What I read about the term apocalypse on Wikipedia was

In the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, the revelation which John receives is that of the ultimate victory of good over evil and the end of the present age

Today, it is commonly used in reference to any prophetic revelation or so-called End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.

This really confused me that why we are comparing the victory of good over bad with the end of the world. At one place the New Testament is defining Apocalypse as the victory of good over bad and on other hand we are using the term for the earth destruction.

Does the victory of good over bad mean the end of the human race? Is that's all?

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    Hi, Alpha, and welcome to ELU. Written this way, your question doesn't sound like it's about the English language, which is what this site is about. If you're looking for a modern definition of the word apocalypse, any good dictionary will give you one. If you're interested in the etymology of the modern word apocalypse, please rephrase your question to make that clearer. If you're interested in the interpretation of The Apocalypse, you might be interested in Hermaneutics.se. For good and evil without the Bible, Philosophy.se is a good choice. Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 11:46
  • Ask the same question on different sites, and you'll get different answers. Answers on EL&U will likely say that reasoning by etymology is a fallacy. (That said, please avoid cross-posting indiscriminately.) Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 17:06
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    It's explicit in the Book of Revelation that the earth is destroyed and created anew: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Rev. 21:1). So although from one point of view it's about the victory of good over bad, it's also about the end of the world.
    – richardb
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


The Greek word ἀποκάλυψις, which we transliterate apocalypse, originally meant 'revelation'. That's the sense which the book title gets its name from: The Apocalypse of John = The message revealed to John.

The word apocalyptic is also used to refer to a genre of Hebrew texts which use a lot of surreal symbolism and often talk about the end of time. In the Old Testament much of Daniel and Zechariah are written in the apocalyptic genre, and the book of Revelation is clearly strongly influenced by both of those books as it borrows a lot of imagery from them.

And because of the extreme prophecies of the book of Revelation, apocalypse has come to mean a cataclysmic disaster.

I think these are the three meanings of apocalypse in English, though the first one is really limited to theologians; only the second and third are common. It doesn't have the meaning of a victory of good over evil: Wikipedia is describing the content of the book of Revelation, not defining the word apocalypse.

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    +1. In fact, the word still means 'revelation', even in modern Greek (although it now has a slightly different form: αποκάλυψη).
    – T. C.
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 21:07
  • And the reason it means that is of course that it's simply a verbal noun from the verb αποκαλύπτω (sorry, writing on phone, so not spiritus), which is from από- ‘from, away from’ and καλύπτω ‘conceal, hide’—so it it literally means to ‘from-hide’ or even to ‘unhide’ = ‘reveal’. Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 0:29

According to the Judeo-Christian Bible, the “Day of the Lord,” which includes all the events of the end times, involves both the triumph of good over evil (or God over Satan) and the destruction of the heavens and the earth. This destruction does not signal the end of human existence as we know it but the beginning of a new kind of human existence, the kind which God intended from the very beginning, prior to both the entrance of evil into the universe and humankind’s fall from grace.

The apostle Peter puts it this way:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10 ASV).

In other words, the first creation, both heavens and earth, will pass away, and a new creation will take their place. Some biblical scholars prefer to use the term restoration and not replacement of old with new, but I would be the last person to quibble over how we should label the process. Call it a re-creation, a restoration, a replacement of the old with the new, a new beginning, a rebirth, or perhaps some other term or phrase.

The point is, what was once spoiled by the entrance of evil into the universe will give way to new heavens and a new earth. As Peter put it,

"Nevertheless we, according to his [i.e., God's] promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13 WBT).

The evils which we now take for granted as being part and parcel of life as we know it, including disease, natural disasters, death, world wars, ethnic "cleansing," violence and lawlessness, racial and ethnic hatred, sexual perversion, and so on, will become things of the past, never to be repeated. According to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, righteousness will be the new order of things, the new norm, if you will. As the prophet put it,

"They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD

As the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9 NAS).

The knowledge of which Isaiah speaks is not mere "head knowledge" of God, but a knowledge characterized by intimacy and a complete and perfect meeting and agreement of minds. Whereas here on earth now, even the best of saints struggle--and sometimes lose--in their battles against sin and evil, in God's eternal kingdom those struggles and battles will never again be fought.

What is true on an individual level will also be true on a corporate, global level. Nation will not rise up against nation. People groups will not antagonize, discriminate against, or eliminate other people groups. War will give way to cooperation, peace, and love. Again, as the prophet Isaiah predicted:

"And he [i.e., the LORD/Yahweh] will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. " (Isaiah 2:4 ASV).

Isaiah goes on to say,

"And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den" (11:6-8 ASV).

In conclusion, the complete triumph of good over evil requires radical change, and as difficult as it may be to accept, the Judeo-Christian Bible predicts that change will involve cataclysmic events the likes of which the earth has neither experienced before nor ever will again. Those events are to be expected, as evil will "not go gently into that good night."

Rather, Armageddon will mark the last attempt of evil to overcome good. At Armageddon's end, however, evil will take one last gasp, followed by its death rattle. God and good will then have triumphed over evil. Time will then be swallowed up by eternity. In the words of the "Hallelujah Chorus" of Handel's Messiah, which were taken from the Book of Revelation:

"The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever" (11:5b).

  • This is seriously verbose, although I liked your first two paragraphs :) It's probably an answer better suited to SE.Christianity
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 7:23
  • @Mari-LouA: No argument there! Perhaps the question itself would be a better fit in SE.Christianity. Don Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 11:57

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