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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Are Some Books Missing from the New Testament?

Don Stewart :: What Are Some of the Important Apocryphal Apocalypses?

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What Are Some of the Important Apocryphal Apocalypses?

Are Some Books Missing From the New Testament – Question 6

The Book of Revelation is called an “apocalypse.” This means a writing which is an unveiling of the future. As there is a divine apocalypse revealed in Holy Scripture, there were also a number of apocryphal apocalypses which were composed.

They include the following:

1. The Apocalypse of Peter

There was a work which widely circulated in the early church under the title of “the Apocalypse of Peter.” Though attributed to the apostle, it was not composed by him. In this work, we find graphic descriptions of the punishments of hell, or the lake of fire. Interestingly, in contrast to the Book of Revelation, with its emphasis on Jesus Christ the Savior overcoming evil, the Apocalypse of Peter embarks on descriptions of different classes of sinners as well as their punishment.

2. The Apocalypse of Paul

The Apocalypse of Paul is a very badly put together book which seems to have been written rather late in the history of the church; at the end of the fourth century. In this document, we have a detailed description of Paul’s visit to the third heaven as noted by him in his second letter to the Corinthians. Interestingly, Paul himself said that he was not allowed to divulge any of the details of what occurred. He wrote the following to the Corinthians:

But I do know that I was caught up into paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be told. (2 Corinthians 12:4 NLT)

Yet, this did not stop some writer from filling in the details that Paul himself would not give.

This apocryphal apocalypse also presents vivid descriptions of the punishments that sinners will receive in hell. This work attempts to specify the punishments the wicked would receive. For instance, we are told that those who have blasphemed will have their tongues hung over a blazing fire! It seems that this work borrowed some of its content from the earlier Apocalypse of Peter; especially in the section on the torments of hell.

Neither the Apocalypse of Peter nor the Apocalypse of Paul were written by the supposed author. In addition, nothing in these writings remotely suggests any type of divine insight into the various punishments, or degrees of punishment, the wicked will receive. God has given us one divinely inspired apocalypse; the Book of Revelation. We need no others.

Summary – Question 6
What Are Some of the Important Apocryphal Apocalypses?

As was true with apocryphal gospels, acts, and letters, there were also apocryphal apocalypses that were written and circulated. These works, like the Book of Revelation, spoke of future events. Two of the more prominent were works attributed to Peter and Paul. Neither of these works were written by the biblical characters, and neither of these works has content that is biblical. Instead of centering on Jesus Christ and His victory over evil, these works emphasize the various punishments the wicked will receive from God. It is understandable why these works were not really taken seriously by the church of Jesus Christ.

What Are Some of the Important Apocryphal Letters? ← Prior Section
Were There Some Divinely Authoritative Writings That Were Not Included in Holy Scripture? (Other Letters from Paul) Next Section →
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