Eschatology Definition

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Eschatology, in Christian circles, concerns the study of the last events in human history that have not yet taken place. Some of these events include the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (the Parousia), the resurrection of the saints (sometimes referred to as the Rapture), the Millennium (Christ's 1,000 year reign on the earth), the second (some believe final) resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment of God.

The primary scriptures used for the study of Eschatology include the books of Daniel and Revelation, and Jesus' teachings regarding the End Time (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). The Apostle Paul's discussions about End Time events (1Corinthians 15, 1Thessalonians 4) are also considered Eschatology in nature.

One Eschatology template used for studying end time events centers on the relationship between Jesus' Second Coming and his millennial rule.

Pre-millennialists believe that Christ will return BEFORE God's kingdom is established on the earth. His return precedes the Millennium because, it is believed, he must first conquer the Satan-led (Beast and False Prophet) system governing the entire world (Mark of the Beast) before he can reign. Postmillennialists adhere to the belief that Christ will return to earth AFTER God's kingdom on earth exists for 1,000 years. Amillennialists hold to the general conviction that the Millennium has never or will ever exist.

A Preterist view of Eschatology views the prophecies in the book of Revelation as being fulfilled in the first century A.D. This fulfillment came, it is argued, through the early Christian church and the Roman Empire. A Futurist view maintains that only the second and third chapters of Revelation (i.e., the letters to the churches) are historical. The fulfillment of the rest of the book's events is thought to occur in the future.

Another Eschatology template utilized centers on the prophesied translation of the saints (1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17), also called by some the Rapture, and when this event occurs.

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A pre-tribulation rapture view states Christians go to heaven seven years BEFORE Jesus' visible return so that they are protected during the great tribulation. A mid-tribulation view believes Christians go to heaven HALF WAY through the great tribulation (i.e. 3 1/2 years in). A post-tribulation Eschatology view maintains the translation of the saints occurs AFTER the great tribulation when the Second Coming occurs.

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