These Last Days

When we hear the term “last days,” quite naturally, we assume it refers to the final period of history just prior to the return of Jesus, a logical assumption. Yet the New Testament presents this period as the age of fulfillment that began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, In the epistle to the Hebrews, the “word of the Son” marked the end of one era, and the commencement of another and vastly superior age.
  • (Hebrews 1:1-3) – “In many parts and in many ways of old, God spoke to the fathers in the prophets upon the end of these days, He spoke to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the ages, who, being an eradiated brightness of his glory, and an exact representation of his being, also bearing up all things by the utterance of his power, purification of sins having achieved, sat down on the right hand of the majesty in high places.”
The epistle begins by declaring how God, “in these last days, spoke to us in a Son.” Elsewhere, the epistle describes how Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” that is, the end of the old covenant and the dawn of the long-promised New Covenant. In him, the old order has become obsolete - (Hebrews 8:13, 9:26).

Similarly, Paul wrote that the “appointed time has been shortened…For the forms of this world are passing away.” The last verb is in the Greek present tense (i.e., “passing away”), signifying continuous action - the forms and institutions of this age have been in the process of passing away since the victory of Jesus over sin and death - (1 Corinthians 7:29).

Paul went on to describe how the Hebrew scriptures were written for the instruction of Christians, the ones “upon whom the end of the ages has come.” He made a similar point to the churches of Galatia - “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” - (1 Corinthians 10:11, Galatians 4:4).

The Hebrew Bible presents history as divided into two ages - the present evil age and the “age to come.” The coming age, the promised messianic era, would be ushered in when the Messiah arrived.
Thus, in Jesus, the messianic promises are coming to fruition. For now, his disciples live in a time of overlap and transition between the two ages. One is “passing away,” the other is moving inexorably to its culmination.
His resurrection marked the commencement of the general resurrection of the dead, which is why Paul called his resurrection the “firstfruits” of our own. Likewise, the gift of the Spirit is the “firstfruits” of the future redemption of our bodies. So, also, the Spirit is our “earnest” (arrabōn) or “down payment” on the future resurrection, the rock-solid “guarantee” that God will complete what He began in the resurrection of His Son - (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:13-14).
  • (Hebrew 2:3-4) – “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed to us by them that heard; God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will. 
The “last days” have been in process since the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. Among other things, this is demonstrated by the outpouring of the Spirit. Calvary was far more than just the execution of Jesus or a model for selfless service.  On the Cross, God defeated all the “powers and principalities” opposed to Him that have enslaved humanity since the sin of Adam.  The final victory has been won, a triumph that is cosmic in scope and effect.

With the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, history entered its final phase. Ever since, the old order has been undergoing its death throes. The “last days” is NOT a chronological marker but a theological concept. It refers to the era that began with Jesus. In him, the “age to come” has irrupted into the old fallen age, which will continue to “pass away” until the consummation of all things at the return of Jesus.



Second Trumpet

Redeeming the Nations