What do the signs of the Apocalypse mean?

An apocalypse is a revelation or prophecy about the ultimate divine purpose. As such, the word apocalypse is associated with the end of the world, when God’s ultimate purpose will be revealed. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible does not contain a list of 7 signs of the apocalypse per se. However, the Book of Revelation, beginning with Rev 5:1, describes a book with 7 seals. As each seal is opened, an event or series of events occur. The first four seals are associated with the “four horsemen” and are accompanied by the signs of 1) religious deception and persecution (Rev. 6:1-2), 2) war (Rev. 6:3-4), 3) famine (Rev. 6:5-6), and 4) pestilence (Rev. 6:7-8). The opening of the fifth seal is accompanied by tribulation and martyrdom (Rev. 6:9-11). The sixth seal results in signs in the heavens (Rev. 6:12-17) and the seventh seal culminates in the seven trumpets (Rev. 8). Likewise, Jesus prophesied about the end times in Mt 24 and described signs to watch for including deception by false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions, lawlessness, and the desecration (abomination, tribulation) of the Temple. In all of these cases, however, it is important to remember that Jesus teaches us that it is not ours to know when the end will come (Mark 13:32-37). Rather, we are to live as though each day were our last, with a watchfulness and alertness that keeps us focused on that which truly matters – salvation in Christ Jesus.

Joe Paprocki

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).


DONATE NOW