AGES  


 

AGES

THE END OF THE AGE

Jesus often referred to this age, THE age, the age to come, and the end of the age. In the context of His teachings, the term "end of the age," refers to the TRANSITIONAL PERIOD of time between this "earthly" age and the "eternal" age to come.

The PERIOD of time that is "the end of the age" is the SAME thing as THE DAY OF THE LORD. It BEGINS at the second coming of Jesus, when He arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), and it will END with the creation of the new heavens and earth after the conclusion of the 1000 year millennial kingdom (2Peter 3:10-13).

DURING the time period of "the end of the age" and "the day of the Lord" God will resolve several dispensational factors.
(1) The end of the age of the church - the universal priesthood.
(2) The re-institution of the age of Israel - the national priesthood.
(3) The end of the age of Israel.
(4) The establishment of the age of the kingdom - the Kingdom priesthood.

The word, dispensation, comes from the Greek word, oikonomia, and refers to an ADMINISTRATION of authority or responsibility.
The doctrine of dispensations is a valid biblical truth that simply describes the fact that God has used different agents to communicate His truth to the human race. It does not refer to how he has DEALT with the human race, but how He has ministered gospel truth to the human race. Prior to God's establishment of the nation of Israel, the gospel was administered by various FAMILY PRIESTS (thus, FAMILY PRIESTHOOD). And until the arrival of Jesus the Messiah to the earth, the gospel of God was administered through the nation of Israel as THE NATIONAL PRIESTHOOD. As God used that nation, He made them a unique nation and gave to them a unique system of worship and social life style, designated as the Mosaic law. When Jesus taught here on earth, He was preparing His people for a change from the nation of Israel as that evangelistic agent, to a new evangelistic agent which would be called the church, and would function as THE UNIVERSAL PRIESTHOOD.

The church was to be established after His resurrection, and built UPON Him, The Rock, on the basis of spiritual birth rather than national status (Matthew 16:18-19). Accordingly, His teachings are given with that new evangelistic agent in view, and FOR that agent, and NOT for the nation of Israel, either then or at any time in the future. However, since God still has a future plan for the nation of Israel, Jesus would sometimes mention various factors concerning that plan.

In fact, that plan involves two stages.
Stage one: The re-establishment of the national priesthood so that Israel can complete her mission as the announcer of the Messiah's kingdom.
Stage two: the function of Israel as Messiah's representatives during the KINGDOM priesthood.

The ultimate ministry of the gospel to the human race is to be conducted by the person of Christ Himself during His 1000 year earthly reign. Thus, it is called the age of the kingdom priesthood. The kingdom priesthood is the final age before the eternal age, when all sin and unrighteousness will be once and for all TOTALLY removed, and all the spiritual rebels will be placed in the lake of fire, where they will be judged for all eternity.

This entire period of time from the second coming of Christ to the end of the kingdom priesthood is THE END OF THE AGE. And when that term is used, it can refer to any point of time within that period, depending on the context.

The word, age, translates the Greek, aion, and refers to either time in general (past or future), or to a segment of time, thus age. When Jesus used the term age, other than in an "end of the age" context, it was never in a dispensational context, but He was referring to this present sphere of human existence or the future heavenly existence that follows this one. This will be clear as we look at several passages, such as, Matthew 12:32 where we see, "neither in this age or in the age to come."

THE AGE TO COME refers to the eternal age and THIS AGE refers to the present sphere of human existence, which will be ended when the eternal age begins. Also at Mark 10:30, the present age is characterized by various normal life activities, and the age to come is characterized by eternal life experienced through a new resurrection body. The New Testament only talks about this age and the age to come in reference to spheres of human existence. This is not a dispensational issue, for dispensations are more accurately described by the word, oikonomia, to express a particular administration of God's plan, or time period that falls within the overall "human" age. In fact, the term age should probably not even be considered as ever referring to one of the four dispensations of God for administrating truth to the Human race. It is used as a theological term out from convenience rather than precisely established vocabulary.

JUDE verse 25
"To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion and authority;"
This is not contrasted "this age" with "the age to come" as we usually see.
There is a whole different idea here.
 
A. From before every age: preposition, pro + pas + aiōn in the singular.
        From BEFORE every age, thus eternity past.
       The "ages" began when "time" began at the creation of the angels and universe.
        And then "every age" refers to the time periods that occur after that and before the "now."
        Those include the time before human history and the two dispensations before the church
        (the age/dispensation of the family priesthood and the national priesthood).

   B. and now: It does not seem that this refers to "this age" as we have seen it used in the above
       discussion since there are ageS (plural) that follow the "now."
       Thus, it probably refers to the present church time period from 30 Ad until the second coming
       and the rapture.
       Jude does not say the "now age." He does not use the word "age" for the present "now" time
       period. This is consistent since the word, age, is not used for dispensations, and NOW does
       refer to the present church dispensation within this context.
      
   C. and unto all the ages: preposition eis + pas (all) + ai
ōn (plural). Historical and eternal future.
   The use of "all" suggests that God sees multiple "ages" beyond the "now" time period
   A. The "now" time period includes the church age from 30 Ad until the second coming and the
       70th week of Daniel which completes the Jewish age  (Plus the additional 75 days of
       Daniel 12:11-12).
   B. After this is the 1000 year reign of Christ.
   C. And after this is the eternal age, which might be broken down into other time periods based on
       unrevealed aspects of God's plan for the future.

See Dispensations

The term, "this age," is used to indicate the sphere of human existence from the time of Adam's fall until the removal of Adam's curse at the end of the Messiah's 1000 year earthly reign. Adam's curse refers not only to the physical curse on the earth, that is described at Romans 8:20-21 as a slavery to corruption, but also to the presence of the sin nature in every human born through procreation. Although much of this "curse" of corruption is removed at the beginning of Messiah's kingdom (The dispensation of the KINGDOM PRIESTHOOD), it is not finalized nor is the sin nature removed from all regenerated humanity, until the creation of a new heavens and earth AFTER the great white throne judgment.

Thus the Scripture shows us several factors concerning the characteristics of this age in contrast to the age to come when humanity will be out from under the curse and out from under Satan's rule.

At 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, we see the term, "the rulers of this age," and are told that they did not understand the purpose and goal of God in allowing the Messiah to be crucified. If they had understood, then they would not have instigated the crucifixion nor carried it out. This refers NOT to human rulers, but the demon rulers under Satan's leadership. If the human rulers, who were involved, had understood, they would have accepted God's plan and allowed the Messiah to be crucified by the spiritual rebels of the nation of Israel. No human who understood would have tried to prevent the crucifixion and subsequent sacrifice of the Savior for the sins of the world (Mat. 16:21-23).

The attack of Satan against the plan of God is indicated at Matthew 16:21-23 when Jesus told the disciples that "He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Peter protested saying, "God be merciful to you, this shall never happen to you," and Jesus rebuked him saying, "Get behind me Satan, you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of men." Now Satan was not REALLY in Peter, but because Peter was representing the purpose of Satan in attempting to thwart God's plan, Jesus addressed him as such. The issue in the conversation was not the crucifixion itself, for Satan wanted that to happen, but the general idea of going against God's plan. Once God's plan was revealed to Peter, and he resisted it, he was then promoting the viewpoint of Satan and not God.

The fact that Satan and his angels (demons) are viewed as the rulers of this world (or age) is found at Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; 1 John 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 4:4 (this age). The word, world (kosmos), refers to the realm in which Satan wields his power; it is the realm of the human race. The phrase, this age, refers to the time period that humanity occupies within the scope of eternity past and future.

This age, the age of mankind's existence on the earth, is characterized by the influence of the sin nature which resides in the mentality genes (Romans 7:14-20), and controls the soul of every unbeliever (Romans 6:17a). Accordingly, this HUMAN time period is designated as "this present evil age," at Galatians 1:4, where we find that people can be "spiritually" delivered out from this present evil age because of the saving work of Christ on the cross. This deliverance involves both a spiritual (positional) deliverance from the world system, and a victory over the sinful influence of the sin nature.
The believer's past life: Ephesians 2:2, "in which you formerly walked according to the
age of this world system, according to the prince of the power of the air."

It is first a positional deliverance that gives every one who trusts in Christ a total forgiveness of all sins and bestows upon them everlasting life; a life of relationship with God for all eternity.

Secondly, the deliverance is an experiential victory over the influence of the sin nature as the believer is enabled through God's word and the Holy Spirit to resist its sinful tendencies and live in righteousness before God during his life here on earth. Accordingly the believer is exhorted at Romans 12:2 to "not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind." And at Titus 2:12, he is exhorted to "live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."
Failure to do this is mentioned at 2 Timothy 4:10, "having loved this present age."

