This is an excerpt from my new book: The Revelation of God’s love through Jesus Christ (The New Covenant Gospel of Grace and the End Times) (Copyright © 2020 by Mathew Simon)
I first studied the Bible twenty years ago to try to understand the end-times. After many years of twists and turns I believe I finally have been given a scripturally and historically consistent understanding by the grace of God that I would like to explain here.
To understand the end-times we need to first of all recognize that most of the Bible was concerned with Israel and her covenants.
The Great Tribulation already happened in the 1st Century
Are the blood moons or the coronavirus pandemic a sign of the end-time great tribulation according to Matthew 24?
I began studying the “end times” about 20 years ago including both the traditional futurist viewpoint and the minority preterist interpretation at different times in my life.
The preterist teaching says that all prophecies were fulfilled in the 1st Century while some futurist teachings say that everything will happen in our future.
Both have some truths in them but are not fully accurate.
The truth is in between.
The truth is that we are not in the “great tribulation”.
We will see that the great tribulation did take place in the 1st Century but we look forward to the future 2nd coming/resurrection and the new heaven and earth.
If we look at history, we see that there were worse pandemics in world history.
Only 100 years ago, there was a flu pandemic that killed 20-50 million people.
There were plagues in the 13th century that killed 200 million people.
The two world wars killed almost 120 million people in total.
Many millions were killed in the crusades, persecutions in the last 2000 years.
Far worse things have happened in past generations than today.
But none of those generations saw the great tribulation! Why is that?
The book of Revelation gives us the answer:
Revelation 1:1-3, 9-11 KJV “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand….I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
Let us understand the context:
– Who was John writing to?
It was written specifically to 7 actual churches that existed during the 1st Century in Asia Minor under the Roman empire like the Ephesians, etc.
These were churches planted in the Apostolic generation with specific instructions for them in Revelation chapters 2-3.
These 7 churches do not exist anymore. The book of Revelation was not directly written to the 21st Century church or any other church in the last 1900 years.
Revelation was written for our benefit but not all of it was written to us directly.
– When were the events supposed to take place?
Was it mainly talking about events in the 21st century?
No, it was about events in the lifetime of the believers in those 7 churches.
– When was the tribulation?
John was already experiencing it in the 1st century.
The most significant and cataclysmic Biblical prophetic event that occurred in the generation of the Apostles was the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel in the three Jewish-Roman wars from AD66-136.
The 1st Jewish-Roman war in AD66-70 resulted in the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem and the death of approximately 1 million Jews. The rest of the Jews were taken as prisoners by the Romans and used as slaves in the Roman Empire.
But in AD132-136, in the final Jewish-Roman war, the Jews rebelled against Rome one last time and were utterly routed in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.
Although the traditions say that the book of Revelation was written in AD90-100, the Bible indicates that it may have been written before AD70.
Either way, the truth is that the nation of Israel was destroyed in the 3 Jewish-Roman wars that spanned from AD66-136.
In Revelation 1, John said that those who crucified Jesus would see His coming in the clouds of judgment. All those people perished in the 1st Century.
In Revelation 11, John talks about the existence of the Temple and the trampling of Jerusalem for 42 months and the killing of apostles/witnesses in the city where Christ was crucified.
Revelation 11:1-2,8 “A reed like a rod was given to me. Someone said, “Rise, and measure God’s temple, and the altar, and those who worship in it…. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months…. Their dead bodies will be in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified”
History shows us that the city was under attack for exactly 42 months before AD70. Jerusalem was the city where Jesus was crucified before it was destroyed in AD66-136. The city of Jerusalem was also called Sodom by the prophet Isaiah here:
Isaiah 1:1,10,13 “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah…. Hear Yahweh’s word, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!… Bring no more vain offerings. Incense is an abomination to me. New moons, Sabbaths, and convocations: I can’t stand evil assemblies.”
Therefore, it is very clear that the book of Revelation deals with the events in AD66-136.
Revelation chapters 1-19 described the great tribulation in their lifetime followed by a long gap (Millennium) and the final future resurrection to come at the end of the world.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would reveal the truth to the Apostles who knew that they were living in the great tribulation:
John 16:12-13 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.”
