This series has been written from a futurist, pre-wrath, pre-millennialist perspective. The aim has been to derive a basic chronology for the end times from Scripture. I was prompted to write this because Audre explained that, in her experience, there is generally little teaching on these matters in her church. My concern when introducing people to study of the end-times is two-fold: that they will either get lost in the complex passages or that they will come with pre-conceived ideas that will result in forced, rather than natural, readings of the texts.
The basic chronology has been derived by:
- looking for markers of sequence in passages;
- assuming similar passages are referring to the same thing, unless there is warrant to infer otherwise;
- taking a futurist approach to interpretation where comparison of a passage with history shows poor correlation or absurdity; and
- understanding that Scripture involves progressive revelation: an idea is introduced and then later texts will expand upon it.
As diagrams can be confusing to some, I have avoided using them, and opted instead to present our chronology as a numbered list, to the extent that this is possible. It is important to note that various events happen in parallel and that it is difficult to settle on a precise chronology for others. Even within pre-wrath circles, some matters are debated. This chronology is repeated here.
- The Antichrist confirms a covenant or treaty with a term of 7 years, which probably includes provision for the rebuilding of the Temple; the 70th Week begins
- Satan is cast out of heaven and the Antichrist invades Israel and commits the Abomination of Desolation, 3.5 years after the confirmation of the covenant
- The Great Tribulation
- The heavens are darkened and the sign of Christ appears
- Christ appears in the sky in glory with His angels
- The saints are resurrected and gathered to meet Christ in the sky (the “Rapture”)
- The Day of the LORD: Christ pours out the wrath of God upon the wicked on earth
- The Battle of Armageddon: the Antichrist and his armies are defeated; Satan is bound and thrown into the Abyss
- Christ rules the earth from Jerusalem, his saints ruling the nations, for one thousand years (the “Millennium”)
- At the close of the Millennium, Satan is released from the Abyss to tempt the nations one last time; he and his rebellion are suppressed by God
- The general resurrection and Great White Throne Judgment
- (The new heavens and new earth)
Much of this information is set out in the Old Testament, but the New Testament is invaluable for:
- its confirmation that various texts are to be read futuristically;
- additional points about chronology;
- points of Christology; and
- general expansion of detail (e.g. the judgments of the Day of the LORD set out in Revelation).
Below I set out the key texts where these events can be found in Scripture.
|Covenant confirmed by the Antichrist||Daniel 9:27|
|Satan is cast out of heaven||Daniel 12:1|
|The Antichrist invades Israel||Ezekiel 38|
Daniel (8:9); 11:41, 45
Zechariah 12:2, 14:2
|The Abomination of Desolation||Isaiah 14:12-14|
Daniel 7:,8,25; (8:11-14); 9:27; 11:31, 36; 12:11
2 Thessalonians 2:3-11
Revelation 11:2; 13:4-6, 15
|The Great Tribulation||Jeremiah 30:7|
Daniel 7:21, 25; (8:24); 11:33-35; 12:1
Matthew 24:16-22, 29
Mark 13:15-20, 24
Revelation 6:9-11; 12:13-17; 13:5-7, 10
|The heavens are darkened||Isaiah 13:10|
|Christ appears with angels||Daniel 7:13|
1 Thessalonians 4:16
2 Thessalonians 1:7
|The resurrection and Rapture||Isaiah 26:19-21|
Luke 21:28, 36
1 Corinthians 15:23
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
2 Thessalonians 2:1
Revelation 7:9-17; 14:14-16; 20:4
|The Day of the LORD||Isaiah 2:12-21; 13:9-13; 26:19-21; 34|
Matthew 24:37-41, 51
2 Thessalonians 1:8
Revelation 6:15-17; 7:1-3; 8-10; 11:17-19; 14:17-20; 15-16
|The Battle of Armageddon||Ezekiel 38:18-39:11|
Revelation 16:13-16; 19:11-20:3
|The Millennium||Isaiah 2:1-4; 65:20|
Matthew 19:28; 25:31, 34
1 Corinthians 15:24
|The final rebellion||Revelation 20:7-10|
|The Great White Throne||Revelation 20:11-15|
|The new heavens and new earth||Isaiah 65:17|
2 Peter 3:13
Further texts could be added, but these serve as a good foundation.
I have recommended modern authors and resources in this series, because I believe they will take account of data to which the Fathers did not have access. However, I am conscious that readers with an interest in patristics may wish to consult patristic texts that deal with these eschatological matters (in addition, the Didache mentions that Antichrist in the closing sections).
The Fathers who tend to espouse views of the kind promoted in this series do not necessarily agree on all points – therefore, they are something of a Venn Diagram, with overlaps and distinctions. One can also find antisemitic ideas (such as that the Antichrist will be a Jew, which view I categorically deny). Furthermore, as they did not format their texts as diagrams, lists, and tables, they are not as convenient as modern texts for seeing passages of Scripture linked together and a chronology of events presented.
Nevertheless, for the sake of providing patristic material that has much in common with the framework presented here, I suggest the following.
- The Didache: chapter 16
- Hippolytus of Rome:
- Jerome (note: although generally futurist, he was not premillennialist):
- John Chrysostom:
This series has provided a framework to aid in the interpretation of eschatological passages. There is a great deal of eschatological material in the Bible. Various points have been mentioned in passing as tangential to our aim here. I have avoided the question of how close we may be to the end and the relationship (if any) of climate change to the Day of the LORD. In considering the elements of the end times chronology, the reader is encouraged to focus on the coming of the Lord, but to keep an open mind regarding the times in which we live. The end times are not symbols, but actual events. Accordingly, those events have sequence, causes, and effects.