Riddlebarger: What “Last Days” Really Means

This use of the phrase “last days” as marking the dawn of the new age of redemption can be seen in Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:16–17). Peter demonstrated that the coming of Christ and his resurrection clearly meant that the last days had arrived. “The words ‘in the last days’ (en tais eschatais hērmerais) are a translation of the Hebrew words ‘acharey khen,’ literally, ‘afterwards.’ When Peter quotes these words and applies them to the event which has just occurred, he is saying in effect, ‘We are in the last days now.’ ” Paul used virtually identical language in several places. Galatians 4:4 is one important example: “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” The term Paul used here, translated as “fully come,” is plērōma, which conveys the thought of fulfillment or completion. In using this term, Paul meant that the coming of Jesus Christ marked the fulfillment of earlier redemptive-historical expectations. Paul also said that with the coming of our Lord the “fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). It is clear that the church is living at the end of the age, since the dawn of the messianic age eclipsed the former premessianic era.
The author of Hebrews made a similar point: “But now he [Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). The author used the word synteleia, meaning “end” or “completion.” As Hoekema notes, “In the one instance where this word is used with the plural of aiōn (age), it means the present era.” The phrase is, therefore, roughly synonymous with Matthew’s phrase “the consummation of the ages,” or Paul’s phrase “ends of the ages,” or even Peter’s phrase “end of the times.” The author of Hebrews saw the first coming of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the promises of complete (in the sense of “once for all”) redemption made under the old covenant. The coming of Jesus marked the beginning of the end of the ages. The last days began with his coming, since Jesus was the long-expected Messiah. This explains the futility of discussing eschatology apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Kim Riddlebarger | A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times, Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2013), 78–79.


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Posted by Tony Phelps | Friday, May 3, 2024 | Categorized in Eschatology, Faith, HeidelQuotes, Scripture. Tony Phelps. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Phelps

Tony grew up in Rhode Island. He was educated at BA (University of Rhode Island) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He worked in the insurance industry for ten years. He planted a PCA church in Wakefield, RI where he served for eleven years. In 2015–18 he pastored Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Colorado Springs. He is currently pastor of Living Hope (OPC). Tony is married to Donna and together they have three children. Meet all the Heidelberg contributors»


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