STAND & COMFORT Newsletter
Email NEWSLETTER #34 (Vol 3 No 1)
By Ed Tarkowski

THE ONLY NT DESCRIPTION OF "END" (Strong's, telos)

In the article Mark 13:24-27 Refutes Matthew 24:29-31 As For The Jews on my home page, I show that Matthew 24:29-31 must include the rapture of the Church because it's the same scenario as in the verses from Mark. In Mark 13, the Posttribulational gathering of saints includes both the spirits of dead saints in heaven and saints who have passed through the tribulation period:

Mark 13:27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Though these verses depict a clear Posttribulational coming of Christ for His Church, there is no mention or indication of a Pretribulational coming. If the Pretribulational doctrine were true, this would be a major omission in these chapters since Jesus was explaining "the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world."

This fact is an important foundation for this article. In his description of the tribulation period in Matthew 24, Jesus described some events within Daniel's 70th week and then told us the "end" was not yet. What I want to determine here is what does it mean when Scripture mentions the "end," and is there more than one "end" in reference to the second coming? If there is not, any mention of the "end" would then consistently refer to the same scenario in Matthew 24/Mark 13.

THE ONE NT DESCRIPTION OF "END"

In his book, "The Church and the Tribulation," Robert Gundry says this:

"In the entire New Testament there is but one place where we can determine with exactness the eschatological meaning of the 'end.' That place is the Olivet Discourse [Matthew 24; Mark 13], where the term indubitably refers to the close of the tribulation. None of the subsequent references to the 'end' distinguishes a different end from that of which Jesus spoke. And although in other connections 'end' is a common, general term, because of Jesus' description in the Olivet Discourse it carries a technical sense in subsequent eschatological teaching. We see confirmation of the technical eschatological meaning of the 'end' in the lack of qualifying phrases and clauses when the term appears in the epistles and Revelation. That lack implies something well-known and already defined" (p. 141).

What does the "end" look like in Matthew 24, its only description in Scripture? Once we establish that defined outline, then we have a definite scenario to refer to when we see the word "end" in its eschatological sense in the rest of the New Testament. Since Matthew and Mark contain the ONLY description of the "end," all references to the "end" must refer back to these chapters for definition.

WHEN THE END IS NOT

In Matthew 24, we read,

Mat 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, BUT THE END IS NOT YET.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places:
8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

The beginning of birth pangs occurs during the first half of Daniel's 70th week. Therefore, the "end" must come AFTER these events, either within the tribulation (which is not at all logical) or at the end of that week (the likely scenario). Since the "end" is defined ONLY in these chapters and all other uses of the "end" in the NT must refer back to this Posttribulational definition, the "end" cannot mean the end of the Church age as defined by Pretribulatism. The Church will exist during the entire tribulation period.

Mark and Luke referred to the "end" in the same way as Matthew:

Mr 13:7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

Lu 21:9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.

THE "END" AND THE GOSPEL

Jesus plainly states that the "end" would not come as long as the gospel was being preached:

Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN SHALL the end come.

He later tells us that the gospel would be preached all the way to the end of the world. Therefore, the "end" cannot come until the end of the world:

Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto THE END of the world. Amen.

Pretribulationists argue that the word "world" in verse 20 can be translated "age," thereby justifying their teaching that "end" refers to the end of the "Church age" at the Pretribulation rapture. But this is why my article Mark 13:27 Refutes Matthew 24:31 As For The Jews is so important. It helps define the one "end" as the time Jesus returns in Matthew 24:29-31, which is Posttribulational. Since Matthew 24 and Mark 13 both place the unraptured Church at the end of Daniel's 70th week, the preaching of the gospel extends to that point as well. Then the "end" comes. Therefore Jesus' return in Matthew 24:29-31 is the "end" of the age, which leads into the next age, His millennial reign. The gospel of the kingdom will have been preached throughout the entire tribulation by the Church, and then Jesus will return to gather His saints, bringing about the "end."

MATTHEW 24 IS THE ONLY NT DESCRIPTION OF THE END

The "end" is defined in Matthew 24. As Gundry points out, there is NO OTHER description anywhere else in the New Testament. Therefore, this one description of the "end," when Jesus returns to gather the Church and the Jewish remnant together into the millennial kingdom, defines the "end" whenever it is used in the epistles and Revelation.

ALL SCRIPTURES REFERRING TO THE "END" NOW MAKE SENSE

I am listing here all of the other New Testament Scriptures which use the word "end" in the eschatological sense. All of them now fit easily into the Posttribulational scenario, with none of them even hinting at a Pretribulational one. The confusion of which "end" Pretribulationism is referring is removed (end of the Church age, end of Daniel's 70th week, etc.). Notice that none of these verses DESCRIBE an "end" which is different from that described in Matthew 24. Nowhere is a "second end" described. These Scriptures apply to that same Posttribulational scenario.

The saints must endure to the end of the tribulation, which spells the end of the age:

Mt 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mt 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Mr 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

1 Co 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Co 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;

Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Heb 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

1 Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

1 Corinthians refutes the Pretribulational idea that the "end" means the end of the Church age followed by a second "end." First, there is no "second end" described in Scripture, and second, the following note from the JFB commentary explains the use of the plural "ends" in this verse. The "end" has come upon the world, meaning the end of the age that culminates with the coming of Christ to judge the world and gather His Church:

1 Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

JFB: "the ends of the world--literally, 'of the ages'; the New Testament dispensation in its successive phases (plural, 'ends') being the winding up of all former 'ages.' No new dispensation shall appear till Christ comes as Avenger and Judge; till then the 'ends,' being many, include various successive periods (compare #Heb 9:26|). As we live in the last dispensation, which is the consummation of all that went before, our responsibilities are the greater; and the greater is the guilt, Paul implies, to the Corinthians, which they incur if they fall short of their privileges."

1 Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

The Posttribulational scenario reaches to the "end" when Christ judges the nations (unbelievers) and finalizes the believer's salvation (bodily changed/raised). This is aptly described in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 in a Posttribulational view of the "end":

2 Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

Other verses describe this same event at the "end":

Phil 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Heb 6:8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

1 Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

The saints who endure to the "end" will be given authority over the nations at the time of the "end":

Re 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Jesus described Himself as the beginning and the end. The New Testament dispensation began with His first coming and ends with His second coming, with no Pretribulational coming:

Re 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Re 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Re 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

This is supported by Hebrews 9:28:

Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

As we have seen, there is only one description of the "end" in the New Testament and no other of an undefined nature. Mark 13:24-27 and Matthew 24:29-31 establish that this is a Posttribulational "end" at which time the Church is raptured. All other Scripture references to the eschatalogical use of the word "end" totally complement that scenario.

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