The Bible has much to say about “the church”, and there are a number of prophecies in that Book concerning “the last days”. We all know that God has a Church in the world. It is mentioned in Acts 20:28 as “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Moreover we have God’s own plain statement, that He has only one true Bible Church in this age. Ephesians 4:3 to 6. Are we in the last days foretold in the Scriptures? If we are, when did the last days begin? And when will they end?
About 1850 years ago that disciple whom Jesus loved (John) wrote these words: “it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” I John 2:18.
“We know that it is the last time.” Well here we are in the year 1936 A.D. and the antichrist has not yet come. “That man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that He as God sitteth in the temple of God, sheweth himself that he is God. . . . And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” II Thessalonians 2:6 to 8.
Where is the temple of God? A temple of God is described in Ephesians 2:21 and 22, “in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” This particular temple of God is called, in the same Epistle to the Ephesians, “the Body (soma) of Christ”, and the “Joint- Body (Sussomos) of Christ”. Ephesians 1:19 to 21 and Ephesians 3:6. The man of sin, is not sitting in this temple. Only redeemed people are members of the Church, which is Christ’s Body, and they are all seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Ephesians 1:20 and 2:6.
Inasmuch as God will not have another temple in this age, the man of sin, the son of perdition, can not take his seat as long as the Body of Christ is in the making. But the man of sin, the antichrist, is coming, and therefore there is yet to be on this earth, “the temple of God”, in which that son of perdition may sit. In this connection it is quite interesting to read Daniel 8:23 and 25: “And in the latter (last) time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up; and his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and holy people . . . . He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes: but he shall be broken without hand.”
Now read and compare with these verses from Daniel, Revelation 13:1 to 18 and Revelation 19:16 to 21 and II Thessalonians 2:8 to 12, and you will know something of the reign of that one who is coming after the power of Satan and how he is to be destroyed when the Word of God, arrives on His white horse. During this age, at least, thus far, he has been restrained and withheld. II Thessalonians 2:6.
So we know that the antichrist is going to be revealed in the last days. In writing to Timothy, Paul, in his last written message, said; “this know also, that in the last days perilous days shall come.” II Timothy 3:1. Was the Apostle Paul identifying “the last days” of the present Church age with the “last time of their kingdom”, referred to in Daniel 8:23? If so, then we must decide that Daniel prophesied concerning the Body of Christ described in Ephesians. But Ephesians 3:5 and 6, Ephesians 3:8 and 9 and Colossians 1:24 to 27 specifically states that Daniel and the other prophets were altogether ignorant and silent concerning the Church of this age or dispensation. Therefore no prophet of Israel spoke or wrote of the dispensation of the mystery. Ephesians 3:9.
In the consideration of our subject, “the Church and the last days”, let us search the Scriptures for Divine light on “the Church.” Perhaps, you have heard that when the company of godly men who translated the King James edition of the Bible came to the Greek word “Ekklesia”, they hesitated and meditated much before they translated the word to “Church”. They were unanimously agreed that the word “Church” was a poor translation, but a word used by the Christians, and therefore they made what has perhaps proved an unwise translation. The word “Church” is derived from “Kurios”, the Lord; whereas the word “Ekklesia” is “Ek”, out of, “Kaleo”, literally the called-out or “assembly”, as the word is translated in Acts 19:32, 39 and 41, where the word describes an unlawful gathering of heathen. The translators, however translated the word “Ekklesia”, more than 100 times, in the New Testament Scriptures, “Church.” (A number of times in the plural). We are still the victims of this unfortunate translation, and doubtless much misunderstanding and erroneous Church doctrine has resulted by not translating the Greek word, “assembly”, “congregation”, or “called-out.”
The word “Ekklesia” is sometimes used to designate a specific assembly or company of God’s people, while again it is used in a general sense. For example, we read in Acts 7:38, of “the Church in the wilderness”. That is quite specific. Israel worshipping in the tabernacle, enroute from Egypt to Canaan was “the Ekklesia in the wilderness”.
Now turn to Psalm 22:22 and Hebrews 2:12. We quote the two verses as they appear in the King James Edition:
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” Psalm 22:22.
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Hebrews 2:12.
Here we see that in Psalms 22:22 the translation is “congregation”. The word translated “congregation” in the Greek septuagint is “Ekklesia”. This same Greek word “ekklesia” is found more than sixty times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In Nehemiah 13:1, the Greek is “the ekklesia of God”; that is, “the called out”, “the congregation”, “the assembly”, of God. Ever since the days of Seth, when men began to call upon the name of the Lord, God has had a “called-out people”. Genesis 4:26. God said to Noah, “Come thou, and all thy house into the ark”. Genesis 7;1. Surely, Israel under the Old Covenant was “the called-out” of God. They were the Old Testament Church. Gentiles, in order to be saved, had to become identified with that Church. However, there is no intimation that saved Gentiles were baptized by one Spirit into one Body, under the Old Covenant. But God, promised to Israel that He would make a New Covenant, guaranteeing to them more wonderful blessings with His own Divine Spirit indwelling and. controlling them. Jeremiah 31:31 to 35. In connection with that New Covenant, He promised them a kingdom on earth, under the reign of the Prince of Peace, sitting on the throne of David. Isaiah 9:6 and 7. The Divine blessings of Israel, in this New Covenant, are mentioned in detail in the 36th and 37th chapters of Ezekiel. During the kingdom reign, under the New Covenant, many nations will be joined to the Lord. Zechariah 2:11.
