Vision


The word receives rather frequent use in the Scriptures; occurring eighty-six times in the Old Testament (in the singular form sixty-four times; the plural form, twenty-two) and fifteen times in the New Testament. Over one-third of its occurrences in the Old Testament are contained within the Book of Daniel, being used twenty-two times. This consideration coupled with a general knowledge of the nature of the Book of Daniel may furnish insight into the peculiar and suggestive connotations of the word.

The use of “vision” in the Old Testament seems consistent with the manifest nature of God. Throughout the Scriptures, God is declared as revealing Himself and making His ways known through chosen men. The patriarchs commonly reported that God chose to make His messages known through a vision. “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision...” (Gen 15:1). “And he said, ‘Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream’” (Num 12:6).



The theory of Malebranche (1638-1715) that sense perceptions are not really organic, but are made possible by the connection of the soul with God, and of God with the soul, may be more than suggestive even when vision is limited to the sense of sight or ocular perception. “We have cognizance of things, as well as objective realities, as subjective thoughts and feelings, through the idea which resides in our souls; but this idea is in God, so that we perceive everything in God as the primal cause of all existence and things.”

The simplest factor in visual space is extension. Every visual sensation comes to consciousness as an extended sensation. It is also to be noted that “perception” is an event in the person, primarily controlled by the excitation of sensory receptors, yet also influenced by other factors of a kind that can be shown to have originated in the life history of the person.

Additional Material

Source 1


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)



The character of the revelation through vision has a double aspect in the Biblical narrative. In one aspect it proposes a revelation for immediate direction, as in the ease of Abram (Ge 15:2 and frequently); Lot (Ge 19:15); Balaam (Nu 22:22), and Peter (Ac 12:7). In another aspect it deals with the development of the Kingdom of God as conditioned by the moral ideals of the people; such are the prophetic visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Micah, and the apoealypses of Daniel and John. The revelation for immediate direction has many correspondences in the life of the devout in all ages; the prophetic vision, dealing in a penetrating way with the sources of national growth and decay, has its nearest approach in the deliverances of publicists and statesmen who are persuaded that the laws of God, as expressed in self-control, truth, justice, and brotherly love, are supreme, and that the nations which disregard them are marked for ultimate and speedy extinction.

From the nature of the vision as an instrument of divine communication, the seeing of visions is naturally associated with revivals of religion (Eze 12:21-25; Joe 2:28; compare Ac 2:17), and the absence of visions with spiritual decline (Isa 29:11,12; La 2:9; Eze 7:26; Mic 3:6).

One may see visions without being visionary in the bad sense of that word. The outstanding characters to whom visions were vouchsafed in the history of Israel--Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Jesus and Paul--were all men of action as well as sentiment, and it is manifest from any fair reading of their lives that their work was helped and not hindered by this aspect of their fellowship with God. For always the vision emphasizes the play of a spiritual world; the response of a man’s spirit to the appeal of that world; and the ordering of both worlds by an "intelligent and compelling Power able to communicate Himself to man and apparently supremely interested in the welfare of man.

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