Pastor David B. Curtis

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It Is "The Last Hour"

(1 John 2:18)

Delivered 8/11/19

We’re continuing our study of the letter of 1 John. Unlike the Gospel of John that was written to bring people to faith in Christ, this epistle is written to those who have already trusted Christ.  It instructs them on how to have fellowship with Yeshua and the Father. In verse 3 of chapter 1 John writes, "So that you too may have fellowship with us.”  This is a hina purpose clause (“so that”) with a present active subjunctive. The main theme of the Epistle is fellowship with Yahweh. We enjoy this fellowship when we walk in the light:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 ESV

A result of walking in the light is that "We have fellowship with one another.”  Who are the "one another" here? Is it that we have fellowship with God or that we have fellowship with other Christians? Both! God is in the light so when we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Him. Two Christians who are in right relationship with God will also naturally be in right relationship with each other. As people walk in the light with God, they have fellowship with one another. If you are in fellowship with God, you will also be in fellowship with other believers who are in fellowship with God.

There are two sections to this passage:

  1. 2:18–19. The author speaks of the coming of antichrists and identifies them as the secessionists.
  2. 2:20–27. John warns his readers about the secessionists’ attempt to deceive them and seeks to arm them against such threats.

While many interpreters see 2:18 as merely the beginning of a new section, others see it as much more than that. They contend that it marks a major part of the letter. This is important because verse 17 says that the world and its desires are passing away. As you might recall from my previous message, I said that I do not see that as eschatological. Now in verse 18, which begins a new section, John does deal with eschatology. In this important section the author turns from encouragement and exhortation to warning.

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18 ESV

The Greek always places things in the sentence in an order that puts emphasis where the author wants it placed. The Greek found in the Textus Receptus or Majority Text is in this order: "Children, last hour it is!"  Unfortunately, this emphasis is lost in our English versions.

John is saying that the time in which they were living was “the last hour” (eschatos hōra).  This expression is found only here in the New Testament. The last hour is here identified twice, once at the beginning and then again at the end of the verse. What does John mean by the “last hour”?  The last hour of what?

In his Gospel, John uses the word hora (hour) in both a literal sense to denote a portion of the day and in a non-literal sense to represent a certain period of time.  We find this latter sense in the following passages.

And Yeshua said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4 ESV

"My hour has not yet come.” What did He mean by this statement? Most scholars will agree that in the Fourth Gospel the reference to Yeshua's "hour" most often points to the "hour" of Christ's passion and death on the cross.

And Yeshua answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. John 12:23 ESV

In John’s Gospel the expression "my hour" on the lips of our Lord is a reference to the time of the cross.

Speaking of the resurrection of the dead Yeshua said:

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice John 5:28 ESV

The hour of the resurrection was not yet there, but it was coming. It would come on the last day:

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39 ESV

Raise it up on the last day.”  The Lord says this five times in this gospel, once in conjunction with the judgment that would happen on the last day. So, there is a last day and there are hours in that day and there is a “last hour.” Like “the last days” or “end times,” “last hour” is one of the phrases used in the New Testament to describe the Second Coming of Yeshua. The “last hour” closes a succession of hours; it is the end of an expiring day.

The questions that we want to seek to answer today are: When are the last days or end times and when is the “last hour”? The “last hour” is the end of the “last days” or “end times.” So, when did the "last days" start? When did they end? These are very important questions that must be answered if we are going to understand when the last hour was. Hopefully, this study will answer these questions.

Most Christians today would probably say that we (twenty-first century American Christians) are living in the last days; we are in the last hour. This is a commonly held view.

Stephen J. Cole, who has a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, writes:

John is calling the entire period between Jesus’ ascension and His return “the last hour.” No one knows how long this period will last, but the phrase, “the last hour,” implies a sense of urgency, in that Jesus may come at any moment. Jesus concludes His teaching on the end times with this application to the wise hearer: “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33).

Dr. Thomas L. Constable writes,

“In the drama of human history, all of John's readers, including ourselves, play our part in the last act. Throughout the New Testament, the writers regarded the present inter-advent age, after the Incarnation and before the Lord's return for His own, as the ‘last hour’ or the ‘last days.’”

David Legge writes,

“It is the last hour.” There's a great debate regarding what this period of time may be, and I'm not entering into it tonight, save to say that I believe that the last hour, the last time that is spoken of here is the time between the first coming and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - more specifically, the time between Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, and the second coming of our Lord Jesus.”

S.L. Johnson writes,

He’s describing it as a last hour, and what he is simply saying is that this whole age between the first coming and the second coming might be called the last times, and to say, it’s a last hour is to describe the times. These times have stretched out now for nineteen hundred years.

Raymond Brown, a renowned Catholic Johannine scholar, rejected the explanation of this phrase which holds that the entirety of the Christian era may be referred to as “the last days.” Instead, Brown stated:

…the epistolary author would scarcely need to make an urgent announcement of such a general truth. Since he has just said that the world is passing away, since the presence of the Antichrists is cited as a sign of the end, and since the coming of Christ is mentioned in 2:28, there can be little doubt that the author thought the end was coming soon. In his time he was not alone in that view…but like every other Christian who stated it then or since, he was wrong. [Brown, The Epistles of John, 330.]

John Piper writes,

“Verse 18 begins, ‘Children, it is the last hour.’ That was 2,000 years ago. But the message of the New Testament is that when Christ came, we entered the "last days," and nobody but God knows how long they will last.” 

John MacArthur writes,

“The last times, the last hour began when Jesus arrived.” He’s talking about the incarnation. He goes on to say, “There's only two ages outlined for us in the New Testament. There is the present age and the age to come. The present age is an evil age. In Galatians 1:4 Paul characterizes it as evil. We're in it, all of humanity has been in it since the Fall.” What MacArthur would call the church age is an evil age?

According to all these men we, all of us here today are living in the "last hour." John told his readers 2,000 years ago that it was the “last hour” and today it is still the “last hour.” That is a very long hour.

Let's examine what the Bible says about the “end times, last days, last hour” to see if we can come to an understanding of their meaning. I think that most everyone would agree that the last days had begun by the time Christ came into the world.

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. Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV

The writer of Hebrews says that they (the first century Christians) were in the last days. Most Christians would agree that the last days began around the time of Christ. The big debate arises over the timing of the last days end? Hopefully, our study today will help us answer that question.

In order to understand the term "last days,” let's look at how the phrase was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bible's first use of the phrase "last days" is found in Genesis.

Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. Genesis 49:1 ESV

I don’t think that this is a very good translation. Young’s translates it as “the latter end of the days.” The KJV says, “in the last days.” The Complete Jewish Bible has:

Then Ya`akov called for his sons and said, "Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the acharit-hayamim. Genesis 49:1 CJB

The "acharit- hayamim" is the Hebrew for the "last days." Consider carefully to whom the phrase "last days" is primarily addressed. Jacob is talking to his sons (the twelve tribes of Israel), and he pronounces the general evil that would come upon them. So, clearly, Israel is the subject of the last days, and the last days concern Israel:

‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’? And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.” Numbers 24:13-14 ESV

Here again the vision is concerning the Jews. It was concerning what would happen to Israel in the last days.

Isaiah predicts these last days as well.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, Isaiah 2:1-2 ESV

The vision was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. This is speaking of the New Covenant that is inaugurated in the "last days." Nowhere is the phrase "last days" used to refer to the physical earth, but, rather, it is referring to the "last days" of the nation Israel.

Moses confirms that the "last days" of the Jews would be characterized by devastation and their ultimate scattering.

And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. Deuteronomy 4:27 ESV
When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. Deuteronomy 4:30 ESV

He continues this idea toward the end of the book.

For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 31:29 ESV

“The days to come.”  CJB has "acharit- hayamim." Moses says "evil will befall you in the latter days." Moses was leading the company of Jews. There is no reference to Gentiles being the subject of these latter days.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. Jeremiah 23:16-20 ESV

Throughout the book of Jeremiah, God condemns the Jewish false prophets. Here Jeremiah predicts that when these latter days come, the people of God will understand what He will do to the nation in destroying it and punishing it for its wickedness.

God, through Ezekiel, warns Israel (My people) of their destruction by the hand of foreign nations.

You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. Ezekiel 38:16 ESV

Michael the archangel spoke to Daniel, associating the latter days with Daniel's people.

and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.” Daniel 10:14 ESV

The phrase "your people" is referring to Israel. Israel is Daniel's people. The time of this writing is about 536 BC. He says that the vision of what will happen to Israel in the latter days is a long way off--"the vision is for days yet to come." So, in Daniel's time, the "last days" were a long way off.

Hosea talks about how the elect remnant will turn to God in the "last days."

Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days. Hosea 3:5 ESV

Finally, in Micah, the prophet states that the last days involve the destruction of physical Israel and the establishment of true Israel.

Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Micah 3:12 ESV
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, Micah 4:1 ESV

In order to understand these verses, we must understand that there are two Israels.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, Romans 9:6 ESV

What does that mean? It means that within national Israel is "true Israel," or "spiritual Israel." Most of Israel was faithless; only a remnant was redeemed. Those of faith made up the remnant.

Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” John 1:47 ESV

Yeshua is saying that Nathanael is a true Israelite, not simply an outward one.

Israel is not a term like Ammon, Moab, Greece, or Rome. Israel cannot be defined in terms of physical descent or understood simply on the human side because it is created not by blood or soil but by the promise of God. Romans 9:6 clearly teaches us that there are two Israels. There is ethnic, physical, national Israel, and there is true, spiritual Israel that consists of God's chosen people.  The Apostle Paul explains this in Galatians 3:

just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:6-7 ESV

Who are Abraham's true children? They are those of faith and not those of physical descent.

So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:9 ESV
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. Galatians 3:16 ESV

Notice who the promise is to. It is to Abraham and to his seed (singular) who is Christ. We only get in on the blessing by our relationship with Christ.

And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:29 ESV

It is evident, or at least it should be, that physical Israel was the main subject involved in these texts dealing with the "last days."

The nation of Israel has not existed for nearly 2000 years. National Israel was destroyed in A.D. 70. Those in the Middle East who affirm themselves as Israel have no right to do so.

Many people today still consider the Jewish people as a race. After the destruction of Jerusalem, however, the nation of Israel, after the flesh, was scattered throughout the earth and all tribal relations were lost. This scattering was made immutable due to the fact that all tribal genealogical records were destroyed with the Temple in A.D. 70. The simple fact is that there is no existing Jewish race today. Consider the following quotations:

The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1973) The Jews As A Race: The findings of physical anthropology show that, contrary to the popular view, there is no Jewish race. Anthropornetric measurements of Jewish groups in many parts of the world indicate that they differ greatly from one another with respect to all the important physical characteristics. (vol. 12, page 1054)

Today, being a Jew simply means that one is of the Judaistic religion or a convert to it, or else in a "brotherhood" of those who are. Therefore, being a Jew has nothing to do with race. We are familiar with a number of notable figures claiming to be Jews such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Arnold.  They are, in fact, merely converts to the religion of Judaism.

There is no Jewish race or nation today. God put an end to Judaism in A.D. 70. The "last days" were the "last days" of Israel. The last days ended when the nation of Israel ended.

Let's move into the New Testament and see if we can't verify these truths. In the book of Acts, we find a profound statement made by Peter (a Jew) to a multitude of Jews out of every nation.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. Acts 2:14-18 ESV

Let me ask you a couple of questions here. To whom is Peter talking? Clearly, he is talking to the men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem. When did Peter say this? He said this in the first century.

Peter explicitly says, “This is what was uttered through the prophet Joel.” He then explains that what this multitude of Jews was experiencing was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel. Peter is telling this multitude that they (the first century Jews) were in the last days. Beyond this, he goes on to describe what would take place during these last days:

And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. Acts 2:19-20 ESV

Notice how this corresponds to what Yeshua said in Matthew 24:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29 ESV

Yeshua spoke these words in answer to the disciples question as to when the end of the age would come.

Yeshua left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:1-3 ESV

Their question was two-fold. First they ask, "When will these things be?" From verse 2, we see that the "these things” relates to the temple buildings. In verse 1, the disciples point them out to Yeshua who tells them that "All' 'these things' shall be destroyed." It should be clear that they are asking, "WHEN will the temple be destroyed? When will our house be left desolate?" After all, Yeshua had just told them about the coming judgment on Jerusalem (Matt. 23) and about how not one stone would be left upon another. The disciples' response is "When?" That makes sense, doesn't it? I would hope so.

The second part of their question is, "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age." If you compare all three synoptic gospel accounts, you will see that the disciples considered His "coming" and "the end of the age" to be accompanying events with the destruction of the temple. The disciples had one thing, and only one thing, on their minds--the destruction of the temple; and with its destruction, they connected the coming of Messiah and the end of the age. Their question was, "When will the end be?" Yeshua tells them quite clearly that the end would come in "This generation":

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 ESV

The word "generation" here is genea which means: "those who are contemporaries or live at the same time." A biblical generation was forty years. Yeshua is saying that everything that he had talked about concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and His coming would take place within forty years.

Stephen J. Cole writes, “Some have said that John mistakenly thought that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Such a view undermines the divine inspiration of Scripture. If you buy into it, you cannot trust anything that the apostles wrote. You become the judge of Scripture according to what strikes you as true. This view also impugns the intelligence of the apostles. John had heard Jesus say that no one knows the hour of His coming (Matt 24:36). It is not reasonable to accuse him of being mistaken here about the time of the second coming.” But John, in fact, did think that Yeshua would come in his live time because Yeshua said his coming would be in that generation.

Ray Steadman writes, “John, of course, was present when our Lord himself said to his own disciples, speaking of his coming again, ‘of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son [i.e., himself, as a man], but the Father only’, (Matthew 24:36 RSV).” They didn’t know the day or hour, but they knew it would happen within their generation.

Zane Hodges on the “last hour” writes, “Needless to say, this claim has been derided by unbelievers and taken as yet another proof that, though the early Christians expected the Second Advent in their own lifetime, history now shows that they were wrong.” He then goes on to explain that, “God experiences time differently than man does since ‘with the Lord one day is as a thousand years…’ 2 Peter 3:8.” Yes, God is beyond time, but the Bible is written to men who are bound by time. The Lord said that he would return in that generation, and he kept his word.

The “last hour” would end with the destruction of the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem. It was not the "last hour" of the earth or the "end" of the world. He is talking about the "last hour" or "end" of the age of Judaism. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29 ESV

Modern commentators generally understand this and view what follows the tribulation as the end of the world. But is that consistent with biblical language? Is this talking about global destruction?

If you are not familiar with the apocalyptic language of the Tanakh, you will not understand what Christ is saying here. This language is common among the Old Covenant prophets. This idea is seen clearly as we look at passages where mention is made of the destruction of a state and government. To the uninformed, the language used seems to set forth the end of the world.

The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. Isaiah 13:1 ESV

In this chapter, God is talking about the judgment that is to fall upon Babylon. The word "oracle" is the Hebrew word massa': an utterance, chiefly a doom. This introduction sets the stage for the subject matter in this chapter. If we fail to recognize this, our interpretations of Isaiah 13 can go just about anywhere our imagination wants them to go. It is essential that the interpreter understand that this is not an oracle against the universe or world but rather against the nation of Babylon.

Wail, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Isaiah 13:6 ESV
Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Isaiah 13:9-13 ESV

We must remember that Isaiah is speaking about the destruction of Babylon even though it sounds as though worldwide destruction is in view. The terminology of a context cannot be expanded beyond the scope of the subject under discussion. The spectrum of language surely cannot go outside the land of Babylon. If you were a Babylonian and Babylon was destroyed, would it seem like the world was destroyed? Yes! But it was THEIR world that was destroyed.

Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Isaiah 13:17 ESV

This is a historical event that took place in 539 BC. When the Medes destroyed Babylon, the Babylonian world came to an end. This destruction is said (verse 6) to be from the Almighty, and the Medes constitute the means that God uses to accomplish this task. This is apocalyptic language. This is the way the Bible discusses the fall of a nation. This is obviously figurative language. God did not intend for us to take this literally. If we take this literally, the world ended in 539 BC and we're not really here.

As we have seen, the "latter days" concerned the nation of Israel. In fact, the very first mention of the "last days", as we have seen, was by Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. More importantly, Jacob was addressing the twelve sons, or tribes, when speaking about the evil that would befall those tribes in the last days. The question is, how does this relate to the language of Yeshua and Peter in speaking of the sun, moon, and the stars? Do you remember Joseph's dream about his family?

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” Genesis 37:9-10 ESV

Here we see Jacob, his wife, and the heads of the twelve tribes identified as the sun, moon, and stars, respectively. They represented the foundation of the whole Jewish nation. When Yeshua, therefore, spoke of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, and the stars falling from heaven, He was referring to the complete dissolution of the Jewish state. Peter was addressing the same event. In the prophetic language, great commotions and revolutions upon earth are often represented by commotions and changes in the heavens. None of these things literally took place!

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) said,

The figurative language of the prophets is taken from the analogy between the world natural and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic. Accordingly, the world natural, consisting of heaven and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in prophecy; and the things in that world signify the analogous things in this. For the heavens and the things therein signify thrones and dignities, and those who enjoy them: and the earth, with the things thereon, the inferior people; and the lowest parts of the earth, called Hades or Hell, the lowest or most miserable part of them. Great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, are put for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract and overthrow them; the creating of a new heaven and earth, and the passing of an old one; or the beginning and end of a world, for the rise and ruin of a body politic signified thereby. The sun, for the whole species and race of kings, in the kingdoms of the world politic; the moon, for the body of common people considered as the king's wife; the stars, for subordinate princes and great men; or for bishops and rulers of the people of God, when the sun is Christ. Setting of the sun, moon, and stars; darkening the sun, turning the moon into blood, and falling of the stars, for the ceasing of a kingdom."(Observations on the Prophecies, Part i. chap. ii).

The writer of Hebrews clearly says that they were in the "last days." He began his discourse comparing the fading Old Covenant with the Everlasting New Covenant.

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. Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV

Yeshua was speaking in the last days. What last days? The last days of the Old Covenant age.

for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26 ESV

When was it that Yeshua appeared? He was born, not at the beginning, but at the end of the ages. To suppose that he meant that Yeshua's incarnation came near the end of the world would be to make his statement false. The world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. Yeshua was manifest at the end of the Jewish age. Peter says the same thing:

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. 1 Peter 1:20 ESV

Yeshua came during the last days of the age that was the Old Covenant age, the Jewish age. That age came to an end with the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

Certainly, the writers of the New Testament were very aware of those passages we have studied involving the "last days" of Judah and Jerusalem. Therefore, it is safe and logical to say that the New Testament writers believed that they were in the "last days" of the Jewish age. Paul believed they were living in the end of the Jewish age.

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV

Paul said that the end of the ages was coming upon them--first century saints. James taught the same thing.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. James 5:1-3 ESV

Clearly James taught that these men were in the "last days." Lazarus takes it even further when he says:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18 ESV

John believed they were in the last hour of the Jewish age. There are many other passages that could be used to support the fact that the first-century believers, particularly the apostles, believed that they were in the end of the Jewish age or the "last days" of the Jewish age. The writer of Hebrews says:

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 ESV

Commenting on this verse, Arthur Pink wrote:

There seems little room for doubt that the first reference here is to the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth, which was now very nigh for this epistle was written within less than eight years before Jerusalem was captured by Titus. That terrible catastrophe had been foretold, again and again, by Israel's prophets, and was plainly announced by the Lord Yeshua in Luke 21. The approach of that dreadful ‘day’ could be plainly seen or perceived by those possessing spiritual discernment: the continued refusal of the Nation to repent of their murder of Christ, and the abandoning of Christianity for an apostate Judaism by such large numbers, clearly presaged the bursting of the storm of God's judgment.” [Pink-Volume 2 Commentary on Hebrews (10:25).]

John Brown writes this on Hebrews 10:25:

“The day” here referred to seems plainly the day of the destruction of the Jewish State and Church. That day had been foretold by many of the prophets, and with peculiar minuteness by our Lord Himself: (Luke 21:8-12)...These events were now very near; and the harbingers of their coming were well fitted to quicken to holy diligence the Hebrew Christians, that they might escape the coming desolation.

The approaching day was the same day that would come in a little while, according to the author of Hebrews:

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; Hebrews 10:37 ESV

"For yet a little while.”  The Greek here is very expressive and emphatic. The author used a word which signifies "a little while," but then for further emphasis, he added a particle meaning "very." He intensified it even more by repeating it, thus literally rendering this clause as: "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come."

The end was getting near; it was the "last hour." John is referring to the "last hour" of the Old Covenant age. Jerusalem, the temple, and the nation would be destroyed during that first generation of Christianity (Mt. 10:23; 24:34; Luke 21:20, 22, 32).

Contrary to popular opinion, we are not living in the "last days" but rather the first days of the New Covenant age. The New Covenant age is "the eternal covenant."

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Yeshua, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, Hebrews 13:20 ESV

An eternal covenant has no “last days” or “last hour.” We are living in the first days of the eternal age. Missing these important time statements cause people to misapply, by nearly 2000 years, many verses in the Bible. The "last hour" spoken of by John was the "last hour" of the Jewish old covenant age which became obsolete and passed away in the A.D. 70 judgment and destruction of Jerusalem.

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