Fourfold Division of Revelation

Outline - Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash
The book of Revelation consists of a prologue, the vision proper, and an epilogue. The vision itself falls into four recognizable divisions, each commencing when John finds himself “in the spirit” where he receives visions in a specific location – Patmos, the throne, the “wilderness,” a “high mountain” - [
Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash],

The first vision opens with John exiled on the isle of Patmos when he “came to be in spirit” and saw a vision of the one “like a son of man.” The setting is the province of Asia, which is viewed from the perspective of his exile on the isle of Patmos.

The second literary unit begins when John sees “a door opened in heaven” and the voice from his first vision summoning him to “come up here.” This time, he finds himself before the divine throne at the center of the Cosmos, and the vision he receives is from the perspective of the throne.

The third division begins with John “carried away in spirit” into 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.” John now finds himself “in the wilderness,” and there, he sees the “Great Whore,” Babylon - (Revelation 17:1-21:8).

In the third division, he witnesses the judgment of the Lamb’s enemies as events unfold, 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, again, John is “carried away in spirit” by one of the same seven angels, but this time to a “high mountain” to see another “city,” the New Jerusalem, descending from heaven to the earth.

The four divisions form two distinct pairs. The first is characterized by the clause, “I came to be in spirit”; the second by the clause, “he carried me away in spirit.” The first pair looks at the present reality of the churches in Asia, and the second compares the two cities - “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem.”

OUTLINE OF THE BOOK

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 First Six Seals - (6:1-17)
          The Sealing and Numbering of God’s Servants - (7:1-8)
          The Innumerable Company of the Redeemed - (7:9-17)
          The Seventh Seal - (8:1-5

     The Seven Trumpets - (8:6-11:19):
          The First Six Trumpets - (8:6-9:21
          The Opened Scroll and Commissioning of the Church - (10:1-11
          The Measuring of the Sanctuary - (11:1-2
          The Two Witnesses - (11:3-13
          The Seventh Trumpet - (11:14-19

     God’s Victorious People vs. Satanic Forces - (12:1-14:20): 
          The Son’s Victory over the Dragon - (12:1-11
          The Defeated Dragon Pursues the Woman and her Seed - (12:12-17
          The Beast from the Sea - (13:1-10
          The Beast from the Land - (13:11-18
          The First Fruits and the Harvest - (14:1-20
          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)




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