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John, to hesitate in giving utterance to that part of the vision which pertained to the apostolic labors and influence in the establishment of the church, based, as it was, upon previous utterances of inspired men.
The Alleged Difference in the General Characteristics of the
Apocalypse and other Writings of John. We have seen that the authority of the early Fathers is almost entirely in favor of the apostolic origin of the Apoc. alypse, and that the declarations in the book itself most naturally and indisputably point to John the evangelist as author. It would seem that we need not delay long upon the more direct internal argument, for nothing that was not distinct and palpable could annul that derived from these two sources of proof. Upon no part of the sacred volume, not even upon the Epistle to the Hebrews, has so much been written which is irrelevant and utterly without foundation as upon the Apocalypse. The Gospel of John, with perhaps his first Epistle, is taken by many as the representative of his whole being, culture, and development. Anyo thing in the Apocalypse which falls without this is taken as proof of diversity of authorship. The author of the tranquil, loving, thoughtful, simple record of the character, life, and sayings of the Master on whose bosom he was wont to recline, is not capable of portraying the more general and objective relations of that Master, as “ Prince of peace," and in subduing the world to himself, casting the arch-deceiver with his minions into the lake of fire and brimstone, and preparing for all the faithful a city which has no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God and the Lamb is the light thereof! The writer who in a time of peace sits down under the secret guidance of the Holy Spirit to the composition of a simple narrative, where the selection of materials and their arrangment is left, in a measure at least, to his individual choice, will, forsooth, write in the same tone and spirit as when, in the midst of a fiery persecution, in banishment he is selected
as the medium of communication from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, of the most important events that relate to the struggles, conflicts, and final victory of Christianity on this earth. It is nothing, that the heaven and the bottomless pit are opened to his vision; that he is brought into the presence of him who sat upon that throne in heaven out of which proceeded lightnings and thunderings, and in the midst of which and the beasts and the elders that surrounded it, stood the Lamb, as having been slain; that he hears the voice of many angels round about the throne, whose number is “ ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain"; that he sees the stars of heaven fall to the earth, and the heavens depart, as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island moved out of their places. It is nothing, that, in the midst of these exciting scenes, which no other eye has seen and lived, being in the spirit, he was told that he must disclose these visions and prophesy before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." Because in such circumstances he adopts a higher strain, and speaks what is given him to say in more confident tones; because instead of the style of simple, unpretending narrative he adopts that fitted to prophecy, and even imitates in some measure those Hebrew prophets who preceded him and wrote on somewhat similar themes, - the author of the Apocalypse cannot forsooth be the author of the fourth Gospel. A man is not himself, but another, because he adapts himself to his position; because God chose him, and qualified him by large measures of his Spirit, and by mysterious communications, and revelations of his plans for all the future ages of man.
Not so are we accustomed to limit the powers of the gifted of our race; not so should we circumscribe the power of the Most High.
We cannot deem it of importance to dwell long upon the differences between the Apocalypse and Gospel and Epistles of John, which are of a general character, and which naturally, if not necessarily, result from the different themes
treated of, and the different objects to be attained. It is objected by Baur, Lücke, and others, for example, that the Apocalypse is external in its character, while the Gospel is internal. How could it be otherwise ? The object of the Apocalypse, as is now generally acknowledged, is to portray the struggles and final triumph of the kingdom of Christ on the earth, and its consummation in future blessedness. For the attainment of this great general object in a space that could well be incorporated with, and form the completion of, the sacred oracles, certain symbols or pictures were employed, by which whole series of events, extending through many years and over many lands, were characterized. These symbols were mainly objects addressed to the external
