If one were to attempt to climb to the moon upon a stairway made of books published upon a single topic, the informed person would choose to build that staircase out of biblical commentaries. Next to the Bible itself, the most voluminous stream of publication down through history must be the writing of men and women who have attempted to understand and explain the biblical text. The number of commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, and other study aids which focus upon the Word of God is truly staggering.
Out of this vast stream of biblical interpretation, perhaps the largest tributary consists of commentaries upon the book of Revelation, otherwise known as The Apocalypse. The sheer number of commentaries on the last book of the New Testament is a daunting consideration for anyone who would attempt to contribute to this flow of words which has spanned centuries and occupied some of the best minds and most devoted spirits mankind has been graced with by God. When scanning the footnotes or bibliography of one of the many modern commentaries on the book of Revelation, one is immediately overwhelmed by the breadth of material which has been written on this book.
Any writer who considers casting his small pebble into such a mighty flow must ask himself what his work could possibly contribute to the already large body of material on the subject? Why attempt to extend the work of giants who have gone before? Will it not be equivalent to painting over the face of a finished diamond? Surely, close attention must be given to the motives and goals of such a task!
It is from such a perspective that we offer this work. It is not our intention to supersede or improve upon those which have gone before, but to glean from their work while achieving the following goals:
- Unrestricted Use - To provide a commentary which is not subject to the royalty and permission limitations so prevalent in our times. A primary goal of this work is to provide a modern commentary on the book of Revelation which may be copied and freely distributed by any means and for any purpose. This is particularly important in our current age of digital study tools and worldwide distribution via the internet. It is our desire that this commentary would be freely available for reading or inclusion with any of the many free or low-cost Bible-study programs which are now available.1 The copyright for this commentary embraces this goal.
- Use of Modern Technology - To present the commentary using modern text-processing, cross-referencing, and presentation technology. This facilitates the ease with which the material can be read when using a computer, with or without an accompanying digital Bible text.
- Introduction to Other Works - To guide the inquiring student toward what we believe are the most valuable and trustworthy works available on the book of Revelation. Fortunately, after dismissing those works which compromise the core values of Evangelicalism or are written by those lacking the illumination of the Holy Spirit because they have not been born again, the number is reduced substantially.2 Readers will find additional aids for the study of the book of Revelation within the endnotes and bibliography.
- A Policy of Inoculation - It is our desire to alert the unfamiliar reader concerning some of the potential pitfalls which accompany a study of Revelation, and the Bible in general.