BOOK REVIEW: Commentary on Revelation (James Allen)

BOOK REVIEW: Commentary on Revelation (James Allen)

by Norman Crawford

In the tenth volume of the series of commentaries, Revelation – What The Bible Teaches (ISBN: 9781904064473), Jim Allen has given to us a 543-page work that no serious student of Scripture can afford to be without. It gives much honour to the Lord Jesus who is the supreme subject of the book of Revelation. In his usual very careful manner, Mr Allen has produced a masterpiece of exposition of the many difficult passages of this amazing book of prophecy. It would be impossible for any commentator to please all his readers on a book so complex as this, but Mr Allen has attempted to be fair and has obviously well weighed different interpretations.

This commentary is truly a removing of the veil that we may behold the unsurpassed beauties and glories of the Lamb who is Lord of lords and King of kings. In his futurist interpretation of events, the author follows the outline of 1:19 as being a three-fold key to understanding. He also very carefully uses Scripture’s own method of interpreting prophecy literally. This allows Scripture to mean what it says and saves from many fanciful and symbolic interpretations. He clearly teaches that from 4:1 the church is seen in heaven.

The interpretation that is given to the “angels of the churches” will be unfamiliar to many readers. When the Spirit says, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches” and we then say “angels” are a symbol of the elderhood, we are saying the interpretation of a symbol can be interpreted as a symbol. The argument that in 67 other occurrences of “angel” in the Revelation, the word always refers to a heavenly angel makes it very difficult to say it only means “messenger” when applied to the churches. The suggestion is made that “the angel of the church” is viewing an assembly “against a heavenly background”.

Mr Jim Allen

The statement, on page 136, that even the mystery aspect of the seven churches cannot be called “direct prophecy” is in agreement with the great truth of “imminence”. If this panoramic view of testimony is a “direct” pre-history of events in this church age, then NT saints, Paul included, were wrong to look for an any moment rapture. In the light of what has transpired in this age of the church, we are now in a position to say that these seven assemblies have given us a vivid portrayal of the history of testimony until the present late hour. An appendix (page 136-160) gives the prophetic foreshadowing of the addresses of the risen Christ to the churches. The Lord standing outside the door (3:20) is seen not as the door of the Laodicean assembly, but the personal door of the heart with which we agree.

The author teaches that the seals, trumpets and bowl judgments are consecutive and not concurrent. He describes these events as given to us in “a telescopic view.” Many believe that the sixth seal and sixth trumpet judgments are foreviews of the final judgment of the “great and notable day of the Lord”, but this commentary interprets them as preliminary judgments.

We are glad to see that “the strong angel” (10:1-3), is described as “Christ Himself”, not a created being, but the Lord of earth and sea. The Elijah-like and Moses-like character of the two witnesses of 11:3-8 is well handled. The man child is Christ and the difficult question as to the time when He was born and caught up unto God and to His throne is described as a “cameo of history”.

Chapter 11:18 is interpreted as being the resurrection of OT saints and possibly martyred tribulation saints. Appeal is made to Daniel 12 and the raising of Daniel “at the end of these days” as corroboration.

A much more difficult question is the identity of the two beasts (13:1-18). The first beast is identified as being both an emperor and an empire. He is a Gentile who is given world dominion and is “the little horn” (Dan 7:8), “the prince that shall come” (Dan 9:26) and “the man of sin” (2 Thess 2:3). The second beast is related to Israel and gives total allegiance to the first beast. The second beast is said to be “the false prophet” and “the Antichrist”. Even though many may disagree, we believe this to be the best interpretation of the number of Scriptures that deal with the political and religious leaders of the “end time”.

The political, economic Babylon (ch 18) is taken to be a different entity from religious Babylon (ch 17). “After these things” (18:1) is rightly taken to mean events that come after the destruction of the “woman” by the ten horns. However, many assembly teachers are reluctant to accept a literal Babylon rebuilt on its old site.

It is thrilling to read of his description of the majesty and glory of the conquering Christ, the destruction of the beast and his armies and the establishing of the literal millennial kingdom.

It is the view of this reviewer, having read very many commentaries on the Revelation, that this is the finest that it has been my privilege to read.


(This book review originally appeared in Truth and Tidings magazine)