Wednesday, October 30, 2013


            In this article, I continue surveying various Scriptures that point to the last days.  I have listed the topics alphabetically.  I certainly do not guarantee that I have found all the Scriptures that should be included.  In each topic, I make a few comments.  This is the conclusion of my survey of brief last-days Scriptures.



·         Matthew 19:28-30:  Jesus has just encountered the person we often refer to as the “rich young ruler.”  There has been a back-and-forth exchange:

o   “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?”

o   “Keep the commandments.”

o   “Which ones?”

o   Jesus goes through five of the Ten Commandments (all having to do with our behavior toward one another) plus the second great commandment (love of neighbor).

o   “I’ve done all them.  What do I lack?”

o   “Sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Me.”

o   And he left with sorrow because he was very rich.

Jesus commented that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.  The disciples asked who can be saved.  Jesus said it is impossible with man but all things are possible with God.  Peter then said he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus said then they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel “in the new world” (ESV; literally “in the regeneration”).  Moreover, those who have left various categories—property, family—of what is dear to them for Jesus’ name’s sake will receive a “hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”  The main punch line in verses 19:28-30 is that those who have “left” behind what they value for Jesus’ sake will be richly rewarded.  Jesus focuses first on the circle of the twelve (or perhaps included other disciples in the band that followed him, including women):  they will have rulership.  Then, He broadens to all who have left things and says they will receive a hundred-fold back.  This will all take place in the “regeneration.”  This particular word is only used one other time, in Titus 3:5—“the washing of regeneration.”  That context is referring to individual salvation.  The present context uses the word to refer to the renewal when Jesus will reign.  Four concepts seem to be almost equivalent in this passage—“regeneration,” “Kingdom of God,” “eternal life,” and “saved.”  As Jesus envisions that great future, He sees those who have experienced great deprivation because of their dedication to Jesus having abundance, being amply repaid for their loss.  In fact, His final statement is that there will be some reversals in that time.  Many who are of the first rank in this life—privileged, wealthy, powerful, seemingly blessed—will be in last place, and many who are despised, ignored, cast-off, and (as Wesley would say) the off-scouring of the world—these will be in the first rank, seated at the head table.

·         I Corinthians 3:10-15:  The context of this passage is ministry.  Paul is dealing with factions in the church at Corinth (3:4).  So, he digresses and discusses the role of Christian leaders, especially himself and Apollos (3:5-7).  He states in 3:8 that each leader will be rewarded according to his work.  The members of the church he compares to a field and to a building (3:9).  He then expands the metaphor of a building:  Paul laid the foundation, since he was the one who founded the church at Corinth.  Others came later to continue building on that foundation (3:10).  The foundation is Jesus Christ (3:11).  Each one builds with materials.  Some are combustible, and some are metals or other materials that can withstand fire.  The Day will bring the fire test to these materials (3:12-13).  The metaphor/allegory is transparent:  the materials represent the work of those leaders who have added to the church which Paul has founded.  Some of the work is praiseworthy—people who have accepted Christ as Savior, Christians who have deepened in their discipleship, Christians who have developed into leaders who can win others and disciple them, important teaching, vibrant worship, and so forth.  Other work is without value—bureaucratic power structures, shallow or even false teaching, empire building, creation of dysfunctional cultures within the church, souls wounded by power-hungry leaders, neglected church discipline, and so forth.  The Day will come.  Exactly what the Day is requires careful study and is beyond the scope of this article.  We can quickly say that it will take place in association with Christ’s coming for the church.  At that Day, there will be judgmental fire (keep in mind this is a metaphor/allegory) that will test the work of these leaders.  If the work survives, then the leader will receive a reward.  (3:13-14) The work also may not survive, even though the person will be saved (3:15).  Note that the warning which follows is more severe.  It has to do with those who seek to destroy the church. (3:16-17) As far as I can tell the present passage (3:10-15) focuses on Christian leaders in the church.  It is not a “judgment of works” that applies to all Christians. 

·         II Timothy 2:8-13:  Paul is exhorting Timothy to live a courageous and disciplined life in the face of difficulty (2:1-7).  He describes his own suffering as he is chained even as he writes to Timothy.  He does this willingly, for the cause of the gospel, that people might receive salvation (2:8-10).  Then, he makes a direct connection between the events of this life and our destiny (2:11-13).  Possibly he is quoting from a hymn or poem of the time.  First, if we die with Christ, we will also live with Him.  Although Paul is especially addressing suffering under persecution, to “die with him” (2:11) would not necessarily be a death due to persecution.  It is simply a death of one who is connected with Jesus.  If we die “in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13), we can look forward to living with Him (present text, 2:11).  For Paul, looking toward his own execution, this was a comfort.  Furthermore, our endurance will be rewarded with a place of majesty:  “we will also reign with him.”  Our destiny is to share Christ’s inheritance (Romans 8:17), which includes the Kingdom.  What that involves is unknown, but I believe at least part of that rulership will be simply the fact that we shall be victorious in life.  Most of us experience plenty of defeat in our lives—our bodies wear out, our memories lapse, we fight off depression, fear, anger, and disappointment.  Some are more successful than others.  Some handle life better than others.  Nevertheless, we are all limited both by the fact that we are creatures and by the fact that we live in a fallen world.  But Christ has been given a promise that all His enemies—which are also our enemies—will be His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  And we shall reign with Him.  Finally, the last line of the poem is a reminder that Jesus never fails.  We fail and are not always faithful, but He is always faithful.  He is worthy of our trust, and we can trust Him to take us to victory.

·         James 1:12:  See in a previous article under “Resurrection.”



·         Luke 22:67-69:  Jesus was before the Sanhedrin and was being examined.  In answer to the question if He was the Christ, He replied, in part, “But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  In this way, He confessed His identity.  He referred to Psalm 110:1.  Thus, He indicated not only His identity, but His future.  He could take His rightful place beside the Father, but He would do so in transition.  There will come a day when His enthronement in heaven will give way to the next step, after His enemies become His footstool.

·         Acts 3:19-21:  The occasion was the healing of the lame man by the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:1-10).  When a crowd gathered, Peter began to speak, reviewing the events surrounding Jesus’ death.  As he did, he laid a portion of the blame on the people to whom he was speaking.  But he also gave them the opportunity to repent.  (3:11-19) He alluded to the possibility that Jesus would return in response to their repentance (3:20).  He also made clear the general principle that Jesus would remain in heaven until “the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” (3:21) It is not clear whether the repentance of the people would change that time.  What is clear from this and similar passages is that Jesus went to heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and He is seated with the Father and He will return from Heaven to earth.

·         Hebrews 1:8-13:  This is the conclusion of the opening passage of Hebrews.  The passage (1:1-14) begins by proclaiming that God has spoken to us by His Son.  It then announces that Christ is superior to the angels (1:4) and proves that fact in 1:5-14.  In 1:1-6, the passage focuses on the birth of Christ and, perhaps, alludes to His pre-existence.  Verse 1:7 describes angels in supernatural terms as fiery spirits, but then contrasts their being to the greatness of Christ.  He reigns eternally (1:8) and is specially anointed (1:9).  He is the creator of heaven and earth and will outlast them, changing them when they wear out, like He would a change of clothes (1:10-12).  Finally, as a climax, the text refers to Psalm 110:1.  The Son is invited to sit at the right hand of the Father until His enemies are made His footstool (1:13).  No angel has received such an invitation.  The full story of this invitation in eschatology is left untold, as is the case in other New Testament references to this Psalm (Matthew 22:44 and parallels in Mark 12:36 and Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34, Mark 16:19 ((disputed text)), Hebrews 10:12-13 and 12:2).  However, when one reads the entire 110th Psalm, one is reminded of Revelation 19:11-21.  It is obvious from the references that Psalm 110 was an important text for the early believers as well as for Jesus, for it gives a “big picture” view of Christ in His ascension, “session,” and future victory.  In this particular reference, the focus is on the personhood of Jesus Christ.  Though He lived among us, His eternal majesty is directly tied to His being the Son of God (1:2).

·         Hebrews 10:11-16:  Again, the writer refers to Psalm 110:1 in verse 10:12-13.  The focus in this passage is on the priesthood of Christ, the Great High Priest.  Especially the focus is on the particular sacrifice which Christ presented, which was His own body through His death on the cross (see 10:10).  So, Christ’s redemptive work was His bloody death on the cross, which He gave to God as a sacrifice for our sin (10:10-12a).  In this act, He was both the priest and the sacrificial animal.  When He completed His work (the text omits His resurrection, but it is implied by His session on the throne), He sat down together with the Father and remains there until His enemies become His footstool (10:12b-13).  So, in a few verses the time from AD 30 to the present and into the future are encompassed.  No details are given of what will be involved for His enemies to be defeated, but the implication is that a future is envisioned that will be free of the enemies of Christ.  Verse 10:14 contrasts with verse 10:11.  The Hebrew priests constantly offered sacrifices in response to the sins of the people, but Jesus, in one sacrifice, completed the redemptive work for all time.  In the verses that follow (10:15-18), the writer applies the Old Testament concept of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-37) to the work of Christ.  Two features of the New Covenant are highlighted. First, there is the internal work of God to bring about a new person “on the inside” rather than simply adherence to a set of commandments.  Second, there is permanent forgiveness for sins available, rather than the necessity for continual offering of animal sacrifices.  The promise of the New Covenant in the Old Testament context is considered to be fulfilled through Jesus Christ.  In Dispensationalism, the New Covenant in Jeremiah is considered to be strictly for Israel, and the New Covenant mentioned by Jesus at His institution of the Lord’s Supper is considered to be a separate Covenant for the church era.  This necessitates, for the Dispensationalist, that the book of Hebrews must be understood to be written only to Israel.  That opinion is not supported by any specific statement in the book.  Admittedly there is an overwhelming amount of content that relates to Israel, yet, it is a book found in the New Testament canon, and that forces us to ask:  “Is this book for Christians or not?”  That is a subject beyond the scope of this article.

·         Hebrews 12:1-2:  This passage refers back to Hebrews 11, often called the “Roll Call of the Heroes of the Faith.”  In that passage, various people of the Old Testament era exemplify what it is to walk by faith.  These, who have died, form a great cloud of witnesses (12:1).  What are they witnesses to?  They confessed what it is to be “strangers and exiles” looking for God’s “heavenly” country (11:13-16).  That is, they demonstrated how to live in anticipation of a promise.  We are surrounded by them and are exhorted to run our own race in anticipation of what is ahead.  Moreover, we have the greatest of all examples, Jesus, who endured the suffering of the cross.  He, too, looked forward to “the joy that was set before” Him.  What was that joy?  In part, it was the opportunity to sit at the right hand of the Father.  (12:2) But, as the other references to His session indicate, His session awaits a complete victory when His enemies will be His footstool (Psalm 110:1).    



·         Matthew 23:37-39:  This paragraph contains the closing words of Jesus in His stinging denunciation of the Jewish leaders (23:1-39), especially the scribes and Pharisees.  He warns the crowds that these men “preach, but they do not practice” (23:3).  He pronounces woes upon them:  for shutting up the Kingdom from people (23:13), for making proselytes children of hell (23:15), for creating complex rules and loopholes about oaths (23:16-22), for being technically pure in tithing but neglecting the more important issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (23:23-24), for worrying about external issues but not their hearts (23:25-26), for being beautiful outside but dead inside (23:27-28), for claiming they would not have killed the prophets yet Christ could foresee their persecution of the Christians (23:29-36).  At the end of this condemnation, Jesus’ heart softens for the Jerusalem He loves.  He would have gathered the people as a hen gathers her chicks, but Jerusalem has rejected Him (23:37).  Now the city’s house is “left…desolate” (23:38).  I have commented in an article on Matthew 24 that the term “house” most likely refers to the nation of Israel, with Jerusalem as representative of the nation.  Nothing in the context suggests that the Temple is in mind.  The House of Israel is “desolate” in the sense of being empty or barren.  This, Jesus is saying, is the condition of the people of that day.  The rejection of Jesus the Messiah was symptomatic of their spiritual condition.  Then, Jesus says they will not see Him again until a very certain Day arrives.  At that time they will rejoice and say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  (23:39) This is a quotation from Psalm 118:26, and it probably refers to the entire Psalm.  This Psalm is one of deliverance from and victory over enemies.  So, Jesus is saying:  “When you see me again, you shall see me as the victor who delivers you from all your enemies.”  The crowds understood this when Jesus made His triumphant victory of Palm Sunday.  Matthew places chapter 23 after that entry, though Luke depicts Jesus’ saying the contents of 23:37-39 at an earlier time (Luke 13:31-35).  The NIV Study Bible speculates that Jesus made the statement more than once.  That is certainly possible.  The first question is, is Jesus referring to the events of Palm Sunday.  Matthew’s version would answer “No,” but Luke’s version opens that possibility.  If one considers the whole Psalm and reviews the events of Palm Sunday, one would have to reject the idea that the excitement of the crowds on that Sunday fulfilled the prediction of Matthew 23:39.  I say that because their excitement and adoration was largely in anticipation that Jesus would be the triumphant Messiah.  Jesus implied in 23:39 that the triumphant praise, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” would be shouted in a time of visible victory.  That victory, which Jesus is promising in this verse, will come when Jesus returns from heaven, the conqueror on a white horse (Revelation 19:11ff).

·         Matthew 26:64:  With these words, Jesus sealed his fate before the Sanhedrin.  The claims He made were so totally without bounds that He was either who He claimed to be or a madman.  Perhaps C. S. Lewis had this in mind when he wrote:  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else He would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God:  or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.”  (Lewis, 56) Jesus was saying two things about His future.  First, that He would be seated at the right hand of God (see the previous entries on this subject).  He also said that from that position, He would be “coming” on the clouds.  This latter statement is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14.  It is beyond the scope of this article to analyze that passage, but I shall make a few comments.  First, it is very likely that Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man” mostly in reference to this passage.  Second, this passage establishes the ultimate victory of God and His Man over all the empires of the world, including the final empire of the Antichrist/Beast.  Third, the passage looks forward to a great Kingdom, an “everlasting dominion” (Daniel 7:14 and see 7:27).  Jesus, in Matthew 26:64, identified Himself as the Son of Man who would have that everlasting dominion.  In answer to the demand to confirm or deny whether He was the Messiah, Jesus chose to look to the future.  I paraphrase:  “You ask Me if I am the Messiah.  You really do not have a clue what “Messiah” means.  I’ll tell you what it means.  Someday, I shall return and you shall get a glimpse of who I am.  You will see Me on the right hand of the Father, coming on clouds, victorious over all enemies, about to receive a Kingdom that will never end.  You’ve arrested me and treated me roughly, dragged me here to this kangaroo court in the middle of the night.  Someday, I shall return, and all my glory shall be revealed.”  

·         Luke 18:8:  This is the conclusion of the Parable of the Importunate Widow (18:1-8).  That parable was told to exhort and encourage people to pray and not lose heart.  The illustration uses the device of an unlikely hero.  The hero is a judge who does not worry about pleasing anyone.  Yet, a widow—one of the most vulnerable of society—keeps after him until he relents and gives her justice.  So, Jesus says, in effect:  if that no-good judge did right under the importunity of the widow, think about what a loving God would do.  If the elect cry out to Him, will He not give them justice?  Jesus gives the answer:  God’s justice will come quickly.  Then, Jesus asks a question without giving the answer:  Will He find faith when He returns?  Now this brief passage has a bigger context.  It is not simply a parable suitable for Monday morning devotional reading.  The “speedily” with which God acts (verse 18:8) is about how soon God’s final justice will come.  Jesus is connecting His own “coming” with God’s justice.  Moreover, He opens a big question for the church.  Will there be elect who pray for justice on the earth?  Will there be any who are praying and not losing heart at that time.  Jesus opens the real possibility that the answer is “No.”  We do have another answer in Revelation 6:9-11:  The martyrs are assured that there will be more martyrs before the end comes and God avenges their martyrdom. 

·         Acts 1:10-11:  This is, in my view, one of the central Scriptures on the Second Coming.  It does not give us great detail, and we certainly could make it fit whatever scheme (or, at least, a number of different schemes) of eschatology that we espouse.  Nevertheless, it states in no uncertain terms the future return of Jesus Christ to the earth.  Jesus led a group of His disciples to the Mount of Olives (we infer from verse 1:12).  As He was speaking, He began to rise into the air and disappeared into a cloud.  There then appeared two “men,” whom we take to be angels.  They announced that “this Jesus…will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  (Acts 1:11)  I offer the following comments: 

o   It is “this Jesus”—the Jesus of Nazareth that they followed for three and a half years, whom they saw crucified, buried, and raised from the dead.  The One they had given their hearts to and who was their leader.  The same one will come back.

o   He will come.  He will come back.  They would be without His physical presence for the duration, but they would have an assurance that He will come again. 

o   He will “come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  The word picture that Luke draws is unambiguous.  The witnesses to the event were obviously astounded at what they saw.  What they were seeing was miraculous, awe-inspiring.  I have no doubt they were staring with their jaws dropped in utter amazement.  The angels gave them a mild rebuke, perhaps more to get their attention than anything else.  However, they needed to tell them something important:  The Next Big Thing.  Just as He floated up into the clouds, He will also return with the clouds to the earth.  

o   In a sense, this ends the story of “this Jesus.”  If we follow Luke-Acts, it begins with the announcement to Mary and the virgin conception by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is the first coming.  We follow His birth, growth, baptism, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.  The story has been completed—for now.  The next event will be His return to earth.  In the meantime, He sits with the Father and makes intercession for us. 

o   Our faith is focused on the story of Jesus, which includes His ascension AND HIS SECOND COMING.  It is as much an article of our faith as the rest of the story.  The ancients included it in the Apostles’ Creed:  “From thence [right hand of the Father] He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”  Those who sweep the Second Coming under the rug are committing an act of heresy.

·         I Corinthians 11:26:  This is the final sentence in Paul’s statement of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  In communion we look back to the foundation of our salvation—the death of our Lord Jesus.  As we eat the bread and drink the cup, we preach to one another and to ourselves:  This is why we have peace with God and are accepted by Him.  We do this, as in all of our worship, as an act of faith.  We have faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.  The power of the symbols is in the power of the reality of what they symbolize.  Yet, as we look back, we also look forward.  We understand that this simple act of worship—the one act instituted by our Lord—is what we do in the meantime.  We know that God in Christ has instituted the Kingdom of God.  That will be fully realized when He comes.  Jesus said:  “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)  So, Paul says we proclaim the Lord’s death through the act of communion until that day when we enjoy table fellowship with Him in the Kingdom.  That day will be realized when He comes again.

·         Philippians 3:20-21:  I have commented on this passage in the first of these articles under “Heaven.”

·         The “appearing” of Jesus Christ:  The word “appearing,” which translates a word that is related to “epiphany,” is used six times, all in Pauline epistles.  In most cases it refers to the Second Coming of Christ (though Dispensationalists might refer it to the Rapture in some cases).  The following are those uses.

·         II Thessalonians 2:8:  This passage has been discussed at length in another article.  This verse refers to the destruction of the Man of Lawlessness by Jesus.  He will accomplish this by the “breath of his mouth” and by “the appearance [appearing] of his coming.”  The “coming” is the Parousia.  In most interpretations of the whole passage, the Man of Lawlessness is understood to be the Antichrist/Beast of Revelation 13, who is active during the Tribulation period.  He is defeated by Christ at His Second Coming.  Therefore, the “appearance” or “appearing” of Christ at His Parousia would be equivalent to His Second Coming. 

·         I Timothy 6:13-14:  Paul has been giving Timothy a number of instructions, such as to pursue righteousness and fight the good fight of faith (verses 6:11-12).  He adds further weight to his admonitions by charging Timothy in the presence of God and Jesus Christ to keep “the commandment.”  Exactly what he means by “the commandment” is not certain.  It may include all the admonitions in verses 6:11-12, or it may be the whole calling to righteousness.  This charge, to keep the commandment, is to be fulfilled until the “appearing” of Jesus.  This may be taken to mean the Second Coming of Christ, although I recognize that some would disagree and designate it as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture appearance of Christ.

·         II Timothy 1:10:  In this instance, the use of “appearing” refers to the FIRST coming of Christ.  God’s purpose and grace (verse 1:9) were manifested in Christ at His (first) appearing, in His ministry, death, and resurrection (1:10).  By that grace we are saved (1:9).

·         II Timothy 4:1-5:  Verse 4:1 is a difficult sentence grammatically.  Paul charges Timothy, first of all, before God and Jesus Christ.  He adds to the solemnity of that by reminding Timothy that Jesus will judge the living and the dead.  Then, he also charges him with reference to, or in the light of, Jesus’ appearing and His Kingdom.  The difficulty is that the grammatical construction of the first part does not parallel the second part.  This may highlight the meaning.  Paul is charging Timothy as though he and his protégé were standing right in front of God and His Son Jesus.  He is also charging him as they both reflect on the future—that Jesus is coming again and will receive a Kingdom.  Paul is calling upon Timothy to fulfill his calling, to do the work of ministry with this consciousness filling his heart.  Paul connects the Lord’s appearing with His Kingdom. 

·         II Timothy 4:6-8: These verses have been considered elsewhere in the entries under “Reward.”  Paul is anticipating his own death.  He looks forward to a “crown of righteousness” that the Lord will award him.  The crown is “laid up” for him, but will be awarded on “that Day.”  “That Day” is not defined, but it appears to be a very special day, a day when there is a completion of God’s purposes.  One must conclude that it is a day associated with the end of the age, the Second Coming, the Kingdom of God, and other future events.  The full meaning and use of “Day” in eschatology is beyond the scope of this article.  On that special Day, Paul will receive his crown of righteousness.  And it will not only be Paul who is given this crown, for this crown belongs to “all who have loved his appearing.”  (4:8) Again, this last-days “appearing” refers either to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture appearance of Christ or to the Second Coming.

·         Titus 2:11-14:  In 2:1-10, Paul admonishes people of various stations in life (older men and women, younger men and women, slaves) to live godly lives, so that people outside the church will not be offended by misbehavior.  He justifies these admonitions (2:11-14) by referring to the grace of God (2:11) as that which trains us to live upright lives (2:12).  It is a little odd to think of grace as that which instructs people how to live.  Paul goes on to refer to the redemption in Christ that has created a “people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (2:14) Thus, a component of the redemption process is training in righteous behavior.  This righteous behavior characterizes our lives in this present age (2:12).  As we live out our lives now, we live in anticipation of a great future event.  This event is termed “our blessed hope” (2:13).  (The Greek does not have “our,” but simply “the.”)   This hope is “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:13).  A more literal translation of 2:13 would be:  “Awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Alternatively (again, quite literally):  “Awaiting the blessed hope, even the appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.”  This latter translation is in line with the ESV and NIV, while the former is in line with the New Revised Standard Version, New American Standard Version, and the King James and New King James Versions.  This “appearing,” I believe, is the time when Jesus will come with “power and great glory” at the Second Coming (Matthew 24:30), which would correspond to the language of Titus 2:13.  In other words, Titus 2:13 refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “blessed hope.”  However, Dispensationalists believe this refers to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church (Pentecost, 203). 

·         Hebrews 10:37:  This verse is part of a lengthy exhortation beginning at 10:19.  The believers are encouraged to enter into the presence of God (10:19-22), to hold onto their confession (10:23), and to encourage one another and meet together (10:24-25).  These admonitions come with the reminder of the approaching Day (10:25).  The writer diverges to give a severe warning against willful rebellion and sin (10:26-31).  Then, the readers are encouraged to “recall the former days” when they had served the Lord faithfully in the face of persecution (10:32-34).  Then, they are admonished to hold to their confidence and exhibit endurance (10:35-36).  They can take heart that “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.” (10:37) Bible notes refer this and the following verse to Habakkuk 2:3-4 as well as other Old Testament references that have to do with fulfillment of a prediction in a speedy fashion.  For us, this word of encouragement strains us, since these words were written almost 2000 years ago.  Our encouragement needs to come from II Peter 3 which assures us that the Lord has a time table that is not our time table.  In the meantime, as we return our attention to Hebrews, we are to live by faith and not shrink back in the face of opposition (10:38-39).  So, the Christian life and the persecutions and other troubles that it brings are lived out in a context of the assurance that Jesus is coming.

·         James 5:7-12:  James, whose letter is full of admonitions, now admonishes his readers to be patient.  He has just excoriated rich people who have exploited their laborers (5:1-6).  The wording seems to indicate that some in the church were among those who were so viciously treated (see verse 5:6).  In the face of this kind of trouble, the people of God are encouraged to be patient “until the coming [Parousia] of the Lord.”  He compares them to farmers who wait for two sets of rain, the early (autumn) and later (spring).  Grain was sown in the fall and reaped in late spring.  In that semi-desert climate, it is likely that the grain would not look like much until it received that last push of rain.  A farmer would be acting rashly to go out and harvest before the spring rains came.   We, perhaps, want the Lord to deliver to us the Kingdom prematurely.  We have to recognize that God reserves to Himself the timing (see Acts 1:7).  The “Latter Rain Movement” used James 5:7 and other references to the “latter rains” to typify their movement.  I believe that a number of the teachings from that group are erroneous.   I have written an article (titled “A Special Message”) regarding the Manifested Sons of God teaching.  There is no warrant in this passage to believe that it predicts a super outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days.  The emphases in the passage are on steadfastness in the face of suffering.  As was the case in the previous passage (Hebrews 10:37), Christians are encouraged to live out their faith with integrity, perseverance, and endurance with the anticipation that the Lord will come again.  

·         I John 2:28-3:3:  I have discussed this passage under “Resurrection” in a previous article.

·         Jude 14-15:  Jude is writing this epistle to warn the church to “contend for the faith” (verse 3) against “certain people” who have infiltrated the church and are twisting grace into a license for sensuality and who deny the Lord (4).  These people will be judged when the Lord returns with ten thousand (alternatively:  countless thousands) of His saints (or “holy ones”) (14-15).  Jude refers to the Book of I Enoch, an apocryphal book of the first century before Christ.  Both the NIV Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible have notes that defend the fact that Jude quotes from this book.  The NIV Study Bible says:  “That it [Enoch] was not canonical does not mean that it contained no truth; nor does Jude’s quotation of the book mean that he considered it inspired…”  From this passage we have another reference to the Second Coming of Christ.  That coming will be accompanied by many “holy ones” or “saints.”  In at least two cases, Mark 8:38 and Matthew 25:31, Jesus mentions that angels will accompany Him at His return.  It is also true that the description in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 indicates that the people of God who participate in the Resurrection/Rapture will accompany the Lord at His Second Coming.  So we cannot be sure who the “holy ones” are.  When Christ comes, among His other activities will be a judgment on “all” (Jude 15) and especially a judgment on blasphemers (15). 


Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible. Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Lewis, C. S.  Mere Christianity.  New York:  The MacMillan Co., 1952.

Friday, October 11, 2013


            In this article, I continue surveying various Scriptures that point to the last days.  I have listed the topics alphabetically.  I certainly do not guarantee that I have found all the Scriptures that should be included.  In each topic, I make a few comments.  I shall continue the survey in an additional article.



·       Acts 2:17-21:  This passage, from Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, is a direct—and faithful—quotation from Joel 2:28-32.  Peter applies this prophecy to the events—especially the speaking in tongues—that were being witnessed by the Jews in Jerusalem.  This prophecy predicts an outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh.  One must always be cautious when observing all-encompassing phrases in Scripture, such as “world,” “everyone,” “all,” etc.  It is obvious that every human has not received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Not even all Jews of that day received such an outpouring.  There are two possible explanations.  One is that the Spirit was available to all, but only some were able to receive Him.  The other explanation is that God had opened up the possibility for all to receive in this new dispensation.  Note that Joel—and Peter—give examples of kinds of people who would be eligible to receive the Spirit—young, old, male, female, and servants (slaves).  These examples cross traditional barriers, so that “all” people have access to the Spirit.  The timing of the outpouring of the Spirit is designated to be “in the last days.  Joel uses “afterward,” which is the time after a restoration depicted in Joel 2:18-27.  In Joel 3:1ff, the material relates to events at the end of the age, so the “afterward” refers to “the last days,” as Peter interprets the prophecy.  Thus, Peter is referring to that era, in which his own generation lived, as “the last days.”  It is true that the gospels use language that has a “last days” feel to it.  For example, John the Baptist and Jesus both preached:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 3:2 and 4:17)  So, the New Testament has a perspective that the end of the present order was very close. 

o   One approach to this issue is to assume that Jesus and others of that time were mistaken (some liberal scholars). 

o   Another is to assume that the end of the era did occur with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70 (Preterist view). 

o   A third possibility is to understand the advent of the Kingdom was to be delayed because of Jewish rejection of Jesus, and the church age is a parenthesis in God’s time-table; God will take up the Kingdom time-table at the end of the church age, and the Kingdom will, indeed, be “at hand” (Dispensationalist view) 

o   Another possibility is to understand that the New Testament era—the coming of the Holy Spirit, the creation of the church, the dispensation of grace—is a transition into the future era.  Despite the fact that it has almost been 2000 years, we still are in the last days.

o    The fact that Peter identified the Day of Pentecost, which was surely the day when the church was formed, as a “last day” event seems to indicate that the church is a part of the last days and the fourth possibility is the best understanding.     

·         Several Scriptures refer to “later times,” “last days,” or “the time will come.”  These each depict those last days as a time of apostasy, false teaching, and apostasy.  Those Scripture were dealt with in a previous article under the heading “Apostasy.”  The Scriptures are I Timothy 4:1-4, II Timothy 3:1-9, and II Timothy 4:1-5.  In addition II Peter 2:1-3 warns against false teachers in the future without placing them specifically in the “last days.”  Also, II Peter 3:3-18 discusses the last days when scoffers will mock the idea of the Parousia.  All of the warnings appear to be directed toward the church.  They form a picture of the church that will be weakened by false teachers and their doctrines.  Jesus warns against a deteriorating situation in the church (this is my belief—see my articles on this material) in Matthew 24:10-12.

·         Hebrews 12:25-29:  This passage is the end of an exhortation beginning at 12:14.  The passage centers around the experience of the Israelites at Mount Sinai.  When they were gathered at the mountain, the Lord spoke and the people were frightened.  For there were accompanying phenomena—lightning, thunder, a trumpet blast, a thick cloud, smoke, fire, and the mountain shook.  Now, the author of Hebrews warns to listen to the Lord, for He is going to shake things up again:  “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  (Hebrews 12:26) This is a quotation from Haggai 2:6.  That passage refers to God’s judgment and the coming of the “desire of nations” (Haggai 2:7), which many interpret to be the Messiah.  Haggai conflates the coming of the Messiah, glory of the Temple, and God’s judgment.  Hebrews interprets the words of Haggai as a last day event:  “This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:27)  This picture of the future is one of violent judgment—a judgment that tests the permanence of everything in the created order.  The passage concludes with gratitude that we have received a “kingdom that cannot be shaken…”  (Hebrews 12:28) The “last days” scenario in this passage is vague, not really intended to convey detailed information, but rather to convey the nature of the future.  It is a future that will differentiate that which is of the unshakable Kingdom of God and that which is of this present order and which cannot abide the powerful shaking of God.  The final reminder is from Deuteronomy 4:24:  “Our God is a consuming fire.”  (from Hebrews 12:29)  The reference to Deuteronomy reminds us that God is a jealous God and desires our complete loyalty.  This passage is a warning to heed God, the One who can shake the universe and the heavenly realms and has a rightful claim on our single-minded attention.  The future looms before us, with an unshakable Kingdom, but also a consuming fire.  Let us seek holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).



·         John 5:28-30 (16-47):  This is part of an answer that Jesus gave to those who were criticizing Him.  It began when He healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-15).  Because He healed on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders persecuted Him.  Jesus gave the famous reply:  ““My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)  This led to more abuse because Jesus in essence said He was the Son of God.  First, Jesus explained His relationship to His Father:  He only did as He was directed by the Father (5:19).  I conjecture that He was putting the pressure on His accusers:  If you believe in following the Father, you will appreciate that I follow His lead.  Then, Jesus promised eternal life to those who believed Him and the Father (5:24ff).  Then, Jesus announced the future of the dead:  they will rise, either to live or to be condemned (5:28-29).  In fact, the prediction of eternal life in 5:28-29 is really the third such prediction, each of which was worded somewhat differently (5:21, 5:24-25, 5:28-29).  In the first, 5:21, the emphasis is on the similarity between the Father and the Son.  The Father raises the dead, and the Son gives life to whom He will.  In the second, 5:24-25, the emphasis (especially in 5:24) is on eternal life through belief in the Son.  In the third, the emphasis is on the two contrasting destinies—each of which is preceded by resurrection—of the righteous and the unrighteous.  It is interesting to note that each time resurrection is predicted, judgment by the Son is also predicted (5:22, 5:27, 5:30).  Thus, Jesus was declaring His own authority and power to give eternal life as well as to judge the dead.  In these few words, Jesus gave important information about the future after physical death.  That future includes the resurrection of our physical bodies and either eternal life or condemnation.  All of this future is in the hands of the Son of God.    One somewhat confusing statement is 5:25:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”  Although physical resurrection is in view throughout the passage, we also must recognize that Jesus is teaching the profound truth of eternal life.  In verse 5:21, the Son “gives life.”  Those who believe Jesus’ message have “eternal life.”  (5:24)  the Son has “life” in Himself (5:26).  Thus, in 5:25, Jesus implies that not all the “dead” will hear His voice.  Only those who do hear will live.  This may be saying that only the righteous dead will hear His voice—but this is contradicted by 5:28.  The ESV Study Bible notes and the NIV Study Bible notes both interpret these word to mean that those who are dead spiritually and who receive Jesus’ message will have eternal life.  Thus, that time when the message of eternal life through the Son “is now here.”  (5:25)
·         John 6:39-40:  Jesus had been non-stop busy.  He had fed more than five thousand people with five loaves and two fish.  (6:1-13) When the people were close to seizing Him and making Him king, He slipped away to a mountain.  (6:14-15) That night, the disciples were out on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus walked out to them on the water.  (6:16-21) The next day, the crowd searched for Jesus and finally caught up with Him.  (6:22-24)  In the teaching Jesus gave on that day, He declared that He is the Bread of Life, the true manna from heaven that satisfies the deepest needs of people.  (6:25-35)  Then, He declares that He has come to do the Father’s will—to lose nothing that the Father has given Him and to raise it up on the last day (6:39), for everyone who believes on Him will have eternal life (6:40).  In this whole set of passages, we see the glory of the Son of God.  That glory was not to display Himself before people, but to meet people in their need.  Yet, He met the needs of people in ways that were glorious to look upon.  He multiplied the loaves and fish, and He walked on the water.  So, He has legitimacy when He declares that He is the Bread of Life that satisfies.  The satisfaction that He brings into our lives is an eternal satisfaction that transcends physical death.  So, He promises to raise us up on the last day.  An integral component of salvation is to experience resurrection.  The peculiar wording of verse 39 is as follows:  “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  The “but” is the strong version of “but” in Greek.  This means that the clause that follows is in contrast to what came before:  God’s will is that Jesus not lose any that He has been given, but, rather than lose them, He should raise them on the last day.  Thus, physical death is a temporary set-back that Jesus will overcome by the resurrection. 
·         John 11:25-26:  Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died.  Martha came out to meet Jesus.  She said to Jesus (11:21):  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  This was both a statement of faith and a rebuke.  Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise again (11:23).  Martha declared her faith in the resurrection (11:24):  “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus then made His startling statement:  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Jesus had declared that He is the Bread of Life.  Now He declared that He is the very embodiment of the resurrection and the life of the ages to come.  Martha’s faith was in the God of Israel and in a great future for God’s people.  Now, she was faced with the reality of the loss of her brother.  As Jesus came into her presence, she could express faith in His power to heal, but she was about to experience something far greater.  As the story played out, Jesus went to the tomb and called Lazarus from the dead.  The man, wrapped in grave cloths, came forth from the tomb!  It was a powerful statement of Jesus’ power.  However, eventually Lazarus would die and be buried.  This miracle was really only an illustration of the far greater truth of Jesus’ statement.  For Jesus was saying that His very being is life.  As the gospel of John states in the Prologue:   “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)  To meet Jesus is to meet life.  It is both a quality and duration of life.  Many believe that they will conquer death through science.  But what quality of life will people possess if they do not receive that life from God?  The resurrection life that Jesus gives will be filled “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).  Jesus expresses the resurrection component of salvation in two ways in verses 11:25-26.  First, He states that one who believes in Him “though he die, yet shall he live.”  (11:25) The other manner of expressing the gift of eternal life is more difficult to understand:  “[And] everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (11:26) The ESV Study Bible note interprets this in a way with which I agree.  Those who live are those who have Jesus’ life in them through the new birth, and they shall never die.   In identifying Himself by an “I am” statement, Jesus was identifying with Yahweh who stated:  “I am who I am.”  (Exodus 3:14)  The following are the “I am” statements in John:
o   The Bread of Life (6:35)
o   The Light of the World (8:12, also 9:5)
o   The Gate of the Sheep (10:9 and 14)
o   The Good Shepherd (10:14)
o   The Resurrection and the Life (11:25-26)
o   The Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
o   The Vine (15:1 and 5)
·         Romans 8:23 (context Romans 8:17-39):  I have discussed this context in another article.  This verse uses rather unusual language to express the Resurrection.  It is referred to, first, as “our adoption as sons,” and, then, Paul explains that phrase with the phrase, “the redemption of our bodies.”  These two phrases both emphasize how deeply connected the Resurrection is to salvation.  For example, we find both the words “adoption” and “redemption” in Ephesians 1:5-7.  In that context, the Resurrection is not particularly in view.  Also, as we return to Romans 8, we find the term “adoption” used in 8:15.  The Spirit which we have received is a Spirit of adoption.  In 8:16, Paul mentions the role of the Spirit in assuring us that we are children of God.  So, the general understanding of Scripture is that we experience redemption and adoption in this present life through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Yet, in 8:23, Paul looks to the future.  In fact, he says, that within us there is a groaning for the future.  That groaning joins with a great chorus of groaning in all creation (8:18-25).  This groaning is a deep anticipation, as creation groans as though giving birth, waiting for the full revelation of what we, the sons of God, will be in the Resurrection.  When that takes place, our bodies will be redeemed.  They will have been redeemed at the cost of the death of Jesus.  They will be bought back from the ravages that sin as exacted upon them.  They will be set free from bondage to decay and enjoy full liberty.  And with them, creation itself will be released also from its bondage to deterioration and decay.  When we stand, fully clothed in immortality, we will be the adopted sons of God.  So, though there is a measure of these things in the present, there is a great future to look forward to, when our salvation will be fully manifested.