· We cannot deem it a matter of much importance, as far as the authorship of the Apocalypse is concerned, that it is more artificial in its structure than the Gospel of John ; and yet it may not be amiss to give Hengstenberg's remarks upon this point: “ The actual plan of the Apocalypse agrees so exactly with that of the Gospel, that we are thereby alono led to think of the identity of the author. The Gospel, like the Apocalypse, consists of an introduction (ch. i. 1-18), a main body, the close of which at the end of chap. xx., has often been mistaken for the end of the whole, and the conclusion (ch. xxi.). The main body in the Gospel, as in the Apocalypse, has two chief parts, the second begin. ning with chap. xiii. 1, as in the Apocalypse with ch. xii. The main body, further, in the Gospel, as in the Apocalypse, falls into a series of groups, the existence of which is generally recognized, though the firm establishment of them has not been attended to by expositors as it should have been. It is found on close examination that the seven number of the groups in the Apocalypse returns also here, divided by the four and three, as there by the three and the four. These divisions also in the Apocalypse alternate with each other. Of the four groups of the first part of the main body, the first, in chap. i. 19 – ii. 11, contains the beginning of Christ's ministry in Peraea and Galilee, according to the order intimated in the prophecy of Isa. viii. 23, the region of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,' which Matthew takes for his starting-point, and which required John also to lay the commencement of our Lord's operations in the same region. The second, chap. ii. 12 - iv. 54, begins at Capernaum and closes also there; the third, in chap. v. 1 - vi. 71, the fourth, in chap. vii. 1 - xii. 50, contain the three festal visits of Jesus to Jerusalem and what was connected with them. Of the three groups of the second part, the first, chap. xiii. 1- xvii. 26, represents how Jesus loved his own to the end; the second chap. xviii. 19, describes the sufferings, death, and burial of Jesus ; the third or seventh of the whole, chap. xx., gives an account of the resurrection. Artless simplicity – that is here, as in the Apocalypse, the character of the arrangement.” Vol. II. 458, 459.
senses, and were representatives of events and persons in objective relations. The representation here begins at a time subsequent to the occurrence of the events recorded in the Gospel. The subjective relation of the life, teachings, and death of Christ to the individual soul naturally is made somewhat prominent in the Gospel ; but in the Apocalypse Christ has ascended the mediatorial throne, and hence, although, in reference to his atoning sacrifice, he is repeatedly represented as the Lamb that was slain, his theocratic dominion is made prominent. He rides forth in his conquering chariot, with the name King of kings and Lord of lords upon his vesture, subduing his enemies, thwarting the designs of the adversaries of his kingdom, comforting and encouraging his faithful followers, by giving them a place around his throne, where “they shall live and reign with him,” where “ they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Although, from the object of the Apocalypse, the representation is external or objective, and while there is much that is internal and subjective in the Gospel and Epistles, yet it is surprising how many points of contact there are between them, even in this particular. The appearing of Christ in the Gospel is often in a spiritual sense, as in xiv. 18: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you;" and in vs. 23: “If a man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” So in the Apocalypse, iii. 20: “ If any man hear my voice, ..... I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” “I come,” has been called the “ watchword of the Revelation.” In ii. 5: “Repent, else I will come quickly;" verse 25: “ Hold fast till I come;" iii. 11: “I come quickly," also xxii. 7, 12, 20. This external coming has its parallels in the Gospel. In John xxi. 22
Christ replies to the question of Peter in reference to John : “ If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" etc. Even Lücke says upon this passage: “In what sense Jesus said, 'Till I come,' we can best learn from Rev. ii. 5, 16; iii. 11 ; xxii. 7; etc. In xiv. 3, it is said also : “ If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself,” etc. Compare also 1 John ii. 28.
The external victories of Christ and the church are very prominent in the Apocalypse. It could not be otherwise. It was written in a time of persecution from outward enemies, and for the ensolation of those who in all ages should be subject to peril and suffering from hostile secular powers. Still, there is something of the same kind in the Gospel. John xvi. 33: “ In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," contains the fundamental idea that is developed at length and in detail in the Apocalypse. In the first Epistle, ii. 18: “ Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there
antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time;" external enemies are plainly brought into account.
In the Gospel, spiritual enemies are the conspicuous objects in the foreground. In the Apocalypse, too (chap. xiv. 1-5), the hundred and forty-four thousand are represented as having overcome spiritual enemies. In xxi. 8, 27, it is those who are subject to evil passions and habits that are excluded from the New Jerusalem, and are the subjects of the second death. Compare also xxii. 15, and the epistles to the seven churches throughout.
As external enemies, so a visible recompense comes specially into the account in the Apocalypse. In this it agrees with the whole tenor both of the Old and New Testament. John's Gospel is not an exception here, although nothing called forth a special development of this doctrine. In v. 14, disease is represented as coming in consequence
1 See Hengstenberg, Vol. II. 468, 469.