Seven times we have the word prophecy in this book, and prophecy is its one great subject.
It is |prophecy| for us, therefore, and not past history. It is prophecy concerning the events which shall take place |hereafter| during the day of the Lord, i.e., during the day when the Lord will be the Judge, in contradistinction to the present day, i.e., |man's day| (1 Cor. iv.3) during which man is judging (to the painful experience of most of us). See Exposition on i.10.
Even |Historicists| take some part of this book as prophecy.
Most |Futurists| take from iv.1 as prophecy.
But we fall back on the first blessing in verse 3: |Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of THIS PROPHECY.|
That reading commences at once; that hearing commences with the reading. Neither is to be postponed till some future time, or to some particular part of the book: nor are we to be left in ignorance as to where our reading and our blessing commences. We believe that |this prophecy| means |this prophecy,| and that we begin at once to read it and to get the blessing. It cannot be that we are to read on and wait till we come to some particular verse where the blessing commences. Our attention to what is written is not to be postponed. All the words are |the words of this prophecy.| John was to bear witness of |all things that he saw| (ver.2); and the command is |what thou seest write in A BOOK.| What we have therefore is in |a book;| and that book contains all that John saw and heard; and it is called |this prophecy.| The whole book, therefore, is prophecy for us. It is |those things which are written in it| which we are to keep: and it is as a whole Book that we propose to deal with it. We feel it safer to be guided by what God Himself calls it than by what man tells us as to what part is prophecy and what is not. If they who tell us this were agreed among themselves it would be something; but when they differ, we cannot gain much by listening to them.
The evidence afforded by this title is, that, as the whole book is prophecy, the Church of God is not the subject of it: for, as we have seen, the Church is not the subject of prophecy, but of |revelation.| The future of the Church is given and written for our reading and blessing in the Pauline Epistles; especially in 1 Thess. iv., where the Apostle Paul speaks |by the word of the Lord,| which means, here as well as elsewhere, a prophetic announcement. Further, we may add that, when John is told that he is to prophesy again (x.11), it is not about the Church, but about |peoples and nations and tongues and kings.|
But there is another title given to this book. It is