The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek word apocalupsis which means “revealing, disclosure, to take off the cover.” The book of Revelation is sometimes referred to as the “Apocalypse of John” because it is God’s revealing of the end times to the apostle John. Further, the Greek word for “apocalypse” is the very first word in the Greek text of the book of Revelation. The phrase “apocalyptic literature” is used to describe the use of symbols, images, and numbers to depict future events. Outside of Revelation, examples of apocalyptic literature in the Bible are Daniel chapters 7–12, Isaiah chapters 24–27, Ezekiel chapters 37–41, and Zechariah chapters 9–12.
Why was apocalyptic literature written with such symbolism and imagery? The apocalyptic books were written when it was more prudent to disguise the message in images and symbolism than to give the message in plain language. Further, the symbolism created an element of mystery about details of time and place. The purpose of such symbolism, however, was not to cause confusion, but rather to instruct and encourage followers of God in difficult times.
Beyond the specifically biblical meaning, the term “apocalypse” is often used to refer to the end times in general, or to the last end times events specifically. End-times events such as the second coming of Christ and the battle of Armageddon are sometimes referred to as the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse will be the ultimate revealing of God, His wrath, His justice, and, ultimately, His love. Jesus Christ is the supreme “apocalypse” of God, as He revealed God to us (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:2).