Commentary on Revelation

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Robert Peterson | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jul 10 2015 1:20 AM

Any recommendation on which commentary /commentary’s is/or the best on Revelation in our library?


Posts 1514
HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 1:40 AM

Shalom Robert!

Have you looked at the BestCommentaries website?

Posts 738
Kevin A Lewis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 2:54 AM

Rather depends on what you are after, devotional, personal study, academic and technical etc.

Also do you want one that uphold, covenant theology or dispensational theology; or one that takes pre-, post- or a- positions on the millennium.

In short - "what are you after"?


Posts 1514
HJ. van der Wal | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 3:39 AM

There are already several threads that discuss commentaries on Revelation, e.g.: (devotional, practical and application-oriented) (amillennial)

Posts 452
Is Mebin | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 5:39 AM
I recenty read Joseph A Seiss' "The Apocalypse" (2 volumes in Logos) and thoroughy enjoyed his passion.
Posts 1602
Kenute P. Curry | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 6:38 AM

John MacArthur's 2-Volume Commentary is an excellent source; Joseph A. Seiss is also up at the top, as well as Tim LaHaye's "Revelation Unveiled." H. A Ironside and John Walvoord are also good.

Posts 371
Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 7:30 AM

If you are not sure which way to read Revelation than this book may help you decide or give you a way to navigate through the different views.

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 10:35 AM

Lonnie Spencer:

If you are not sure which way to read Revelation than this book may help you decide or give you a way to navigate through the different views.

Great product some others for you to consider:

Westminster Bible Companion: Revelation --devotional nature.

New Covenant Commentary: Revelation --Fee has made a very accessible well done commentary here.

The Anchor Yale Bible: Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Craig Koester --finest critical commentary available... NOTE LOGOS sells TWO ANCHOR volumes on REVELATION the one by FORD offers a novel approach but should likely be avoided, considered by many to be one of the worse volumes ever released under the Anchor series.

I offer a look at how each starts out it;s comments to give you a feel for them.


Revelation 1:1–3

1:1–3 As strange as it may seem to modern readers, the entirety of verses 1 and 2 are, in reality, the title of the book. As with most ancient titles, this one is a summary of the argument of the whole book, as well as of its purpose. The title also includes the name of the author.
The subject of the book is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The word “revelation”—apokalypsis, which is the second word in the book and which has given it its current title—does not appear again. Yet it encapsulates all its contents, which are indeed a “revelation.”
The content of this revelation, given by God to Jesus Christ, had to do with “what must soon take place.” If we take this to mean that persecution will increase and Christians need to be prepared for it, then he certainly was proven right by later events. On the other hand, John apparently expected the total fulfillment of God’s plan to take place in the near future, and in that case he was mistaken. Does that error invalidate his entire message? It does if, as many seem to believe, his message was a blueprint for the future, for John was wrong on the crucial matter of timing. On the other hand, if John’s message is essentially a call to trust in God, in whose hands the future lies, and to resist temptation and faithless compromise on the basis of that trust, then his message is still valid, even though the end did not come when he expected. The central point in John’s message is not the timing of events, but God’s final triumph over evil.
Verse 2, still part of the title, does not refer to what John did in the past, apart from this book. Presumably he was already a prophet before his exile to Patmos. But normally a title such as this would be written after the book had been completed; therefore past tenses such as “testified” and “saw” refer to the actual content of the book. The means whereby this revelation was given can be depicted in the analogy of a chain whose main links are God-Jesus-the angel-John-his readers.
Then comes the first of seven blessings that appear in Revelation. (Besides the one in 1:3, the other six appear in 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; and 22:14.) The first blessing is twofold: It includes “the one who reads aloud,” and then “those who hear and who keep what is written.”
The NRSV correctly says “reads aloud,” for what is envisioned here is that the book will be read out loud to the congregations gathered for worship. We would do well to remember this, for something is lost when words intended to be read out loud to an entire congregation in worship become the object of private study by an individual. While the private study of scripture is important and commendable, it must not take the place of public reading, for most of scripture—and certainly the book of Revelation—was originally written to be read by the community of faith as it gathered for worship. The book is addressed to them as a community, and whenever it refers to its readers as “you” we must remember that John uses the Greek plural form.

Catherine Gunsalus González and Justo L. González, Revelation, ed. Patrick D. Miller and David L. Bartlett, Westminster Bible Companion (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 12–13.



The Introduction

The opening chapter of John’s Revelation does what a good introduction to any book is expected to do: lay out the major players and the plot, while giving a few hints as to what will unfold along the way. John’s introduction, which includes all of chapter 1, does exactly that, although at this point the plot is more difficult to discern than are the players. At the same time this opening chapter introduces some of the “apocalyptic furniture” that will become an essential part of the story. This is especially true of the “son of man” (v. 13)—imagery taken from Daniel 10—and of the churches themselves who appear as seven golden lampstands. But these are mild images in comparison with many that will follow, which are very often bizarre, as for example in 13:1, where we are introduced to the understandable image of “a beast,” including the fact that it has heads and horns; however, a beast with “seven heads” and “ten horns” we do not know, and for the most part have considerable difficulty “seeing” even with the imagination.
What is striking about this introductory chapter, therefore, is how little one here encounters the kinds of imagery that the reader will meet later on with full force. Indeed, if one were to read only this chapter, plus the next two sections (chs. 2–3 and 4–5), one could feel quite at home, since most of its imagery falls into categories or images that are either understandable or at least manageable on the basis of one’s prior knowledge of the Old Testament. In which case the occasional apocalyptic image is not especially startling. But all of that changes at chapter 6, and will continue so through chapter 17, with a single recurrence in the great battle of 19:11–21. Otherwise, from 18:1 to the end the imagery is very much like that of the Prophets, where “real” (as distinct from “bizarre”) images become the general rule to the end of the book. All of this to say that ordinary readers, who have had no acquaintance at all with apocalyptic, should not presently sense they are stepping into a whole new world. That will come eventually, but is somewhat rare at the beginning.

