Pillar Journal

The Commendation of Revelation


When people ask me if I think we’re living in the last days, I answer, “Of course we are living in the last days, but we have been living in the last days from the Bible’s point of view for the last two thousand years.” The New Testament says the onset of the last days was marked by Christ’s pouring out His Spirit on the church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). That is when Christ inaugurated His kingdom, which is now spreading to the ends of the earth. The last days include the days in which we are living. Thus, John is being told, “You stand at the beginning of the days when the kingdom of Jesus Christ will extend to the ends of the earth.” That is what Revelation is all about. It is communicated to us as a letter from God, an apostolic epistle; as an apocalypse; as a divine vision; and as a prophecy.

The Commendation of Revelation

In verse 3, the apostle John commends the book of Revelation to all who read it or hear it read. He says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” We must remember that this book was sent out in times of controversy. Not everyone acknowledged the authority of John; thus, he could by no means be sure that everyone would receive this epistle with the due measure of faith, reverence, and submission.

We must also remember that in those days, many in the church could not read. One of the duties of the minister of the Word was to “give attendance to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13), that is, the reading and exposition of Holy Scripture, so that those who could not read could at least hear it read and expounded for their edification. John promises a blessing to both faithful ministers who read and expound this book, and also to those who hear it with faith and do what it teaches and commands. We may therefore conclude that we shall be blessed by doing the following things:

  • Reading and studying this book with faith, reverence, and godly fear, as the Word of God and the Word of Christ. Repent of any past neglect of this part of Scripture. Embrace Revelation as a book God wants you to read and understand. Read it “with an high and reverent esteem… with a firm persuasion that [it is] the very word of God…with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in [it]; with diligence, and attention to the matter and scope of [it]; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 157).1James T. Dennison Jr., comp., Reformed Confessions of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries in English Translation: 1523–1693 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008–2014), 4:340.
  • Being obedient to Christ. John says in verse 3 that people are blessed who hear what Revelation says and “keep those things which are written therein.” Notice that God’s blessing is not pronounced upon those who own a copy of this precious book, nor upon those who only read it or have it read to them, nor upon those who specialize in debating the meaning of this prophecy. The blessing is pronounced upon those who “keep those things” written in it. We keep the words of this prophecy by cherishing them as the Word of God and by applying them to ourselves and to our lives in such a way that, as followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we look forward to his coming. We want to live as He would have us live until He comes. Knowing that this world will pass away, we look forward to a city with a foundation whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10; 2 Peter 3:10–15), and we live as strangers and pilgrims in the earth.

So Revelation calls us to be faithful, willing, obedient subjects of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The book of Revelation is primarily about Christ the King. Like Psalm 2, it calls on us and all mankind to “kiss the Son” in sweet submission, “lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little” (v. 12). But Christ also speaks in Revelation as Prophet and intercedes as High Priest while He reigns as King. The book of Revelation calls us to bow before Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, and then to go out and be prophets, priests, and kings standing under His banner and ministering to a perishing world.

  • Being prepared for Christ’s coming. Verse 3 concludes: “for the time is at hand.” The lesson embedded in these words for every person in every age of the Christian church is be prepared to meet your King in righteousness and peace at all times. We ignore or resist Christ’s lordship to our peril. You may bend the knee to culture, gurus, Pharisees, libertines, false prophets and prophetesses, or idols of the times, but know that the sure judgment of King Jesus will soon fall upon you and all others who live carelessly or walk disorderly, and on every church that does not submit to Christ as Lord.
  • Overcoming through Christ. The implication of verse 3 is that Christ has power to bless His people even in the midst of severe persecution, and they will be blessed in overcoming the world by faith in Him. Christ promises in Revelation 2:7, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” God’s overcoming grace and your overcoming faith will be a blessing to you, enabling you by faith to overcome the powers of evil at work in a wicked world. This blessing is sure because, as Peter declared at Pentecost, “God hath made that same Jesus…both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

The counterpart to this promise of blessing is a curse upon those who do not keep the things written in Revelation (cf. Rev. 22:18–19). Believers who read these words are promised blessings, but unbelievers are warned against the danger of despising and disregarding God’s warnings, for the end is near. “Behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:9). Here, John specifically invokes the wrath of God, in the form of a deadly curse, upon those who deal lightly or deceitfully with these words, imposing on it ideas and words of their own choosing, or else discarding anything they disagree with or don’t understand.

Dear friend, examine yourself. Are you saved by grace through faith in Christ, the blessed Lamb of God who as our representative perfectly satisfied the holy requirements of God’s law, bore God’s wrath on the tree, and rose victoriously from the grave? Are you abiding by faith in the One who accomplished our redemption? Are you being obedient to Christ, preparing to meet Christ, and overcoming sin through Christ?

If you have not found blessing in Christ, you are ignoring Christ at your peril. You will be cursed forever if you do not repent of your sins and take refuge in the mercy of the Lord of glory. But if you seek for blessing in the reading, hearing, and keeping of the words of this revelation of Jesus Christ, then you will be blessed indeed.

Excerpt from
By Joel R. Beeke

Revelation: The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament (Beeke) (33 in Stock)

MSRP: $40.00 $30.00


Are you confused by the great variety of interpretations of the book of Revelation, such as the preterist, the historicist, the futurist, the idealist, and an eclectic approach that embraces the strengths of all these? Would you like a clear understanding of various millennial approaches related to the last times?

In this book of sermons on Revelation, Joel Beeke gives you all this and much more as he preaches through Revelation in a thoroughly biblical, doctrinal, experiential, and practical way intended to comfort and mature believers, to warn the unsaved to flee to Christ for salvation, and to exalt Christ as the King of kings and only Head of His church. 

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