Blue Flower

Thoughts on Eschatology

 

By: Themis Papaioannou

 

Many people believe that we are living in the last days and they are right in part. I say in part because they teach that these are the closing days of the earth as opposed to the days the Apostles lived who according to their theology were far from the end, and who according to them prophesied about these days using the term “end times”. These professors of Christianity are wrong because Holy Scripture makes plain when the last days started and that was long time ago.

When did the last days start?

Acts 2
14  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15  For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16  But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17  And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19  And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:
21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.



So when did the last days start? Well according to the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost when the prophet Joel’s prophecy found it’s fulfilment in the creation of the Christian Church. You see dear Friends; the last days are the days of the Church.

But some will say did not the Apostle warn Timothy about the evil in the last days? Let’s examine the verse…
 

 

2 Timothy 3
1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 



So we see that these “last day” people were living even in Timothy’s time this is why the Apostle tells him “from such turn away”… and these people “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” is not a new thing but always tried to upset the Church.

What happens in the “last days” (the Church dispensation) to those who follow Christ?


Hebrews 1
1  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:



 

 

 

Now, who is Babylon the Great Whore?

Revelation 17
4   And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
5   And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
6   And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.



Babylon is false religion. False religion always tried to destroy the Saints. Antichrist is a part of Babylon. How do we know this?

Revelation 17
8   The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9   And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10   And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.



John is speaking of Rome (seven mountains). He is speaking of the idolatry of Rome in his time comparing it with Babylon of old. Babylon is the mother of all false religion.... A Friend wrote to me.

"Babylon the Great is definitely Rome and the Whore is the false kind of religion that prostitutes itself to human forms of imperialism... serves human power
The reference to the temple is in Chapter 11:1/2 of Revelation. Jerusalem is the Great City that, because of the way it treated the prophets and witnesses has become a spiritual Egypt and Sodom.. Other prophets speak of a faithless Israel in this way, but those names are not applied to Rome. The Great City is mentioned again in 16:19. During the terrible siege of Jerusalem by the Romans it was divided between three rival factions who fought each other.. God allowed the Romans to punish Jerusalem but that does not mean that He has forgotten the wicked ness of Rome. Rome/Babylon may think it is triumphant but its final doom is certain..
But quite apart from these textswe know that John wrote Revelation in 95/6 AD. and that the temple was destroyed in 70/71 AD. Therefore John had lived to see its destruction and in Revelation Chs.14-22 John describes the coming of the Son of Man, Christ the Lamb, with power. ......
The Roman Empire survived as a political and military system for another fourteen hundred years but its ultimate fate was never in doubt. That applies also to all our more recent and short-lived Babylons - the British Empire, the German Reich, the Soviet Empire and it applies to the present American one. In all that time Christ has come and is still coming for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. .." (M.L.)



The Tribulation of Matthew 24 happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the Temple. This is historical fact. We can say though that the world always makes the life of the true Christian a "tribulation" through persecutions:

2 Ti 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 



As we are discussing Matthew 24, Luke 21:20-24, etc. I felt led to share what George Fox, that servant of the Lord, said concerning these subjects.

"Now saith Christ, when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh: hath not Jerusalem been compassed with armies, and hath it not been laid waste? your house desolate, and scattered as the prophet said? hath not Jerusalem been compassed with armies, where the prophets were slain? and saith the prophet, they should fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, to whom your fathers delivered him to be crucified to death, until the time of the Gentiles was fulfilled. [Now mind,] are not these words fulfilled which the prophets spake whom God raised up? is not Jerusalem trodden down? have not you been carried captives into other nations? Have not Gentiles trodden Jerusalem under foot? have not your houses been left desolate? have not some fallen by the edge of the sword? have not they come upon you, the Gentiles, whom you delivered this prophet unto, to be mocked and crucified? and have not they laid Jerusalem waste? and hath not the temple been thrown down, and not one stone left upon another, which Solomon was commanded to build, as Christ foretold, who was a greater than Solomon. So consider, are not the words of this prophet fulfilled on you that had the words of the prophets, but being out of the life, knew not the substance? and being strangers from the life of Moses, who had the life of the law, and strangers from the life of the prophets; you see not God's purpose, nor decree, nor determined counsel, which had shewed unto his prophets of the coming of the just one before he came, before whom your fathers being in the transgression, out of the life of the law and the prophets, chose a murderer, Barnabas, and the chief priests persuaded the people to ask the murderer, and to crucify the just. Doth not this show that they were in the state of the murderer?" (The Works of George Fox, Doctrinal Books I, Volume 4, A Visitation to the Jews, p.55, A New Foundation Publication 1990).


 

 

 

1 John 2
17   And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
18   Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
19   They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.



Who is the Antichrist? The Antichrist Scripturally speaking is not a particular person rather he is a spirit which rules through those who oppose Christ. Scripture is clear:

1 John 4
2   Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3   And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4   Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.



