BIBLICAL FULFILLMENT
Little Children "It is the Last Hour"
I am Jessie Mills, Ph.D.
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Little Children “It is the Last Hour”

 

I. Introduction

A. This and similar passages are used to suggest that Christians now living in the last days of earth’s existence!

B. Should this be the proper interpretation, it would create serious doubt regarding much of Christ’s, as well as the apostles teaching during the first century.

C. Who then, was John exhorting to remain through a crisis known as the tribulation?

D. Should we, in the 20th century, consider John’s letters to be nebulous or of inexpugnable matter?

E. Or, should we understand, that John’s letters were written to a particular people, dealing with a particular time?

 

II. The Passage Setting, 1 John 2:18.

A. John had obviously written to those Christians who left Jerusalem as the remnant.

B. John wrote to exhort the Christians living in that period to remain faithful to the teaching they had received.

1. Gnosticism was rampant, thus John warns against false teachers that they, the apostles, had not sent.

2. Peter wrote to the same remnant, as that of John, 1 Pet. 1:1.

3. The remnant had left Jerusalem with the expectation that the land of Israel, Jerusalem and the temple would soon be destroyed.

4. After leaving Jerusalem, the remnant’s communication regarding the affairs of Jerusalem was extremely limited.

5. Peter, James, and John were their only source of communication.

6. Thus, James wrote one letter James 1:1. Peter wrote two letters 1 Pet. 1:1, and 2 Pet. 3:1, and John wrote three letters, to the remnant informing them of events “at hand,” James 5:9.

7. The passage in question in the KJV reads “last time.”  The literal translation of Greek text reads “last hour,” which, if accepted, would give credibility to many other passages, which are turned over to last things, and would cause them to have a Biblical meaning rather than traditional.  “The last hour” denotes a thing then in progress of being fulfilled.

8. Peter, James, and John exhorted the Christian remnant to total commitment in Christ.

9. They are called to patience, 1 Pet. 2:20-21, John 2:24-26.

 

III. Other phrases which relate to “last times”

A. Phrases dealing with an appointed time warrant a Biblical study, not a traditional one.

B. Some of the different phrases are:

1. “Latter days” (or last days), Dan. 10:14, has reference to the total annihilation of Judaism in the first century.  Daniel 12:7 confirms as much.  The power of the once holy people was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD.

2. And it shall be in the “last days.”  This is almost universally accepted as prophecy of the beginning of the Lord’s Kingdom on Pentecost, and on that day Peter stood and quoted Joel 2:28-32, and said, this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.  But, it took place in the “last days.”  The “last days” was the beginning of the end of the “last days” of Israel and Judaism.

3. “The great and terrible day of the Lord,” Mal. 4:5. This phrase, and passage represents the forth coming judgment upon all Israel who would not receive Christ, Lk. 21:20, Mat. 23:38, Zech. 14:1-3.

4. Elijah was to come before the “great and terrible day of the Lord.”

5. Elijah did come, and was John The Baptist, Matt. 11:13-14:17:10-13.

6. “The day of the Lord,” 1 Cor. 5:5. “The day of the Lord” was to be a judgment day.  2 Cor. 1:14 exhortation to the individual Christians who might live until “the day of the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:7, none of the Christians living then would be without all spiritual and miraculous gifts until “the day of the Lord.”

7. “The day of God.” 2 Pet. 3:12, a day of judgment like that of Ezek. 7:1-13. 2 Pet. 3:1 informs the Christian remnant that this was the second letter written to them, reminding them of what the prophets, and apostles had taught them regarding the destruction of Israel.  The first prophet was Moses, Deut. 28:49-68. The minor and major prophets followed the pattern of Moses, regarding the destruction of Israel.  Jesus said that this nation was responsible for the death of all the prophets sent to them.  Thus, Peter outlines a complete destruction in 2 Pet. 3:10-12, and then follows with his exhortation to those who would remain after the calamity, 3:17.

