Archive for 2. Outline

The structure of Revelation 19.11-21

The rider on the white horse (19.11-16)

John sees the horse and rider in heaven (19.11a)

One of the rider’s names (19.11b)

The rider’s justice (19.11c)

The rider’s eyes and head (19.12a)

The rider’s secret name (19.12b)

The rider’s robe (19.13a)

Another of the rider’s names (19.13b)

The rider’s armies (19.14)

The rider’s sword (19.15a)

The rider’s scepter (19.15b)

The rider in God’s winepress (19.15c)

Another of the rider’s names (19.16)

The call of the angel in the sun to the birds (19.17-18)

The defeat of the beast and the false prophet (19.19-21)

The beast and his army gathers against the rider (19.19)

The beast and the false prophet are captured (19.20a)

Explanation of the signs of the false prophet (19.20b)

The beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (19.20c)

The death of the armies and the feast of the birds (19.21)

The author’s own outline.

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The structure of Revelation 19.1-10

John’s first hearing of the multitude (19.1-5)

John hears the multitude (19.1a)

The song of the multitude (19.1b-3)

The worship of the elders and living creatures (19.4)

The command to praise, from the throne (19.5)

John’s second hearing of the multitude (19.6-10)

John hears the multitude (19.6a)

The song of the multitude (19.6b-8a)

Parenthetical explanation of the linen (19.8b)

The angel commands John to write (19.9)

The angel prohibits John from worshiping him (19.10)

Author’s own outline.

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Seven connections between Jezebel in Revelation 2.18-29 and the prostitute in Revelation 17-18 (Witherington)

Ben Witherington has a chart showing seven different parallels between Jezebel in Revelation 2 and Babylon in Revelation 17-18:

  1. In chapter two, Jezebel is a mother (Rev. 2.23) who engages in adultery and sexual immorality (20-22). The prostitute in chapter 17 is called a mother (Rev. 17.5) and engages in adultery (Rev. 17.2, 17.4).
  2. Both women are linked to character’s from Israel’s distant past: Jezebel in ch. 2 and Babylon in ch. 17.
  3. Both of them lead others astray (Rev. 2.20 and 18.23).
  4. Both are depicted as active agents rather than passive victims.
  5. Both are depicted as sexually active
  6. Both women eat food that defiles them: Jezebel eats food sacrificed to idols in Revelation 2.20 (implied), and the prostitute drinks human blood in Revelation 17.6.
  7. The destruction of both women is predicted (Rev. 2.22, 17.6).

Source: Ben Witherington, Revelation. (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 75.

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18 observations about the structure of Revelation

The structure of the book of Revelation is hotly debated among scholars. Some have joked that there as many different outlines of the book as there are commentators. The outlines on this blog do not attempt to resolve the issue. They just note the internal structure of the basic sections of the book. Nor will I attempt to list the many different outlines I have seen. My goal in the list below is simply to introduce the reader to many of the features which scholars have used as markers to divide the book.

