Below is a chart showing all the New Testament passages concerning eschatology. The passages are from Paul’s letters first, in chronological order, then through the other N.T. books, also in chronological order. I did not include any passages from Revelation as that entire book can be said to concern eschatology. I’ve added some brief notes as well….
Author: HV Voogd
Paul and the End Times – Part Two – Eschatology Notes 2023
There is an interesting anomaly in Paul when comparing 1 Corinthians 15 with the last part of Ephesians chapter 1 and first part of chapter 2. In both passages Paul writes of Christ’s resurrection, His reign, and the resurrection of people. He uses the same vocabulary in both passages: Christ being over powers, everything put under Christ’s feet, all in all, etc… But, the passages are not the same. The 1 Corinthians passage is describing an unrealized eschatological event, while the Ephesians passage seems to be describing a realized event which is metaphorical or purely spiritual.
Both passages proclaim that Christ rose from the dead, that Christ rules, and that Christ is above all authority and power. But then things differ. In 1 Corinthians, all of Christ’s enemies are being put under His feet, but it’s not complete yet. In Ephesians, it is done. In 1 Corinthians, it’s not until the kingdom is delivered to God the Father and the Son is subjected to Him, that God will be “all in all.” Whereas in Ephesians, the fullness of Christ already fills “all in all.” In Corinthians, there is a future bodily resurrection, while in Ephesians there is an already seemingly metaphorical/spiritual resurrection. Lastly, in Corinthians the end comes with the resurrection of the dead, while in Ephesians things carry on in this age and the ages to come. One other difference to note is that Ephesians mentions the Church while 1 Corinthians does not, although it is clear that Paul is writing about Christians in that passage.
Scholars (mainly those who are not Christian) suggest that Paul did not write Ephesians. One of their arguments is this anomaly shown here. In Paul’s other letters his eschatology matches what’s seen in 1 Corinthians: a soon coming of Christ resulting in a bodily resurrection. In Paul’s other letters, does he ever imply that believers are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places? Colossians 2:11-15 could go well with the Ephesians passage (although the same scholars who doubt Paul’s authorship of Ephesians also doubt his authorship of Colossians). Romans 6:3-11 could work too, and no one doubts Paul’s authorship there.
Let’s assume Paul wrote it all, and considering the Colossians and Romans passages mentioned above, also assume that Paul, in Ephesians, is describing an already-spiritual-resurrection for believers, and that in 1 Corinthians, Paul is describing a future bodily resurrection. This seems to go well with what Jesus said in John 5, where He seems to speak of an already spiritual resurrection in verses 24-27, and a future physical resurrection in verses 28-30. We can also compare this to Revelation 20. In that passage, starting in verse 4, there are thrones, and the believers of the first century are resurrected and reign with Christ for 1000 years. This is the first resurrection, and it only applies to believers (vs. 5). We could argue that this first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection and that it applies to all believers throughout the 1000 years (with the 1000 years beginning in the first century and continuing on till the Last Day). The final resurrection, a bodily resurrection including all humanity, is seen in vss. 11-15 followed by the final judgement.
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Paul and the End Times – Part I – Eschatology Notes 2023
It would appear from reading Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and John in the New Testament, that all these men believed that some kind of end was near to them, in their time.
In 1 Corinthians Paul exhorted his readers to live pure lives and then, in order to warn his readers, he used examples of how God punished the Israelites in the past. Then he said…
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. I Corinthians 10:11
In James chapter five, James rebukes stingy rich people and then he encouraged his fellow believers to be patient…
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! James 5:7-9
Peter, in his first epistle, encouraged his readers to turn away from their past evil habits and to live pure lives. And then he said…
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in you prayers. I Peter 4:7
John, in his first letter, encouraged his readers to not love the world, but rather love God. And then he said…
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour. I John 2:18
In Hebrews, the author encouraged the readers to remember what Christ accomplished for them, and then he said…
…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
Jude, in his short epistle, warned his readers of false teachers and impostors who had infiltrated the early Church. Then, after describing those trouble makers, Jude wrote…
But you, beloved, 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. Jude 17-18
In my last article, I wrote of how Jesus prophesied about two events: 1) The coronation of King Jesus and the destruction of the temple; 2) The Last Day resurrection and final judgement. I believe that prophesy #1 was fulfilled in the first century by AD70 and that prophesy #2 is still future. Would the NT authors agree with me? I have the advantage of looking back on 2000 years of history. I know what happened in AD70. I know what has not happened since then. The NT authors did not have this advantage. They did not even have a complete book of scriptures to refer to. Therefore, I believe that the NT authors combined Jesus’s two prophesies as one, and believed that both those prophesies would come to pass within their lifetimes. They were not wrong in their theology, but they were mistaken in their understanding of how their theology would play out in time.
To support this theory I only need to read the New Testament. I will start with Paul. In this article I will focus on I & II Thessalonians.
Imagine yourself as a member of the Thessalonian church around the year AD50 when this letter was written. You are hearing this letter being read in your church, and Paul is speaking directly to you and your church family. Paul writes, “…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come,” and, “…what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy,” and then, “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints,” and you can’t ignore this, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep… And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Paul continues to speak this way for the rest of the letter.
It does seem that Paul believed that he and the Thessalonian church would experience the coming of the Lord personally, especially when reading chapter four. Paul wrote of two groups of Christians: those who are asleep and those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. Paul placed himself, and the Thessalonian church, within the group of those who are still alive at Christ’s coming.
