It’s a few days late and also a few days early, but this is my final post on the the book I have been reading along with several of you, The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham.
It’s a few days late because I was supposed to blog about chapters 5-6 on this past Monday. It’s a few days early, because I am scheduled to post about chapter 7 on next Monday. I’m going to combine both into this one post.
Why? Because I’m sick of this book. And besides, I find it somewhat ironic that I am writing a blog post that is both late and early about a book which argues that the Book of Revelation was historically fulfilled both late and early.
Theology of the Book of Revelation
The final three chapters of the book dealt with the Holy Spirit in the book of Revelation (chap 6), what Revelation reveals about the New Jerusalem (chap 7), and how we can read, teach, and understand the book of Revelation today (chap 7).
I really struggled with all of these chapters, and indeed, the whole book. Why? It is not because the content was that objectionable, or that I am so opposed to what Bauckham was arguing. I do think he is off in several points, but I just found this book to be unreadable. I would read a paragraph or two, and find that I had no idea what he was talking about. It’s not that the book is super technical, I just had lots of trouble following Buackham’s train of thought.
How to Read Revelation
Here is what I did take away from the book, which I think is a valuable insight: The Book of Revelation is not just a prediction about future events which will happen during the Tribulation and Millennium, and therefore, has little-to-no impact on our lives today. Instead, if we understand the culture in which John wrote, the issues that the early church was facing under the Roman Empire, and all of the hundreds of allusions to Old Testament themes and prophetic expectations, the Book of Revelation can have a significant message for followers of Jesus today, who also deal with similar cultural issues as we try to live like Jesus in a world dominated by powers and authority that live in rebellion to the Kingdom of God.
I don’t think that such a way of reading Revelation means that the book says nothing about a future Tribulation and Millennium. I still think it does. But at the same time, even though Revelation may speak about future events, this does not mean that it has nothing to say to us today either. I think we can read Revelation as both about the past, the present, and the future. I’m sure there are major problems with such a view, but if I ever get around to teaching through Revelation, or writing a commentary on it, I will face those issues then.
Here are the other posts I wrote about this book:
Anthony Ehrhardt also wrote about this book. Check out his posts here:
- Anthony Ehrhardt