From both the above verses (1 John 2:17-19 & 1 John 4:2-4) we understand who or rather what is Antichrist. Antichrist is the false church which sits in the place of the true Church of Christ and speaks opposite to the teaching of Christ, the whole 1 Epistle of John makes clear that the basic doctrine of Antichrist is sin and imperfection in opposition to the Gospel of the true Church which frees from sin and makes perfect in Christ. The antichrists of the day of the Apostle would become many after his death thus form a big church who is Antichrist. The biggest characteristic of Antichrist is that:

QUOTE

Revelation 13
11   And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.



that he looks outwardly like the lamb (Christ) yet speaks like the dragon (Satan). Jesus himself warned us of Antichrist ministers:

Matthew 7
15   Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16   Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17   Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18   A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19   Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20   Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.



We must understand that the "fruit" (i.e. speech) of Antichrist is not mere doctrine but rather life! Yes, Antichrist wants to portray as Christ but his fruits are not of the Holy Spirit. What are the fruits of the Spirit?


Galatians 5
21   Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23   Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.



and

Ephesians 5
8   For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9   (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10   Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.



But the fruit of Antichrist (the false church) is sin and imperfection, for they

2 Timothy 3
5   Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:


 

 

 

It is true that there are two judgments the one of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which cleanses us from sin (see Matthew chapter 3) and the other is the final judgment. As Scripture says "happy those who took part in the first resurrection" (born again) for on them the second death can't rule.

That the Kingdom of Christ has come doesn't mean that Christ will not appear in body. Actually this is the only thing the Church is waiting to be fulfilled namely the appearing of Christ in body and the final judgment. Early Quakers believed in this Truth as is clear from their writings,

"Christ preaches the General Judgment. "Many will say to me in that Day". What Day? the Last Day, or Day of Account, and Final Reckoning with Mankind." (William Penn in his "Address to Protestants", 1679).



I would like to close with the words of Robert Barclay,

"Concerning the Resurrection.

Question, What saith the Scripture of the Resurrection of the Dead?
A. And have Hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a Resurrection of the Dead, both of the Just and Unjust [Acts 24:15].
Q. To what different End shall the Good be raised from the Bad? and how are they thereunto reserved?
A. Marvel not at this; for the Hour is coming, in the which all that are in the Graves shall hear his Voice, and shall come forth; they that have done Good, unto the Resurrection of Life; and they that have done Evil, unto the Resurrection of Condemnation [John 5:28-29].
But the Heavens and the Earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto Fire against the Day of Judgment, and Perdition of Ungodly Men [2 Pet. 3:7].
Q. What must be answered to such as ask how the Dead are raised; and with that what Body?
A. Thou Fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it dye: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that Body that shall be; but bare Grain, it may chance of Wheat, or some other Grain: But God giveth it a Body as it hath pleased him, and to every Seed his own Body. All Flesh is not the same Flesh; but there is one kind of Flesh of Men, another Flesh of Beasts, another of Fishes, and another of Birds: there are also Celestial Bodies, and Bodies Terrestrial; but the Glory of the Celestial is one, and the Glory of the Terrestrial is another: there is one Glory of the Sun, and another Glory of the Moon, and another Glory of the Stars; for one Star differs from another Star in Glory; so also is the Resurrection of the Dead; it is sown in Corruption, it is raised in Incorruption; it is sown in Dishonour, it is raised in Glory; it is sown in Weakness, it is raised in Power; it is sown a Natural Body, it is raised a Spiritual Body: There is a Natural Body, and there is a Spiritual Body [1 Cor. 15:36-44].
Q. The Apostle seems to be very positive that it is not that Natural Body, which we now have, that shall rise, but a Spiritual Body?
A. Now this I say, Brethren, That Flesh and Blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither doth Corruption inherit Incorruption. Behold I shew you a Mystery, We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed in a Moment, in the Twinkling of an Eye, at the last Trump (for the Trumpet shall sound) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed: For this Corruptible must put on Incorruption, and this Mortal must put on Immortality: So when this Corruptible shall have put on Incorruption, and this Mortal shall have put on Immortality, then shall be brought to pass the Saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory: O Death where is thy Sting? O Grave where is thy Victory? [1 Cor. 15:50-55]"



"ARTICLE XXIII.
Concerning the Resurrection.

There shall be a Resurrection of the Dead, both of the Just and Unjust [Acts 24:15] They that have done Good, unto the Resurrection of Life; and they that have done Evil, unto the Resurrection of Damnation [John 5:29] Flesh and Blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither doth Corruption inherit Incorruption [1 Cor. 15:50] Nor is that Body sown that shall be; but God gives it a Body as it has pleased him, and to every Seed his own Body: It is sown in Corruption, it is raised in Incorruption; It is sown in Dishonor, it is raised in Glory; It is sown in Weakness, it is raised in Power; It is sown a Natural Body, it is raised a Spiritual Body. [1 Cor. 15:37-38,42-44]"