Since I’ve been studying eschatology, there has been a great deal of pushback. First it came from dispensationalists. This was expected since it’s where I spent most of my time and effort. It’s the dominant view today. In fact, it’s dominated the prophetic landscape for nearly 200 years. End-time thinking, and prophetic prognostication goes back further as Francis X. Gumerlock demonstrates in his book The Day and the Hour.
Eschatology of the Late Great Planet Earth, Left Behind, and Chuck Smith variety have done social, political, and cultural damage with claims that Jesus was going to return within a certain time frame (1948-1988), that we are (were) the “terminal generation,” and signs are everywhere that the rapture is just around the corner even though the so-called rapture is said to be an event not preceded by signs. (See my book 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered) Since we are said to be living at the end of prophetic history, so the theory goes, what we see happening in our world today is a prophetic inevitability. As a result, the world is a sinking ship, and you would never rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic.
10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered
Many Christians are beginning to take a second look at a prophetic system that they were told is the only one that takes the literal interpretation of the Bible seriously. Gary DeMar has taken on the task of exposing some of the popular myths foisted upon the public by prophetic speculators.Buy Now
The main factor in these studies comes down to the timing of the coming of the Lord. Is it exclusively a future event? Was it an event that took place before that first-century church generation passed away in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and the end of the attendant Old Covenant system (Matt. 24:3). Or are there two comings? One in that first generation (Matt. 24:34) and a coming yet to take place?
The evidence for a soon coming of Jesus to that first generation of believers (to the Jew first) is overwhelming (e.g., Matt. 10:23; 16:27-28; 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 17 and 21; John 21:22). For example:
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer awaits the precious fruit of the soil—how patient he is for the fall and spring rains. You, too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. Do not complain about one another, brothers, so that you will not be judged. Look, the Judge is standing at the door!
Peter described it as “the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7). Earlier in his epistle he wrote that Jesus “has appeared in these last times for the sake of you” (1:20). Their time was the “last times,” covenantally speaking, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Such time markers fill the New Testament. The book of Revelation begins and ends by stating “for the time is near” (1:3; 22:10).
This is when it gets interesting. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 we find the following:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
We find the Lord’s Supper mentioned in Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; and Luke 22:19-20. There is no mention of Jesus’ coming in these Gospel accounts. Jesus states, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
Take note of “until He comes” in 1 Corinthians 11:26. The argument goes like this: If Jesus already came, then why do we still observe the Lord’s Supper” or, “If you say Jesus already came, then are saying we shouldn’t celebrate the Lord’s Supper?” Notice what the passage does not say: “Eat this bread and drink the cup … until He comes.” The logic of reading it this way could mean that since Jesus came in their generation (e.g., Matt. 24:30), there is no longer a requirement to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The verb καταγγέλλετε (katangellete) is a present indicative (“you show”), not an imperative (“show!”). Their celebrating the Lord’s Supper proclaimed Jesus’ death. There is no command to celebrate the Lord’s Supper only until Jesus’ comes. This is a misstatement of the text and changes its entire meaning.
Jesus was the Passover Lamb. He shed His blood for His people. The shedding of blood is no longer required. Jesus’ inaugurated a “new covenant.” Jesus’ shed blood did it once for all time. Bread (representing His body broken for us) and wine (representing His blood shed for us) are a feast, not a sacrificial meal. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). To practice the Lord’s Supper unworthily brought temporal judgment, being “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27; see Heb. 6:6; 10:29). To whom is Paul applying this warning? John Lightfoot comments:
Not all Christians, that walked not exactly according to the gospel rule…; but of those, that relapse and apostatize from the gospel of Judaism…. For when any, professing the gospel, so declined to Judaism [that is, reverted back to Judaism], that he put the blood of Christ in subordination to the Passover, and acknowledged nothing more in it, that was acknowledged in the blood of a lamb, and other sacrifices,—namely, that they were a mere commemoration and nothing else,— oh! How did he vilify that blood of the eternal covenant! He is ‘guilty of the blood of the Lord,’ who assents to the shedding of his blood, and gives his vote to his death, as inflicted for a ‘mere shadow,’ and nothing else;—which they [the Judaizers] did.
As a result, they “ate and drank judgment to themselves” (v. 29). It was a warning like what the Jews of Jesus’ day were given (Matt. 21-25) about the coming judgment on the temple and nation of Israel. See James Jordan’s commentary Matthew 23-25. The Judaizers were a major threat to the church. They were the New Testament’s antichrists (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:1-3; 2 John 7).