We also see passages that indicate that the characteristic life and wisdom of this age revolves around human pleasure and reason without a proper emphasis on promoting the righteousness of God. We see the term, "the wisdom of this age" at 1 Corinthians 2:6, and the social logicians (debaters) of this age at 1 Corinthians 1:20.

We see at 1 Corinthians 3:18 that one can be "wise in this age" and not have the wisdom of God; that is, one can have a great deal of human wisdom and not have the divine viewpoint to truly understand and relate to God's character and plan. And at Luke 16:8, Jesus tells us that "the sons of this age are more shrewd (thoughtful)" in the pursuit of riches and pleasure, than are the sons of the light. The use of the word, thoughtful, indicates the use of reason and common sense when it comes to relating to material things. An occupational hazard of the believer (son of light) is to de-emphasize material things to the point of unnecessary physical sacrifice and discomfort. Jesus is not teaching them to be devious and calculating, but to simply use common sense about the reasonable value, acquisition and participation in material things (cf. 1 Timothy 6:17). The use of the term, "this age," again refers to the realm of human existence and not any particular dispensation.

At Ephesians 1:21, we learn that Jesus has been exalted "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in THIS AGE, but also in the ONE TO COME."

This is not comparing the church dispensation with the "next" dispensation, which would be a return to the dispensation of Israel. It is referring to the power structure that exists right now within the age of human history and to the power structure that will exist when the "eternal age" begins, AFTER the millennium.

At Hebrews 6:5, where the believer is said to have tasted of "the powers of the age to come," the reference is to the eternal age, outside the parameters of human history, and to the power source of that age, which revolves around the spiritual nature of resurrection through the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 15:42-44).

At Luke 20:27-36, Jesus clarifies the distinction between "this age" and "that age," which is the age of the resurrection. In "this age," (the age of human history), marriage is a normal life function, that can indeed, be restricted to the parameters of human history. In the next age, the age of the resurrection (the eternal age), there will be no "normal human life activity" and accordingly, no marriage.

This helps us understand the idiom that is translated, "forever," which in the Greek is, "eis ton aiona," which literally reads, unto the age (singular), and occurs 27 times. The significance is that something will last unto and into THE age, which is the age to come, thus on into eternity.

The word is also used throughout the Bible idiomatically to refer to a long period of time either in the past or the future, and context must be observed to determine the significance (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). Practically all cultures use the idiom, "forever," to refer to "as long as I live here on earth," and not with any eternal focus.

The term, "end of the age" then, refers to the culmination of any EARTHLY (or natural) existence, and the institution of only a HEAVENLY (or spiritual) existence. It is not a single day event, but a progression of events that begins during a time period which can be designated as the "last times" or "last days."

The LAST TIMES begins when God re-starts the national time clock for His chosen nation, Israel, toward the close of the dispensation of the church. This will occur when the 70th week of Daniel begins with the establishment of a 7-year peace covenant, allowing Israel to conduct her cultural worship activity of animal sacrifice.

The establishment of this 7-year covenant and the tribulation that will begin at its midpoint will be the SIGN that the time PERIOD known as the "end of the age" is about to begin. This is what Jesus explained in the Olivet Discourse in answer to the disciples' questions, "what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age" (Mat. 24:3).

This time period is also called The Day of the Lord. And just as with the term, "the day of the Lord, so also the term "end of the age" can refer to any one of several time points within that TIME PERIOD. Context determines whether the focus is on the beginning of the Day of the Lord (the end of the age), or on one of the key events during the Day of the Lord (the end of the age).

With this taken into consideration, the term "end of the age" refers basically, to the end of the age of human history, and only has dispensational application to the end of the church age because the arrival of Jesus at the inception of the day of the Lord is what begins that PERIOD of time known as the end of the age.

For example, at Matthew 28, the term refers to the end of the time period allotted to the church. That is, the time when He will return to this earth and gather out all those who have trusted in Him. It is at this time that God will then return to USING Israel (with the 144,000 Jews who are saved after the rapture, Rev. 7) as the evangelistic agent to represent the gospel message to the rest of the world. It is also at this time that the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" will begin.

