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Jesus and Pharisees

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In Matthew 23:13-33 Jesus delivers 7 ‘woes’ to the scribes and Pharisees.  My Bible (NASB) refers to 8 woes in its sub-title, but the woe in v. 14 is absent in the earliest manuscripts.  7 woes makes good sense.  7 is a symbol of fullness, or completeness.  Matthew would like his readers to see these woes as full, complete, and impact-full.  These woes then lead into Matthew 24, where Jesus teaches about the coming destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.).

A    The first 2 woes involve other people (people are kept from entering the kingdom of God; a proselyte is turned into a ‘son of hell’), and end with a reference to Gehenna (~hell).

B    The middle 3 woes call the scribes and Pharisees “blind guides” (2 times), “blind men” (2 times), and “blind” (once), and are highly chiastic.

A’   The last 2 woes refer to “tombs”, and end with a reference to Gehenna (~hell).

The third woe (vs 16-22) contains 3 chiasmi.  It’s the only ‘woe’ which begins with “Woe to you, blind guides …” rather than “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites …”.  It’s a nice chiasmus.  Its basic outline is:  temple … altar … altar … temple (A B B’ A’).  It contains 2 ‘smaller’ chiasmi within it – in A and B.  I like the way the end builds from altar (B’) to temple (A’) to heaven (C).  This ‘building’ at the end should be contrasted to the ‘diminishing’ of similar terms in the explanatory passage, Matthew 5:33-37:

33  “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWSBUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’  34  But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,  35  or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.  36  Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  37  But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

Combining 5:33-37 with 23:20-22 you get a list that diminishes and then expands, with ‘heaven’ forming an inclusion (bookends):  (diminishing:) heaven, earth, Jerusalem, ‘your head’ … (expanding:) altar, temple, heaven.  Combined you get a lengthy list of things a person should not swear by.  It is better to simply have your yes mean yes, and your no mean no (5:37).   Jesus’ simplifies the topic.

To understand Jesus’ reference to the scribes and Pharisees as “blind guides”, see Matthew 15:14:  “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”  The references to blindness in the 3rd to 5th woes fittingly follow the first two woes, which refer to potential followers of the scribes and Pharisees.  It’s fitting that the last 2 woes refer to tombs.  Tombs refer to ‘the end’ (at least our end ;-), and in this case, ominously lead into Jesus’ prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

Here are the 7 woes, with 6 chiasmi:

__________

13  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.   

[Verse 14 deleted]

15  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16  “Woe to you, blind guides, who say,

A

a    ‘Whoever swears by the templethat is nothing;

b    but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 

c    17  You fools and blind men!  Which is more important?

b’    the gold

a’    or the temple that sanctified the gold? 

B

a    18  And, ‘Whoever swears by the altarthat is nothing,

b    but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 

c   19  You blind men!  Which is more important?

b’    The offering,

a’    or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 

—–

B’    20  Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 

A’   21  And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 

C    22  And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

23  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  

A    For you tithe mint and dill and cummin,

B    and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness

B’    but these are the things you should have done

A’    without neglecting the others

24  You blind guides,

A    who strain out

B    a gnat

B’    and a camel

A’    swallow!

25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

A    For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish,

B    but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 

  26  You blind Pharisee,

B’    first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish,

A’    so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  28  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,  30  and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’  31  So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  32  Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.  33  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

34  “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,  35  so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  36  Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  38  Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 

39  “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”

24:1  Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him.  2  And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” …  …  …

 

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destruction

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Revelation 14:6-11:

6  And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;  7  and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”  8  And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”

9  Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice,

A    “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand

B    10  he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God,  which is mixed in full strength in the cup  of His anger;

C    and he will be tormented

D   with fire and brimstone

E    in the presence of the holy angels

E’    and in the presence of the Lamb.

D’    11  And the smoke    [Comment by me: the smoke comes from the fire and brimstone]

C’    of their torment goes up forever and ever;  

B’    they have no rest day and night   [Comment by me: the punishment/torment is full strength: i.e., there are no breaks; it continues both day and night],

A’    those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 

__________

Some think this passage is speaking of hell, and that hell is a place of eternal conscious torment:  “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night.”  In fact, this passage is often taken as one of the strongest proof texts for eternal conscious torment in hell.