Jesus spoke of the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (prophesy #1), and Jesus spoke of a last day resurrection (prophesy #2 — see my last article). Paul most certainly expected Christ to come in His kingdom very soon, and he was right to believe so. Paul knew from Jesus’s own words that the temple would be destroyed, and Paul knew the significance of that: no longer was the center of worship in Jerusalem — a new order of things had begun under King Jesus. However, I believe Paul mistakenly thought the resurrection would happen at the same time. And why wouldn’t he? The gospel was being proclaimed with power across the empire, many miracles were happening, and people were already being transformed in powerful ways. Why wouldn’t Jesus be coming back soon to complete history?
Paul, again in 2 Thessalonians, speaks as though the coming of the Lord is near, and the persecuted Thessalonians would receive rest “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels.”
But there was a problem with the Thessalonian church. They seemed to believe that the Day of Christ had already happened and they had been left out. It is unknown exactly why they thought this, but apparently they had been deceived somehow. Paul assures them that the Day had not already happened, and that two things would come first before that Day: a falling away, and the Man of Lawlessness being revealed. I’m not going to attempt here to identify who this man might have been (Nero? the High Priest? Herod? John Levi Gischala?), but it is clear from Paul’s language that this man was present in the time this letter was written, around AD50…
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. II Thessalonians 2:5-8 (ESV)
It is strange to think the Man of Lawlessness is someone who will be revealed shortly before the Last Day resurrection and final judgement (a still future event), but was already being restrained in Paul’s day, and that Paul and the Thessalonian church knew what was restraining him. It makes more sense to connect the Man of Lawlessness with the destruction of the temple in AD70, an event which was relevant to the Thessalonian church and to Paul and to all the Christians and Jews living in the first century. Again, I believe Paul was correct in thinking the coming of the Lord was near (coming into His kingdom/coronation/destruction of the temple) but was mistaken in thinking this also included the final resurrection and final judgement.
**All scripture, unless otherwise indicated, is from the NKJV**
The Prophesies of Jesus – Past and Future – Eschatology Notes 2023
In the world of Eschatology there can be much confusion about what Jesus prophesied about and when those prophesies would be fulfilled. Most of this confusion can be eliminated, in my opinion, if we recognize that Jesus prophesied about two different events, and then look at the time indicators Jesus gave when talking about those events.
The two events Jesus prophesied about were: #1) The Son of Man’s coronation as king (coming into His kingdom) and the destruction of the temple (which was a sign that Jesus is now King); #2) The Last Day, which includes the final resurrection and the final judgement.
Prophesy #1 was fulfilled by AD70. Jesus gave time indicators to prove this. Prophesy #2 is still future. Jesus spoke of the final judgment and resurrection as something in the future, but He gave no specific time indicators as to when these events would take place. Some would argue that all the prophesies of Jesus were fulfilled by AD70 (full preterism), and others would argue that all these events are still future (futurism), but I disagree with both those positions. Partial preterism seems to be the correct position. The time indicators Jesus gave concerning these prophesies suggest that #1 has been fulfilled, while #2 has not yet.
Below is a chart showing all the relevant passages from the four gospels concerning these prophesies…
* Matt. 13:47-50 — This passage seems to be best fulfilled at the final judgement, however there is a sense in which the separating of the wicked and the just began in the first century and continues on through history to be culminated at the last judgement.
** Matt. 19:28-30 — Jesus used the term “regeneration” here, which I don’t believe refers to the final resurrection, but rather the spiritual regeneration all believers experience when they first believe. It is what Jesus described in John 5:24-27. Compare this passage to Mark 10:29-31 and Luke 18:29-30 where Jesus contrasted “in this present time” to “the age to come.” There is an “already/soon” and a “not yet” condition here, but concerning “the Son of Man sitting on the throne of His glory” this passage was fulfilled in the first century.
*** Matt. 24 — There is a lot going on in Matt. 24, but I am convinced this entire chapter is about the events leading up to and including AD70 when the temple was destroyed.
vs 14 — This gospel will be preached in all the world. The word “world” here in the Greek is oikoumene, which refers to the Roman world, not planet earth (compare to the Gr. kosmos used in John 3:16). The gospel would be preached, to the scattered Jews first and then to the gentiles, then the end of the old world order would come, signified by the destruction of the temple.
vs 15 — The “abomination of desolation” mentioned in Matthew is replaced with “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” in Luke (21:20ff) — most certainly referring to AD70. There are some ancient sources which say that Christians knew to flee Jerusalem when the time of its destruction had come.
vs 29 — The sun, moon, and stars going dark and falling is apocalyptic language of God’s judgement on a nation. See Isaiah 13; Ezekiel 32; Jeremiah 4:19ff. It is de-creation language and is not to be taken as a literal physical thing happening.
vs 30 — The Son of Man coming on the clouds — Compare this to Matthew 26:64. This is not referring to Christ’s second coming, but rather His coronation — see Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14.
vs 34 — “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” Jesus was speaking to His own generation, not about some future generation.
**** It is in Matthew 25, in my opinion, that things shift from a first century fulfillment to an end time fulfillment, though that shift is not abrupt, but rather a fading out of one and a fading in of the other. Vss. 1-29, the parables of the ten virgins and the talents, seem to first be a warning to the Jews to be ready for their coming Messiah, but secondly become a warning to all nations as the gospel goes out. Then in vss. 31-46 we see all the nations being judged, culminating in the Last Day.
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