I was due to be at Lee Abbey in Devon this week, teaching on eschatology (thinking about ‘the last things’) and the end of the world. Sadly, Covid prevented me going, so I recorded five videos and did two Zoom question and answer sessions.
The five videos are embedded below; the Zoom sessions were not recorded. I introduce them in the context of the audience at Lee Abbey, but the content is useable in other contexts.
For more details on each of the sections, see my Grove booklet Kingdom, Hope, and the End of the World.
Introduction: I make four opening claims:
- The end of the world is less important than you think—people obsessed with end-times timetables are wasting our time.
- The end of the world is more important than you think—it actually underpins much of what the NT says.
- This is about reading texts in the NT well.
- But this is also an important pastoral issue.
Session 1: the language of the two ages
- The important of the theme of the kingship or reign of God in scripture.
- How God intervenes in the world, from mere intervention to recreating the world.
- The language of the ‘two ages’ in the NT, ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’.
- Jewish expectation of the age to come, transformed by Jesus.
- Christian belief in ‘partially realised eschatology’, or the ‘now and not yet’ of the kingdom.
- Discipleship as moving from one realm (of ‘this world’) to another (the kingdom of God).
Session 2: Making sense of Matthew 24 and Mark 13
- Comparing the two passages, noting Matthew 24–25 continues with a focus on the parousia of Jesus which Mark 13 lacks.
- The double question in Matthew 24.3, the occurrence of the term parousia, and the key verse Matt 24.34 ‘All these things will happen…’
- The parallel passages in Dan 7, Acts 2, and Zech 12.
- What Matt 24 is actually about.
Session 3: rapture, tribulation, and the number of the beast.
- Why I want to be left behind.
- What the NT says about tribulation (it is a part of Christian discipleship for all).
- Who is the ‘beast’ in Rev 13.18, and what the number of the beast means.
Session 4: Israel, and the pastoral implications of all this.
- How Jesus takes up OT language about Israel, gentiles are grafted in, so the two become one, and there is no expectation in the NT that ethnic Jews will return to the land.
- What are the pastoral implications of all this?
I hope you find them useful!
Many thank to David Watkis for creating the image of the apocalypse (in some form!) taking place over Lee Bay!