Apocalypse: Unveiling or Invasion?

As many of you know, the Greek word apocalypse means "to unveil" or "to reveal." An apocalypse means that something which was hidden has now been brought into view.

Many of the scholars who describe Paul as an apocalyptic thinker, though, add something more to this definition. More than "unveiling," apocalypse means "invasion."

For example, in his highly influential commentary on Galatians, Louis Martyn makes some observations about this passage:
Galatians 3.23-25
Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed [apocalypse]. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
First, note the images of bondage and captivity. "Held under custody." "Locked up." "Guardian."

Next, note how Paul describes the apocalypse as "coming": "the coming of faith," "the faith that was to come," "until Christ came," "this faith has come."

In short, the apocalypse isn't just an unveiling, the apocalypse is something that breaks into our world as sets us free. Apocalypse as invasion, as an act of deliverance.   

Here is Martyn summarizing Paul's imagination:
The genesis of Paul's apocalyptic--as we see it in Galatians--lies in the apostle's certainty that God has invaded the present evil age by sending Christ and his Spirit into it. There was a "before," the time when we were confined, imprisoned; and there is an "after," the time of our deliverance. And the difference between the two is caused not by an unveiling, but rather by the coming of Christ and his Spirit.

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