Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
August 28, 2016
Last Updated :
August 28, 2016
The Temptation To Manipulate God's Word, Bible Novices In Our Understanding, A Serious Responsibility To Teach God's Word, Continuity And Unity Of The Bible, Ask God For The Wisdom And Understanding Of The Spirit, Question The Actual Translation If Something Doesn't Seem Right, Matthew 28:20 Revisited, End Of The World Or End Of The Age?, The Prophet Daniel's Seventy Weeks Prophecy And The Prophetic Age, Physical Destruction Of The Earth, World Without End Or Age Without End And Eternity, Jesus Appeared At The End Of The Age And Not The End Of The World To Sacrifice Himself For Sin, The Apostles Asked Jesus About The End Of The Age In Matthew 24, A Soul Harvest At The End Of The Age, Manipulation By KJV Translators, Pervasive And Powerful Futurist Doctrine, The Scriptural Truth Has Been Twisted By Futurism, The Difficulty Of Forsaking Futurism, My Current Perspective, Apostle Paul And "In The Ages To Come", God's Grace And Long-Range Salvation Plan Extends Over Ages, The First Resurrection, Apostle Paul's Thessalonians Message, Ongoing Soul Harvests Down Through The Ages, Prophetic Ages
As I mentioned at the conclusion of part one, Bible readers and Bible teachers today face the same temptation to twist God's Word so that it conforms to our personal belief system. This temptation to distort the true meaning of God's Word is nothing new. In fact, as I discuss more at length in a few other articles, it has been going on since the First Century. While sometimes it occurs intentionally in order to promote a particular doctrinal stance, at other times, it can simply be the result of a person being a babe in Christ, and a novice when it comes to understanding the Scriptures. The Apostle Peter addressed just such an issue when he briefly mentioned how some people were wresting -- or distorting -- the meaning of some of the Apostle Paul's Epistles, in the following two verses:
"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:15-16, KJV
So as I said, teaching God's Word to others is very serious business which should not be taken lightly by anyone. We need to teach it exactly as the original authors meant for it to be understood, and not try to manipulate it in any way, so that it conforms to what we want to believe, or so that it appears to support what we believe, to others, when perhaps it really does no such thing. As the Apostle James warns us in his Epistle:
"My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
James 3:1, KJV
Please note that while the word "masters" is used in that verse, it is translated from the Greek word "didaskalos" which is also translated as "teachers" in the New Testament.
At any rate, if there is one thing of which I am convinced concerning the Bible, it is that there is continuity and unity throughout God's Word. As such, we cannot understand a certain word or phrase one way, and then at a later point change its meaning -- or translate it differently -- simply because we don't like what a verse is saying. If a passage we read does not agree with our personal theology, then the problem is not with God's Word, it is obviously with our theology. If such be the case, then we need to change it by prayerfully delving even deeper into the Scriptures, and by asking God to give us the wisdom and understanding of His Spirit. Consider the following verses:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 14:26, KJV
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
John 16:13, KJV
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Romans 8:14, KJV
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Psalms 119:18, KJV
Furthermore, if something does not seem right to you, so much so that it really bothers you, then do not be afraid to question the actual translation itself. Do not forget that the men who translated the Scriptures into English for us, were humans who were prone to error just as much as you and I. They were not gods, and they should not be placed on some kind of pedestal as KJV purists like to do. Use Hebrew and Greek lexicons, and determine for yourself if the way they translated a particular word holds up to scrutiny.
