Last night we continued our study of what the Bible says about the end times by looking at what the first Christians were expecting–what part of the end times they were looking forward to. Here are the notes:
The first Christians came to see that Jesus was the one who was prophesied to fulfill all the promises, especially in terms of all God had promised in the three covenants—he was the One who would reign as king over Israel forever, with a kingdom that extended over the whole earth, and all nations would be blessed under his rule as sin is forgiven and the Spirit is given to individual men and women. See: Luke 24:44-45 and Acts 1:1-8. They reasoned like this:
1: you’re resurrected, and
2: the Spirit’s going to be poured out…
…Then we must then see the other covenants fulfilled…right?
Jesus’ Answer?: you don’t need to know when that’s going to happen. There’s work to do.
Acts 2:16-21 – The Spirit is being poured out. These are the last days!
Acts 3:18-21 – All things will be restored, look to the OT to see what that means
Point 1: After hanging out with Jesus, having him open their minds to understand the scriptures, and receiving specific instruction on the kingdom of God, they expected him to return and fulfill the things the prophets said which he hadn’t accomplished yet. (See also Acts 1:11)
Note: They thought this way, because Jesus talked this way.
Matthew 25:31-32 Jesus will sit on the throne and judge all nations, to kick off a kingdom.
Matthew 19:27-30 Jesus will distribute authority over ethnic Israel to the apostles.
Point 2: This became a major part of their preaching and teaching.
Waiting for him: 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2 Peter 3:10-13
Point 3: They lived in expectation, because they felt that all of this could happen at any time…Or better yet, since they felt that it already had begun to happen, they understood that nothing was stopping it from finishing up. (“The beginning of the end has come! The end of the end could happen at any time!”)
The Apostles lived with a sense that the end had already begun. Things had happened which set in motion an unstoppable chain of events: The messiah had appeared, the resurrection had begun, and the Spirit had been poured out. In other words, the Covenants of promise had begun to be fulfilled, because the son of David had come, the New Covenant had been initiated, and the nations had begun to be blessed through the seed of Abraham. They knew that, if the first events of the end had happened, this meant that at any time the last events of the end could unfold. This caused them to be people who lived always with a sense of anticipation and expectation.
What were they waiting for? All the promises to be fulfilled: for Jesus to come reign from Israel over the whole earth forever, making the world a place where God’s Spirit connected everyone to God. They were waiting for the kingdom.
We live in the same time as them. Being a Christian includes learning to live with this sense of eager waiting. See Romans 8:22-25.