  1. Distinguishing the basic sections of Revelation is easy. What is difficult is figuring out the relationships between these sections.
  2. Pretty much everyone is agreed that Revelation 1.1-8 and 22.6-21 are a prologue and epilogue, respectively. Some scholars extend the prologue to Rev. 1.10 or 1.20, however.
  3. Chapters two and three are clearly a distinct unit composed of seven letters to seven churches.
  4. Chapters 2-3 link to chapter one because the descriptions of Jesus in chapter one are repeated in the promises to the churches in chapters 2-3. Jesus appears and is described in chapter 1, and proceeds to dictate to John the letters in chapters 2-3.
  5. Chapters 4-5 form a distinct section based on their setting and the characters involved. Worship in heaven revolves around God as Creator (ch. 4) and Jesus as Redeemer (ch. 5)
  6. The Lamb’s acquisition of the scroll in chapter 5 is connected to the seals being opened in chapter 6. In chapter 6, the Lamb is opening the seals found around the scroll that he received in chapter 5.
  7. There are three series of seven judgments of God upon the world: seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. Scholars debate whether these series are in chronological order (or sequential), parallel (repeating or recapitulating the same material or time period in three different ways), or telescopic (where the second series expands on the last member of the first series, and the third series expands on the last member of the second series). William Hendriksen sees much recapitulation in Revelation, and developed an elaborate outline of what he calls ‘progressive parallelism’ throughout the book.
  8. The relationship of chapters 19 and 20 is particularly sensitive, because if they are sequential, this would support a premillennial view (Jesus’ return in chapter 19 comes before the thousand years of chapter 20), but if they are parallel, this would support an amillennial view (chapter 19 ends one section with the return of Christ, and chapter 20 begins a new section with the thousand years, which precede the return of Christ, mentioned again later in chapter 20).
  9. Some authors, seeing that there are four clear series of sevens (letters, seals, trumpets and bowls), have looked for three more, in order to arrive at seven series of seven. Hendriksen interprets Rev. 12.1-15.4 as seven mystic figures, chapters 17-18 as telling of the defeat of seven great enemies, and chapters 20-22 as seven unnumbered visions. This finds support in books like 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, which are also arranged in seven sections. Felise Tavo objects: “If he had wanted his hearing audience to recognize seven visions in 12-14 and again in Rev. 19:11-20:15, he probably would have told them so as he has done elsewhere.”
  10. Some authors say that the book’s structure is based on the structure of another book. Some point to Ezekiel and Daniel as books that Revelation’s outline is patterned after.
  11. Some authors say that Revelation is structured after a greek drama or pageant.
  12. A few authors, most notably Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, use elaborate chiasms (ABCBA patterns) to outline Revelation.
  13. Some feel that Revelation 1.19 indicates that the following material will be divided between “what is now” (chapters 2-3) and “what will take place later.” (chapters 4-22).  But this doesn’t help answer many questions about the structure of Revelation, since all the interpretive difficulties occur from chapter 6 onward.
  14. Others interpret the four references to John being ‘in the Spirit’ (Rev. 1.10-11, 4.1-2, 17.1-3 and 21.9-10) as indicators of major section breaks in the book. Each of these sayings occur in different locations: Patmos, heaven, a wilderness, and a high mountain.
  15. Some view the phrase “after these things” (Rev. 4:1; 7:1, 9; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1) as section breaks.
  16. Some, including Mark Seaborn Hall, see chapter 10 as central to the outline of Revelation. In that chapter John sees what appears to be another scroll, is commissioned, and is told to ‘prophesy again.’ This would divide the material into prophecies, one in chapters 4-9 and another in chapters 11-22.
  17. David Aune claims that the two incidents where John attempts to worship an angel (Rev. 19.9-10 and 22.8-9) act as bookends around that section, signaling that it is a separate section. Christopher R. Smith, writing about these two passages, says, “Unlike the surrounding sections, they have no plot motion but are rather “tableaus,” symbol-rich emblems whose meaning is expounded and meditated upon. Moreover, they are a distinct pair in that they describe two complementary cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, one ”falling’* and the other “descending,” compared respectively to two women, a harlot and a virgin bride….”
  18. Felise Tavo reminds us that we should look for a fairly simple structure, since the book was written to be read out loud in a public setting, and hearers would need to be able to discern the structure by listening, not by viewing or studying the written version.

Sources: David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 52: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997); José Adriano Filho and Leslie Milton, The Apocalypse of John as an account of a visionary experience: notes on the book’s structure. (Journal for the Study of the New Testament 25 no 2 D 2002, 213-234); Mark Seaborn Hall, The hook interlocking structure of Revelation: the most important verses in the book and how they may unify its structure. (Novum testamentum 44 no 3 2002, 278-296); Christopher R. Smith, The Structure of the Book of Revelation in Light of Apocalyptic Literary Conventions. (Novum testamentum 36 no 4 O 1994, 373-393); Felise Tavo, The structure of the Apocalypse: re-examining a perennial problem. (Novum testamentum 47 no 1 2005, 47-68); Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007);

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The structure of Revelation 19.1-21

Praise in heaven (Rev. 19.1-10)

Spontaneous praise in heaven (19.1-4)

The song of the multitude, for God’s judging of the prostitute (19.1-2)

The addendum to the song of the multitude (19.3)

The response of the elders and the living creatures (19.4)

Responsive praise in heaven (19.5-8)

A call to praise from a voice from the throne (19.5)

The praise response of the great multitude, on account of the imminent marriage of the Lamb and his bride (19.6-8a)

John’s parenthetical explanation about the linen (19.8b)

An interchange between John and the angel (19.9-10)

The angel commands John to write (19.9)

John attempts to worship the angel (19.10a)

The angel responds to John’s attempt to worship him (19.10b-e)