But what about the phrase “until He comes”? What coming is Paul describing? He’s describing the coming that the entire New Testament said was near (see above passages). There is no indication that 1 Corinthians 11:26 refers to any other coming. But why “until He comes” in judgment against Jerusalem that puts an end to the Old Covenant system? When Jesus prophesied that He would come and tear down the temple stone by stone, it was a warning. If anyone continued to hold on to the sterile stones of the temple and relied on earthly priests and animal sacrifices to atone for sin (Heb. 11), they would bring judgment down on themselves. This is why Jesus warned them to abandon the temple and city of Jerusalem and flee to escape God’s judgment (Matt. 24:16-20).
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are inside the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of punishment, so that all things which have been written will be fulfilled. Woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:20-24; Matt. 24:16).
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper week after week served as a testimony that the Jerusalem above (Gal 4:25-26), the heavenly Zion (Heb. 12:22-24), was the eternal city. Notice what Paul writes to the Thessalonians, a city where the Jews “formed a mob” that led to Paul and Silas fleeing to Berea (Acts 17:1-10).
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith toward God has gone out, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us as to the kind of reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:8-10).
Those who diminished the finished work of Christ and turned back to some form of Judaism would be judged in their own bodies (1 Cor. 11:30-34). We find something similar in 2 Thessalonians 1:
[W]e ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you indeed are suffering. For after all it is only right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us**, when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire** [Matt. 16:27-28], dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These people will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified among His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—because our testimony to you was believed (vv. 3-10).
Again, Paul is not describing some distant coming and retribution. Who was persecuting and afflicting them? “[F]or you also endured the same suffering at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they [the churches in Judea] did from the Jews…. With the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost” (2:14-16; also Matt. 23:32; Acts 7:51-53). Paul is not describing a distant future coming of Jesus.
Some critics get hung up on the use of the word “until,” as if it means, once that coming takes place, there is no longer any need for the Lord’s Supper. The use of “until” does not mean a full stop because at the heart of the Lord’s Supper is the proclamation of the Lord’s death (1 Cor. 11:26). That remains a constant reminder throughout the generations. After the judgment on Jerusalem, the Judaizers were essentially done away with as well as the symbol of the Old Covenant, the physical temple. But the proclamation of the Lord’s death and the reality of the new covenant are still needed as the Lord’s Supper was originally given (Matt 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; and Luke 22:19-20).
The use of “until” is not a full-stop indicator as it is used in 1 Corinthians 15:25 otherwise we have an obvious contradiction. Jesus’ reign is eternal. It does not stop when all His enemies are under His feet:
• [Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:32-33).
• Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:14).
• But to the Son He says:
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).
What is not eternal is the Old Covenant: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). Jesus’ kingdom does not come to an end even though the word “until” is used in 1 Corinthians 15:25.
Matthew 23-25: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary
James Jordan’s Matthew 23–25: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary is truly a biblical-theological approach to interpretation, using the Bible to interpret the Bible. He shows that the Bible is the best interpreter of itself.Buy Now
Consider this from Stephen’s testimony to his fellow Jews: “But as the time of the promise which God had assured to Abraham was approaching, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until ANOTHER KING AROSE OVER EGYPT WHO DID NOT KNOW JOSEPH” (Acts 7:17-18). Did Israel stop multiplying when this new king arose? Not at all. He tried to stop them from multiplying by afflicting them with taskmasters. “But the more the taskmasters afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel” (1:8-10). Not to be deterred in his tyranny, the king commanded the midwives to kill the male Israelite children at birth.
The use of “until” (ἄχρι οὗ/achri ou) in Acts 7:18 does not mean a full stop and the same is true when “until” (ἄχρι οὗ) is used in 1 Corinthians 15:25 and when “until” (ἄχρι οὗ) is used in 1 Corinthians 11:26.
The time markers in the New Testament, including 1 Corinthians are unmistakable:
• I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:4-8).
• But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away (1 Cor. 7:29-31; see 1 Peter 4:7).
• Now all these things happened to them [Israel] as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor. 10:11).
The use of “until He comes” in 1 Corinthians 11:26 needs to be understood in the full context of the New Testament (see above), and in particular 1 Corinthians. The use of “come” can’t be interpreted in isolation as an independent proof text. It’s sad that this is the way Bible interpretation is often done today. Moses Stuart explained the process this way:
In very many cases, the first thing has been to study theology the second, to read the Bible, in order to find proofs of what has already been adopted as matter of belief.
Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel,  1977), 590.
From Notes by Stuart in his edition of Johann August Ernesti’s Elements of Interpretation (Andover: Flagg and Gould, 1822), 75.