Rider on the White Horse

The term eschatology comes from two Greek words: (1) eschatos, last, and (2) logos, speech, word, or discussion. Eschatology then is a discussion of the last things or the final age of human history. It is also a mindset, a way of looking at time.

Obviously it is difficult for those of us who have never known anything but time to speak the language of the One who lives beyond time. And yet the Timeless One entered into time to teach us something about time. It behooves us to make a sincere effort to embrace His teaching about time.

Theories abound on how we should properly interpret the New Testament’s presentation of the end of time (the eschaton). C. H. Dodd proposed a useful conceptualization of the end of time that he called Realized Eschatology. According to his proposal, since the end of the world has already been announced by God then the end of time has already been “realized.” Most reject this terminology (if not his idea outright) because it can be misinterpreted to mean that the end of time has already been realized—the end of the world has already occurred.

Oscar Cullman proposed a more useful term for (and a more coherent explanation of) the end of time. He argued that we should see things in terms of Inaugurated Eschatology. God has announced the end of the world; however, we should see that not as the realization of the end of time but the inauguration of the end. In other words, the beginning of the end has arrived but the end of the end has not.

Clearly God has established events and experiences that are to help us experience the “end of time” in the here and now. In the Lord’s Supper, for example, we celebrate our salvation now, we feast now, we experience forgiveness now and yet, simultaneously, we anticipate that Great Banquet at which the full realization of all these things will take place. In-time judgments (e.g., the destruction of Jerusalem) are also in-time events that carry with them end-of-the-world significance.

The importance of this discussion is in how we view our lives in relation to the end of time. Are we living in this present age? Or are we living the future now?