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A Chiastic Twist to Revelation 2-3 and Commentary on Revelation 1-3

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 15 March 2019 *



Introduction

This study treats Revelation 2-3 as a series of 7 cryptochiasmi in order to arrive at more coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a cryptochiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A cryptochiasmus is a novel concept; see definition in [1]. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text. The study also has a commentary on the reconfigured Rev. 2-3 and one on Rev. 1 because it is intimately related to these chapters.

The apostle John is instructed to send copies of the entire revelation from Jesus to the 7 churches (Rev. 1:11), but with these different introductory passages in Ch. 2-3 that are tailored to each church. While Ch. 2-3 may appear to be a relatively straightforward section of Revelation, we notice a few issues with its structure and meaning. For example:

We will show that these issues can be addressed with a consistent chiastic rearrangement of the messages to each of the churches.


Note:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites - primarily those of the tribe of Judah and their descendants - that remained after the Assyrian exile of the Northern Tribes.


Discussion

1. Parsing Plan: Primary parse

We will divide each of Jesus' 7 letters or epistles to the churches into 3 parts:
  1. The TITLE section, which is a set of names or titles that is adopted when addressing each church. For example, "These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands."
  2. The MESSAGE to the church. The body of the epistle, which begins with the words "I know...".
  3. The PROMISE section, which has promises to the "one who is victorious", and includes the sentence, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

We will treat each epistle as a single-unit cryptochiasmus with the MESSAGE section acting as the chiastic pivot. We will also perform a secondary parse and reconfiguration on some of the epistles.



2. Parsing the chiasmus: Primary parse

We will use the NIV translation for this parse

We parse each of the 7 epistles based on the parsing plan from the previous section to get the divisions below.


2.1 Categorizing Revelation Chapter 2

Epistle to Ephesus Vs 1-7
Vs 1 TITLE. Seven stars...Seven golden lamp-stands.
Vs 2-6 MESSAGE. Hard work and perseverance... Repent and revert to the first things...
Vs 7 PROMISE. The right to eat from the tree of life.

Epistle to Smyrna Vs 8-11
Vs 8 TITLE. First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
Vs 9-10 MESSAGE. Afflictions and poverty... you will suffer persecution for ten days...life as your victor’s crown.
Vs 11 PROMISE. Will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Epistle to Pergamum Vs 12-17
Vs 12 TITLE. He who has the sharp, double-edged sword.
Vs 13-16 MESSAGE. You have remained true. Repent for following the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans.
Vs 17 PROMISE. Some of the hidden manna...a white stone with a new name

Epistle to Thyatira Vs 18-29
Vs 18 TITLE. Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Vs 19-25 MESSAGE. Your love and faith, service and perseverance...repent of following Jezebel...hold on to what you have.
Vs 26-29 PROMISE. I will give authority over the nations...rule with an iron scepter...give that one the morning star.

2.2 Categorizing Revelation Chapter 3

Epistle to Sardis Vs 1-6
Vs 1a TITLE. He who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Vs 1b-4 MESSAGE. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief. Those who have not soiled their clothes will walk with me, dressed in white.
Vs 5-6 PROMISE. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life.

Epistle to Philadelphia Vs 7-13
Vs 7 TITLE. He who is holy... who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut.
Vs 8-11 MESSAGE. You have little strength, yet you have kept my word. I will keep you from the hour of trial...hold on.
Vs 12-13 PROMISE. I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God...

Epistle to Laodicea Vs 14-22
Vs 14 TITLE. The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Vs 15-20 MESSAGE. Lukewarm...You say, "I am rich"...I stand at the door and knock.
Vs 21-22 PROMISE. I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,...



3 Building the reconfigured text

3.1 Primary reconfiguration

Since all the epistles have the same chiastic structure, we show below the reconstruction of the epistle to Ephesus as an example, and we follow the same pattern for the other epistles.


3.1.1 The Epistle to Ephesus: Original text

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.



3.1.2 The Epistle to Ephesus: Building the reconfigured text
From this parse, it appears that Revelation 2:1-7 forms a cryptochiasmus as below:

A1   1 TITLE. Seven stars...Seven golden lamp-stands.
  X   2-6 MESSAGE. Hard work and perseverance... Repent and revert to the first things..
A2   7 PROMISE. The right to eat from the tree of life.

