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.

I 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?

II Thessalonians

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.

Some considerations:

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.

**Note: I do not endorse any of the stupid advertisements or links to other articles that might show up in this article.**

A Pre-Christian Prophet Part II

Jordan Peterson has recently published a video titled Message to the Christian Churches. It addresses the issue of raising up “real men.” Anyone who has been paying attention to the western Christian world will know that the Church has been dealing with this issue for a long time. Remember Mark Driscoll?

July 13, 2022

Right wingers will resonate with Peterson; left wingers will not. True Christianity is not trying to solve the conflict between left and right. Christ’s kingdom transcends our politics, thank God.

However, here again we see a non-Christian speaking with more influence over young men than any Christian leader. It doesn’t matter how wrong or right Peterson’s message is, it is the message being listened to by the most people.

Part I


In the Twinkling of an Eye

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (NKJV)

Two essential things to believe if you are going to be a Christian: 1) Jesus rose from the dead; 2) We will also rise from the dead. If you don’t believe either of those things, there’s no point in being a Christian.

There is a conundrum though. How can I be changed in the twinkling of an eye from one who sins regularly to one who will never sin again? Is it not necessary for me to change and grow into this new condition? What about my will? Don’t I have to successively make the right choices over time to become perfect? Apparently not, according to Paul.

It reminds me of an episode of Futurama titled Obsoletely Fabulous. In the episode, Bender the robot needs an upgrade to make him compatible with a newer robot. He has to go from hating this new robot to loving it. How can this be done without altering his personality against his will?

I’ve posted the episode below. It’s from YouTube, so it’s not a perfect showing, but the story is still fully there. Hopefully YouTube doesn’t remove the episode any time soon. Enjoy…

Part 1

After part 1, there’s a section of the episode missing where Bender meets some other robots on the island. These are primitive robots who have rejected modern technology.

Part 2