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THEOLOGY > Future > The End of the Age > Purpose of the Second Coming  


According to the Scriptures there are two ages: this age, and the age to come. Jesus speaks of both: “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32). To bring the current age to a close and to initiate the age that is to come is the purpose of the Second Coming; it is to establish the Kingdom of God, first in its visible and historical form, and then in its final and eternal form as portrayed in Rev. 20-21 with the appearance of the new heavens and the new earth.

It is difficult to determine exactly when the age to come begins; there are two considerations: it begins at the beginning of the Millennium or the conclusion of the Millennium. Perhaps this issue is a false issue because the age to come includes both, because the rule of Christ during the Millennium will merge into the rule of Christ throughout eternity. It seems that the phrase, “the age to come,” and the Kingdom, both in its historical (earthly) and eternal (heavenly) manifestations, are virtual synonyms.

Regarding the course of this world Jesus says: “The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age” (Matt. 13:39-40; see v. 49). Twice Jesus speaks of “the close of the age”; there will definitely be an end of the present age. Evidently the apostles associated the return of Christ with the end of the age, for they asked Jesus: “What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

Responding to the Sadducees, Jesus says: “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but whose who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead . . .” (Lu. 20:35). “That age” speaks of one that is future, in contrast to the present age. “That age” is “the age to come.”

From the above verses it is obvious that the conclusion of this age and the beginning of the age to come is related to the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of believers. Until that time Jesus will sustain His followers: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

The coming rule of Christ—the age to come—was anticipated by the Prophets (see: Old Testament Anticipation). The writer of Hebrew says that long ago “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). Anticipated by the prophets and announced by John, the Kingdom is one of the concepts that unites the Old and New Testaments.

Initially the announcement of the Kingdom was made by John in the desert region around the Jordan River: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 3:2). And then during His earthly ministry Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom; in fact, the central topic of His preaching was the Kingdom:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17);

And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23);

Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:14-15);

The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached . . . (Lu. 16:16).

Regarding the parables, Jesus states: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11). In Chapter 13 the phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is like,” is used in vs. 31, 33, 44, 45, 47: also see: 13:24, 51; 18:23; 20:21; 21:31; 22:1; 25:1).

Note the descriptions that are interchangeable: “the kingdom of heaven” (found only in Matthew’s Gospel), “the kingdom of God” (over thirty times in Luke), and “the kingdom.” Each of these phrases speak of the same reality; compare Matt. 5:3 and Lu. 6:20.

The Kingdom is multidimensional: present and future. Two statements from Jesus support the present aspect: “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Lu. 17:21), and “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lu. 11:20). Whether “midst” means within the individual or among the people, it does not matter; the point is that the Kingdom is still a present reality. It is currently operative. Additionally, Jesus simply announced that “the kingdom is at hand” (Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15). Clearly the age to come has invaded the present age (see: Col. 1:13). Not only is the Kingdom present, it is future; it is eschatological.

I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8:11);

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:11).

The believer has been taught to pray: “Your kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10), a prayer that will be realized when Christ returns. The prayer would be without meaning if there is not to be a future manifestation of the Kingdom. The prayer expresses the desire of the believer for that reality to come to pass.

The future realization of the Kingdom is the work of Christ—of God—not of man. The Kingdom will not be brought about by human achievement, but by supernatural intervention. It is futile for man to seek to implement what only the Lord can execute. Man cannot establish peace on earth nor can he bring about a just society. Until Christ returns and creates the Kingdom, there will be “wars and rumors of wars . . . nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7).

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