Structure of Revelation -- A Preview
Part 5 -- Further Parallels

Structure of Revelation -- A Preview

Part 5

By Graham Dull

Further Parallels

Parallelisms do more than define the correct divisions in the narrative.

John has used them more extensively than that. And he has used them for different reasons.

He has used them systematically -- they are not thrown around haphazardly.

John has carefully and specifically included them in the narrative to provide clarity. When the Parallelisms are brought together they bring heightened understanding to the text.

They can rule out erroneous teachings. They can define the truth of the teachings of Revelation.

Parallelisms --

  • Separate the sections of the narrative
  • They identify the primary focus within sections
  • John uses them extensively
  • John uses them systematically
  • They rule out erroneous teachings
  • They define truth

As Parallelisms in Psalms bring deeper meaning to a passage, so it is in Revelation.

Structural Parallelism

Parallelisms which bracket the various Sections (whether they introduce, or conclude them) are like 'titles and subtitles' which tell us what a particular Section is about.

If we ignore these titles (or themes) we are apt to read all sorts of nonsense into the passage. Allowing these 'Structural Parallels' to define the principle thrust of the passage will direct us to a correct understanding of the text.

Two Questions

I pose two questions below. I don't intend to give an answer here. That must wait for another occasion.

I use as my example: The 1,000 years of Revelation chapter 20

(1) Considering the 'Judgments 19:11 -- 20:11' and '20:10 -- 21:8;' what is specifically spoken about in Rev 20:1-6, and what is specifically spoken about in Rev 20:11-15?

(2) Could it be that the thousand years of Rev 20:1-6 relate predominantly and specifically to the judgement of Satan by Christ and the Saints? We must admit that there are quite a few interpreters who read a lot of events into the thousand year period -- 'events' which simply are not spoken about in the text.

The use of Structural Parallelisms sheds a lot of light on the content.




Non-structural Parallelism

Non-structural Parallels shed light on one-another. Parallel phrases are used in the Psalms for this very purpose. Also in Revelation, parallel phrases amplify the meaning of one other.

The author of Revelation does not merely use parallelism to define structure. He uses it extensively to bring meaning to the text.

John intended that we unite and compare the parallels. In this way, much of Revelation (which seems so unfathomable in this twenty-first century) can be correctly understood.

I close this section by sharing just one example of a Non-structural Parallel.

The 21:5-8/22:12-15 Parallel

This Parallel is Non-structural.

God speaks

In Rev 21:5-8, God is the speaker -- and these are his last words in Revelation. Having four verses, it is a passage of considerable size. It is a passage of significance. It forms the absolute conclusion of the Transitional Section -- the 'White Throne' Judgement.

Jesus speaks

In the parallel passage of Rev 22:12-15, Jesus is the speaker. The passage is approximately the same size as the previous one. This passage occurs near the end of Revelation (in the Epilogue). Its position plus its parallelism would also indicate that it has a high significance.

Points relative to the parallelism are these --

God is speaking

  • Jesus is speaking

God says -- I am making everything new

  • Jesus says -- I am coming soon

God says -- I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End

  • Jesus says -- I am the Alpha and the Omega... the Beginning and the End

God says -- Those who are victorious will inherit all this

  • Jesus says -- That they may have right to the tree of life

God excludes from the kingdom -- the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars

  • Jesus excludes from the kingdom -- the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood

Parallel 21:5-8/22:12-15


GOD AND JESUS DECLARES THEIR ACTIONS

GOD

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done."

JESUS

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."

NATURE OF GOD AND CHRIST

GOD

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End."

JESUS

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

A SPLENDID INHERITANCE

GOD

"To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."

JESUS

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."

EXCLUSION AND DEATH

GOD

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."

JESUS

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."

God and Jesus Christ make parallel announcements before the close of the Revelation. They are solemn announcements. Both God and Christ declare their part in bringing the sin problem to an end -- recreating and making all things new, and bringing God's people into his glorious eternal kingdom.

GOD AND JESUS DECLARE THEIR ACTIONS

God recreates and makes everything new. He creates a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev 21:1) Having completed this work, God announces triumphantly, "It is done." Jesus declares, "Behold, I am coming soon! And my reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done."

Note that the creating of everything new is dependent upon what God has done. The kingdom is totally God's doing. No one else has created the kingdom. He alone has created it anew.

Whether we enter into the kingdom, or into death is dependent upon what we have done. It is our choice. It is a very personal and individual choice to be made by ourselves alone, and it certainly cannot be determined by anyone else. The choice is ours to make whenever we are ready to make it.

Will we choose Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Saviour?

Appeals are made throughout the book of Revelation inviting us to make the wise choice and choose life. Note that at some point that choice we make will be permanent. (See Revelation 22:11)

NATURE OF GOD AND CHRIST

God declares his eternal nature, revealing that he is the 'Alpha and the Omega.' Likewise, Jesus declares his eternal nature.

A SPLENDID INHERITANCE

God extends an invitation to those who are thirsty, and calls for them to come and inherit the kingdom. Who wouldn't be thirsty for a kingdom such as this?

Jesus extends the invitation to all who would care to wash their robes, and joyfully come and enter the city.

EXCLUSION AND DEATH

God excludes from his eternal kingdom, those who are wilfully wicked. Jesus also excludes the wicked from that same inheritance.

The two lists are very similar. By and large both describe the same sins. Note that 'all liars' in one list parallels 'everyone who loves and practices falsehood' in the other. (Parallels are to be found everywhere in Revelation.)

Conclusion

God has spoken, Jesus has spoken -- and the book of Revelation is about to conclude.

