The Structure of the Book of Revelation - OUTLINE

Revelation of inestimable value from the Old and New Testaments, especially the testimony of Jesus.
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Florin Laiu
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The Structure of the Book of Revelation - OUTLINE

Post by Florin Laiu » Wed Jun 12, 2002 2:04 pm

I am happy to see online dialogs on the meaning and outline structure of Revelation. Since I have studied and taught for many years Biblical exegesis, including Daniel and Revelation, I dare to post my first message on this topic. It is not to fight anyone, just to show you my understanding.
I see Revelation as a serial movie in seven literary sections, containing seven distinct prophecies. (My English is not enough equipped to express my thought, but I am sure you will understand me.)
When I said seven literary sections I did not include the Prologue and the Epilogue, because they do not describe the vision, they are the words of the author to "The 7 Churches". the two covers of the book.
Besides, I see a chiastic structure of the Revelation, as you can see:
  • PROLOGUE (1:1-8)

    1 (A) The High Priest Jesus and the Seven Churches (1:9 --3:22)
    2 (B) The Slain Lamb and the opening of the seven-sealed scroll (4:1 -- 8:1)
    3 (C) The Priest Angel and the seven angels with trumpets (8:2 -- 11:19)
    4 (D) The Great Controversy over the worship: Michael / Satan; Lamb / Beast; three angels / three monsters (12:1 -- 14:20)
    5 (C') The seven vials over Babylon and Jerusalem's wedding to the Lamb (15:1 --19:10)
    6 (B') The Second Advent of Christ and His millenial Kingdom (19:11 -- 20:15)
    7 (A') The Paradise restored on the Earth, with God and the Lamb here enthroned forever (21:1 -- 22:5)

    EPILOGUE (22:6 -21)
Now the correspondence between the mirrored sections should be established. I will do it just for the first two levels of this pyramid, and I am sure that you will manage the rest.
  • 1 (A) 7 churches spread through 7 cities of the Diaspora
    7 (A') 1 Church (Jews and Gentils) gathered in 1 City New Jerusalem

    1 (A) Promises for the overcoming: tree of life, New Jerusalem, thrones, crown of life, etc.
    7 (A') Fulfiling: The overcomers receive all these promised blessings.

    2 (B) Premillenial Judgment (on God's people is judged): the dead (the 5th seal in ch. 6) and the living (numbering, sealing in ch.7)
    6 (B') Millenial Judgment (on God's enemies): all dead, but are quicken to receive justice

    2 (B) the Death and the Hades reign (4th seal)
    6 (B') the Death and the Hades go to hell

    2 (B) Christ with a bow, on a white horse, with a crown (STEPHANOS), beginning His conquista (ch 6); followed by three bad horsemen on red, black and livid horses...
    6 (B') Christ with a sword, on a white horse, with many crowns (DIADEMATA); followed by all heavenly armies on white horses
For the time, I leave the other aspects of this structure to your judgment, and I will add only this fascinating discovery: the theological core of the Revelation (12:10-12), which is the Heaven's triumphal anthem around the Cross event, containing the theme of the Book, and seated within the middle section of the Revelation, is actually the literary middle of the text.
Of 10,277 Greek words and 60,094 Greek characters, one may count
5,093 words (29,783 characters) before ch. 12:10-12, and
5,084 words (29,724 characters) after this literary core.
For a better approximation we should eliminate the chapters' and verses' numbering, but it might be considered as evenly distributed throughout the book and could not really affect our calculation.

I'd like to know what do you think about my chiastic outline.
Florin
"Who gave him charge over the earth and who laid on him the whole world?" (NRS Job 34:13).

Eugene Shubert
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Post by Eugene Shubert » Wed Jun 12, 2002 4:24 pm

Truthfully Florin, I like my outline better.
Eugene Shubert wrote: 1. A Call To Overcome (Rev 1-3).
2. The Court Assembled (Rev 4-5).

3. The First Scenario (Rev 6).
4. The Second Scenario (Rev 7-11).
5. The Third Scenario (Rev 12-18).

6. The Court’s Final Judgment (Rev 19-20).
7. The Reward Of Those Who Overcome (Rev 21-22).
As you can see, my outline also exhibits a chiastic structure: 1 parallels 7 and 2 parallels 6. We agree on that. More importantly, from my description of the outline, it’s clear that what’s initiated in 1 and 2 is completed in 6 and 7. I also believe that the court scene, which is highlighted in my outline and parallels Daniel 7, is an essential perspective to understand the whole book.

