NOTE: This post is an excerpt from a forthcoming book entitled The High King of Heaven. Its purpose is to explain and defend the classic Reformation vision of the Church’s Blessed Hope: Christ will return once at the end of the age to raise the dead, judge the world in righteousness, and bring in the Kingdom in its full and final form.

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Our final two texts appear in the general epistles of the apostle Peter. It is widely believed that he wrote them from Rome sometime between AD 60-68, during the reign of the infamous persecutor of the fledgling Church, the Roman emperor Nero. As we shall see, in his first letter Peter repeatedly encourages suffering believers with the hope of eternal glory at the revelation of Christ. From this it is evident that when he wrote it he looked for the Lord’s return in his own lifetime. However, in his second letter, Peter has realized that he will soon be martyred (2 Peter 1:12-14, John 21:18), and that the Lord may yet tarry for a great while (2 Peter 3:8-9). Accordingly, he is now at pains to leave behind a body of written instruction and exhortation; instruction that will include, not least of all, important information about the Consummation, so that Christ’s pilgrim Church may be able to keep her Blessed Hope squarely before her eyes, and so walk in strength and purity, pleasing to the Lord (2 Peter 1:15, 3:1-18).

In this section I want briefly to discuss 1 Peter 4:7-19, a passage that well reflects the apostle’s view of the Consummation. However, in order to understand it most fully, we must take a few moments to survey the eschatology of the letter as a whole.

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Shortly before his passion, the Lord Jesus sat with his disciples on the Mount of Olives and taught them about the Consummation. All agree that his lengthy discourse, recounted by three of the four Gospel writers, is the single most important dominical teaching on this subject.

It is also the most difficult and controversial. However, if our grasp of biblical eschatology is firm, and our understanding of prophetic diction clear, the difficulties are actually quite surmountable, and the controversies fairly easily laid to rest.

My approach in this essay will be as follows.

First, we will look closely at the Disciple’s Question, a question that both elicited the Lord’s reply and determined the prophetic principles by which he would give it.

Secondly, we will briefly survey the Discourse itself, using those principles to help us interpret his meaning.

Thirdly, we will address some of the more difficult questions involved, even as we interact with different interpretations of controversial passages.

And finally, we will summarize our findings, showing how richly they favor the amillennial view of the Consummation.

To read the rest of this essay, please click here.

For all its doctrinal richness, this lengthy eschatological text was written primarily out of deep pastoral concern. As verses 1-2 make plain, a rumor was circulating among the Thessalonian house churches, to the effect that the Day of the Lord had come; that it was imminent. Since the rumor was troubling the brethren, distracting them from their spiritual mission and daily responsibilities, Paul addressed it pointedly. His message is clear: The Day of the Lord will not come until certain things happen first; until certain unmistakable signs appear on the historical horizon. So then, until you see those signs, stand firm (2:15) and stay busy (2:17, 3:6f)!

Because, in the providence of God, this passage tells us so much about events leading up to the Consummation, it invites a closer look. Once again, my approach will be to give the gist of each section, spotlighting along the way the many indications that Paul here presupposes and teaches a single Consummation at the Parousia of Christ.

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This essay is an excerpt from a work in progress, entitled, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate. In essence, the book is an exposition and defense of the eschatology of the classic Reformation, according to which Christ will return once, at the end of the age, to raise the dead, judge the world in righteousness, and bring in the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal Kingdom of God. This essay, and all the rest in this series, is meant to show how the NT richly supports this understanding of the Consummation.

THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT OF GOD

Interpreting 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, eschatological teaching appears even more prominently than in the first. The Thessalonians continue to endure severe persecution (1 Thess. 3:3, 2 Thess. 1:4). Because of this, and because of the apostle’s earlier teaching, they eagerly await the Coming of their Lord (1 Thess. 1:10). Now, however, a rumor is circulating, a rumor to the effect that “the Day of the Lord has come”— that Christ’s return is “at the very door” (Mt. 24:33). As a result, the Thessalonians are troubled, shaken from their spiritual composure (2 Thess. 2:2). Doubtless a vigorous debate has arisen in their congregations, seeing that the rumor does not square with Paul’s previous instruction (2 Thess. 3:5). Also, certain men, previously reproved for their indolence, are likely using this rumor as an excuse to dodge the responsibility of work (1 Thess. 4:11-12, 5:14). In the good providence of God, Paul gets wind of these things and again takes pen in hand.

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This essay is an excerpt from a book in progress, entitled, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate. In essence, it is an exposition and defense of the eschatology of the classic Reformation, according to which Christ will return once, at the end of the age, to raise the dead, judge the world in righteousness, and bring in the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal Kingdom of God. Lord willing, the book will be published in mid-2013.

THE COMFORT OF HIS COMING

Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians contain some of the New Testament’s richest veins of eschatological instruction. Written from Corinth around AD 50-51, they reveal that the apostle’s early ministry to European Gentiles was charged with a lively expectation of Christ’s soon return (1 Thess.1:10, 2:19, 3:11-13; cf. Acts 17:16ff, 1 Cor. 15).

They also reveal a problem among the Thessalonians: Paul’s Jewish opponents had forced him quickly to flee the city, with the result that some of his converts were left confused (or ignorant) about his teaching on the afterlife and the Consummation (Acts 17:1-9). These letters feature Paul’s painstaking efforts to clear up every such misunderstanding. As a result, they speak often, and in great detail, about the Last Things: the signs of Christ’s Parousia, the nature and purpose of his Parousia, the Resurrection, the Judgment, and the World to Come (1 Thess. 4:13-18, 5:1-10; 2 Thess. 1:3-12, 2:1-13). Accordingly, they are a vast treasure-trove of eschatological truth!

To read the rest of this article, please click here.