Q&A: Understanding the Last Days

Understanding the Last Days

Why do some theologians refer to the entire time from the first coming of Christ to his return as "the last days?"

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Answer

Many people think of the last days as some time in the future when the antichrist will come or when, you know, events will climax with the second coming of Christ. But really, from a biblical perspective, the last days, or the end times begin with the first coming of Christ and especially his life, death, and then resurrection. And why do we understand it that way? Because the Bible itself says that. For example, in Acts chapter 2, Peter, on the day of Pentecost, quotes from Joel chapter 2, and he says, "In the last days God says I will pour out my Spirit." So he identifies the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost as in some sense the inauguration of the end times, the inauguration of the last days. The reason for that, as we look throughout Scripture, is that Christ's resurrection is not just an isolated event in human history. Christ's resurrection is viewed as the beginning of the end time resurrection, the beginning of the resurrection of the dead which will signal the last days and the consummation of history itself. Paul refers to Christ as the firstborn from the dead and the first fruits of the resurrection. That is, his resurrection guarantees that we, too, will rise from the dead. So he is the beginning of the end times. When Christ returns, that will be the consummation or finishing up of the end times.

Answer by Dr. Mark L. Strauss

Dr. Mark Strauss Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego, CA