The End of the World
What is meant by the term, “end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3)
The word “end” suggests an entire completion, the consummation of all things, the climax. The end of the world is the great judgment day of God Almighty. The earth shall be destroyed, brought to an end, abolished completely. Therefore, the term, “end of the world” means the last day, the day when time shall be no more!
When will the end of the world take place?
• When the gospel has been preached in all the world for a witness (Matt. 24:14).
• Immediately after the Tribulation (Matt. 24:29,35).
• When Jesus comes to receive His Church (1 Cor. 1:7,8; 1 Pet. 1:13; Rev. 2:25,26; Matt. 24:29–31).
• When the sixth seal is opened (Rev. 6:12).
• When the last trump sounds (1 Cor. 15:51,52; Rev. 11:18).
• On the Day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:7,10,12).
Did Jesus and the apostles link the gathering of the Church with the end of the world?
Yes. They exhorted believers:
To “endure unto the end”—To endure means to carry on through suffering without yielding or to continue in spite of hardships. As sin and false religion increase in the world, persecution will also increase against true believers. But Jesus said, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
To preach until the end—“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. . . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19,20). “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” (Matt. 24:14). Certainly, Jesus would not expect us to preach the gospel until “the end come” if He were coming to gather us before the end.
To wait until the end—“Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end” (1 Cor. 1:7,8).
To hold fast until the end—“Hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6). See also Heb. 3:14; 6:11.
To hope to the end—“Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
To keep the works of Jesus until the end— “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:25,26). Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). To occupy means to persist in doing the work commanded us to do. A false hope only hinders us from doing what we can and must do for God today. Jesus expects us to keep His works “unto the end.”
Jesus and the apostles repeatedly relate the hope of the Second Coming to the end of the world. Surely all these exhortations about the end would not be given to the Church if her real hope were a secret rapture some years before the end.
Do any of the parables tell us that Jesus is coming at the end of the world?
Yes, at least one–third of the parables, twelve in all, teach that Jesus is coming at the end of the world. Consider the parables of the wheat and tares and of the draw net. Both teach that believers will remain on the earth until the final separation at the end of the world.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares Jesus stated, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” When is the harvest? “The harvest is the end of the world.” Then “the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:30,39,41–43). See also Rev. 14:14 to 15:4.
In the parable of the draw net (Matt. 13:47–50), Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
There are four parables found in the context of Matthew 24:29–31: the parable of the householder (24:42–51); the parable of the ten virgins (25:1–13); the parable of the ten talents (25:14–30); and the parable of the sheep and goats (25:31–46). Each shows (either directly or by implication) the eternal reward of the faithful and the eternal doom of the unfaithful when Christ returns at the end of the world.
This truth is also seen in the parables of the marriage of the king’s son (Matt. 22:2–14); the unmerciful servant (Matt. 18:23–35); the wise steward (Luke 12:36–48); the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12–27); the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8); and the parable of the house on the rock (Matt. 7:21–27). The last two parables refer to “the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:30) and “that day” (Matt. 7:22), which is the Day of the Lord at the end of the world.
Is there a difference between the end of this age and the end of the world?
There is no difference. The end of this age is the end of this world because Jesus spoke of only two worlds: “this world” and “that world.” “The children of this world [Greek, age] marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [Greek, age], and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:34,35). He connects the obtaining of “that world” with “the resurrection,” and we have seen that the resurrection is at the end of the world.
That Jesus spoke of two worlds is also seen in Mark 10:30: “But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Here Jesus linked the world to come with “eternal life.” By comparing Matthew 25:46 with 24:29–31, we see that the righteous enter eternal life when Jesus returns at the end of the world. The meaning of these two terms, “the end of this age” and “the end of the world,” is identical. See also Matt. 12:32; Luke 18:30; Eph. 1:21; 1 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 6:5.
When Jesus comes in glory, what will end?
At the sounding of the seventh and last trump, the brightness of our Lord’s coming and the glory of His presence and power will bring an end to:
Babylon—“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, . . . she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (Rev. 18:1,2,8).
The ungodly—“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints” (2 Thess. 1:8,9,10). See also Psa. 9:3,4; 68:2; 114:7; Isa. 64:2; Ezek. 38:20; Rev. 6:15–17; 14:10.
The man of sin—“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).
The kingdoms of this world—“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). “But the judgment shall sit, and they [the Father and the Son] shall take away his [the beast’s] dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end” (Dan. 7:26).
The earth—“The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein” (Nah. 1:5).
