Doctrine of Dreams, Visions and Trances
I. Dream in the original languages.
A. Hebrew word— MwølSj chalom
B. Aramaic word MRlEj chalem
C. Greek word
e˙nu/pnion enupnion -one use Joel 2:17
II. Natural Dreams
A. Thoughts, images and sensations that occur in a person’s mind when he is a asleep.
B. Scripture: Jb 33:15;20:8; Ps. 73:20; Ec 5:3,7;
Eccl. 5:3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
Personal cares and concerns are often the cause of dreams.
III. Revelatory Dreams
1. This is when God reveals something supernaturally to someone.
2. This communication may come directly from God (Gen. 20:3-7) or a messenger angel (Matt. 1:20-24).
3. The dream may be just seen or heard or both.
4. It may be a prophecy, a warning or for some other purpose.
5. Dreams could bring a clear message or require an interpretation (Dan. 2).
B. Some have a discussion with the LORD.
1. Solomon (1 Kgs. 3:5-15)
2. Abimelech (Gen. 20:3-7).
Gen. 20:3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
Gen. 20:4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
Gen. 20:5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
Gen. 20:6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
Gen. 20:7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
C. Just the Angel Speaks
Joseph (Matt. 1:20-24) just heard and saw an angel.
When Joseph realized Mary was pregnant, he wanted to divorce her quietly and not subject her to public disgrace (Matt. 1:19).
Matt. 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Matt. 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Num. 12:6 He [the LORD] said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
I shall speak with him in a dream.
Solomon 1 Kgs. 3:5-15; Joseph (Gen. 37:5) etc.
Abimelech Gen. 20:3; Laban (Gen. 31:24; Pharoah’s chief cup-bearer and baker (Gen. 40:5-17); Pharaoh (Gen. 41:1-7), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:1-3) etc.
4. Old men—believers Joel 2:28
IV. False Prophets and Dreams
1. False prophets often use dreams to deceive and mislead the people (Jer. 23:9-40;27:9;29:8; Zech. 10:2).
a. This had distressed Jeremiah, a true prophet.
Jer. 23:9 Concerning the prophets:
My heart is broken within me;
all my bones tremble.
I am like a drunken man,
like a strong man overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
and his holy words.
Jer. 23:10 The land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse the land lies parched
and the pastures in the wilderness are withered.
The prophets follow an evil course
and use their power unjustly.
b. The LORD would punish the false prophet.
Jer. 23:11 “Both prophet and priest are godless;
even in my temple I find their wickedness,”
declares the Lord.
Jer. 23:12 “Therefore their path will become slippery;
they will be banished to darkness
and there they will fall.
I will bring disaster on them
in the year they are punished,”
declares the Lord.
c. False prophets were to be put to death (Deut. 13:1-5).
V. Dreams in the New Testament—
A. For obedience and guidance.
1. To Joseph Matt. 1:20; 2:13,19,22
2. Warning to the magi to not to go back to Herod
3. Pilate’s wife suffered in a dream. Consequently, she warned her husband not to have anything to do with “that innocent man.” [Jesus] (Matt. 27:19).
B. Old Men to dream dreams with the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17).
A. Original languages
2. Greek—- o¢rama horama
1. Visions are not much different than revelatory dreams except that the person is awake at the time as with young Samuel in 1 Sam. 3 (1 Sam. 3:3 ff.).
2. A vision can also come at night, a night vision
(Job 4:13;Is. 29:7)
3. The prophet Joel connects prophecies, dreams, and visions with a future outpouring of the Holy Spirit
C. New Testament Occurrences
1. Ananias and Saul, who became Paul.
The Lord called to Ananias in a visit to go see Saul who had had a vision of Ananias come and see him. Paul was blind at the time which makes this even more interesting (Acts 9:10-12).
a. A vision to come over to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10).
b. In Corinth, where Paul was told by the Lord to not be afraid to remain in Corinth (Acts18:9-11).
c. When Paul relates to King Agrippa his conversion (Acts 26:19).