The only mystery is the three scenarios in the middle, which parallel each other. The historicist scholar George Eldon Ladd says that the three cycles of judgment—seven seals, seven trumpets and seven last plagues—is the greatest mystery in the book of Revelation. How do you interpret that mystery?

I like your point that the Cross event is the center of the book.

Florin Laiu
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Again re THE OUTLINE STRUCTURE OF REVELATION

Post by Florin Laiu » Thu Jun 13, 2002 2:27 am

Thanks a lot for your reply. This is your outline:

1. A Call To Overcome (Rev 1-3).
2. The Court Assembled (Rev 4-5).

3. The First Scenario (Rev 6).
4. The Second Scenario (Rev 7-11).
5. The Third Scenario (Rev 12-18).

6. The Court’s Final Judgment (Rev 19-20).
7. The Reward Of Those Who Overcome (Rev 21-22).

And this is my sincere reaction:
Maybe I need more time to accept the superiority of your outline. Prima facies it looks perfect, and it may have even other values, in its inner logic. Nevertheless, I dare to explain why I cannot accept your outline as a definitive one, even if any outline is relatively helpful as a tool.

Your outline depends most on your understanding of the content, which is a good thing, and really it is one of the best attempts I’ve ever seen, while mine is based mostly on the literary criteria that you can easily determine.
To begin, let’s underline our common ground. Nrs. 1 and 7 are practically the same as in my outline, except the distinction I made between the Prologue-Epilogue parts (that are the author’s letter with comments, exhortations, greetings, etc.), and the vision itself as it is described by the author.
Nrs. 2 and 6 are also related to the same theme as in my outline.

Now my problem with this outline is that I cannot understand the criteria which you used to build those three scenarios. I see that you cut the revelational text following some unnatural lines. These are my observations:
Most of the Revelation’s revelations are structured in this way: A. Background vision, B. a series of 7 scenes (sometimes interrupted by intercalary, explanatory scenes). This obvious about the following parts:

1. Vision of Christ among the 7 candlesticks, with 7 stars (ch 1)
+ The 7 letters dictated for the 7 angels of the 7 churches (ch 2-3).
2. Vision of God’s Throne and of the Lamb with the seven-sealed scroll (ch 4-5)
+ The unfolding of the scroll, by opening successively its 7 seals and witnessing 7 scenes (ch 6:1 – 8:1), with an intercalary double scene (ch. 7) to answer the question of 6:17.
3. Vision of the Priestly Angel and of the 7 angels with trumpets (8:2-6)
+ The successive blowing of the 7 trumpets, witnessing 7 judgments on the world (8:7 – 11:19), with an intercalary scene to prepare us better understand the events under the 6th and 7th trumpets.
4. Vision of the Sanctuary (close of probation scenes), with the 7 angels waiting to pour out their plagues on the world (with an intercalary scene of the heavenly “Goshen” in 11:2-4)
+ The successive pouring out of the 7 vials in ch. 16, with large explanatory scenes of the 7th vial in ch. 17:1 – 19:10 (How will be punished the Babylon?-- ch. 17; Which is the last chance of salvation for her citizens? – parenthetical text in 18:1-5?; The Babylon’s guilt and the world’s mourn for Babylon in 18:624; The Heaven’s triumphal song over the fate of Babylon and the wedding song for Jerusalem (19:1-10)

The 4th and the 5th sections of the Revelation (the 7 trumpets and the 7 plagues) begin with the indication: I saw a great sign in Heaven, I saw another great sign in Heaven (12:1, 15:1)…

Each part of the Revelation ends with a final scene:
For “The 7 churches”: Laodicea overcomes and receives her reward.
For “The 7 seals”: (approx. 1 hour = 7 days, after THE LAST DAY of this world)
For “The 7 trumpets”: Christ receives the Kingdom and begins to judge His enemies (11:15-19)
For “The Great Controversy of ch. 12-14”: The Second coming of Christ (14-20)
For “The Time of trouble” (ch. 15:--19:10): God’s kingdom established forever (19:1-10)
For “The Millenial Judgment” (19:11—20:15): The postmillenial annihilation of all evil.
For “The Renewal of all things” (21:1 – 22:5): The Paradise restored (22:1-5).

