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When is the "last day" that is referred to in the book of John? The Rapture? The Second Coming? A series of "last days'?

John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day

John 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day

John 6:54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

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11 Answers 11

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John 6:39
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

John 6:40
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:54
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 11:24
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

John 12:48
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Jesus uses this term εσχατη ημερα (last day) in these verses in the singular indicating a last day, not last days. Throughout the book of John, the word ἡμέρα (day) is used some 30 times. Twenty nine of these times it is indicating a day in the usual sense, that is a 24 hour period with sunrise and sunset. In John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Here from the context you can see that ἡμέρα indicates time, but the context declares that.

There are several things that Jesus declares will occur on this last day:

  1. the resurrection of those that believe on Jesus, that he may give them everlasting life, according to his Father's will

  2. the judgement of those that reject Jesus and receive not his words (John 12:48)

This judgement must of necessity occur after the resurrection of those that reject Jesus.

When is this last day?

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

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The last day in John refers to the second coming and the universal resurrection of the dead. It is the time in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).

"Why does He continually dwell on the Resurrection?" asks John Chrysostom (4th c.).

Is it that men may not judge of God's providence by present things alone; that if they enjoy not results here, they become not on that account desponding, but wait for the things that are to come, and they that may not, because their sins are not punished for the present, despise Him, but look for another life.

Now those men gained nothing, but let us take pains to gain by having the Resurrection continually sounded in our ears; and if we desire to be grasping, or to steal, or to do any wrong thing, let us straightway take into our thoughts that Day, let us picture to ourselves the Judgment-seat.

Homily XLV on the Gospel According to St. John

It does not refer to any kind of so-called "rapture", which is a doctrine completely foreign to the Church Fathers.

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1 Thessalionians 4:13-18 gives an excellent answer to the question, "when are the last days" Jesus is referring to in John ch.6. This is the rapture of the church (Christians alive as well as dead) not to be confused with the second coming of Jesus at the end of the 7 year tribulation period.

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  • Welcome to BH.SE! It would be great if you added the verses you cite into the answer as an edit. Check the site tour to see how the exchange works.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 16:23
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Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,”a and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The first day is the beginning of light and physical time. The last day is the end of physical time.

The Bible talks about "last days" (plural) with multiple meanings:

Gen 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.

Isa 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

2Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts

The Bible speaks of a future last day (singular) with only one meaning.

Jhn 11:24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day

Jhn 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

The last day is the day of resurrection and the end of physical time.

John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

For us, the last day is the end of physical time and the beginning of a new experience of eternal time.

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  • "The last day is the day of resurrection and the end of physical time." Indeed. And, that day coincides with our own last day as we step into timelessness -- our journey out of physical time into the eternal Presence of God. +1.
    – Xeno
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 1:15
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A day doesn't mean necessarily at 24 hour period. "The Day of the Lord" is the time period of testing that could be 7 years (70th week of Daniel) or 3 1/2 years the last half called the Great Tribulation. Here are examples of scripture where the time listed is not just meant to be literal time as we know it. Hosea 6:2, Psalm 90:4, Isaiah 34:8, Daniel 9:27, Is. 61:2, Luke 13:32.

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    Welcome to BH Community. The "last day" in the context Jesus refers to is a specific day at which day He will raise them up, not a period of times as you allude. That "last day" will be the day our bodies be called out of the grave to unit with our spirit. The word ἀνίστημι (to arise) Paul used to refer the resurrection of our Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6:14). The expression, the "context is king" is a rule to keep in mind for interpretation of the Scripture.
    – Sam
    Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 0:58
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The "last day" is referring to day 50 in the count from the wave offering during the days of Unleavened Bread unto Pentecost, the 50th day. (see Leviticus 23) This day Christ will return and resurrect the saints as the wrath of God is about to be poured out on the God rejecting peoples of the world

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    – agarza
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 12:58
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It's astounding how many comments in this forum have extracted their biblical view of "the last day" based on their pre-suppositional understanding of the resurrection, and often based on the secret rapture doctrine.

Every "last day" phrase used by Jesus in John chapters 6 & 12 is biblically defined as the last 24 hours, "sunrise to sunset". You cannot stretch it to mean anything else. Which means, the resurrection/rapture, happens on the last day of history and includes judgment day. All of the incidents of "the last day" in John 6:39, 40, 44, 54 and John 11:24, John 12:48 can only be interpreted as the last day of history, after which is no more time. You cannot insert a rapture doctrine into these verses without being dishonest or deceived while trying to defend a doctrine that has been seriously flawed and distorted for over two hundred years.

And to wrap up, the first resurrection is represented in being buried and raised to new life with Christ (as symbolized in baptism), therefore the second death has no power over believers who are now kings and priests, reigning with Christ and seated in heavenly places. There is only ONE physical resurrection, and it is on the last day. There is only one judgment day and it is on the last day. If so, then the rapture doctrine happening during history is false.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 3:12
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Doug - I suggest "at the last day" means the day of the Lord's "coming" (parousia, 3952) 1Th 4:15 "himself" (hautou, 848) v16 "in the air" (aer,109) v17. I also suggest this event begins the 70th week of Daniel 9:27 (aka 7 year "tribulation" (thlipsis, 2347) period Matt 24:9, 15, 16, and 21. Note - this event is not the 2nd Advent when the Lord comes to earth with His angels. Ref: NKJV, Interinear, The Complete WordStudy Dicionary ISBN 0-89957-663-X

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 17:55
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I spent several hours searching the Internet for an explanation of "the last day" that made sense and that fit all of the pertinent verses. Unfortunately, I found very few explanations of the meaning of this term, and none of the explanations that I found met these criteria, including the most popular explanation in this forum, which claims that "the last day" refers to "a specific 24-hour day" when the rapture occurs. I have to disagree with this explanation for three reasons.

