VISIONS AND DREAMS
T. Pierce Brown
Each of the words occurs more than 80 times in the Bible, and both were
ways God had of communicating with mankind. However, in neither case does
the word imply that when a person had a vision of something, or had a dream
it was from God. We use the word “vision” to indicate what a person sees.
If you have “poor vision” you may go to a doctor and get glasses, so the
basic meaning of “vision” is simply something seen. When the vision came
from God, it was that God was showing a person by giving him a miraculous
imagery what he wanted him to know.
VISIONS, then, are experiences similar to dreams through which supernatural
insight or awareness is given by revelation. But the difference between a
dream and a vision is that dreams occur only during sleep, while visions
can happen while a person is awake.
In the Bible, people who had visions were filled with a special
consciousness of God. The most noteworthy examples in the Old Testament of
recipients of visions are Ezekiel and Daniel. Visions in the New Testament
are most prominent in the Gospel of Luke, the Book of Acts, and the Book of
The purpose of visions was to give guidance and direction to God’s
servants and to foretell the future. Daniel’s vision, for example, told of
the coming of the Messiah.
DREAMS were a state of mind in which images, thoughts, and impressions pass
through the mind of a person who is sleeping. In the Bible these were
sometimes prophetic in nature. A person might have a vision from God as he
was asleep and dreaming, or he might have a vision from God while he was
awake. But he might have a dream in which there were primarily thoughts or
voices, with no visual imagery, so there would be no vision.