The Ends of the Ages

Paul links the start of the “Last Days” with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The time of fulfillment arrived, and all God’s promises now find their “Yea and Amen” in the risen Savior. Similarly, the Letter to the Hebrews declares that “in these last days,” God has “spoken” His definitive “Word” in His Son who now sits at the “right hand of the Majesty on High.” History reached its pivotal point in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.

His ‘Assembly’ or ‘ekkl├ęsia’ consists of men and women upon whom the “ends of the ages have come.” In his letters, Paul demonstrates his understanding that History’s final phase began with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Dusk on Puget Sound - Photo by MissMushroom on Unsplash
[Photo by MissMushroom on Unsplash]

For example, to the Greek-speaking congregation in Corinth, he identified key events recorded in the Hebrew Bible as “types,” examples for the followers of Jesus, the very ones “upon whom the 
ends of the ages have arrived” - (1 Corinthians 10:11).

In the Greek sentence, Paul uses the plural form of the nouns, “ages” and “ends.” The term ‘telos’ or “end” signifies the termination of something but also its “goal,” and here, both senses are intended.

Jesus expressed the same thought in his parable of the Wheat and Tares that will be “gathered at the consummation of the age.” “Consummation” translates a compound Greek word built on ‘telos’ – ‘sunteleia’. The final harvest was put into motion by the “Son of Man,” the ingathering of men and women to his Kingdom that will be completed when he returns “to gather the grain to his barn” - (Matthew 13:36-44).

Likewise, the Letter to the Hebrews declares that Jesus “once, in the consummation (‘sunteleia’) of the ages, appeared to put away sin by his sacrifice.” One era reached its endpoint, and another commenced.  The transition was due to the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, therefore, the “ends of the ages” arrived - (Hebrews 9:26).

To the Romans, Paul declared that the advent of Jesus signified the “end (‘telos’) of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” The literary context is clear - By “law,” Paul meant the legislation given at Mount Sinai, and his statement indicated a fundamental change in status and era - (Romans 10:1-4).

In his Letter to the Galatians, Paul answers the question: “Why, then, the Law?” Noteworthy is how he places its jurisdiction within a finite period. The Law was “added because of transgressions UNTIL the seed should come to whom the promise was made” - (Galatians 3:19-25).

The Law as the “custodian” of God’s people “UNTIL the faith that should afterward be revealed.”  Since that faith arrived in His Son, God’s people are no longer under the custodian with its divisions between Jews and Gentiles – (Galatians 3:19-29).

FULLNESS


In the “FULLNESS OF TIME,” God sent his Son “to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons, and because we are sons God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” – (Galatians 4:1-6).

Thus, Paul links the “promise of Abraham,” the inheritance, redemption, and the “fullness of time” to the arrival of Jesus, along with the “adoption” of God’s children and the Gift of the Spirit. His appearance in history meant a fundamental change in the status of the people of God – (Galatians 3:1-4).

The “fullness of time” is the moment when the saints ceased to be minors under the custodianship of the Law and became heirs to the covenant promises. To return to the “elemental things” of the old era after receiving the promises would be regression - (Galatians 4:9-11). Paul uses similar language when writing to the Assembly of Ephesus:

  • (Ephesians 1:9-11) - “Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him, for an administration OF THE FULLNESS OF THE SEASONS, to reunite for himself, under one head, all things in the Messiah, the things upon the heavens and the things upon the earth, in him. In whom also we were taken as an inheritance, according to the purpose of him who energizes all things according to the counsel of his will.

Here, he uses the more pregnant term “seasons” (‘kairos’) rather than “time” (‘kronos’), and in the plural number to stress how Jesus was the means and the goal of God’s plans in all eras - past, present, and future.

Paul addresses marital relationships in his first letter to the Corinthians. Should believers continue in such relationships considering the “present distress?” The short answer is, “Yes.” Yet he places the institution of marriage in its proper place.

Disciples must keep their priorities straight, for, since the advent of Jesus, the time is shortened, therefore, let those who have wives be as though they had none, and let those that buy as though they possessed not… THE FASHION OF THIS WORLD IS PASSING AWAY” - (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).

The present tense verb translated as “passing away” stresses ongoing action. Even now, the world and its institutions are in the process of decay and dissolution because of this change in eras. Similarly, in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes:

  • (2 Corinthians 5:15-17) - “Having judged this, that one in behalf of all died, hence, they all died; and in behalf of all died he, in order that, they who live, no longer for themselves should live, but for him who, in their behalf, died and rose again. So that we, henceforth, know no one after the flesh: if we have even been gaining after the flesh a knowledge of Christ. On the contrary, now, no longer are we gaining it. So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation! the old things have passed away. Behold, they have become new!

Jesus inaugurated the New Creation, and its implementation is underway already wherever the Gospel is preached. The new order is dawning, and it will consummate in the resurrection of the righteous and the “New Heavens and the New Earth” when Jesus returns - (Galatians 6:15, Romans 8:17-23, 1 Corinthians 15:20-25).

There is both continuity and discontinuity between the old and new ages. Certain things that were required under the old system have lost their relevance. For example, circumcision no longer determines who is a member of the covenant people - (Galatians 6:15, Romans 8:17-23, 1 Corinthians 15:20-25).

THE "LAST DAYS"


The “mysteries” that were hidden in the past have now been unveiled in Jesus.  The promises communicated through the prophets find their fulfillment in him. He is the “mystery which has been kept in silence through past ages but now is made manifest” - (Colossians 1:26, 2 Timothy 1:10).

The term “Last Days” is NOT a chronological marker in the New Testament, nor does it refer simply to the final few years of History. Instead, it describes the radical change in the nature and status of everything that has occurred due to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

He achieved final victory over sin, death, and Satan (“Having achieved the purification of sins”), and since his exaltation (“He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high”), the final phase of human history has been underway as the present order continues to decline until the day it reaches its inevitable termination.

Dusk - Photo by Jared Bell on Unsplash
[Dusk - Photo by Jared Bell on Unsplash]

The Cross means far more than the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God, the New Covenant, and the New Creation, and the latter began with his bodily resurrection from the dead. This process will consummate with our own resurrection, and with the dissolution of the old creation and its replacement by the “
New Heavens and the New Earth” – (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 2 Peter 3:10-13).

His death put into motion the final phase of the redemptive plan of God, and this is why the New Testament consistently portrays the “Last Days” as beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, for the Assembly of God, the “ends of the ages” have arrived.



RELATED POSTS:
  • The New Age Dawns - (God has spoken His decisive and superior word in His son, and He did so upon the last of these days)
  • The Final Day - (The crucifixion and enthronement of Jesus ushered in the final era of human history that will culminate with his arrival in glory)
  • The End - (The return of Jesus at the end of the age will be a singular event of great finality)

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