From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

In modern English, ‘vision,’ from Lat. videre , ‘to see.’ is almost synonymous with ‘sight,’ but in the older use of the word the conception is that of images presented to the more or less abnormal states of consciousness, and generally produced by supernatural agency. The latter is the sense in which the Bible uses the term. It is the distinctive function of the seer (תֹוָה and רֹאָה) to see visions, and those isolated and exalted persons are well represented by Samuel, who is the only seer known to us by his proper name. In his childhood, we are told, the vision (חָווֹן) was not widely diffused ( 1 Samuel 3:1). The same word for ‘vision’ is found in  Proverbs 29:18 in the statement ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,’ or ‘cast off restraint.’ Words from the same roots are frequently employed in Daniel and Ezekiel. Jeremiah warns the people against the visions of false prophets which are elaborated out of the uninspired minds of those whom God had not sent ( Jeremiah 14:14;  Jeremiah 23:16).

In the OT it is evident that visions, though often associated with dreams ( Joel 2:28), are to be distinguished from them. Whilst dreams may be the medium for God’s revelations, by way of ‘special providences’ during sleep, visions may occur during waking moments and by the exaltation or perhaps the transcendence of the natural powers of sight. A vision is thus the ‘sight’ or perception of spiritual realities, communicated either by means of the illumination or exaltation of the natural senses or by immediate consciousness through the supersession of them. It may be said that the evolution of the prophet in the OT involves a change from the state of rapture or ecstasy to that of ethical interpretation. Some writers affirm that the imagery of the revelation is supplied, in the case of the later prophets, by their own illuminated thought, whilst the truths themselves in more abstract form were the material of the communication. Whether this be so or not it is difficult to determine, inasmuch as the cases of vision in the NT and in more recent times imply a direct presentation in a concrete or personal form, or as an image before the consciousness.

The usual words in the NT are ὄραμα and ὀπτασία, the latter probably having a less objective significance than the former. In the report given to our Lord by the two disciples on their way to Emmaus of the vision of angels seen by the women, the word ὀπτασία is used ( Luke 24:23). When St. Paul referred before Agrippa to the heavenly vision he spoke of the ὀπτασία ( Acts 26:19), but in the account of the actual occurrence given by St. Luke the word ὄραμα was used ( Acts 9:10;  Acts 9:12). That this word connotes a high degree of reality and objectivity is evidenced by the fact that it was used by our Lord when, referring to the Transfiguration, He warned His disciples to tell the vision (ὄραμα) to no man ( Matthew 17:9). Peter’s vision, whilst it conveyed to him God’s revelation as to his treatment of the conscientious Gentile, was presented in a concrete form, the objectivity of which seems never to have been questioned (Acts 10). On the other hand, when he doubted the actuality of the presence of the angel ( Acts 12:9), and the deliverance which had been wrought, he thought he had seen a vision (ὄραμα).

Probably no recital of visions engaged the minds of the Christians in the 1st (if the earlier date be accepted) or the 2nd cent. more than that of ‘The Shepherd of Hermas,’ in which, somewhat after the style of Dante’s Divina Commedia , teachings are presented for the instruction of the Church. The ‘Shepherd’ is the divine teacher, who imparts his lessons by means of precept and allegory, and the Church appears as an aged woman, whose features become increasingly youthful the oftener she is gazed upon.

Literature.- Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , articles ‘Vision’ and ‘Prophecy’; Shepherd of Hermas (Lightfoot [ Apostolic Fathers , London, 1891] and other editions); F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death , do., 1907.

