Eschatology

ESCHATOLOGY – The word eschatology is a combination of two Greek words: eschatos, meaning last, and logos, meaning word or significance. Thus, the book of Revelation is not just the last book in the Christian Bible, it is also God’s last, or final words to mankind, before Christ’s return. As it deals with the Biblical doctrine of last things, its normal focus is the return of Christ at the end of the age, the coming judgments preceding His return, expressions of the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God, the nature of the glorified body, and the prospects for mankind’s eternal destiny.

But eschatology is more than a biblical doctrine dealing with last things. It is also a literary genre characterized by certain distinct features (Figure 1.1). Some of the imagery in Revelation was likely lost on the first century readers, and continues to puzzle even twenty-first century Bible scholars.

In summary, eschatology is a theology of the future (what is to come – futurist) in relation to or in contrast with both history (what was – preterist) and the present age (what is – historicist), which is characterized by its own unique literary style (idealist/allegorical). (1) Despite the obscure language of the genre, like a good mystery novel, things will most likely become clearer (revealed) as prophesied events that have not yet taken place begin to transpire and we approach the climax.

Rev 1.1

LAST DAYS – In the Old Testament the last days were considered to be the anticipated coming of the Messiah. In the New Testament, the last days are generally considered to be the period between Jesus Christ’s first coming and the consummation of all things at his second coming. (3) See Acts 2:16.

DAY OF THE LORD – The day of the Lord, on the other hand, refers to God’s final intervention in human affairs when He will punish sin, restore the faithful of his people and establish his rule over the nations. It is linked with the Messianic hope and will be fulfilled at Jesus Christ’s return. Although its time is unknown, it will be heralded and accompanied by signs and by great upheavals in nature. (4)

IMMINENT – The Greek word for soon in Revelation 1:1, “what must soon take place,” means that events will occur suddenly once they begin. It did not necessarily that they would begin shortly after they were spoken to John. In other words, once the end-time events begin (which could now be close at hand or still far into the future), they will proceed in rapid succession. (5) Theologians call this the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ.

Next Up – The Second-Coming of Christ.

  1. Patterson, P. (2003). Eschatology. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 503). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  2. Neal, D. A. (2012, 2013, 2014). Apocalyptic Literature, Introduction to. In J. D. Barry, L. Wentz, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair-Wolcott, R. Klippenstein, D. Bomar, … D. R. Brown (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  3. Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
  4. Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
  5. Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 928). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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