Clif Notes- OH THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES OF CHIASTIC STRUCTURES

OH THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES OF CHIASTIC STRUCTURES!

SEPTEMBER 27, 2017
 

This past Sunday I did something bold and risky when I preached. I broke a cardinal rule in preaching by showing people the sweat of my labor instead of just the fruit. Here is the preaching sin I committed—I showed our church a chiastic structure in the passage I was preaching.
“WHAT? How could you? Don’t you know you could get fired for doing that?”

Okay, okay. Pipe down, will ya?

A chiastic structure is a literary device used way back in the day. A typical chiastic structure would look something like this:

Statement #1

Statement #2

Statement #3

Statement parallel to #3

Statement parallel to #2

Statement parallel to #1

 

Sometimes the arrangement may be slightly altered, but this presents the basic idea. Several purposes exist for a writer to use a chiastic structure. In oral traditions, chiastic structures made the text or story a little easier to remember. Chiastic structures sometimes also carried the same purpose as when you highlight something in your Bible. When you do that, you are saying about the text you highlighted, “LOOK AT ME! I AM REALLY IMPORTANT!” Well, in the first century, they didn’t have highlighters, or the italics button, so writers had to be poetically creative in helping readers see the really important stuff. Another purpose of chiastic structures serve could be to present an idea, and in its parallel statement, expand on the idea.

But the real question is, “Why would you show this to your church during a sermon?” I don’t do this every time a chiastic structure shows up in the text, but I want our people to be aware of these literary devices because it helps them understand the main point of a text, and that is the priority in studying the bible.

After the service, I actually had people express their appreciation to me for showing them that “chiasty thing.”

Don’t be afraid to “give your people understanding, that they may keep God’s word” (Psalm 119:34, paraphrased). Beauty and depth and skill were utilized in the inspired-writings of God’s word. Oh, how we should appreciate and treasure them.

P.S.

The passage I preached this past Sunday was John 1:1-18. See if you can discern the chiasim.


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