I would like to know your critical analysis of my objections and literary methodology of outlining the Revelation.

God bless your work in the forum !
"Who gave him charge over the earth and who laid on him the whole world?" (NRS Job 34:13).

Eugene Shubert
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Post by Eugene Shubert » Thu Jun 13, 2002 7:09 am

Florin,

I believe we are both correct in our own sphere. The intent of my outline is interpretive and highlights a structure that is essential for a proper understanding of the book while your main concern is in identifying the prominent literary segments. Still, I would amend your outline and move Rev 19:1-10 to section #6 because Rev 18 is such a vivid image of the end of the world from a vantage point on earth and Rev 19:1-6 seems to switch back to the court scene in heaven.

Also, Rev 19:7-10 clearly belongs with Rev 19:11-21. Rev 19:9 mentions those who are called blessed, for they are “invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9). That’s an intentional contrast with the invitation to all the birds of midheaven to assemble for the great supper of God (Rev 19:17). So those two pieces go together.

To summarize: I see Rev 19:11ff as a continuation of events in the heavenly realm where, at least in my mind, the scene shifted dramatically from earth to heaven in the first verse of this chapter. In Rev 19:1 John says he heard a great multitude in heaven. In Rev 19:11 John sees heaven opened. Those are parallel ideas.

I propose the following emendation:

PROLOGUE (1:1-8)

1. A call to overcome (1:9 -- 3:22)
2. A court scene, a slain lamb, and the opening of the seven-sealed scroll (4:1--6:17, 8:1)
3. Seven trumpet judgments (8:2 -- 11:19)

4. The great controversy over worship: Michael / Satan; the dragon, beast and false prophet; three angels (12:1 -- 14:20)

5. The seven last plagues and the utter destruction of Babylon (15:1 -- 18:24)
6. The bride and closing the book on human history (19:1 -- 20:15)
7. The reward of those who overcome (21:1 -- 22:5)

EPILOGUE (22:6-21)

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Post by Eugene Shubert » Thu Jun 13, 2002 12:12 pm

Florin Laiu wrote:I cannot understand the criteria which you used to build those three scenarios.
Those three scenarios reflect a very dramatic literary structure. I believe it’s sufficiently well explained in the thread called Multiple Scenarios.

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INSPECTING THE INTERLUDES

Post by Eugene Shubert » Sun Jun 23, 2002 6:58 pm

A true understanding of the literary structure of the book of Revelation will include insights on the three “interludes.” As you know, there is an interlude between the 6th and 7th seal (chapter 7), the 6th and 7th trumpet (Rev 10:1—11:13) and between the 6th and 7th vial (Rev 16:13-16).

Because the first interlude breaks the natural continuity of the seals, we should suspect that the second and third interlude might also be out of natural chronological sequence from the surrounding text. Enters now the concept of a scenario. A scenario is “an outline or model of an expected or supposed sequence of events.” With this definition there’s no doubt that Revelation 6 is a scenario and Rev 8:1 obviously belongs on the tail end of it. But where does chapter 7 fit in?

Take a look at Revelation 7:1-3:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Rev 7:1-3.
(I believe we agree that the four angels represent divine agencies in the world holding back the forces of evil until the work of God on human hearts is complete).

From Mt 24:15-21,29-31 it’s clear that the great tribulation began in the first century and was to continue to the very end of time. Also, the winds of strife never cease to blow in Rev 6. We can’t assume that there are gaps; we’re dealing with the literary impact of the text—it’s a unit. Where, then, do we place Revelation 7:1-3, a scene of relative calm? This is clearly the beginning of a second scenario.

At this point I’m not interpreting multiple scenarios. My only concern, for the moment, is in connecting prominent literary segments into an obvious chronological order. I’m not presupposing that there will be only one scenario at the end. If a bunch of jigsaw pieces come together in a unique way creating multiple pictures, that’s fine too. I believe that I am able to interpret multiple pictures.

Consider Revelation 7:1-3 again:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Rev 7:1-3.
I see an obvious connection between this scene and the first two trumpet judgments:
The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. Rev 8:7.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Rev 8:8.
Consequently, Revelation 7 belongs with Revelation 8. Also, the sealing precedes the trumpets. Are you with me so far?

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