Presentation on theme: "Eschatology SCTR 19 – Religions of the Book Prepared by Matt Pham."— Presentation transcript:
Eschatology SCTR 19 – Religions of the Book Prepared by Matt Pham
Eschatology The study of, or teachings about… The “end”; “end times”; “last days”; “end of the world”; etc. And what, if anything, is after/beyond the end? Types of Eschatology: Personal: death / afterlife of individuals National/Ethnic: end of a nation/empire or group of people Cosmic: ultimate end of the world / universe Christian Eschatology: variety of biblical teachings: Second Coming of Jesus, End of the World Kingdom of God, Messianic Age Resurrection of the Dead, Final Judgment Heaven (Eternal Life) vs. Hell (punishment? or void/nothing?)
Apocalypse Popular Def: Catastrophic Event Major disaster, atom bomb, plague,… Biblical Def: Literary Genre Written mostly in narrative form A “revealing/uncovering” of hidden truth Reveals God’s view of past, present & future Uses highly symbolic terms and images Often revealed in dreams or visions Interpreted with help of an intermediary (angel) Purpose: Provides encouragement for people in the midst of trials and tribulations
Other Terminology Prophecy – “speaking on behalf of” God; conveys God’s messages to people, in direct words or symbolic actions Parousia – the coming or arrival of an important person (esp. the “Second Coming” of Jesus) Revelation – the “uncovering” or “revealing” of some truth previously hidden or unknown to people Tribulation – a 7-year period of suffering and turmoil before (or after?) the Second Coming of Christ Millennium – a thousand-year period (of peace), esp. as mentioned in Revelation 20 Rapture – belief of many fundamentalist Protestants based on literalist reading of 1 Thess 4:17
Biblical Eschatology Early Stages: Jesus is coming! Soon! Paul’s Early Letters, esp. 1 Thessalonians 4 Middle Stages: Life goes on! Stay awake! Paul’s Later Letters, esp. 2 Thessalonians 3 Mark 13 Later Stages: Millennia ahead! Beware! Revelation 20 2 Peter 3
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul’s first letter (ca. 50 CE) Wants Christians to keep faith and await Jesus’ return (soon) Answers people’s concerns about those who have died Don’t grieve or be afraid: ALL will see the Parousia. When Jesus returns, the dead will be raised first; And we who are still alive will be together with them. Note: Belief in “Rapture” based on literalist reading of 4:17
Later Pauline Eschatology Paul realizes that he himself may die before Jesus returns Philippians, Romans, etc. 2 Thessalonians 3 Corrects misinterpretations of 1 Thess 4 Don’t be alarmed by those who say, “The End is here!” The “lawless one” will come first, trying to deceive many Don’t quit your jobs; continue to work! Whoever is unwilling to work, should not eat!
Mark 13: Eschatological Discourse Apocalyptic Discourse / Little Apocalypse Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21 expand on Mark 13 Content: Jesus’ teachings on… The Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple The Great Tribulation The Coming of the Son of Man WHEN? "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33)
The Book of Revelation a.k.a. The Apocalypse The Revelation to John Entire book is apocalyptic genre [Other Xn “apocalypses” not in NT] Purpose: Encourage Xns to preserve in faith in time of crisis (13:10; 14:12) Content: Initial vision – The Son of Man Letters to 7 Churches of Asia Main visions – Many Tribulations Final visions – The End Destruction of Satan, Evil, Death New Heavens, New Earth, New Jerusalem, Reign of God
Revelation 17-22 John’s Visions of the End 17-18: Fall of Babylon (Rome) 19: Coming of the King of kings, Word of God (Jesus) Final Battle (Armageddon = Valley of Megiddo; 16:16) 20: Satan is tied up for 1000 years (Millennium); 1000-year reign of God; Satan freed & destroyed; Resurrection of the Dead; Final Judgment 21-22: New Heaven New Earth New Jerusalem
Wide Variety of Interpretations Highly Symbolic Language Symbols open to vastly different understandings Presuppositions about Biblical Eschatology: Literal: Predicts the future, the coming End of the World Historical: Reflects persecutions faced by Early Christians Theological: Describes timeless conflict: Good vs. Evil Ex: When is Millennium vis-à-vis Parousia? Pre-millennialism / “Catastrophic” - 1000-year reign of peace will come only after the great tribulation and the return of Jesus; believers must be prepared to endure difficult trials Post-millennialism / “Progressive” - 1000-year reign of peace must be established on earth by human beings and societies; Jesus will return only after that is accomplished A-millennialism – 1000-year reign of Rev 20 is not literal, but purely symbolic; when Jesus returns cannot be predicted
2 Peter 3 The Problem: “Delay” of the Parousia Early Christians preached: “Jesus is coming soon!” After decades, doubts arise: “When?” “Is Jesus coming at all?” “Is our faith in vain?” (3:1-4) One Explanation: 2 Peter 3 Time is irrelevant for God; God is outside of time: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” (3:8) God is being patient, to allow more people to repent: “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (3:9)
The End Is Coming! When? Is it near? Or far away? How can we define “time”? Is “time” relevant for God? How? What will happen at “The End”? End of what? My life? The USA? The world? Are the events depicted in the Book of Revelation meant to be interpreted literally or symbolically?