The Text on Tuesday: The Structure of the Book of Revelation

Posted: February 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I grew up during the ’80’s when hair metal was king.  The great thing about hair metal was the memorable sing-songy, shout it aloud choruses! You could barely understand any of the verses but everyone knew the choruses.  They stood out.

The ancient Jews understood that if you want someone to remember something then you figured out a way to make it stick out.  Their tool? Poems, hymns, etc. structured as chaisms.

A chaism is a device where you structure something so like half an X with series of parallels leading to the center, which is THE thing the writer and/or speaker wants you to remember. 

I believe the Book of Revelation is a chaism that is structured like this:

A     (ch. 1) Prologue

  B     (chs. 2–3) Present Situation: Letters to the seven churches

      C     (chs. 4–5) Fundamental Paradigm: Worship of God, worthiness of the Lamb

          D     (ch. 6) Judgment of God’s enemies (note rider on white horse)

              E     (ch. 7) Faithful believers (note “great multitude”)

                  F     (chs. 8–10) Judgment of God’s enemies (II; note first two “woes”)

                      G     (ch. 11) False power of the Beast: Defeat through the two witnesses’ resurrection

                          H     (12:1–6) Woman brings salvation

                              I     (12:7–18) Judgment of God’s enemies (III): Dragon

                                  J     (ch. 13) Moment of Decision: Worship the Beast!

                                  J     (ch. 14) Moment of Decision: Follow the Lamb!

                             I     (chs. 15–16) Judgment of God’s enemies (III): climatically on Babylon

                        H     (17:1–6) Woman killing saints

                    G     (17:7–18) False power of the Beast: Defeat by the King of kings

                F     (ch. 18) Judgment of God’s enemies (II; note repeated “woe, woe” over Babylon)

            E     (19:1–10) Faithful believers (“great multitude”)

        D     (19:11–21) Judgment of God’s enemies (rider on white horse)

    C     (20:1–10) Fundamental Paradigm: Damnation of Satan, worthiness of the saints

  B     (20:11–22:5) Future Situation: The new heaven and earth and New Jerusalem

A     (22:6–21) Epilogue 

Do you see how it works?  Early Jews would have and to truly understand the text, we need to as well.  This is how I will be preaching Revelation over the next 10 weeks.  Be sure to read the text that will be preached on before that week and check in if you want to dig in deeper than the sermon.

Grace and peace.

Pastor Matt


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