Chiasm
A literary structure used in the Bible in which symmetry or patterns are used to emphasize concepts.
Eschatological
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):


  • PROLOGUE
    1:1-8

  • 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
  • EPILOGUE
    22:8-17

  • -
  • 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
  • 7 CHURCHES
    1:10-3:22

  • 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
  • NEW JERUSALEM
    21:9-22:9

  • 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
    4:1-8:1

  • 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
    • MILLENNIUM
      19:11-21:8

    • 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
      8:2-11:18

    • 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
    • 7 LAST PLAGUES
      15:1-16:21

    • 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
    • GREAT CONTROVERSY
      11:19-14:20

    • 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
    • FALL OF BABYLON
      17:1-19:10

    • 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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/nimeshm/2271333571/
    Is Revelation a Sealed Book?
    Is the book of Revelation meant to be understood by the common person?
    CC Waiting For The Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/5602666514
    Revelation 1: Jesus, The Heart of Revelation
    Revelation 1 sets the tone for the rest of the book: it establishes Christ at the center of the story.
    Revelation 1 Clouds 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/nirak/644336486/in/photolist-a7Yw7M-85YZ3D-8d9Y4q-52zzHm-acaYBn-dy6gga-dy6fXz-dy6fbD-YW3iN-dy6gXx-dybHqm-bxeKmh-yufoC-5Q2bdM-8h54oU-DxEV8-a82oKN-bxf167-8d6Eav-dybJfu-6SCA9C-2AviRm-9psA2D-bxeGt9-8h54Ah-YWoML-YWoqw-YRYWM-YWpcW-YWujL-YRWGK-YWmXS-YWuEd-YWo41-YWnEf-mEpur-YWmCf-4VqKV4-2REaka-35PeBg-34WTdL-34WUJj-4VuYAd-4VuZaC-4VuYJ9-4VqKN4-4VqKkV-4LDAar-7GHQgN-4EZzq8
    Revelation 1 Commentary: The Revelation of Jesus
    Read Revelation 1 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Source: Kevinzim on Flickr.
    Revelation 2-3: Letters to Seven Churches
    Seven letters are send from Christ to seven churches throughout Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3. These letters have prophetic significance for all God's people throughout history and today.
    7 Churches Chart A Letter to Ephesus A Letter to Smyrna A Letter to Pergamos A Letter to Thyatira A Letter to Sardis A Letter to Philadelphia A Letter to Laodicea
    Revelation 2 Angel 
    Revelation 2 Commentary: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira
    Read Revelation 2 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 3 Door knock 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/marianneperdomo/577315401/in/photolist-tYrdi-EXahE-T1TKP-jX5cL-B2dyb-x4RUL-nbD5S-jyVTf-wQuwG-jyVTb-r6KoE-x4RUN-jX5cM-iWGYM-jX5cK-kGsDB-oZr5r-r6Koy
    Revelation 3 Commentary: Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea
    Read Revelation 3 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 4 Heaven's door
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cristianocani/2676021775/in/photolist-cta47q-9XCYkf-ag3e1N-c45B1y-98StbR-71gbNW-bHMTet-botKtu-9vACAz-aDVW1e-9td7ku-64sXp7-6FiXej-fynnvY-cep9NL-944Qjb-82TSUG-7MBQdh-bX2QBc-8Ep52F-bACjGp-9QWuHA-944P43-7NFXrX-c45Ayq-6M1Zet-bBHixD-cudyNL-bX34KH-bxGHTA-5WX56C-aDZADY-941LXH-6W7buP-5WSNmn-6E8qXE-944Rsy-dJcP8o-bLBijP-64sXXb-55tj3t
    Revelation 4 Commentary: The Throne in Heaven
    Read Revelation 4 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    CC-BY 2.0  Eric Milot on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/rockonphotos/188508718/
    The Throne, The Lamb and the Sealed Book
    This article on Revelation 4 and 5 is an excerpt from the book Unveiling Daniel and Revelation by Roy Allan Anderson.
    CC Kamyar Adl https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/332614669/in/photolist-voJKF-pqK14b
    Revelation 5 Commentary: The Scroll and the Lamb
    Read Revelation 5 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 6 Horseman 
public domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Dor%C3%A9_-_Death_on_the_Pale_Horse_(1865).jpg
    Revelation 6 Commentary: The Vision of Seven Seals
    Read Revelation 6 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 7 Angel
