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.
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.