Crenshaw places his emphasis throughout the book on the textual context of each of the visions of Revelation. Through each section, Jesus remains in view. A discussion of Jesus’ overwhelming holiness before a prostrate John leads to a church-by church-study series through the seven letters to the churches.
In a time when books on theology tend toward general topics and often embrace a secular view, it is not often that an author decides upon a topic that is strictly Scriptural and simultaneously written for a wide audience. David C. Crenshaw, an Presbyterian in America (PCA) pastor, teacher, sailor, and friend, has applied his erudite skills of scholarship and pastoral desire to illuminate God’s Word to the flock in a new study of Revelation: The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary for the People.
Crenshaw’s thoughtful and personal style speaks through the pages of the book. He stirs the mind of his readers to ask important questions regarding this unique book of the Bible, and provides good arguments as he outlines his own “orthodox preterist” interpretation. Through intertextual analysis, Crenshaw grounds Revelation with both Old and New Testament Scriptures. Most invaluably, he does so in a straightforward style characteristic of his everyday conversation, like the chats I have had with him for over a decade!
Is it possible to be pre-millennial and post-millennial simultaneously? Crenshaw holds an “orthodox preterist” or “Realized Millennial” view, which sees the “millennium” as a present reality but allows for the final two chapters of Revelation to represent a future and final coming of Christ in the Last Day. Crenshaw defends this position against the more general post-millennial understanding of Revelation by asserting that Scripture must be viewed as understandable, turning to historical context, and comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Crenshaw works through the Revelation chronologically, as well as stopping at certain chapters to lay some groundwork and provide some foundation in certain concepts before continuing his tour through the book.
He opens with a study of Revelation 1:1-3, which asserts how the Revelation uses symbolism as opposed to literal meaning. These symbols as communicated in Revelation come from God and are written so as to be known by His people.
In an interesting chapter study of the Old Testament vision in Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks,” Crenshaw provides insight into the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah and his ultimate sacrifice: specifically, that Daniel’s vision of the angel Gabriel includes emphasis on the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The following five chapters work their way through the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 regarding “the end,” alternating with explanatory chapters on the historical context of the Revelation as past rather than future.
The key point in the first of these chapters is that the events described by Jesus—the destruction of the temple, false prophets, earthquakes, famines—were experienced in the lifetime of Jesus’ disciples. In this formulation, the “destruction of the temple” refers to the destruction of the Jewish or Old Testament church. As for Jesus’ Second Coming, Jesus simply asserts that His coming will be quite unexpected. Crenshaw also shows that Jesus’ coming partially occurs in the context of the destruction of Jerusalem. With his explanation for how Matthew 24 describes first century AD events still fresh in mind, Crenshaw also devotes a chapter to Paul’s writings on “the end” as also describing events within the disciples’ lifetimes.
Crenshaw places his emphasis throughout the book on the textual context of each of the visions of Revelation. Through each section, Jesus remains in view. A discussion of Jesus’ overwhelming holiness before a prostrate John leads to a church-by church-study series through the seven letters to the churches. An exploration of Suzerain Treaties, which describe the relationship between ancient imperial kings and their conquered vassals, leads to a likewise progressive study through the seven seals of the book of the Lamb. The seven angels with trumpets leads to Crenshaw’s interesting argument that Jesus Himself is the seventh angel, standing upon land and sea in dominion.
John’s instruction to measure the Temple, altar, and worshippers leads to his most surprising and thought-provoking interpretation: that of Babylon and Jewish Jerusalem. Through these latter visions, Crenshaw consistently maintains his orthodox preterist explication of such central doctrines as the identity of the saved versus the unsaved.
For an orthodox preterist, Crenshaw brings quite an interesting approach in his final studies concerning the Millennium, Judgment Throne, Resurrection, Marriage Supper, Destruction of Babylon, Appearance of New Jerusalem, and the Church in Eternity. His interpretation of the millennium rightly decries the confusion regarding when judgment begins and the minimal understanding that exists on the Second Coming and its relation to the Millennium. In the end, it seems to allow for an amillennial (realized millennial) position within Crenshaw’s orthodox preterist coalescence of pre- and post-millennialism. Yet it must be admitted, through to the end of this study Crenshaw maintains his commitment to the understandable nature of Scripture, the importance of textual and historical context, and the need to compare Scripture with Scripture.
Crenshaw’s, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, provides a considerable amount of insight into the meaning of the visions that John saw and recorded in the Revelation. The author further asserts that the visions of Revelation as well as many components of the Bible should be interpreted for their symbolic content rather than literally. Crenshaw brings to the reader’s attention ample evidence to support the view that the majority of Revelation has indeed already been fulfilled in the events of the first century AD. However, the “orthodox” component of “orthodox preterism” remains: some of Revelation has not been fulfilled as yet. The end times have not been written out in Crenshaw’s study of Revelation. Much of the Book of Revelation remains difficult and unclear. Yet Crenshaw’s book provides readers with an invaluable study of this particularly difficult book within the larger scope of God’s Word.
Mark V. Eberhard is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America and is a Ruling Elder at McIlwain Memorial PCA in Pensacola, Fla.