J. G. James.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

Many of the visions mentioned in the Bible seem to be little different from dreams ( Genesis 46:2;  Job 33:15;  Daniel 7:1-2;  Acts 16:9). The main difference seems to be that a dream occurred while a person was asleep, but a vision may have occurred while a person was either asleep or awake ( 1 Samuel 3:3-15;  Psalms 89:19;  Daniel 2:19;  Daniel 8:1-26;  Daniel 9:20-23;  Luke 1:22;  Acts 9:10-17;  Acts 10:3;  Acts 10:9-17). Also, dreams were a common experience among people in general, whereas visions were usually given by God to selected people for specific purposes ( Genesis 15:1;  2 Samuel 7:17;  Nahum 1:1;  Daniel 7:1;  Daniel 8:1;  Acts 11:4-18;  Acts 18:9). In such cases people were not to boast about their visions, but give glory to God ( 2 Corinthians 12:1-10). (Concerning the interpretation of visions see Dream .)

Visions were often associated with prophets. Prophets were God’s messengers to the people, and God may have given them his messages through visions ( Numbers 12:6;  2 Samuel 7:17;  Isaiah 1:1;  Amos 3:7). To say there was ‘no vision in the land’ usually meant there were no prophets in the land; or, if there were prophets, they had no message from God. The people were going through a spiritual drought ( 1 Samuel 3:1;  Proverbs 29:18;  Lamentations 2:9;  Ezekiel 7:26;  Amos 8:11-12; see Prophet ).

False prophets usually claimed to have seen visions. In this way they hoped to gain acceptance among the people, and consequently receive a good income ( Jeremiah 14:14;  Jeremiah 23:16-17;  Micah 3:5-7).

After the destruction of Jerusalem and the taking of the Jewish people into captivity in Babylon, visions had a more prominent place in the prophetic ministry ( Ezekiel 1:4;  Ezekiel 1:15;  Ezekiel 8:1-4;  Ezekiel 37:1-6;  Daniel 7:1-4;  Daniel 8:1). This developed further after the people returned to Jerusalem ( Zechariah 1:8;  Zechariah 1:18;  Zechariah 2:1), and continued to develop right through into New Testament times ( Revelation 1:12;  Revelation 4:1).

These visions were largely concerned with the persecution that God’s people suffered because of the ungodly nations who ruled them. The message of the visions was that all nations and all events were under the control of God. When his predetermined time had come, he would intervene in the affairs of the world, overthrow evil, set up his kingdom and bring in the era of the new heavens and the new earth ( Daniel 9:24-27;  Zechariah 5:5-11;  Zechariah 6:1-8; Revelation 18; Revelation 20;  Revelation 21:1-8;  Revelation 22:1-5). (For details see Apocalyptic Literature .)

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]


1. In OT . In its earlier form the vision is closely associated with belief in dreams (wh. see) as the normal vehicle of Divine revelation. The two words are repeatedly used of the same experience, the dream being rather the form , the vision the substance ( e.g .   Daniel 1:17;   Daniel 2:28;   Daniel 4:5 , cf.   Joel 2:28 ). The common phrase ‘visions of the night’ embodies the same conception (  Daniel 2:19 ,   Job 4:13 ,   Genesis 46:2; cf.   1 Samuel 3:1-15 ,   Acts 16:9 ). In the darkness, when the eye is closed (  Numbers 24:3-4 ) and the natural faculties are suspended by sleep, God speaks to men. A further stage is the belief in an exalted condition of quickened spiritual discernment (‘ecstasy’   Acts 11:5;   Acts 22:17 , cf.   Genesis 15:12 [LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ]), detached from the dream-state and furthered by fasting, prayer, and self-discipline (  Daniel 10:2-9 , cf.   Acts 10:9-11 ). But in the later OT books neither ecstasy nor the objective vision, with its disclosure in cryptic symbolism of future happenings (Daniel), or of the nature and purposes of God (Ezekiel, Zechariah), has a place in the normal line of development of man’s conception of the methods of Divine revelation. The earlier prophets had already attained to the idea of vision as inspired insight, of revelation as an inward and ethical word of God (  Isaiah 1:1;   Isaiah 2:1 etc.; cf.   1 Samuel 3:1 ,   Psalms 89:19 ). Their prophetic consciousness is not born of special theophanies, but rather of a resistless sense of constraint upon them to discern and utter the Divine will (  Amos 7:14;   Amos 7:16 .   Isaiah 6:5 ,   Jeremiah 1:6 ,   Ezekiel 3:12-16 ). Ecstasies and visual appearances are the exception (  Amos 7:1-9;   Amos 8:1 ,   Isaiah 6:1-13 ,   Jeremiah 1:11-13 ). In   Isaiah 22:1;   Isaiah 22:5 gç’ hizzâyôn valley of vision ’ (EV [Note: English Version.] ) is possibly a mistake for gç’ Hinnôm , ‘Valley of Hinnom.’

