Word Study: Apocalypse

What does the word apocalypse actually mean? Is it something sinister and to be feared? Or is it misunderstood like the book it names?
When you hear the word "apocalypse," what do you think? Do you see a horrible battle ending with the end of the world? Maybe you think of Hollywood's definition with zombies or robots with A.I. taking over the world. Whatever you think, I'm pretty sure it's not good. Interestingly, the original word doesn't mean "end of the world" nor does it have a negative connotation.
  1. a: one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 b.c. to a.d. 150 marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom b: capitalized : REVELATION sense 3
  2. a: something viewed as a prophetic revelation
  3. a: a large, disastrous fire : INFERNO
    b: a great disaster
We get the word apocalypse from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις, which means to reveal or to disclose truth.[1] This is the word translated as "lighten" in Luke 2:32:
28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart
in peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.Luke 2:28-32

It's most famous translation is "revelation" and we see it in Revelation 1:1:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:Revelation 1:1 KJV

This is the origin of the foreboding and ominous idea connotation of apocalypse, creating the assumption that it is something to be feared. Revelation, actually titled "Apocalypse," is one of the most difficult books of the Bible to understand. When you combine the level of difficulty with the illustrations of God's wrath judging the wicked, one can easily discern why people would distance themselves from the matter and come to associate the term with something bad.
    disclosure:—appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation
The good news is that Revelation isn't actually a vision of doom and gloom—well, a more accurate statement is: Revelation is only a vision of doom and gloom if you aren't following God and washed in the blood of Christ. The apocalypse of Jesus Christ is actually a revelation of His victory!


  1. "Strong's G602. ἀποκάλυψις". Blue Letter Bible; visited May 2, 2020
  2. "Apocalypse". Merriam-Webster; visited May 2, 2020

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