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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
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Milton S. Terry
 

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"The End of the Age"

By  Milton S. Terry

 "The End of the Age."-Matt. xxiv. 3.

 

      "The common translation 'the end of the world' has been a delusion to many readers of the English Bible, and this could hardly have been otherwise. But it is very strange that so many learned writers, who have property translated and explained the consummation of the age, should have paid so little regard to the question, What age is intended? They generally assume without question that the Gospel or Messianic age is meant. But, according to the whole trend of Gospel teaching, that age had not come when Jesus uttered this prophecy. It was only 'near' or 'at hand.' Now the uniform teaching of the

      New Testament is that Christ's whole ministry fell in the end of the days, or last days of an age,. But surely it was not in the end of the Messianic age; that age still stretches on into the indefinite future. It was toward the close of the Mosaic, Jewish or pre-Messianic eon, and near the beginning of the Christian eon, that God brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel revelation. If, now Christ and His apostles lived and labored near the close of an eon, it is obviously an error to represent them as living in an eon which had not yet fully opened in their day, and which they spoke of as about to come.

      "Here, then, arises a most important question in this discussion; namely: What was the. end of the age of which Jesus spoke ? The age itself was the pre-Messianic ; for the New Testament writers never represent themselves as in the first days, or the beginning of the age, but in its last days. At what point, then, are we to understand 'the end' ? Some have said ,at the crucifixion, when Jesus said, It is finished; others designate the resurrection of Jesus ; a few fix upon His ascension. But many teach that the day of Pentecost was the transition point where we must fix the end of the old dispensation and the beginning of the new. To all these theories alike there are two fatal objections. (1) That they are irreconcilable with the statement of Jesus that the Gospel must be first preached unto all the nations before the and. (2) That the apostles, long after the day of Pentecost, represent themselves living in the last days, and near the end of the age. It is a begging of the whole question, and a dogmatic assumption, to say as Stuart does that the 'last days ' in the New Testament denote the period of the Christian dispensation. Such a. misuse of the phrase has no warrant in the New Testament. The disciples recognised themselves its in the last times of an eon that was to be succeeded by the kingdom and glory of their Lord.. At what point, then, shall we understand the end? Was there any great crisis to mark such a, consummation or any notable sign by which the end of the pre-Messianic age might be known?

      "Is it not strange that any careful student of our Lord's words should fail to understand His answer to this very question? The disciples asked, When shall it be? Jesus proceeded to foretell a variety of things which they would live to see. He also foretold the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem which we know to have been most accurately fulfilled; no prophecy of the downfall of the Jewish temple and metropolis could have been more explicit. But having told them of all these things, He added: 'When ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that it [or He] is nigh-at the door. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away until all these things be accomplished.' The ruin of the temple and its cultus was the great sign which marked the end of the pre-Messianic age."

Dr. M.S. Terry,
Methodist Review, 1887.

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