SHORT BIBLE STUDY: What does Apocalypse mean in the Bible?

What does apocalypse mean? Apocalypse means something that is as yet to be revealed, something that’s unknown. The Greek word apocalypse means revelation. When we speak of something being apocalypse or apocalyptic proportions, we’re speaking of something that has widespread impact.  

In modern-day terminology, we might think of the covid pandemic or climate change as being apocalyptic events having a widespread, global impact. 

In the Bible, there is a genre called apocalyptic literature. It grew popular following two unsuccessful attempts for Jewish overthrow of the Roman government and for the freedom of the Jewish people. These two events occurred about 135 years or so before the birth of Jesus. Unsuccessful in their attempts to overthrow the Roman government there was a protest movement you might say, that employ the use of apocalyptic literature. 

Apocalyptic literature was a call to faithfulness in the present, to the promise of God’s faithfulness in the future. Apocalyptic literature makes use of symbolic language, code language you might say, that those who are oppressed would know and for those who are their oppressors would not know. 

In the Bible, an example of apocalyptic literature is found in the second half of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, The Book of Revelation is found at that the end of the Bible and it is an apocalyptic book as well. As I mentioned, apocalyptic literature makes use of symbolic language.  An example in the New Testament book of Revelation is the number 666. Often interpreted as a future sign of the mark of the beast, the number 666 was likely a protest, a use of symbolic or code language, against the worship of the emperors, of the Caesars. And the number 666 was likely a literal number when you take the numbers associated with the Hebrew alphabet and the name of Nero Caesar which would equal out to 666. Caesar, Nero Caesar, was particularly noted for his harsh treatment of the early Christians. 

Apocalyptic literature is not intended to be a prediction, a literal prediction of the future, but it is a call to faithfulness in God while we live into the future.  Apocalyptic literature, a call to faithfulness and what is yet to be revealed. May God bless you as you live with apocalyptic faith.