The Purpose Of The Apocalypse -- By: Charles Edward Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 078:310 (Apr 1921)
Article: The Purpose Of The Apocalypse
Author: Charles Edward Smith


The Purpose Of The Apocalypse

Charles Edward Smith

That the Apocalypse has a purpose is unquestionable. The place of honor it occupies at the end of the sacred volume, its elaborate and surprising literary structure, the preeminence of its apostolic author, and the glory of its divine Inspirer, — all compel us to expect a production of great importance and usefulness. That the Word of God should close with a book without adaptation to any conceivable end, and therefore of no practical value, is simply unthinkable by any one who comprehends the general significance of Revelation.

Of course it would be overstating the lamentable bewilderment and uncertainty of Christian scholarship as to such a purpose to say that it has no ideas about it, or that the great company of God’s dear children do not find in the Book of Revelation much that is unspeakably precious. On the contrary, it is to them a noble Palace, in whose chambers of peace they rest their weary souls, and in whose halls of glory they wander with delight and exultation. Bits of it they understand; here and there they perceive meaning and use; but what it is all for, the plan of the mighty maze, neither learned nor unlearned reader can be said to have yet comprehended.

This is as true to-day as it was nearly fifty years ago, when Alford wrote his Commentary, in which he expresses his doubts of all previous attempts to solve the problem and confesses his own ignorance and uncertainty. The war has turned the minds of thinking people towards the Apocalypse as likely to contain some prediction of so great a conflict, and several articles have appeared in religious quarterlies, on this remarkable book. One of them, in the Biblical Review, by Professor Griffith Thomas, of Wycliffe College, Toronto, gives a summary of many works

containing the views of their respective authors as to what the Apocalypse means. No two of these views agree; and while each of them has more or less valuable suggestiveness, no one can claim to have made known the great specific purpose which the Book of Revelation was intended to accomplish. It is easy to see that it is a book of prophecy, that a great and final triumph of Jesus is promised; but what is the special character of that triumph, and how the story of it is related to the needs of God’s people, and particularly of some special class of God’s people, none of these authors has informed us.

And yet it is not impossible to think of a great and most important purpose yet unprovided for when the Apocalypse yet remained to be written. When we reach the point in Jude in which we are exhorted to “contend earnestly for the faith which...

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