Word Study: Apocalypse

Original Publication Date
May 2, 2020
Jan 19, 2023 2:49 AM
Word StudyRevelation
Bible References
Revelation 1:1
Table of Contents
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on May 2, 2020 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

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.

Dictionary Definition

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of the English word “apocalypse” is very much spot on with what most people would expect.[2] The primary definition relates back to Judeo-Christian origins, which though associated with ushering in the Messianic Kingdom, as is associated with the “cosmic cataclysm” that must occur first. Hollywood’s many versions of an apocalypse fall in to the third definition give—a great disaster.


The English definition would lead us to believe that the original meaning of the word is negative, but the Biblical version of the word is from the Greek ἀποκάλυψις, which means to reveal or to disclose truth.[1] Strong’s defines ἀποκάλυψις as “disclosure:—appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.”

The book of Revelation is likely 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.

  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 b: ARMAGEDDON
  3. a: a large, disastrous fire : INFERNO b: a great disaster

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!


The word “revelation” doesn’t appear in the Old Testament, so it’s hard to say what Hebrew word is equivalent. I did find a verse in Isaiah, which is also prophetic, that speaks of something being “disclosed” (in the KJV).[3]

For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. Isaiah 26:21

Bible Verses

In Luke 2:32, ἀποκάλυψις is translated as "lighten":

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart

in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

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:


  1. "Strong's G602. ἀποκάλυψις". Blue Letter Bible; visited May 2, 2020
  2. "Apocalypse". Merriam-Webster; visited May 2, 2020
  3. Strong’s H1540. גָּלָה”. Blue Letter Bible; visited January 2023

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