What does the Bible say about the last days? Many claim we are living in the last days. But are their claims based in the Bible?
If you were to google that question you would find a lot of differing opinions. Most of them a little crazy and not founded in anything substantial. To actually answer that question we need to ask another question, what does the Bible say about the last days? Or maybe a better way of putting it, how does the Bible define the last days?
And should we not define the last days the same way the Bible does?
That’s why I’m writing about this. Because most of what you will read about the last days is not found in the Bible. They don’t define the last days the same way that the Bible defines the last days. Many have their theology based out of their own personal definition that’s then forced onto what the Bible says. And that’s a very dangerous practice.
So, let’s put aside what we think we know and look at what the Bible says about the last days.
The rapture is often tied closely to the last days. To read what the Bible says about the rapture check out: What The Bible Really Says About The Rapture
What Does The Bible Say About The Last Days?
What does the Bible say about the last days? Not a whole lot. This phrase only appears 6 times in the Bible. And not once is it found in Revelation, which is an equally abused topic. But that’s another post for another day.
Since it’s only mentioned 6 times I want to look at each occurrence of the last days in the Bible.
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
This passage is recording what happened at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit (God) came and dwelled in His people. Peter stands up to explain what’s happening. To help the Jews in the crowd understand he pulls out an Old Testament prophet everyone would have been familiar with, Joel.
Joel wrote this short book that prophesied about something that was coming that would literally change all of creation. He was describing Jesus’ resurrection and the coming Holy Spirit. Peter points back to Joel and tells his audience, today is that day.
But what we are really after is how does this passage uses the term in the last days. In context, Peter is saying that we are living in the last days now. They are happening right now. In other words, the last days are not some date in the future, they are the present reality.
Let’s look at an other time Peter uses the term in the last days.
1 Peter 1:20
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
Notice how Peter phrases this, “these last times”. Peter is putting himself in the last times.
In other words, Peter didn’t see the last times as something in the future, it was right now. What does the Bible say about the last days so far? They started over 2,000 years ago. Peter uses this term twice with the same definition.
Let’s see how other parts of the Bible use the term in the last days.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
The author of Hebrews says in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. The author is claiming we are living in the last days at the time this book was written, roughly 2,000 years ago.
We are starting to see more consistency in the definition of last days. Thus far the Bible is defining the last days as starting with Jesus. Jesus ushered in the last days. According to the Bible, we’ve been living in the last days for 2,000 years.
But we aren’t done yet, we have 3 more to go. Let’s keep looking at what does the Bible say about the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1-9
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Alright, this sounds a little more like what we are used to. Many people that define the last days as in Jesus is coming soon will point to this verse. We are certainly living in a time that fits this description, right?
But, let me ask you. Can you point to a time where this description wasn’t true? Can you tell me about a time where people didn’t love money and kids didn’t disobey their parents?
Paul is writing these words to Timothy who would have recognized these qualities in the people around him. He isn’t describing some future time where things will get more difficult, he’s describing the world they were living in at that time.
Still, the Bible seems to be holding the same definition of the last days.
2 Peter 3:1-9
Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
Look at the context in which these words are written. Is Peter writing in the future tense or present tense? You can read this verse either way. So we will have to approach this from a different angle to see how this passage is defining the last days.
Think about the people receiving this letter. If the church that Peter was writing to was not experiencing scoffers that were saying, where’s Jesus? I thought he was coming back? Then why would Peter even mention it in the letter? Why would Peter write to a struggling church about a future event 2,000+ years in the making that would not impact them?
While you could read this verse as future tense, it makes more sense that it’s written in the present tense.
Peter was most likely writing to a church that was facing scoffers at the time of writing. Thus, Peter was defining the last days as right then and there.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
This verse contains an inditement about those who hoard wealth in the last days. But remember this was written to a real group of people. So how could he indite them on something they have not done?
Unless they were hoarding their wealth and they were living in the last days at the time of writing.
In other words, James is saying that we are living in the last days starting with the time his words were penned.
End Days In Bible
Putting it all together… What does the Bible say about the last days? How does it define the term? The Bible defines the last days as the first coming to the second coming of Christ.
Maybe you are thinking, but surely now we are living in the very last days right? With everything happening Jesus has to be coming back soon.
Maybe, I don’t know. Jesus even says He doesn’t know in Matthew 24:36 and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to try to outdo Jesus.
There’s no shortage of people claiming Jesus is returning soon, that we are in the actual last days. But their claims are baseless, they are not supported in the Bible. I suppose they could get lucky. Jesus could return tomorrow, but it could also be another 2,000 years.
The Bible doesn’t tell us. Instead, it keeps its usage of the last days as a brand scope of time and refuses to get specific.
We Are Living In The Last Days… But That’s Nothing New
So, are we living in the last days? Yes, we have been for 2,000 years. Is Jesus coming soon? Who knows. I see little benefit in speculating. The Bible doesn’t give any clues, instead, it tells us how to live in the here and now in light of what Jesus has done.
The question we started with is how does the Bible define the term the last days. And should we not define it the same way?
I see so many people take their own idea of what the last days are and impose it on the Bible. I see it all the time. And that practice is so dangerous. You can make the Bible say anything you want when you fail to read it in context.
Technically, yes we are living in the last days. But that doesn’t mean Jesus is for sure returning in the next few years or even in your lifetime. If you want to believe that, that’s fine. But don’t twist the Bible to support your opinion.
The Bible isn’t interested in telling you when Jesus is going to return. And no Revelation doesn’t offer a timeline. But that’s another topic for another time.
Instead, the Bible tells us how to live in the here and now. We need to stop taking our preconceived notions about what in the last days mean.
The Bible doesn’t define the last days as in the handful of weeks, months, or years before the world ends. Rather it says the last days are between Jesus first coming and second coming. We should hold to that definition too and avoid imposing our own preconceived ideas onto the Bible.
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