Are We in the Last Days?

Visionary

This article will show that “the last days” refers to the last days of the Old Covenant age—not the last days of planet earth, and not the last days of the Christian age. The last days time period began at Jesus’ earthly ministry (first coming) in approximately AD 30, and ended at his coming in judgment in AD 70.

Jesus’s arrival (in AD 30) meant the last days time period had finally arrived: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2, italics mine; see also 1 Pet. 1:20). Messiah’s arrival started the countdown clock to the end of the Old Covenant age (and beginning of the New Covenant age). As that day drew near, the descriptions of the last days intensified. For example, by AD 65, it was no longer just the last days; by now, it was the last hour of the last day: “Little children, it is the last hour and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18, italic mine). Note: antichrists were people in the first century who denied that Jesus was the Messiah (1 John 2:22-23, 4:2-3; 2 John 7).[1]

The Old Covenant age began in approximately 1500 BC, when Moses returned from Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments in hand (Exodus 34). This was the age of bloody animal sacrifices, the physical temple (where the animals were sacrificed), and Levitical priests (who sacrificed the animals). This was the age or “world” that was passing away during the last days time period (AD 30–70).

Although God himself had established the Old Covenant, aka: the Law, it was nevertheless deficient because it could not take away sin—at least not in a permanent, completed sense. As the writer of Hebrews said, “It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats [animal sacrifices] to take away sin” (Heb. 10:4). While the Old Covenant was certainly important and good in that it convicted people of sin and showed their need for the Savior (Rom. 7:7), nevertheless, it was deficient because it did not contain the remedy for the sin it revealed. It left people spiritually dead and separated from God. As the apostle Paul said, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Rom. 7:9-10, italics mine). The Law inevitably led to spiritual death / separation from God, which is why it was called “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” (2 Cor. 3:7, italics mine). Since the Old Covenant could not “save” people from their sins (restore man’s broken relationship with God), it had to be replaced with the better New Covenant, which could save people from their sins and restore their broken relationship with God.

(600 BC) “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the [old] covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts[2]; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:31-34, italics mine).

This New Covenant age of forgiveness of sin / salvation finally arrived in the first century: “Now, once at the end of the ages, He [Jesus] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself… and he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:26-28, italics mine; see also Eph. 1:7 and 1 John 2:2). The first part of the passage was fulfilled at Jesus’s first coming in AD 30, and the second part was fulfilled at his coming in judgment in AD 70.[3]

When Jesus began his earthly ministry in AD 30, the Old Covenant had been in force for approximately 1500 year, ever since the time of Moses. Messiah’s arrival meant this Old Covenant age was finally coming to an end. This is what the last days were all about, the last days of the Old Covenant age. The last days time period was the forty-year period from AD 30 to AD 70, during which time the Old Covenant gradually passed away…and the New Covenant gradually appeared.

Consider two passages about this transitional period:

(AD 57) “But this I [Paul] say, brethren, the time is short…For the form of this world [the Old Covenant world] is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:29-31, italics mine).

(AD 62) “In that He [God] says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first [covenant] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13, italics mine).

When these statements were uttered in approximately AD 60, the Old Covenant age was growing obsolete and would soon vanish away. These passages are describing the last days of the Old Covenant age!

Jesus had also spoken about the end of the Old Covenant age in the Olivet Discourse, and he affirmed this same timing. The discourse begins with Jesus (in AD 33) pronouncing judgment on the temple: “Do you [disciples] not see all these things [the temple stones]? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:2). Then, the disciples ask: “When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (v. 3, italics mine). The “end of the age” they were asking about was the end of the Old Covenant age. And the reason why the disciples automatically thought “end of the age” after Jesus had mentioned the destruction of the temple is because the two events went hand and hand. The temple represented the Old Covenant age (Heb. 9:8-9), and its destruction would mean the Old Covenant age had finally ended. Without a temple, the vast majority of the Old Covenant requirements could not be kept. In fact, without a temple, only 77 positive and 126 negative commandments can be kept—out of 613![4] In essence, no temple…no Old Covenant. Note: the disciples also automatically thought “coming” after Jesus had mentioned the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2–3) because such a judgment/destruction equated to a coming of the Lord. The Old Testament is filled with examples of such comings of the Lord (Isa. 13:9-13, 19:1; Zeph. 1:14-18). See my article “What is the Second Coming?” for more about this topic.

