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End of the World

END OF THE WORLD (συντέλεια του̂ αἰω̂νος, end of the world KJV, close of the age RSV, e.g. Matt 13:39; also simple τέλος, G5465, end, e.g. Matt 24:13, 14). Terms for the miraculous and catastrophic events that will close history and open the eternal age. For a detailed, chronological reconstruction of the events associated with the end of the world, see Eschatology.

Most ideas associated with the end of the world in the OT appear as relatively subordinate details to God’s future work in restoring His chosen people to the Promised Land. The gradual emergence of these details is an instructive example of progressive revelation. The miraculous and catastrophic character of some of these events shows that the restoration of God’s people is not merely another event within history, but rather that it marks the apocalyptic end of history.

As an examination of the passages referred to above shows, OT apocalyptic eschatology was the end product of a gradual development that began well before the Exile. It is, therefore, erroneous to suppose that apocalyptic eschatology emerged only as the disappointed Hebrews of the Exile deserted history for an “other-worldly” hope. Rather, apocalyptic eschatology can be viewed as a normal outgrowth of the older Heb. confidence in God’s working within history.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


See Eschatology of the New Testament; New Heavens.