trying to untangle eschatology

I can get anything tangled. Shoe laces, garden hoses, computer cords, seat belts, …. and theology. Especially eschatology (the doctrine of the end times). A few preachers are consumed with prophecy, making charts, and scaring people into readiness. Many prefer to stay away from the hot-button issues that lay people love to test their pastors about – you know test the pastor’s alignment with a preconceived theological system. This month I waded into these muddy waters for a short 3 part sermon series. This of course is an adventure deserving much more effort and time, and is more worthy of a New Testament scholar or Professor of Christian Theology. I must admit that the study and preparation reminded me of those days 40 years ago when curiosity, passion and adrenaline (and the quest to score at least a passing mark in my courses) drove my academic blood.

Simply, here is what I did:
1. “Watch! No Sleeping On Duty“. Mark 13:24-27, 32-37
2. “Ready Or Not, Here I Come!” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 23-24
3. “Ask Any Question” An opportunity for people to seek eschatological clarity

Our church website is sadly, badly, out of date. However links to the audio of sermons is current.

If anyone wants to look at my modest notes I can certainly email them to you. Just message me on Facebook or email

I depended heavily on some good sources, which I list below. I brought only a small portion of my library to Germany, and you no doubt can locate some good academic resources, but these books served me well. (And yes, my default ‘go to’ publisher of much of my library has always been Inter Varsity Press.)

I believe the best scholarly treatment of Mark 13 is by Robert H. Stein; his book published by Inter Varsity Press Academic in 2014 Jesus, The Temple and the Coming Son of Man. It is concise, readable and persuasive intellectually.

99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return by B.J. Oropeza, Inter Varsity Press 1994

Jesus, Paul and the End of the World: A Comparative Study in New Testament Eschatology, Ben Witherington III, Inter Varsity Press 1992

What the Bible Teaches About The End of the World, Bruce Milne, Tyndale House, 1979

A balanced and easy to understand commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians is by John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time, Inter Varsity Press, 1991

A very helpful presentation of various theological and Biblical approaches to heaven, hell, resurrection, the return of Jesus and the millennial kingdom is found in The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson, Inter Varsity Press 2002, (note chapters 14 & 15)

I recommend reading the debate writings about hell. Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, Edward William Fudge, Robert A. Peterson, Inter Varsity Press, 2000

After Life: What the Bible Really Says, Douglas Connelly, Inter Varsity Press, 1995

MARANATHA! – Doug Johns, May 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.