Interpretations of the book of Revelation abound. One main view suggests that the book indirectly describes events in John's own time. Another interpretation sees Revelation as a prophetic survey of the history of the church. Still others view the book as a precise prediction of unfolding events at the yet-to-come end of the world. The trouble with all three, argues Ramsey Michaels, is that they make the Revelation of John irrelevant to Christians throughout much of history. Failing to take seriously what John saw, such interpreters fail to comprehend the value of Revelation to Christians in any age. Michaels strives to capture Revelation as a prophetic letter of testimony, a testimony as relevant to the church today as it was in John's day as the church faces evil and looks for the victory of the Lamb. In this stimulating, pastorally oriented commentary, readers will find an introduction with background material concerning authorship, date and purpose, as well as a summary of important theological themes. A passage-by-passage exposition follows that focuses on what John had to say to his original readers in order to see the relevance of his book for the church today.
“For some people today tolerance is the only real virtue and intolerance the only vice. The message to Thyatira goes against the grain of modernity by setting limits to tolerance. The main criticism of the angel of Thyatira is that he has tolerated something—and someone—that should not be tolerated (v. 20).” (Revelation 2:18–29)
“Yet to John they are, quite literally, angels whom God holds responsible for the life and well-being of the congregations.” (Revelation 1:17–20)
“The persistence and courage of the Ephesians in the face of outside threats had not lapsed (v. 3), and their attitude toward false teaching was exemplary. The same could not be said, however, of their love toward God and their generosity toward each other (v. 4). In Matthew, Jesus had predicted that ‘many false prophets will appear and deceive many people’ and that ‘the love of most will grow cold’ (Mt 24:11–12). The message to Ephesus was that it was no good to avoid the first of these warnings only to fall victim to the second. Loss of your first love is not primarily the death of passion, as in a stale marriage, but the failure to maintain the commitment once made to help and serve one another. Here as everywhere in the Bible, love for God and love for one another are inseparable.” (Revelation 2:1–7)
“These words have often been romanticized in popular religious art, in pictures of Jesus ‘knocking at the heart’s door.’ What is wrong is that Jesus is standing outside the door, excluded from the banquet like the homeless stranger in Amos Wilder’s poem. The poignant plea, though directed first to the church at Laodicea, is strategically placed near the end of the series of messages as Christ’s last appeal to any congregation that has shut him out. The beautiful ‘invitation’ is at the same time a severe indictment of a church that is self-sufficient, complacent and only marginally Christian.” (Revelation 3:14–22)
David and Allison Preston