Study Guide to the Book of Revelation
By Coty Pinckney, Desiring God Community Church, Charlotte NC
Welcome to our study of Revelation! Some people consider this book the most frightening in the Bible, others the most confusing. We will trust the Lord to hold to the promise he gives in Rev 1:3:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it.
Many studies of this book end up being "Commentary Studies" instead of Bible studies; that is, at every confusing point, the student examines the commentary to tell him the meaning. While most of the authors of such studies are well-meaning, God's promise in Rev 1:3 is to those who read and hear the words of the prophecy, not the words of the commentator. It is God's word which is sharper than any two-edged sword, not the words of a famous preacher; it is the word of Christ that is to dwell in us richly, not the explanations of a particular theological school.
Yet Revelation is indeed a confusing book, and we in our personal study of the word are unlikely to uncover all the riches that other godly readers have discovered. How can we study this book in such a way that we allow God to speak to us through His word, yet take advantage of the insights He has given to others?
Our technique will be the same that I use whenever approaching a passage to teach or preach, a technique recommended by Ray Stedman to all preachers:
My role in this endeavor is to provide you not with an interpretation of the book but with questions that aid you in digging into the book yourself. I will refer you to passages elsewhere in Scripture to which Revelation alludes, or which cover similar material; I will remind you of context, offer occasional insights into the original language, and ensure that you don't gloss over difficult points.
In addition to the questions, the study guide for each passage contains reading assignments from two books:
Ray's book is an edited compilation of his 23 sermons, delivered at Peninsula Bible Church in 1989/90. All of these sermons are available for free on the internet; the individual study guides will link to that page.
We use these commentaries for several reasons: they approach the book in markedly different ways; they argue strongly for their own interpretation, while not dismissing other interpretations in a cavalier or dogmatic manner; they are written by men who are dedicated to letting the word itself speak to us; they draw out implications for believers today from every passage.
I also heartily recommend Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book, The Church and the Last Things: Great Doctrines of the Bible. While not a commentary and considerably more wide-ranging than our study, Lloyd-Jones spends a substantial proportion of the book examining doctrinal issues that arise in Revelation, bringing his vast knowledge of Scripture to bear on these issues. (Order from Amazon).
There are 27 weekly guides covering the entire book. By the time we finish, all of us will be better prepared to say with John, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
Copyright © 2000, Thomas C. Pinckney. This data file is the sole property of Thomas C. Pinckney. Please feel free to copy it, but only in its entirety for circulation freely without charge. All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright notice.
These study guides may be edited and revised for use in small groups provided:
This data file in its original or modified form may not be copied for resale or incorporated in any commercial publications, or other products offered for sale, without the written permission of Thomas C. Pinckney,email, c/o Desiring God Community Church, Box 620099, Charlotte NC 28262.
(return to main sermon page)