Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do We Live in the Last Times?

“Last Time/Times”
            The phrase “last time” is used twice in the New Testament in I Peter 1:5 and in Jude 1:18. While the phrases in I Peter 1:5 and Jude 1:18 are translated the same in English, they use two different Greek words for “time.” Peter uses chairos and Jude uses chronos. I Peter 1:5 does refer to the final revelation of Jesus Christ. The phrase “reserved in heaven for you” points us in this direction.

            However, Jude 1:18 does not refer to the end of the world.  Jude 1:17-18 is almost an exact parallel with II Peter 3:2-3.  Therefore it is not surprising that Jude should agree with Peter that the last times had already begun. Jude says in verse 19 that scoffers are “these who cause divisions” among his readers. (See verses 4, 8, 10, etc.) Verse 16 says the same thing as verse 19. Those to whom Jude wrote his letter were already dealing with these false teachers. These scoffers are not men who will arrive with the coronation of the antichrist. They are men who were in churches that Jude was writing to.  The “last time” began in the first century.

            I Peter backs up Jude saying that the “last time” began with Christ.  Though Peter does not use chronos in I Peter 1:5 he does use it in 1:20.  Here is that verse:
            He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (I Peter 1:20 ESV)
            Peter agrees with Jude. The last times began when Jesus “was made manifest,” that is when he came in the flesh. We do live in the last times, but they have been going on for almost 2,000 years now. 

End of the Ages
            There are two places where we are specifically told that the end of the ages has come.  Here are those two verses:
            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.
(1Co 10:11, ESV)
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.
(Heb 9:26, ESV)

            There is much that could be said about these verses. It would be a worthwhile discussion to determine what are these “ages” Paul is referring to. But the main point for this post is that the end of ages came when Jesus sacrificed Himself upon the cross.  We usually envision the end of the ages as something to come in the future. Paul sees it as something that has already come.  

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8