Eschatology – The Last Word

To show his servants… (Revelation 1:1, NIV 1984).

My Musings – 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, 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. First, the revelation is about a divine plan concerning end times. Second, the message is communicated through a series of visions or dreams delivered by a heavenly messenger. Third, the message includes a detailed description of past and present events, typically in a coded language that is characterized by seemingly mythic and often chaotic imagery. Fourth, the message also contains a detailed description of the end times that includes a chronology of events that are sometimes surreal or dreamlike. Fifth, there is a sharp contrast between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Sixth, There is a degree of pessimism regarding the present and future events is counterbalanced by optimism regarding the ultimate and future victory of the divine that includes a transformation of the cosmos. Seventh, at the end of a great battle, God is revealed to be truly triumphant, as He was in the beginning of the universe, and always has been.

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).

My Advice – Some of the imagery in Revelation was likely lost on the first century readers and continues to puzzle even twenty-first century Bible scholars. 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 unfold and we approach the climax. So, do not be too discouraged if what God is showing His servants seem unclear to you at the present time.


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.

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.

Author: thebrewisamusing

I was raised in a Christian family and my earliest childhood memories include regular Sunday school and Church attendance as a family. I was taught that our Judeo-Christian values were not just a part of our Sunday routine they should be part of our character and influence all aspects of our lives. I was also taught that as important as these values were they could not save us. We must also be “born again” by accepting Christ.

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