But, in my opinion, these verses shouldn’t be understood that way.  The image of smoke going up ‘forever and ever’ is simply an idiom for total destruction.  Ironically, it speaks of ‘finality’ rather than ‘eternity’.  You can see this by looking at Isaiah 34:8-10 where it refers to the total destruction of the land of Edom:

8  For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.  9  Its streams will be turned into pitch, and its loose earth into brimstone, and its land will become burning pitch.  10  It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will go up forever.  From generation to generation it will be desolate; none will pass through it forever and ever.

Edom was completely destroyed.  There may have been fire and smoke involved in its destruction, but the actual smoke of that destruction did not go up ‘forever and ever’.  It would have only lasted a short time – maybe days, weeks, or months.  What the phrase does point to is finality.  The language is hyperbolic, pointing to a destruction that will be eternal – a destruction that will last forever.  …  Edom was completely destroyed and, for all of eternity, it would never rise again.  It is gone.  

The image of smoke rising forever is also used in Revelation 19:3.  In the chiasmus above, we have a stylized, chiastic description of the destruction of Babylon.  In Revelation 18:1-19:6 we have a more detailed, straight forward description of the destruction of Babylon.  Note that both of the Revelation passages we’re looking at begin with the phrase, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (14:8, 18:2).  Both passages are speaking of the same event, the destruction of Babylon.

Here’s a few excerpts from the less stylized and more descriptive passage, Revelation 18:1-19:3:

2  And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great …’.  …  To the degree that she glorified herself and lived sensuously, to the same degree give her torment and mourning; for she says in her heart, ‘I SIT as A QUEEN AND I AM NOT A WIDOW, and will never see mourning.’  8  For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.  9  “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning,  10  standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’  …  15  The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning,  16  saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls;  17  for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!’ And every ship-master and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance,  18  and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’  19  And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city …’.  …  21  Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.  22  And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer;  23  and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer  …  19:1  After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;  2  BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.”  3  And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.”  …  6  Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.

Note the presence of fire, smoke, and torment in the above description of the destruction of Babylon.  Towards the end, the writer once again uses the phrase “Her smoke rises up forever and ever.”  In this passage, Babylon is completely destroyed, just as Edom was completely destroyed in Isaiah.  The language of ‘smoke rising forever’, or even ‘smoke of their torment rising forever’ is simply hyperbolic language referring to the completeness, or finality, of Babylon’s destruction (note the use of ‘torment’ in both Revelation passages).  Babylon is finished.  It will be no more.  It will not be found.  It will be like a great millstone thrown into the sea.

Rather than eternity, the idiom of ‘smoke rising forever’ actually speaks of complete destruction.  Finality.

 

 

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Jude

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A number of chiasmi have been suggested for the epistle of Jude – many of which can be found on the net.

Following is my attempt.

Here’s the breakdown:

A/A’:  Jude’s intro and benediction.

B/C/DD’C’B’:  Words of blessing and encouragement regarding ‘mercy, love, faith … faith, love, mercy’.  (Note the chiastic reversal of the word order.  This is a nice, clear beginning/end clue that the entire book of Jude may have been written as a chiasmus.  When you see something like this, the possibility of an overall chiasmus is worth checking out.)

E/E’:  The overall problem is introduced.  E:  Ungodly persons have crept in “who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”.  E’:  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it was spoken of previously by the apostles: “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts”.

F/F’This is Jude’s ‘main body’!  It addresses the problem directly.  It gives examples of disobedience and promises judgment.

F and F’ have 2 parts each:  F (1 and 2) … F’ (1 and 2).  And each of the 1 and 2 parts can be divided into an additional 2 parts (a and b):  F1 (a and b), F2 (a and b);  F’1 (a and b), F’2 (a and b).

Note:  this a/b pattern is continued in E’.

I hope that’s not too difficult to follow.  Anyway, continuing …

Both F1a and F’1a give 3 Old Testament examples of misbehavior and/or error.

Both F2a and F’2a refer to extra-Biblical pseudepigraphical texts (Assumption of Moses, Book of Enoch, respectively).  F2a mentions Michael the archangel.  F’2a refers to the Lord coming with “many thousands of His holy ones (angels)”, with presumably, though not stated specifically, Michael at the lead (see 1 Thess. 4:16).

The final a section in F’ gives the strongest warning.  Jesus will return with many angels and execute judgment!

Note how all the b sections in F through E’ use the word ‘these’ to refer to those in the church who are causing problems.  It’s interesting to read all these b sections in order.  It gives a nice description of the trouble makers.

_____

A   1  Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  

B   2  May mercy

C   and peace and love be multiplied to you.  

D   3  Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  

E   4  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  

F

1

a   5  Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.  6  And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,  7  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.  

b   8  Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.  