The angel’s refusal of worship (10b)

The reason for the refusal (10c)

The angel’s command to worship God (10d)

The reason for the command (10e)

A vision of the events surrounding the final battle (Rev. 19.11-21)

John sees a white horse and its Rider (19.11-16)

John sees heaven open to reveal the white horse (19.11a)

John describes the horse’s Rider (19.11b-16)

His name: Faithful and True (11b)

The just way in which he judges and makes war (11c)

His eyes (12a)

His crowns (12b)

His secret name (12c)

His blood-stained clothing (13a)

His name: Word of God (13b)

The army that follows him (14)

The sword from his mouth (15a)

His firm rule (15b)

His task to tread the winepress (15c)

His name: King of kings and Lord of lords (16)

John sees an angel call the birds to feast on the flesh of all humankind  (19.17-18)

John sees the beast and its armies gathered for war against the Rider (19.19)

John sees the results of the battle (19.20-21)

The beast and the false prophet are captured (20a)

The beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (20b)

The armies are slain by the sword from the Rider’s mouth (21a)

The birds feast on the flesh of the armies (21b)

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The structure of Revelation 20

Rev. 20.1-3: The imprisonment of the dragon

John sees an angel emerge from an abyss with a key and a chain (20.1)

The angel imprisons the dragon (20.2-3b)

The angel seizes the dragon (20.2a)

The angel binds the dragon for 1,000 years (20.2b)

The angel throws the dragon into the abyss (20.3a)

The angel seals the abyss to keep the dragon from deceiving the nations (20.3b)

Explanation that the dragon must be freed briefly after the thousand years (20.3c)

Rev. 20.4-6: The thousand year reign of the martyrs

20.4: Descriptions of John’s vision

John sees thrones of people given the authority to judge (4a)

John sees the souls of the martyrs decapitated for their Christian testimony (4b)

Description of the martyrs (4c)

They had not worshiped the beast nor received his mark (4c1)

They came to life and reigned with Christ for 1,000 years (4c2)

20.5: Explanatory statements

Explanation that the rest of the dead did not rise until after the thousand years (5a)

Explanation that the content of 20.4 describes the first resurrection (5b)

20.6: Beatitude for those who take part in the first resurrection

Beatitude proper (20.6a)

Three reasons (20.6b)

Rev. 20.7-10: The final defeat of the devil

Satan’s last army is defeated (20.7-9)

20.7: Satan is released

20.8a: Satan deceives and gathers an army from Gog and Magog for battle

20.8b: The size of the army is innumerable

20.9a: The army marches across the earth

20.9b: The army surrounds the city of God’s people

20.9c: Fire from heaven devours the army

Satan is judged (20.10)

20.10a: The devil is thrown into the lake of fire

20.10b: The devil, the beast and the false prophet will be tormented forever

Rev. 20.11-15: The vision of the great throne of judgment

20.11: John sees the one seated on the throne

11a: John sees the throne and the one seated upon it

11b: The earth and the sky recede from view

20.12-13: John sees the dead judged

The first description of the judgment (20.12)

12a: John sees the dead before the throne

12b: The books are opened

12c: The dead are judged according to the books

The second description of the judgment (20.13)

13a: The sea gives up its dead

13b: Death and Hades give up their dead

13c: The dead are judged according to their works

20.14: Death and Hades are judged

14a: Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire

14b: Parenthetical explanation about the lake of fire

20:15: All those not found in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire

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The structure of Revelation 15.1-16.21

John sees seven angels with the last seven plagues (Rev. 15.1)

John sees the victors at the sea of glass (Rev. 15.2-4)

John sees the sea (15.2a)

John sees the victors (15.2-4)

They were victorious over the beast (15.2b)

They hold harps (15.2c)

They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (15.3-4)

John sees activity in the heavenly temple (Rev. 15.5-8)

The tabernacle is opened (15.5)

Seven angels emerge with seven plagues (15.6)

Their emergence from the temple (15.6a)

Their clothing (15.6b)

A living creature gives bowls filled with God’s wrath to the seven angels (15.7)

Smoke renders the temple inaccessible (15.8)

A voice commands the seven angels to pour out their bowls (Rev. 16.1)

The bowl of the first angel (Rev. 16.2)

The angel pours his bowl (16.2a)

Those who worshiped the beast are afflicted with sores (16.2b)

The bowl of the second angel (Rev. 16.3)

