Jesus explained some aspects of the end times, including His return as King and Judge. In discussing end-time events, He said in Matthew 24:36 that "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (NASB). The information given here is an overview of the end-time events mentioned by Jesus and the Bible writers.

Major End-Time Events Discussed in Scripture

The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13)

In this passage, Jesus outlines several events leading up to His second coming, which will occur at the end of the age (Matt 24:3, NASB). Among them are:

  1. "False Christs" and false prophets (24:5). The multiplication of deceptive figures proclaiming lies in Jesus' name will characterize the end time.
  2. Wars and rumors of wars (24:6). The world will experience many military conflicts, but these are not a sign of the "end of the age."
  3. Famines and earthquakes (24:7). Natural disasters will occur as part of an unstable world, but these do not indicate the advent of the "end" either.
  4. Persecution of believers (24:9-14). Jesus' followers will face intense tribulation, but they are to stand firm in their faith.
  5. The abomination of desolation (24:15). This event entails the sacrilegious violation of the Jewish sanctuary—a forerunner to the Antichrist—forcing believers' flight to a place of safety.
  6. Worldwide proclamation of the gospel (24:14). In the final era, the message of salvation through Jesus Christ will go out to "all the nations," encompassing even remote areas.
  7. The great tribulation (24:21). A period of intense persecution and divine wrath will culminate in the ultimate deliverance of believers through the Savior's intercession.
  8. The Second Coming of Christ (24:27–30; 36–44). The Parousia or the visible appearing of the triumphant Messiah will occur "in the clouds," as Lord, King, and Judge, delivering His people and executing judgment upon the unbelieving world.

In Mark 13, an additional emphasis falls on the temple's destruction, anticipated by Jesus for its completion with "not a stone upon another, which will come about by the liberating of the Gentiles"—a phenomenon that occurred with Rome's conquest of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Mark 13:2).

Pauline Epistles (1 Thessalonians 4–5; 2 Thessalonians 2)

The apostle Paul elaborates further on the end-time timeline by expanding upon two themes, the rapture of the saints (1 Thess 4) and the Man of Lawlessness (2 Thess 2). The rapture, the "meeting" of believers with Christ, precedes the era of tribulation (1 Thess 5:1–11). Notably, Christians are commanded to remain vigilant, spiritually prepared for the day of the Lord.

The man of lawlessness, or the Antichrist, the son of perdition, will emerge during the "falling away" of the church as a charismatic political leader whose activities will profoundly affect the end times (2 Thess 2:1–12). This individual's illumination by "the power, signs, and miracles of Satan" (verse 9, KJV), will facilitate his successful rise to global influence.

Revelation (by John)

The Book of Revelation provides the fullest portrait of the "end game" or eschatological drama. Herein unfurls the revelation of divine judgments upon the ungodly, interspersed with the redemptive triumphs of the faithful. Chapters 6–22 articulate a panorama of woe and wonder as the world ushers in the consummation of history:

  1. Seven Seals (6:1–8:1): The Lamb of God's opening of seven seals unleashes four destructive horsemen: Conquest, Death, Hades, and famine (destruction), followed by martyrdom of faithful witnesses (Rev 6:9–11), war among nations, plagues causing death and distress, and the Martyr's ultimate triumph (Rev 6:12–7:17).
  2. Seven Trumpets (8:2–11:19): The seven trumpet blasts emphasize God's divine judgment through natural disasters: hail, blood, fires, and darkness, interspersed with the rout of evil forces. Belief in Christ—an audacious witness—is the focus of chapter 11, culminating in the gentile multitudes' response.
  3. The Two Witnesses (11:3–14): A pair of ineffably powerful prophetic figures, affirming Yahweh's sovereignty even amidst hostility, are martyred but resurrected in consummate victory.
  4. The Final Trinitarian Sonship Triumph (12:1–17): A celestial conflict, reminiscent of Genesis 3, is fought with cosmic dimensions, as Satan's futile attempt to thwart the redeeming purposes of God's anointed One concludes in defeat.
  5. The Bowl Judgments (15:5–16:21): The cataclysmic conclusion of God's judgmental activity is portrayed as vats of divine wrath poured out on the world.
  6. The Great Whore's Revelation and Wrath (17:1–18:24): The Antichrist's partnership with a global "harlot" (civilization corrupted by the Satanic) is unmasked, culminating in the irretrievable damnation of the unrepentant.
  7. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:1–10), the Battle of Har-Magedon (19:11–21), and the Unveiling of the New Jerusalem (Chapter 21). Christ's marriage to His redeemed bride, His unassailable triumph over the hostile forces of evil, and the establishment of the glorious New Creation—God's ultimate triumphal manifesto—stand as the prophetic apotheosis.

In short, the Scriptures' many "windows on Eternity" provide the divine orchestrated climax to the ages of history, the dramatic unfolding of God's grand plan for His creation, concluded in Jesus Christ's irresistible triumph and the redemptive reconciliation of all things in Him (Col 1:19–20).

Related reading: Will Everyone Eventually Be Saved?; When Will the World End?; Rapture: The Mystery Belief; Eschatology: The Doctrine of Last Things.

Image Credit: "Christ in Majesty" by John Rogers Herbert; courtesy of Time Life Pictures / Getty Images.