Meaning Of Eschatology
Are we living in the last days? People across churches and denominations around the world may emphatically declare that we are. The theologians call this study as, “eschatology” or “study of end times.” This series is written to clear prevailing doubts concerning the end times.
The word “eschatology” is derived from two words,
“Eschatos”— Greek for “last things”
“Logos”— Greek for “word,” “subject” or “message”
When we miss the eschatology of Jesus, we then create our own inaccurate one and in doing so miss the Kingdom. Ministers, scholars, popular authors and speakers have produced numerous sermons and a myriad of books on topics such as the approaching second coming of Christ, the end of the world, the thousand-year (millennial) reign, our future home in heaven, and so on. The New Testament prophecies are considered to be the origin and source to many of these concepts, especially the book of Revelation and the writings of apostles Paul and Peter.
Imminent End Of Our World
I have personally found many captivated with these prophecies because these visions and prophecies are the one important component of the Bible which appear to have the possibility to directly affect the church today, other than the major subject of man’s salvation and a future glorification. This existing generation is eagerly waiting to witness the things the New Testament Apostles prophesied.
The widely covered topics written and spoken about today are the anti-Christ, the Beast, the Rapture of the church, the different tribulation timelines, the emergence of the modern state of Israel, the mark of the beast, the book of Revelation and Daniel, the great tribulation, etc.
There has been a great attempt to display how present-day events and characters match the signs, visions and timelines of prophecy. To all these writers and teachers; and to many who accept their theories, these events indicate the imminent end of the world in our own times.
The Olivet Discourse is a chronology of events which Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24. Over the years, many have attempted to fit these and other prophecies in world events of our time. We have been told to look to the Middle East and the State of Israel to understand the fulfilment of the prophecies. As the series progresses, it will be clear that we do look to the events in Israel during the first century.
Prophecy scholars and teachers often quote from the books of the Old and New Testaments to prove their point. The error made is to apply these prophecies for today. We must look to the time of Jesus to see if the prophecies were fulfilled or not; and not to current events of our time as I have understood that biblical prophecies are time, people and location bound.
The many proof texts when interpreted correctly give us an accurate revelation of these prophecies. When we remove these prophecies out of their historical and cultural context, the Bible suddenly becomes filled with mysteries and inconsistencies which may make a reader’s mind entirely muddled, discouraged or even fearful.
The Principle of Context
There is a very important principle in the study of hermeneutics or biblical interpretation, which is the ‘context’ principle. It indicates that no passage of scripture can be correctly interpreted by itself. Each needs to be understood within its context. There is an immediate and a general context. The immediate context is made up of the verses just before and immediately after the one in question. The general context refers to what the Bible says as a whole about the subject matter.
If our interpretation of any passage is in contradiction to any other passage, we have erred. Keeping this in mind, we will interpret the verses using the context principle.
The Four Aspects of Christ
We find four statements concerning the Messiah, appearing in the Old Testament that are introduced with the word “Behold” They are:
- In Zechariah 9:9, we read, “Behold thy king, O Israel!”
- In Isaiah 52:13, we read, “Behold my servant!”
- In Zechariah 6:12, we read, “Behold the man!”
- In Isaiah 40:9, we read, “Behold your God!”
These four statements by the prophets foretold the role of Christ as they are recorded in the four gospels. We find the four portrayals of Christ in the gospels:
- Matthew portrays Christ as the King;
- Mark presents Him as the servant;
- Luke shows Him as the Son of man, and;
- John presents Him as the Son of God.
They give us four aspects of our Lord’s character and person. The gospels are in reality eyewitness accounts by Matthew and John, two of His disciples, and accounts of the life of Christ by Mark and Luke passed on to them by those who knew Him personally.
The gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the prophesied Messiah, and also as King of the universe. The phrase, “Kingdom of heaven” appears thirty-two times in Matthew, but nowhere else in the new testament. To show that Jesus fulfils all the qualifications of being the Messiah, Matthew quotes old testament scriptures—about 130 references and allusions, more than any other book in the Bible. The phrase “what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled” appears twelve times in Matthew and not once in the other three gospels.
In the upcoming study articles, we will jump straight into the prophecies of Jesus Christ. It’s going to be a transforming journey.