It was the generation of the 12 Apostles who were experiencing the tribulation.
Paul told the Churches in the 1st century that they were already in tribulation!
Acts 14:22 KJV “ Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
They were already suffering tribulation in Jerusalem, Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Galatia and all over the Roman Empire that ruled most of the world.
Romans 8:18,35 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us…. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Note how Paul refers to all the events mentioned by Christ in Matthew 24 (tribulation, famines, persecution, peril, war/sword) as things happening in the “present time”.
This along with all the following scriptures prove that they were already experiencing the great tribulation in the 1st century.
Romans 5:3-4 KJV “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
Romans 12:12 KJV “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
2nd Corinthians 7:4 KJV “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.”
1st Thessalonians 3:3-4 KJV “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.”
2nd Thessalonians 1:4-5 KJV “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:”
Paul told the Corinthians that their world(their lives) was passing away during the distress/tribulation:
1st Corinthians 7:26-31 “Therefore I think that because of the distress that is on us, that it’s good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned. If a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have oppression in the flesh, and I want to spare you. But I say this, brothers: the time is short, that from now on, both those who have wives may be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they didn’t weep; and those who rejoice, as though they didn’t rejoice; and those who buy, as though they didn’t possess; and those who use the world, as not using it to the fullest. For the mode of this world passes away.”
Paul told them to not get married because the time was short and the end was near.
He told them not to get engrossed in their possessions or earthly matters.
This matches exactly with Christ who commanded the Israelites to sell all their possessions (Luke 12 and Matthew 19) and leave Jerusalem.
James wrote to the 12 tribes of Israel about their various trials in their lifetime:
James 1:1-3 KJV “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
Peter also wrote to the 7 churches in Asia who were already in the tribulation!
1st Peter 1:1,6 KJV “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,… Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”
We see that Peter addressed the Galatians in his 1st epistle, along with those 7 churches in Asia. The book of Revelation shows that the Church in the 1st century was undergoing great tribulation. They consisted of the 144,000 Jewish believers from the 12 tribes of Israel and innumerable Gentiles from all nations that were saved.
Revelation 7:9,14 KJV “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;… And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
If John was writing all of this to the 1st Century churches then clearly the great tribulation already happened in their lifetime.
It is because the great tribulation does not span 2000 years but was supposed to be a short period of time of 3 ½ years or 42 months. (Revelation 11:2, 13:5, Daniel 7:25).
Revelation 11:2 “Leave out the court which is outside of the temple, and don’t measure it, for it has been given to the nations. They will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two months.”
Revelation 12:14 “Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.”
Note: A “time” is 1 year, therefore 3 ½ times is 3 ½ years.
Revelation 13:5 “A mouth speaking great things and blasphemy was given to him. Authority to make war for forty-two months was given to him.”
Daniel 7:25 “He will speak words against the Most High, and will wear out the saints of the Most High. He will plan to change the times and the law; and they will be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time.”
What happened in the 1st Century? The destruction of the nation of Israel just as Jesus predicted would happen in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13.
Matthew 24:1-3,9,34 “Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all of these things, don’t you? Most certainly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”…. “Then they will deliver you up to oppression and will kill you. You will be hated by all of the nations for my name’s sake…. Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things are accomplished.”
In Matthew 24, the disciples asked 3 questions but they were all talking about the same event because we only see one question in the parallel equivalent passage of Mark 13:
Mark 13:4 “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?”
They asked Him when it would happen and the “sign” of all things would happen.
“When?” – It would happen within “this” generation. Who was Christ talking to?
The 12 Apostles – it was in their generation within their lifetime and not ours.
“Signs?” – These were earthquakes, famines, disease, wars, and persecution of the 12 Apostles culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies.
Let us evaluate each of these signs:
- Earthquakes: There were many earthquakes in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century according to Josephus the historian
- Wars: According to Josephus, there were many wars in the Roman Empire especially in and near Israel in the 1st Century that were relevant to the Apostles.
