Fourfold Structure

The book of Revelation is comprised of a prologue, the vision proper, and an epilogue. The vision falls into four recognizable divisions, and each commences when John finds himself “in the spirit” and is transported to a specific location. For example, the first vision begins with John on Patmos where he “comes to be in spirit” and sees a vision of the one “like a son of man.”

In the second literary unit, John sees “a door opened in heaven,” and the voice from his first vision summons him to “come up here.” The second division is characterized by three sevenfold series, the seven seals, trumpets, and seven “bowls of wrath” - (Revelation 12:1-16:21).

In the first division, the local situation in the province of Asia is viewed from the perspective of John’s exile on the isle of Patmos. In the second, the vision is from the perspective of the Throne.

The third division begins with John “carried away in spirit” to the wilderness by one of the seven angels who have the seven “bowls of wrath.” A different Greek verb is used than in the first two divisions - “carried away” instead of “came to be.”

Thus, for example, John finds himself “in the wilderness” where he sees the “Great Whore,” Babylon - (Revelation 17:1-21:8).

In the third division, John witnesses the judgment of the enemies of the “Lamb” unfolding, but in reverse order from their introduction in the second division - Babylon, the “Beast from the earth,” the “Beast from the sea,” and the “Dragon.”

In the fourth division, John is “carried away in spirit” by one of the same seven angels, but this time to a “high mountain” where he sees another “city,” New Jerusalem, descending from heaven to the earth.

The four divisions form two distinct pairs. The first pair is characterized by the clause “I came to be in spirit”; the second pair by “he carried me away in spirit.”

The first pair looks at the present reality of the churches in Asia; the second compares two cities - “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem.”


PROLOGUE - (1:1-8):
     The Purpose of the Revelation - (1:1-3)
     John’s Salutation to the Seven Churches - (1:4-9).

DIVISION I – Inaugural Vision of the Risen Christ - (1:8-3:22):
     Jesus in the Midst of the Churches - (1:10-20)
     Seven Messages for Seven Churches - (2:1-3:22)

DIVISION II – The Church in Hostile Territory - (4:1-16:21):
     The Divine Throne and the Sealed Scroll - (4:1-5:14)
     The Seven Seals - (6:1-8:5)
     The Seven Trumpets - (8:6-11:19)
     God’s Victorious People vs. Satanic Forces - (12:1-14:20)
     The Seven Bowls of Wrath Culminate in Final Judgment - (15:1-16:21)

DIVISION III – The Destruction of Gods’ Cosmic Enemies - (17:1-21:8):
     The Fall of Babylon, the Great Whore - (17:1-19:10)
     The Destruction of the Beast and False Prophet - (19:11-21)
     The Binding, Release, and Judgment of Satan - (20:1-10)
     The Great White Throne of Judgment - (20:11-15)
     Transitional Passage: The Descent of New Jerusalem - (21:1-8)

DIVISION IV – New Jerusalem: Bride of Christ and City of God - (21:9-22:7)

EPILOGUE – Final Warnings, Exhortations, Salutations - (22:8-21)



The Word Made Flesh

Language of the New Testament