8. Have we been so eager to teach dooms day lessons that we have misunderstood 1 Pet. 4:17 “the household of God,” to mean in our generation the household of Christ?

9. “At hand,” “already as it were in our mind,” Rom. 10:8. Deut. 30:14, of a time concerning things imminent and soon to come to pass, Matt. 10:23, 16:28, 24:32, 26:18, 26:64, Mark 13:30-31, Rev. 1:1-3, 22:10.  Of the near advent of persons (or) of Christ’s return from heaven, Phil. 4:5 with the addition right at the door, James 5:9, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, pages 164-165.

 

IV. Does John 3:18-19 teach a renovation of Earth, or an annihilation of Earth?

A. John was aware of the impending destruction of Israel.  He was also aware that He, Himself, would be living when the Lord returned to fulfill all prophecy regarding Himself, and Israel, John 21:22; Luke 21:22; 22:37; and 24:44.

B. With this knowledge, did John mislead the Christian remnant into believing that he was speaking to, and about a generation some 2,000 years later.  Of what interest would such information have been to this Christian remnant, then in dire distress’?

C. I suggest that John warned the remnant, of the passing of Israel, which, when done, would bring into a being a new order of things  If the latter be true, then it would be in keeping with God’s own decrees made through the prophets?

1. Gen. 8:21, “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing as I have done.”

2. Eccl. 1:4 “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”

3. Psalm 93:1, The Lord reigns; the Lord is clothed with majesty; the Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength; indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.”

4. Psalm 104:5, “He established the earth upon its foundation, so that it will not be moved.”

5. Psalm 119:90, “Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations:  thou didst establish the earth, and it stands.”

6. Psalm 148:1-6, speaking of the heights, all His angels, sun and moon, all stars of light, highest heavens, the waters, earth he says...”  For He commanded and they were created.  He has also established them forever and ever., He has made a decree which will not pass away;

7. That decree was made as an oath to Himself in Gen. 8:21, “never again.”  In chapter nine of Genesis, God made a covenant with Noah.  The covenant, and the decree, are two different matters.

 

V. What early Christians say about annihilation of earth:

A. The Christian System, Alexander Campbell, page 140, “Jesus was to have appeared, and did appear in the end of the world or last days of the first kingdom of God.”

B. The Christian System, Alexander Campbell, page 228, “It is almost universally understood to mean a new state of things, not of persons.  A peculiar era, in which all things are to be made new such as the formation of a new Church on the day of Pentecost.”

C. The Christian System, Alexander Campbell, page 258, “God re-creates, regenerates but annihilates nothing:  and therefore the present earth is not to be annihilated.”

D. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary on John, 1844 edition, “Little children, it is the last time, 1 John 2:18, this is the last dispensation of Grace, and mercy to mankind:  the present age is the conclusion of the Jewish State, as the temple and holy city are shortly to be destroyed.”

E. J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia, page 328, 1887 edition, “Of 1 John 2:18, New Testament writers speak of the end as fast approaching, we have also seen what that expression refers to.  Not the close of human history, nor the final dissolution of the material creation; but the close of the Jewish Aeon or dispensation, and the abolition and removal of the order of things instituted and ordained by divine wisdom under that economy.

F. History of the Christian Church, Philip Schaff, Vol. 1, page 748, says of First John, “It is a circular letter of the venerable apostle to his beloved children in Asia Minor, exhorting them to a holy life of faith and love in Christ, and earnestly warning them against the Gnostics.”

 

I suggest that antichrist already existed among the remnant in Asia.  Paul, in the middle of the century, warned against antichrist, and said, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” 2 Thes 2:7.  I further suggest, that neither John, Peter, or James wrote letters in regard to the annihilation of earth.  Perhaps there is a lack of spirituality on the part of those who would preach scare tactics from 1 John 2:18-19.  For God said, “I will never again destroy earth.”


 

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