This study is an attempt to try to understand what the biblical writers were conveying about the so-called “last days” or “end times.” There are two views among Christians. The first view is that the end times are about the end of the physical world—that is, the end of history (or even the end of the Christian age). This view is referred to as the “futurist” view. The second view is that the end times are about the end of the Old Covenant Age. This second view, the “preterist view,” is what I think is most biblical. See if you don’t agree that the writers of the New Testament spoke with one voice that they themselves were living in the last days without any hint that the last days would extend past their lifetimes.
For some background information, first consider this statement by Jesus in Luke 21:22:
“These are the days of VENGEANCE to fulfill all that is written.”
What did Jesus mean by this statement? The context is the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. To fully understand it, I think we need to go all the way back to Deuteronomy 28-32. In this passage, Moses predicted that there would come a time in Israel’s covenantal history (Deuteronomy 29:1; 31:16; 32:5) when she would become so unfaithful that God would take VENGEANCE on her (Deuteronomy 32:35, 41, 43)—and destroy her (Deuteronomy 28:9, 20, 24, 33, 45, 48, 61, 64; 32:23, 26).
This would happen in the LATTER DAYS/LATTER END (Deuteronomy 31:29; 32:20, 29)—in a “crooked, twisted, and perverse” generation (Deuteronomy 32:5; 20). Jesus and the New Testament writers declared that the prophesied generation had arrived (Matthew 12:38-39; 17:17; Luke 9:41; 11:29; Acts 2:40; Romans 10:19; Philippians 2:13-15). Indeed, Jesus told the first-century Jewish leaders that judgment for all the righteous blood ever shed on earth would befall them for their wickedness (Matthew 23:35-36)! Compare to the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-45).
The Old Covenant order ended in AD 70 with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. At that time, the Jewish priesthood ended, the genealogical records were destroyed, and the temple sacrifices ended forever. Over a million Jews were killed by the Romans.
This prophecy by Moses was known to the subsequent Old Testament writers (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Micah, Malachi, etc.). Their own prophetic utterances in turn often echo the “latter days” prophecy of Moses. In this study, we will focus on the New Testament end-times passages (below), but we’ll begin with Daniel’s mention of the “time of the end,” which would be when “the power of the holy people would shattered” and the “burnt offering would come to an end”— a prophecy about AD 70.
As you study the last days/end times passages in the table below, consider some additional ones specifically about the duration of the earth: Genesis 8:21; Psalm 78:69; 96:10; 104:5; 148:3-6; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Ephesians 3:21. The student can, for his own record and class discussion, indicate whether he thinks that the passages were fulfilled in the past, the future, or perhaps both past and future.
|Daniel 12:6, 7, 9, 11, 13 (ref. Mt. 24:15-16, 34; Lk. 21:6-9; 20-24, 32)|
|Matthew 13:38-42; 24:2-3, 14 (compare KJV with other translations, compare “whole world” to Lk. 2:1; Rom. 1:8; 10:18; 16:25-27; Col. 1:6, 23)|
|Acts 2:14-20 (ref. Joel 2:28-32; Acts 3:24)|
|1 Corinthians 1:8; 7:29-31; 10:11, 15:24|
|2 Timothy 3:1-5|
|Hebrews 1:2; 3:14 (ref. Heb. 8:13)|
|1 Peter 1:5-7; 1:13 (“you”); 1:20|
|1 Peter 4:7 (ref. 1 Pet. 4:17)|
|2 Peter 3:2-4 (ref. Peter’s words above; Jude 17-23)|
|1 John 2:17-18|