What does the Bible mean when it says, “It is the Last Hour?”
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
In 1 John 2:18 John says, “It is the last hour.” Terms like “last days,” “end times,” “final hour,” or a host of other terms referring the end of life as we know it, usually get our attention. Unfortunately, the terms can be confusing. We’re not sure just what time period they’re referring to or just what they mean. John’s statement that it is the “last hour” is a case in point. Is he referring to those “last days” at the “final hour” before the “last day”? And what does “hour” refer to? Hour can refer to a time period, a decisive event, or a unit of chronological time.
To understand the “last hour” and all the other terms better, it’s helpful to remember that the judgment and blessings expected in the last days were already occurring through the ministry of Jesus Christ, even after His death and resurrection. The expected final judgment, the separation of the righteous and the wicked, and the granting of eternal life to the righteous (based on Christ’s righteousness, not their own) were all happening then through Christ’s ministry. His ministry then (and now) didn’t eliminate the final judgment. Rather, judgment was (and is) being passed in the present. John was highlighting a present as well as future reality of the judgment.
AS I SEE IT
As you can probably tell, this article is not going to remove all your confusion regarding the “end times” terms. Instead, I want to focus on what I think John meant when he referred to the last hour. Since 1 John was written over 2,000 years ago, he obviously wasn’t talking about a specific point in time marking the end. The New Testament speaks about the signs that let us know the end is right around the corner-signs such as false teachers, wickedness, ungodliness, lack of genuine love for one another, divisions, etc. These were the kinds of things John witnessed in his day.
My point is that these signs signal that the decisive event by which God passes judgment and grants salvation had already occurred. The judgment of God that was expected in Jewish eschatology (end times) was, therefore, already happening in what he referred to as the “last hour.”
Judgment involves separating truth from error, good from evil, and this was exactly the situation John was addressing in his letter. Former members were teaching false doctrine and had caused divisions in the church. John was looking back and interpreting the split as evidence of the nearness of the last hour, and of the current preview of the ultimate judgment to come.
For John, pinpointing the time of the last judgment was not a major concern. Regardless of when the final judgment would occur, God’s judgment is occurring now as people either acknowledge or deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
Recognizing God’s work in Christ as bringing eternal life and judgment now is far more important than being able to decode timetables specifying when the last judgment (or the rapture) will occur. All who have attempted to do so have been proven to be fools. Understanding the current judgment we bring on with our decisions is at the heart of John’s warning that this is the “last hour.”
Click here to make sure you will not be judged, either now on in the future.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
“A hundred years ago when foreign aid was un-thought-of (except as tribute or a bribe) we were a respected and admired country. After a century of philanthropy, everyone hates our guts.” ~ P. J. O’Rourke