How similar is the book of Revelation to Old Testament prophetic literature?

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The emphasis in the book of Revelation is on its role or identity as a prophetic word, a book of prophecy. And so what we see is a great deal of similarities with the ways in which the prophets would represent God's covenant in terms of the things they would see, their visions, to call people back to covenant faithfulness and repentance. And so the emphasis in the opening part of the book of Revelation is on a call to repent and to overcome. And that's consistent with what we see in the prophets, where the warnings are, "unless you repent, you'll suffer this discipline." And we also see in the book of Revelation the recurrence of seven words of blessing, and that's also very common to prophetic literature, where you have the promise of blessing, in terms of coming back to the covenant. And so we see this through John; Jesus brings this word of blessing that he promises to those who will repent and those who will overcome, this great invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb. We also see common imagery. So, whether it's imagery from the plagues and the Exodus, and the experience of the deliverance of God's people from the Exodus, and of course, the identification of Jesus as the Passover Lamb, that is consistent with that imagery, and Moses as a prophet. Or where we see the heavenly council and one like the Son of Man, like we see in relation to Daniel 7, in chapters 4 and 5, and the gathering of the heavenly council there; or whether it's the New Jerusalem, that's consistent with what we see in the book of Ezekiel. Or whether it's these figures like the two witnesses, or what we see with the lampstands, imagery that really comes from the book of Zechariah, where, again, these things represent God's leaders, like the king and the priest, and God's people in relation to the nations, and God's call for them to be faithful in the midst of the nations and his dealings with the nations. So these things are very consistent with what we see in the imagery and in the function of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament.

Answer by Dr. Gregory R. Perry

Dr. Gregory R. Perry is President of Thirdmill Seminary and Vice President for Strategic Projects at Third Millennium Ministries. He served as Associate Professor of New Testament and the Director of City Ministry Initiative at Covenant Theological Seminary 2003-2017.