2. In NT . St. Paul once makes incidental reference to his ‘visions’ (  2 Corinthians 12:1 ), and perhaps confirms the objective character of the revelation to him on the road to Damascus (  Galatians 1:11-17 ,   1 Corinthians 9:1;   1 Corinthians 15:8 ). Visions are also recorded in   Luke 1:1-80;   Luke 2:1-52 ,   Acts 10:1-48;   Acts 11:1-30;   Acts 16:1-40; and the term is once applied to the Transfiguration (  Matthew 17:9; Mk. Lk. ‘the things which they had seen’). But the NT vision is practically confined to the Apocalyptic imagery of the Book of Revelation.

S. W. Green.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Ὅραμα (Strong'S #3705 — Noun Neuter — horama — hor'-am-ah )

"that which is seen" (horao), denotes (a) "a spectacle, sight,"  Matthew 17:9;  Acts 7:31 ("sight"); (b) "an appearance, vision,"   Acts 9:10 (ver. 12 in some mss.); 10:3,17,19; 11:5; 12:9; 16:9,10; 18:9.

2: Ὅρασις (Strong'S #3706 — Noun Feminine — horasis — hor'-as-is )

"sense of sight," is rendered "visions" in  Acts 2:17;  Revelation 9:17 . See Look , B.

3: Ὀπτασία (Strong'S #3701 — Noun Feminine — optasia — op-tas-ee'-ah )

(a late form of opsis, "the act of seeing"), from optano, "to see, a coming into view," denotes a "vision" in  Luke 1:22;  24:23;  Acts 26:19;  2—Corinthians 12:1 .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [5]

A. Nouns.

Châzôn ( חָזוֹן , Strong'S #2377), “vision.” None of the 34 appearances of this word appear before First Samuel, and most of them are in the prophetic books.

Châzôn almost always signifies a means of divine revelation. First, it refers to the means itself, to a prophetic “vision” by which divine messages are communicated: “The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth” (Ezek. 12:22). Second, this word represents the message received by prophetic “vision”: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18). Finally, châzôn can represent the entirety of a prophetic or prophet’s message as it is written down: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz …” (Isa. 1:1). Thus the word inseparably related to the content of a divine communication focuses on the means by which that message is received: “And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision” (1 Sam. 3:1— the first occurrence of the word). In Isa. 29:7 this word signifies a non-prophetic dream.

Chizzâyôn ( חִזָּיוֹן , Strong'S #2384), “vision.” This noun, which occurs 9 times, refers to a prophetic “vision” in Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Chizzâyôn refers to divine communication in 2 Sam. 7:17 (the first biblical occurrence) and to an ordinary dream in Job 4:13.

B. Verb.

Châzâh ( חָזָה , Strong'S #2372), “to see, behold, select for oneself.” This verb appears 54 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew. Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic. It means “to see or behold” in general (Prov. 22:29), “to see” in a prophetic vision (Num. 24:4), and “to select for oneself” (Exod. 18:21—the first occurrence of the word). In Lam. 2:14 the word means “to see” in relation to prophets’ vision: “Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity.…”

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Genesis 12:1-3 Genesis 19:15 Numbers 22:22-40 Acts 12:7

Several Greek and Hebrew terms are translated by the English word vision. In some references, the literal sense of perception with the physical organs of sight is the intended meaning of the word ( Job 27:11-12;  Proverbs 22:29 ). In  2 Samuel 7:17;  Isaiah 22:1 ,Isaiah 22:1, 22:5;  Joel 3:1; and  Zechariah 13:4 , the Hebrew word refers to the prophetic function of receiving and delivering the word of God by the prophet.