3. Peter (Acts 10:17,19 cf. 11:5)
4. To Cornelius, a Gentile unbeliever but God-fearer at the time.
a. In a vision, he saw an angel of the Lord
b. In the same account, Peter falls into a trance (Acts 10:10;11:5).
5. John in Revelation (Rev. 9:17).
A. Trance in the original languages
1. Hebrew— Måd∂r radam – deep sleep, sound sleep
Judgment. 4:21; Jon. 1:5-6; Dan. 8:18;10:9.
In both cases of Daniel there is revelatory activity going on, one with an angel and the other with a vision. In 10:9, Daniel could have fainted.
2. Greek e¶kstasiß ekstasis -out of one’s normal state of mind.
a) astounded, fear (Mk. 5:42; 16:8; Lu. 5:26; Acts 3:10)
b) state in which one received visions
1) “a trance came over him” Acts 10:10
2) “and in a trance I saw a vision” Acts 11:5
3) “I fell into a trance” Acts 22:17
Here the term means a trance-like state when God communicates directly to someone.
B. Paul’s Experience
2Cor. 12:1 ¶ It is necessary to go on boasting.Though it is not profitable, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.
2Cor. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven.
2Cor. 12:3 And I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows)
2Cor. 12:4 was caught up into paradise and heard things too sacred to be put into words, things that a person is not permitted to speak. NET
VIII. Dreams, Prophecy and Visions in the Last days.
A. With the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter interprets this as a last day event.
Quoted from Joel 2:28-32
Acts 2:17 “ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Acts 2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy. NIV11
B. Acts 2:17-18 Comments
1. Peter quotes this OT Scripture to support the point that what the people are witnessing is not drunkenness but a pouring out of the Spirit as predicted in the OT.
2. This rather general statement from Joel makes the point that the Spirit’s coming will come upon all believers (universal indwelling) and that all will be experiencing spiritual phenomenon (giftedness).
3. As more revelation is given through particularly the epistles, we learn more about spiritual giftedness
4. To sum up: Peter is announcing that the Time New Covenant Church has arrived with the Spirit as the OT predicted it would.
Acts 2:19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
Acts 2:20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
C. Acts 2:19-18 Comments
1. These celestial events mark the end of the Age of the New Covenant Church and the coming of the eschatological day of the Lord, that is the Second Advent and surrounding events.
2. At the end of this period, everyone who calls on the name of Lord will be saved.
1. Only a few people after Acts 2 are listed as having been gifted with prophecy other than the apostles (Judas, Silas Acts 15:32; Agabus 21:10).
2. The longest list is in:
Acts 13:1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
3. Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9).
4. However, in the early church, there is clearly the gift of prophecy (Rom. 12:6;1 Cor. 12:10;13:2,8;14:6,29)
5. It was for revelation for the believer (1 Cor. 14:22) and for edification, exhortation and consolation (I Cor. 14:3).
6. It was one of the most important gifts (I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:22;4:11), one of the greater gifts (1 Cor. 12:31)
7. Prophets were to follow certain rules (1 Cor. 14:29,32)
Only Ananias (Acts 9:10); Paul (Acts 16:9-10;18:9), Peter (Acts 10:17 cf. 11:5) and Cornelius (Acts 10:3), John the apostle (Rev. 9:17) as having experienced visions.
There is no record of anyone receiving a dream as mentioned in Acts 2 but remember that visions were closely related to visions.
IX. Dreams, Visions and Trances today:
A. Question: Do revelatory dreams, vision and trance come to people today?
1. The Scripture does not directly address this issue.
2. From what we do have in Scripture, these experiences are rare at most even in the first century church.
3. Since we do have the completed canon of Scripture for the New Convent Church, it makes good sense that they would be rare if at all.
X. False teachers will continue to claim to have their
dreams and visions and new revelation.
Col. 2:18 Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind.