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2 Peter 3:1-4

1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

What is last days?

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  • @SteveTaylor I asked what "last days" is and gave my guess. What other details should I add? Oct 3, 2022 at 20:02
  • That's enough for a start :) it may be worth checking any similar questions on this passage, and if there are any that ask about the same phrase it could be helpful to explain why they don't answer your question.
    – Steve can help
    Oct 3, 2022 at 20:19

2 Answers 2

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It is surprising to some that the New Testament calls the time after Jesus’ resurrection, the “last days”, or “last hour”, or similar. Note the following:

  • Acts 2:17 – Peter calls the day of Pentecost the “last day” in fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. Compare v29-32.
  • 2 Tim 3:1 – perilous times in the “last day” which Paul discusses as already at his time.
  • Heb 1:2 – “These last days” God is revealed in Jesus.
  • James 5:3 – warning against rampant materialism and worship of money in the “last day”, that is, the time of James himself.
  • 1 Peter 1:5 – Christians reveal God and are miraculously preserved in the “last time”.
  • 1 Peter 1:20 – Jesus revealed in these “last times”.
  • 2 Peter 3:3 – Peter writes about his time as the fulfilment of that spoken by the ancient prophets about the “last days”.
  • 1 John 2:18 – Twice, John calls his time the “last hour”.
  • Jude 18 – Jude describes his time as the fulfilment of ancient prophecies about the “last time”.
  • Rev 2:16, 3:11, 22:7, 12, 20 – Jesus says, “I am coming soon/quickly”.
  • Even in a passage like John 6:39, 40, 54 where Jesus refers to the resurrection at the “last day” (see below) that time began with His death, Matt 27:50-53.

It should not be surprising that eschatology is defined in terms of Jesus – four times in the book of Revelation (1:11, 17, 2:8, 22:13) Jesus is called “the first and the last”. Thus, Bible eschatology, is the study of the time after Jesus inaugurated His Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 3:2, 4:17, 23, 5:3, 10, 19, etc).

APPENDIX - Related terms: “End of Time”, or “Time of the End”, or “Last Day”

While the last days begin with Jesus’ resurrection, they will also be terminated with Jesus’ return, or Second Advent. This terminus is also called the “end of time” (Dan 11:35), or “that day” (Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32, Luke 10:12, 2 Tim 1:12), “the day of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:10-13), “end of the age” (Matt 24:3, 28:20), “last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, 11:24, 12:48, Heb 6:2), etc. The short period just before the end of time is called the “time of the end” (Dan 11:40, 12:4, 9).

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It is thought that Peter wrote his second letter around 60 - 62 AD. (1) The phrase "last days" is better translated in Young's as "the latter end of the days". Peter used a similar phrase in his first epistle.

"19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted -- Christ's -- 20 foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, and manifested in the last times because of you," (YLT)

This verse identifies when the last times were as Peter ties them to the days when Christ was manifested on earth. That means as Christ was manifested during the 1st century AD, the the last times, or last days happened during the 1st century AD.

As we are living today almost 2,000 years after Christ was manifested on earth, and time has continued on, then the phrase "the last days" cannot mean the end of all time. So, we must find in their definition in the scriptures, and there are specific instances the words are used in the Old Testament.

In Gen. 49, Jacob calls his sons to his deathbed to tell them what would happen to each of their tribes in their "latter days".

"And Jacob calleth unto his sons and saith, `Be gathered together, and I declare to you that which doth happen with you in the latter end of the days." (YLT)

The KJV uses "the last days." Jacob's reference to the latter end of the days was in context of the end of each of the tribes, and he proceeds to tell his sons how each of their tribes will end. The identification in time was the end of the tribe of Judah, the law giver, because Judah's end is tied to the passing of the scepter to Christ, in Judah's latter / last days.

"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (KJV)

When did the scepter of the law giver pass from Judah to Christ? Legally, the scepter passed to Christ at His crucifixion in 30-31 AD, and officially probated at the destruction of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD when all of the Mosaic law was anulled (Heb. 7:18-19; 8:13).

So, the last days of Judah as described in Gen. 49 happened during the 1st century AD, and they were when the old Mosaic covenant passed away.

Daniel asked the messengers / angels twice when "these wonders" would end, and was told,

"...`After a time, times, and a half, and at the completion of the scattering of the power of the holy people, finished are all these.'" (Dan. 12:7, YLT) and the second time Daniel asked he was told,

"and from the time of the turning aside of the perpetual [sacrifice], and to the giving out of the desolating abomination, [are] days a thousand, two hundred, and ninety.'" (Dan. 12:11, YLT)

Therefore, "the end of the days" of Dan. 12:12 were defined as when the power of the holy people - Daniel's people, the Jews - would be scattered, or shattered, those wonders would be finished. And, when the perpetual or daily sacrifice was turned aside, or discontinued, then "the end" of those things would be finished.

When was the daily sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem turned aside? Before or after that temple was destroyed? There can be no daily sacrifice at a temple that no longer exists. The turning away of that daily sacrifice was the start of the Roman-Jewish war in Jerusalem about AD 66-67. And, the power of the Jews / Sanhedrin over the people was shattered when their temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70.

So, again the last days, or the end of the days happened in the 1st century AD when the Mosaic sacrificial temple under the elements (2 Pet. 3:10) of the worship proscribed by the Mosaic covenant was destroyed. The "end of the days" of Daniel 12 is set in the context of the time given for the desolation of the Holy City - Jerusalem - in Dan. 9:24, the end of the 490 years of that prophesy.

Peter restates the prophesy from Joel 2:28 and refers to that prophesy as the "last days".

"15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

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:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:15-21, KJV)

"This is that..." Peter said that what the people saw and witnessed on the day of Pentecost was what Joel had prophesied would happen, and Peter restated the time as "in the last days." The pouring forth of the Holy Spirit upon the people on the day of Pentecost happened "in the last days", after Christ's crucifixion in the first century AD.

The "last days" spoken of in the Scriptures were never about the end of all time. The Scriptures define "the last days" as the time in which the old Mosaic covenant would pass away, and be fulfilled in Christ and His gospel of the new covenant, the everlasting covenant of His kingdom would be set in place. Those last days began when John came clearing the pathway and proclaiming that the kingdom was at hand, and ended when that animal sacrificial temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70.

Note:

  1. Dating the New Testament - here

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