The Church Leaders “Best Books” series is our way of helping leaders find, read, and recommend books on a variety of important topics related to ministry and the Christian life. Check out the rest of our best books lists.
Jim Shaddix stops by today with recommended reading on one of the most intriguing and polarizing books in Scripture–Revelation. Jim is Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Pastor of Teaching and Training at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.
John wrote Revelation to encourage believers who were experiencing intense persecution. He reminded them that the glory of God ultimately would be revealed through the victorious reign of Christ over everybody and everything for all time!
Obviously, there is a breadth of interpretive lenses through which evangelicals look at the book of Revelation. Regardless of our particular eschatological persuasion, we can learn from a variety of people who have studied the book diligently. Here are a few recommendations (alphabetical order):
1. Revelation by Craig S. Keener
Most every volume of the NIV Application Commentary has proved to be helpful with its three-fold treatment of Original Meaning, Bridging Contexts and Contemporary Significance. Keener, an established New Testament scholar, weds a thorough grasp of the biblical text with a ‘down-to-earth’ experiential knowledge of what it means to live in some dangerous environments. In other words, he has some experience with persecution and can help us identify with the original readers of Revelation!
While some would immediately reject this noted Bible expositor and scholar for his unapologetic premillennial and pretribulation stance, MacArthur continues to be one of my favorite preachers and Bible commentators. I’m not sure anyone does a better job of allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, and his commitment to doing so features in this two-volume set where symbolism reigns. MacArthur’s treatment is a great balance of exegetical detail and pastoral application.
3. Revelation by Leon Morris
I like Morris’s study on the book of Revelation, which is part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. In keeping with the set, his volume on Revelation helps the general Bible reader understand what the text says and means, without a lot of the scholarly technicalities. While holding an amillennial interpretive position, Morris does a great job of explaining the significance of Revelation’s symbolism as well as showing the bearing the message has on contemporary issues and culture.
4. Revelation by Paige Patterson
Here’s a helpful volume from one of the most influential American evangelicals of the last century. Patterson interprets Revelation from a futurist position and takes both the premillennial and pretribulational stances. He provides great insight that is theological conservative and flavored with grace. Maybe one of the reasons I like it is because he draws on his vast experience as a preacher to offer frequent advice to pastors on preaching this Bible book, as well preaching with pathos, grace and judgment. This counsel also will serve Bible teachers well!
5. Revelation (2 vols.) by Robert L. Thomas
Totaling more than 1,200 pages, Thomas may provide the most exhaustive work on Revelation. He translates the text from the original language himself, but does it in a very user-friendly way for the English reader by transliterating Greek words so anyone can follow. Thomas provides insight into a wide range of interpretive positions, and then draws his own conclusions and reasons for doing so. While he provides a conservative, premillennial, dispensational viewpoint without a lot of sensationalism, Thomas is very considerate towards differing opinions.