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Book Reviews > New Testament > Revelation (NIV Application Commentary)

Ray VanNeste

Ray VanNeste
Director of the RC Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies

Revelation (NIV Application Commentary)
Craig S. Keener
Details: 2000, Zondervan, Amazon.comISBN: 0310231922
Posted: November 1, 2002

This is a very useful commentary on this often confusing book of Scripture. Keener, already established as a significant NT scholar, demonstrates not only a thorough grasp of the text and the scholarly discussion around it, but also shows he is one who has grappled with actually living out the message of this book. Surely both of these are required in order truly to understand any portion of Scripture.

Keener’s exegetical sections (‘Original Meaning’) do a good job of summarizing the teaching of the passage, covering the key points without getting bogged down in details. In this way the commentary will be a benefit to pastors and teachers. The application portions are also often filled with spiritual insight and piercing application to today’s church. One cannot read these applications and come away uncertain about the usefulness of the book of Revelation for today’s church. Of course, applications are by nature quite specific and come out of our own contexts. This is apparent at times. This is not a deficiency but points to a potential problem with application minded commentaries if pastors and teachers become lazy. Other commentaries aim to expose the theological principles of the text so that individuals can wrestle with how such principles apply in specific contexts. This wrestling is an essential part of maturation. If we rely only on the applications shown by others we will fail to see all that is there and quite possibly miss other specific applications which are especially pertinent to our own contexts. This of course is not what is intended by the producers of the NIV Application Commentary, but a warning to its users is in order. If we will use the applications given as stimulation for pondering the principles of the texts in light of our peculiar situations, then we can be richly blessed.

With that said, Keener’s applications are consistently helpful and challenging, rooted in the meaning of the text. He writes out of his own rich experience with God. Anyone who can, in the context of enduring persecution for the faith, write of his specific sufferings and state, ‘It has been some years now since my last beating …’ (121), has my ear! Whenever I preach from Revelation from now on, one of the sources I will be sure to consult will be this commentary.