A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The New Testament Word/Phrase of the Week

The New Testament bible scholar, Dr. Tom Wright, has produced a glossary of New Testament words/phrases that is really helpful for the study of scripture. What I like most about his definition of New Testament words is that he helps us to know what a Jewish person from the 1st century would have understood these words/phrases to mean. Too often, we allow our 21st century world view to get in the way of the original meaning.

Here is the New Testament word/phrase of the week: Last Days

Ancient Jews thought of world history as divided into two periods: 'the present age' and 'the age to come.' The present age was a time when evil was still at large in its many forms; the age to come would usher in God's final reign of justice, peace, joy, and love. Ancient prophets had spoken of the transition from the one age to the other in terms of the 'last days,' meaning either the final moments of the 'present age' or the eventual dawning of the 'age to come.'

When Peter quotes Joel in Acts 2:17, he perhaps means both: the two ages have overlapped, so that Christians live in the 'last days,' the time between God's kingdom being launched in and through Jesus and it being completed at Jesus' return. The New Testament gives no encouragement to the idea that we can calculate a precise timetable for the latter event, or that the period of history immediately before Jesus' return will be significantly different (e.g. more violent) than any other (see Matthew 24:36-39.)

No comments: