Reading Revelation

New City Church just had a weekend of teaching from the book of Revelation, and I think it would be good to offer some resources for getting the most from the book.

Now, of course the Spirit is the best possible commentator on Revelation, and I encourage everyone to spend time praying for revelation when reading Revelation! The most striking part of Revelation for most readers is the seemingly bizarre images that John (who wrote the letter) presents us with. The best advice I can give anyone who is reading Revelation is to understand the context of the imagery found in the book before you start interpreting the imagery. One commentator (Darrell Johnson, whose excellent commentary is listed below, uses the example of political cartoons. If we see a drawing of a dragon swallowing a city, what might that image mean? In fact, I asked a class this very thing before and the responses were varied. Some said that the dragon was the evil of technology and progress eating traditionalism, others thought it was an apocalyptic image depicting the end of the world. Without the context of when or why the image was drawn, they had to interpret it "cold", using their own thoughts to provide meaning. I then filled them in with the context. That image of a dragon swallowing a city was published in an American newspaper the day that China reassumed control of Hong Kong after years of the city being under British authority. At this information the class all sighed a knowing , "Ahhh!" You see, knowing the context allowed them to see the image rightly. This principle needs to be applied when approaching the book of Revelation. To understand what the seven lamp stands, or the four riders or the dragon mean, you need to understand something of what John was living through and the times wherein he wrote.

Remember, there are lots of different views out there about Revelation. The resources here will differ on points. Try to get a good idea of what the views are before settling on any. There is much more that could be said about the book of Revelation, but I will just leave you with a handful of resources that you can check out to help you as you seek to know Revelation better.

Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey Through the Book of Revelation, by Darrell Johnson (this is the most impactful commentary I have ever read on Revelation and I highly recommend it for every level of reader - from the scholar to the newcomer to Revelation).

The Book of Revelation, by Gregory K. Beale (this is a very scholarly approach to Revelation and will appeal to the Greek enthusiasts as well as the informed reader. Beale has a shorter book based on this one that you can find here.)

The Book of Revelation (Video Lecture), by R.C. Sproul (this is Sproul's "reformed" approach to Revelation. Sproul was very frank about his fluctuating views on Revelation and that honest approach and the willingness to admit that he was not 100% sure of what the "End" looks like, is refreshing. This is an informative video that is great for those not wanting/able to read longer works on Revelation.)

How to Endure Everything, by Carl Santos ( this is a sermon I gave in Ontario on the first chapter of Revelation which, I think, offers a good starting point for those looking to dive into Revelation.)

There are many great books on Revelation, check out these if you want to go even deeper -

The Book of Revelation, Robert Mounce

Revelation, Craig S. Keener

The Message of Revelation, Michael Wilcock

Revelation, Leon Morris

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