The book of Revelation is admittedly a complicated book full of strange imagery and a seemingly complicated prediction of future events that has theologians and laymen arguing endlessly about how best to approach, interpret, and apply its message, themes, and theology. For many believers, Revelation is left relatively untouched with the approach taken that we all know Jesus will return so let’s just leave it at that and allow the academics and pastors to worry about actually understanding Revelation. Hopefully somebody has gotten it right along the way or at least close enough.
To help deal with the hands-off approach to Revelation taken by many believers, noted theologian G. K. Beale’s respected commentary on the book of Revelation has been condensed into a shorter text, one intended to be accessible to “pastors, students, and general Christian readers” while not losing any of the valuable exegesis and needed academic punch of the original work.
Beale rightly notes in the introduction that Revelation “is the Bible’s battle cry of victory, for in it, more than anywhere else in the NT, is revealed the final victory of God over all the forces of evil. As such, it is an encouragement to God’s people to persevere in the assurance that their final reward is certain and to worship and glorify God despite trials and despite temptations to march to the world’s drumbeat.” In the midst of all the various arguments presented by theologians, pastors, authors, and layman on how best to exegete Revelation, Beale’s statement should serve as the lens by which one approaches the message contained in Revelation, a message of God’s sovereignty and the culmination of His divine plan.
The important issues such as authorship, date of writing, genre, various exegetical methods for interpreting Revelation, its connection with the Old Testament, major themes, and a helpful outline of Revelation are all provided by Beale prior to engaging the text itself. The information provided in the introduction of this book is just as much of a must read as the rest of the commentary as the information provided by Beale in the introduction is intended as a necessary jumping off point for the actual commentary.
The meat and potatoes of this book if you will is just that – the excellent commentary. Beale engages the text piece by piece, looking at small sections of each chapter, exegeting those sections with salient insight that is “nerdy” when needed and that explains the text in a way that is accessible to all believers.
One element I truly appreciated in this commentary and something I wish more commentaries included is the “Suggestions for Reflection” sections. Beale uses these portions of his commentaries as more than just a few questions as further food for thought on what he just spent time discussing. Conversely, they are provided so as to help the reader think through the underlying message in the particular periscope being exegeted. For instance, in the reflection section on Revelation 6:1-8, Beale notes those verses demonstrate God’s sovereignty, answering the sometimes thorny question of how God uses what seems to be evil events to bring about His divine plan.
Overall, I found the analysis of Revelation by Beale to be sound, insightful, well written, and understandable. While many commentaries on Revelation seem to compound the confusion, Beale’s effort avoids those pitfalls. I highly recommend this shorter commentary version as well as the original tome written by Beale. Both would be valuable additions to any believer’s library and I know this is a book I will find myself referring to time and again in the future. While Revelation may never be an “easy” read, Beale’s commentary helps this important book of Scripture to be more accessible and understandable, a hallmark of a quality commentary.
This book is available for purchase from Eerdmans by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Eerdmans for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”