Vision in varying forms occurs approximately thirty times in the Book of Daniel. The term denotes the mysterious revelation of that which the prophet described as knowledge of the future. In Ezekiel, the words are used literally and metaphorically.

Among the classical prophets (Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Obadiah, etc.) the vision was the primary means of communication between God and the prophet. By this avenue, the prophets interpreted the meaning of immediate events in the history of Israel. “Vision” and “Word of Yahweh” became synonymous in these prophetic writings (see  Obadiah 1:1 ). See Prophecy; Revelation; Seer.

James Newell

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

the act of seeing; but, in Scripture, it generally signifies a supernatural appearance, either by dream or in reality, by which God made known his will and pleasure to those to whom it was vouchsafed,  Acts 9:10;  Acts 9:12;  Acts 16:9;  Acts 26:13;  2 Corinthians 12:1 . Thus, in the earliest times, to patriarchs, prophets, and holy men God sent angels, he appeared to them himself by night in dreams, he illuminated their minds, he made his voice to be heard by them, he sent them ecstasies, and transported them beyond themselves, and made them hear things that eye had not seen, ear had not heard, and which had not entered into the heart of man. The Lord showed himself to Moses, and spoke to him when he was at the mouth of the cave. Jesus Christ manifested himself to his Apostles, in his transfiguration upon the mount, and on several other occasions after his resurrection. God appeared to Abraham under the form of three travellers; he showed himself to Isaiah and Ezekiel, in the splendour of his glory. Vision is also used for the prophecies written by the prophets. The beatific vision denotes the act of angels and glorified spirits beholding in heaven the unveiled splendours of the Lord Jehovah, and privileged to contemplate his perfections and plans in and by himself.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( v.) The faculty of seeing; sight; one of the five senses, by which colors and the physical qualities of external objects are appreciated as a result of the stimulating action of light on the sensitive retina, an expansion of the optic nerve.

(2): ( v.) That which is seen; an object of sight.

(3): ( v.) The act of seeing external objects; actual sight.

(4): ( v.) Especially, that which is seen otherwise than by the ordinary sight, or the rational eye; a supernatural, prophetic, or imaginary sight; an apparition; a phantom; a specter; as, the visions of Isaiah.

(5): ( v.) Hence, something unreal or imaginary; a creation of fancy.

(6): ( v. t.) To see in a vision; to dream.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

This word hath several significations in Scripture. In the first ages of the world the Lord was pleased to manifest himself to the children of God by vision; sometimes by open revelations, at other times by dreams in the night. ( Genesis 15:1 etc;  Genesis 46:2.) Beside these, the books of the prophets are called visions. ( Isaiah 1:1) And even in the after-ages, when Jesus had finished his redemption work, and was returned to glory, the Apostle Paul speaks of visions. ( 2 Corinthians 12:1, etc.)

King James Dictionary [10]

VI'SION, n. s as z. L. visio, from video, visus.

1. The act of seeing external objects actual sight.

Faith here is turned into vision there.

2. The faculty of seeing sight. Vision is far more perfect and acute in some animals than in man. 3. Something imagined to be seen, though not real a phantom a specter.

No dreams, but visions strange.