Returning to our main discussion regarding the Greek words "kosmos" and "aion", as I said earlier, making the decision to translate "aion" as "world", instead of as "age", could have been unintentional human error, or it could have been done on purpose, in order to support the doctrinal beliefs of the translators and the Church of England. Whatever the case may be, by simply examining some of those verses more closely, we can see that there are problems with them when the word "world" is used. Allow me to demonstrate my point. Let us begin with the verse from the Gospel of Matthew:
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Matthew 28:20, KJV
Now, lest you misunderstand what Jesus is saying there, He is not referring to being with the Apostles to the physical ends, or extremes, of the Earth. The word "end" is derived from the Greek word "sunteleia". This word means completion, end or consummation. As you can hopefully see, the Lord is talking about something much more than merely accompanying them as they travel around Israel, the Middle East, southern Europe, etc. Common sense dictates that the Apostles did not live to the end -- or consummation -- of the world. Thus, it does not make any sense that Jesus would say this to them. On the other hand, if we properly translate the Greek "aion" as "age", just like in the previous two verses that I shared with you, then the verse makes perfect sense, because Jesus did accompany them in Spirit to the end -- or consummation -- of that particular age. Can you see how "age" works while "world" does not? Consider the verse again with the word "age" injected into it:
"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the [age]. Amen."
Matthew 28:20, KJV
Exactly which age is Jesus talking about in the above verse? As I amply explain in "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?" and in related articles, I am convinced that it's the Prophetic Age which was prophesied by the Prophet Daniel in his profound "Seventy Weeks" prophecy. This Prophetic Age consisted of seventy seven-year periods -- or 70 x 7 -- and lasted for a total of 490 years. The age culminated with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple compound in 70 AD by the hand of Roman general Titus and his legions, and the promised Return of Jesus Christ around the same time. If you find yourself shocked by this news, then please read the aforementioned series.
Let's take a closer look now at the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. In part one, I shared with you the last half of Ephesians 3:21, as we see here:
". . . world without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3:21, KJV
If you are decently familiar with Christ's teachings and the remainder of the New Testament, then the previous verse may seem rather strange to you. After all, why would the Apostle Paul write that, when we know that the Scriptures inform us that the world -- that is, the physical Earth -- does in fact come to an end? In his own Epistle, the Apostle Peter plainly tells us that the Earth burns up. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation informs us that the Earth eventually flees away. Consider the following verses:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"
2 Peter 3:10-12, KJV
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them."
Revelation 20:11, KJV
I discuss this same subject in "Destruction of Planet Earth: The Wrath of God Revealed". Once again, if we more correctly translate "aion" as "age" in Ephesians 3:21, as it should be, instead of as "world", the verse makes a lot more sense, and its true meaning becomes clear; particularly when we look at the entire verse, as we see here:
"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, [age] without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3:21, KJV
As you can plainly see, the Apostle Paul is clearly talking about the passage of time in this verse. In fact, Paul isn't just talking about many ages, he is talking about all ages. So what does he mean by "age without end"? In my mind, that phrase can only be referring to one thing. Paul seems to be talking about eternity. This becomes even more evident when we look at the previous verses as well, and realize that he is talking about the eternal nature of God the Father, and the glory which is given unto Him, by the Church, which He Himself has established through Jesus Christ, as we see here:
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, [age] without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3:14-21, KJV
The problem with the word "aion" being incorrectly translated as "world" -- instead of as "age" -- becomes more apparent in the following verse, part of which I shared with you in part one of this series:
". . . but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Hebrews 9:26, KJV
The obvious question here is why the Apostle Paul would use the word "now" -- obviously meaning the First Century -- then refer to it as being "the end of the world", and then state that Jesus appeared in order to sacrifice Himself, and thus put away sin. Unless I am just imagining things, both we and the physical Earth are still here; and we all know full well that Jesus sacrificed Himself about two millennia ago, which clearly was not the end of the world. As you can see, there is something seriously wrong with the translation; and the KJV translators actually forced Paul to say something which he definitely did not say. However, if we properly translate the Greek word "aion" as "age", the verse makes perfect sense, as we see here:
". . . but now once in the end of the [age] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Hebrews 9:26, KJV
Now here is the verse in its entirety. Please note that the first instance of the word "world" is properly translated from the Greek word "kosmos", as it should be. It is only the second instance of the word "world" which is wrong; because "kosmos" isn't used there. The word "aion" is:
"For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the [age] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Now that verse is properly translated; because Jesus did in fact appear, and sacrifice Himself for the sins of the whole world, towards the end of that Prophetic Age of four hundred and ninety years, as the Prophet Daniel had written so many centuries earlier.