We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on this chiastic structure and based on the ordering rules of a cryptochiasmus [1].

We usually lead with the pivot point but in this case, we will place the central pivot point 'X' last as allowed by the rules of Cryptochiasmus [1]. The corresponding subunits (For ex., subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For ex., A1,A2 is a unit).


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:
[A1,A2]  X        (1)

Translating this sequence into verse numbers of Chapter 2, we get:
Ephesus: [1,7]  2-6        (2)


3.1.3 Building the reconfigured text for the other epistles
We repeat this for the other epistles to get:

In Chapter 2:
Smyrna: [8, 11]  9-10            (3)
Pergamum: [12, 17]  13-16    (4)
Thyatira: [18, 26-29]  19-25   (5)

In Chapter 3:
Sardis: [1a, 5-6]  1b-4            (6)
Philadelphia: [7,12-13]  8-11   (7)
Laodicea: [14,21-22]  15-20   (8)


3.2 Secondary parse and reconfiguration

We notice that some of the names in the TITLE section do not apply to Jesus but to the coming Messiah, the archangel Michael who gave this revelation to John, and we see this in the epistles in which the promise to the "one who is victorious" is at the top of the PROMISE section - that is, in the last 4 epistles. We will show that 3 of these epistles - the ones to Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea - have a secondary chiasmus (Sardis, as we show below, is an exception to this rule). For the secondary parse, we assume that all the names in the TITLE section, except for first name, apply to the coming Messiah.



3.2.1 Secondary parse in Chapter 2

3.2.1.1 Thyatira: Secondary parse

Consider this section of the reconfigured epistle to Thyatira:


18a “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God,

18b whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

26a To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end,

26b I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.



For reasons that we will detail in the commentary section below, we believe that the description in 18b, "whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.", applies to the angel delivering this message, the "one who is victorious", the coming Messiah and NOT "the Son of God", Jesus. In order to get 18b to follow 26a, we set up the passage as a single-unit cryptochiasmus with 26a as the pivot as below:


A1 18b whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
    X 26a To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end,
A2 26b-28 I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter ...

(Note that the multiply-applied chiasmi in Rev. 2-3 are different from most others we have parsed in that the boundaries of the subunits in the second parse are different from those of the first parse. Note also that in both primary and secondary parses, subunit A1 consists of titles and A2 contains promises.)

We use the rearrangement sequence [X [A1, A2]] to get the verses reconfigured as below:
[26a, [18b, 26b-28]]          (20)

Combining (20) with (5) from the first reconfiguration, we get:
[18a, [26a, [18b, 26b-28]],29]  [19-25]    (21)


3.2.2 Secondary parse in Chapter 3

3.2.2.1 Sardis: Secondary parse

1a ...These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
5 The one who is victorious will,...

The phrasing for Sardis in verse 3:1a as above does not allow for a secondary parse, so we will use the reconfiguration from the primary parse (6) for Sardis. However, we will show in the commentary below that this epistle works as a kind of proof of the secondary parses by being the exception.



3.2.2.2 Philadelphia: Secondary parse

7a “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy

7b [(KJV) he that is true], who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

12a The one who is victorious,

[(KJV) 12b will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.]



This section forms a single-unit cryptochiasmus with 12a as the pivot as below:

A1 7b [(KJV) he that is true], who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
    X 12a The one who is victorious,
A2 12b [(KJV) will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out:....]


We use the rearrangement sequence [X [A1, A2]] to get the verses reconfigured as below:
[12a, [7b, 12b]]          (22)

Combining (22) with (7) from the previous section, we get:
[7a,[12a, [7b, 12b]],13]  8-11      (23)


3.2.2.3 Laodicea: Secondary parse

14a “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen,

14b the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

21a To the one who is victorious,

21b I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.



This section forms a single-unit cryptochiasmus with 21a as the pivot as below:

A1 14b the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
    X 21a To the one who is victorious,
A2 21b I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.


We use the rearrangement sequence [X [A1, A2]] to get the verses reconfigured as below:
[21a, [14b, 21b]          (24)

Combining (24) with (8) from the previous section, we get:
[14a,[21a, [14b, 21b]], 22], 15-20  (25)


We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequences (2),(3),(4),(21),(6),(23),(25).



4. Revelation 2 and 3 Reconfigured

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: green for the TITLE and PROMISE and blue for the chiastic pivot, which is the MESSAGE. The epistles that have a secondary parse will have a red pivot point.



4.1 Revelation 2 Reconfigured

4.1.1 The Epistle to Ephesus: Reconfigured (Rev. 2:1,7,2-6)


1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.



4.1.2 The Epistle to Smyrna: Reconfigured (Rev. 2:8,11,9-10)


8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.



4.1.3 The Epistle to Pergamum: Reconfigured (Rev. 2:12,17,13-16)


12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.



4.1.4 The Epistle to Thyatira: Reconfigured (Rev. 2:18a, 26a,18b,26b-28,29, 19-25)


18a “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God,

26a To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end,
18b whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

26b I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.

29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’





4.2 Revelation 3 Reconfigured

4.2.1 The Epistle to Sardis: Reconfigured (Rev. 3:1a,5-6,1b-4)


1a “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
1b I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.



4.2.2 The Epistle to Philadelphia: Reconfigured (Rev. 3:7a, 12a,7b,12b,13, 8-11)


7a “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy,


12a The one who is victorious,
7b [(KJV) he that is true], who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
12b [(KJV) will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.]

13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.



4.2.3 The Epistle to Laodicea: Reconfigured (Rev. 3:14a, 21a,14b, 21b, 22,15-20)


14a “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen,


21a To the one who is victorious,
14b the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
21b I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.




5. A commentary on the reconfigured text.

In each of these reconfigured epistles, we believe that the text below the "Whoever has ears...” sentence applies to everybody and not just that specific church. So all the promises (including those to the "one who is victorious"), prophecies, warnings, acknowledgements, calls for repentance, and encouragements below the sentence are for anyone "who has ears". However, in three epistles in which the promise to "the one who is victorious" precedes the "Whoever has ears...” sentence (i.e., the letters to Thyatira, Philadelphia and Laodicea), the promises to the victorious one apply to one particular individual: the coming Messiah.

At the time these letters were sent, the message to each church was tailored to that church, but we find that the issues these churches faced at the time continued to plague the church through the next two millennia. Also, the Christians in these churches seem to exemplify those in the worldwide church.

We begin with commentary on the introductory chapter, Rev. 1, because it is intimately linked with Ch. 2-3, before commenting on the reconfigured passages.




5.1 Revelation Chapter 1: Commentary

1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Jesus sent an angel to give the apostle John this revelation from God and testimony from Christ.



3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

The one who discerns the prophecy (the word translated "reads aloud" can also be translated "discerns") and those who heed it are blessed, because, when the prophecy is unsealed and correctly interpreted, then (the word translated "because" can also mean "then") these predictions will begin to be fulfilled and those who take the prophecy to heart will act wisely (see also Rev. 22:10-11 [5]).



4 John,
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5a and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

This greeting from John addresses this prophecy to 7 churches in Asia (a province in the region of Asia Minor), but we show with this reconfiguration that the revelation is for everyone. The revelation is from God (him who is, and who was, and who is to come), from the 7 spirits before his throne (see also Rev 4:5, 5:6), and from Jesus.



5b To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

This doxology in praise of Jesus reminds us of his death on the cross; it predicts mankind's final resurrection from the dead and Christ's glorious return after the Messiah's millennial reign. During the millennial reign, faithful Christians and the original Israelites will form a "kingdom of priests" (see Rev 5:10, 20:6).



8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

John ends the greeting with some of the names of God, presumably to acknowledge the original source of this revelation (see vs. 4, Rev. 4:8, 21:6, 22:13).



9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

The apostle John was in exile on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel when he was given this prophecy. He was instructed to send out 7 copies of the revelation to 7 churches but with the different introductory sections in chapters 2-3.




12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

We believe that the bodily description in this passage is that of the angel who brought this message to John and, considering that the description closely resembles that of the angel in Dan. 10:5-6, we believe the angel is Michael, the coming Messiah (see our parse of Dan. 8 [4] and of the Janus in Dan. 10-11 [6]). The lampstands, the stars and the sword apply primarily to Jesus as we will see below.



17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

John was deeply affected by the awesome sight of the angel, just as Daniel was in Dan.10. The angel comforts John and, speaking as Jesus, identifies Christ as the sender of this message. (The angel, when he presents this revelation to John, uses the first person pronoun, talking as though he himself were Jesus.)



19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

Although the book of Revelation primarily consists of prophecies about the distant future, small sections refer the past and to the time of John: sections of Ch. 2-3 are specifically addressed to the churches of the time (but everyone is to heed what is said to those churches); Ch. 12 has short passages about the temptation of Eve and the Judahite's tribulations circa 70AD (see our parse of Rev. 12 [7]).



20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The stars represent the angels or messengers in charge of the churches (probably clergy: bishops, priests or deacons) and the lampstands represent the churches. It may be that the worldwide Christian community is similarly divided into 7 and allocated to the 7 spirits of vs 4 (see Rev. 5:6).




5.2 Revelation Chapter 2: Commentary

5.2.1 The Epistle to Ephesus: Commentary (Rev. 2:1,7,2-6)

1a “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These letters were addressed to the human messengers ("angel" can also be translated "messenger") responsible for disseminating information to church members - typically, a clergyman.



1b These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

The lampstands represent the 7 churches and maybe churches in general, and the stars represent the messengers placed in charge of the churches (Rev. 1:20). The angel, representing Christ, holds the stars in his hand to indicate that Christ controls the guardians of the churches and walks among the the lampstands to indicate that Christ is closely involved in the churches (Rev. 1:12,13).



7a Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The promises to the victorious one in these first three epistles (the letters to Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum) apply to all Christians because this sentence in vs 7a appears before the promises to the victorious one. The "Spirit" here may be the angel delivering this message.



7b To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

The tree of life is in the new heaven and new earth that descends from heaven (Rev 22:2), which will be inhabited by those who are victorious over evil. It could also refer to the tree in the garden of Eden, which may once again be accessible to the victorious during Messiah's earthly reign, in which case, the victorious will live long earthly lives (see Gen. 3:22, Rev. 22:14).



2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Christ commends the hard work, perseverance and discernment of the Christians of Ephesus. He exhorts those who have relapsed to repent and revert to their former works, failing which he will "remove their lampstand", which may mean that the church will lose Christ's guardianship and be dissolved. The Nicolaitans appear to be a sect that introduced corrupting pagan or Satanic practices (like Gnosticism) into the church. They may have been particularly active in Ephesus and Pergamum, but the church has faced this sort of corrupting influence throughout its history. ( By "pagan", we mean demonic doctrines and the worship of idols or "gods" that are really Satan or his demons in their various forms and with their various names. The Roman Catholic empire has been particularly instrumental in introducing these practices into Christianity. For example: "Mother Mary" and "Baby Jesus" worship is really idol worship dressed up to look like Christianity; the Nicene Creed and the doctrine of the Trinity has corrupted almost all Christian denominations. )




5.2.2 The Epistle to Smyrna: Commentary (Rev. 2:8,11,9-10)

8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

Christ is the most powerful entity after God - the earth was created through him (John 1:1-4) - and yet he came down to earth, suffered and died for the sins of man and was resurrected.



11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Those who are victorious over evil will not be consigned to the lake of fire which is the second death (Rev 20:14, 21:8).



9a I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!

The church in Smyrna seems to have been a relatively poor one but it was a spiritually wealthy congregation of sincere Christians. Note that the faithful Christian does not necessarily gain material wealth or freedom from suffering.



9b I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

The destruction of Jerusalem c.70AD and the slaughter of the Judahites living therein is mentioned in almost every important chiastically arranged prophetic passage we have seen (for ex., Daniel 9 [2]). We believe that this is an important event because it signals the complete end of the old covenant. The Judahites of the time either converted to Christianity, were killed or got absorbed into other races. These remaining "Jews" in Smyrna where converts to Pharisaic Judaism, and Smyrna seems to have had a significant number of them as evidenced by their slander that, according to Eusebius, resulted in the martyrdom of Polycarp.

Similarly, the "Jews" of today cannot be of the ancient Israelite tribe of Judah. They mainly follow a version of Judaism corrupted by the Satanic teachings of Babylon (through the Talmud and Kabbalah), which makes them Pharisees who are of the "synagogue of Satan" and not adherents of pure Judaism. So the "Talmudic Jews" of today are not Judahites by race or by religion, and they continue to covertly, craftily and viciously attack Christians and Christianity worldwide.



10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

The Christians of the time faced periods of persecution ("ten days" seems to indicate a short time) and death through the "Jews" of the time. Through the millennia after that, Christians around the world have had to face similar suffering, persecution and death, primarily through the Roman Catholic Empire, an Empire which is controlled by the Satanic bloodline families that tend to be "Talmudic Jews" (see also the Appendix in our parse of Daniel 8 [4]). Those who choose to suffer for their faith to the point of death need not fear the second death (Rev 20:4-6).




5.2.3 The Epistle to Pergamum: Commentary (Rev. 2:12,17,13-16)

12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

Jesus wields the double-edged sword of truth that excises Satanic deceit from a corrupt world controlled by the evil one. The coming Messiah will, under Jesus' guidance, use the sword of his mouth to vanquish the worshippers of Satan and their lies (Rev 1:16, 19:15).



17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

The hidden manna seems to indicate a kind of miraculous divine sustenance - perhaps the tree of life (Rev 22:14). The white stone appears to be a token that entitled the recipient to some honor or privilege. And a new name in the Bible typically represents a new exalted role for the person. So the white stone with the new name may symbolize a personal, eternal honor and reward to the faithful believer from Jesus.



13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

Pergamum was the seat of power from which Satan ruled the world at the time of this prophecy (his capital moved from Babylon to the Vatican by way of Pergamum). Pergamum, known for its pagan temples, also had a monument called the Pergamon Altar that some scholars believe is the "Satan's throne" in this passage. The Christians of Pergamum, like Antipas, had been faithful to God in the face of persecution and death. Many Christians around the world, have been similarly faithful to their God in spite of the persecution that primarily has come from Satan's current seat of world power at the Vatican.



14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Some of the Christians of Pergamum had been enticed into the abominable practices of the surrounding pagans (idolatry and sexual immorality were part of their worship) by following the teachings of the Nicolaitans and those of Balaam (as the Israelites did in the time of Balak - Num. 31:16). More generally, many Christians have been lured into forbidden practices like witchcraft and Satan-worship for the temporal benefits they offer. While faithful Christians have fought these pernicious influences over the years, the "Rider on the White Horse" will ultimately vanquish this evil from the Christian world with the sword of his mouth (Rev. 19:11-16).




5.2.4 The Epistle to Thyatira: Commentary (Rev. 2:18a, 26a,18b,26b-28,29, 19-25)

18a “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God,


26a To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end,

18b whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

In this letter (and the ones that follow), the promise to "the one who is victorious" precedes the "Whoever has ears..." sentence, and we believe this is because these promises to the "victorious one" apply only to the coming Messiah. Also, with this secondary reconfiguration, we can say that the coming Messiah will be the angel who presented this revelation. The physical description "eyes like fire, feet like bronze..." closely resembles that of the archangel Michael in Daniel 10 (see our parse of the Janus in Dan. 10-11 [6], our parse of Dan. 8 [4] and our comment on Rev. 1:12-16 above). Note that even the coming Messiah has to overcome before he is given the crown (see Rev 5:5). This epistle has an additional requirement from the victorious one - i.e., "does my will to the end" - because the Messiah must not only be victorious but also must implement the work of Jesus to the end.



26b I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.

During his millennial reign, Jesus will rule Israel and control the rest of the world through a human ruler (Psalm 2:9), the archangel Michael incarnate (see [4]). The iron scepter will be necessary at that time because hostile nations outside the new Israel will not willingly obey Jesus and his Messiah (Psalm 2). The "morning star", which appears to be one of the most exalted heavenly titles (see also Rev. 22:16, Job 38:7) and previously held by the likes of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), will be given to the coming Messiah.



