New Testament Eschatology: Part 6 of 7 General Epistles

Hebrews

In the first few verses of the book of Hebrews, the writer explains that God “in these last days” (Gr. ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων) has spoken to us by his son whom he appointed heir of all things” (Heb 1:2). This refers to the eschatological messianic kingship that started its fulfillment in the first advent of God-the Son, Jesus. Moreover, the writer of Hebrews exhorts the Jewish Christians to preserve “until the end” (Gr. μέχρι τέλους) (3:14), where they will receive full salvation (9:28) and the promised reward (10:35) and inheritance (6:11-12). The author of Hebrews explains that the Israelites failed at entering the “rest” of the promised land after its wilderness sojourn, but the Jewish Christians “are exhorted to preserve in their earthly sojourn so that they will enter the “rest” of the antitypical “heavenly country”…. Only then will the intended Sabbath rest of the new creation be enjoyed.”[1] Lastly, the book of Hebrews mentions the coming judgment of unbelievers and apostates at the end of the age (6:2, 9:27); therefore, the writer explains that the readers should not be lax and should take all the exhortations seriously because “the Day is approaching” (Gr. ἐγγίζουσαν τὴν ἡμέραν) (10:25).[2]

James, 1-2 Peter, Jude

The epistle of James rebukes its readers for living ungodly lives and neglecting to do acts of righteousness “in the last days” (Gr. ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις) (5:3). Also, James encourages Christians to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (5:8).

1 Peter explains that Christ’s first coming and his resurrection took place “in these last times” (Gr. ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων) (1:20-21), and Christians participate in Christ’s resurrection, and so they have a living hope of future resurrection (1:3).

2 Peter and Jude address false teachers that have infiltrated the Christian community, and these false teachers are identified as those whom Jesus foretold would come “in the last days” (Gr. ἐπ’ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν) (2 Pet 3:3 cf. Jude 18). Thus, Peter and Jude explain that the expected latter-day tribulation of apostate teaching has begun.[3] Final judgement is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:3,9 and Jude 6, 14-15, and Peter states that at the time of this judgement, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare” (2 Pet 3:10).[4]


[1] G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 144. [2] Beale, A New Testament, 145. [3] Beale, A New Testament, 146 [4] Beale, A New Testament, 146.