The book of Revelation was written for a people under pressure. It is a survival manual, explaining how to survive when the world is against you. This book was not written for us to speculate over while we put our feet up. The churches to whom it was first written didn't have the luxury of doing that. It is here to help Christians to survive in a hostile world, and that is how we need to study it. This book is not for theologians to fight over; it is for ordinary believers to keep fighting the real fight. This is why Revelation is so vitally relevant for our day.
Supremely, the book of Revelation is the story of our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Final Word. This is the point of all the spectacular visions, to nail it down for God's people still living in this fallen world with all its suffering and pain: "See, this is who your Jesus is, the Lord of your history, greater far than all your enemies, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. This glorious Lord Jesus is coming again, and he is coming soon. So be faithful. Keep his words; be true to him."
“It is a picture of bare survival. ‘Oil’ is olive oil, and oil and wine were staple foods in a time when water was not often safe to drink. These are not luxuries, as some suggest (this was not the age of wine bars!); the call to preserve them is simply a limitation of suffering. So this vision is of severe shortages, but not yet of mass starvation.” (Page 79)
“It is not in Rome, just as today it is not in London or in Washington. Whatever seems to be going wrong in the world, however little we can understand about what happens to us, God is still sovereign, still on the throne. If the world’s story is a great drama, here is the wonderful truth: the Director’s chair is still occupied.” (Page 66)
“As we read these seven letters, that is just what we need to do. Of course, they are not addressed directly to us here and now. But as we study them prayerfully, the Lord will show us the answers to the questions: ‘What does the Spirit say to my church? What does he find in my heart?’” (Page 36)
“This is the situation we face. The message of this chapter is that believers are in a fight with a powerful adversary who has fearful weapons at his disposal. But he is a beaten enemy. These two vital themes run through the chapter: the enemy is still there, and yet he is beaten.” (Page 150)
“The picture is of earth’s strongest powers going to war. It is the aggression of Attila the Hun, of Tamburlaine, of Napoleon, of Hitler, of the Red Army in Eastern Europe. If John was seeing this today he might describe it as an American general riding into battle on a tank.” (Pages 78–79)
What a pleasure to find a commentary on Revelation which is so eminently readable! Although notoriously difficult material is cleared up with apparently effortless ease, the author manages at the same time to stretch the mind, stir the heart, and challenge the will. Packed with unfailingly relevant illustrations and anecdotes, The Final Word succeeds in drawing sound doctrinal conclusions while remaining free of undue dogmatism. This is undoubtedly one of the best popular treatments available of the apostle John's great legacy.
—Jonathan Stephen, Director of Affinity and Principal of Wales Evangelical School of Theology