CC AlicePopkorn on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/6223275829/in/photolist-atVV68-7q254b-kGQwMY-8pW6y6-6R3Y2z-91WoxQ-p88Zjr-8hY3Do-538S5g-92S7mE-4SXSHv-9pSHzd-49BA4Z-drhX1H-7852YG-537XnN-5VtFEV-4UQh94-7ubrEg-7oXxLM-5CLuKT-hKoJSt-6rfhNW-b1fGwr-9bDm8d-ajhqpN-eezW7V-5fs8Mx-e6YHrF-4TuJyW-q4fwXs-quWf1B-5RuJcH-8bPv72-5ugKmN-4UnsTA-5PVK3c-6qCNhu-qy257k-aSriDK-akupzz-7wajHt-pbV3eV-jbE58A-b14M1z-arqBJ7-auB1U4-87wXaz-95VksW-6SP4wL
    Revelation 7 Commentary: The 144,000
    Read Revelation 7 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 8 Trumpeting Angel https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjuzenas/3652270249/in/photolist-68eTYV-6yJQGH
    Revelation 8 Commentary: Seven Trumpets
    Read Revelation 8 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 9 Smoke 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/coconinonationalforest/4730716815/in/photolist-8d3ai2-79JAXx-783nYh-79zcsh-79JAMV-79zc51-79vjCn-8bXKEM-8c1RvS-8bXdar-8bXN6x-8c1UMC-8bXEag-8d71kC-8bXGbT-8ch6Pg-8d3eiP-8d6vBm-8cAn7q-8ch5Vi-8ckjGh-8cknNN-8cx2vZ-8ch4j4-8d34Vp-8ckouA-8ch1YH-8ckkvC-8d3G3i-6UPSqG-6Xv9bc-6Xva6X-6Xw5BK-79zbnb-79zaWu-6Xw4bP-77YsR8-6Xw5LT-6XzbhU-8ckq7s-8ckiTY-8cgWYV-8ckgZL-8ckmty-6Xzbqu-8d3ivn-79zhSb-8d6m4G-6UKJvT-8d6zw3
    Revelation 9 Commentary: The Bottomless Pit
    Read Revelation 9 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 10 Heaven & Earth 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/geomangio/5098348473
    Revelation 10 Commentary: A Little Book
    Read Revelation 10 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 11 Lightning 
CC Leszek Leszczynski https://www.flickr.com/photos/leszekleszczynski/5741700549/
    Revelation 11 Commentary: Two Witnesses
    Read Revelation 11 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 12 Dragon Source: Flickr.
    Revelation 12 Commentary: The Woman and the Dragon
    Read Revelation 12 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 13 666 
    Revelation 13 Commentary: Two Beasts
    Read Revelation 13 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 14 Grapes 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/quirky/179710350/in/photolist-gT4Cj-2jXbHy-2jSR2Z-2jXc8u-2jSQy2-2jSQba-2jSRQH-2jSRxv-2jSQ3t-2jSoGe-2jWJQY-gS2wc-aWG9kk-aWFZAk
    Revelation 14 Commentary: Three Angels' Messages
    Read Revelation 14 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/judemasti/6664790153/in/photolist-b763RB-bbVDGT-bbVEtp-b7CSQZ-be17dV-b75H9M-bau3EP-b9WNF6-b9WMV4-6n6UTe-6nb4fY-6nb3HC-6naSLs-b9WPBc-b9WM92-4S1Roe-b75ZRp-6ntMza-b8c4NT-azzP2x-GMDJ7-6nyhes-AhwvZ-r7Vim
    Revelation 15 Commentary: Seven Angels, Seven Plagues
    Read Revelation 15 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 16 Bowls
https://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/2829328496/in/photolist-5j23MN-qyd1e-nzUtv-5iWE7X-9srcPH-oaBSw-9ZgAeD-9ZgwHD-9ZgzwV-9ZjsGo-4uWRDE-6kLefr-ey29Y-3U1fFT-9pqByB-fiTqG-4ed23N-fiPft-46C7vq-fiPfp-fiPfo-fiPfs-fiPfq-fiPfr-rzNVH-5iWJrT-fiTqN-fiTqM-fiTqJ-fiVz6-fiWwF-LyAy3-9Zjrzf-oaBSy-9ZgAVr-9Zgxee-9ZgCge-9ZgBAv-bhHx1B-fiVzb-fg7Sa-4w9qw5-sxGz7-q64dy-478E22-9ZgyeM-JYPrc-5hYNH2-9pMAUS-5BrTSw 
    Revelation 16 Commentary: Seven Bowls of God's Anger
    Read Revelation 16 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    A woman rides the beast. Revelation 17
    Revelation 17 Commentary: A Woman Rides the Beast
    Read Revelation 17 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 18 Spices 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bala_/2154357086/
    Revelation 18 Commentary: Babylon Falls
    Read Revelation 18 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 19 Angel Statue https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angel_statue.jpg
    Revelation 19 Commentary: The Rider on the White Horse
    Read Revelation 19 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    CC MattysFlicks https://www.flickr.com/photos/68397968@N07/14600216228/
    Revelation 20 Commentary: Millennium and the Judgment
    Read Revelation 20 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 21 Alpha and Omega 
    Revelation 21 Commentary: The New Jerusalem
    Read Revelation 21 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
    Revelation 22 Commentary: Invitation and Warning
    Read Revelation 22 KJV along with a helpful commentary.
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