Giancarlo Biguzzi, «The Chaos of Rev 22,6-21 and Prophecy in Asia», Vol. 83 (2002) 193-210
Interpreters of the Apocalypse agree that in Ap 22,6-21 disorder reigns and that, most of all, various voices in these verses interfere with one another, without care for rules which would produce a proper development. Therefore, chaos is undeniably in the text. But it is equally true that with some ease one can discern in the text an articulation in three strophes: the first and the third speak of the revelation received by John and of the transmission of that revelation to the churches by means of John’s book, while the second is concerned with the ethical life and its eschatological reward. All this reveals the anxiety of John about a relaxation of vigilance on the part of the churches of Asia, so that John consequently insists on the imminence of the eschatological Coming and labors to show the legitimacy of the demands of his book, especially before the eyes of his ‘brother-prophets’. It is the framework of their prophetic style, probably charismatic like that of the prophets of 1 Cor 14, which allows us to make sense of the interference and injection of various voices in these verses of the johannine Apocalypse; we find a similar style in certain other verses at the beginning and in the body of John’s book.
point out to whom the pronoun u(mi=n of v. 16a refers. According to some interpreters, there is an identity between the u(mi=n and the churches mentioned immediately after it7. According to others, on the contrary, those addressed by Christ are distinct from the churches and have to pass on to them what Christ teaches in their regard8. For others still, Christ addresses the seven churches in the pronoun u(mi=n, transmitting to them his testimony about other churches, all the other churches9.
The first interpretation is untenable: the preposition e)pi/ modifies the verb marture/w governing the case of subject matter (in Latin, de with the ablative case), which is in no way interchangeable with the receiver of the action (the Latin and Greek dative case) such as is u(mi=n. The third interpretation presupposes, rather awkwardly, that the seven churches approach either the other Asian churches or all the churches of that time, as bearers of a book regarding themselves (cf. Rev 1–3). Only the second interpretation is left: the u(mi=n of v. 16 speaks of people who are in a particular relationship with Christ since Christ sends his angel as a witness to them, and whom he recognises as the ones responsible for the churches. If so, the expression of Lohmeyer who speaks of ecclesiola in ecclesiis10 should be considered too ambiguous and too vague, because it is a question here not of a group within the churches, but of somebody who exerts some kind of authority upon them. The only feasible hypothesis, then, is that the u(mi=n refers to the prophets spoken of by the angel who refuses John’s prostration in 22,9: ‘I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren