To the modern Premillennialist, one sign of the beginning of the last days came on May 14, 1948 when the Jewish nation became known as the State of Israel. Since then, every report of rumbling earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, or Middle East disturbances has the Premillennialist thinking the Lord’s return is imminent, or the “last days” are here. Should we believe that the last days have at long last come upon us who live in the latter half of the twentieth century? Does the Bible tell us when the last days began? Were the first century Christians living in the last days?
The first place we read of the last days in the New Testament is in Acts, chapter two. The promised miraculous power of the Holy Spirit had come upon the Lord’s apostles. The inspired apostle Peter explains,” but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh...’” (Acts 2:16-17). Peter’s inspired testimony, “this is that” clearly establishes that the last days began in Peter’s day. This miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit confirmed something of substance that characterized the last days: God was now speaking to all in his Son. The writer of Hebrews reveals, “ God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son...” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Notice at the “end of these days” or as the King James Version states, “in these last days” a change is emphasized. God’s authoritative message is now exclusively in his Son Jesus the Christ, in contrast to the diverse manner he revealed Himself in ages past. If we let the word of God mold our concepts, we should look at the last days as the age when God is speaking and working through his Son - the Christian Age, not just a few days before the end of time.
Peter claims Jesus was “manifested at the end of the times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God” (I Peter 1:20-21). At the end of the times, Christ had been manifested and people in the first century had faith and hope because of the first appearing of the Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Peter writes , “knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘where is the promise of his coming?’ “ (2 Peter 3:3-4). The coming of the Lord is not some appearance to establish a kingdom on earth, but one when he comes unexpectedly, “as a thief” and “the heavens pass away... and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). This message had a stabilizing purpose “Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness.” If Peter’s readers were not living in the last days, why warn them of something that would occur and affect them in the last days?
Paul warns, “But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). He tells of those “holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof,” and exhorts Timothy, “from these also turn away.” If Timothy was not living in the last days, why give him this admonition? While this same warning and exhortation is needed today, it is not needed more today than in the days of Timothy and the faithful followers of Christ who lived in the first century.
The New Testament contains facts and warnings connected with the end of the times or the last days. Christians living in the first century understood accurately that they were living in the last days. The last days commenced when the authoritative gospel of Christ was first preached in ad 30-33, not when the modern Jews became the State of Israel in 1948. Premillennial books on Christ’s imminent return will need to be continually revised, for they are based upon man’s theories, but the word of God needs no revision, for it is the Truth. Dear reader let God’s Truth mold your thinking concerning the subject of the last days, not man’s theories.