If you’re looking for a clear, concise, readable, and solid commentary on Revelation, I recommend Vern Poythress’ The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2000). Though this commentary doesn’t comment on all the details in Revelation, it does a fine job of providing a big picture overview of the book.
I appreciate Poythress’ commentary because so often commentators spend too much time and energy on the smaller details of Revelation. Because the details are the main focus, the big picture is lost. Poythress keeps the main point the main point: “God rules history and will bring it to its consummation in Christ. If you read it with that main point in mind, you will be able to understand it. You will not necessarily understand every detail – neither do I. But it is not necessary to understand every detail in order to profit spiritually from it” (p. 11).
He continues by saying we sometimes have trouble interpreting Revelation because we approach it from the wrong end.
“Suppose I start by asking, ‘What do the bear’s feet in Revelation 13:2 stand for?’ If I start with such detail, and ignore the big picture, I am asking for trouble. God is at the center of Revelation (Rev. 4-5). We must start with him and with the contrasts between him and his satanic opponents. If instead we try right away to puzzle out details, it is as if we tried to use a knife by grasping it by the blade instead of the handle. We are starting at the wrong end.”
“Revelation is a picture book, not a puzzle book. Don’t try to puzzle it out. Don’t become too preoccupied with isolated details. Rather, become engrossed in the overall story. Praise the Lord. Cheer for the saints. Detest the beast. Long for the final victory” (p 12-13).
In case you are wondering, Poythress’ work resonates with other commentaries such as William Hendriksen’s excellent More than Conquerors, Dennis Johnsons’ Triumph of the Lamb, and Gregory Beale’s NIGTC on Revelation. Though there aren’t any study questions, Poythress’ commentary would be a good book to use for a Bible study on Revelation (one might break it up into 14 lessons, give or take). There’s an exhaustive Scripture index as well, which I’ve found helpful. If you’re looking for a readable commentary on Revelation, get Poythress, and be sure to check out the other ones I’ve just mentioned.