To restate, the end of the age is not a day, but a time period that begins at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus "in the clouds of the sky." It extends into and through Christ's physical kingdom on the earth, and concludes with the judgment on the wicked at the end of that 1000 year kingdom. This is established based on the context in Matthew 13:36-50; 24:3; and 28:20, and the content of this discourse.

Examining all contexts will show that the above is true. The END of the age is a period of time that will occur DURING "the end times." The "end times" begins at the inception of the 70th week of Daniel, but the "end of the age" will begin at an unknown day and hour after the midpoint of the 70th week, when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:29-31). the END OF THE AGE period will last the remainder of the 70th week + 30 days + 45 days + 1000 years. Daniel 12:11-12.
It is a transitional period between the previous years of human history and the eternal age.
I suggest that the millennial kingdom is not FULLY the age to come. Again, I use the word TRANSITION.
The rapture begins the age to come ONLY for a few; those who are resurrected. For the non-resurrected types - there will be no "age to come" until the end of the kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:24,
"THEN comes the end when He (Jesus) delivers up the
kingdom (earthly millennial kingdom) to the Father, when he has abolished all rule and authority."

The age to come is not fully implemented until all the
enemies are destroyed. Verses 15:25-26

The reference to the new heavens and new earth at 2 Peter 3
is also subject to a PARTIAL and a COMPLETE realization.
The rapture is the triggering event for the New Heavens and
Earth, but the Millennial kingdom is only a foretaste of the real thing. During the Millennial kingdom, there is still sin and unrighteousness on the earth. There is still physical death ("death" is not eliminated until AFTER the Millennial kingdom - 1 Corinthians 15:26-28).
It is CHRIST'S righteousness that fills the earth like
the waters cover the sea - not man's.
Only AFTER the Millennial kingdom will there be TOTAL righteousness throughout the universe and PERFECT physical environment.
Thus, the REAL or COMPLETE renovation of the universe does not occur until AFTER the last judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

It is really simple when one keeps in mind that "the
end of the age" is itself a mini time period and there
is a PROGRESSIVE completion of the former and a progressive institution of the new.

At Daniel 12:13, we read that Daniel is to "go your way to the end (of your life); then you will enter into rest (die) and rise again (resurrection) for your allotted portion at the end of the days." This is often translated as "end of the age," and interpreted to mean the end of the age of Israel, but it probably does not refer to any "end of the age," but rather to the end of the days that have been enumerated in the previous verses, which would then refer to the BEGINNING of Messiah's Kingdom. Furthermore, the phrase "end of the days" probably refers to WHEN Daniel will partake of his portion within the millennial kingdom, and NOT when he will be raised, for he will be raised several months prior to the establishment of the millennial kingdom. Daniel, along with all Old Testament and New Testament saints, will be raised up at the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky at the RAPTURE EVENT.

See Article: The Saints in Heaven

There are two kingdom parables where Jesus uses the term, "the end of the age," to refer to (1) the removal of the unbelievers from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire (Mt. 13:39-40, 49). Actually, the separation occurs before the Millennial kingdom and the placement in the lake of fire occurs after the kingdom. The term, "end of the age," then, refers to these two things that will occur DURING the TIME PERIOD known as the end of the age, and not the inception of the time period, which is when Jesus first arrives at His second coming.
When Jesus first arrives at His second coming, believers are removed from the earth and the unbelievers REMAIN behind. They are NOT removed at this time.

The parables teach a summary of what will happen to the wicked of the earth. This COULD refer to a separation of unbeliever from believer AFTER the millennial kingdom, but it seems to me that the focus is on PREPARATION for Messiah's earthly reign. That separation will occur during the 45 days after Armageddon as indicated by Daniel 12:12, "Happy is the one who keeps waiting and attains to the 1335 days." Thus, the separation would occur BEFORE the actual kingdom begins. This corresponds with the separation of the fat sheep from the lean sheep of Ezekiel 34:17-22, which refers to the evaluation of the Jews left alive on the earth after Armageddon. There is also an evaluation of Gentiles who remain alive at that time, to separate the unbelieving from the believing. This is described at Matthew 25:31-46 as separation of the goats from the sheep. In each of these cases, the wicked are removed out from the world (the kingdom) and the righteous remain to go alive into Messiah's earthly kingdom.

