A literary structure used in the Bible in which symmetry or patterns are used to emphasize concepts.
A term derived from Greek eskhatos which means “last” and “knowledge of.” It is the part of theology that deals with death, judgment, and the final destiny of humankind.
The Chiastic Structure of Revelation
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Summary: Biblical writers and prophets often used forms of poetry to write down their messages from God. This poetry does not use a specific rhythm or rhyme. Rather, literary artistry brings import to the message.

The book of Revelation is written as a chiasm. A chiasm is a double list of related items in which the order of the second list is opposite to the order of the first list. If we divide Revelation at the end of chapter 14 into two halves, and then divide each half into separate divisions we can find related pairs of content. These pairs go in opposite directions. It is organized like a mirror image.

The entire book of Revelation shows this concept at work. The first part is called the prologue; it is the introduction and is found in Revelation 1:1-8. The ending is called the epilogue and is found in Revelation 22:8-17. Note the similarities (hold your mouse over a colored section to see the details):


  • Introduction.
  • Testimony of Jesus. 1:2
  • Blessed is he who reads. 1:3
  • Behold He is coming. 1:7
  • I am the Alpha and the Omega. 1:8

  • -
  • I, Jesus, sent this testimony. 22:16
  • Blessed is he who keeps. 22:7
  • Behold, I am coming soon. 22:12,20
  • I am the Alpha and the Omega. 22:13

  • Christ walks among seven lamps. 2:1
  • Tree of life. 2:1
  • Open door. 3:8
  • Christ sits on His Father's throne. 3:21
  • New Jerusalem comes down
    from heaven. 3:12
  • I am coming soon. 3:11

  • Christ is the eternal Lamp. 21:23
  • Tree of life. 22:2
  • Gates never closed. 21:25
  • Throne of God and of the Lamb. 22:1,3
  • New Jerusalem comes down
    from heaven. 21:10
  • I am coming soon. 22:7
  • 7 SEALS

  • Heaven opened. 4:1
  • Rider on white horse and riders
    on colored horses. 6:2-8
  • Souls of martyrs under altar ask
    for judgment. 6:9-10
  • White robes. 6:11; 7:9-14
  • Kings, etc. ask to be killed. 6:15-16

    • Heaven opened. 19:11
    • Rider on white horse followed by other
      riders on white horses. 19:11-16
    • Souls of martyrs resurrected
      and enthroned as judges. 20:4-6
    • White robes. 19:14
    • Kings, etc. are killed. 19:17-21
    • 7 TRUMPETS

    • 1. Earth. 8:7
    • 2. Sea. 8:8-9
    • 3. Rivers and fountains. 8:10-11
    • 4. Sun, moon, stars. 8:12
    • 5. Darkness, bottomless pit, locusts. 9:1-11
    • 6. River Euphrates. 9:13-21
    • 7. Loud voices: The kingdom
    • is Christ's! 11:15-18

    • 1. Earth. 16:2
    • 2. Sea. 16:3
    • 3. Rivers and fountains. 16:4
    • 4. Sun. 16:8-9
    • 5. Darkness on throne of the Beast. 16:10-11
    • 6. River Euphrates. 16:12,16
    • 7. A loud voice: It is done! 16:17-21

    • True mother dressed in white. 12:1-2
    • Her children keep the commandments. 12:17
    • Woman in wilderness. 12:14
    • Beast with 7 heads, 10 horns. 12:3;13:1
    • Fallen is Babylon! 14:8
    • Testimony of Jesus. 12:17

    • False mother, dressed in purple. 17:4
    • Her children are harlots. 17:5
    • Woman in wilderness. 17:3
    • Beast with 7 heads, 10 horns. 17:3
    • Fallen is Babylon! 18:2
    • Testimony of Jesus. 19:10

    The similarities are not hard fast rules. For instance, there is a warning in the epilogue that isn’t found in the prologue; and Christ’s promise to come again is found only one time in the prologue but twice in the epilogue. The writers of the Bible used their style as a method but never let the method become more important than the message. That is why we can sometimes find some exceptions to these rules. We must also keep in mind that the chapters and verses we use to organize the Bible were not determined when John wrote this book but were added more than a thousand years later.

    The chiastic structure divides Revelation into two major groups. The first half deals primarily with the experience of God’s people during the Christian era. This is called the historical half. The second half deals almost exclusively with last day events and is called the eschatological half. The word ” eschatological” comes from the Greek word eschaton, meaning “end.”

    The historical half covers all of human history. Therefore, it has not been completely fulfilled yet because not all of Christian history has happened yet. For example, the seventh seal, seventh trumpet, and final scene in the great controversy division are still waiting for their fulfillment. The eschatological half is still to be fulfilled in the future. We can see the inspiration of God in this beautiful demonstration of literary art as well as the love of God who does everything He can to warn us and call us out of the false systems of this world into His marvelous truth.

    Source: Athena on Flickr.
    The Chiastic Structure of Revelation
    Biblical writers and prophets often used forms of poetry to write down their messages from God. This poetry does not use a specific rhythm or rhyme. Rather, literary artistry brings import to the message.
    CC Nimesh Madhavan
    Is Revelation a Sealed Book?
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    Source: Kevinzim on Flickr.
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    CC-BY 2.0  Eric Milot on Flickr
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    CC Kamyar Adl
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public domain:
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CC AlicePopkorn on Flickr
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CC Leszek Leszczynski
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    Revelation 12 Dragon Source: Flickr.
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    CC MattysFlicks
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