The word “apocalypse” is mostly associated with the future catastrophic end of the world and usually the Battle of Armageddon (Megiddo). The mind may also wonder unto the Book of Revelation. Christians should consider the use of this word in the New Testament and get a complete God-breathed perception that may change their understanding of apocalypse.
The Meaning of Apocalypse
The word “apocalypse” is very interesting in its use in the New Testament. The Greek word is apocalupsis and occurs 18 times in its noun form in the New Testament. The verb form apocalupto appears 26 times. One might wonder, “How does one accomplish apocalupto?” This will be answered. The noun and the verb are usually used in the same context in the New Testament. How many times does this word appear in the Book of Revelation? The word appears once, and it is the first word, “[The] Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, the things which must quickly come to pass: and He sent and signified by His angel unto His servant John” (Rev 1:1).
An “apocalypse” is simply a revelation usually from God that reveals a mystery of something that was hidden. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary presents an apocalypse as either three things: a writing of imagery of a cataclysm, prophetic revelation and, or a great disaster. Merriam-Webster’s definition is a correct definition for reflecting common usage but not about the biblical meaning. Most people associate the term with the end times and Jesus’s coming. However, apocalypse is not one specific event future, present, or past. Jesus declared in Matthew 10:26, “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed [apocalupto]…” (cf. Luke 12:2). This passage along with another 43 verses indicate that an “apocalypse” is a revelation.
Looking at these Scriptures, there is more than one apocalypse. Christians are revealed [apocalupto] as the adopted sons of God including the Gentiles (Rom 8:19; cf. Luke 2:32). The hearts of many will be revealed (Luke 2:35). The power of God unto salvation is revealed from faith to faith (Rom 1:16–17). Is the common Christian aware of these apocalypses? The uses of apocalupto are in bold. There appear three uses for “apocalypse” in Scripture.
Apocalypse of the Son of Perdition
(1) The verb form of apocalypse is used three times to refer to the revealing of “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” or “the lawless one” of 2 Thessalonians 2 who is usually associated and referred to by premillennialists as the “Beast” and the “Anti-christ.” The apostle Paul used the verb form of apocalypse to refer to a person “revealed” (2 Thess 2:3, 6, 8). This “son of perdition” will be revealed in his own time making himself out to be “God” and worshiped as “God” during the “falling away.” This lawless one whose coming is by the workings of Satan, and the Lord will destroy the son of perdition with breath of His mouth at His coming.
Apocalypse of the Revealing of God’s Word
(2) The connection of “apocalypse” to mankind by receiving the Word of God by revelation (apocalypse). On the subject of revealing the Gospel, this revelation (apocalypse) is the Gospel not coming from any person but from Jesus Christ Himself (Gal 1:12). Romans 16:25 affirms, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation [apocalypse] of the mystery, having been in silence during eternal times.” Notice that “mystery” is another word used for the Gospel that the Spirit revealed of God’s Will, His Word, His Gospel (Eph 1:7; 3:3-5, 9, 6:19; Col 1:26–27; 4:3). The Gospel was once a mystery and has been known vaguely through the prophets, and now the apostles and prophets have revealed [verb for apocalypse] (Col 1:26–27). The most common use of the apocalupsis and apocalupto in Scripture is for the Word of God. Describing the apocalypse as revelation, words given by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets are necessary to the revelation of God’s Word (Eph 1:17; 3:3–5; cf. 1 Cor 2:10–13). Most importantly, the center of this revelation is revealing Christ (Matt 11:25, 27; Luke 10:21–22; Gal 1:16; cf. John 12:38). On this point, one very interesting apocalypse is in Matthew 16:15–17, which presents,
He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “You are blessed, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in Heaven.”
This is the revelation necessary for our salvation (Rom 10:9–10). These revelations include such things as personal instructions to the apostle Paul (2 Cor 12:1, 7; Gal 2:2). Such apocalypses from God were revealed in the assembly (1 Cor 14:6, 26, 30). An apocalypse is more than the revealing the second coming of Christ. Apocalypse is the revelation and the revealing of the Gospel — the Faith (Rom 16:25; Gal 3:23).
The Apocalypse of Christ’s Return
(3) On the second coming of Christ, the term “apocalypse” is not lost. Christians are waiting on “the revealing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven.” The Scriptures demonstrate that apocalypse includes the second coming of Jesus Christ (2 Thess 1:7; cf. Luke 17:30; 1 Cor. 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13). The commonly referenced Scripture of Jesus’s return is His “revealing” in flaming fire with His angels in 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9. Romans 2:5 describes the Judgment Day, “…a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” Romans 1:18 warns, “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” This will be the Day that one’s work in building upon the right foundation will be revealed by fire (1 Cor 3:13). The word “apocalypse” connects to Jesus’s second coming. The name of John’s book of Revelation is “apocalypse” and this is the reason that “apocalypse” has been associated with the end times.
The word “apocalypse” is associated in Scripture with the good things on the last day and not just some cataclysmic disasters at the end of the world. At the revelation of Christ, the glory and grace of salvation are presented also as an end time apocalypse — revelation (Rom 8:18; 1 Pet 1:5, 7, 12; 4:13; 5:1). This goes to the extent that at Jesus’s coming, Christians will be “glad also with exceeding joy” since they are being saved (1 Pet 4:13). Is that the kind of apocalypse that the world knows? This does not appear to represent the picture commonly associated with the Judgment Day “Apocalypse.” Christians will be “glad also with exceeding joy.” The Book of John’s apocalypse is a revelation of events both joyous and just.
The concept of “apocalypse” is often misunderstood not just by unbelievers but by many Christians. There was the apocalypse of the Word of God when the Apostles and prophets revealed God’s Word in the first century. There will be an apocalypse of salvation when Christ reveals Himself in His second coming. There will certainly be an apocalypse of Jesus Christ on the last day.