An Apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John (Greek Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰωάννου) is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. By extension, apocalypse can refer to any End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.

In John’s apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, he refers to the “unveiling” or “revelation” of Jesus Christ as Messiah. This term has come to mean, in common usage, the end of the world.

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It James Wesley RawlesThe simple pictures of the end of the age in the books of the Old Testament were images of the judgment of the wicked, as well as the resurrection and glorification of those who were given righteousness before God. The dead are seen in the Book of Job and in some of the Psalms as being in Sheol, awaiting the final judgment. The wicked will then be consigned to eternal torment in the fires of Gehinnom, or the Lake of Fire mentioned in Revelation.

The New Testament letters written by the Apostle Paul expand on this theme of the judgment of the wicked, and the glorification of those who belong to Christ or Messiah. In his letters to the Corinthians and the Thessalonians Paul expounds further on the destiny of the righteous. He speaks of the simultaneous resurrection and rapture of those who are in Christ (or Messiah).

Christianity had a Millennial expectation for glorification of the righteous from the time it emerged from Judaism and spread out into the world in the first century. The poetic and prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible, particularly in Isaiah, were rich in Millennial imagery. The New Testament Congregation after Pentecost carried on with this theme. During his imprisonment by the Romans on the Island of Patmos, John described the visions he experienced, writing the Book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 20 contains several references to a thousand-year reign of Christ/Messiah upon the earth.

Modern Christian movements in the 18th and 19th centuries were characterized by a rise of Millennialism. Christian Apocalyptic eschatology was a continuation of the same two themes referred to throughout all of scripture as “this age” and “the age to come”. Evangelicals have been in the forefront popularizing the biblical prophecy of a major confrontation between good and evil at the end of this age, a coming Millennium to follow, and a final confrontation whereby the wicked are judged, the righteous are rewarded and the beginning of Eternity is viewed.

Most evangelicals have been taught a form of Millennialism known as Dispensationalism, which arose in the 19th century. Dispensationalism sees separate destinies for the Christian Church and Israel. Its concept of a special Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church has become extremely popular, thanks in part to the Left Behind series of books and films. Dispensationalist interpretations find in biblical prophecy predictions of future events: the various periods of the church, for example, shown through the letters to the seven churches; the throne of God in Heaven and his Glory; specific judgments that will occur on the earth; the final form of Gentile power; God’ re-dealing with the nation Israel based upon covenants mentioned in the Old Testament; the second coming proper; a one-thousand year reign of Messiah; a last test of Mankind’s sinful nature under ideal conditions by the loosing of Satan, with a judgment of fire coming down from Heaven that follows; the Great White Throne Judgment, and the destruction of the current heavens and the earth, to be recreated as a “New Heaven and New Earth” ushering in the beginning of Eternity. A differing interpretation is found in the Post Tribulation Rapture.

One of the most complete exegetical works on the meaning of the Book of Revelation was written by Emanuel Swedenborg called the Apocalypse Revealed, first published in two volumes in Amsterdam in 1766. A more current book, utilizing the literal method of interpretation, is The Revelation Record by Henry M. Morris.

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