Lessons from the Third Century Church for Times of Political, Economic, and Societal Turmoil

“To be sweet in the mouth is the reward of the preaching of the speaker, and is most pleasant to the hearers; but it is most bitter both to those that announce it, and to those that persevere in its commandments through suffering.” -Bishop Victorinus of Pettau, The Commentary on the Apocalypse by the Blessed John

During the third century AD, a time of tremendous social upheaval when famine, plagues, and existential threats to the empire were the reality of the day, a bishop who suffered through three persecutions wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation. His hope: to encourage his churches to be faithful witnesses.

A Faithful Witness explores Bishop Victorinus’ The Commentary on the Apocalypse by the Blessed John. The first commentary on the book of Revelation in the early church, it calls the church to allegiance to Jesus Christ. Dr. Cooper weaves the story of a body of believers suffering through desperate times in the Roman Empire into the story of the church in our day. With thought provoking personal reflection questions, A Faithful Witness will challenge you to consider what it means to live the Christian life during tumultuous times.

One thousand eight hundred years later, Victorinus still teaches us about what it means to be faithful in tumultuous times. Take the next 22 days to journey through the book of Revelation and learn from the third century church.

Table of Contents

  1. It’s About Jesus
  2. The Audience I
  3. The Audience II
  4. The Gospel
  5. The Scroll
  6. The Four Horsemen
  7. The Great Tribulation
  8. The Great Rest and Judgement
  9. The Four Angels and Conspiracies
  10. The Proclamation
  11. The Confession
  12. It’s Still about Jesus
  13. The Mark of the Beast
  14. The Retribution on Sinners
  15. The Final Judgment
  16. Recapitulating Victorinus
  17. The Antichrist Revealed
  18. Recapitulating Victorinus Again
  19. He is Coming
  20. The Thousand Years
  21. The Glorification
  22. The Completion
  23. This is the Faithful Life

Endorsements

In addition to being a valuable contribution to historical scholarship, this readable summary of St. Victorinus’ Commentary on the Apocalypse challenges some conventional modern-day expositions of Revelation which verge on sensationalism and “newspaper exegesis.” Dr. Cooper’s fine study is a much-needed reminder of John’s timeless message: hope in the future reign of Christ in the new heaven and new earth; and a call to faithful witness and perseverance, even in times of distress and persecution.   

Ronald P. Hesselgrave, PhD
Author of The Supper: New Creation, Hospitality and Hope in Christ

Michael Cooper’s passion for historical theology, critical eye for reading and understanding Scripture, and authentic love for Jesus combine in this book to provide the reader a helpful grounding on what a faithful witness is. Our faith is one with deep roots and considerable intellectual thought relevant today as it was then. Instead of a heady approach, Michael invites Victorinus in as a conversation partner with John in Revelation and gently encourages readers to consider the implications for their life.  

Kyle Bartholic
Pastor of Discipleship, Christ Community Church, Ames, IA

One more book on Revelation? No. Michael Cooper presents readers with a succinct, yet insightful treatment of this most mysterious of biblical books. Using the early Church Father, Victorinus, as a guide and interlocutor of sorts, we are ushered past more distractive interpretations that have led modern Christians to focus on their own interests. “A Faithful Witness” encourages that very goal in believers, as well as to have a heart for the lost, and to live out our faith no matter what comes in the hope of the resurrection for Jesus’ glory and the good of His Church.

David D. Feiser, PhD
Pastor, Round Hill Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Cross Roads, PA

A Faithful Witness introduces themes that are just as relevant for us today as they were for those who first heard them. This little book encourages us to be faithful witnesses of Christ. Let us encourage you to use A Faithful Witness as an introduction to your own reading of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Better yet, read and discuss this study guide and The Revelation with your family and friends.

Donald Patrick Harris, ThM, DMin
Palm City, FL

About the Author

Dr. Cooper earned a PhD in Intercultural Studies with a focus on religious movements and a minor in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He currently serves as a missiologist for a missions agency where he focuses on missiological research and equipping missionaries for effective cultural engagement. He has thirty years of missions experience, including ten years as a pioneer church planter in Romania after the fall of communism and has equipped church planters and leaders in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. He has written and contributed to more than 30 books and academic articles and has presented conference lectures at the London School of Economics, University of Bordeaux, Loyola University, Baylor University, and many others. His recent book, Ephesiology: The Study of the Ephesian Movement is a best seller at William Carey Publishing.

Go deeper in your study of Revelation

Revelation paints a clear picture of Jesus. In this 10 week study, we’ll discover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus living in challenging times. We’ll see the mission of Jesus’ disciples along with the gospel they proclaimed.

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