The angel pours his bowl (16.3a)

The sea turns to blood, killing all sea life (16.3b)

The bowl of the third angel (Rev. 16.4-7)

The angel pours his bowl (16.4a)

The rivers and springs turn to blood (16.4b)

An angel proclaims that the punishment is just (16.5-6)

The altar affirms the justice of God (16.7)

The bowl of the fourth angel (Rev. 16.8-9)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.8a)

The sun scorches people (16.8b)

The people curse God and refuse to repent (16.9)

The bowl of the fifth angel (Rev. 16.10-11)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.10a)

Darkness covers the beast’s throne (16.10b)

The people curse God and refuse to repent (16.11)

The bowl of the sixth angel (Rev. 16.12-14)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.12a)

The Euphrates river dries up (16.12b)

The dragon, the beast and the false prophet emit frog-like spirits (16.13)

The frog-like spirits gather the world’s kings for battle (16.14)

Interlude: Jesus speaks (Rev. 16.15)

Jesus’ promise to come like a thief (16.15a)

Jesus’ beatitude on those who keep awake (16.15b)

The world’s kings gather at Armageddon (Rev. 16.16)

The bowl of the seventh angel (Rev. 16.17-21)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.17a)

A voice from the throne says it is finished (16.17b)

Cosmic phenomena attend (16.18-19)

List of the phenomena (16.18a)

The incomparability of the earthquake (16.18b)

God remembers and punishes Babylon and the cities of the earth (16.19)

The islands and mountains disappear (16.20)

Immense hailstones fall from the sky (16.21a)

People curse God for the hail (16.21b)

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The structure of Revelation 8.2-9.21

The first six trumpets (Rev. 8.1-9.21)

Prelude to the blowing of the trumpets (Rev. 8.2-6)

John sees seven angels given seven trumpets (8.2)

John sees another angel with a golden censer (8.3-6)

The angel approaches the altar (8.3a)

The angel is given incense to offer with the prayers of the saints (8.3b)

The smoke of the incense and the prayers rises to God (8.4)

The angel hurls fire from the altar to the earth (8.5a)

Cosmic phenomena attend the action (8.5b)

The seven angels prepare to blow their trumpets (8.6)

The first trumpet (Rev. 8.7)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.7a)

Hail, fire and blood fall to the earth (8.7b)

A third of the earth, trees and grass are burned (8.7c)

The second trumpet (Rev. 8.8-9)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.8a)

A burning mountain is thrown into the sea (8.8b)

A third of the sea, sea creatures and ships are destroyed (8.9)

The third trumpet (Rev. 8.10-11)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.10a)

A star falls from the sky (8.10b)

The star is named: Wormwood (8.11a)

A third of the fresh waters turn bitter (8.11b)

The fourth trumpet (Rev. 8.12)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.12a)

A third of the sun, moon and stars turn dark (8.12b)

Interlude: an eagle cries out a woe (Rev. 8.13)

The fifth trumpet (Rev. 9.1-11)

The angel blows the trumpet (9.1a)

The star from 8.10-11 opens the abyss (9.1b-11)

John sees the star (9.1b)

The star is given the key to the abyss (9.1c)

The smoke from the opened abyss darkens the sky (9.2)

Locusts come from the smoke (9.3-11)

Their appearance and power (9.3)

The limits on their power (9.4-5a)

A description of the torture they inflict (9.5b-6)

Their appearance (9.7-10)

Their king and his name (9.11)

Parenthetical comment: the first of three woes has past (Rev. 9.12)

The sixth trumpet (Rev. 9.13-21)

The angel blows the trumpet (9.13a)

A voice tells the sixth angel to release the four angels at the Euphrates (9.13b-14)

The four angels kill a third of mankind (9.15)

John sees an army of mounted troops (9.16-21)

The troops’ number (9.16)

The troops’ appearance (9.17)

The troops’ deadly mouths and tails kill a third of humankind (9.18-19)

The unrepentance of the remainder of humankind (9.20-21)

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The structure of Revelation 11.1-19

Events to come in Jerusalem (Rev. 11.1-13)

The measuring of the Jerusalem temple (1-2)

John is told to measure the temple and count the worshipers (1)

John is told not to measure the outer court (2a)

Reason: The outer court will be given to the Gentiles to trample (2b)

The two witnesses (3-13)

The ministry of the two witnesses (3-6)

