In my last blog post I began giving proof for two key reasons behind the way I understand Revelation. We looked at the first one, that the book is to be read symbolically.
In this post we take up proof for a second reason for understanding the book as I do.
2. Proof For the Tightly Structured Book That Also Recapitulates From Chapters Six Through Twenty.
Now we will turn to the second important point we need to consider when understanding Revelation and for which we want to offer support from the book. What I will do here is to list a number of places where we see clear repetition that collectively demonstrates the tight structure of the whole book and also the recapitulating nature of chapters 6-20.
a. The vision of Jesus (1:12-20) and the Greeting (1:4-8) are tightly connected to the addresses to the seven churches in chapters 2-3.
(1) Compare 1:12-13 with 2:1 (Jesus walking among the lampstands).
(2) Compare 1:5, 8, 17 with 2:8 (first and last and resurrected).
(3) Compare 1:16 with 2:12 (two-edged sword) and also to 19:15, 21.
(4) Compare 1:14-15 with 2:18 (eyes like flames, feet like burnished bronze) and also with 19:12.
(5) Compare 1:4, 16 with 3:1 (seven spirits, seven stars).
(6) Compare 1:18 with 3:7 (keys of death/hades, David).
(7) Compare 1:5, 8, 17 with 3:14 (Amen, faithful and true witness, beginning of God’s creation) and also with 19:11.
b. Evidence For The Tight Structure And Repetitive Nature Of The Book On A Larger Scale.
(1) Compare 14:14-20; 16:14, 16 with 17:14, and with 19:11-21. All these texts speak of the Second Coming of Jesus and the ensuing battle in which he will defeat all enemies, which includes his judging them. When we grasp this, we also understand that 8:1-5 and 11:15-19 also take us to the end of the end-times, to judgment and that this judgment is in response to the prayers of the saints (compare 8:1-5 with 6:9-11). All of this makes us lean in the direction of seeing these chapters as recapitulating the message of what God is doing in this age.
(2) Compare 2:11 with 20:6, 14 (second death).
(3) Compare the promised rewards in ch’s 2-3 with material later in the book (e.g. 2:7 with 21:7 and 22:2; 2:11 with 20:14-15; 2:17 with 22:4; 2:28 with 22:16; 3:5 with 20:15 and 21:27; 3:12 with 20:9 and 21:2, 10; 3:21 with 20:4 and 6 and 22:1).
(4) Revelation 4:1-2 appears to be connected to 1:10 (trumpet, being in the Spirit).
(5) Revelation 4:5 (seven torches and seven spirits of God) is connected to 3:1 and 1:4.
(6) Revelation 5:6 (seven spirits) and the church as a kingdom and priests (5:10) are connected to 1:4 and 1:6 respectively, and so also 1:16 and 3:1.
(7) The call to “anyone who has an ear” in 13:9 shows the connection of the material in Revelation 4-20 to 2-3. Also note the Spirit speaking to confirm the truthfulness and importance of the statement in 14:12-13, which seems connected to the statements at the end of each of the messages to the seven churches in ch’s. 2-3 (“…what the Spirit says to the churches”). See also a similar phenomenon in 21:5 (only here it is God on the throne speaking and calling John to write down what he says b/c it is true).
c. Evidence For The Recapitulating Structure Of Revelation 6-20.
(1) Rev. 6:1-2 (part of seals), along with 12:1-9 (located among the trumpets), demonstrate Satan going forth in this inter-advent age to wreak havoc in response to the saving work of Christ—the first showing he is a Christ substitute and the second showing him for who he is and his anger. The key is that these are parallel and recapitulating in nature.
(2) The seals take us through this inter-advent age, showing war, death, famine, illness, persecution of the church (6:1-11) and then final judgment (6:12-17)—followed by an interlude that sets forth the preservation and perseverance of the Church (7:1-17). The seventh seal (8:1f) gives way to the seven trumpets (8:6ff.). They are interlocked at that point. Chapter 11 and then chapter 12 each appear to reflect what happens in and to the church in regard to persecution throughout this age. Chapter 11 spans the entire NT Church and eventually focuses upon the end. Chapter 12 spans from the birth of Christ to his Second Coming.
(3) The seven seals…trumpets…plagues/bowls provide a structure for much of the book (ch’s 6-16), one that appears to recapitulate. Note that the different visions that portray seven…seven…seven do not portray events that chronologically follow each other (though the visions chronologically follow each other). Rather, they recapitulate and progress.
(4) One of the strongest ways to demonstrate the recapitulating nature of this section of Revelation is to look at the trumpets and bowls and the clear proof that the latter recapitulates the former. To help us look at this in more detail I will post again tomorrow with a comparison of these two sections of Revelation.
(5) There is an interlude (an interpretive parenthesis) between the sixth and seventh seals (cf. ch. 7) and between the sixth and seventh trumpet (cf. ch’s. 10-11). This suggests a recapitulating structure.
(6) The mention of the Euphrates river in the sixth trumpet (cf. 9:13-14) seems, in part, to anticipate the battle of the sixth bowl where it is also mentioned (16:12).
(7) The mention of the beast and/or the abyss appears to speak of the same realities: See 11:7; 13:1-18; 17:8; 20:7-10.
(8) Rev. 11:15-19 take us to the consummation of the kingdom and judgment. This appears to be parallel to 6:12-18, as well as to 20:11-15 (cf. “small and great” in 11:18 and “great and small” in 20:12) and 21:1ff. This is also parallel to 14:7-11, 14-20. Note also the language in 14:14-20 is parallel to 19:11-16. Also, when we compare the trumpets and bowls we are taken to the end of this age, ultimate judgment, and the consummation of the kingdom (6:12-17; 16:12-21).
(9) Chapter 13 appears to be parallel to ch. 12—both depicting the Danielic prophesies of persecution and tribulation for God’s people that John sees taking place in the inter-advent age.
(10) John intentionally interlocks the seven histories/visions (12:1-15:4) with the seven bowls/plagues (15:1-16:21). The introduction of the latter is the conclusion of the former. One flows out of the other. It shows the tight and intentional structure.
(11) The idea that with the coming of Christ and the consummation of the kingdom judgment and salvation are finished is seen in 15:1 and 16:17 (i.e. at the beginning and end of the seven bowl judgments) is also repeated in 21:6 (same wording as in 16:7), where we see the kingdom, the new heaven and new earth consummated.
(12) Rev. 20:1-10 appears to be parallel to 17:8 (which is built upon and as an antithesis to the threefold description of God).
Though I know my understanding of Revelation fits with how many through the history of the Church have understood it, I also know it differs from what many of you have been taught. I want you to know I am seeking to read Revelation in the way it was intended by God through John, rather than reading into it an interpretation not there. That is why I am giving significant space in this blog to offer proof for my approach to Revelation.
Seeking To Understand The Bible, Especially Revelation, Accurately With You,