What Is Eschatology? What Does Eschatology Mean?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is Eschatology? Why is it important for us to know about it?

The End Times

Eschatology simply means a study of the end times or end time events in the Bible. It’s from the Latinized form of Greek and literally translates into, “last, furthest,” or “uttermost,” so for all intents and purposes, eschatology is known as a study of the end times. Why is it important for us to study Eschatology? Because Jesus taught us about the end times and so did the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul, and of course, the Apostle John with respect to the Book of Revelation. These events were so important that Matthew uses two full chapters to cover end time events (Matt 24, 25), and it shouldn’t surprise us either since Jesus said we are to be ready for His return at any moment, and He will come like a lightning bolt, right out of the blue, and where many if not most were not expecting Him. Many today scoff at the idea of Jesus’ second coming, but it’s prophesied to happen. Prophecy is like history written in advance, because what God has spoken must come to pass, so let’s examine a few of the teachings about the end times, which tell us the eternal appointed destiny of all that have ever lived and are living now.

Jesus’ Teaching

In one of the largest exposes of end time events in the Bible, Jesus’ disciples ask Him two questions; “when will these things be” (Matt 24:3c), “and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Matt 24:3)? These questions are eschatological questions because they concern the end time events. Some of these events have already happened, like the destruction of the temple and much of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in 70 AD, but there are two questions, and the other question concerns those things that will take place just prior to Jesus’ return. One of signs that Jesus is coming soon will be the culture in which we live today. It won’t be much different than in the days of Noah, where “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5), and it was that way around the world, not just where Noah lived as it says, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Gen 6:11-12). In similar fashion, it will be just like “those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark” (Matt 24:38). They ignored Noah’s preaching and “were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:39), and then it was too late, just as it will for those who procrastinate and wait on trusting in Christ, so “you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44).

Paul’s Teachings

The Apostle Paul knew there would be a falling away after he was gone, and so he warned Timothy that, “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demon” (1 Tim 4:1), which included a legalistic form of religion (1 Tim 4:2-4). Even more specifically, Paul says “that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” and only “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Tim 3:1-5). It sounds like you’re watching the TV news or a modern sitcom, doesn’t it? And finally, Jesus’ teaching on His immediate and unexpected return is echoed by Paul in 1st Thessalonians 5:2 where he tells the church, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” and that means He will come unexpectedly, perhaps even while we’re sleeping, but as if giving a final warning to the elders of Ephesus, he says, “after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). That happened shortly after Pauls’ leaving Ephesus, and it is as if it’s open season on the sheep today.

John and Peter

The Apostle John wrote of Jesus second coming and some of the events that will lead up to it, but so does the Apostle Peter who wrote that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet 2:1), and when some cults deny Jesus is God, they are denying the Master and specifically, Who He is!. Another sign we see today is dwindling church attendance. Many have left the church, but John wrote that, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). Even worse, some who said they were Christians but now say they don’t believe have even become antagonistic towards Christians, with some even saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:4).

Conclusion

We don’t know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return, despite many who have claimed to have insider information, but if the Father did not reveal that time to Jesus or to the holy angels, why would we ever think God will tell one of us and not Jesus? The point is that we must be always ready for His appearing and to be found faithful in doing what He commanded us to do when He comes again (Matt 25:35-36, 28:18-20), for He will say to many, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21).

Here is some related reading for you: End Times: Are We in the Last Days?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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