- Christian persecution: The persecution of the 1st Century was widespread when every single Church was persecuted. But today there is not much persecution in North America, Europe, South America, Australia (those continents hold the largest Christian populations in the world). The persecution today is mostly found in the regions where Christians are a minority.
- Famine/Diseases/Death: In the 1st Century the statistics of worldwide mortality, life expectancy, hunger, and poverty were much higher than today. But now in the 21st Century the life-expectancy, treatment of disease, medical care is at the highest quality in human history.
- Failing moral values: The Roman empire was infamous for its horrible brutality by using public crucifixion as a method of execution because of the high rates of crime. They tortured Christians publicly in sporting arenas using lions and wild animals. The people lived in much worse sin than we have today. (See 1st Corinthians 5:1-13 to see a small example). There was no equality for women in those days and slavery was considered good practice – such was the moral poverty in Biblical times. Sexual immorality and idol-worship were very common in Roman society as described in the Bible. Today, we live in a far more civilized society than in the 1st Century.
- False Messiahs: Jesus had predicted that there would be a great falling away of the Jews from the faith in Matthew 24:10,23. If you look at the world of Christianity today there are barely any preachers who claim to be Jesus Christ. But in the 1st Century, there were many false Messiahs who appeared to Israel and deceived them. The proof is that most Israelites rejected Jesus Christ by following these false teachers to their destruction in AD66-136.
History shows that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the 1st Century:
Historical records from Josephus the ancient Jewish historian, show that there was an unusual number of wars, earthquakes, famines, diseases, false prophets in the Roman Empire and especially in Israel in the 1st Century.
Acts 11:28 “One of them named Agabus stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there should be a great famine all over the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius.”
2nd Corinthians 11:13-14 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.”
In 2nd Timothy 3, Paul described the last days in their time when the people of God would be lovers of money and lawbreakers. This was the perfect description of the Pharisees (Luke 16:14, Matthew 15:16) who fell away and worshiped the “false Messiah” who sat in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The was most probably one or more of the Jewish leaders (John Levi, Simon bar Giora or Eleazar ben Simon) who was responsible for the rebellion of the Jews that resulted in the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. They tried to be the Messiah of the Jews in fighting a battle against the Romans so that they could set up the kingdom in Jerusalem. This happened exactly as Paul predicted in 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-8 that the man of sin would sit in the 2nd Temple of Jerusalem proclaiming himself as God and being destroyed by the Lord’s judgment upon Israel.
Those false Messiahs ruled over Jerusalem in the years of AD66-70 when the Jewish zealot armies tried to take over Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Roman Armies in AD70 – all within one generation of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24.
It was the worst time in the nation of Israel. During that time family members betrayed each other and society was at its lowest depths in the history of Israel.
There was no love but constant hatred and violence in those days.
Josephus wrote that it was the worst calamity that befell any nation.
After the Roman armies destroyed the Temple in AD70, there was peace until the final Jewish-Roman war in AD132-136 when the Romans utterly destroyed Jerusalem during the revolt led by the Jewish leader Simon Bar Kokhba.
The 1st Century was the time of “great tribulation” or “Jacob’s Trouble”.
Jesus told the 12 apostles that they would go through the tribulation and that “this generation” would not pass away until the great tribulation took place when the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. He was talking about the “end of the Age” and not the end of the world. The “age” that ended was Israel’s Law of Moses.
That is why Christ told them to sell all their possessions and be ready in Luke 12:32-42. He was not talking to us in the 21st century! The proof is that none of us are selling our possessions and giving to the poor.
In Luke 21, Mark 13 and Matthew 24, our Lord Jesus told the Apostles that “this generation” would see all those things. In the Bible, one generation is approximately 40 years (See Psalm 95:10, Numbers 32:13, Matthew 1:17).
How many years were between Christ’s ministry and the destruction of the Temple? Exactly 40 years – one generation.
Jesus began His ministry in the year AD30 and the Temple was destroyed in AD70 – exactly one generation fulfilling the prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was clearly speaking to the generation of the 12 Apostles.
Most Christians in the world at that time were killed by Jewish and Roman persecution and most of the Apostles were martyred in that generation (except John).
Jesus said that the generation of Israelites who witnessed Him were the wicked and perverse generation because they saw Him for 3 ½ years with their own eyes and yet did not believe in Him!
Luke 11:29-32 “When the multitudes were gathering together to him, he began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks after a sign. No sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah, the prophet. For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so the Son of Man will also be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and will condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, one greater than Jonah is here.”
Acts 2:36-40 “Let all the house of Israel therefore know certainly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
There was only one generation that witnessed Christ and the Apostles and yet they brutally persecuted and killed them.
Mark 8:11-12,38 “The Pharisees came out and began to question him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, and testing him. He sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Most certainly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation … For whoever will be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when he comes in his Father’s glory, with the holy angels.”
This is why Jesus promised that the generation of the Pharisees would see all of this happen because they crucified Christ and killed the apostles and prophets:
Matthew 23:29, 35-38 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the tombs of the righteous…that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”
We also know that the Jewish-Roman wars lasted exactly 70 years from AD66-136.
This matches the 70-year period of exile of the Jews in Babylon in the Old Testament.
The Bible tells us that man’s lifetime is 70-80 years, signifying another truth that the “generation” of AD66 was finally judged in AD136.
Psalm 90:10 “The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty years; yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for it passes quickly, and we fly away.”
So then clearly the great tribulation already happened in the 1st Century.
Jesus also clearly said that this great tribulation will never be repeated on the earth after the 1st Century. This clearly indicates that the world was not going to end immediately after the great tribulation.
Matthew 24:21 KJV “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
Jesus did not say that there would be no problems in the world after the great tribulation. He simply said that such a great tribulation will never be repeated after the 1st Century. Jesus is correct because God’s people have never suffered so much before the 1st Century or after that time. Persecution will never end but the 1st Century was the worst ever time for the Church.
Matthew 24:15-16 “When, therefore, you see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
The abomination of desolation happened when the Jewish antichrist sat in the Temple as the false Messiah in AD66-70 and the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem in their lifetime/generation – that is why those in Jerusalem were told to leave the city and those in Judea were warned to flee to the mountains!
Luke 21:20-22,32 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the middle of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled…. Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things are accomplished.”
If the world was going to be destroyed during the tribulation then there was no point in fleeing to the mountains! So, then those specific passages were only about the destruction of Jerusalem and not the world.
Christ said that all old testament prophecies would be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the 2nd Temple in the generation of the Apostles.
The prophecy of Matthew 24 was about the time during AD66-70 when the Roman armies besieged the city of Jerusalem and burnt it down, destroying the Temple not leaving one stone upon another as Christ confirms here:
Luke 19:41-44 “When he came near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had known today the things which belong to your peace! But now, they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you, when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, surround you, hem you in on every side, and will dash you and your children within you to the ground. They will not leave in you one stone on another, because you didn’t know the time of your visitation.”
Most Bible scholars agree that the Book of Revelation is mostly focused on the 12 tribes of Israel scattered in the nations and their last days. Therefore, some modern Christian teachings say that the book of Revelation will be fulfilled in the future when the church is raptured and God will deal with Israel “again” during the future tribulation.
But there is a big problem with that idea as we can see below:
James wrote to the 12 tribes of Israel scattered in the nations who were already in the last days, more than 1900 years ago (See James 1:1).
James 5:1-3, 7-9 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming on you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be for a testimony against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up your treasure in the last days….
Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Don’t grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won’t be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door.”
Who was James talking to? Not to us today, but the Israelites 2000 years ago!
They were already living in the last days of old-covenant Israel in the 1st century.
He told them that the Lord’s judgment was at the door just as Christ Himself said here:
Matthew 24:33 “Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that he is near, even at the doors.”
We also see that here:
Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds”
The epistle of the Hebrews was written to Israelites talking about their last days as a nation. God spoke to Israel for 1500 years through the Law and Prophets but in those last days, He sent Jesus Christ to them. It was the last days of Israel and not the world.
The nation of Israel began when God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt into the promised Land under the Old Covenant. The Law of Moses lasted for 1500 years and Jesus came in their last days. If the Law of Moses lasted for 1500 years, then we cannot say that the “last days” of that period is another extra 2000 years!
It makes more Biblical sense to say that the “last days” were about Israel’s old covenant that ended in the 1st Century.
What was the writer of Hebrews telling them to do?
To flee the old covenant and the earthly Jerusalem and look for the heavenly Jerusalem by faith in Christ in the new covenant. This was because the earthly Jerusalem and the old covenant system were about to be destroyed in their lifetime.
Hebrews 11:16 “But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 13:12-14 “Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate. Let’s therefore go out to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach. For we don’t have here an enduring city, but we seek that which is to come.”
Peter told the 7 Churches that the end was near for them during the great tribulation.
1st Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is near. Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer.”
But the modern teaching is that these “last days” began on the cross and have continued for 2000 years because “1 day” in God’s eyes is a “thousand years” on earth, and hence 2000 years translate to 2 days in God’s plan.
But there’s a big problem with that logic here:
John told the 1st-century church that they were already living in the last hour because of the great falling away within the church just as Christ and Paul predicted in Matthew 24:10-11, 2nd Timothy 3:1-17.
1st John 2:18-19 “Little children, these are the end times, and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour. They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.”
It was the last hour of the last day of Israel.
The “last hour” meant that they were living right before “the end”. It was not the “end of the world” but “the end of Israel”. The antichrist was already living in their lifetime and was a Jew who left the church and denied Christ and led many people astray.
There is no future antichrist coming because Paul was talking about the Temple in his lifetime – the antichrist sat in the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed.
2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4,8 “Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God…. Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming”
There is no Biblical prophecy about the 3rd temple in Jerusalem.
If we stay within context, the Bible was talking about their generation and the 2nd temple in Jerusalem. The “coming” of the Lord here is only the judgment of Israel.
The final “2nd coming of Christ” will judge all nations in our future.
The Old Testament prophesied that Elijah would appear to prepare Israel before their land was destroyed at the coming of the Lord (Malachi 3:1-3, Malachi 4:5-6).
It was fulfilled when John the Baptist who came as “Elijah” telling Israel to repent before it was judged in the 1st Century (Luke 3:6-8).
Matthew 11:7-14 “As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptizer; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come.”
Jesus told the 12 Apostles who had suffered with Him that they were the ones who would judge the 12 tribes of Israel. From history we see that the nation of Israel was judged in AD66-136 because they crucified Christ and persecuted the 12 Apostles.
Luke 22:28-30 “But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Paul also told the Romans that they were living in that time of great tribulation.
Romans 13:11-12 “Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let’s therefore throw off the deeds of darkness, and let’s put on the armor of light.”
The Romans had believed the Gospel a certain number of years before Paul’s letter to them. Now, Paul was telling them that they were living in the hour before the judgment upon Israel. It was closer than the time since they believed.
The wrath was coming upon those under the Law (Israel):
Romans 4:15 “For the law produces wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience.”
Matthew 3:7,10 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?….Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.”
The Jews had crucified Christ and were persecuting the believers all over the Roman Empire during the 1st Century. The wrath upon them was about to happen very soon in the lifetime of the Thessalonians.
1st Thessalonians 1:9-10 “For they themselves report concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead: Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
1st Thessalonians 2:14-16 “For you, brothers, became imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and drove us out, and don’t please God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, to fill up their sins always. But wrath has come on them to the uttermost.”
The curse of the Law was coming upon the nation of Israel as prophesied by the prophet Malachi, in the last book of the Old Testament. John the Baptist announced the immediate fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew 3:10 when he said that the unbelieving Jews would be cast into the fire of destruction.
Malachi 4:1,6 “For, behold, the day comes, it burns as a furnace; and all the proud, and all who work wickedness, will be stubble; and the day that comes will burn them up,” says Yahweh of Armies, “that it shall leave them neither root nor branch…. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
The Roman armies destroyed the land of Israel in the wars from AD66-136.
That was the time when the wrath of the Law was poured out on Israel.
Read a lot more details here in my book: