The Time of the End: The End of What?

The Bible speaks of the time of the end. But exactly what will come to an end?

Many think the reference is to the end of the world, especially since the King James Version of the New Testament has Jesus' disciples asking Him about "the end of the world" in Matthew 24:3. But the word translated "world" in this passage is the Greek word aion (from which we derive the English word eon), signifying "a period of indefinite duration … marked by spiritual or moral characteristics" Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, "Age"). The New King James Version correctly renders the word as "age."

The Greek aion and its English derivative eon mean essentially the same thing—an age, an epoch, an era. Jesus' disciples were not asking about the end of our physical planet, the earth. Rather, they were inquiring about the end of this era of man's rule on the earth. They well knew the many prophecies of the Old Testament that foretell the coming age of the rule of the Messiah in the Kingdom of God.

Paul contrasted the age "which is to come" (Ephesians 1:21) with the world we know, which he called "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4). Spiritually and morally, this age and the age to come are opposites.

To properly understand the two, we must realize that this is not God's world. God is not the author of the broken homes, shattered marriages, violence, racial and ethnic hatred, governmental corruption, greed, pollution, depression, disease and persecution and the resultant suffering we see around us. Paul pinpoints the cause of these sorrows as "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4), none other than Satan the devil.

How great is the influence of this being? The apostle John tells us that "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). All of humanity is influenced by the thinking, attitudes and actions of this wicked being and his evil cohorts, the demons. John further warns that Satan's deceptive power is so great that he "deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).

Satan's influence is as powerful as it is pervasive. Odd as it may sound, one of Satan's greatest areas of influence is religion, where his ideas—not God's—dominate. Paul warns Christians of Satan's deceptive power even within Christianity: Just as "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light," so do his representatives masquerade as "ministers of righteousness" and "apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Paul warns those who would live godly lives that they must constantly struggle against unseen spiritual influences dominating the world around them. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

Under Satan's influence, the world has its own "wisdom" (1 Corinthians 1:20-29), a way of thinking that considers the God of the Bible and His way of life as "foolishness" (1 Corinthians 2:14). As a result, mankind does not recognize that it is man's collective rejection of God and His ways that has brought the suffering and sorrow that permeate the world. (To learn more about Satan's evil influence on our world, request or download our free booklet Is There Really a Devil?)

When Scripture mentions "the time of the end" or "the end of the age," it is referring to the coming end of the present evil age. This age—in reality the age of Satan —will draw to an end, replaced by the age of God's rule over and guidance of all of humanity.

This age to come—often referred to in the Bible as the time the Kingdom of God will govern the earth—will be ushered in by Jesus Christ at His return. To better understand these major prophetic themes and events, be sure to request or download your free copies of the booklets The Gospel of the Kingdom, The Book of Revelation Unveiled, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy. They will help you better understand the unimaginably better world God has in store beyond our present age.

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