THE END OF THE AGE
Jesus often referred to this age, THE age, the age to come, and the end of the age. In the context of His teachings, the term "end of the age," refers to the TRANSITIONAL PERIOD of time between this "earthly" age and the "eternal" age to come.
The PERIOD of time that is "the end of the age" is the SAME thing as THE DAY OF THE LORD. It BEGINS at the second coming of Jesus, when He arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), and it will END with the creation of the new heavens and earth after the conclusion of the 1000 year millennial kingdom (2Peter 3:10-13).
DURING the time period of "the end of the
age" and "the day of the Lord" God will resolve several dispensational
The church was to be established after His resurrection, and built UPON Him, The Rock, on the basis of spiritual birth rather than national status (Matthew 16:18-19). Accordingly, His teachings are given with that new evangelistic agent in view, and FOR that agent, and NOT for the nation of Israel, either then or at any time in the future. However, since God still has a future plan for the nation of Israel, Jesus would sometimes mention various factors concerning that plan.
In fact, that plan involves two stages.
The ultimate ministry of the gospel to the human race is to be conducted by the person of Christ Himself during His 1000 year earthly reign. Thus, it is called the age of the kingdom priesthood. The kingdom priesthood is the final age before the eternal age, when all sin and unrighteousness will be once and for all TOTALLY removed, and all the spiritual rebels will be placed in the lake of fire, where they will be judged for all eternity.
This entire period of time from the second coming of Christ to the end of the kingdom priesthood is THE END OF THE AGE. And when that term is used, it can refer to any point of time within that period, depending on the context.
The word, age, translates the Greek, aion, and refers to either time in general (past or future), or to a segment of time, thus age. When Jesus used the term age, other than in an "end of the age" context, it was never in a dispensational context, but He was referring to this present sphere of human existence or the future heavenly existence that follows this one. This will be clear as we look at several passages, such as, Matthew 12:32 where we see, "neither in this age or in the age to come."
THE AGE TO COME refers to the eternal age and THIS AGE refers to the present sphere of human existence, which will be ended when the eternal age begins. Also at Mark 10:30, the present age is characterized by various normal life activities, and the age to come is characterized by eternal life experienced through a new resurrection body. The New Testament only talks about this age and the age to come in reference to spheres of human existence. This is not a dispensational issue, for dispensations are more accurately described by the word, oikonomia, to express a particular administration of God's plan, or time period that falls within the overall "human" age. In fact, the term age should probably not even be considered as ever referring to one of the four dispensations of God for administrating truth to the Human race. It is used as a theological term out from convenience rather than precisely established vocabulary.
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B. and now: It
does not seem that this refers to "this age" as we have seen it used in the
The term, "this age," is used to indicate the sphere of human existence from the time of Adam's fall until the removal of Adam's curse at the end of the Messiah's 1000 year earthly reign. Adam's curse refers not only to the physical curse on the earth, that is described at Romans 8:20-21 as a slavery to corruption, but also to the presence of the sin nature in every human born through procreation. Although much of this "curse" of corruption is removed at the beginning of Messiah's kingdom (The dispensation of the KINGDOM PRIESTHOOD), it is not finalized nor is the sin nature removed from all regenerated humanity, until the creation of a new heavens and earth AFTER the great white throne judgment.
Thus the Scripture shows us several factors concerning the characteristics of this age in contrast to the age to come when humanity will be out from under the curse and out from under Satan's rule.
At 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, we see the term, "the rulers of this age," and are told that they did not understand the purpose and goal of God in allowing the Messiah to be crucified. If they had understood, then they would not have instigated the crucifixion nor carried it out. This refers NOT to human rulers, but the demon rulers under Satan's leadership. If the human rulers, who were involved, had understood, they would have accepted God's plan and allowed the Messiah to be crucified by the spiritual rebels of the nation of Israel. No human who understood would have tried to prevent the crucifixion and subsequent sacrifice of the Savior for the sins of the world (Mat. 16:21-23).