·         Philippians 3:20-21:  Paul has just completed his dramatic statement which describes his deepest motivations in 3:1-16.  This passage is one of the high points of Scripture.  He then exhorts his readers to imitate his example (3:17).  And he warns that some—these are persons in the church—do not live in the noble manner and with the noble motives of Paul.  They have their “minds set on earthly things.”  (3:19) In contrast, the true Christian is a citizen of heaven (3:20).  Dispensationalists use this as a proof-text that the Christian, in the church age, is to be contrasted with Israel, for Christians have a destiny in heaven and Jews have a destiny on earth (Pentecost, 227).  However, in the context of the passage, Paul is not contrasting Christians with Jews, but rather is contrasting people of evil motives with genuine Christians.  Moreover, to say that our citizenship is in heaven does not necessarily mean that we shall not inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).  However, to debate that topic is beyond the scope of this article.  Paul says that we await the Savior from heaven.  Obviously, this assumes the Savior is in heaven.  That assumption is explicit in the Apostles’ Creed:  “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”  This Savior will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”  (3:21) This brief statement could apply either to the Rapture of the living or the Resurrection of the dead, or both.  The way that it is tied directly to the eager anticipation of the Savior implies to me that the Rapture is in mind.  Keep in mind that the Resurrection and Rapture are practically simultaneous events (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).  The word choices in Greek are more evocative than the English Standard Version translation—though it is accurate.  The word “transform” can be used in some cases (in the middle voice) to mean “masquerade” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).  “Our lowly bodies” is more literally:  “the body of our humiliation [or humble state].”  “To be like” is better “to be conformed.”  The word is found in Romans 8:29:  “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  (Emphasis added)  A paraphrase of the verse might be:  “He will transform the appearance of our bodies, which are now under humiliation, to be conformed to His glorious body, in accordance with the in-working that enables Him to subject all things to Himself.”  The last clause implies that Christ’s act of Resurrection/Rapture is an act of victory, bringing us back into conformity with God’s original destiny for us.  Paradoxically, as Christ has victory over our bodies, we are liberated (see Romans 8:18-25).
·         James 1:12:  This verse makes very brief mention of the “crown of life.”  The context is trials (1:2-4), the need for wisdom (probably especially in trials) (1:5-8), and the various stations in life that people find themselves in (including poverty and the humiliation of the rich) (1:9-11).  In all of this, one is called to endure.  The promise to those who endure is the “crown of life.”  Jesus promised that those endure will be saved (Matthew 24:13).  This is not teaching salvation by works, but it is teaching the need to hold onto one’s faith in the face of all of life’s difficulties.  In Revelation 2:10, Jesus also promises the “crown of life” to those who remain faithful through their troubles, even “unto death.”  What is the “crown of life”?  We obvious understand it to mean “eternal life” (John 3:16), but, the Resurrection as the specific manifestation of eternal life makes sense in the context.  First, endurance in hard times of testing brings suffering to our bodies in many cases, though we recognize that the whole person, body, soul, and spirit, experiences suffering.  The Resurrection is a state of victory in which the body no longer can experience those trials.  Second, the crowning victory of eternal life is the Resurrection.  Though the intermediate state in heaven is a time of comfort and joy, it awaits great event that will crown life with the power and victory of the Resurrection.  So, we are motivated to endure trials as they come our way, so that we can experience the crown of life.
·         I John 2:28-3:3:  This is a case study of the inadequacy of the chapter and verse system that was imposed on the Bible centuries ago.  Some may not be aware that the system was added onto the original text.  In some cases, it is helpful, but often it does not reflect the organization of the content.  Nevertheless, we are thankful that it exists, since it provides a means of finding material in the Scriptures easily.  The passage begins with an admonition to abide in Christ.  My understanding of “abiding in Christ” is to persevere in faith in Christ—to nurture the relationship that faith engenders.  Through that relationship, we receive an abundance of all that we need to live a rich life—to grow in wisdom, in love, in joy.  If I abandon that relationship, I endanger my spiritual life (John 15:6).  In the present passage, John encourages abiding in Christ in order to have confidence when we meet the Lord at the time of His Parousia.  This “confidence” is a boldness that comes out of our relationship with the Lord (see Acts 4:13).  Moreover, this abiding will prevent our shrinking in shame before the Lord.  Obviously, we shall not be arrogant, and, certainly, we shall worship the Lord when we see Him.  But, just as now we have boldness to enter into God’s presence in prayer because of the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19), so then we shall meet the Lord without shame at His coming.  John now diverges somewhat as he discusses our nature as children of God, but he will return to the idea of meeting the Lord at the Parousia.  First, he reminds us (2:29) that those who are born of God exhibit that fact in their actions:  whoever does righteousness is born of God.  This is because the nature of the One who begot them is righteousness.  This is an almost self-evident fact, and yet some do not know it.  John begins the sentence with a condition:  “If you know that he is righteous…”  Surely, everyone knows that, but, indeed, among those tainted with the incipient Gnosticism of his day, some did not understand that.  Therefore, the further understanding—that those who are born of this righteous God will be those who practice righteousness—was also lost on those individuals who were deceived by the false teaching.  John now centers his focus on those who are born of God (3:1-3).  We are children of God because of the love of God (John 3:16).  God’s central motive is love, which drove Jesus to the cross to redeem us.  The result is that we are called the children of God.  The use of the word “called” in this verse should not be taken as a reference to a casual usage.  For example, we might say:  “He is called a great movie star.”  In this latter usage, we use “called” to mean “has the reputation among some.”  But the use in this verse is a statement of fact.  One should compare this use in Luke 1:32:  “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…”  John goes on to differentiate us from the world.  The world does not know us because we have been born of God and have His nature.  The world did not recognize Jesus because His nature was of God and far different from the nature of the world.  This statement—that we are like Jesus in this respect—is not to be taken that we have become God.  We remain creatures, but we partake of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4).  John now (3:2) returns to the subject of the Parousia.  Our nature in the present is to be the children of God.  Our future has not been manifested, but John can let us know some things.  The sense I get from this is that we cannot imagine what our future is.  Paul says a similar thing in Romans 8:18.  What John can tell us is that we shall be like Him.  I take this to be a reference to the Resurrection/Rapture.  Paul, in his much more detailed account in I Corinthians 15, states that we shall bear the image of the Man from Heaven (Christ) (I Corinthians 15:49).  John, in 3:2b, connects our transformation into the likeness of Christ to the fact that we shall see Christ as “He is.”  There is a clear distinction of the tenses:  we “shall see” Him as “He is.”  He is already the Lord who has experienced the Resurrection.  John saw Him in His glory on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:12-16).  Someday, we shall see Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14 and 19:16), utterly triumphant (Revelation 19:11-18).  And because we see Him, we shall be transformed.  Why is that?  I am not fully sure, but I think that this has to do with human capacity.  In John 3:3, Jesus said one must be born again or from above to “see” the Kingdom of God.  This “seeing” I take to mean “experience.”  In a similar manner, Paul says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom (I Corinthians 15:50).  This is in preparation to his description of the Rapture.  So, in order to see Christ in His full glory—including His Kingdom—and in order to experience Christ’s full glory, we must be transformed.  It as though the very sight of Christ will be transforming for us.  In anticipation of this, we purify ourselves (3:3).  We have this great hope—this anticipation—of a great future with the Lord.  The Lord is pure, and we also want to be pure.  John has dealt throughout I John with issues of sin and righteousness in the believer.  He exhorts us to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  He also recognizes that we sin, but that we have an advocate in Jesus, who is the atonement for our sins.  When we confess our sins, we are forgiven and cleansed.  Thus, the message of I John is:  keep it real, be honest before the Lord, and stick with the Lord like glue.  In this context, then, we purify ourselves by seeking forgiveness when we mess up and by walking in the light and shunning the darkness.  This all comes back to verse 2:29, which admonishes us to stay in the Lord’s grace as we anticipate meeting Him when He comes.
Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible. Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Pentecost, J. Dwight.  Things to Come.  Grand Rapids, Mi:  Zondervan Publ. House, 1958.