Revelation 15

A. seven angels and seven plagues

1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

B. The victors

a. 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire:

b. and them that had gotten the victory

over the beast,
and over his image,
and over his mark,
and over the number of his name,

a’. stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

B’. The victory song

3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

a. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

b.4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord,
and glorify thy name?

b’. for thou only art holy:
for all nations shall come and worship before thee;

a’. for thy judgments are made manifest.

A’. seven angels and seven plagues

a. 5 And after that I looked, and, behold,  the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

b. 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.

b’. 7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.  

a’. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power;  and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

One thought on “Revelation 15”

  1. The section in bold from verse 2 in RS’s version above (the first b) and bounded by the highlighted “sea of glass” is in fact part of a chiasm with “great and marvellous” as an outer pair, as below:

    A (1) And I saw another sign in heaven, GREAT AND MARVELLOUS, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

    B (2) And I saw as it were A SEA OF GLASS mingled with fire:

    C (2) AND THEM THAT HAD GOTTEN THE VICTORY OVER THE BEAST, AND OVER HIS IMAGE, AND OVER HIS MARK, AND OVER THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME,

    B′(2) stand on THE SEA OF GLASS, having the harps of God.

    A′ (3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, GREAT AND MARVELLOUS are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

    Another chiasm at the beginning of this chapter is:

    A (1) And I saw another sign in HEAVEN, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.

    B (2) And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his NAME, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

    C (3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, LORD God Almighty;

    D (3) JUST AND TRUE ARE THY WAYS, THOU KING OF SAINTS.

    C′ (4) Who shall not fear thee, O LORD,

    B′ (4) and glorify thy NAME? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

    A′ (5) And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in HEAVEN was opened:

    The central clause emphasizes the “ways” of God over His “works” (bearing in mind that in this passage it relates to Christ manifesting God). This seems to reflect the precedence of God’s ways over His works as shown by verses such as Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment …” where the perfection of His works is so because they are underpinned by His ways of judgment. And in Proverbs 8:22, God’s way predates His works: “Yahweh possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old”.

    In my view what we should be doing, at least initially, is identifying all the chiasms in passages where a particular word is found in both pairs, and where the central clause is clearly bounded by a pair either side (i.e. we don’t have to make our own choice as to what is in the centre). As the above examples show, this often involves chiasms overlapping. Therefore, it is simply not the case that where there are chiasms in a passage they will necessarily link neatly together to form a linear chain from beginning to end. To form such a chain it almost inevitably involves ignoring some chiasms and `editing’ others. It is also worth bearing in mind that whilst it is easy to identify the middle of chiasm (because it is bounded by two words) it is much more tricky to identify the end of a chiasm – how far beyond the last word does the chiasm go? Also, there may be outer pairs a long way from the more inner pairs. By analogy it’s a bit like the Solar system – it’s easy to identify the centre but what constitutes its outer boundary? Personally, I don’t think this latter issue is a key problem because it seems to me that the main function of a chiasm is to highlight the central clause.

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