So in these parables, the term refers to the TIME PERIOD of "the end of the age" and events that happen WITHIN that time period. Of course, that TIME PERIOD has a beginning point which will be when Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mat. 24:30), but the removal of the unbelievers out from the WORLD that is illustrated in these two parables does not occur at that beginning point. That removal of the wicked out from the world will occur after the dust of Armageddon has settled during the 45-day transitional period of Daniel 12:12.

If an interpreter insists on having these two events occur AT THE SAME TIME, that is, (1) the removal of the unbelievers from the earth, and (2) their placement in the furnace of fire, then in that case, the placement of the wicked in the furnace of fire would correspond with their placement in torments in Hades, which happens to every unbeliever at the point of death (Luke 16:22-24). This placement in "flames" would also qualify as a furnace of fire. In that case, it would not have in view the FINAL lake of fire, which will be their inheritance after the millennial kingdom ends (Rev. 20:11-15).
However, in either case, the language still demands that the unbeliever is to be taken OUT OF THE WORLD while the believer remains IN "the world" (Mat. 13:38).

At Matthew 24:3, the disciples ask the question, "what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" They probably have in mind the end of the age (or dispensation) of the nation of Israel, when the promised Messianic kingdom would be established. They could have had in mind the end of the human age as Jesus had taught about when he contrasted "this age" with "the age to come (Mat. 12:32; Luke 18:30," but it is more likely that they were thinking about the establishment of the Davidic kingdom and the Messiah's earthly reign over it.

The second coming and the establishment of the earthly kingdom are directly connected. When Jesus returns, this will begin the purification process to prepare the earth for the kingdom. However, the disciples did not understand when the kingdom was to appear in connection with the Messiah's two advents (Luke 19:11).  Thus, when Jesus answers their questions, He uses the parable of the trees to explain that when the events of the tribulation take place, then they can know that His return is imminent (Mat. 24:33), and that the kingdom of God is imminent (Luke 21:31). But even after the resurrection, the details and the TIME LAG between Christ's arrival in the clouds of the sky and the formal institution of the kingdom was not clearly understood by them until more was taught on it through the revelation from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:6-8).

The Old Testament prophets likewise taught about the coming of the Day of the Lord, during which time period God would bring about the final events in dealing with the human race and with Satan.

This is why Peter indicates that it is BY MEANS OF (preposition EN plus the instrumental case - based on comparison with 2Peter 3:12) the Day of the Lord (Day of God) that God would bring about the renovation of the physical universe. At 2 Peter 3:10-12, we read,

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
by means of which the heavens will pass away with a roar
and the elements will be destroyed by burning,
and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way,
what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!"

Actually, the rendering of the preposition, EN, could be with a locative case, as with most translations. Thus, "in which" (in the sphere of which or during which), the heavens will pass away . ."
This translation demands that the time period of THE DAY OF THE LORD would extend from the arrival of Jesus to the end of the millennial kingdom.

In either case, the context at 2 Peter 3 indicates that the Day of the Lord extends from the arrival of Jesus "as a thief in the night" and culminates with the renovation of the physical universe.

There is an interesting statement made by Paul at 1 Corinthians 10:11.
In referring to the experiences of the Exodus Generation, and their application to the church, Paul writes, "and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." I suggest that the OUR in this context refers to the church in general as the body of believers that God will use to culminate His plan and bring maximum glory to Himself. It is true that Israel is still God's chosen PHYSICAL nation and that He still has a future plan for them, but of the church it is written at Ephesians 3:21, "To Him (the Father) be THE glory by means of the church and by means of Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever (of the age of the ages)."

Accordingly, the end of the age (ends of the ages) will be initiated in reference to the church and with the church as the launching pad. This is fulfilled, then, at the rapture of the church which occurs at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus which will culminate in the discontinuance of THIS AGE (present earthly age) and the institution of THE AGE TO COME (the eternal spiritual age) after the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11-15.

Because of this, there is a wonderful promise given by Jesus at Matthew 28:20, where He says that He will be with the disciples, (US - the church) "always, even to the end of the age." This means that right up until the time when Jesus returns and raptures all living believers out from the earth (the inception of the end of the age PERIOD OF TIME), He will be with each and every living believer through the indwelling presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 14:6-26; 16:1-7, 12-15). Then after the rapture, the official place of residence for all believers will be the new Jerusalem forever and ever (Revelation 21:1-14).

All of this, then, becomes significant in studying passages such as Matthew 10:5-42, where we find Jesus' first reference to His second coming.

 
 
 

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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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