2

a   9  But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  

b   10  But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.  

F’

1

a   11  Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  

b   12  These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;  13  wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.  

2

a   14  It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,  15  to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  

b   16  These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.  

E’

a   17  But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,  18  that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”  

b   19  These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.  

D’   20  But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith

C’   praying in the Holy Spirit,  21  keep yourselves in the love of God, 

B’   waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.  22  And have mercy on some, who are doubting;  23  save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

A’   24  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,  25  to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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DCF 1.0

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This chiasmus is part of a larger chiasmus (Revelation 1:4 – 3:22) that can be found here.

_____

The chiasmus below can be briefly outlined as follows:

A    God, the Father

B/C    Jesus

D/E/E’F’    The Church

C’/B’   Jesus

A’   God, the Father

The chiasmus can be read helically.  That is, it can be read in the order of it’s matches:  from A to A’, to B to B’, to C to C’, to D, E, E’, F’.  In my opinion, the passage actually becomes clearer when read this way:

(A)  “Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come – and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.  (A’)  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  (B)  And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  (B’)  Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.  (C)  To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood;  (C’)  to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (D/E/E’/D’)  He has made us to be a kingdom; priests to His God and Father.”

(For another example of a passage that can be read helically, see Psalm 150.)

I think the center of this chiasmus is strong, focusing on the church as a kingdom of priests.  The center offers a little ‘high churchology’, if you will.  😉

The beginning and end have a match in God, the Father.  ‘God’ surrounds and centers the chiasmus – and more importantly, it’s message.

The reference to God as “Alpha and Omega” is interesting.  Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, while Omega is the last.  The phrase’s meaning is that God is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.  In other words, He is the source of everything that is.  …  For me, it’s interesting as well because the chiasmus itself begins and ends with ‘God, the Father’.  It makes me wonder whether the writer is winking at us with this little phrase – perhaps with a small smile of creative satisfaction. ;-).

I like the way the second half ends each section with strength:  C’:  “Amen”; B’:  “Amen”; A’:  “The Almighty”.

Overall, I think this is a nice little chiasmus.  I like the beautiful, strong message in the center.  We are a kingdom … a kingdom of priests.  Wow!  Nice.

_____

4  John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

A    [Me:  God, the Father:]  Grace to you and peace, from Him  /  who is and who was and who is to comeand from the seven Spirits who are before His throne

B    [Me:  Jesus:]  5  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth

C    [Me: Praise for Jesus (doxology – part a):]  To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood – 

D    (6  and He has made us to be

E    a kingdom,

E’   priests

D’   to His God and Father –)

C’   [Me: Praise for Jesus (doxology – part b):]  to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

B’  [Me:  Jesus:]  7  Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. 

A’  [Me:  God, the Father:]  8  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,  /  who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

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jesus-seven-candlesticks

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The detailed, central D E F G F’ E’ D’ section of the chiasmus is from this web site.  I’ve expanded it with A B C and C’ B’ A’.  Over all the chiasmus can be summarized as follows:

A    A message to the 7 churches

B    John hears

C    John sees

D E F G F’ E’ D’   The vision of Jesus in detail – with a ~loud ‘voice’ at the center.

C’   John sees

B’   John hears

A’    7 messages to the 7 churches

Perhaps the singular message to the seven churches in A should be kept in mind when reading the 7 separate messages in A’.  A is actually a chiasmus, though I haven’t presented it as such here (next post?).  The center of the A chiasmus emphasizes the church as a kingdom, made up of priests.  It’s very positive and helps to counterbalance some of the criticisms in A’.

I like B C C’ B’ (seeing and hearing).  These are the basic elements in John’s experience of the revelation.  John ‘sees’ and ‘hears’.  This perhaps also explains the match in E/E’: eyes (seeing) and mouth (voice/hearing).

B and B’ both contain quotes.  Included in each quote is the approximate statement, ~’write in a book/write the things you have seen’.  Both quotes end by referencing the seven churches.

I think the center is fitting.  It emphasizes the all-important ‘voice’ John hears – which is “like the sound of many waters” (see 1:10a).  …  A nice center, imo.

_____

 

[Me:  Revelation Intro (not part of the chiasmus):]    1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,  2  who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.  3  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

A    [Me: A message to the 7 churches:]    4  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,  and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood –  and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

B    [Me: John hearing:]    9  I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,  /  saying: Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.