Their ministry (3) – they are given power to prophesy

Explanation (4) – they are two olive branches and two lampstands

Their defense mechanism (5) – they destroy their attackers with fire from their mouths

Their power (6)

Power over the sky, to stop the rain (6a)

Power over the water, to convert it into blood (6b)

Power over the land, to strike it with plagues (6c)

The martyrdom of the two witnesses (7-10)

The beast kills them (7)

Their bodies lie in the street of Jerusalem (8)

Their enemies gloat over them (9-10)

The resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses (11-13)

Their resurrection (11)

Their ascension (12)

An earthquake in Jerusalem (13)

Announcement that the second woe has finished (Rev. 11:14)

The seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15-19)

The sounding of the trumpet (15a)

A hymnic response in heaven (15b)

The response of the 24 elders (16-18)

Their worship (16)

The content of their hymn (17-18)

Activity in heaven (19)

The opening of the temple (19a)

The appearance of the ark (19b)

Cosmic phenomena (19c)

Source: author’s personal study

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The structure of Revelation 6.1-8.1

The opening of the first six seals (Rev. 6.1-14)

The first seal is opened (6.1-2)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.1a)

A living creature invites John (6.1b)

John sees a white horse (6.2a)

Description of its rider (6.2b-d)

He has a bow (6.2b)

He is given a crown (6.2c)

He rides out to conquer (6.2d)

The second seal is opened (6.3-4)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.3a)

A living creature invites John (6.3b)

John sees a red horse (6.4a)

Description of its rider (6.4b-c)

He is given power to provoke war (6.4b)

He is given a sword (6.4c)

The third seal is opened (6.5-6)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.5a)

A living creature invites John (6.5b)

John sees a black horse (6.5c)

Description of its rider (6.5d) – he has a pair of scales

A voice from among the living creatures commands the rider (6.6)

The fourth seal is opened (6.7-8)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.7a)

A living creature invites John (6.7b)

John sees a pale horse (6.8a)

Description of its rider (6.8b-d)

His name (6.8b) – death

Hades rides behind him (6.8c)

They are given power over a fourth of the world (6.8d)

The fifth seal is opened (6.9-11)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.9a)

John sees souls under the altar (6.9b-11)

Description of the souls (6.9b)

They cry out to the Lord for justice and vengeance (6.10)

They are given white robes (6.11a)

They are told to wait until the number of martyrs is complete (6.11b)

The sixth seal is opened (6.12-14)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.12a)

John describes various cosmic phenomena (6.12b-14)

The earth quakes (6.12b)

The sun turns black (6.12c)

The moon turns red (6.12d)

The stars fall to the earth (6.13)

The sky recedes (6.14a)

All mountains and islands are removed (6.14b)

The reaction of humankind (Rev. 6.15-17)

All humankind hides (6.15)

They plea to the mountains and rocks (6.16-17)

The plea proper (6.16) – Fall on us and hide us!

The reason (6.17) – The day of the wrath of God and the Lamb has come!

The sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7.1-8)

John sees four angels holding back the four winds (7.1)

John sees a fifth angel (7.2-3)

He comes from the east (7.2a)

He carries with him the seal of God (7.2b)

He commands the four angels not to harm the earth until the servants of Glod are sealed (7.2c-3)

John hears the number of the sealed, 144,000 (7.4)

The division of the 144,000 by tribe (7.5-8)

The great multitude in heaven (Rev. 7.9-17)

Description of the multitude (7.9-10)

Their origin (7.9a) – every nation, tribe, people and language

Their location (7.9b) – before the throne in front of the Lamb

Their robes (7.9c)

Their palm branches (7.9d)

Their song (7.10)

The response of the angels (7.11-12)

They prostrate themselves in worship (7.11)

The song of the angels (7.12)

John’s interaction with one of the elders (7.13-17)

An elder asks John about the multitude (7.13)

John responds (7.14a)

The elder identifies the multitude (7.14b-17)

They came out of the tribulation (7.14b)

They washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood (7.14c)

The results of their faithfulness (7.15-17)

They serve God in his temple (7.15)

They will never again hunger or thirst (7.16a)

They will never again suffer from the heat of the sun (7.16b)

The Lamb will shepherd them (7.17a)

God will wipe away their tears (7.17b)

The opening of the eighth seal (Rev. 8.1) – silence in heaven for half an hour

Source: author’s personal study

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