4. In Scripture, a revelation from God an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events. Such were the visions of Isaiah, of Amos, of Ezekiel, &c. 5. Something imaginary the production of fancy. 6. Any thing which is the object of sight.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

A supernatural presentation of certain scenery or circumstances to the mind of a person either while awake or asleep,  Isaiah 6:1-13   Ezekiel 1:1-28   Daniel 8:1-27   Acts 26:13 . See Dream .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Luke 1:22 Luke 24:23 Acts 26:19 2 12:1

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [13]

The supernatural representation on an object to a man when waking, as in a glass which places the visage before him. It was one of the ways in which the Almighty was pleased to reveal himself to the prophets, Is. 1: 1. Is. 21: 2.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

vizh´un ( חזון , ḥāzōn , חזּיון , ḥizzāyōn , מראה , mar'āh  ; ὅραμα , hórama , ὀπτασία , optası́a ): Psychologists find that man is prevailingly and persistently "eye-minded." That is, in his waking life he is likely to think, imagine and remember in terms of vision. Naturally then, his dreaming is predominantly visual; so strongly visual, we are told, that it is not rare to find dreams defined as "trains of fantastic images." Whether man was made this way in order that God might communicate with him through dreams and visions is hardly worth debating; if the records of human life, in the Bible and out of it, are to be trusted at all, there is nothing better certified than that God has communicated with man in this way (  Psalm 89:19;  Proverbs 29:18; compare  Amos 8:11 ,  Amos 8:12;  Hosea 12:10 ). If one is disposed to regard the method as suited only to primitive peoples and superstitious natures, it still remains true that the experience is one associated with lives and characters of the most saintly and exalted kind ( 1 Samuel 3:1;  Jeremiah 1:11;  Ezekiel 1:1;  Daniel 2:19;  Acts 9:10;  Acts 10:3;  Acts 16:9 ).

The vision may come in one's waking moments ( Daniel 10:7;  Acts 9:7 ); by day (Cornelius,  Acts 10:3; Peter,  Acts 10:9 ff; compare   Numbers 24:4 ,  Numbers 24:16 ) or night (Jacob,  Genesis 46:2 ); but commonly under conditions of dreaming ( Numbers 12:6;  Job 4:13;  Daniel 4:9 ). The objects of vision, diverse and in some instances strange as they are, have usually their points of contact with experiences of the daily life. Thus Isaiah's vision of the seraphim ( Isaiah 6:2 ) was doubtless suggested by familiar figures used in the decoration of the temple at Jerusalem; Paul's "man of Macedonia" ( Acts 16:9 ) had its origin in some poor helot whom Paul had seen on the streets of Troas and who embodied for him the pitiful misery of the regions across the sea; and "Jacob's ladder" ( Genesis 28:12 ) was but a fanciful development of the terraced land which he saw sun-glorified before him as he went to sleep. Among the recurring objects of vision are natural objects - rivers, mountains, trees, animals - with which man has daily and hourly association.

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 ( Genesis 15:2 and frequently); Lot (  Genesis 19:15 ); Balaam ( Numbers 22:22 ), and Peter ( Acts 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 ( Ezekiel 12:21-25;  Joel 2:28; compare  Acts 2:17 ), and the absence of visions with spiritual decline ( Isaiah 29:11 ,  Isaiah 29:12;  Lamentations 2:9;  Ezekiel 7:26;  Micah 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 - A braham, 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.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(some derivative of חָזָה , To Behold, Ὁράω  ; or of רָאָה , To See, Ὄπτομαι ) , a supernatural presentation of certain scenery or circumstances to the mind of a person while awake. (See Dream). When Aaron and Miriam murmured against Moses ( Numbers 12:6-8), the Lord said, "Hear now my words if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold." The false prophet Balaam, whose heart was perverted by covetousness; says of himself, that he hath seen the visions of the Almighty ( Numbers 24:1;  Numbers 24:16). In the time of the high priest Eli, it is said ( 1 Samuel 3:1), "The wonder of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision;" literally, "the Vision did not Break Forth; " that is, there was no public and recognized revelation of the divine will. With this we may compare the passage in  Proverbs 29:18, "There is no vision, the people perish." (See Urim). Vision is also sometimes used to signify the ecstatic state of the prophets when they were favored with communications, from Jehovah. (See Prophet).