One reason is that the Greek word that John used 30 times for "day" is the exact same word that Paul used in 1 Thess. 5:2 for "day" in the phrase "the day of the Lord" and the exact same word that Peter used in 2 Pet. 3:10 for "day" in the phrase "the day of the Lord." Both Paul and Peter stated that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night," which is a direct reference to the rapture because Jesus used an almost identical phrase to describe the unexpectedness of His coming in Matt. 24:43. However, in the same verse (2 Pet. 3:10), Peter also mentioned the destruction of heaven and earth that will occur on this same day. As we know from Rev. 20:1-21:1 this won't happen until the end of the Millennium. This means that "the day of the Lord" will last approximately 1007 years (not 24 hours) because it begins at the rapture and ends after the Great White Throne judgment when our present heaven and earth are replaced with a new heaven and earth.

The second reason I disagree with the author's claim is that the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" (1 Thes. 4:16) that will immediately precede the rapture is a different resurrection event from the resurrection of the saints who will be martyred during the "Tribulation Period." (John mentioned this second resurrection event in Rev. 20:4-5 and refers to it as "the first resurrection," which post-tribbers incorrectly interpret as the same resurrection event that will occur at the rapture because of the word "first.") Surely, Jesus also had these saints in mind when He said "I will raise them up at the last day."

The third reason I disagree with the author's claim is that the judgment of those who reject Christ will occur "at the last day" as well. This is clear from the statement Jesus made in John 12:48:

“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." (NASB)

John described this judgment in Rev. 20:11-15, which will not occur until after Jesus has been reigning on the earth for 1000 years. While it's possible to interpret "the last day" in John 12:48 as the last 24-hour day of human history before eternity begins, it makes more sense to interpret it as the same "day" on which the rapture and the "first resurrection" occur, which is "the day of the Lord" that will encompass all of these events, according to 2 Pet. 3:10.

To summarize, "the last day" refers to an extended period of time (aka, the "day" of the Lord) that includes the rapture, the tribulation, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Great White Throne judgment." This coming "day" is also the last or seventh "day" of human history, which will be a total of 7000 years per the statement "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day" in 2 Pet. 3:8. We are currently approaching the end of the sixth "day," which is equivalent to the end of 6000 years.

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    – agarza
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 19:01
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John 6:39, 40, 44 & 54 When Jesus used the term “the last day” in these verses, He is referencing the Rapture because He is speaking about people that believed in Him and all Christians are raised up at the Rapture, not the Second Coming.

KEY TO UNDERSTANDING Only Jesus knew of the Rapture when He was saying these words. Jesus used the phrase “raised up at the last day”, to assure the disciples (and all Christians) that they will have eternal life. Jesus is specifically referring to the Rapture, which is the last day of the Church Age. However when Jesus used this phrase, the Church Age had not yet begun and the disciples were unaware that there would be an event such as the Rapture. Therefore as opposed to explaining the Rapture, He is simply assuring them that they will be raised up and they will have eternal life at an upcoming date.

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  • Can you support this answer with historical references, citations to historical works of arguments from linguistics? As it stands, this answer appears to be an unsupported statement of opinion rather than a hermeneutic analysis.
    – user17080
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 12:21
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The answer is this: the "last day" refers to the last day of the week, which is the seventh day. In this case, it is a symbolic day lasting 1000 years. Second Peter 3:8 provides the key to understanding this along with the sabbath day being holy (the Law was "a shadow of things to come"). Jehovah God has allocated exactly 7000 years (seven "days") to bring mankind back to perfection as a mirror of the seven days of creation that were marred by sin. The number seven means divine completion. God's purposes will be complete at the end of the seventh day when all those raised from the dead and the survivors of Armageddon will be perfect. Mankind has been given precisely 6000 years (six "days") to rule itself until the start of the seventh day when Christ's Millennial reign will commence (the number six represents man's imperfect rule).

In addition, the eighth day was also holy under the Law of Moses (Lev. 23:36). This is because the eighth day is also the first day of a new week. The number eight in Scripture means new beginnings. It will be a new beginning for mankind. This is also why newborn male Israelites were circumcised on the eighth day (I cannot answer this already-asked question elsewhere because I am new here). Circumcision is a sign of the covenant. A covenant is a bond, and the bond with Jehovah God that was lost through Adam's sin will have been restored at the start of the eighth day. Hence, it was designated as a holy day and acted as a shadow of (greater) things to come.

This raises the question: if we know when Adam sinned (and mankind began to rule themselves), can we calculate the year that 6000 years of mankind's rule comes to an end and the millennium (the "last day") begins? Some believe that we can. I recommend reading all the articles on 2030 Second Coming: "Tribulation in 2023, 7 Years of Plenty in 2016"

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