C    [Me: John seeing:]    Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 

D    14  His headand His hair –  /  were white like white wool, like snow;

E    and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 

F    15  His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace,

G    and His voice was like the sound of many waters

F’   16  In His right hand He held seven stars,

E’   and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword;

D’   and His face  /  was like the sun shining in its strength.

C’   [Me: John seeing:]    17  When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man.

B’   [Me: John hearing:]    And He placed His right hand on me, saying: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,  18  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.  19  Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.  20  As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

A’    [Me: 7 separate messages to the 7 churches (2:1-3:22 … excerpts):]    2:1  “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:    …  …  2:8  “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:  …  …  2:12  “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:  …  …  2:18  “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:  …  …  3:1  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:  …  …  3:7  “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:  …  …  3:14  “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:  … .

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1024px-Anastasis_at_Chora

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This particular chiasmus comes from here.  The attribution at the bottom of the page is to:  Craig S. Keener, the IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament, Intervarsity Press, Downes Grove, I, Illinois, 1993.

The book can be found here at Google books, and here at Amazon.

I like the theme of salvation at the center.  It makes the center strong.

I think D/D’ is interesting.  It seems one of the purposes of Jesus’ ‘making proclamation to the spirits in prison’ (D) may have been to have ‘angels, authorities, and powers’ subjected to Himself (D’).  I also like the implied match between Hades below and Heaven above.

There’s a lot of concepts packed in here: judgment, our suffering/witness, Jesus’ suffering, Hades/Heaven, ordering of power, salvation … .  Plenty to contemplate.  Nice.

Here’s the summary from the book:

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 1 Peter 3.16 4.5

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(A?)    13  Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?  14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,  15  but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;   

A    16  and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered,  /  those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 

B    17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer  /  for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 

C    18  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death  /  in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 

D    [Me: Jesus goes to Hades]  19  in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison

E    20  who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 

E’   21  Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

D’   22  who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him

C’   4:1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered  in the flesh,

B’   arm yourselves also with the same purpose – because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,  2  so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God

A’   3  or the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.  4  In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;  /  but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 

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Judges Gavel

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The following chiasmus is from Douglas Moo’s commentary, “Romans: The NIV Application Commentary: From Biblical Text to Contemporary Life”.  The commentary can be found here at Google Books, and here at Amazon.  Douglas’ website is here.

Here’s a quote:

God Judges Every Human Being Impartially on the Same Basis (2:6-11)

This important paragraph supports a point that is implicit, but vital, to Paul’s indictment of self-righteous Jews in 2:1-5:  God assesses Jews and Gentiles on the same basis.  In effect, Paul argues, there is a level playing field when it comes to God’s ultimate verdict.  The Jew, therefore, simply by virtue of being a Jew cannot claim immunity from judgment.  The argument of these verses is clear and logical, following a pattern we label chiasm.  This word comes from the name for the Greek letter that looks much like our “X”.  It describes a structure in which the basic sequence follows an A-B-B’-A’ pattern.  Note how verses 6-11 fall into such a pattern:

A   God will judge everyone according to his works (v. 6)

B   People who do good will attain eternal life (v .7)

C   People who do evil will suffer wrath (v. 8)

C’  Wrath for those who do evil (v. 9)

B’  Glory for those who do good (v. 10)

A’  God judges impartially (v. 11)

Sometimes in a chiasm, the main point comes at the center.  In this case, however, the main point appears at the outer edges.

Moo’s last point is worth considering.  The main point is not always at the center.  In the end, it’s up to the discretion of the writer.  The chiastic writer has options.

I’ve refined Moo’s chiasmus a little bit by adding the following lower-case connections:  a bb’ a’, a bb’ a’, a bb’ a’.

I would also like to point out the phrase, “of the Jew first and also the Greek”, which occurs twice in the chiasmus.  Interestingly, the phrase appears at the end of the two matches: B/B’ (regarding good) and C/C’ (regarding evil).  Even though the two occurrences of the phrase do not appear chiastically balanced overall, they are still reasonably / logically placed within the chiasmus.

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2:1  Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  2  And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.  3  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?  4  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  5  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment

A

a    5  of God,

b    6  who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

B

a    7  to those who by perseverance in doing good

b    seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

C

a    8  but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,

b    wrath and indignation.

C’

b’   9  There will be tribulation and distress

a’   for every soul of man who does evil – of the Jew first and also the Greek,

B ‘

b’   10  but glory and honor and peace

a’   to everyone who does good – to the Jew first and also the Greek. 

A’

b’   11  for there is no partiality

a’   with God.

 

 

 

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