29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

The prophetess referred to as Jezebel (see also 2 Kings 9:22,30) was a corrupting influence in Thyatira, teaching sexual immorality and idol worship like the Baalamites of Pergamum, and so the church of Thyatira is exhorted to reject her ways. The spirit behind Jezebel has continued to be active, leading people to sexual immorality, perversions, worship of demon gods like Baal, and Satanic doctrines (doctrines that are promoted as "deep secrets" only divulged to initiates of Satanic organizations). One of the primary duties of Christians is to be aware of and vigilant against the pernicious influence of Satan and his minions, rejecting Satan-worship, witchcraft and the doctrines of demons.





5.3 Revelation Chapter 3: Commentary

5.3.1 The Epistle to Sardis: Commentary (Rev. 3:1a,5-6,1b-4)

The letter to Sardis acts as a sort of proof of the parse of Rev. 2-3 by being the exception, because not only does the phrasing of verse 1a not allow for a secondary parse, the language of the promise to the "one who is victorious" below is such that it applies to both the Messiah and the whole church. (The promise to the "one who is victorious" is above the "Hear what the spirit says..." sentence in this letter, which typically means that the promise applies only to the Messiah.)



1a “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

The angel, representing Christ, holds the seven spirits of God (see Rev. 5:6, 1:4) and the seven stars (Rev. 1:16, 20), probably to indicate that he controls the human messengers or leaders of the church through the seven spiritual beings before God's throne (in the same way that the kings of the earth have their angelic counterparts [6]).



5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

The phrase "like them" refers to those clothed in white in vs. 4, which makes this promise to the Messiah apply to everyone else who has remained pure as well. Those whose names are in the Book Of Life need not fear the second death because they will inherit eternal life. Christ will acknowledge them in heaven and be their mediator before God and the heavenly hosts.



6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

1b I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

The church in Sardis seemed alive on the outside but was spiritually dead because its profession of faith was only in name (i.e., the opposite of the church in Smyrna). The city of Sardis had a reputation in the region for its dissolute, pagan ways, and it appears that the church of the city had gone the same way, even though it was one of the early churches. Similarly, Christians in general are warned to wake up and be true in word and deed because only those who are spiritually awake will be prepared for Christ's coming (Matt. 24:42-44). (We believe the last sentence is an end-times prophecy.)



4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

Christians who have not defiled themselves with the prevailing corruption, like a few in Sardis, will fellowship with Christ in his glorious kingdom. The "white clothes" seems to indicate the heavenly rank of the person (see also Rev. 7:9), which is given as a reward for their deeds on earth (unlike our earthly appearance, our heavenly appearance will accurately reflect our character). They will also receive the rewards promised to the victorious one in vs. 5 (see comment above).



5.3.2 The Epistle to Philadelphia: Commentary (Rev. 3:7a, 12a,7b,12b,13, 8-11)

7a “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy,


12a The one who is victorious,

7b [(KJV) he that is true], who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

The coming Messiah will have the "key of David", which means that he will control the new Jerusalem of the millennial reign, the future capital of the world. The phrase, "What he opens no one can shut...", means that he will have ultimate authority over Jerusalem and the rest of the world and all his decisions will be final (he will, however, be operating under the direction of Christ). In our reconstruction of Isaiah 22 [8], we show that the same language in Isaiah 22:22 also applied to the coming Messiah. The Messiah is called "true" in vs 7b, presumably to indicate his faithfulness (see also Rev 19:11 and our parse of Daniel 8 [4]).



12b [(KJV) will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.]

In addition to being king in Jerusalem, the Messiah will be a priest or leader in the new temple in Jerusalem forever - the phrase, "he will go out no more", presumably means that he will always retain this role. In this passage, writing a name on a person seems to imply consecration - the coming Messiah is consecrated to God, Jesus and the New Jerusalem from heaven (see also Rev. 19:12,16). Writing the name of the New Jerusalem on the coming Messiah seems to imply that he will not only rule the earth for a millennium, he will also be the ruler for Christ in the new kingdom that comes down from heaven.



13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

Jesus has left open the door to God to faithful Christians, a door that the "Jews" of the time could not shut through their man-made laws, punishment or excommunication. The Christians of Philadelphia had been faithful in spite of being weak relative to their "Jewish" persecutors and will be rewarded for it.

