One challenge we face in the interpretation of the Bible is that sometimes we may jump to certain ideas about what the Bible is saying based on some preconceived ideas about what things mean.
Think of the phrase, “the last days.”
What comes into your mind?
For many, the thought is “the last days” equals “the end of the world just before Jesus returns.” As such some would say “the last days” is still in the future. Or some might say, “the last days” are just beginning now.
What does “the last days” mean in Acts 2:17-21?
‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (NASB)
The first rule of Bible interpretation is: context, context, context.
And so what is the context of this passage?
Take a look at the material just before it in Acts 2:1-16.
Briefly, the context is the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled the gathered faithful and they began to speak of the mighty deeds of God in various languages. Some of the observers were amazed at this event while others thought those speaking were drunk with wine. Peter responded in Acts 2:14-21 saying the people aren’t drunk as it is 9AM in the morning and instead what is happening is a fulfillment of a prophecy in Joel.
And so when is “the last days” in this passage?
It was actually the very moment of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago!
Thus, in some Bible verses, the last days are not the end of the world just before Jesus returns but rather the era of time marked by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost and continues to this day for any who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ for salvation.
While we are at it, go to Hebrews 1:1:-2.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (NASB)
Here the last days are the times marked by God speaking through His Son.
Thus, perhaps, in some passages, “the last days” is the time in salvation history inaugurated by the first coming of Jesus?
What do you think about this possibility?