The word eschatology means “the study of the final things”. Often times we use the word eschatology to speak about those parts of the Bible which deal with “the end times” and constructing a “timeline” of end-times events based on various verses in the Bible.
But that’s not all that eschatology is. Eschatology is bigger than that.
In Greek, the word eschaton means “the final event”. And in this sense, all of the Bible is eschatological, because from the beginning of the book to the end, the Bible tells us that all of human history is moving towards a grand climax.
A Linear Versus a Circular View of Life
Whereas many Eastern philosophies tend to think about life and existence circularly (think: reincarnation), the Bible is different in that it it thinks about life and existence linearly.
According to God’s Word, all of our lives and all of history are moving towards a particular, final, and unavoidable end. God has a plan that is going to culminate in something, and that something is the eschaton.
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, begins by telling us about the origin of the world and its original design. This story of origin forms the introduction and foundation to the story which the rest of the Bible tells: the story of God’s redemption of his creation.
The eschaton is first alluded to as soon as sin enters into the world, corrupting the good creation. In Genesis 3:16, God speaks to the serpent and says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The seed of a woman (as opposed to the usual seed of a man) will be stricken by the serpent, but this one will defeat and destroy the serpent. This is a foreshadowing of how Jesus, born of a virgin, would wage the ultimate battle against evil, be mortally wounded, and yet in doing so would defeat sin, death, and the devil.
There are many aspects to this eschaton, including the return of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, the Lake of Fire, and the New Heavens and the New Earth.
For more on these topics, check out:
Jesus came, therefore, as an eschatological Savior, and the hope that we have as Christians is an eschatological hope. All of the Bible and all of Christianity is oriented towards this eschatological hope.
Here is a video of a discussion Pastor Mike and I had about eschatology based on our recent study of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, which talks about the return of Jesus: