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Eschatology: Consummation of All Things

The term “eschatology” comes from two Greek terms e[scato" and lovgo" meaning (roughly speaking) “last,” “end,” or “final” and “word,” “matter” “thing,” respectively. Theologically speaking, then, the term eschatology refers to “things pertaining to the end of history and the consummation of God’s kingdom.” It concerns both personal eschatological issues such as death and the intermediate state as well as themes with a more general or corporate focus. The latter would include such topics as the return of Christ, resurrection, judgment, tribulation, the millennial kingdom, and the eternal state.

IA. Personal Eschatology

1B. The Meaning of Physical Death

1C. The Subjects—Hebrews 9:27
2C. A Purely Materialist View
3C. A Christian Materialistic View
4C. Another Christian View: Man as a Unified, But Composite Being

2B. The Meaning of Spiritual Death

1C. The State—Ephesians 2:1
2C. The Fruit of Spiritual Death—Ephesians 4:17-19
3C. The Ultimate End: Second Death
1D. Revelation 21:8
2D. Revelation 20:6

3B. The Ultimate Cause of Physical and Spiritual Death

1C. 1 Corinthians 15:21
2C. Genesis 2:17, 23-24; 5

4B. The Existential Problem of Death

1C. Acts 8:2
2C. Philippians 2:27
3C. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
4C. Hebrews 4:15
5C. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

5B. The Nature of the Intermediate State (Zwischenzustand)

1C. Unconscious Limbo/Soul Sleep (e.g., S. D. Adventists./Jehovah Witnesses)
1D. The Use of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
2D. Luke 16:19-31
2C. Purgatory (R.C.)
1D. 2 Maccabees 12:42-45
2D. Matthew 5:26; 12:32
3D. 1 Corinthians 3:15
4D. 2 Timothy 1:18
5D. The Need for Personal Faith in This Life—cf. John 8:24
3C. Instantaneous Resurrection (F. F. Bruce; W. D. Davies)
1D. 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
2D. A Presupposition of Anthropological Monism?
4C. Christians Go To Be with God, But Await Resurrection Bodies
1D. 2 Corinthians 5:8-9
2D. 1 Thessalonians 5:10
3D. Luke 23:43
4D. Unbelievers
1E. Luke 16:23-24
2E. John 5:28-29
3E. Matthew 25:46

IIA. Corporate Eschatology

1B. The Return of Christ: Areas of General Agreement

1C. It Is Certain, Though Day Unknown
1D. Acts 1:11
2D. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
3D. Hebrews 9:28
4D. Revelation 22:12 (22:20)
5D. Philippians 4:5; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:10; 1 John 3:2-3
2C. The Source: Jesus’ Teaching
1D. Matthew 24:3; 24:30
2D. John 14:3
3D. Revelation 1:7
3C. The Specific Timing
1D. Matthew 24:36
2D. Matthew 24:36-25:30
4C. It Will Be Personal and Visible to All
5C. It Will Be Magnificent
1D. Comparison with First Coming
2D. Matthew 24:23
3D. Matthew 24:27-28
6C. He Will Come As Judge and Savior
1D. Mark 13: Judgment and Salvation
2D. Luke 21: Judgment and Salvation38
3D. The Wicked in Matthew 24-25
4D. The Righteous in Matthew 24-25

2B. The Return of Christ: Areas of Difference among Evangelicals

1C. Texts Relating to the “Imminent” Return of Christ
1D. Matthew 24:40-50
2D. Luke 12:40
2C. Texts Relating to Events Preceding Christ’s Return
1D. Matthew 24:14
2D. Matthew 24:21
3D. 2 Thessalonians 2:3
4D. Romans 11:25-32
5D. Matthew 24:4-14
3C. Liberalism and Its Answer
4C. Prophetic Foreshortening
1D. Revelation 22:12—“soon”
2D. Hebrews 10:17—“in a little while”
5C. Berkhof’s Position39
6C. Grudem’s Response40
7C. A Dispensational Response
8C. An Experiential Approach and Response
9C. All Preceding Events Have Occurred

3B. The Nature and Timing of the Rapture

1C. The Nature of the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:17
2C. The Timing of the Rapture
1D. Pre-Tribulational Rapture
2D. Partial Tribulational Rapture
3D. Mid-Tribulational Rapture
4D. Post-Tribulational Rapture

5B. The Nature of the Millennium

1C. Postmillennialism (P. M.)
1D. Statement of Position
2D. Proponents of Position
1E. Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260-340)
2E. Origen41 (185-254)
3E. Theodore Beza (1519-1605)
4E. John Owen (1616-1683)
5E. Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
6E. Jonathon Edwards (1703-1758)
7E. A H. Strong (1836-1921)
3D. Strengths and Weaknesses of Position
1E. God’s Power and Sovereignty
2E. God’s Provision in Christ and the Spirit
3E. The Gradual Growth of the Church Outlined in Jesus’ Parables
4E. No Point Really Establishes P. M. in Contrast to Another System
5E. The Church Is Characterized by Suffering not Worldwide Triumph42
6E. The Experience of History43
2C. Historic Premillennialism
1D. Statement of the Position
2D. Proponents of the Position
1E. The First Three Centuries of the Church
2E. The Alexandrian Church
3E. Augustine’s (350-430) Amillennialism and the Medieval Period
4E. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
3D. Strengths and Weaknesses
1E. The Exegesis of Revelation 20:4-6 and e[zhsan
2E. The “One Passage” Critique
3C. Dispensational Pre-Millennialism
1D. Statement of the Position
2D. Proponents of the Position
1E. J. N. Darby (1800-1882)
2E. John F. Walvoord
3E. J. Dwight Pentecost
4E. Charles C. Ryrie
5E. Darrell L. Bock
6E. Craig L. Blaising
3D. Strengths and Weaknesses
1E. Recognition of Structural Discontinuities Between the Testaments
2E. A Future for National Israel
3E. Two Peoples of God?
4E. The Davidic Covenant and the Presence of the Kingdom Now
3C. Amillennialism
1D. Statement of the Position
2D. Proponents of the Position
1E. Augustine (354-430)
2E. Martin Luther (1483-1546)
3E. John Calvin (1509-1564)
4E. Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)
5E. Hermann Bavinck (1854-1921)
6E. Louis Berkhof (1873-1957)
3D. Strengths and Weaknesses
1E. Many Passages Affirm Amill Scheme
2E. The Binding of Satan in Revelation 20
3E. The Symbolic Nature of the Book of Revelation
4E. The Church Replaces Israel
5E. The Amill Reading of Revelation 20 Is Strained
6E. OT Promises Envision an Earthly Kingdom (cf. 1 Cor 15:24; Rev 5:10; 12:5)
7E. The Binding of Satan Did Not Occur at Christ’s Return as Many Amill’s Argue
8E. The Probability of Progressive Revelation within the NT Canon
9E. The Church and Israel in God’s Plan

6B. Resurrection, Judgment, and The Eternal State

1C. The Resurrection of All People
1D. Daniel 12:2
2D. John 5:28-29
2C. The Judgment of All People
1D. Acts 17:31
2D. Revelation 20:11-15
3C. The Doctrine of Heaven and the Eternal State
1D. A State or Place?
2D. A Look at Revelation 21-22
4C. The Doctrine of Hell
1D. Liberal Views
2D. Traditional View: Eternal Conscious Suffering
2D. Conditional Immortality

38 It appears that Luke has a focus on AD 70 (21:20-24), but one can hardly suggest that such verses as 21:27, 35 are not looking to the grand eschaton. And, what happened in AD 70 could, theoretically anyway, be repeated at a later date.

39 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 695-703.

40 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1095-1105.

41 Gentry, “Postmillennialism,” 15. He cites the work of Donald G. Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology: Vol. 2: Life, Ministry, and Hope (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979), 192 and Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5th ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rep. n.d. [1910]), 2:591, cf. 122.

42 See Robert Strimple, “An Amillennial Response to Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.,” in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 63-66.

43 Blaising, “Premillennial Response,” 75.

Related Topics: Eschatology (Things to Come), Teaching the Bible