"This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" said Peter (Acts 2:14)
"No it isn't" say Premillennialists.
For some, the end is now and has been with us for a while. For others, the end is still in the
future. This is a fundamental failing of Premillenialism, failing to understand that the Bible's "last days" refer to the Church Age.
A simple "The Bible says it and that settles it" reading of Acts 2 destroys Premillennial misunderstanding of the last days.
Peter, standing up with the eleven, lift up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye of Jerusalem, be this known to you, and hearken unto my words: for these are not drunken as ye suppose ... But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
Peter's clear meaning is that the events unfolding in Acts 2, the establishment of the Church, fulfilled Joel's prophecy about "the last days." By saying "This is that," Peter (i) disputed the allegation that the miraculous teaching of those assembled for the Feast of Pentecost was the result of alcohol and (ii) demonstrated through fulfilled prophecy that the last days began 2000 years ago.
So When Are Those Last Days?
The natural assumption that any mention of the last days must refer to the end of time is based on a basic misinterpretation of scripture. Our mind naturally runs to the very end whenever the end is mentioned. Our assumption is based on our time line and not on God's time line.
What is God's time line?
- The first of God's ages was the "Patriarchal Age." This was the age of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Begun in the opening pages of Genesis, this opening stanza of religious history continued until Moses.
- The "Mosaic Age" was the second age in God's time line. During this age, the Law was given to the Children of Israel in the cataclysmic events surrounding Mt. Sinai and the Law was transgressed by the Nation of Israel as they slouched toward Babylon and beyond.
- The final stage in God's time line is the "Christian Age." Established by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the Church as God's Kingdom marches toward Christ's second coming under the authority of the New Testament instead of the Old.
Because there will be no additional dispensation of times, the Christian Age is the last age of all of God's ages. "This is that," in other words. We are living in "the last days."
Not built on a single passage, the conventional doctrine of the last days is found in several other New Testament passages.
- Isaiah predicted "the last days" and identified them with "the word of the Lord going forth from Jerusalem" (Is. 2:2). Isaiah thus joins Joel in connecting the great events described in Acts 2 with the establishment of the Kingdom.
- Paul made this point when he described believers of his day as those "upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10:11).
- Similarly, Paul declared that God "hath in these days spoken unto us by his son" (Heb. 1:2) indicating that "the last days" were the days of Christ's authority. It is important to read this verse from the perspective of its original readers. "These last days" for the Hebrews were days of almost 2,000 years ago. The last days were in effect in their times.
- The Apostle John told his readers that they were already living in "the last hour" (1 Jn. 2:18). Again, careful reading is necessary. John's first readers lived 2,000 years ago and there were living, like we are living, in "the last hour."
No doubt there will be a final end (Jn. 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48); no doubt we are living in the final age.