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Definition of Epiphany from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Epiphany is an interesting holiday in the church calendar. It has, perhaps, lost some meaning in many Western circles as the coming of the Magi has been more (incorrectly) tied to the nativity and the birth of Jesus, rather than on their own separate day. The day gets a lot more attention from other countries in the world, like Spain and Latin America where they have El Dia de los Reyes (Day of the Kings) when they have large celebrations that rival Christmas. 


Given the definition of ‘Epiphany’, and how it’s based on the Greek word for ‘to reveal’, there are many instances in the bible that can be called an epiphany. In some Eastern Orthodox traditions, the emphasis of Epiphany is put on Jesus’ baptism rather than the visit from the Magi. The entire concept of the Epiphany holiday can be traced back to the Basilides (a Gnostic sect) celebrating the baptism of Jesus, as documented by Clement of Alexandria around 200 CE.

When it comes to revealing Jesus as the savior, the Magi were not even the first. They were certainly notable for having an epiphany as gentiles, but Anna and Simeon at the temple had their own epiphany 40 days after Christ’s birth. Mary had an epiphany when the angel Gabriel came to her, the shepherds had their own when the angels spoke to them. And before them all there was Elizabeth who named the baby in Mary’s womb as Christ the Savior before even being told anything.

The epiphanies never stopped in Jesus’ life. We can constantly see him revealing his nature throughout the Gospels. The lectionary for the season of Epiphany (the time between Christmas and Lent) is full of them, such as his baptism and his first miracle of turning water into wine. Every time a disciple chose to leave everything behind and follow him, they had their own epiphany moment. All the way to the soldier by the cross who said, “Surely, this was the Son of God.”


These are the moments that serve as validation for the fact that Jesus is our savior. These moments when people know that Jesus is the Son of God. And these moments still happen to this day to every one of us. We have all had our own epiphany moments, times where we go “Aha!” in regards to Jesus and his role in our lives. You may have even had epiphany moments that you did not recognize as such, but perhaps in hindsight can now identify them.


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