The attack of Satan against the plan of God is indicated at Matthew 16:21-23 when Jesus told the disciples that "He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Peter protested saying, "God be merciful to you, this shall never happen to you," and Jesus rebuked him saying, "Get behind me Satan, you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of men." Now Satan was not REALLY in Peter, but because Peter was representing the purpose of Satan in attempting to thwart God's plan, Jesus addressed him as such. The issue in the conversation was not the crucifixion itself, for Satan wanted that to happen, but the general idea of going against God's plan. Once God's plan was revealed to Peter, and he resisted it, he was then promoting the viewpoint of Satan and not God.
The fact that Satan and his angels (demons) are viewed as the rulers of this world (or age) is found at Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; 1 John 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 4:4 (this age). The word, world (kosmos), refers to the realm in which Satan wields his power; it is the realm of the human race. The phrase, this age, refers to the time period that humanity occupies within the scope of eternity past and future.
This age, the age of mankind's existence on
the earth, is characterized by the influence of the sin nature which resides
in the mentality genes (Romans 7:14-20), and controls the soul of every
unbeliever (Romans 6:17a). Accordingly, this HUMAN time period is designated
as "this present evil age," at Galatians 1:4, where we find that
people can be "spiritually" delivered out from this present evil age
because of the saving work of Christ on the cross. This deliverance involves
both a spiritual (positional) deliverance from the world system, and a victory
over the sinful influence of the sin nature.
It is first a positional deliverance that gives every one who trusts in Christ a total forgiveness of all sins and bestows upon them everlasting life; a life of relationship with God for all eternity.
Secondly, the deliverance is an experiential
victory over the influence of the sin nature as the believer is enabled
through God's word and the Holy Spirit to resist its sinful tendencies and
live in righteousness before God during his life here on earth. Accordingly
the believer is exhorted at Romans 12:2 to "not be conformed to this age,
but be transformed by the renewing of the mind." And at Titus 2:12, he is
exhorted to "live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present
We also see passages that indicate that the characteristic life and wisdom of this age revolves around human pleasure and reason without a proper emphasis on promoting the righteousness of God. We see the term, "the wisdom of this age" at 1 Corinthians 2:6, and the social logicians (debaters) of this age at 1 Corinthians 1:20.
We see at 1 Corinthians 3:18 that one can be "wise in this age" and not have the wisdom of God; that is, one can have a great deal of human wisdom and not have the divine viewpoint to truly understand and relate to God's character and plan. And at Luke 16:8, Jesus tells us that "the sons of this age are more shrewd (thoughtful)" in the pursuit of riches and pleasure, than are the sons of the light. The use of the word, thoughtful, indicates the use of reason and common sense when it comes to relating to material things. An occupational hazard of the believer (son of light) is to de-emphasize material things to the point of unnecessary physical sacrifice and discomfort. Jesus is not teaching them to be devious and calculating, but to simply use common sense about the reasonable value, acquisition and participation in material things (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17). The use of the term, "this age," again refers to the realm of human existence and not any particular dispensation.
At Ephesians 1:21, we learn that Jesus has been exalted "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in THIS AGE, but also in the ONE TO COME."
This is not comparing the church dispensation with the "next" dispensation, which would be a return to the dispensation of Israel. It is referring to the power structure that exists right now within the age of human history and to the power structure that will exist when the "eternal age" begins, AFTER the millennium.
At Hebrews 6:5, where the believer is said to have tasted of "the powers of the age to come," the reference is to the eternal age, outside the parameters of human history, and to the power source of that age, which revolves around the spiritual nature of resurrection through the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 15:42-44).
At Luke 20:27-36, Jesus clarifies the distinction between "this age" and "that age," which is the age of the resurrection. In "this age," (the age of human history), marriage is a normal life function, that can indeed, be restricted to the parameters of human history. In the next age, the age of the resurrection (the eternal age), there will be no "normal human life activity" and accordingly, no marriage.
