Bible study on end times and all things "end of world" generates a tremendous amount of air time and page space. Search under the category of "end times" on Billy Graham's site and you will get over 230 articles.
"End times" shares company with words like "signs" and "mystery" and "apocalypse". It's possible the human mind's fascination with solving mysteries and knowing "things hidden" is at work here. At the very least we see imagination running wild. But what if all the hype was just that - hype?
Maybe the greatest and most direct way of how Scripture interprets Scripture is the New Testament writers' interpretation of the Old Testament prophets' prophecies.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
In a previous time God spoke to man through the prophets, but now (“these last days”) He has spoken through His son, Jesus Christ. Additionally, God appointed Him heir of all things and through Him created the world.
Opening to the letter of Hebrews, written to Jews that had believed and obeyed the gospel. The writer is beginning his argument and evidence for why everything is better in Jesus by pointing to the prophets (and angels) that had, in times past, delivered God’s message.
Scripture tells us the Christian last days began on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension1 and continue to this present day, until the “day of the Lord”12. In the normal course of their writing, all of the New Testament writers refer to their time as the last days or some variant1,2,3,6,7,8,9,11,12,13,14 – whether “last time”2, “end of the ages”3,13, “last times”6, “last hour”7, “days are coming”10, “these days”8,11, or even “this salvation”9.
Furthermore, we have the prophets that spoke of the “last days”1,4,5,10 (not an exhaustive list) coupled with the New Testament writers that by inspirationinterpreted that what the prophets prophesied about began during their days (the first century)1,4,8,9,10,12. These are evident with a quick reading/review, but possibly the most involved and interesting is Jeremiah10. His prophecy (given the confirmation and interpretation of it by inspired, New Testament writers) and the broader context of verses with other characteristics of the last days is worth a read10.
A purely Scripture-based definition of antichrist2,3,4,5 requires no human speculation or pontification. It would not be a proper name (capital “A”), but rather a concept or classification – literally, “every spirit that does not confess Jesus”4,5 or anyone that “denies the Father”3. John clearly defines this and tells us that antichrist is “in the world already”4 and was “many”2. We also have Jude’s testimony7 about false teachers, written during the same time period and mirroring John’s definition of the antichrist.
Determining what Scripture has made clear, we can review other, less-clear passages that may apply. These would include what John sees in his vision1 and what Paul writes to the Thessalonians6 (and possibly Jesus’ statements provoked by the Temple visit7). To be clear, these do not speak of “the Antichrist” and numerous shortcomings for anyone to definitively interpret in that way have been noted.
However, what is unequivocally clear in these passages1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 is that while opposition to God exists and will exist, He remains sovereign and in due course will be triumphant over evil…as will all those that remain faithful to the end1,6,7.
Scripture has a lot to say about Jesus’ second coming – what’s next – but it never says that Jesus will return to earth. In fact, it says that believers, both dead and alive1 at that time, will meet Him in the air/clouds1,6,7,8 (specifically, not on earth).
We have other passages where Jesus talks of His own return2,3,4,6,7 (and John8). In these, never is it said He will return to earth. He does speak of His throne2,3,4 which some may infer “throne on earth.” One2, in particular, may tempt someone to make a literal, physical, earthly throne interpretation. However, unless Jesus is contradicting Himself in the immediate context2 and other places4, we can understand that He’s speaking metaphorically and simply means that all believers will conquer and become glorious upon His return4.
Finally, there is one passage of prophecy that is plucked from its context to sometimes justify Jesus’ return to earth5. Surely His feet standing “on the Mount of Olives” proves His return to earth, right? Except, we see from the context5 – something too often ignored in Bible study but especially end times doctrine – this is a metaphor for judgement and the “dividing” that will happen between the righteous and the unrighteous1,3,4.
