The Greek title of the Book of Revelation is referred to as “The Apocalypse.” The prefix apo- means “from, away from.” The root of the word Apocalypse is kalu, meaning “a veil or covering.” The suffix -psis denotes action or process. Apocalypse therefore means, “the action or process of taking away the veil.”
This Greek word may also be translated as “the unveiling, uncovering, manifestation, appearing, or coming.” So the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to His unveiling, uncovering, manifestation, appearing, and/or coming.
The Veils of the Old Testament
For the Biblical context we should consider the significant veils described in the Old Testament:
- (1) the veil of mortality,
- (2) the veil of separation,
- (3) the veil of the Law, and
- (4) the veil of the Heavens.
(1) The veil of mortality is unredeemed Flesh. This veil became necessary when Adam and Eve sinned and became subject to death, separation from God. It was the veil of death. God clothed them; that is, He put a veil between Him and their sinful Flesh, Genesis 3.21.
Christ removed this veil of flesh, Hebrews 10:19-20: “Having therefore boldness, brethren, to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” See also I Corinthians 15:54.
Isaiah saw this veil as the veil of death, mortality, that kept the whole world from seeing the full Light of God, Isaiah 25.7-8: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”
Isaiah’s prophecy of the removal of the veil of death is referred to in I Corinthians 15:53-57 and also Revelation 21:4.
(2) Another veil of separation was in the Holy of Holies in the Temple where God chose to dwell with His people. Even the Priesthood could only enter this sacred area with the absolute perfection of the requirements of the sacrificial blood, foreshadowing the blood of Christ. Christ accomplished the removal of this veil: Matthew 27.51. Christ provided access through Himself to this most Holy place: Hebrews 9.1-12.
(3) The veil of the Law. The Pharisees pretended a high reverence for the Law, but Christ taught that the Law was only necessary because of disobedience. God’s will was that the Law should be written in the hearts of Mankind by the very Breath/Spirit of God. The external ritual code of the Law often blinded people to the need for the inner obedience from the heart. The story of Moses’ face to face confrontation with God furnishes an example that beholding and partaking of the glory of God is the essence of the Law of God. The original law was for Mankind to be in God’s image, to know Him and to be in His likeness, Exodus 34:33; II Corinthians 3:13-18.
(4) The veil of the Heavens is described in Psalm 104:2 as a curtain that veils the full Light of God. It is God’s garment, Psalm 104:2. The starry heavens, or what we might call ‘the sky’, declares the glory of God and was created for the purpose of orientation in time and space for Mankind, Genesis 1.14-15. The sun, moon, stars and planets were not just randomly sprinkled but formed definite and readable patterns. Moses was instructed to make all things according to the “Pattern,” Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; Hebrews 8:5.
The veil of the heavens was opened to the prophets as in Ezekiel 1.1. In the New Testament the Heavens were opened to John the Baptist, Mark 1:10; Stephen, Acts 7:56; Peter, Acts 10:11; and John the Revelator, Revelation 4:1. The Book of Revelation concerns the visions given to John in which the veil of the Heavens was opened again to prophetic view.
The Book of Revelation shows how all of these veils were removed by Jesus Christ.
For more discussion and referents on the Greek word Apocalypse see my book Revelation in Context, pages 63-70, available at www.Amazon.com or www.XulonPress.com or locally at Living Word Bookstore in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Free downloads are available at www.revelationincontext.sermon.net