UNTIL THE END
Whenever we read “until the end” in the New Testament, the reader must make an interpretation. Is it about the end of the world, the end of an individual’s life, or the end of the Old Covenant Age?
Readers are injecting their interpretation into these passages, except none of us think about it. I will be presenting the idea that the “end” that the New Testament writers were anticipating was the end of the Old Covenant Age which was about to happen with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD.
The Greek word for “End” in the New Testament is “Telos”, and if we follow the trail of this word, I believe that we will consistently find that the “end” makes more sense as the end of the Old Covenant Age rather than the end of the planet or the end of an individual’s life. Let’s take a look.
In Matthew 10:22, it says: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” If we really think about what this verse is saying, we realize it cannot be talking about eternal salvation and the end of the world. We receive eternal salvation by accepting Jesus as our Savior, not by enduring till the end of the world. Instead, what Jesus meant was that those who stood firm in their faith and did not return to the old covenant would be saved out of the coming destruction in AD 70. Likewise, Matthew 24:13 says, “...but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Similarly, Jesus referred to the end when He was declaring destruction upon the Temple in Matthew 24:6, 14 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matt. 24:6), and, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world* as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). *[oikoumenē Strong’s Concordance, Greek #3625: a localized region, not planet earth.]
Paul also used this term to refer to the coming judgment of the old covenant system, as we see in Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (NASB). The end of the law and the end of the age were synonymous, because the age of the Law was ending. Likewise, in First Thessalonians 2:15–16, in speaking of those who had crucified Christ and the judgment coming upon them in AD 70, Paul again used this term:
...They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
Here, the word translated as last is the same word [Telos] often translated as end. The literal translation is simply, “to the end.” In other words, the wrath of God was coming upon them until the end of the age and the end of the Law. In contrast to those headed for destruction, Paul promised believers: “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8). He was not promising the Corinthians believers that God would keep them firm until the end of the world. That would not make sense, all of Paul’s original readers have been dead for a couple thousand year, and the world still exists. Instead, Paul was talking about the end of the age, which many of his readers lived to see. Similarly, the author of Hebrews wrote, “But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end ” (Heb. 3:6 NKJV). The only end the early believers had in view was the end of the Old Covenant Age they were living in. They were focused on seeing the end of the Jerusalem Temple system (Gal. 4:25-31; Heb. 8:13; 13:14), not the end of the world.