Revelation (religion)

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Revelation is the body of truth given (revealed) by God to the human race. The idea of revelation is strongest and most important in the Abrahamic religions and especially Christianity.

Sources of revelation

All Christians consider the Bible to a be a source of revelation. Evangelicals and fundamentalists consider the Bible to be the only source of revelation, while Catholics and Orthodox believe that "Tradition," or unwritten revelation passed on and explained by the Church, is also a source of revelation. However, the most crucial Christian revelation is found in the Bible. Pentecostals and Charismatics believe in "words from God" (though they qualify such by stating that any such word must agree with the Bible).

The Book of Revelation is said to be the only book of prophecy in the New Testament.

See Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis).

Kinds of revelation

There are four kinds of revelation mentioned in the Scripture.[1]

General or Natural Revelation

Scientific observation
"As a physicist, that is, a man who had devoted his whole life to a wholly prosaic science, the exploration of matter, no one would surely suspect me of being a fantast. And so, having studied the atom, I am telling you that there is no matter as such! All matter arises and persists only due to a force that causes the atomic particles to vibrate, holding them together in the tiniest of solar systems, the atom.
Yet in the whole of the universe there is no force that is either intelligent or eternal - mankind has never succeeded in inventing the wanted Perpetuum mobile - and we must therefore assume that behind this force there is a conscious, intelligent Mind or Spirit.
This Spirit is the source of all matter. It is not visible, but perishable matter that is real, true and genuine, while the invisible, immortal spirit is true one as well. But since the spirit cannot exist on its own and every spirit belongs to a being, we are forced to assume that there are spiritual beings.
Finally, as spiritual beings cannot come from themselves, but must have been created, I do not feel embarrassed to call this mysterious creator in the same way as all the old civilized nations of the earth did: God."
— Max Planck

See Also: First Cause
General revelation is made to everybody, to the generality of humankind and it is also called natural because it is made through nature, through created order. The Old Testament is referencing to general revelation i.a. in the first six verses of Psalm 19. In the New Testament, the clearest statement on general revelation can be found in Paul's Roman Letter. Therein, Paul explains that "God has made plain" to human beings what might be known about Him (Rom. 1:19-20) because "since the creation of the world," i.e. throughout history, God's invisible attributes of power and divinity have been clearly seen "from what has been made" (Rom. 1:19-20). Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun claimed that even though people cannot visualize a Designer [of the Universe], He can be perfectly known through the effects in a similar way as electron.[2] Physicist and one of the founders of quantum mechanics Max Planck reasoned that after his thorough research of atom he has no other option but to conclude that behind the force in Atomic physics there is a conscious, intelligent Mind that he dares to call as all the old civilized nations of the earth: God.[3]

On account of general revelation, non-Christian religions may contain some foreshadowings of divine reality which is brought authentically also in God's historic self-revelation to Israel. The original beauty of creation and man's sincere response to general revelation can be defiled and distorted by elements of heathen culture.[4]

Special or Supernatural Revelation

There are more differences between general and special revelation. Important one is that God's general revelation was made through nature (heaven and earth proclaiming His glory), whereas His special revelation was made through miracle (inspiration and incarnation).

Progressive Revelation

Personal Revelation

Neutrality or indifference not an option
"It's time to get off the fence, and you've got to come down on one side or the other."
— Ryan Dobson[5]

According to Kroeker, God's Revelation conveys for a person either a glorious deliverance, or fatal, tragic fate. When facing God's revelation, staying indifferent or neutral is not an option. One has to come to decision: either one rectifies own life and submits it to revelation of God's plans, or one rebels against them.[6]


Not all knowledge of God is due to revelation. For example, the existence of God can be concluded naturally through human reasoning. But crucial Christian doctrines like the Trinity can only be learned supernaturally, through revelation.


  1. John Stott (2003 (First Edition 1999)). "Chapter I: The Revelation of God", Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea For Unity, Integrity And Faithfulness. Inter-Varsity Press, 39–75. ISBN 978-88511-19885. 
  2. First Cause
  3. Max Planck. “Das Wesen der Materie” (The Essence/Nature/Character of Matter); Quote from a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy (German). Abt. Va, Rep.11 Planck, Nr.1797. Archiv zur Geschichte der MaxPlanck-Gesellschaft. “"Als Physiker, also als Mann, der sein ganzes Leben der nüchternen Wissenschaft von der Erforschung der Materie widmete, bin ich sicher von dem Verdacht frei, für einen Schwarmgeist gehalten zu werden. Und so sage ich nach meinen Erforschungen des Atoms folgendes: Es gibt keine Materie an sich! Alle Materie entsteht und besteht nur durch eine Kraft, welche die Atomteilchen in Schwingungen bringt und sie zum winzigsten Sonnensystem des Atoms zusammenhält. Da es aber im ganzen Weltall weder eine intelligente noch eine ewige Kraft gibt - es ist der Menschheit nie gelungen, das heißersehnte Perpetuum mobile zu erfinden -, so müssen wir hinter dieser Kraft einen bewussten Geist annehmen. Dieser Geist ist der Ursprung aller Materie. Nicht die sichtbare, aber vergängliche Materie ist das Reale, Wahre und Wirkliche, sondern der unsichtbare, unsterbliche Geist ist das Wahre. Da es aber Geist an sich nicht geben kann und jeder Geist einem Wesen angehört, so müssen wir zwingend Geistwesen annehmen. Da aber auch Geistwesen nicht aus sich selbst sein können, sondern geschaffen worden sein müssen, so scheue ich mich nicht, diesen geheimnisvollen Schöpfer ebenso zu nennen, wie ihn alle alten Kulturvölker der Erde genannt haben: Gott."”
  4. Peter Beyerhaus (1975). "6:Possesio and Syncretism in Biblical Perspective", Christopaganism or Indigenous Christianity?. South Pasadena, California: William-Carey Library, 137–138. ISBN 0-87808-423-1. 
  5. Ryan Dobson, Jefferson Scott (2007). Be Intolerant in Love: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. Sisters, OR, USA: Tyndale House Publishers, 29. ISBN 978-1590-521526. 
  6. Jozef Ondrej Markuš (2001). Prorok Daniel (in Slovak). Matica slovenská, 75. ISBN 80-7090-600-6. “Boží muž Kroeker správne hovorí: "Božie zjavenie znamená pre človeka buď slávne vyslobodenie, alebo fatálny, tragický osud." Nemôžeme byť voči zjaveniu ľahostajní alebo neutrálni. Musíme sa rozhodnúť. Buď sa podriadime a usmerníme svoj život podľa zjavení Božích plánov, alebo sa postavíme proti nim.” 

See also