So when Jesus mentioned the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2), the disciples automatically thought “coming of the Lord” and “end of the age”…and they wanted to know when it would happen: “When will these things be?” (Matt. 24:3), they asked. Jesus answered their question by describing the various precursors—such as false messiahs, wars and rumors of wars, tribulation, etc.—and then said: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (v. 13, italics mine). This is the same “end of the age” that the disciples asked about earlier in the passage (v. 3); Jesus was simply answering their question. Then, Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you [disciples], this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (v. 24, italics mine). ALL THESE THINGS! Jesus explicitly said all these events would happen within a generation, which the Bible defines as forty years (Heb. 3:8-10, Num. 14:30-34, Neh. 9:21). Moreover, Jesus linked all these events to the destruction of the temple, which everyone acknowledges happened in AD 70.

This timing also fits perfectly with the many other statements by the apostles about the end of the Old Covenant age. For example, Paul said in approximately AD 57, “The ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Likewise, Peter said in AD 63, “The end of all things [related to the Old Covenant age] is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7). And, as noted above, the writer of Hebrews said in AD 62 that the Old Covenant age would soon vanish away (Heb. 8:13).

This is what the last days were all about: the last days of the Old Covenant age. It was the forty-year transition (AD 30–70) from the Old Covenant age of animal sacrifices, a physical temple, and the Levitical priesthood…to the New Covenant age of spiritual sacrifices, a spiritual temple, and a spiritual priesthood. In fact, Peter, in AD 63, spoke about just this transition: “You [Christians] as living stones are being built up a spiritual house [temple], a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Pet. 2:4-9, italics mine).

In the New Covenant age, there would no longer be any need for a physical temple because Christians would be the living temple, of which Jesus is the Cornerstone. In the New Covenant age, all Christians would be priests, instead of just men from the tribe of Levi. In the New Covenant age, Christians would offer up spiritual sacrifices, instead of animal sacrifices. In fact, in the New Covenant age, even Gentiles could be priests and offer sacrifices, which was forbidden and repugnant under the Old Covenant system.

The physical temple that was still standing when Peter said this in approximately AD 63 represented the Old Covenant age; but the spiritual temple that was “being built up” (1 Pet. 2:5) represented the New Covenant age. The physical temple was temporary; but the spiritual temple would be permanent (Matt. 16:18). The former was a type/shadow; the latter would be the better spiritual reality/finality (aka: the anti-type).

This is what the last days were all about, the transition from Old Covenant age of types and shadows…to the New Covenant age of spiritual realities. And unlike the Old Covenant age, the New Covenant age will never end. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting [new] covenant make you complete in every good work…” (Heb. 13:20, italics mine; see also Jer. 32:40 and Isa. 61:8).

The New Covenant age is here to stay—which means “the last days” cannot possible refer to the last days of the Christian age. The last days refers to the last days of the Old Covenant age, which officially ended when the temple fell in AD 70.

Possible Objections

Objection #1: In Ephesians 2:7, Paul mentions “ages to come” (plural), which means there must be at least one more age after the New Covenant age. After all, Paul said this around AD 62/63, which was still within the Old Covenant age.

Response: If that’s really what Paul meant in this passage—that there would be another age after the New Covenant age—then Paul contradicted not only the passages just cited above about the everlasting New Covenant, but he also contradicted his own writings. For example, when discussing the transition between the Old Covenant age and the New Covenant age, Paul said: “If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious [the Old Covenant], how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness [the New Covenant]!…And if what was transitory came with glory [the Old Covenant age], how much greater is the glory of that which lasts [the New Covenant age]!” (2 Cor. 3:11, italics mine).