There is a final invitation (22:17), and a final warning (22:18, 19).

The book closes with Jesus' words, and John's response.

Jesus speaks

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." (Rev 22:20)

John responds

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." (Rev 22:20, 21)

My experience

In this section, I share a little of my experience along the way while writing this article. The notes, etc which I share here were written on different dates -- the majority written in October 2011.


(Written in January 2015)

This Note I inserted while retyping the article.

My experience in writing 'Structure of Revelation -- A Preview' goes back about three and a half years. This is a long time. More so, when it is realized that I'd completed writing the article on the 24th October 2011.

Why then, am I only now publishing it?

I had never intended to be so slow, but events intervened such as normal work commitments, troubling health issues, and a computer crash wherein a service repair technician accidentally wiped all my data which he had previously backed up. The computer incident set me back with a variety of projects I had been doing.

This article was lost. I recently searched and found a printed copy -- which I am now retyping (and editing to make it more readable).


(Written in October 2011)

Throughout my life God has blessed me, but never before has he blessed me as he did just a few days ago. I awoke in the morning with a new understanding of the Book of Revelation. I knew immediately that Thursday 20th October 2011 was the best day of my life. I studied while I was preparing breakfast, I paced the house barely able to wait for an appropriate time to start phoning my friends to share the news.

Two weeks before, on the 6th of October, I'd sent an email to several friends, entitled "Time/Eternity." I included this attachment -- "Time Eternity a02.doc" It contained the following --


(Written 6th October 2011)

"Time/Eternity a02.doc" email attachment

I believe one reason 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ' is so little understood today is because it has for so long been largely ignored by the church. The book of Revelation has essentially been left to radical elements to interpret and to do whatever they want with the book. If there is a vacuum something is going to fill it. A clear and correct teaching of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is required to counteract falsehood. I believe that sober men guided by the Spirit of God need to come forward and present its truths.

I have been blessed this year.

In February I discovered John Stott. I now have several of his books. Since then he has passed away (27th July 2011), aged ninety. John Stott is an Evangelical Anglican. His book "What Christ thinks of the Church -- An Exposition of Revelation 1-3," is the best thing I've read on the seven churches of Revelation. Most of his presentation may not be particularly new to me, but he presents his message powerfully and right to the point.

Another Anglican, Richard Bauckham is having an even greater impact on my life. I had never heard of him prior to a few weeks ago. I have read nothing more of his than the first chapter of his book "The Climax of Prophecy." The chapter title is "Structure and Composition," and it suggests a common sense outline for the book of the 'Revelation of Jesus Christ.' I cannot believe that the church has not recognised this basic structure of Revelation throughout the whole of its 2,000 year history -- it is so simple. Applying this outline, in just a few weeks, I have learned heaps about Revelation chapters 19 to 22, in which chapters I have been concentrating my study. I know that with God's guidance, I am on my way to learning much more.

Graham Dull


(Written in October 2011)

When I sent this email, I had no idea what God had in store for me just two weeks later. I knew I was blessed, but I never expected the blessing which I received on 20th October 2011.

The evening before, my church pastor challenged me. He said to me, "You are reading Hebrew parallelism into Revelation!" This was clearly something which he thought I should not do. I gave no response, I had none. But my thought was, "I do see Parallelism in Revelation."

Thursday morning I awoke knowing that 'a major missing key' to the interpretation of Revelation is the carefully structured and profound way John uses Parallels.

Now (Monday 24th October) I cannot wait until I have written a more complete article on the subject. But I must share this today, it is just a preview. I title it "Structure of Revelation - A Preview." There is much more to come.

As God chooses to bless me, I will present a future article entitled "Structure of Revelation."

This is only the beginning of what God has given me to share -- the best is yet to come.

The 'First Set' of Parallels

I have mentioned these parallels earlier, and said that I would refer to them again briefly at the end of the article.

These parallels are related -- they form a Set.

(1:1a/1:1b), (1:1a/22:6), (1:1b/22:16), (22:6/22:16)

John has placed these parallels in the narrative in a very deliberate pattern.

In the future, I will examine them in greater detail.

All I will say here is this. If any one of them were removed, it would upset the structure which John intended. They form a set and can only be considered as such.

This 'set of parallels' firstly introduces the book of Revelation, and secondly it beautifully ties together the Prologue and the Epilogue.

I have tabled the parallels below --


  • 1:1a
  • God, Jesus, servants
  • 1:1b
  • He, angel, servant John


  • 1:1a
  • God, Jesus, servants
  • 22:6
  • God, angel, servants


  • 1:1b
  • He, angel, John
  • 22:16
  • Jesus, angel, you


  • 22:6
  • God, angel, servants
  • 22:16
  • Jesus, angel, you


See the box below if you should desire to study these parallels further.

Here is a question for another day


Who is the Angel of Revelation 1:1? What is his name?

By pairing and comparing this set of parallels, we can discover the name of the angel who is the 'chief messenger' of Revelation.

First Parallel (1:1a/22:6b), Second (1:1a/1:1b), Third (1:1b/22:16a), Fourth (22:6b/22:16a)

These parallels plus the chiasm of Revelation 1:1, 2 enable us to identify the Angel.

UPDATE -- The article has now been written -- Select the link below to learn his identity.




Conclusion

My conclusion is this -- Interpreting Revelation according to its structure will greatly increase our understanding of it.

Scripture texts are from the NIV (New International Version -- 1984 edition)

Author: Graham Dull

Life from God .com

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Structure of Revelation -- A Preview

End of Article

Graham Dull