At this point in our discussion, we have now looked at a few verses where the Greek word "aion" was translated as "world", instead of as "age", as it should have been. You may recall that in part one, I told you that there was a specific reason why I had not included Matthew 24:3 in the group of verses where we were discussing the words "kosmos" and "world". As you may have figured out by now, that reason is because in that verse -- as well as in Matthew 13:39 and 13:49 -- the word "world" is not translated from "kosmos". It is in fact translated from "aion". Here again is how the translators of the KJV Bible chose to translate those three verses:
"The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels . . . So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,"
Matthew 13:39, 49, KJV
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
Matthew 24:3, KJV
In contrast, if we properly translate "aion" as "age" so that we maintain the continuity of the Scriptures, and agree with the other verses where "aion" is correctly translated as "age" or as "ages", those same three verses read as follows:
"The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the [age]; and the reapers are the angels . . . So shall it be at the end of the [age]: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,"
Matthew 13:39, 49, KJV
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the [age]?"
Matthew 24:3, KJV
By translating "aion" in this fashion, as it should be, I am quite convinced that what the Apostles really asked Jesus was not what signs would precede the destruction of the Temple, His Return, and the end of the world, but rather what signs would signal the destruction of the Temple, His Return, and the end of the age; that is, their age. In my mind, it makes no sense whatsoever that the Apostles would ask Jesus about events which were supposedly two thousand years in the far distant future, as modern Futurists like to believe.
Let me ask you a simple question. Are you really concerned about events that may occur in the year 4016? Does the year 4016 even ever cross your mind? I didn't think so. You will be dead and gone in a few decades, so you probably couldn't care less about what happens two millennia from now. You are more concerned with events which are happening right now, and perhaps in the coming decades, correct?
In the very same manner, when the Lord told the Apostles that Herod's Temple would be utterly destroyed, they were obviously most concerned about their own immediate future, and not events which would occur long after they were dead. Thus, it makes perfect sense that they would ask "and of the end of the age", and not "and of the end of the world". Of course, in a real sense, what actually happened about four decades later was no doubt viewed by the Jews as the end of the world -- that is, their world -- but that is not what the Apostles asked Jesus according to the word "aion" which is used in that verse.
Now we come to the gist of the matter. This is the part that will be extremely difficult for a lot of my Futurist-leaning Christian friends and brethren to accept, because it directly contradicts what they have for so long believed, and want to continue to believe, regarding Jesus Christ's Return.
What this all means is that everything which Jesus said in response to the Disciples' questions in Matthew chapter 24, as well as in the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and also in the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, concerned the end of the age, and not the actual end of the world as we know it. Everything.
For example, when those verses in Matthew chapter thirteen talk about a harvest occurring "at the end of the [age]", I am convinced that they are talking about this one:
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Matthew 24:29-31, KJV
"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven."
Mark 13:26-27, KJV
"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."
Revelation 14:14-16, KJV
I suspect that it may be this issue regarding the end of the age, as opposed to the actual end of the world, where the KJV Bible translators ran into trouble. Perhaps they weren't able to accept the fact that, in reality, Jesus promised to return at the end of that age around 70 to 73 AD. Thus, they manipulated their translation, and they covered up the truth by using "world" in some verses instead of the word "age" as they should have done. As a result, we now have millions of Christians who have been deceived in our present time, who have been fooled into believing in the "Jesus is coming at any moment" doctrine, also known as Futurism.
As I clearly pointed out to you in part one of this series, the Futurist theological perspective is very pervasive. It is everywhere. It is a very strong and very powerful delusion. Furthermore, the people who promote this point of view can be very persuasive. I fell for it for many years as well. But I woke up to the truth of the Scriptures. Will you?
