6–21).

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