Death and Satan—“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. . . . So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:52,54). See also Isa. 25:8; Hos. 13:14. “Then cometh the end . . . He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:24–26). Satan, who wields the power of death, will also be destroyed (Heb. 2:14). See also Rev. 20:14; 21:4.
Time—“The angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever and ever, . . . that there should be time no longer: but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound [the last trump], the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:5–7).
Will the earth be completely destroyed?
Jesus Himself declared, “After that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. . . . Heaven and earth shall pass away” (Mark 13:24,25,31). See also Matt. 24:29,35; Luke 21:33.
The apostle John added, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev. 6:12–14). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (Rev. 21:1). See also Rev. 16:20.
Peter described the same destruction of the earth: “But the heavens and the earth, . . . [are] reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. . . . But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. . . . all these things shall be dissolved. . . . the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Pet. 3:7,10–12).
The writer of Hebrews described the removing and destruction of this earth with fire: “Now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven, and this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain . . . For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:26,27,29). See also Heb. 1:10–12.
Nahum prophesied, “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein” (Nahum 1:5).
Isaiah also prophesied, “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isa. 24:19,20). See also Isa. 13:9,10,13; 24:4; 34:4; 51:6; 64:1–3; 65:17.
These and many other passages plainly state that the earth will be destroyed when Jesus comes “and [will] not rise again” (Isa. 24:20).
Why will God destroy the earth?
Just as God will “punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity” (Isa. 26:21), so He will destroy the earth because it has been cursed (Gen. 3:17) and is defiled by sin and innocent blood.
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth. . . . the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isa. 24:5,6,20).
“And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land [the earth] was polluted with blood” (Psa. 106:38). See also Gen. 4:9–12; Lev. 18:25; Jer. 16:18.
How will “the meek inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5) if there isn’t one?
The Bible teaches that the inheritance of believers is “a new heaven and a new earth.” First, in two of the other Beatitudes, Jesus promised heaven to “the poor in spirit” and to “the persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matt. 5:3,10,12). In addition, He promised that “the pure in heart . . . shall see God” (v. 8). According to Revelation 22:4 and 21:1, the pure in heart will “see his face” in “a new heaven and a new earth.” Therefore, “the earth” that Jesus promised to the meek will be the new earth.
Second, consider Psalm thirty–seven:
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (v. 11).
“For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off” (v. 22).
“The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever” (v. 18).
“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever” (v. 29).
Each of these four verses speaks of our inheritance. Verses 11 and 22 speak of inheriting the earth. Verses 18 and 29 state that this inheritance is forever. Thus, we see again that the meek shall inherit the new earth.
Third, consider Isaiah 60:19 and 21: “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. . . . Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever.” We know “for ever” is speaking of the new heaven and earth because verse 19 describes the new heaven and earth in a similar way to the description in Revelation 21:23; 22:5.
Finally, the inheritance of believers is not this earth, but “an eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15) and “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4). When Jesus comes, they will “inherit the kingdom prepared . . . from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
Doesn’t Revelation 21:1 teach the destruction and renovation of heaven, God’s dwelling place, and the destruction and renovation of this earth?
Revelation 21:1 reads, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” “The first heaven and the first earth” is a compound name for this universe. Therefore, “the first heaven” is not heaven, the home of God, as some suppose, but the firmament or the sky. The following verses show that it will be destroyed together with “the first earth”: “Heaven and earth shall pass away” (Matt. 24:35). “The stars of heaven fell . . . heaven departed as a scroll . . . every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev. 6:13,14); “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, . . . the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10); “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:12) and “the earth also . . . shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Will the earth be renovated? The Bible teaches that it “shall pass away” (Matt. 24:35), that “it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isa. 24:20), and that it “shall be burned up” and “be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:10,11). Moreover, what would be the purpose of a renovated earth? At the coming of Jesus, the righteous will inherit everlasting life and the wicked everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46).
On the other hand, the term “a new heaven and a new earth” is a compound name for heaven, the home of God. It will never be destroyed because there’s no sin there (Isa. 57:15; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:27); the will of God is always carried out there (Matt. 6:10); the saints’ inheritance is reserved there (1 Pet. 1:4); and it is everlasting (Psa. 145:13; Isa. 57:15; 2 Pet. 1:11). When Jesus comes, His people will “inherit the kingdom prepared . . . from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
In summary, when Jesus returns in glory, He shall completely destroy this world. He will gather His Church, those who have hoped and endured to the end. They shall inherit a new heaven and a new earth, which refers to God’s eternal kingdom.