Biblical Terms for the Coming End of Man's Age
Some biblical terms have a considerably broader application than the 3 1/2 year time of crisis immediately preceding Jesus Christ's return. This can lead to some confusion should we try to force these terms into a strict end-time-only usage.
The apostle John, writing in the first century, used the expression "the last hour" in referring to his day: "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18).
Like others in his day, John likely thought Jesus Christ's return was imminent (Acts 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). But God has a considerably different perspective of time. His comprehension of time is not like ours. A day with Him is like 1,000 years and 1,000 years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).
John did warn us to be on the lookout for "antichrists," a description meaning any professing to be like Christ but actually working against Him. A trend that began in John's day will continue to the time of the end, when this false representation of Jesus Christ and His teaching will grow worse.
Paul, Peter, John and Jude use the terms last days, last time and last times to describe the last part of man's era. Paul warned Timothy that some Christians would leave the truth of God at the time of the end. He called this general future period the "latter times": "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1).
Hebrews 9:26 uses the phrase "end of the ages" to depict the period from Jesus' sacrifice to His second coming. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us: "God . . . has in these last days spoken to us by His Son."
Notice Peter's words: "He . . . was manifest [visible] in these last times for you" (1 Peter 1:20). John says: "Little children, it is the last time [because] many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last time" (1 John 2:18, KJV).
Note that Jude also uses the term "last time": ". . . Remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit" (Jude 17-19).
The expression "latter days" (Daniel 10:14) can include the "time of the end" (Daniel 11:35), a period immediately preceding and including the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). It is the context of these words and phrases that weighs most heavily on the meaning they convey.
|©1997-2007 United Church of God -
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
All correspondence and questions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to email@example.com