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Comparison of Apocalyptic Writing and Prophecy

Overview of Revelation from the Rev. Clyde Stanfield, Guest Contributor

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Comparison of Apocalyptic Writing and Prophecy

Reader Question Answered:   Rev. 2:14 (when the Lord is talking to one of the churches) says that He is angry because they've eaten meat offered as sacrifices to idols.  Is there more to this than just eating the meat?

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Comparison of Apocalyptic Writing and Prophecy

The original and official name of the book of Revelation is "Apocalypse of John"; in fact, "revelation" is just an English translation of the Greek word "apocalupsis." So apparently we are safe in concluding that Revelation is an sample of apocalyptic writing.

Apocalyptic writing, or just "apocalyptic," grew out of prophecy, it but differs from prophecy in several ways, as summarized in the following table.

Characteristics of Apocalyptic WritingCharacteristics of Prophecy
Visionary - the message is seen.The Word is heard.
Usually written, typically in esoteric proseUsually oral for quite some time before being written; usually brief oracle, poetic
Usually pseudonymous (so it pretends to be prophetic and then "sealed" until "end times." Revelation is not pseudonymous.)Usually presented under the prophet's own name
Always symbolic, although always clear to the intended audienceConcrete, plain as day both to the people for whom it was written and to any other readers
Always eschatological, that is, concerned with end timesUsually concerned with immediate events
Always epic - describing the acts of God, Satan, etc.Usually about the historical process directed by God
Foretells the future that will break into history at some undetermined timeForetells the future that will arise out of the present
Describes great world empires as adversaries of GodDescribes great world empires as God’s instruments to execute his will on his faithless people
Tracts for hard times - a call for endurance until God does somethingThreats of hard times - a call for repentance, or else God will do something



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