Opening up Revelation
Day One Publications
Star Rating: 4
The book of Revelation is often the resource of choice for those with fanciful and complicated theories about the end times. In contrast, Roger Ellsworth’s treatment of the book is a straightforward and sure-footed guide through the seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath.
Ellsworth draws from a number of modern commentators and adopts a similar stance to that of William Hendriksen in his classic book More than conquerors. Revelation is seen as a series of visions, each one culminating in the final judgement. Viewed in this way, says Ellsworth, the book was evidently ‘not designed by the Lord to sensationalise the end of time, but to sanctify believers in every time’.
In an initial overview, the author makes it plain that his intention is not to compare and contrast various theories about Revelation. Intending to simply open up the book, he proceeds methodically through the chapters, dividing them into four sections: ‘The Lord Jesus takes inventory’ (1:19 – 3:22); ‘The Lord Jesus unfolds history’ (4:1 – 16:21); ‘The Lord Jesus achieves victory’ (17:1 – 20:15); and ‘The Lord Jesus gives glory’ (21:1 – 22:21).
With regard to the 1000-year period of Revelation 20, Ellsworth adopts an amillennial position, arguing that the 1000 years is a symbolic reference to the gospel age. He considers, but rejects, dispensational premillennialism, but does not interact with the postmillennial perspective.
Perhaps because of the book’s brevity, there are occasions where the author makes bald statements without substantiation (for example, his dating of the book and his statement that John had been a pastor at Ephesus).
Minor criticisms aside, this small book is a useful addition to the literature on Revelation. Helpful sections at the end of each chapter are included, to prompt further study and aid use of the book in discussion groups. Warmly recommended.