The Bible speaks of “the time of the end.” But exactly what will come to an end?
Many think the reference is to the end of the world, especially since the King James Version of the New Testament has Jesus’ disciples asking Him about “the end of the world” in Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version×. But the word translated “world” in this passage is the Greek word aion (from which we derive the English word eon ), signifying “a period of indefinite duration … marked by spiritual or moral characteristics” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “Age”). The New King James Version correctly renders the word as “age.”
The Greek aion and its English derivative eon mean essentially the same thing—an age, an epoch, an era. Jesus’ disciples were not asking about the end of our physical planet, the earth. Rather, they were inquiring about the end of this era of man’s rule on the earth. They well knew the many prophecies of the Old Testament that foretell the coming age of the rule of the Messiah in the Kingdom of God.
Paul contrasted the age “which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21 Ephesians 1:21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
American King James Version×) with the world we know, which he called “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
American King James Version×). Spiritually and morally, this age and the age to come are opposites.
To properly understand the two, we must realize that this is not God’s world. God is not the author of the broken homes, shattered marriages, violence, racial and ethnic hatred, governmental corruption, greed, pollution, depression, disease and persecution and the resultant suffering we see around us. Paul pinpoints the cause of these sorrows as “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×), none other than Satan the devil.
How great is the influence of this being? The apostle John tells us that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
American King James Version×). All of humanity is influenced by the thinking, attitudes and actions of this wicked being and his evil cohorts, the demons. John further warns that Satan’s deceptive power is so great that he “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×).
Satan’s influence is as powerful as it is pervasive. Odd as it may sound, one of Satan’s greatest areas of influence is religion, where his ideas—not God’s—dominate. Paul warns Christians of Satan’s deceptive power even within Christianity: Just as “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light,” so do his representatives masquerade as “ministers of righteousness” and “apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
American King James Version×).
Paul warns those who would live godly lives that they must constantly struggle against unseen spiritual influences dominating the world around them. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
American King James Version×).
Under Satan’s influence, the world has its own “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:20-29 1 Corinthians 1:20-29 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness;
24 But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
American King James Version×), a way of thinking that considers the God of the Bible and His way of life as “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
American King James Version×). As a result, mankind does not recognize that it is man’s collective rejection of God and His ways that has brought the suffering and sorrow that permeate the world. (To learn more about Satan’s evil influence on our world, request or download our free booklet Is There Really a Devil? )
When Scripture mentions “the time of the end” or “the end of the age,” it is referring to the coming end of the present evil age. This age—in reality the age of Satan —will draw to an end, replaced by the age of God’s rule over and guidance of all of humanity.
This age to come—often referred to in the Bible as the time the Kingdom of God will govern the earth—will be ushered in by Jesus Christ at His return. To better understand these major prophetic themes and events, be sure to request or download your free copies of the booklets The Gospel of the Kingdom , The Book of Revelation Unveiled , The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy . They will help you better understand the unimaginably better world God has in store beyond our present age.