Archive for May, 2014



This chiasmus is fairly straight forward.

I like the double center.  It demonstrates that there are two ‘balanced’ parts to the covenant.  God plays a part (land and ‘being their God’), and Abraham and his descendants play a part (circumcision).

I also rather like the progressive build-up at the end of A, B, and C.  It goes from A, “I will multiply you exceedingly”, to B, “… you will be the father of a multitude of nations, to C, “… and kings shall come forth from you.”

I also like that C/C’ seems to bring out an equality between Abraham and Sarah.  They both have their names changed, and they both are given the same promise.  …  It’s a partnership.  Nice.


A    17:1  Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.  2  “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.”

B    3  And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,  4  “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.

1    5  “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham;

2    For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.  6  “And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.

D    [Me:  God’s part:]


7  “And I will establish My covenant  /  between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.

2    8  “And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession – and I will be their God.”

D’   [Me:  Abraham’s part:]

1    9  God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant,  /  you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

2    10  “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you:  every male among you shall be circumcised.  11  “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.  12  “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.  13  “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  14  “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”


1    15  Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.

2    16  “And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations;  /  kings of peoples shall come from her.”

B    17  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed,

A    and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”


[Me:  A question concerning Ishmael (fatherly concern):]    18  And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!”  19  But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.  20  “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  21  “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”  22  And when He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

[Me:  Abraham obeys his God:]    23  Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day, as God had said to him.  24  Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  25  And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  26  In the very same day Abraham was circumcised, and Ishmael his son.  27  And all the men of his household, who were born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.


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Suffering Christ on the Cross, modern, bright colors


This chiasmus has a bit of complexity to it – which I like.  Clearly some effort and time has been put into it.

Here’s the basic outline:

A/A’:  The ‘wisdom of the world’ will be “destroyed” [Greek: destroyed completely], “set aside”, “nullified” [Greek: abolished].  These are strong words, indicating complete defeat or elimination.  (A/A’ use stronger terms than those found in the next sections, B/B’.)

B1/B’1:  A triple-list is used in each of these sections (a triple-list consists of a grouping of three words or phrases).  The ‘wise’ begins the triple-list in each section.  Similar words are used prior to each word or phrase in each triple-list:  ‘pou’ comes before each word/phrase in the triple-list in B1, while ‘polus’ comes before each word/phrase in the triple-list in B’1. Both words begin with ‘p’, offering a match via alliteration.

B2/B’2:  The same idea is found in each of these sections:  ‘foolishness defeats the wisdom of the world’.  In both these sections, it is God who accomplishes the act (“Has not God …? / God has …, God has …).

C/C’:  C has ‘wisdom’ before ‘foolish‘., while C’ has ‘foolish‘ before ‘wisdom’.  C and C’ are chiastically arranged.

D:  The ideas in these sections are arranged chiastically – a b c b’ a’.  The well known line, “Christ crucified:  to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness” forms the very center of the chiasmus (c).  In Paul’s mind, “Christ crucified” represents the power and wisdom of God (D, Intro (v. 18)).


In my opinion, the beginning and end of the chiasmus (the complete destruction of the world’s wisdom) should be understood in light of the center (Christ crucified).  It is “Christ crucified” – the cross – that ultimately makes the world’s wisdom (the world’s understanding of life) ‘destroyed, set aside, and nullified’.


Note:  Personally, I think this chiasmus should be read helically.  I.e., from A to A’ to B to B’ to C to C’ to D.  In other words, in the order of its matches.


18  …  the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

A    19  For it is written, ”    a    I WILL DESTROY    b    THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,    b’   AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER    a’   I WILL SET ASIDE.”


1    20  Where is  [Me: “Where ” = Greek: “pou”]  the wise man? Where is  [pou]  the scribe? Where is  [pou]  the debater of this age?

2    Has not God made foolish / the wisdom of the world?


a    [Me:  emphasis on wisdom:]  21  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom / did not come to know God,

b    [Me: emphasis on foolishness:]  God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached / to save those who believe.


a    22  For indeed  1  Jews ask for  2  signs  [Me: “signs” = a demonstration of the power of God], and  1′  Greeks search for  2′  wisdom;

b    23  but we preach

c    Christ crucified: to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,

b’   24  but to those who are the called,

a’   both  1  Jews and  1′  Greeks, Christ the  2  power of God and the  2′  wisdom of God.


(1)   25  Because the    b’    foolishness of God    a’    is wiser than men,

(2)    and the    b’    weakness of God    a’    is stronger than men.


1    26  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many  [Me: “not many” = Greek: “polus”]  wise (according to the flesh),  /  not many  [= polus]  mighty,  /  not many  [= polus]  noble;


(1′)    a    27  but God has chosen    b    the foolish things of the world  /  to shame  [Me: Greek: “kataischunw”]  the wise,

(2′)   a    and God has chosen    b    the weak things of the world  /  to shame  [Me: Greek: “kataischunw”]  the things which are strong,


I    b’    28  and the base things of the world and the despised,    ii    a’   God has chosen –  

i’   the things that are not,   ii’   that He might nullify the things that are   [Me: “nullify” = “katargew” = to render inoperative / to abolish].



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