Posts tagged ‘“end of the ages”’

April 28, 2019

Time, History and Eternity

The above graphic depicts an understanding of the phrases “this age” and “the age to come”, in their biblical/historical context. This understanding underlies the proper perception of our present situation, and affects our eschatological outlook. Satan is NOT “the god of this age” that we are in now. He was “the god of this age” when Paul wrote 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; Rom. 16:20, etc. Jesus crushed Satan’s head and bound him in the first century, cf. Matt. 12:29; Luke 10:18; Rev. 20:2; etc. Not to say that the evil one is not still active other than in wholesale deception of the nations the way he was before, but the Lord Jesus Christ is reigning now! cf. Ps. 2; Ps. 110; Dan. 7:13-14; 1Cor. 15:25; etc.

An “age” is a period of time. There is no other age that will follow the present age of Christ’s mediatorial reign (what the New Testament, written prior to the termination of the Old Covenant age with the destruction of the temple, refers to as “the age to come”). We are now in the final age of time and history, as the ascended Lord Jesus Christ reigns from on High and through His Spirit indwelling His people, living stones in the new living temple – His body. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:24-26).

Premillennialists claim that there will be another age after Christ’s Second Coming, when He will reign upon the earth for 1,000 years prior to the final judgment, with a variety of flavors espousing a rebuilt temple, multiple resurrections, etc., etc. which is all patently unbiblical. An older version of postmillennialism taught that there will be a separate “golden age” in time and history after the present age and before the Second Coming; proponents of that view may have acquiesced to the lack of scriptural warrant for it.

Against “the age to come” as eternity

Ephesians 1:17-21:
…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age (aion) but also in that which is to come.*
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (NKJV)

*Note: the age “which is to come” here can hardly refer to eternity without conflicting with 1 Corinthians 15:28:

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
*28Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

The Ephesians passage presents the ages in time/history; the passage in 1 Corinthians presents the end: eternity. Jesus’ ascension took place in what were the last days of “this age” for the writers of the New Testament. In this final age now present (the “age to come” for the N.T. writers), Jesus is reigning from on High and by His Spirit indwelling His people, living stones in a living temple, His body; (He also rules over the nations with a rod of iron).

*By contrast, in eternity, we shall eat and drink with Jesus Himself, as we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! (1 John 3:2) cf. Matthew 26:29.

Paul wrote in the last days of the old covenant age when the temple was still standing. The “age to come”, which was then at hand, is fully here now: the gospel age, the “millennium” of the mediatorial reign of the King Jesus.

In those same last days of the old covenant age when the temple was still standing, shortly before He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; rose again from the dead; and ascended into heaven, Jesus said to the high priest: “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.(Matt. 26:64) The hereafter our Lord foretold is the termination of the old covenant economy with the destruction of the temple in AD 70, the final end of that age, the outworking of AD 30 when Christ made the once-for-all sacrifice of Himself; which was also foretold by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel:

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation*, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (Daniel 9:26-27)

*i.e. the consummation of the ages, the transition from the Jewish to the Christian: the mediatorial kingdom of the gospel age, the final age before the end, the millennial reign of the risen, ascended Lord Jesus Christ as written of in Ephesians 1.

(click to enlarge)

December 20, 2014

The End of the Last Days of the Former Ages

NounEnd [​end]
-the point in time at which something ends;
-the concluding parts of an event or occurrence​;
​-the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates
 behavior intended to achieve it​
 
In Acts 2:17ff the apostle Peter declares the fulfilment of what was uttered by the prophet Joel​: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares…”. The events foretold happened in those “last days.” The spectacular fire baptism by the Holy Spirit, daughters prophesying, etc. along with all the cosmic judgment language depicting the then at hand destruction of old covenant Israel all happened then, and is now over and done with. Your daughters are not prophesying any more, for example. As those last days ended and are in our past, I believe that we are not now still living in the last days.
 
Amillennialists such as James White maintain a concept of “this age, and the age to come”, that this age we are living in now is a continuation of the “last days” spoken of by the apostles, and the age to come is the hereafter, i.e. final glory. Surprisingly, postmillennialist Ken Gentry agrees that the last days, which began in the first century, continue through now and on into the future, which understanding requires that the “last days” have now lasted for approximately 2 millennia, so far. One wonders if Dr. Gentry, who anticipates a long period of Christian prosperity before the second coming, assumes that the “last days” will be in effect all that time until then. That there will be a triumph of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ manifesting in time and history should be the Christian’s faithful hope, according to His word; but it is a result of His first coming which ended the last days of the old covenant. “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).  
 
The patriarchal age was from Adam to Moses, the old covenant age was until Christ. Christ brought in the new creation, such that Dr. White’s “this age” was actually the old covenant age, which was passing away when the New Testament was written; and his “age to come” is actually the here & now of the new covenant, the Messianic reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the millennium of Revelation 20, the new Jerusalem, the new heaven & earth (in an already/not yet sense). Final glory is not an age in time & history, rather it comes after the end of the ages for us. The end of the ages for the New Testament writers was then.

​The Greek word aion is commonly translated as world, as in Hebrews 11:3 which the NKJV renders: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” The Greek word there translated as worlds is aionas (plural of aion). This passage describes our faith in the providence of God in the works of creation. However aion can also mean “age”, and application of the wrong connotation can be the cause of considerable misunderstanding.

The apostle Paul, in referring to the old covenant, wrote “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). While Jesus’ first advent marked the beginning of the new covenant age, the old covenant age was finally swept away in AD 70. There was a transitional period of about 40 years (a generation) from AD 30 to AD 70 in which the two ages co-existed. Those were the “last days”. It was towards the end of this period when the apostle Peter wrote “The end of all things is at hand…” (1 Peter 4:7).
 
The writer of Hebrews confirmed this in contrasting the types & shadows of the old covenant with redemption through the blood of Christ: “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:24-26).
 
​Jesus Himself mentioned the ages when he said “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32). Surely the age He distinguished as “this age” had to be the old covenant age, under which He was born and was ministering; while the “age to come” was a reference to the new covenant gospel age which He came to bring in. The “age to come” as a reference to the final state makes no sense because at that point everyone’s state is fixed and it is too late for repentance and forgiveness for any sin.
 
Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary on the unpardonable sin passage: What the sentence is that is passed upon it; It shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. As in the then present state of the Jewish church, there was no sacrifice of expiation for the soul that sinned presumptuously; so neither under the dispensation of gospel grace, which is often in scripture called the world to come, shall there be any pardon to such as tread underfoot the blood of the covenant, and do despite to the Spirit of grace: there is no cure for a sin so directly against the remedy. 

Even so, in Luke 20:34-36 Jesus says “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage. But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” The KJV properly renders aion as “world” in each instance where it appears in this passage, which is obviously preferred over “age” as in modern translations (see NKJV).

We must let context determine the correct connotation of words for sound interpretation of God’s infallible word. The sooner Christians embrace by faith that we are living under the better blessings of the new covenant age as distinct from the last days of the old covenant, which have ended, the sooner we will put off the expectation of defeat; and, walking by faith and not by sight, will trust, obey, pray, think and act accordingly towards advancing the kingdom of our reigning King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, towards that end. Amen.

[See “Last Days” tab/sub-tabs above for timeline and graphical representations of the two-age model, with commentary beneath each]