Apocalypse meaning in Bible

The Apocalypse, also known as the Book of Revelationis the last book of the New Testament and of the Christian Bible. The origin of its name comes from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις ἀποκάλυψις , meaning “revelation” or “discovery”, although the current meaning of Apocalypse is closer to that of catastrophe or hecatomb.

It is a prophetic book which narrates different events related to the end of the world. The authorship of the Apocalypse is attributed to the apostle John It was written at the end of the first century or beginning of the second century, at the height of the Roman persecution against the Christians. St. John, who was in exile on the island of Patmos, had a revelation and was commissioned by the Holy Spirit to write down his visions and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia y Laodicea.

Structure and chapters of Revelation

How to Read the Bible: Apocalyptic Literature

The book of Revelation has a defined structure in 22 chapters and 404 verses and can be divided in different ways. It can be seen in the form of septenaries in seven groups, at the same time divided into subgroups of seven .

However, in order to facilitate understanding and comprehension of the topics covered, we have divided the book into the following four parts:

  1. Introduction and Letters to the Churches. This part comprises the first three chapters of the book and contains specific messages for each of the seven churches addressed to the angel of the Church in particular. John has a vision of the Son of man walking among seven lamp stands and holding seven stars in his right hand.
  2. The Lamb, the Seven Seals and Trumpets. Comprised between the fourth and eleventh chapters, a set of symbols are symbols alluding to the Old Testament. We can also find several descriptions of the powers and humility of Jesus and various symbols such as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and numerous catastrophes announced by The 7 trumpets.
  3. The Dragon and combat. This part is located between chapters 12 and 20. This part describes a combat between the Dragon and a Woman giving birth to a Child, which can be interpreted as words of encouragement for oppressed Christians. In this part we also find numerical symbolism as The Seven Cups and others such as The Prostitute and the Fall of Babylon, with the final appearance of Christ mounted on a white horse.
  4. The New Jerusalem. The last two chapters of Revelation narrate the Defeat of the Dragon and conclude with messages of hope, where John gives us faith to believe that Jerusalem is the city of God and where he dwells in the midst of all men. The book concludes with a blessing and a petition urging Jesus to return soon.

Bible book of revelation

Book of Revelation Summary: A Complete Animated Overview (Part 1)

“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” Rev. 1:3.

Trying to understand the meaning or intention of the Apocalypse can give rise to several contradictory interpretations and in different directions. However, if we base it on the historical moment in which it was written, it is possible to deduce some of the keys to understand the Apocalypse and its transcendence in our faith.

If we place ourselves in the Roman Empire of the second century, where persecutions and conditions for Christians began to worsen, it seems to have been written as a signal of a catastrophic future approaching, trying to comfort and encourage Christians to resist and maintaining hope in a future, more just eternity.

Thus, although we directly relate Revelation to catastrophe, the end or hecatomb, its meaning transcends this interpretation and can be understood as a message of faith in a new era in which Christ and the Church are triumphant.

Thus, we can draw from St. John’s conclusions elements that strengthen our faith; understanding his passages as well as his expressions and acting accordingly will make us happy:

“And he said unto me, These words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, hath sent his angel, to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass.”
Rev. 22:6

If you want to draw your own conclusions about the meaning of some of the symbols most important symbols in the book of Revelation read on to find out.

Passages and symbols of the Apocalypse

The literary images and symbols that appear in the Bible are suggestive and sometimes disturbing. More than a few readers are puzzled by the symbols and biblical passages that they are unable to interpret.

Within the biblical imagery, apocalyptic symbols occupy a prominent place in the apocalyptic symbols. It is one of the biblical texts richest in symbolism and most difficult to interpret, many of them taken from the Old Testament.

Below, we analyze some of the most disturbing symbols of Revelation and some of their most widespread interpretations, along with the passages that refer to those symbols.

Septenary symbols

One of the best-known groups of symbols in the Apocalypse are the numerical ones, and especially the septenaries. One of the groups subject to different interpretations of the book are the symbols septenaries of seals, cups and trumpets:

  • The seven seals. They appear in the book when the Lamb opens them, something that only he could do. Before breaking the seals the vision in heaven, with the appearances of God and the Lamb God and the Lamb. The first four seals give rise to the riders. The following two seals cause cataclysmsAfter the sixth seal a vision of hope is given and with the seventh seal the seven trumpets begin.

“I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say as with a voice of thunder, Come and see” Rev. 6:1.

  • The seven trumpets. They appear when the seventh seal seventh seal is opened and are blown by seven angels, provoking cataclysmic cataclysms. After the sixth trumpet, a vision of hope appears and when the seventh trumpet is blown, there is a song of victory.

“And I saw the seven angels standing before God; and there were given unto them seven trumpets” Rev. 8:2

  • The seven cups. It also appears after a vision of hope. Later, the glasses are spilled in libation accompanied by cataclysms. After the sixth glass comes a promise of hope that leads to the glorious vision of the end of the Apocalypse.

I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God” Rev. 16:1.

We can find different artistic representations of many symbols in the book of Revelation. Probably one of the most famous ones can be found in the Sistine Chapel where the seven angels playing the trumpets:

seven angels blowing trumpets

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse

One of the symbols that frighten people the most and feed the reader’s imagination are The four horsemen. According to exegesis, they are allegories of Glory, war, famine and death:

  • The rider of the white horse: the key to understanding what this horseman means is found in the book itself, where it says that this horseman is called “The Word of God”. That corresponds to Jesus Christ, since he is God’s spokesman. Represents the conquest and victory.

“And I looked, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” Rev. 6:2

  • The rider of the red horse: represents war because it takes peace away from the whole Earth. Of the four horsemen, this is the most remembered. When he appears, the rider on the red horse holds a large sword in the air. Other theories say that it may represent the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire.

“And there went out another horse, a red horse; and power was given unto him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” Rev. 6:4.

  • The rider of the black horse: appears after opening the third seal. This rider carries with him a balance and represents the legacy of the famine. The third black horseman, unlike the two previous ones, is the only one who addresses John referring to the high price of wheat and barley and barley, since a day’s work could not feed a household.

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a black horse; and he that sat upon him had a balance in his hand.” Rev. 6:5

  • The rider of the pale horse: after opening the fourth seal, a bay horse mounted by the horseman of death appeared. Some depictions of this horseman show him with a weapon. There are also interpretations that point to the fourth horseman’s mission to wipe out all life in the Roman Empire.

“And I looked, and behold a yellow horse, and he that sat on him had the name of Death, and Hades followed him: and power was given him over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, with famine, with death, and with the wild beasts of the earth” Rev. 6:8

Although horsemen appear briefly in the book, they are of great importance in the number of artistic representations and their influence on Western culture. One of the most popular representations of owed is the work of Viktor Vasnetsov:

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse

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Header image: Allegory of the Apocalypse Joseph Heintz


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