Therefore, so far as earthly blessings are concerned, as well as spiritual blessings, the greatest “congregation” or “ekklesia” of God is yet to be, when all Israel shall be saved, when there will be no Israelites unevangelizd. Hebrews 8:7 to 11. Romans 11:26. The ancient people of God are to inhabit their land: and dwell in peace and safety under the reign of their own promised Messiah. Amos 9:11 to 15.
That kingdom reign of Christ with Israel is specifically called “the last days”. They are described in Micah 41:1 to 4, and in virtually the same language in Isaiah 2:2 to 4. We quote the verses from Micah 4:1 to 3.
“But in the last, days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and the people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Many of the prophets wrote concerning these last days; but not one of them wrote concerning either the first days or the last days of the Body of Christ. This we may learn by reading Ephesians 3:1 to 11 and Colossians 1:24 to 28.
Inasmuch as Amos did not write concerning the Body of Christ, it is difficult to believe that the declaration, recorded in Acts 15:13 to 18, refers to the joint-Body (Sussomos) of Ephesians 3:6. This joint-Body is described in the Epistle to the Ephesians in connection with the dispensation of the Mystery. Ephesians 3:9. God is visiting both Gentiles and Jews now, not Gentiles only as in Acts 15:14.
The prophet Joel has much to say about the last days of Israel, with special reference to Israel’s tribulation and kingdom glory. He wrote, directed by the Holy Spirit, concerning Israel’s kingdom age. He wrote concerning their last days. He had nothing to say concerning either the first days or the last days of the Body of Christ.
Therefore, we present this question for your prayerful and thoughtful meditation and spiritual study. In Peter’s reference to Joel’s prophecy, recorded in Acts 2:16 and 17, was he making application to the Body of Christ described in Ephesians, or to Israel’s kingdom foretold by all of Israel’s prophets? We quote these two verses: “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
Perhaps you have wondered, as I have, how the day of Pentecost could have been the birthday of the Body of Christ, when the happenings on that day were in fulfillment of prophecy concerning Israel’s last days. We quote this footnote from the Scofield Reference Bible The “last days” as related to the Church began with the advent of Christ (Hebrews 11.2), but have especial reference to the time of declension and apostasy at the end of this age (II Timothy 3:1; II Timothy 4:4). The “last days” as related to Israel are the days of Israel’s exaltation and blessing, and are synonymous with the kingdom-age (Isaiah 2:2, 4; Micah 4:1 to 7). They are “last” not with reference to this dispensation, but with reference to the whole of Israel’s history.”
Even in the face of this most evident fact, Dr. Scofield declares that the Church, the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost.
If you will also read Dr. Scofield’s note concerning Acts 15:13 to 18, you will observe that he there states that Amos foretold the Gentile salvation. But that the declaration by James, in Acts 15:13 to 18, was concerning the Body of Christ which began on the day of Pentecost. We have already observed that Amos 9:11 to 15 has reference to Israel’s “last days”; their kingdom age and that he had nothing to say about the Church which is the Body of Christ. If you will study the foot-note in Dr. Scofield’s Reference Bible concerning Ephesians 3:5 and 6, you will observe that he states that that Body was the mystery not made known to, or by, Amos and Joel. Therefore, we see the contradiction in his two footnotes.
It is one thing to say, “I believe we are in the last days”; it is another thing to prove it by some specific Scripture One thing we must always bear in mind is the fact that we are living in the dispensation of the mystery, and a period of time never once mentioned by Israel’s prophets who wrote concerning the last days. Surely, the last days of Israel will come; but the last days of Israel must not be confused with any days, either the first or the last, concerning the Body of Christ which was given to the Apostle Paul by special revelation.
Some of God’s servants endeavor to prove that the Church of God of Acts 2 to 11 was the Body of Christ because of Acts 5:14, “believers were the more added to the Lord” Our first answer is, that the Body of Christ was not prophesied by Israel’s prophets; and again Zechariah 2:11 foretells a joining to the Lord. The Hebrew word “join” in Zechariah 2:11 means to “unite” as in marriage, Genesis 47. Great and wonderful things are going to happen on this earth in the last days. But what last days? The beginning of the kingdom on earth, that is the first days of Israel’s restoration, will be the last days foretold by Israel’s prophets. But the last days of the Body on earth, the close of this dispensation, will take place before the first days of the last days of the Old Testament prophets. The Roman Empire will be rebuilt in the last days. Israel will return to Jerusalem in the last days. If this is taking place in the last days of the Church (Body), as well as in the last days which speak of Israel’s restoration, the kingdom age, then we do err in differentiating between the Body of Christ of Ephesians 1:19 to 22 and the kingdom of Daniel 2:42 to 47. Let’s put all the last days together and call the Body of Christ the kingdom promised to Israel, if the last days of Acts 2:16 and 17 were the first days of the Body of Christ. If the last days of Acts 2:16 and 17 were the first days of the Lord’s Body, they must have been the first days of the last days. Now in 1936 we are living in the last days of the last days.