Overview – This is a full-length commentary on the Book of Revelation. Its 370 pages include an in-depth 85-page introduction to the Apocalypse, paragraph-by-paragraph discussion of the text, chapter overviews, essays on special topics, and over a hundred charts and over fifty illustrations. Nineteen bonus essays, including 4 pages on the Christology of Revelation chapter 5, 12 pages on 666, 4 pages on Armageddon, a 46-page discussion of the hermeneutics of the “Left Behind” series, a 29-page critique of Christian Zionism. Hundreds of end-notes and a 26-page annotated bibliography.
Inside the Introduction – In the introduction, this study guide introduces the principles of interpretation that it consistently follows throughout the paragraph-by-paragraph exposition. Historical and cultural background of the first-century Roman province of Asia provides tremendous assistance in interpreting the text, as well as the Old Testament background for the imagery, numerology, and theological motifs of Revelation.
Interpretation Principles – The introduction lays out the interpretation principles that are basic to understanding the Apocalypse. The most basic of Bible interpretation principle employed is this: the Book of Revelation first has to be meaningful from the viewpoint of the original readers and only then can we relate it to today. As simple and common-sense as this rule is, it is amazing that it is so seldom followed in the interpretation of the Apocalypse. Another important principle is to learn how the Book of Revelation itself indicates what to take literally and what figuratively.
But How Do We Know? Also, the introduction lays out principles for sorting between what we can know for certain, what we can assume is likely or probable, and we must admit is possible, though uncertain. In other words, we interpreters of the Apocalypse need more humility! We need to learn how to say, “This is what I think it means, and here’s why,” rather than “It obviously means such and so, as any nincompoop can see.” And if its meaning remains uncertain, we need to admit it. The farther removed we are from the text itself, from its Old Testament, historical, and cultural backgrounds, the less certain we can be of our conclusions. On the other hand, the more closely we follow the text, the more we pay attention to the Old Testament parallels, and the more we dig into the archaeology, history, and first-century culture of Roman Asia, the more confident we can be about our conclusions regarding what it meant for the original readers. Then, when we determine that, we can find credible answers to the burning question, “What does Revelation mean for us in the 21st century? What difference does it make in how we live? Can it also help us to overcome?”
Special Features of the Exposition – Each section of the text begins with a one to three-page overview, explaining what happens, the meaning for the original readers, and modern applications. A chart summarizing the Old Testament background of the section is next. Then comes a paragraph-by-paragraph explanation, drawing from the Old Testament background, historical and cultural background, and the connections Revelation has with the rest of the New Testament. Interspersed are the bonus essays, diagrams, site plans, original poems, and photos. Get the text that has been used successfully at Sunset International Bible Institute, Harding University, and in many adult Bible classes and church seminars.
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