Eschatology : Eschatology SCTR 19 – Religions of the Book
Prepared by Matt Pham Eschatology : Eschatology The study of, or teachings about…
The “end”; “end times”; “last days”; “end of the world”; etc.
And what, if anything, is after/beyond the end?
Types of Eschatology:
Personal: death / afterlife of individuals
National/Ethnic: end of a nation/empire or group of people
Cosmic: ultimate end of the world / universe
Christian Eschatology: variety of biblical teachings:
Second Coming of Jesus, End of the World
Kingdom of God, Messianic Age
Resurrection of the Dead, Final Judgment
Heaven (Eternal Life) vs. Hell (punishment? or void/nothing?) Apocalypse : Apocalypse Popular Def: Catastrophic Event
Major disaster, atom bomb, plague,…
Biblical Def: Literary Genre
Written mostly in narrative form
A “revealing/uncovering” of hidden truth
Reveals God’s view of past, present & future
Uses highly symbolic terms and images
Often revealed in dreams or visions
Interpreted with help of an intermediary (angel)
Purpose: Provides encouragement for people in the midst of trials and tribulations Other Terminology : Other Terminology Prophecy – “speaking on behalf of” God; conveys God’s messages to people, in direct words or symbolic actions
Parousia – the coming or arrival of an important person (esp. the “Second Coming” of Jesus)
Revelation – the “uncovering” or “revealing” of some truth previously hidden or unknown to people
Tribulation – a 7-year period of suffering and turmoil before (or after?) the Second Coming of Christ
Millennium – a thousand-year period (of peace), esp. as mentioned in Revelation 20
Rapture – belief of many fundamentalist Protestants based on literalist reading of 1 Thess 4:17 Biblical Eschatology : Biblical Eschatology Early Stages: Jesus is coming! Soon!
Paul’s Early Letters, esp.
1 Thessalonians 4
Middle Stages: Life goes on! Stay awake!
Paul’s Later Letters, esp.
2 Thessalonians 3
Later Stages: Millennia ahead! Beware!
2 Peter 3 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 : 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul’s first letter (ca. 50 CE)
Wants Christians to keep faithand await Jesus’ return (soon)
Answers people’s concernsabout those who have died
Don’t grieve or be afraid:ALL will see the Parousia.
When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised first;
And we who are still alivewill be together with them.
Belief in “Rapture” based on literalist reading of 4:17 Later Pauline Eschatology : Later Pauline Eschatology Paul realizes that he himselfmay die before Jesus returns
Philippians, Romans, etc.
2 Thessalonians 3
Corrects misinterpretations of 1 Thess 4
Don’t be alarmed by those who say,“The End is here!”
The “lawless one” will come first,trying to deceive many
Don’t quit your jobs; continue to work!Whoever is unwilling to work, should not eat! Mark 13: Eschatological Discourse : Mark 13: Eschatological Discourse Apocalyptic Discourse / Little Apocalypse
Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21 expand on Mark 13
Content: Jesus’ teachings on…
The Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple
The Great Tribulation
The Coming of the Son of Man
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33) The Last Judgment : The Last Judgment The Book of Revelationa.k.a. The Apocalypse : The Book of Revelationa.k.a. The Apocalypse The Revelation to John
Entire book is apocalyptic genre
[Other Xn “apocalypses” not in NT]
Encourage Xns to preserve infaith in time of crisis (13:10; 14:12)
Initial vision – The Son of Man
Letters to 7 Churches of Asia
Main visions – Many Tribulations
Final visions – The End
Destruction of Satan, Evil, Death
New Heavens, New Earth, New Jerusalem, Reign of God John’s Visions : John’s Visions Revelation 17-22 : Revelation 17-22 John’s Visions of the End
17-18: Fall of Babylon (Rome)
19: Coming of the King of kings, Word of God (Jesus)Final Battle (Armageddon = Valley of Megiddo; 16:16)
20: Satan is tied up for 1000 years (Millennium);1000-year reign of God;Satan freed & destroyed;Resurrection of the Dead;Final Judgment
21-22: New HeavenNew EarthNew Jerusalem Wide Variety of Interpretations : Wide Variety of Interpretations Highly Symbolic Language
Symbols ? open to vastly different understandings
Presuppositions about Biblical Eschatology:
Literal: Predicts the future, the coming End of the World
Historical: Reflects persecutions faced by Early Christians
Theological: Describes timeless conflict: Good vs. Evil
Ex: When is Millennium vis-à-vis Parousia?
Pre-millennialism / “Catastrophic” - 1000-year reign of peace will come only after the great tribulation and the return of Jesus; believers must be prepared to endure difficult trials
Post-millennialism / “Progressive” - 1000-year reign of peace must be established on earth by human beings and societies; Jesus will return only after that is accomplished
A-millennialism – 1000-year reign of Rev 20 is not literal, but purely symbolic; when Jesus returns cannot be predicted 2 Peter 3 : 2 Peter 3 The Problem: “Delay” of the Parousia
Early Christians preached: “Jesus is coming soon!”
After decades, doubts arise: “When?”“Is Jesus coming at all?” “Is our faith in vain?” (3:1-4)
One Explanation: 2 Peter 3
Time is irrelevant for God; God is outside of time:
“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” (3:8)
God is being patient, to allow more people to repent:
“The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perishbut that all should come to repentance.” (3:9) The End Is Coming! : The End Is Coming! When?
Is it near? Or far away?
How can we define “time”?
Is “time” relevant for God?
What will happen at “The End”?
End of what? My life? The USA? The world?
Are the events depicted in the Book of Revelationmeant to be interpreted literally or symbolically?