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This article is about the general concept of Apocalypse. For specific Apocalypses, see Apocalypse (disambiguation).

Apocalypse depicted in Christian Orthodox traditional fresco scenes in Osogovo Monastery, Republic of Macedonia

St. John at Patmos: the receiving of an apocalyptic vision

An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning “uncovering”), translated literally from Greek, is ‘through the concealed’, meaning a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities”.[1]

In the Book of Revelation (Greek: Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου, Apokalypsis Ioannou – literally, John’s Revelation), the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age, and that is the primary meaning of the term, one that dates to 1175.[2]

Today, it is commonly used in reference to any prophetic revelation or so-called end time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.


Biblical ideas


The revelation may be made through a dream, as in the Book of Daniel, or through a vision, as in the Book of Revelation. In biblical accounts of revelations the manner of the revelation and its reception is generally described.

According to the Book of Daniel, after a long period of fasting,[3] Daniel is standing by a river when a heavenly being appears to him, and the revelation follows (Daniel 10:2ff).


Symbolism is a frequent characteristic of apocalyptic writing. One instance of this occurs where gematria is employed, either for obscuring the writer’s meaning or enhancing it; as a number of ancient cultures used letters also as numbers (i.e., the Romans with their use of “Roman numerals“). Thus the symbolic name “Taxo,” “Assumptio Mosis“, ix. 1; the “Number of the Beast” (616/666), in the Book of Revelation 13:18;[4] the number 666 (‘Iησōῦς), Sibyllines, i.326–30.

Similar is the frequent prophecy of the length of time through which the events predicted must be fulfilled. Thus, the “time, times, and a half,” Daniel 12:7[5] which has been taken to be 3½ years in length by Dispensationalists; the “fifty-eight times” of Enoch, xc.5, “Assumptio Mosis“, x.11; the announcement of a certain number of “weeks” or days, which starting point in Daniel 9:24, 25 is “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks”,[6] a mention of 1290 days after the covenant/sacrifice is broken (Daniel 12:11),[7] 12; Enoch xciii.3–10; 2 Esdras 14:11, 12; Apocalypse of Baruch xxvi–viii; Revelation 11:3, which mentions “two witnesses” with supernatural power,[8] 12:6;[9] compare Assumptio Mosis, vii.1. Symbolic language is also used to describe persons, things or events; thus, the “horns” of Daniel 7 and 8;[10] Revelation 17[11] and following; the “heads” and “wings” of 2 Esdras xi and following; the seven seals of Revelation 6;[12] trumpets, Revelation 8;[13] “vials of the wrath of God” or “bowl…” judgments, Revelation 16;[14] the dragon, Revelation 12:3–17,[15] Revelation 20:1–3;[16] the eagle, Assumptio Mosis, x.8; and so on.

End of the age

“Apocalyptic I” by contemporary Mexican painter Mauricio García Vega.

In the Hebrew Old Testament some pictures of the end of the age were images of the judgment of the wicked and the glorification of those who were given righteousness before God. In the Book of Job and in some Psalms the dead are described as being in Sheol, awaiting the final judgment. The wicked will then be consigned to eternal suffering in the fires of Gehinnom, or the lake of fire mentioned in the Book of Revelation.[14][17][18][19][20]

See also




  1. “Revelation 21:8 (King James Version)”. Bible Gateway. Archived from the original on 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2007-11-21.

Further reading

  • Morris, Henry M (1985) [1983]. The Revelation Record. Tyndale House and Creation Life.

External links

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About Patrick Ireland

My name is Patrick Ireland, living in the Philippines with my wife and two daughters. I have been studying the web for over a decade. Now that I am 60 years old, I am starting to apply some of the knowledge that I have gained. "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning." -Einstein.

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