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26 December 2018

Outline of the Second Division of Revelation

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The book of Revelation is divided into four major literary units. Each is identifiable by the entry of John “into the Spirit” and, consequently, his relocation to a new visionary vantage point (i.e., Patmos, the Throne, the Wilderness, a “great high mountain”). Each of the four divisions can be subdivided into smaller units, for example, the series of seven trumpets or seven bowls of wrath (Revelation 1:94:1-317:321:10).

The book has a definite literary structure that serves its primary purpose – To the “servants of God” what things must “soon come to pass” and, thus, prepare them for the coming tasks and tribulations. However, it is a mistake to assign any strict chronological sequence to its structure. There is often overlap between different sections, and a final judgment scene is presented more than once.

The three series of the sevenfold judgments all climax in a final judgment scene.  The Sixth Seal produces celestial and terrestrial upheaval on the “day of the Lord” and the “wrath of the Lamb.” The Seventh Trumpet results in the final judgment of the wicked, the “day of the Lord,” and the consummation of the Kingdom of God.  Finally, the Seven Bowls of Fury “complete the wrath of God,” and the emptying of the Seventh Bowl means the destruction of Babylon accompanied by celestial and terrestrial upheaval. Yet, “Babylon” is not described in detail until the chapters following its destruction (Revelation 6:17-21, 15:1, 16:17-21).

Several key themes are repeated in the different literary sections, each time with a specific emphasis. For example, the ascent of the Beast/Satan from the Abyss/Sea is described at least three times (Revelation 11:713:1, 20:1-7).

Likewise, the final “battle” by Satan to annihilate the is pictured five times and, in three of the cases, the description is based on the same clause from the book of Daniel - “The horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them” (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 11:712:17, 13:7, 19:17-21, 20:7-9).

Key themes are expanded with each new telling. In the vision of the Throne, John hears a description of “lightning, voices, and thunders” occurring around the Throne. Each time this set of events is repeated another element is added to the sequence. Thus, for example, an earthquake is added at the close of the Seven Seals (Revelation 4:5, 8:5, 11:18, 16:18).

The employment of overlap and repetition between the several visions argues against the visions and chapters being laid out in a neat chronological sequence. The following outline is only one of several ways the Second Division can be divided and subdivided.

Outline of the Second Division (4:1 – 16:21)

The Throne, Scroll and the Lamb (4:1-5:14)
  1.  [The One Sitting on the Throne (4:1-11)]
  2.  [Lightning, voices, thunders (4:5)]
  3.  [The Sealed Scroll (5:1-5)]
  4.  [The Victorious Lamb (5:6-14)]
The Lamb opens the Seven Seals (6:1-8:1)
  1.  [The sealing of God’s servants (7:1-8)]
  2.  [The innumerable multitude (7:9-17)]
The Seven Trumpets (8:1-11:19)
  1.  [Silence in Heaven (8:2-6)]
  2.  [Lightning, voices, thunders; an earthquake (8:5)]
  3.  [The first six trumpets sound (8:7-9:21)]
  4.  [The little scroll (10:1-11)]
  5.  [The temple and the two witnesses (11:1-14)]
  6.  [The first six trumpets sound (8:7-9:21)]
  7.  [The seventh trumpet sounds (11:15-19)]
  8.  [Lightning, voices, thunders; an earthquake (11:19)]
The Son versus the Dragon (12:1-14:20)
  1.  [The Woman and the Son (12:1-6)]
  2.  [The Dragon and the Seed of the Woman (12:7-17)]
  3.  [The Beast from the sea and the saints (13:1-10)]
  4.  [The Beast from land, image, and mark (13:11-18)]
  5.  [The Lamb and the 144,000 on Zion (14:1-5)]
  6.  [The fall of Babylon announced (14:6-12)]
  7.  [The winepress of the wrath of God (14:13-20)]
The Seven Bowls of Fury (12:1-13:18)
  1.  [The Sea of Glass (15:1-8)]
  2.  [The Seven Bowls poured out (16:1-17)]
  3.  [Lightning, voices, thunders, mighty earthquake, hail (16:18-21)]
  4.  [Downfall of Beast and Babylon (16:19-21)]



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