Difference between a dream and a vision in sacred scripture


The title pretty much states my question.

Thanks in advance!!


As far as I can tell, dreams are only mentioned in Scripture if they are visions sent by God. The sleep state is a good one for God to communicate to men, in which the mind is more open as the body is relaxed.

Of course, not all dreams are visions, but some dreams definitely are. Jacob’s dream, Pharaoh’s dream, Nebuchadnezzar’s, and Joseph (Mary’s husband) were all dreams/visions sent by God to warn, advise, or predict events. At least, that’s how I’d describe such dreams. :slight_smile:

God may still speak to us in dreams, sending visions of things he wants to tell us. Such private dreams, however, must be subject to our pastors so we don’t err in matters of faith and morals.


Very often, if a dream is sent by God, it will be understood better afterwards. Sometimes, there is real and immediate urgency. I had one such dream many years ago, where I saw a woman in my dream sobbing continually and it did not let up until I finally awoke. At that point, I began to pray for several minutes with earnest petition for the woman who was in my dream.

The very next morning, my dear sister called me and began the conversation with, “How do you know there is a God?” It was very strange, so I questioned her further, and she replied, “I tried to commit suicide last night, but SOMETHING stopped me. I cried all night long.” No doubt about it that God woke me to intercede for her.

If God sends this form of communication, and it is truly of Him, the message will be made clear in due time. One will remember the dream when the time has come for the message to be manifest.


Now to comment on a vision.

St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church with much experience and knowledge of mysticism, had a rather lengthy chapter that is best read for oneself, rather than for me to print it all out here.



I would say it’s the same supernatural phenomenon, except one vision is happening while one is asleep, and the other vision is happening while one is awake.


Modern Catholic Dictionary:

DREAMS. The effect of psychic activity protracted in sleep. Their religious significance derives from many sources, not the least of which is the frequency with which the Scriptures speak of dreams, in the Old and New Testaments, and indicate that sometimes God uses this means of communicating with human beings.

Dream representations are largely expressed in visual form, but auditory, olfactory, and taste dreams also occur. Although the structure of dreams is disorganized, nevertheless dreams do contain a latent meaning. They may be considered as a symbolic transference of situations, ideas, and sentiments previously experienced by the dreamer.

VISION. Supernatural perception of some object that is not visible naturally. A vision is a revelation only when the object seen also discloses some hidden truth or mystery.


Thanks folks!! Happy new year!!


Dreams are symbolic and require discernment. The common form of communication.

Dreams can come from peering into darkness, which God allows so as to pray against hidden demonic activity, or can be influenced by the demonic.

Dreams can be from your own desires.

Dreams can be from God.

Visions are literal views of things and you are not viewing something as a communication of symbolic language but as they truly are.

Visins can happen while asleep or fully awake.

Awake visions are often experienced as a scroll being unfurled before you with a seven similar to like watching TV where something is revealed.

God can seal up a dream or vision so as to remove your rememberamce of it but release then memory at the right time. Also there can be spiritual effects from the forgotten vision regardless as it draws us to the divine.

That being said we do not seek after these things but experience with them can have implications to understanding what God is doing or trying to do in the near term or distant future.

Often it is a response to a prayer request.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.