In this last lesson of the series, Mike reviews key passages about the end-times in the New Testament and provides a summary of the four main "Millennial" teaching positions.

In the New Testament Jesus provides teaching about His second coming in Matthew 24-25, which we covered in the last chapter. He also mentions the end of the Jewish nation in Mark and has several warnings about being prepared for His return in Luke and John, mostly in the form of parables and prayer.

Peter refers to the end times briefly in Acts (3:19-21) and in his letters. In one long passage (II Peter 3:3-13) Peter warns of the suddenness and finality of the events when Jesus returns. Peter also adds the manner in which the world will be destroyed (intense heat), and finishes with a warning to be ready.

There are also brief mentions of the end times in the epistles of Hebrews and James as well as in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation, John the Apostle deals mostly with the plight of the early church under the persecution of Rome and describes his vision of the heavenly realm after the end of the world, but does not provide any information about what actually happens at that historical moment when Jesus returns and the world, as we know it, ends. This task is left to Paul the Apostle who refers to the end of the world and Jesus' return in 9 of his 13 epistles.

I would like to go through these and list the things Paul says about what will happen at the end of the world at Jesus' return.

Romans

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, … 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
- Romans 2:5, 12-16

This will be a time when God will judge and punish.

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
- Romans 8:23

At this time our bodies will be redeemed, meaning that we will be resurrected.

10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall give praise to God."
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
- Romans 14:10-12

Each person will have to give an account to God.

I Corinthians

who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- I Corinthians 1:8

Jesus will come for His own.

I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
- I Corinthians 5:5

It will be a day for destruction or salvation depending on our lives lived in faith or not.

23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
- I Corinthians 15:23-28

All beings will be in their proper place with perfect unity reestablished between God and man forever.

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory.
- I Corinthians 15:51-54

All the events (resurrection, glorification of the saints, punishment of the wicked, destruction of the old and creation of the new world) will happen in the blink of an eye.

II Corinthians

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,
- II Corinthians 5:1-2

The Holy Spirit working in us now gives us an idea of what it will be like when we will have glorified bodies at the return of Jesus.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
- II Corinthians 5:10

We will be judged for our deeds.

Philippians

who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
- Philippians 3:21

I Thessalonians

11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
- I Thessalonians 3:11-13

The minister's task is to prepare the church to have a loving heart for the return of Jesus.

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
- I Thessalonians 5:2

The return of Jesus will be completely unexpected.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
- I Thessalonians 4:13-17

When Jesus comes: the dead in Christ will resurrect first, the faithful who are alive when He comes will join the resurrected ones, both will be transformed and be with Christ in the new heavens and earth. Note that neither Jesus nor the saints are on the earth, no "1000-year reign" here. Once Jesus appears it is the end of the old (wicked and unbelieving punished, world destroyed, new heaven and earth established with God, Christ, Spirit, saints united; and all of it happens in the blink of an eye).

1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
- I Thessalonians 5:1-3

All of this will happen without signs or warnings. Actually, the only warning given is to be ready at all times because you will not see it coming.

II Thessalonians

7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.
- II Thessalonians 1:7-10

Those who do not believe will know why they are being punished and those who have been faithful will enjoy the fact that their faith will finally be justified and rewarded.

I Timothy

14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
- I Timothy 6:14-15

Jesus will actually appear in real (historical) time, not just a vision. His return is not a spiritual metaphor; at the right time (day/hour/second) He will appear to those alive at that time.

II Timothy

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
- II Timothy 4:1, 8

The coming of Christ will not only bring an end to this world and punishment to the unbelieving and wicked, but also a great reward for the faithful.

Titus

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
- Titus 2:11-13

We prepare for His sure return by living godly lives now. The more godly our lives, the greater hope we have and joy we will have when He appears.

Summary of Millennial Theories

As we close out this section on the Second Coming of Christ, here are some final thoughts about the many teachings concerning this important but sometimes difficult subject to understand.

There are four main views / teachings / doctrines concerning the return of Jesus:

Dispensational Premillennialism

People who hold to this idea believe in the "literal" interpretation of the prophetic passages concerning the end times.

Features of this position:

  • An actual 1000-year reign of Christ on the earth.
  • Two dispensations: one for the salvation of the Jews, then one for the Gentiles.
  • A "rapture" where people actually disappear into heaven leaving others on earth.
  • The millennium on earth marked by a return of Jewish temple worship, a great war, etc.

Proponents of this teaching:

  • Scofield Reference Bible
  • Ryrie Study Bible Notes
  • Hal Lindsey (The Late, Great Planet Earth)
  • Dallas Theological Seminary
  • "Left Behind" movies
  • Evangelical and charismatic churches

Much of their preaching and teaching revolve around these ideas.

Historic Premillennialism

This position teaches that when Jesus returns He will establish a millennial (1000 years) between the first resurrection and the second resurrection. The final judgment will come at the second resurrection after 1000 years.

Features of this position:

  • A great apostasy and tribulation must happen before Jesus returns.
  • The kingdom will be revealed and Satan bound during an earthly 1000-year reign.
  • A massive rebellion will take place before Jesus returns a second time for judgment.

Proponents of this teaching:

  • Fuller Theological Seminary
  • George E. Ladd (A Commentary on the Revelation of John)

Post-Millennialism

Post-Millennial scholars believe that the "Millennial Age" begins gradually as the gospel is preached. The church exercises its authority in financial and political ways on the earth as a sign of the supremacy of the "kingdom."

Features of this position:

  • The church "binds" Satan and his influence on the earth.
  • Proponents believe in a form of Christian theocracy.

Proponents of this teaching:

  • Charles Hodge
  • B.B. Warfield
  • Kenneth Copeland
  • Pat Robertson

A-Millennialism

Those who hold this position teach that the 1000 years refers to the time between Jesus' initial appearance and His second and final return at the end of the world. This number is not literally 1000 years but a symbolic time frame, the length of which only known by God.

Jesus established the kingdom on earth when He came and the kingdom grows through the preaching of the gospel until His return.

Features of this position:

  • No rapture/tribulation, etc.
  • Both Jews and Gentiles are called into the kingdom by the same gospel.
  • The kingdom is represented by the church on the earth.
  • At Jesus' return the world will end, the wicked will be judged, the saints will be with Christ in the new heaven and earth forever.

Proponents of this teaching:

  • Majority position of Christianity in general
  • J. I. Packard
  • R.C. Sproul
  • Stafford North
  • Churches of Christ

Expanded notes available at: bibletalk.tv/eschatology-chart