Gordon D. Fee, Revelation, New Covenant Commentary Series (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 1–2.


1. Title


The Revelation of John. The Greek word apokalypsis is usually rendered in English as “apocalypse” or “revelation” (NOTE on 1:1). Placing the name “John” in the title identifies him as the book’s author. Justin Martyr referred to “John, in a revelation that was given to him” (Dial. 81), using the term “revelation” for the message that was disclosed rather than a title for the work. Later, “Revelation” seems to have been used as the book title in contexts where John was assumed to be its author (Irenaeus, Haer. 4.14.2; 4.17.6; 4.20.11; 5.28.2; 5.35.2; Tertullian, Marc. 3.14.3; 4.5.2). Melito of Sardis (d. ca. 190) wrote a lost work on the devil and the Revelation of John (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.26.2). The Latin translation of Irenaeus’s works (early third century) refers to the “Revelation of John” (PG 7.687A), while the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus (א) introduces this work with the title “Revelation of John” (Apokalypsis Iōannou) and concludes with a subscription that uses the plural, “Revelations [Apokalypseis] of John.” Later manuscripts sometimes used expanded titles, such as “The Revelation of John the Theologian and Evangelist” (046). On authorship, see INTRO II.A.


The original “title” of this book was its opening line: “A revelation from Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1). The separate title “Revelation of John” was added later, when the book was copied and preserved alongside other writings. Titles were sometimes placed on tags attached to the outside of a scroll, so a person could identify a scroll without unrolling it. Separate titles were also inscribed inside the scroll, usually at the end of a work but sometimes at the beginning. When works were bound together in a codex, they could be given a title at the beginning, at the end, or at both places (Turner, Greek, 16–17; Aune 1:3–4; Kraft 17–18).
In the first century the term “apocalypse” was used for the disclosure of something hidden, but it was not a technical term for a literary genre. The prominence of the word “apocalypse” at the beginning of John’s work apparently contributed to the use of this term as a title for visionary writings. The Muratorian canon fragment (either late second or fourth century CE) referred to the “apocalypses of John and Peter,” indicating that the two were similar types of writings. “Apocalypse” was also used for visions of Peter (Clement of Alexandria, Ecl. 41.2; 48.1; 49.1; cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.14.1) and in the titles affixed to works known as the Apocalypse of Paul, the Testament of Abraham, 3 Baruch, the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, and the Apocalypse of Sedrach (Denis, Concordance, 830, 866, 871, 873). Since the manuscripts that bear these titles are rather late, it is uncertain whether the texts originally called themselves “apocalypses” (M. Smith, “History,” 19).
By the late second and third centuries a number of Christian texts claimed to present revelations. To distinguish these works from each other, they were given titles referring to the people who were said to have written them. To some extent, this is appropriate for Revelation, since 1:1–3 identifies John as the recipient of the visions and in 1:4 John addresses the readers in his own name. Nevertheless, the traditional title Apokalypsis Iōannou focuses on John as the writer, but the initial words Apokalypsis Iēsou Christou identify Jesus as the giver of the revelation and the authority for the message (Schüssler Fiorenza 39–40).

Craig R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, ed. John J. Collins, vol. 38A, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2014), 209–210.


PS: It should be noted that WBC did not start off with an introductory paragraph like the others but handled it in the comments on the first three verses. For brevity's sake i did not offer a look from the other ones comments on the the first three verses because  the tone of the volumes seemed well set by how they opened up their commentary. And FEE and KOESTER have plenty to offer on the first three verses beyond the general introduction I shared here.

Posts 3771
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 12:28 PM

If you are looking for fairly detailed/technical, I have read through Aune's 3 volumes (WBC), Beale's monster (NIGTC) and Osborne (BECNT).

Aune: obviously has a LOT of material. In the end, it felt more like a catalog than a clear picture of what Revelation is about. Also the discipleship aspects of Revelation tend to be lost in the mass of issues and views surveyed and emphasis on Rome.

Beale: The strong point here is the extensive and practically systematic discussion of the OT background and connections with other Jewish writings. Some of these connections are more convincing/interesting than others, but you will not find as extensive a treatment from that angle elsewhere as far as I know.

Osborne: This was my favorite on several counts. It is the warmest of the three, technical and scholarly but keeping the forest ever in sight instead of getting lost with the mass of individual trees. Also quite even-handed theologically in my view. 

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 5:28 PM

If you are looking for fairly detailed/technical, I have read through Aune's 3 volumes (WBC)

Word Biblical Commentary is a pretty good one too (my favourite in the technical Evangelical offerings)... I mostly responded here to clarify the WBC since I had introduced a different series with the same abbreviation.


Posts 2900
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 10 2015 7:12 PM

My vote is Robert Mounce in the New International Commentary on the NT series. 

George Ladd's Commentary is my second choice. 

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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