Theology around “the end times” can be confusing. The Bible has a lot to say about the end times. Nearly every book of the Bible contains prophecy regarding the end times.
For me, taking all of these prophecies and organizing them can be difficult. I always feel like I don’t quite understand it all but that is okay.
Consider this from Revelation 20:
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven holding the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.
4 Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.
This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 They came up across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Here is a good summary of some of the main theological ideas we find in eschatology in an article from Heather Caliri:
What distinguishes each view? And where can we go to find out more?
Here, then, is a summary, in alphabetical order, of the main eschatological views of Christianity, written as impartially as I can manage. I’ve focused on four:
- dispensational premillennialism
- historical premillennialism
I’ve included a few hand-drawn timelines to help clarify the differing viewpoints, which are based on Paul N. Benware’s book, Understanding End Times Prophecy, a text written from the dispensational premillennialist point of view. I’ve simplified some of his diagrams for clarity, since Benware goes into much more depth than I can here.
May increased understanding of the end of days help us place our hope in God’s power and intentions for all of eternity.
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