The Greek word apocalupsis means to reveal or disclose. It is the first word of the book of Revelation, meaning a revealing of the end times to its readers. Many people refer to the end times as the Apocalypse or the time of the Apocalypse.
The Apocalypse – What is it?
In addition, the term apocalyptic literature has been used in reference to end times teachings both in Revelation and in other parts of the Bible. Apocalyptic or end times material was often revealed through dreams, visions, or sometimes angels.
Apocalyptic literature often frequently used symbolic language to express ideas regarding the future. For example, Revelation speaks of a dragon, beast, four living creatures, and other figures in ways that have led to many interpretations regarding the timing and details of future events.
One common element to apocalyptic literature is the emphasis on the destruction of the world in the last days followed by the making of a new heaven and earth. Revelation 21—22 describe the new heavens and earth in detail. Following letters to seven churches in Revelation 1—3, chapters 4—20 include many symbolic ideas about future events that have been interpreted in numerous ways.
Some view this apocalyptic material as completely symbolic and that it will not be fulfilled in any specific way. Others suggest the symbolism has already been fulfilled in first century events near the time of Revelation's writing.
The pretribulational rapture view interprets the seven years of tribulation described in Revelation as taking place following a rapture in which Jesus returns and takes believers to be with Him in heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
The mid-tribulation view believes Jesus will return at the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation described in Revelation, three and a half year after the tribulation begins.
The post-tribulation view believes Jesus will return only one time at the end of the seven-year tribulation to gather His people and to defeat evil.
In addition to these views, the 1,000 year reign of Christ (the millennial kingdom) described in Revelation 20 is debated as whether it is literal or symbolic. Those who take a literal view emphasize that the number is mentioned six times in the chapter for a reason. Those who do not accept a literal view often refer to 2 Peter 3:8 that says, "With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
While the prophecies related to the end times have many different interpretations, Scripture is clear that Christ will return for His people and will establish a new heavens and earth after defeating evil. All believers can rejoice in this prophecy and look forward to the coming of the Lord.
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Truth about the End Times