The Truth About Eschatology

There is a lot of talk amongst Christians today concerning a particular topic, one in which I find a lot of very unhelpful teaching. Most like to refer to this specific topic as the ‘end times’. The message that comes across loud and clear is that we are dealing with a very scary and fearful thing. For example, what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Revelation,’ as in the book of Revelation? Fear, death, and evil are some words that might pop into your mind.

The English word, revelation, comes from the Greek word, apokalupsis, as found in Revelation 1:1 – ‘The revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ.’ That’s where we get our title for the last Biblical book. The background to this word shows that it simply means ‘a revelation’, in the sense of an ‘unveiling’ or ‘uncovering’.

But even Hollywood has picked up on the portrayed fearfulness that many Christians have taught concerning the ‘end times’ and the book of Revelation. Now, no doubt, the message is clear that Christ will defeat His enemies with triumphal victory. But, how about a shift of thinking from the grave scariness of the book to the great and glorious victory of Christ? And with His victory, this means a victory for the saints, the bride, the people of God!

The overarching theological word given to this topic is known as eschatology. The word simply means ‘the study of the last things’. There’s to be nothing scary about that word either. There are a wide variety of particulars to look at, but overall, it simply means looking at the final things that are to take place as explained in the Scriptures. That doesn’t mean we immediately try and figure out who is the anti-christ and what, or who, is the beast of Revelation 13, though we can study those things. But ultimately, when we look at how things are going to end, we look at how Christ is going to triumph and rule over all – Revelation 11:15:

‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’

So, my hope is to take some time to study some issues concerning eschatology, or last things. And in doing so, I hope I can bring a healthy and Biblical understanding to a few topics that I believe are widely misunderstood. The first discussion – when are the last days?

Click here to read about the topic of the rapture.

Click here to read about the topic of understanding the nature of Biblical prophecy.

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2 thoughts on “The Truth About Eschatology

  1. Hi Scott
    I wonder about defining eschatology with too much emphasis on the “end of time” (usually with the morbidly obsessed question “how painful will this be for me”?), and too little on the cosmic implications of God’s Plan.

    For me the currently resounding thought on eschatology is from Jurgen Moltmann who says:
    “A proper theology would therefore have to be constructed in the light of its future goal. Eschatology should not be its end, but its beginning.” [Theology of Hope]

    I’m finding this paradox to be very true. As I wrestle with the question of destiny, light is shed to all things, not least the question of origins, and then most importantly on present mission.

    It’s all still under construction…

  2. Hey Nic.

    Thanks for stopping by. I do understand that an emphasis on the ‘end of time’ can be an unhelpful focus in the current, more popular trends of American evangelicalism. Most have really unhealthy, even unbiblical understandings of such. Still, eschatology really does deal with the end of all things, but again not some over-emphasis on 7 years of bad stuff, etc. Eschatology is about the breaking in of the reign and rule of God through the Messiah-King, which is going on as we speak, and has been for about the last 2000 years in the first Christ-event. This will one day be finally summed up and consummated at Christ’s return. But we are enjoying the eschatological benefits and blessings of Christ and the kingdom right now through the new birth, the new creation, the reality of the Holy Spirit, that all God’s people become priests, prophets, and kings, and even the miraculous in our midst. The salvation age of the eschatological kingdom is in our midst.

    So, I would stay of an unhealthy understanding (as portrayed in things like Left Behind). But I would emphasise that we have entered the eschaton because the Messiah-King has come and brought the blessings of the kingdom! Now that is exciting!

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