Notice how Paul says the latter glory “lasts.” The New Covenant age is everlasting! This matches perfectly with those other passages cited above about the everlasting new covenant age (Heb. 13:20, Jer. 32:40, Isa. 61:8). 

Keep in mind, also, that the reason why the previous ages had to end was because they were deficient. For example, in the age before the Old Covenant age—the pre-Mosaic age—the Law had not come yet, so people were not yet aware of the magnitude of their sins and their desperate need for God’s forgiveness. Therefore, this age was deficient and had to end. The age that followed, the Mosaic age (Old Covenant age), remedied this problem by magnifying sin and showing people their need for a Savior (Rom. 5:20). However, there was still no solution for the sin it magnified because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. 10:4). So the Old Covenant age, too, was deficient and had to end. But the New Covenant age has no deficiencies. It remedied the sin problem and restored man’s broken relationship with God. Mankind once again has access to the Tree of Life. As Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51, see also John 11:26). This was the hope of God’s people all through Scripture—the forgiveness of sin, aka: spiritual resurrection—and it finally arrived in the first century (Heb. 11:13, Acts 3:24)! Since there is nothing deficient about the New Covenant age, it does not have to end—and it won’t, according to the Scriptures cited above! 

What, then, did Paul mean by “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7)? Paul likely used the plural “ages” to emphasize the greatness and majesty of the New Covenant age, as compared to all previous ages. In fact, Paul said exactly that just a few verses later: “To Him [be] the glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus, to all the generations of the age of the ages” (Eph. 3:21, Young’s Literal Translation; italics mine).

There is a similar kind of statement in Genesis in which God says “Let us create man in our image” (plural, Gen. 1:26), which is immediately followed with, “So God created man in His own image” (singular, v. 27). As many commentators have pointed out, the plural “us” was likely used to emphasize God’s majesty and greatness. It certainly does not mean there are multiple Gods, as verse 27 makes clear.[5] Modern-day monarchs sometime refer to themselves in the plural too; it is technically called “the royal we.” For example, the King of England might say, “We will do such and such,” when he really just means, “I will do such and such.” Paul was likely doing the same kind of thing; he was emphasizing the majesty and greatness of the New Covenant age, the age of ages!

This also fits well with the many other descriptions of the greatness and majesty of the New Covenant age. For example, the writer of Hebrews—which many scholars believe was Paul, by the way—said:

“But you [Christians] have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24, italics mine).

Mt. Zion was what the Old Testament saints all longed for. It was the goal of Scripture (Mic. 4:3; Isa. 2:2, 25:6, 65:25). And the writer of Hebrews said it had finally arrived!

The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that the New Covenant age is everlasting: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work” (Heb. 13:20, italics mine).

Since the New Covenant age is everlasting, then Paul would not have been implying its demise in Ephesians 2:7!

Objection #2: Jesus said he did not come to destroy the Law; therefore, the Law must still be in force. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away,one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18, italics mine).

Response: It’s true that Jesus did not come to destroy (or void, or cancel) the Law, but he did come fulfill it. The passage itself says that! And what does “to fulfill” mean? It means to complete or finish or end. Think about the fulfillment of prophecy. After a prophecy has been fulfilled, the prophecy is no longer in affect. This does not mean the prophecy has been destroyed or cancelled or voided; nevertheless, the prophecy is no longer in affect because it has been fulfilled (completed). Thus, the prophecy is over; it has ended. This is exactly what Jesus meant by saying “I did not come to destroy the Law…but to fulfill [it].” If Jesus accomplished what he came to do—and Christians agree that he did—then the Law must have been fulfilled; which means it has ended. This is why God’s people no longer have to keep the Old Covenant Law anymore!

This fits well with all the other statements in the New Testament that say the Old Covenant age / the Law would soon end. For example, Paul in AD 57 said “the end of the ages as come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Likewise, the writer of Hebrews said in AD 62/63: “In that he [God] says ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first [covenant] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13, italics mine). Peter, too, said in AD 63: “The end of all things [related to the Old Covenant] is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7).

The Law has ended…because the Law has been fulfilled.

Possible concern: If the Law has ended, you might be wondering, does this mean we are free to murder, steal, lie, etc.? After all, the prohibitions against such acts were part of the Law…which has ended.

Response: May it never be! While the ceremonial aspects of the Law have ended—such as animal sacrifices, Sabbath keeping, physical circumcision, dietary restrictions, feast day observances, etc.—the moral aspects of the Law will never end because these are part of God’s holy character, not merely the Law…and God’s holy character will never change.

The ceremonial aspects of the Law were types/shadows that pointed forward to the New Covenant realities; but once the New Covenant realities arrived, then the types/shadows became obsolete and vanished away (Heb. 8:13). For example, the Saturday Sabbath pointed forward to the real Sabbath rest in Christ (Heb. 3:7-4:16). Likewise, physical circumcision was a type/shadow that pointed forward to the spiritual circumcision “not made with hands” (Col. 2:11). Similarly, the annual Passover sacrifice of a lamb was a type/shadow that pointed forward to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross (1 Cor. 5:7). The ceremonial aspects of the Law were types/shadows that pointed forward to the “better [New Covenant] things to come” (Heb. 10:1, Col. 2:17); and once the New Covenant realities arrived, then the Old Covenant types/shadows became obsolete and passed away (Heb. 8:13).

Although the ceremonial aspects of the Law have passed away, the moral aspects of the Law—such as: do not murder, do not steal, do not lie, etc.—will never pass away because these are part of God’s holy character, which cannot change. God’s moral laws were around long before the Law ever came into existence (see Genesis 3), and they will always be so. In fact, people do not even need Scripture to know about God’s moral laws because we are all made in the image of God, and thus, are intuitively aware of them: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [Gentiles, pagans, atheists, etc.] are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). The New Testament also mentions Gentiles without the Law doing what the Law requires (Rom. 2:14-15)—morally speaking, of course. (Most Gentiles of that day did not even know the ceremonial aspects of the Law existed.) Since people are all made in God’s image, therefore, we all intuitively know that things like murder, theft, and lying are wrong. This is why all cultures and societies throughout history—whether they have had special revelation (Scripture) or not—have enacted prohibitions against such things. God’s moral laws are self-evident truths that were around long before the Law (Mosaic covenant) ever came into existence—and they always will be!

Although we are not required to observe the ceremonial aspects of the Law, we are required to obey God’s moral laws, aka: Christ’s Law (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2)…and Christ’s Law (aka: the Gospel, the New Covenant) is here to stay!

For more about these topics, see my book The End Is Here, available summer 2024.

Alex Polyak, The Bible Fulfilled 1/5/24


[1] See my book The End Is Here (available summer 2024) for more about this subject.

[2] God did not merely transfer the Law onto his people’s hearts and call it by a different name (the New Covenant); the Law was already written on God’s people’s hearts (Ps. 37:31; 40:8). What changed under the New Covenant is that sin would finally be dealt with / forgiven (Jer. 31:34), and God would put his Spirit within his people so they could walk according to his statutes (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Moreover, the ceremonial aspects of the Law—such as animal sacrifices, Sabbath keeping, dietary requirements, physical circumcision, etc.—would end! The ceremonial aspects of the Law were “types and shadows” that pointed to Christ and the better New Covenant realities (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:1); so when the New Covenant realities finally arrived, then the Old Covenant “types and shadows” passed away. This is when the last days time period ended.

[3] Jesus repeatedly said in AD 30 that he would come again within the lifetimes of his audiences. For example, he said: “Assuredly, I say to you [disciples], there are some standing here who shall not taste death [die] until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28; see also Matt. 10:23, 24:30–34, 26:64 and Rev. 22:12). See my articles “What is the Second Coming?” and “The Timing of the Second Coming” for more about this issue.

[4] According to Jewish tradition.

[5] Some Christian commentators say the “us” refers to the Trinity, but there is debate about that.