“The Last Days” of the New Testament

It’s strange how people can lift scriptural phrases out of context and imbue them with an entirely different meaning.  Take, for example, the phrase “last days” (including synonymous terms like “the end”).  Most people today, including churchgoers, hear this phrase from the Bible out of context.  As a result, they assume it means something future to us.  It’s doesn’t.  It did indeed mean “something future” to those in the New Testament.  But future to them could very well be past to us.  In this case, that’s exactly what it is.

The “last days” were the last days of ancient Israel, the last days of the world as they knew it.  It was the last days of polytheism.  The monotheism that ancient Israel had stood for since the days when Abraham shunned idols and Moses had given the Israelites the Shema – and stood against the entire ancient world in doing so – would come to be practically universal.  It was the last days of the temple, as it was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.  It was the last days of the distinction between Jews and Gentiles from God’s point of view.  The New Testament church was spiritual Israel, and it still had largely the face of Israel as the Lord and His apostles were all Jewish to the core – even as it was bringing Gentiles in.  This was the transitional structure God was using to bridge to the new world of the kingdom of God when there would be no distinction at all between peoples.  Thus it would be the last days of the church as well – at least the last days of the church God was tending.  The kingdom of God would soon be coming and that was what the New Testament church was waiting for.

If you will, go back and read the New Testament, noting carefully every reference it makes to the end, the last days, the last hour, the coming kingdom, the coming day of the Lord, or any such phrase.  You will find that these references are consistent in expecting something that is imminent – at most, only decades away, and, more likely, only years away.  The book of Revelation almost screams at its beginning and end that the time is “soon.” 

Therefore, “the last days” in the New Testament is ancient history to us, not looming future.  Once you understand this, your faith in the New Testament will grow. 

On the other hand, if you insist on believing the prophecies of end times are yet to be fulfilled, you have created a credibility problem for the New Testament authors.  For how can you believe them on other points, if you think they were mistaken on this point about which they were so clear, so consistent, and so emphatic?

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.