There is no reason to believe there will be a literal one thousand year reign on earth since there is no other place in scripture where “a thousand years” (or anything like it) is used literally2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16. We see “thousand” used figuratively in books of history2,7,14,16, poetry3,4,8,10,13, New Testament epistles12,15, other books of prophecy6,9 including in other places in Revelation5.
In Revelation, we are reading “one thousand years” within the broader prophetic and highly figurative vision of John. By the time we get to the passage of Scripture that promoters of this “literal one thousand year reign” doctrine stake their claim on1, Scripture has well established a figurative use for “a thousand years”2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16. Indeed, without the clouding lens of a presupposed doctrine that requires a certain interpretation – namely that Jesus will return to earth to reign one thousand years – the Revelation 20 text1 is simply communicating to the reader a very long (everlasting2,3,4,7,11,12) and triumphal (complete2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16) future reign of Christ and the Saints at the judgment.
The first resurrection in Revelation is peculiar indeed. Of course, the Bible makes mention of many resurrections at different times, not the least of which is the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, only once is the "first resurrection" mentioned and it occurs in the book of [more]
Many in this world speculate about what happens next. Religious leaders are busy pondering the "end times". They have elaborate expectations about what happens next in the Bible. For example, a search on "end times timeline" reveals countless charts, documents, and presentations that have been put together to illustrate what [more]
There is a belief among some that Jesus did not accomplish all that He came to earth to do. On the surface, the suggestion that God could fail and that Jesus did not accomplish His mission seems absurd. Yet, this seems to come primarily from some premillennial thought and teaching [more]
The idea of Jesus establishing His kingdom comes from Jesus Himself, but was Jesus' kingdom established when He walked on earth in the first century? The question of "When?" regarding Jesus' kingdom is debated. Some even say that Jesus came to establish His kingdom but he failed. What will [more]
Many believe that Jesus will reign 1000 years when He returns (the doctrine of "millennialism"). In fact, the Bible says that, "they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him [Jesus] for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6) However, it's just one verse. Could it [more]
God's land promise was originally made to Abraham in roughly 2,000BC. The Bible first tells of the land promise in Genesis 12:1-3 and it is repeated several more times to Abraham and descendants Isaac and Jacob (aka Israel). As a result, the "Promised Land" became the great quest [more]
A literal return of King David is a tenant of much of the modern religious thought today. Purveyors of premillennial doctrine, such as David Jeremiah, teach that King David will return in the flesh to rule alongside Jesus during the thousand year reign on earth. The prophets have much to [more]
Central to this question of will Elijah return is a prophecy given by Malachi. Elijah was a prophet that lived during the final days of the judges, just before the first King Saul was installed over the twelve tribes of Israel. He lived roughly seven hundred years before Malachi, yet [more]
The Kingdom of God is Within You, Leo Tolstoy Understanding the kingdom of God is fundamental to understanding much of God's revealed word. How and what one understands the kingdom of God to be will impact their understanding of such monumental events as Jesus coming to earth, His promised [more]
So much is made today about the Antichrist (capital "A"). A search on YouTube for prognosticators about "Who is the Antichrist" - his appearing, his personality, his birthplace, etc. etc. - will garner videos with hundreds of thousands, even millions of views. We've linked one such purveyor here.The doctrine [more]
The phrase "last days" is a common one throughout Scripture, especially with the prophets of the Old Testament. They often speak of the "last days" and other derivative phrases such as "days are coming" or "latter days" or "in/on that day". The Hebrew words for "last/latter" and "days" can [more]
The awaiting of Jesus' second coming and Jesus return to earth are synonymous. (Of course, just like some false teachers taught in the first century, some believe Jesus has already returned.) Our emphasis here is the "to earth" specifically. This is the unchallenged position of many Christians today. It's [more]
A literal one thousand year reign of Jesus on His throne. There are many that believe Jesus' return is for just that - a literal one thousand year reign (millennium) on earth. It is widely taught and even passed down as "church doctrine." It is a teaching that comes from [more]
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