To reiterate, if my current understanding is indeed correct, this means that Futurists have got it all wrong, and their perspective has been twisted one hundred and eighty degrees from the Scriptural truth by the people who very adamantly promote the Futurist point of view. In short, if in reality Jesus actually returned at the end of the Prophetic Age that concluded around 70-73 AD, according to the "Seventy Weeks" prophecy of Daniel, then this means that all of the Bible verses the Futurists claim describe events which are yet to occur at some point in our own future -- including Christ's Return -- really refer to events which occurred very long ago during the latter half of the First Century.
As I said, a lot of sincere, Bible-believing Christians -- including some of my own online friends -- have no interest in hearing this powerful truth, because it contradicts what they have been taught and told to believe for many years. As in my case, this can mean for decades, and it is not an easy thing to just let go of. You really have to love Scriptural truth more than man-made doctrines in order to make the leap.
So how has this revelation affected my own perspective, you may be wondering. Well, I now lean towards the belief that, contrary to popular expectations, the Lord is not coming for us. Rather, I believe that we Believers will go to Him when we finally reach the end of this mortal life in the flesh. I believe that this is in fact the way it has been ever since Daniel's Prophetic Age came to its conclusion two millennia ago. I further believe that this may possibly be what Paul was talking about in part when he wrote the following:
". . . but now once in the end of the [age] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Hebrews 9:26, KJV
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:7, KJV
In other words, like other informed Christians of that era, I believe that Paul came to understand that while the age which the Prophet Daniel had prophesied would soon come to an end -- that is, the 490-year period which concluded with Christ's Return -- there would still be other ages to come. I think that Paul had a firm grasp and understanding when it came to God's long-range Salvation Plan far into the future.
In other words, God demonstrated His great Love, Mercy and Grace to this sinful world, when He gave His only begotten Son to die on a Roman cross during the early part of the First Century. As I explain in other articles, with Christ's Resurrection from the dead three days later, a new race of beings was brought into existence, of which Jesus was the very first. Some Saints -- we don't know exactly how many -- rose from the dead at the same time that Christ did, as we can see by the following verses that are found in the Gospel of Matthew:
"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Matthew 27:51-53, KJV
However, as we discussed earlier, it also appears that many more Saints rose from the dead -- in what may have been the First Resurrection that is described by the Apostle Paul, as well as in the Book of Revelation -- when Jesus returned to the Earth about forty years later in 70 to 73 AD. In my view, this would have been the first great harvest of souls, and may be the one that is described in Revelation 14. Of course, it could also be that the one which Matthew briefly describes was the First Resurrection. At this current time, I am not certain about this point. At any rate, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, KJV
Please carefully notice Paul's attitude and perspective as he writes those words. He is not talking about a far future event that would occur two thousand years later in our own present time. Just look at how many times he uses the word "we". He is including himself. Paul is writing with a great deal of anticipation and expectation regarding an amazing event which would occur during his own life time, during the last half of the First Century. Also, Paul is writing to the Thessalonian brethren, and not to us. Make no mistake about this.
But you see, this was by no means the end of God's Grace. It was in fact only the beginning of it. Even though all of the events we have discussed may belong to the distant past, it seems obvious from what Paul wrote that God's Grace would be extended far into the future, "in the ages to come", even to those of us who are living today as well. This is in fact the great extent of God's Grace and Kindness; that He would even consider those of us who would not even be born for thousands of years to come. His Love, Mercy, Grace and Kindness is so exceedingly great, that we today still have opportunity to be recipients of His Redemption, Salvation and Eternal Life.
Furthermore, I lean towards the belief that the harvest of souls which took place during the late First Century may have been just the first year of harvest. If we look at this issue from a purely earthly perspective, doesn't a harvest occur every year, or at least every few years, depending on what crop has been planted, and how much it has affected the vitality of the soil?
So I tend to believe that God's great harvest of souls is an ongoing process which has continued down through the ages, however many ages have occurred since the First Century. All that we can determine from the Scriptural information that is available to us, is that God apparently does have some kind of schedule or organized plan, which He seems to have divided into different ages, during each of which He has certain goals and objectives that He wishes to accomplish.
Please go to part three for the conclusion of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .