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Article 34 - The Last Days

The "Last Days:" To What Time Period Does this Refer?

Jon Gary Williams

The expressions "last days," "last times," "latter times," et al. refer to the period of time from the closing years of the Old Testament period and into the beginning years of the Christian era. The scriptures clearly apply these expressions to that period of time. For example:

Acts 2:16,17 -- Peter quotes from Joel and says "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." He then quotes Joel, saying, "And it shall come to pass in the last days..." So, Peter is showing that "this" (what was happening right then) was "that" (what Joel said was to come to pass), and he identifies it as the "last days."

I Timothy 4:1 -- Paul wrote of the "latter times" and applies this to the time when he lived. Note that after mentioning things that would take place in the "latter times," he tells Timothy to "put the brethren in remembrance of these things" (v. 6). What would be the point in Timothy reminding them of something that was 2000+ years away? This makes no sense.

Timothy 3:1 -- Paul speaks of perilous times to come in the "last days." Note that in describing wicked people of these perilous times, Paul speaks in the present tense -- "of this sort are they" (v. 6) and "so do these" (v. 8). Note that after mentioning more about the evil people of these perilous times (v. 13), he tells Timothy, as a contrast to them, to "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned..." (v.14). Paul was not contrasting what Timothy should be with wicked people who would live more than 2000 years later.

Hebrews 1:1,2 -- Here the scriptures make a contrast between the Old and New Covenants. At one time God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, but now ("in these last days") speaks through his Son. Note "in these last days," not last days 2000+ years into the future! Also, if the last days apply to today, this would mean that Jesus has not yet spoken.

I Peter 1:20
-- Peter says that Jesus "was manifest in these last times for you." How much clearer could he be? Jesus "was manifest"-- that's past tense, not future. And notice that he said this was done "in the last times for you." Those whom he addressed were already living the "last times!"

I John 2:18 -- "Little children, it is the last time." This is present tense, not a time in the distant future.

Jude 18 -- Jude speaks of "mockers in the last time." But note that in the very next verse he speaks of them in the present tense -- "These are they who separate themselves..." Then in verse 20 he makes a contrast between these "mockers" and what the Christians then should be like -- "But, ye, beloved..."

The scriptures make it clear that expressions as "last days," "latter times," et al, do not refer to the distant future, but rather to apostolic times.