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The last things, or eschatology, is the study of what will happen when Jesus Christ arrives a second time to make all things right and to judge the world. The term eschatology is a combination of the Greek words eschatos, meaning “last,” and logos, meaning “study of.” So, eschatology is the study of the end. How does the story of the world end? Putting the question this way makes it clear why so many people are fascinated by the study. Readers always want to know how a story ends, and they wait for it with eager expectation. The Bible harnesses that expectation and tells us how to wait actively with hope for the ending of history.


There are several ways to divide the various things that fall under the heading of eschatology. Theologians use the terms general eschatology and personal eschatology to distinguish between things that happen to the cosmos and things that happen to the individual, respectively. These eschatologies are intertwined. The Bible's eschatology assures us that God's plan to sum up all things in Christ will certainly be accomplished and that God's children—those whom Christ has redeemed—will enjoy Him forever.

In terms of general eschatology, the entire time between the first coming and second coming of Christ constitutes the last days, according to Hebrews 1:1–4. The Bible thus contrasts the way revelation came before Christ with how God speaks to us now, in the last (eschatos) days. To understand this point creates a certain urgency regarding how we wait. There is no room for idleness. We must be about the business of our Father's kingdom.

In general eschatology, theologians include the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the millennium, the final judgment, heaven and hell, the renewal of the cosmos (also known as the removal of the curse of sin), and the final state. In personal eschatology, theologians speak of death, the immortality of the soul, and the intermediate state.

All Christians agree that Jesus Christ is coming back a second time, in glory, to judge the living and the dead. Christians also agree that the final judgment will occur after the resurrection of everyone from the dead, some to everlasting life and others to everlasting death. All Christians agree on the existence of a literal heaven and a literal hell. All Christians agree on the renewal of the cosmos and the end of death for believers, as well as the immortality of the soul.

Christians disagree regarding how some of these events relate to one another in time. Christians also disagree on the nature of the millennium and its relationship in time to Christ's return. (Revelation 20 is the only place where the thousand years, or millennium, is mentioned.) Some believe Christ is coming back before His literal one-thousand-year reign on earth. This belief is called premillennialism. Very few Reformed theologians have held to this view, though historical premillennialism has had its advocates among the Reformed. Most Reformed theologians have affirmed either amillennialism or postmillennialism. Postmillennialism holds that the second coming of Christ will occur after a golden age of Christian influence in the world wherein the majority of people become Christians and the laws of the nations reflect biblical principles. Amillennialism holds that the thousand years is a symbolic number referring to the entire time between the first and second comings of Christ and that Christ is certainly coming after that reign.

Christians also differ in their understanding of the intermediate state. Some hold to the idea of soul sleep, though this view has little to no support in Scripture. The standard Christian view holds that the believer's soul goes immediately into the presence of God at death and his body rests in the grave until the resurrection. When Christians pass into glory, they begin to enjoy the beatific vision, the direct vision of God Himself for which we were created.


The second coming of Christ will involve the reversal of the curse that was placed on creation at the time of the fall. The creation will no longer groan under the weight of the curse. It will be set free from its bondage to decay (Rom. 8:18–25). All things will be made new. There will be no more tears, no more death, no more mourning, no more pain, for all of these things will have passed away (Rev. 21:1–8). The enemy Satan will be defeated and judged, no more to accuse and attack the people of God (20:7–10). All men will stand before the judgment throne of Christ. Those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will inherit the kingdom. Those whose names are not found will be cast into outer darkness (20:11–15).

Keith Mathison

The Coming of the Kingdom

Tabletalk magazine

Christ has already been raised from the dead as the firstfruits of the final resurrection of all who are ‘in’ Him. Now Christ is reigning, subduing His enemies. The very last enemy to be destroyed is death, and its destruction will coincide with Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of Christians.

Dennis Johnson

The First and Second Resurrection

Tabletalk magazine