/ Matthew Everhard

The Apocalypse is a Visual and Literary Masterpiece

To some readers, the book of Revelation is a wild vision in which unruly dragons trample from page to page while demonic frogs and scorpions hop around the text uncontrolled.

Given the dynamic imagery of the book, some readers who approach this work more casually at first are surprised to find that this inspired and infallible masterpiece is actually wound very tightly with layers upon layers of ingenious superstructure.

Take the seven letters to the seven churches for example (chapters 2 and 3). There are at least three complex things happening here that are apparent only under closer scrutiny.

1) First, Christ (through John) addresses the churches in geographical order. Consult a map at the back of your Bible and you will notice that the letters are written in clockwise order from Ephesus around Asia Minor. This corresponds with the route that a first-century letter carrier could have delivered the written content of the Apocalypse, conveyed in epistolary form.

2) Second, the letters themselves take on the form of chiasmus. This is a literary form, often found in poetry, that takes on the form of A >B > C > D >C >B >A. In this case, the first and seventh churches are in the most dire condition, with the second and sixth churches being in the strongest spiritual position, while churches 3, 4, and 5 are middling, endowed with both some strengths and notable weaknesses.

3) Third, each individual letter takes on the structure of a covenant (suzerainty treaty). Each contains the anticipated form of the announcement of the Lord/King's glory, followed by commendations and critiques, capped off by promises and warnings for compliance and rebellion respectively.

Check out this video below, and I will explain these phenomena more fully:

Matthew Everhard

Matthew Everhard

Matthew Everhard is the pastor of Gospel Fellowship PCA in Valencia, PA. He is also a Jonathan Edwards scholar and has written a number of books, and articles. He hosts a popular YouTube channel.

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