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The Structure of Revelation
Survey of suggested structures of Revelation
The clearest evidence of structure, which is universally recognized is in the sequences of seven. Four of these are explicit:
In addition it is often recognized that seven visions of warfare can be identified in 12:1–14:20. (There are some minor variations of where some of the divisions are placed.)
Many have gone on to divide the last six chapters into two more sequeneces of seven, making a total of seven sevens. This can be visualized pictorially in a chart (pdf).
Fitting the sequence into a structure
For the purposes of this discussion, it will be assumed that the sevenfold sequence of sevens is essentially correct. However, much more work has to be done before there is a useful structure that helps us understand how the whole book fits together. There is disagreement concerning how these seven sequences related to each other. The suggested solutions fall broadly into three categores:
Absolute time markers
In the following discussion I will use the abbreviation §x for sequence x and §x.n for the n’th vision of sequence x.
In order to make sense of the visions, it is useful to identify all the absolute time markers. The following can be readily identified:
Relative time markers
It has already been pointed out that §2.1 and §4.1 start at the same time, so it would make sense that the time period covered in §2-§3 is repleated in §4-§5.
This suggests that the last four sequences belong together and there are some chronological dependencies between them. The detailed dependencies will be discussed later.
Time refeence defining relationship between §2 (seals) and §3 (trumpets)
Since both sequences end with a judgement scene, the temptation is to make them run in parallel
There is a key temporal link between §2 and §3: In §2.6 (specifically 7:1–3), the angels of §3 are told not to blow their trumpets until §2.6 is complete (the 144,00 are sealed). The angels who hurt the earth, sea etc (trumpets) cannot start until the 144,000 have been marked to keep them safe.
This places the whole sequence of trumpets as an expansion of the 6th and 7th seals
(to be fleshed out shortly)
(Andrew Fountain 2016-06-09)