This helps us understand the idiom that is translated, "forever," which in the Greek is, "eis ton aiona," which literally reads, unto the age (singular), and occurs 27 times. The significance is that something will last unto and into THE age, which is the age to come, thus on into eternity.
The word is also used throughout the Bible idiomatically to refer to a long period of time either in the past or the future, and context must be observed to determine the significance (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). Practically all cultures use the idiom, "forever," to refer to "as long as I live here on earth," and not with any eternal focus.
The term, "end of the age" then, refers to the culmination of any EARTHLY (or natural) existence, and the institution of only a HEAVENLY (or spiritual) existence. It is not a single day event, but a progression of events that begins during a time period which can be designated as the "last times" or "last days."
The LAST TIMES begins when God re-starts the national time clock for His chosen nation, Israel, toward the close of the dispensation of the church. This will occur when the 70th week of Daniel begins with the establishment of a 7-year peace covenant, allowing Israel to conduct her cultural worship activity of animal sacrifice.
The establishment of this 7-year covenant and the tribulation that will begin at its midpoint will be the SIGN that the time PERIOD known as the "end of the age" is about to begin. This is what Jesus explained in the Olivet Discourse in answer to the disciples' questions, "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age" (Mat. 24:3).
This time period is also called The Day of the Lord. And just as with the term, "the day of the Lord, so also the term "end of the age" can refer to any one of several time points within that TIME PERIOD. Context determines whether the focus is on the beginning of the Day of the Lord (the end of the age), or on one of the key events during the Day of the Lord (the end of the age).
With this taken into consideration, the term "end of the age" refers basically, to the end of the age of human history, and only has dispensational application to the end of the church age because the arrival of Jesus at the inception of the day of the Lord is what begins that PERIOD of time known as the end of the age.
For example, at Matthew 28, the term refers to the end of the time period allotted to the church. That is, the time when He will return to this earth and gather out all those who have trusted in Him. It is at this time that God will then return to USING Israel (with the 144,000 Jews who are saved after the rapture, Rev. 7) as the evangelistic agent to represent the gospel message to the rest of the world. It is also at this time that the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" will begin.
To restate, the end of the age is not a day, but a time period that begins at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus "in the clouds of the sky." It extends into and through Christ's physical kingdom on the earth, and concludes with the judgment on the wicked at the end of that 1000 year kingdom. This is established based on the context in Matthew 13:36-50; 24:3; and 28:20, and the content of this discourse.
Examining all contexts will show that the above is true. The END of the
age is a period of time that will occur DURING "the end times." The
"end times" begins at the inception of the 70th week of Daniel, but the "end
of the age" will begin at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the
70th week, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great
glory (Mat. 24:29-31). the END OF THE AGE period will last the remainder of
the 70th week + 30 days + 45 days +
1000 years. Daniel 12:11-12.
See Article: The Saints in Heaven
There are two kingdom parables where Jesus
uses the term, "the end of the age," to refer to (1) the removal of
the unbelievers from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire
(Mt. 13:39-40, 49). Actually, the separation occurs before the Millennial kingdom
and the placement in the lake of fire occurs after the kingdom. The term, "end
of the age," then, refers to these two things that will occur DURING the
TIME PERIOD known as the end of the age, and not the inception of the time
period, which is when Jesus first arrives at His second coming.
The parables teach a summary of what will happen to the wicked of the earth. This COULD refer to a separation of unbeliever from believer AFTER the millennial kingdom, but it seems to me that the focus is on PREPARATION for Messiah's earthly reign. That separation will occur during the 45 days after Armageddon as indicated by Daniel 12:12, "Happy is the one who keeps waiting and attains to the 1335 days." Thus, the separation would occur BEFORE the actual kingdom begins. This corresponds with the separation of the fat sheep from the lean sheep of Ezekiel 34:17-22, which refers to the evaluation of the Jews left alive on the earth after Armageddon. There is also an evaluation of Gentiles who remain alive at that time, to separate the unbelieving from the believing. This is described at Matthew 25:31-46 as separation of the goats from the sheep. In each of these cases, the wicked are removed out from the world (the kingdom) and the righteous remain to go alive into Messiah's earthly kingdom.
So in these parables, the term refers to the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" and events that happen WITHIN that time period. Of course, that TIME PERIOD has a beginning point which will be when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), but the removal of the unbelievers out from the WORLD that is illustrated in these two parables does not occur at that beginning point. That removal of the wicked out from the world will occur after the dust of Armageddon has settled during the 45-day transitional period of Daniel 12:12.
If an interpreter insists on having these two
events occur AT THE SAME TIME, that is, (1) the removal of the unbelievers
from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire, then in that
case, the placement of the wicked in the furnace of fire would correspond with
their placement in torments in Hades, which happens to every unbeliever at the
point of death (Luke 16:22-24). This placement in "flames" would also qualify
as a furnace of fire. In that case, it would not have in view the FINAL lake
of fire, which will be their inheritance after the millennial kingdom ends
At Matthew 24:3, the disciples ask the question, "what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" They probably have in mind the end of the age (or dispensation) of the nation of Israel, when the promised Messianic kingdom would be established. They could have had in mind the end of the human age as Jesus had taught about when he contrasted "this age" with "the age to come (Mat. 12:32; Luke 18:30," but it is more likely that they were thinking about the establishment of the Davidic kingdom and the Messiah's earthly reign over it.
The second coming and the establishment of the earthly kingdom are directly connected. When Jesus returns, this will begin the purification process to prepare the earth for the kingdom. However, the disciples did not understand when the kingdom was to appear in connection with the Messiah's two advents (Luke 19:11). Thus, when Jesus answers their questions, He uses the parable of the trees to explain that when the events of the tribulation take place, then they can know that His return is imminent (Mat. 24:33), and that the kingdom of God is imminent (Luke 21:31). But even after the resurrection, the details and the TIME LAG between Christ's arrival in the clouds of the sky and the formal institution of the kingdom was not clearly understood by them until more was taught on it through the revelation from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:6-8).
The Old Testament prophets likewise taught about the coming of the Day of the Lord, during which time period God would bring about the final events in dealing with the human race and with Satan.
This is why Peter indicates that it is BY MEANS OF (preposition EN plus the instrumental case - based on comparison with 2Peter 3:12) the Day of the Lord (Day of God) that God would bring about the renovation of the physical universe. At 2 Peter 3:10-12, we read,
Actually, the rendering of the preposition, EN, could be with a locative
case, as with most translations. Thus, "in which" (in the sphere of which or
during which), the heavens will pass away . ."
In either case, the context at 2 Peter 3 indicates that the Day of the Lord extends from the arrival of Jesus "as a thief in the night" and culminates with the renovation of the physical universe.
There is an interesting statement made by
Paul at 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Accordingly, the end of the age (ends of the ages) will be initiated in reference to the church and with the church as the launching pad. This is fulfilled, then, at the rapture of the church which occurs at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus which will culminate in the discontinuance of THIS AGE (present earthly age) and the institution of THE AGE TO COME (the eternal spiritual age) after the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.
Because of this, there is a wonderful promise given by Jesus at Matthew 28:20, where He says that He will be with the disciples, (US - the church) "always, even to the end of the age." This means that right up until the time when Jesus returns and raptures all living believers out from the earth (the inception of the end of the age PERIOD OF TIME), He will be with each and every living believer through the indwelling presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 14:6-26; 16:1-7, 12-15). Then after the rapture, the official place of residence for all believers will be the new Jerusalem forever and ever (Revelation 21:1-14).
All of this, then, becomes significant in studying passages such as Matthew 10:5-42, where we find Jesus' first reference to His second coming.
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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