illustration depicting the opening chapters of the Apocalypse of Saint John; from Goffice's Devout InstructionsArticle

The book placed last in the Bible. The author, named John in 1:1, and 22:8, tradition has generally identified with the Apostle. It was written either during the persecution of Nero (54 to 68) or of Domitian (90 to 94), during Saint John’s exile at Patmos, to encourage the persecuted Christians by foretelling the fall of Rome as an anti-Christian power and the trials but complete victory of the Church. The work is prophetical, dealing with the future rather than with the present, yet not without many references to events of Saint John’s own time. He pictures various phases of the Church’s conflict with the world by means of different symbolical visions. The book is very difficult of interpretation; at each new crisis its prophecies seem fulfilled, the end seems at hand and yet it does not come. Its message seems to be: “Watch, for ye know not the day nor the hour.”

The introduction (1:1 to 3:22) gives the title and description of the book and, after a prefatory salutation, seven Epistles to various Churches of Asia Minor, commending those who are faithful, reproving and warning the lukewarm and the sinful.

Chapters 4:1 to 11:19, contain a description of the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem.

Chapters 12:1 to 19:10, describe the struggle between the Church and the world, ending in the destruction of Babylon.

In chapters 19:11 to 22:5, are related the final triumph of the Word of God and the glory of the New Jerusalem.

The epilogue (22:6-21) insists on the credibility of the Apocalypse and the quick fulfillment of its prophecies.

The Apocalypse takes us to the very court of heaven picturing for us God in all His Majesty, surrounded by angels who do His bidding in heaven and on earth, and Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for man’s Redemption but now surrounded by the elect who have kept His word. Satan, too, the great dragon, appears as the Church’s chief enemy, but is finally conquered, bound, and cast into a pool of fire.

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Apocalypse”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 8 May 2021. <>