“I have read several commentaries on the book of Revelation, and they differ a lot. Some think the events described have already happened, others believe that they are yet future. I am confused. Please explain.”
The book of Revelation is written in symbolic language, rather than the simple language that is evident in Matthew and Acts, for example. For that reason, the book has given rise to a plethora of far-out religious ideas. But the major premise of the book is really very simple. It is when we try to use the book to prove a point, or try to explain every symbol to fit our preconceived ideas, that the weird ideas get started.
So what is the premise of Revelation? There is a great spiritual battle going on between Christ and Satan. All humanity is involved in this battle on one side or the other. And Christ wins. That is it. And those who serve the Lord Jesus are winners with Him. Every “scene” which unfolds before the eyes of the apostle John (and is recorded in Revelation) relates to that spiritual battle.
The book is written to instruct and comfort those in John’s day and those who would live later, including us (Revelation 1:1 – 3). If you keep in mind the premise of the book, your study of it can be very productive. If you try to make it a “history of the world written beforehand”, you will be subject to every wild speculation and never really benefit from the book