As we have seen earlier in this discussion, the "Jews" of today are not of the ancient Israelite tribe of Judah and the religion of "Talmudic Jews" is a mix of Judaism and Satanic doctrines. Also, in our analysis of Daniel 8 [4], we wrote about the powerful Satanic bloodlines from Babylon that control this world. Members of these bloodlines tend to be "Talmudic Jews" because of the Babylonian roots of that religion. When Jesus' millennial reign begins, these "Jews" who represent the "elite" of Satan's reign will fall at the feet of true Christians who are the elite of Jesus' reign.

The Roman Catholic empire (which is controlled by "Talmudic Jewa"), has similarly excommunicated, tortured and killed those who did not adhere to their corrupted version of Christianity, but many Christians have been faithful to their God in spite of being powerless against the Catholic Empire.



10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

As we have seen in our analysis of several prophecies (for ex., the Olivet discourse [3]), there are two times of tribulation: one at the start of Christ's reign (some time after 2017AD); and the more "apocalyptic" one at its completion (c. 2967AD). It is unlikely that the first tribulation will be the "hour of trial" that Christians will escape because that would contradict other passages (like Rev. 2:10). It's more likely to be a reference to the rapture of Christians that will keep them away from second, greater tribulation. Christians are encouraged to continue their good works so that they may keep their victor's crowns and the attendant rewards.



5.3.3 The Epistle to Laodicea: Commentary (Rev. 3:14a, 21a,14b, 21b, 22,15-20)

14a “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen,


21a To the one who is victorious,

14b the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

The coming Messiah will be a trustworthy messenger for God and Jesus - a "faithful and true witness" (see also Rev. 19:11). Though Jesus is the "King of kings" (Rev. 17:14), the coming Messiah will be the "ruler of God's creation" as his representative, just as Satan's rule is implemented by representatives among the bloodline families.



21b I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

The Messiah will rule for Jesus just as Jesus rules the world for God (see Psalm 110:5-7). Note the implied hierarchy - Jesus is superior to the coming Messiah, God is superior to Jesus.



22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Most interpretations of this passage take "hot" to mean zealous, "lukewarm" to mean passionless, and by extension, "cold" to mean non-Christian or pagan. This reading of the passage leads to the unsettling, unlikely conclusion that Jesus prefers the non-Christian to the passionless, phlegmatic Christian.

We prefer the interpretation that both "hot" and "cold" are good in the sense that both hot and cold water are good - both have utility. Those who are "lukewarm" do not possess any additional qualities that sets them apart - they are like plain water. (This metaphor seems to allude to the separate pipelines that delivered both hot and cold water to the wealthy Laodicea.) In the Christian context, "lukewarm" refers to those who "live according to the flesh" and do not have the "Fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:13-26) that makes them stand out from the rest of the world, or Christians who are like "salt without saltiness" (Matthew 5:13); these Christians face rejection by Jesus.



17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Laodicea was a wealthy city, but the worldly wealth of the Christians in the city made them blind to their spiritual shortcomings, self-sufficient and not needing God. They made Christ an "outsider" with their attitude, but with his great love, he stands at the door and knocks. This is a call to Christians to repent of this attitude of self-sufficiency that comes with worldly success and become spiritually wealthy instead by returning to the fellowship of Christ.




Conclusion

We believe that, with this reconfiguration, we have convincingly addressed the issues we bought up in the introduction with regard to the position of the "Whoever has ears, let them hear..." sentence. These chiasmi are different from most others we have parsed in a few ways. For example: they are single-unit chiasmi and not the three-unit chiasmi we usually see - they are not about 3 distinct periods; and the boundaries of the secondary parse are different from that of the first. Interestingly, three of the promises to the "one who is victorious" apply to all Christians, three to the coming Messiah and the one to Sardis applies to both; this is in keeping with the 3 1/2 and 7 pattern we see in Biblical prophecies (see Dan. 9:27 for example).


These passages, though addressed to some of the first Christians, are relevant today in many ways: .

References

[1] A Definition of Cryptochiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 8
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22: Part 2
[6] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 10-12: Part 1
[7] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 12
[8] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 22








* Updated 22/9/2020. Added the secondary parse.







Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Cryptochiasmus