Today I’m reviewing a book that I came across by accident, but thoroughly enriched my devotional time. The Message of the Book of Revelation (not to be confused with the BST Volume of a similar name) by Charles T. Chapman Jr. is a slim, readable commentary on probably the most misunderstood book of the Bible. Blending good, deep reading with a very readable style, The Message of the Book of Revelation is a helpful and readable commentary, particularly focused on the application of this often bewildering text to the reader today.
At under 140 pages this is a short book on Revelation – but it manages to fit in a lot. A genuinely useful introduction (what type of book Revelation is, who wrote it, how we might read it today) sets the scene – and one of the more amusing features is the attitude of the author towards certain extreme or unbiblical interpretations of the text, for example on 11:12 “To suggest that this means the Rapture is to impose from the outside and interpretation which is foreign to the text“. This is not a book that pulls its punches!
The opening section on the seven letters to seven churches is particularly strong. Chapman writes “In every church at one time or another there arise strong and influential voices which call for compromises with culture and society. Their arguments usually include things such as “we are too sophisticated for that to hurt us,” “it will make us more attractive to more people,” or “what will it hurt?” These voices must be dealt with quickly and decisively, for else they risk dragging the whole house down with them“. Firm words, but in the spirit of Revelation, and the wider New Testament too. This is a pragmatic commentary: elsewhere Chapman writes “It does require hard work to be faithful to right believing (orthodoxy) and right practice (orthopraxy). Perhaps our modern toleration comes not from a desire to be more accepting of others, but from laziness“. Published in 1995, I think Chapman is startlingly contemporary!
I am no Revelation scholar, and I read this commentary as part of my devotional time over a couple of weeks. I would recommend it for the same – and also for anyone contemplating preaching Revelation at a time when apocalyptic voices are more shrill than ever. The Message of the Book of Revelation is a helpful, readable and occasionally entertaining guide – mercifully short – that I will be referring back to in the future.