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Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times

Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times

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Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times

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May 26, 2009


All you wanted to know about biblical prophecy from A to Z, the Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy is a comprehensive reference tool. It is targeted for those who truly desire to understand prophecy and the end-times. Starting with “Abomination of Desolation” and continuing through hundreds of articles until “Zionism,” this book provides helpful and interesting discussions of the entire range of biblical prophecy, all at your fingertips.This exhaustive work contains articles on a broad sweep of topics relevant to the study of biblical prophecy and eschatology. The articles are based on solid scholarship, yet are clear and accessible to the lay reader, illuminating even the most complicated issues. The dictionary also strives for a balanced presentation by laying out differing positions along with their strengths and weaknesses, while not pushing any specific theological or interpretive agenda other than a firm commitment to seeking to understand the Scriptures. This is a valuable tool you will refer to time and again.
May 26, 2009

Sobre el autor

J. Daniel Hays (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies and professor of Old Testament at Ouachita Baptist University. He is the author of From Every People and Nation, The Message of the Prophets, The Temple and the Tabernacle, and A Christian’s Guide to Evidence for the Bible: 101 Proofs from History and Archaeology. He has coauthored or coedited Grasping God’s Word; Journey into God’s Word; Preaching God’s Word; The Baker Illustrated Bible Background Commentary; Jeremiah and Lamentations; The Story of Israel: A Biblical Theology; and God’s Relational Presence: The Cohesive Center of Biblical Theology. He teaches adult Sunday School at his local church in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and also speaks both regionally and internationally.

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Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times - J. Daniel Hays


Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times

Copyright © 2007 by J. Daniel Hays, J. Scott Duvall, and C. Marvin Pate

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

ePub Edition © July 2017: ISBN 978-0-310-57104-9

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hays, J. Daniel.

    Dictionary of biblical prophecy and end times/J. Daniel Hays, J. Scott Duvall, and C. Marvin Pate.

     p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 978-0-310-25663-2

   1. Bible — Prophecies — Dictionaries. I. Duvall, J. Scott. II. Pate, C. Marvin, 1952-III. Title.

   BS647.3.H39 2007

   220.1’503 — dc22              2007000461


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

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Please note that footnotes in this ebook may contain hyperlinks to external websites as part of bibliographic citations. These hyperlinks have not been activated by the publisher, who cannot verify the accuracy of these links beyond the date of publication.




Chapter A

Chapter B

Chapter C

Chapter D

Chapter E

Chapter F

Chapter G

Chapter H

Chapter I

Chapter J

Chapter K

Chapter L

Chapter M

Chapter N

Chapter O

Chapter P

Chapter R

Chapter S

Chapter T

Chapter U

Chapter V

Chapter W

Chapter Z


Scripture Index

About the Publisher


Biblical prophecy is a relevant and important topic for the church today. Not only does biblical prophecy provide hope for the future and strength for today, but its broad-sweeping themes help us to understand the entire Bible. Indeed, prophecy ties the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation.

Unfortunately, the study of this topic is often surrounded by controversy and argument. Evangelicals and other Bible-believing Christians, who agree on many crucial aspects of theology, frequently find themselves disagreeing over the interpretation of biblical texts that deal with prophecy. Adding to the problem is the fact that some writers on this subject express their views with absolute certainty — they are convinced that their interpretation is without error and that those who disagree are simply wrong. All too often, writers and teachers on this subject abandon the virtue of academic humility and show little concern about the possible validity of the biblical arguments raised against their view or arguments in favor of a countering viewpoint.

This book was conceived with the purpose of helping lay people in the church study and understand biblical prophecy. The three authors of this Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times have no theological agenda to push or prophetic viewpoint to champion, other than a strong commitment to the Scriptures and a passion to interpret the biblical texts in accordance with the intention of the biblical writers. In fact, the three of us (J. Daniel Hays, J. Scott Duvall, and C. Marvin Pate) are not in complete agreement ourselves regarding the end times. Yet what unites us is a common commitment to sound, scholarly study of the Scriptures and a respect for differing evangelical viewpoints that nonetheless have substantial scriptural evidence. We are not only coauthors but also colleagues and friends, working together in harmony to try to strengthen the church through writing, teaching, and pastoring.

The Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy is designed primarily for lay people in the church. However, its goal is to move beyond the oversimplified and self-convinced viewpoints and discussions of some of the popular writers on this subject to provide nuanced, but understandable explanations and discussions based on the top evangelical scholarship available today. In addition, the goal for this book is to provide a solid explanation for and defense of all serious views on prophecy held by evangelicals, along with an appropriate critique pointing out each view’s weaknesses as well.

Following the tradition of most modern English Bible translations, when referring to the Old Testament Hebrew covenant name of God (Yahweh), the English term Lord (in caps) is used. Occasionally Yahweh is used, usually with a brief explanation of the term.

We wish to thank Ouachita Baptist University students Garrett Ham and Eric Michalls, who contributed to this book through proofreading and checking the many biblical citations.






Abomination of Desolation

The abomination of desolation, abomination that causes desolation, or desolating sacrifice is a phrase that refers to the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple (SEE TEMPLE). The description occurs or is alluded to in the following texts: Daniel 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20; and 2 Thessalonians 2:4, as well as in the noncanonical (apocryphal) book 1 Maccabees 1:54 – 64. These passages seem to attest to two or three stages of fulfillment of the prophecy.

(1) Daniel 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; and 1 Maccabees 1:54–64 clearly speak of the actions of the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) against the Jerusalem Temple in 167 B.C., who decreed that Temple sacrifices and offerings should cease (see ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES). To add insult to injury, he profaned the Most Holy Place by placing in it a statue to Zeus (the chief Greek god) and then sacrificing a pig to Zeus on the altar (described in Dan. 9:27 as the winged or horned altar). This terrible action is referred to as the abomination of desolation (lit., and upon the wings of abominations shall come one who makes desolate). Daniel 9:27, however, promises that the desolater (Antiochus) will be defeated, an event that occurred in 164 B.C. when Judas Maccabeus led the Jewish revolt that expelled Antiochus from Jerusalem. Judas then rededicated the Temple to God in December 164 B.C., celebrated today as Hanukkah (cf. 1 Macc. 4:36–61).

(2) Daniel’s prophecy apparently was not completely fulfilled with Antiochus, for Luke 21:20 labels the Roman assault on Jerusalem in a.d. 70 as the desolation. In fact, the Roman destruction of the Holy City and its Temple was an intensification of the reality of the Old Testament prediction.

(3) Some interpreters extend the application of the prophecy of the abomination of desolation into the distant future. These scholars contend that the ultimate fulfillment of Daniel’s prediction will occur in connection with the end-time Temple to be built by Israel, which the Antichrist will desecrate (see ANTICHRIST; ISRAEL, MODERN STATE OF). This viewpoint appeals to Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; and 2 Thessalonians 2:4 in support of its perspective (cf. Rev. 11).

But those who identify only two stages of fulfillment for Daniel’s prophecy understand Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 to pertain not to a future end-time Temple, but to the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, as Luke 21:20 does. Furthermore, they see in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 an allusion to Emperor Caligula’s (Gaius) failed plan to place a statue of himself in the Jerusalem Temple in a.d. 40, which, because of that ruler’s assassination, did not occur (see CALIGULA; DANIEL, BOOK OF; TEMPLE).

Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant, also called The Promise to Abraham, plays a central role in biblical prophecy, providing one of the main prophetic themes that connect the Old Testament to the New. This covenant is presented in three central passages: Genesis 12:1–7; 15:1–20; and 17:1–8.

In Genesis 12:1–7 God promises to bless Abraham (the word bless occurs five times in 12:2–3). As part of this blessing, God promises to make Abraham into a great nation and to make his name great (12:2). He also promises to bless those that bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse (12:3). God also stresses that Abraham will be a blessing (12:2); indeed, in Abraham all peoples on earth will be blessed (12:3). God restates this aspect of the promise in 18:18, declaring that all nations will be blessed in Abraham. Finally, God promises to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants (12:1, 7).

In Genesis 15:1–20 God formalizes his promise to Abraham into a covenant. In the ancient Near Eastern world, a covenant was a legal agreement between two parties. There were numerous ceremonies that could be used to ratify or solemnize the covenant. One of the most serious ceremonies involved cutting an animal in half and then separating the two halves on the ground. The two parties then walked together between the two halves, apparently implying a vow of sorts, as if the participants were each saying, May this happen to me if I break this covenant. In Genesis 15 God tells Abraham to bring five animals and to cut each of them in half. However, unlike in normal human covenant ceremonies, in this one God passes through the cut animals by himself, implying that he is instituting a one-sided or unilateral covenant that binds only one party — himself.

In Genesis 15 God also promises Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars (15:5). God then predicts four hundred years of bondage for Abraham’s descendants, followed by their return and possession of the land of Canaan. Additionally, imbedded within this covenant dialogue and ceremony is the important statement in 15:6, Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

God appears to the aging Abraham again in Genesis 17 and promises to confirm/establish this covenant. God then repeats several aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant, expanding on the promise. He repeats the promise of numerous descendants, but expands on this by saying that Abraham will be the father of many nations (17:4–6) and that Sarah, his wife, will be the mother of nations (17:16). In addition, a royal aspect of the promise is added, for God promises that kings will come from Abraham and Sarah (17:6, 16). Once again God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham (17:8) and states that this covenant is to be an everlasting covenant (17:7). God then states that circumcision will be the sign of the covenant between himself and Abraham (17:9–14). Several of the promises that comprise the Abrahamic Covenant are also restated later in Genesis, both to Isaac (26:3–5) and to Jacob (28:13–15).

A Unilateral Covenant

In contrast to the later Mosaic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant appears to be a unilateral covenant to which God bound himself by his promise. Various scholars refer to it as a one-sided covenant, an unconditional covenant, a divine commitment covenant, or a covenant of grace. God appears to have pledged himself to fulfilling this covenant without placing conditional stipulations on Abraham and his descendants. This is in strong contrast to the Mosaic Covenant as presented in the book of Deuteronomy. Indeed, in Deuteronomy 28 God clearly presents strict stipulations of keeping the law that were required in order to receive the blessings of that covenant. So the Mosaic Covenant was a two-sided or bilateral agreement; indeed, it was a covenant of law (although certainly God’s grace can be seen in this covenant as well).

The Abrahamic Covenant was quite different. The unilateral aspect of that covenant is stressed by the fact that God passes through the halves of the animals by himself in Genesis 15. The one-sided binding or grace aspect of this covenant is illustrated in the story at the beginning, immediately after the promise to Abraham in 12:1–7. In 12:8–20 Abraham leaves the Promised Land (apparently in disobedience), goes to Egypt, and lies to Pharaoh about his wife, Sarah. God, however, in keeping with his unilateral promise, rescues Abraham and blesses him anyway (12:20; 13:2).

As with grace in the New Testament, even though the Abrahamic Covenant was a one-sided or unilateral covenant, God still calls on Abraham and his descendants to walk in obedience. In Genesis 12 God tells Abraham to go to the Promised Land, and in Genesis 17 God commands Abraham to circumcise the males in his family. But this obedience appears to be in response to the covenant, not as a means to covenant blessing. As the Old Testament story unfolds, it reveals that disobedience by Israel can delay the Abrahamic Covenant blessings or hinder the blessings from coming to a particular generation, but not stop the eventual fulfillment of the covenant. Thus, when the people of Israel disobediently refuse to enter the Promised Land (Num. 14), God sends that generation into the desert to die, but then he brings the next generation into the Promised Land in order to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant.

The Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament

The prophetic promises of the Abrahamic Covenant are critical to the rest of the Old Testament story. In fact, it is the fulfillment of this covenant that drives that story along.

Genesis begins with the wonderful creation of God (Gen. 1–2), but is followed immediately by repeated human sin and disobedience (chs. 3–11). Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, Cain killed Abel, sin spread and brought the flood, and then people rebelled against God at the tower of Babel. The Abrahamic Covenant (ch. 12) is God’s response to the universal sin of chapters 3–11. Although a hint of salvation can perhaps be seen prophetically in Genesis 3:15 (see SEED OF THE WOMAN), it is in the Abrahamic Covenant that the story of redemption really begins to unfold.

The book of Genesis ends with the patriarchal family residing in Egypt. As Exodus opens, the Abrahamic Covenant is clearly driving the story. The descendants of Abraham have indeed multiplied as God promised, and they find themselves in Egyptian bondage, as God predicted. Yet when Pharaoh defies God and tries to stop the Abrahamic Covenant fulfillment of proliferation by killing the babies of God’s people, he finds himself on the punishment end of God’s promise to Abraham, I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse (Gen. 12:3). Indeed, in response to Pharaoh, God sends ten plagues on Egypt (Ex. 7–11), completely destroying that country.

Numerous other critical connections between the Exodus story and the Abrahamic Covenant exist. When Pharaoh oppresses the Israelites, they cry out to God. Exodus 2:24–25 reads, "God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them" (italics added). In the next passage God responds to remembering the covenant by raising up Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. It is important to recognize that the Exodus event (delivering Israel from the oppression of the Egyptians) is perhaps the central picture or paradigm of salvation in the Old Testament. It is likewise crucial to see that this great deliverance by God is tied integrally into the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be a great nation, that they would possess the land of Canaan, and that they would be blessed. The story from Exodus to Joshua traces the fulfillment of that promise.

Because the Abrahamic Covenant was a unilateral covenant or a covenant of grace, it plays a critical role in Israel’s relationship to God, especially when the people are disobedient. For example, in Exodus 32, the people build and worship a golden calf while Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments. God’s anger burns against the people and he tells Moses he intends to destroy them (Ex. 32:10). Moses, however, argues with God, using the Abrahamic Covenant as a basis for asking for grace: Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever (32:13). God’s response? Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened (32:14).

Likewise, as the Old Testament story continues to unfold, Israel receives the Promised Land and is offered tremendous blessings, but the people disobey and turn away to idols. The Mosaic Covenant promises punishment for such sin. However, throughout the story, God appears to be longsuffering and patient with them, apparently because of his promise to Abraham. In the book of 2 Kings, for example, as the nation hurtles downward in sin and apostasy, the text reminds the reader of the reason for God’s forbearance: "But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence" (2 Kings 13:23, italics added).

Eventually, however, the sin and apostasy of Israel lead to judgment, in keeping with the Mosaic Covenant. The prophets preach this continually, calling on the people to repent and to obey the Mosaic Covenant (especially the book of Deuteronomy). Yet the prophets realize that the people will not repent. Thus they proclaim that judgment is inevitable, as the Mosaic Covenant and God’s justice demand. However, the prophets also proclaim that although judgment is coming (based on the Mosaic Covenant), after the judgment will come a glorious restoration and time of blessing, based on the Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant (see DAVIDIC COVENANT), the one-sided covenants of grace.

The prophetic promise of the coming Messiah is tied to these two covenants. Likewise, as prophets such as Isaiah proclaim that the Gentiles will be included in this future time of deliverance, they are prophesying the actual fulfillment of Genesis 12:3: All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

The Abrahamic Covenant and the New Testament

The Abrahamic Covenant is one of the central themes that ties the Old and New Testaments together. The New Testament usage of the Abrahamic Covenant reflects a broad, but consistent, theological and prophetic understanding of God’s ancient covenant with Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant is not cited merely as an illustration of faith, but as a central, prophetic foundation on which much of New Testament doctrine relating to Christ and his salvation for us is built.

The prophets in the Old Testament proclaimed that the Messiah would come in fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. Moving from the prophets to the New Testament, one observes that the New Testament immediately alludes back to these two covenants, introducing Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:1 as the son of David, the son of Abraham.

The coming of Jesus is likewise connected to the Abrahamic Covenant twice in Luke 1. In Luke 1:54–55, Mary proclaims, He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers. Then Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, states clearly that the coming of the Messiah is in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come and has redeemed his people.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David

(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),

salvation from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us —

to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath he swore to our father Abraham. (1:68–73)

Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant play central roles not only in the Gospels, but also in Paul’s letters. Paul generally uses the term promise when referring to the Abrahamic Covenant; indeed, for Paul this term is practically a synonym for the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus Paul frequently alludes to the promises God gave to Abraham (Rom. 4:9–11; 15:8; Gal. 3–4), and these promises combine with Abraham’s faith to provide a critical foundation for Paul’s understanding of the gospel and the inclusion of the Gentiles.

In Galatians Paul declares: Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Gal. 3:7–9). Paul also argues that when the Abrahamic Covenant makes promises regarding the descendants of Abraham, this refers to those who believe in Christ, both Jew and Gentile: If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29) (see SEED OF ABRAHAM).

The Abrahamic Covenant, therefore, plays a critical foundational and prophetic role in the story of salvation. The promises that God made to Abraham serve as prophetic guidelines that drive the story along the path of salvation history throughout the Old Testament and into the New, leading directly to the climactic fulfillment in Jesus Christ.


Advent means coming or arrival. For Christians, Advent is often used to refer to that part of the church calendar encompassing the four Sundays prior to Christmas, in celebration of Christ’s coming to earth. The term First Advent is used in a broader theological sense, referring to the coming of Jesus Christ to earth to provide salvation through his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Likewise, the term Second Advent references the return of Jesus in glory at the end times (see SECOND ADVENT).

There are numerous Old Testament prophecies that pointed to and predicted Christ’s First Advent. Many of these are identified in the New Testament as fulfilled prophecies about Christ. These prophecies can be grouped into nine general categories:

Christ’s birth. Several aspects relating to Christ’s birth were foretold in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would be a descendant of David (cf. Ps. 110:1 with Matt. 22:43–44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42–43), but also of divine origin (cf. Ps. 40:6–8 with Heb. 10:5–9; Ps. 2:7 with Acts 13:33 and Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Isa. 7:14 with Matt. 1:21–23). Micah foretold the place of birth, Bethlehem (cf. Mic. 5:2 with Matt. 2:6; John 7:42). Several Old Testament prophets alluded to the opposition that the Messiah would face at birth, seen in the attempt by Herod to kill all the babies in Bethlehem (cf. Hos. 11:1 with Matt. 2:15; Jer. 31:15 with Matt. 2:16–18).

Christ’s forerunner. The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would be preceded by a forerunner, fulfilled by John the Baptist (cf. Isa. 40:3–5 with Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4–6; John 1:23; Mal. 3:1 with Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27; Mal. 4:5–6 with Matt. 11:14; 17:12; Mark 9:12–13; Luke 1:17) (see JOHN THE BAPTIST).

Christ’s ministry. Various aspects of Christ’s ministry were foretold in the Old Testament. The Messiah was to be a prophet (cf. Deut. 18:15–16, 19 with Acts 3:22–23; 7:37; Ps. 69:9 with John 2:17; see also Matt. 21:12–16; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–47), beginning with his ministry in Galilee (cf. Isa. 9:1–2 with Matt. 4:15–16). Likewise he was identified as the Suffering Servant of the Lord (cf. Isa. 53:4 with Matt. 8:17; Isa. 61:1–2 with Luke 4:18–21; Isa. 53:12 with Luke 22:37; Isa. 53:3ff. with Mark 9:12; Luke 18:32; 24:24–25, 46) (see SERVANT SONGS). The Old Testament also pointed to Jesus’ eternal priesthood (cf. Ps. 110:4 with Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21). Numerous texts prophesied that the Messiah would be a king (cf. Zech. 9:9 with Matt. 21:5; John 12:14–15) (see KING, MESSIANIC).

Christ’s opposition by the Jews. The Old Testament indicated that the Messiah would be opposed and oppressed by his own people (cf. Isa. 6:9–10 with Matt. 13:14–15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Isa. 53:1; 6:9–10 with John 12:37–41; Ps. 118:22–23 with Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7–18).

Christ’s betrayal by Judas. Two Old Testament texts described the betrayal of the Messiah by a close friend (cf. Ps. 41:9 with John 13:18; 17:12; Zech. 11:12–13 with Matt. 27: 9–10; see also Ps. 109:8; 69:25 and Acts 1:20).

Christ’s arrest and abandonment. The Old Testament prophets declared that the Messiah would be arrested and then abandoned by his friends and supporters (cf. Zech. 13:7 with Matt. 26:30–31; Mark 14:27).

Christ’s death. The violent death of the Messiah is mentioned in several places in the Old Testament (cf. Ps. 22:18 with John 19:24; Ps. 22:15 with John 19:28; Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20 with John 19:36; Zech. 12:10 with John 19:32; Isa. 53:7–9 with Luke 18:32; Acts 8:32–35; 1 Cor. 15:3; Deut. 21:23 with Gal. 3:13).

Christ’s resurrection. The New Testament also identifies several Old Testament texts as pointing to the resurrection of the Messiah (cf. Ps. 16:8–11 with Acts 2:25–28; 2 Sam. 7:12–13 with Luke 18:33; 24:46; Hos. 6:2 with John 2:19–22; 1 Cor. 15:4).

Christ’s ascension. The Old Testament predicted not only the suffering of Christ, but also his glorification, seen in his ascension to sit at the right hand of God (cf. Ps. 110:1 with Acts 2:34–35; Ps. 2:7 with Acts 13:33–35; Ps. 68:18 with Eph. 4:8).

Thus the New Testament points out numerous Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Christ at his First Advent. (For a discussion regarding prophecies in both the New Testament and the Old Testament about Jesus’ return to earth, see SECOND COMING.)


Agabus is one of the prophets from Jerusalem who came to Antioch and prophesied that there would be a severe famine over the entire Roman world (Acts 11:27–30). This happened during the reign of Emperor Claudius (a.d. 41–54). Later this same prophet went from Jerusalem to Caesarea and acted out his prophecy that Paul would be bound in chains if he proceeded with his plan to go to the Holy City (21:10–11), which indeed came true (21:27–36).

Ahijah the Shilonite

Ahijah lives and prophesies during the tumultuous times of the final days of Solomon, the civil war that ensued after Solomon’s death, and the early days of the split kingdoms of Israel and Judah. He is from the city of Shiloh, the site where the Tabernacle resided during the days of Samuel. Ahijah is a true prophet and plays a significant role during these troubled times.

In 1 Kings 11:1–13, Solomon, the son of David, turns away from God and leads the nation into idol worship. As punishment, God declares that he will take away the northern ten tribes from Solomon’s descendants and will create a new nation (the northern kingdom, Israel) out of these ten tribes. Yet for the sake of David, God promises to leave the house of David (and Solomon) one tribe in the south (Judah). Ahijah the prophet delivers this message to Jeroboam (11:26–39). Ahijah also tells Jeroboam that God has chosen him to be king over this new kingdom. If Jeroboam remains faithful to God, Ahijah prophesies, following the pattern of David and not the idolatrous pattern of Solomon, he will be blessed and his dynasty will be established.

However, although God does bring Jeroboam to power, Jeroboam turns away from God and becomes an evil, disobedient king (1 Kings 13:33–34; 14:9). When Jeroboam’s son becomes ill, Jeroboam sends his wife in disguise to Ahijah to find out what will happen to the boy. Ahijah sees through the disguise and prophesies severe judgment on Jeroboam and his entire household, including the death of the sick son, thus declaring an end to Jeroboam’s dynasty — an ironic reversal to what would have happened if Jeroboam had been obedient. This action of the prophet Ahijah (declaring the death of the king’s son) stands in strong contrast to the event in 17:7–24, where the prophet Elijah raises the son of a widow from the dead. Thus, the disobedient king’s son dies, while the faithful widow’s son is raised from the dead. Faithful prophets are involved in each event.

Alexander the Great

Alexander, born in 356 B.C., was the son of Philip, king of Macedon. The amazing, swift conquests of Alexander are alluded to in Daniel. Daniel 8:5–8 (cf. 2:40–43; 7:19–24) portrays Alexander the Great as the goat from the west (Greece) with a notable horn between his eyes that defeats the ram (the Medo-Persian army). This prophecy is fulfilled when Alexander leads the Greek armies across the Hellespont into Asia Minor in 334 B.C. and defeats the Persian forces at the river Granicus. Alexander again meets and quickly defeats the Persians at Issus (without touching the ground; Dan. 8:5).

Alexander then turns south, moving down the Syrian coast and conquering Egypt without difficulty. He then moves east again, defeating Darius the Persian for the last time, east of the Tigris River. Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis (the last two were capitals of Persia) all fell to the young warrior king. Alexander marches his armies as far eastward as the Hydaspes River in India and wins a decisive battle there. But because his armies refuse to go any further, Alexander is forced to return to Persepolis and then to Babylon. There he dies in 323 B.C. at the age of thirty-three.

Alexander’s chief contribution to posterity is Hellenization — the merging of Greek culture with the customs of the peoples he conquered (Hellas is the Greek word for Greece). Thus koine (common) Greek becomes a universal trade language from 330 B.C. to ca. a.d. 300, and the language of the Septuagint (the earliest translation of the Old Testament), the New Testament, and some of the early church fathers’ writings. After Alexander’s sudden death, his empire is divided among his four generals: Cassander (Greece), Lysimachus (Asia), Seleucus (Babylonia and Syria), and Ptolemy (Egypt), probably reflecting the prophecy of Daniel 8: 8–22.


An allegory is a story in which the details correspond to a deeper level of meaning than the literal sense. Duvall and Hays elaborate, An allegory is a story that uses an extensive amount of symbolism … that is, most or many of the details in the story represent something or carry some specific nuance of meaning. As those authors point out, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress is a well-known Christian book devoted to allegory. Thus, to understand allegory, one must read it figuratively and not as history.¹ Some classic examples of allegory in the Bible include Isaiah 5:1–7 (Israel is the vineyard of God) and John 15:1–8 (the vine and the branches). See also Galatians 4:21–27. Thus, allegory has its rightful place in Scripture.

However, allegory can be used in inappropriate ways, especially in regard to biblical prophecy. Sometimes narrative material in Scripture can be interpreted incorrectly in an allegorical manner instead of a more literal historical manner, as the material was probably intended to be understood. This method has its origin in Alexandria, Egypt, a Christian center of scholarship led by Clement of Alexandria in a.d. 190 and then by Origen in a.d. 202. The Alexandrian school was influenced by Platonic philosophy and understood the task of biblical interpretation as seeking the allegorical or symbolic meaning of the Bible, which lay behind the literal sense.

While the motivation of this school of thought was laudable (it sought to show that the Old Testament is filled with messianic predictions fulfilled in Jesus Christ), its methodology (reading the New Testament back into the Old Testament without the latter having a say in its own right) was incorrect. Regrettably, such an interpretation paved the way for later theologians to see Christ everywhere in the Old Testament, without regard for the authorial intent of the inspired author.

For example, the Tabernacle as described in Exodus has been the breeding ground of fanciful allegorical readings. Thus the tent pegs of the holy tent are thought to anticipate the cross of Christ. (Never mind the fact that the tent pegs were not wood, but bronze, the latter of which is supposedly symbolic of our salvation in Christ that does not decay!) And the pins were buried in the ground but emerged from the ground when the Tabernacle moved, thus bespeaking the death and resurrection of Christ! And on and on the messianic interpretation of the Tabernacle goes. Now there is certainly a connection between the Tabernacle and Christ (see the book of Hebrews), but it is the general point that Christ is the superior replacement to the ancient holy tent, not the far-fetched details often teased from the Exodus narrative regarding the tabernacle.

Thus, it is important to recognize that the interpreter today is not free to use allegorical methods to interpret Scripture whenever the interpreter feels as if it might be appropriate. It is critically important to first identify whether a passage was intended by the biblical author to be allegorical in nature. While, as noted above, allegories do occur in Scripture, they are rare, and today’s interpreters should exert extreme caution before using this method to interpret most biblical texts.

Alpha and Omega

The introduction to the book of Revelation culminates in a vivid declaration of who God is: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’ (Rev. 1:8). This is one of two occasions in Revelation where God himself clearly speaks (see also 21:6). Both instances echo Isaiah, where God uses similar language to communicate that he is not only the Creator, but also the sovereign Lord of history who will bring all things to fulfillment (see Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).

). Perhaps this explains why many ancient inscriptions capitalize the alpha (A) to capture the word alpha, while they use the letter ω that is used in the text rather than the capital omega (Ω).

On the use of letters as descriptions of God, Craig Keener points out that some Jewish writers used the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph and Tav) to make the same point.² Bauckham contends that John emphasizes the phrase the Alpha and the Omega (listed first in 1:8) as a connection to the divine name:

The biblical name of God YHWH was sometimes vocalized Yāhôh and so transliterated into Greek (which has no consonant h) as IAΩ (Iota, Alpha, Omega). In the context of Jewish theological speculation about the divine name, the occurrence of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet in this Greek form of the name could have suggested that the name itself contains the implications that God is the first and the last.³

In Revelation, the Alpha and Omega (and similar designations) are used for both God and Christ:

God — I am the Alpha and the Omega (1:8)

Christ — I am the First and the Last (1:17)

Christ — the First and the Last (2:8)

God — I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (21: 6)

Christ — I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (22:13)

This interchange asserts not only the deity of Christ and his oneness with the Father, but also the Triune God’s complete control of history. He is both the origin and goal of history — quite literally, the first and last word. Also, if one considers Revelation 2:8 to be a continuation of 1:17, then these phrases are used a total of seven times in Revelation as yet another way of emphasizing the completeness of God’s sovereign control. In 21:6–7 the phrase is used of God in the context of finalizing salvation: It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. In 22:12–13 the phrase is used of Christ in the context of his return and judgment: Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. God the Father accomplishes salvation through the Son, a "salvation through judgment."

The prophetic meaning of the title for the early church was to reinforce their faith in God as sovereign over their personal circumstances. He is Lord of creation and Lord of the new creation. He is victorious over every contender, and no rival power can keep him from accomplishing his purpose and plan. Knowing that God is in control of history encourages Christians who are being threatened by worldly powers. While economic, religious, and military powers such as Rome may seem invincible from a human perspective, they are in reality under the ultimate control of the Triune God, who holds all of time and eternity in his hands.

Already–Not Yet

The already–not yet concept is closely tied to Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God and to New Testament eschatology in general. The kingdom of God is the rule or reign of God. When Jesus began to minister publicly, his main message was, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15; cf. also Matt. 4:17, 23; Luke 4:42–44). Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, fed the hungry, and forgave sinners — all signs that the kingdom had arrived. In Jesus, the kingdom of God became a present reality (Matt. 11:11–12; 12:28; 18:1–5; Luke 17:20–21). The age to come had already begun.

The disciples were operating from a typical Jewish understanding of eschatology (doctrine of the last things). They believed that when Messiah arrived, the new age of God’s complete rule would begin. As a result, Jesus’ disciples expected him to establish the kingdom fully and totally during their lifetime. When he was crucified, not only did they suffer emotionally because of the death of their friend and leader, but their entire understanding of God’s plan encountered a crisis. If Jesus was Messiah, the one to bring about the messianic kingdom, why was he crucified? Was all hope lost for God’s kingdom of peace, righteousness, and blessing to arrive? After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, however, the disciples began to understand God’s greater plan (see the chart on next page).

At Jesus’ first coming, the kingdom of God broke into this world. A world filled with sin, rebellion, Satan, darkness, and evil was invaded by Jesus the King and his messianic kingdom of peace, righteousness, life, and God. At conversion, believers begin to experience eternal life (lit., age-to-come life). The apostle Paul speaks of being rescued … from the dominion of darkness and brought … into the kingdom of the Son (Col. 1:13). Believers are new people living in an old world. God has started his kingdom project, but he has not completely finished it. The kingdom of God has already arrived, but it has not yet come in all its fullness. The grand project has been launched, but it has not been finished.

Yet the kingdom of God also has a future dimension (Matt. 6:10; 25:34; 26:29; Luke 19:11 – 27). Believers are living in enemy-occupied territory between God’s initial invasion (Jesus’ first coming) and his total defeat of evil (Jesus’ second coming). Believers live in the overlap between this age and the age to come. This situation explains many elements of the present Christian experience:

Believers experience God’s forgiveness, but they still sin and will never be perfect in this life.

Believers have victory over death, but will one day die physically.

Believers still get sick, and not all Christians experience healing.

Believers live in the Spirit, but Satan will continue to attack and may do damage.

God lives within believers, but they do not yet live in God’s complete presence.

Because of the already-not yet reality of the kingdom of God, those who belong to Christ will experience victories as well as struggles until Jesus returns. (See also ESCHATOLOGY; KINGDOM OF GOD; SECOND COMING.)

Amos, Book of

Amos was a farmer/shepherd from the southern kingdom Judah who was led by God to prophesy briefly against the northern kingdom Israel. Amos prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (786–746 B.C.), a time when Israel was experiencing economic prosperity.

For most of the book, Amos proclaims how Israel has broken the Mosaic Covenant (primarily Deuteronomy). He accuses the king and the people of idolatry, social injustice (especially in association with affluent living), and hypocritical worship. Amos also describes the terrible consequential judgment that is coming. Amos is quite colorful, but brutally harsh and scathing in his criticism of Israel.

Amos barely touches on the theme of future restoration, and his brief glimpse of hope does not come until the final chapter (Amos 9). However, earlier in the book, as he describes judgment and destruction, he does allude to the survival of a remnant (3:12; 7:1–6; 9:8), even though his description of the remnant is rather grim: As a shepherd saves from the lion’s mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear, so will the Israelites be saved (3:12) (see REMNANT).

In the last five verses of this book (Amos 9:11–15) the prophet Amos finally mentions future hope and restoration. God declares in 9:11 that he will restore David’s fallen tent, an allusion to fulfilling the promises of the Davidic Covenant (see DAVIDIC COVENANT). God then promises a time when Israel will be restored back in the Promised Land, a time characterized by agricultural blessings (9:13–15). (For an overview of the differing views on the restoration of Israel, see RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.)


This view on the millennium is the notion that there will be no earthly reign of Christ after his coming (a means no). The thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 symbolize the heavenly reign of Christ with Christians who have already died and gone to be with Christ. The return of Christ at the end of the age will be immediately followed by a general resurrection, the last judgment, and the eternal state. Amillennialists contend that these primary end-time events will occur in rapid succession, ruling out an earthly millennial kingdom. They look to the following passages to support this claim: John 5:28–29; Romans 8:17–23; 1 Corinthians 15:20–26; 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10; and 2 Peter 3:3–14, which they view as clear sections of Scripture to use for interpreting the less clear, more difficult portions of the Bible, such as Revelation 20:1–6.

Amillennialists take the Bible seriously, but not usually as literally as do certain types of premillennialists. For example, they conclude that the promises granted to Israel will find ultimate fulfillment in the church and that all Old Testament prophecies either have all been fulfilled in Christ and the church or will be fulfilled in the eternal state. Amillennialism acknowledges the symbolic power of prophetic literature and interprets it accordingly. As a result, the last days are defined as the time between the first coming and the second coming of Christ. Rather than supplying a strict chronological map of future events, Revelation describes these last days of tribulation through repeated visions. Consequently, the order in which these visions appear in Revelation is not necessarily the order of their fulfillment.

In terms of Revelation 20:1–10, amillennialists draw several conclusions:

The visions of 20:1–3 and 20:7–10 go together to represent the situation on earth, while 20:4–6 provides a vision of the situation in heaven. All three visions refer to the same time period.

The number one thousand indicates a complete period of time when God’s will is accomplished. It may also highlight the glory of reigning with Christ in heaven when compared to the brief period of tribulation experienced on earth.

The binding of Satan mentioned in 20:2 is a restatement of the clear record of Satan’s binding presented in Revelation 12. In fact, the New Testament emphasizes two climactic phases of Christ’s victory over Satan — the cross and his second coming (e.g., John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14–15; 1 John 3:8). Revelation 20 provides a symbolic restatement of these two victories.

The battle mentioned in 20:8 is the same battle mentioned in 16:14 and 19:19. This last record of the same battle specifies what happens to Satan as a result of his defeat.

Revelation 20:4–6 offers a glimpse of the saints reigning with Christ in heaven (e.g., the reference to thrones and souls locate the scene in heaven). This reign occurs after these saints have died and as they are waiting for Christ’s return, their resurrection, and the eternal state.

Believers experience one death (physical death) and two resurrections. The first resurrection occurs when a believer dies and is brought into God’s presence (though some amillennialists view the first resurrection as what happens when a person receives new life in Jesus’ name). The second resurrection is a bodily resurrection and occurs at Christ’s return to prepare believers for the eternal state (1 Cor. 15:35–57).

Augustine is credited with developing amillennialism in a systematic way, although the close identification of amillennialism and postmillennialism in the early years explains why both groups claim him as an early proponent. Amillennialism has been the favored position of many Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Reformed groups, as well as many Baptists. In the twentieth century with the decline of postmillennialism, many shifted to amillennialism rather than make the major jump to premillennialism.

Amillennialism features a number of strengths. Compared to the other positions, amillennialism focuses on the central truths of biblical eschatology such as the return of Christ and avoids getting bogged down in overly complex details. This simplicity is appealing to many. Amillennialism takes seriously the nature of biblical literature and attempts to interpret according to the rules of each literary genre. In addition, amillennialists do serious exegesis on a wide variety of relevant biblical passages, attempting to use the clear passages to make sense of the more obscure passages. In contrast to postmillennialism, this view adopts a realistic view of the difficulty of living in the last days.

The primary weakness of amillennialism lies in its exegesis of Revelation 20:1–10, especially its understanding of the two resurrections. Verses 4–6 reads as follows:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Amillennialists have interpreted come to life in Revelation 20:4 either as new spiritual life given at conversion or as a heavenly reigning with Christ after death. In other words, the first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection of sorts. But they take the next reference to resurrection in 20:5 (the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended) as a physical resurrection. Premillennialists in particular have noted the inconsistency of interpreting the same verb within the same immediate context in two completely different ways — the one as spiritual resurrection and the other as physical resurrection.

In addition, the phrase the rest of the dead in 20:5 indicates an entirely different group of people from the group referenced in 20:4. Since these interpretive inconsistencies occur in the central passage related to the millennium, the amillennial interpretation has been called into question by some. (See also DISPENSATIONALISM, CLASSIC; DISPENSATIONALISM, PROGRESSIVE; MILLENNIAL KINGDOM; POSTMILLENNIALISM; PREMILLENNIALISM, HISTORIC.)

Ancient of Days

The Ancient of Days personage occurs in two key biblical prophetic passages: Daniel 7:9 and Revelation 1:14–16. The first text, all agree, describes the Lord seated on the heavenly throne (see THRONE). The white clothing symbolizes God’s righteousness. The hairlike wool implies his antiquity, and the fiery throne depicts his awesome power. A second figure, described in Daniel 7:13–14, is that of the heavenly Son of Man (see SON OF MAN), who receives the kingdom of God from the Ancient of Days (see KINGDOM OF GOD). Two prominent understandings of the Son of Man are that he either personifies the struggles and triumph of God’s ancient people Israel, or he foreshadows the coming messianic deliverer.

The religious background of the two Daniel personages could be that of Canaanite religion. Like the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7, the head of the Canaanite pantheon of deities was El, the aged god who was addressed by the title father of years. Moreover, the Canaanite myth depicts El’s son, Baal, as riding on the clouds in his ascent to heaven, recently victorious over Yamm, the god of the chaotic sea. This is reminiscent of 7:13–14 (cf. vv. 1–8). If that is indeed the background of the Ancient of Days, then Daniel’s portrait of the Lord nevertheless exalts him above any supposed Canaanite rival deity, as it does also the heavenly Son of Man.

The second relevant prophetic passage dealing with the Ancient of Days is Revelation 1:14–16. Exiled by Roman authorities on Patmos because of his faith in Jesus, John receives a vision from God. In that vision, he sees a heavenly person in whom is combined the features of the heavenly Son of Man and the Ancient of Days. Similar imagery characterizing the latter figure (white hair, fiery presence) is now applied to Jesus, the heavenly Son of Man. Clearly John here asserts that Jesus, the heavenly Son of Man, is none other that the Ancient of Days. That is to say, Jesus is God.


Angels, or messengers, in the Bible perform four general services: they worship God and his Son (Rev. 5:11–14), they minister to the righteous (Ps. 34:7; 91:11; Matt. 18:10–11; Heb. 1:14), they deliver messages from God (see, e.g., Matt. 1:20–23; 2:13; Luke 1:11-17, 26–38; 2:8–14), and they oppose evil human beings and fallen angels.

The relationship between angels and biblical prophecy unfolds in two categories: righteous angels and fallen angels or demons. A righteous angel who appears numerous times in the Old Testament is called the angel of the Lord (Gen. 16:7; 19:1, 21; 22:11; 31:11, 13; Ex. 3:2, 4; Judg. 2:1–5; 6:11–12, 14; 13:3, 6, 8–11, 13, 15–17, 20–23; Zech. 3:1–6; 12: 8). Some scholars maintain this personage was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ, implying that many of these texts serve as indirect prophecies of the Messiah to come. That interpretation, however, is contested, for the angel of the Lord may simply be God’s personal messenger who represented him and bore God’s credentials.

Another righteous angel is Michael. He appears in Daniel 10:13–14, 21; 12:1, and is clearly connected to biblical prophecy (see MICHAEL). Those passages envision Michael as defending Israel during the future great tribulation, a time when Jews in mass will embrace God and his Messiah (see GREAT TRIBULATION). According to many interpreters, Revelation 12:7–9 is a further depiction of Daniel’s prophecy. Michael and the angels of heaven will cast out Satan and his angelic followers to earth. Although the serpent will persecute Jews during the messianic woes, or the great tribulation, his fall from heaven is the beginning of the end of his evil reign.

Another key passage mentioning Michael is Jude 9, which refers to Michael’s confrontation with the devil over the body of Moses, a noncanonical episode. The point made by Jude is that even Michael the archangel did not dare rebuke Satan, but rather deferred to God that task. In contrast, the false teachers of the end times will claim for themselves spiritual authority beyond their domain (Jude 10).

Yet another key angel in the Bible is Gabriel. He reveals the end times regarding Israel to Daniel (Dan. 8:16–26; 9:20–27) and announces the births of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11–20) and of Jesus (1:26–38).

Finally, a number of New Testament texts associate righteous angels with events that will attend the second coming of Christ (see SECOND COMING): sealing and protecting the people of God in the great tribulation (Rev. 7; 14); executing the judgments of God on the wicked during that same time period (Rev. 8–11; 15–18), including Satan (Rev. 20:1–3, 7–10); and accompanying Christ at his return (Matt. 24:30–31; Mark 13:26–27; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 1:7).

The other major connection between angels and biblical prophecy is that of demons or fallen angels, who are led by Satan. Two key parallel texts dealing with fallen angels are Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4, where we read that certain angels did not remain in their divinely assigned positions. Consequently, they were consigned to hell (tartaros), the term used by Greeks to refer to the place where wicked spirits were sent to be punished.

Two views compete in their interpretations of Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4. (1) Some believe these angels’ sin is described in Genesis 6:2, where the sons of God are said to have intermarried with the daughters of men (i.e., angels married human women). The offspring of those marriages are thought to have been giants, the Nephilim of Genesis 6. This is why God judged the earth by the flood. The Jewish noncanonical book 1 Enoch certainly interprets Genesis 6 that way.

(2) But because many assume that angels, who are spirits, cannot have sexual relations with human women, they consider the sin referred to in Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 as having occurred before the fall of Adam and Eve. These supernatural beings became fallen angels and are probably the demons and evil spirits referred to in the New Testament. They are confined in hell, awaiting the judgment of the second coming of Christ. Why some evil angels are imprisoned now and others not yet, allowing them to serve Satan as demons, is not explained in the Bible. It may be that the demons currently in tartaros are those who will be unleashed on the earth during the great tribulation (see Rev. 9). That prophetic chapter describes hideous, locust-like creatures as being let out of the Abyss (hell) for the purpose of inflicting torment on the followers of the Antichrist. Interestingly enough, that scene witnesses righteous angels calling the fallen angels into action, the implication being that the latter are subject to the former.

The leader of the fallen angels is known in Scripture by various names: the serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9; 20:2), Satan (Job 1:6; Zech. 3:2; Matt. 12:26; etc.), the devil (Matt. 4:1, 5, 8, 11; etc.), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and Lucifer (Isa. 14:12, Latin Vulgate). Some interpreters think Satan’s fall from the ranks of righteous angels occurred at the time of the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3 with Isa. 14:12–15; Ezek. 28:1–19). But these last two passages more likely allude to the falls of ancient Babylon (see babylon) and Tyre, respectively. If that is true, then Satan’s fall is a matter of fact by the time we read Genesis 3.

Several key end-time activities characterize what Satan did as described in the New Testament. (1) He opposed the first coming of Christ and the dawning of the kingdom of God by tempting Jesus to avoid the cross (Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13; cf. Mark 8:31–33). (2) That failing, Satan and his demons attacked Christ head-on through the evil intentions of Judas and the Jewish leadership (John 13:27–30; 1 Cor. 2:8). (3) Satan continues to oppress the church in the time before the second coming of Christ (Rev. 12:13–17; 13:1–18). (4) Yet, Christ on earth defeated Satan through the power and holiness of the kingdom of God (Luke 10:18–20; Col. 2:15). The exorcisms and healings he and his followers did were a sign of that. Whether or not Revelation 20:1–3, 7–10 refers to the defeat of Satan at the first coming of Christ is debated. Those who disagree with that perspective relegate the fulfillment of Revelation 20 to a future millennium, inaugurated at the return of Christ (see MILLENNIUM).


Anna (Luke 2:36–37) was an elderly, widowed prophetess who, at the time of Jesus’ birth, lived at the Jerusalem Temple, fasting and praying. The emphasis of Luke’s description of Anna is on her piety and on her reliability as one who could recognize the Messiah. In addition, her constant fasting and praying may not have been merely ritual, but rather were probably a sign of mourning, an acknowledgment that the spiritual situation in Israel and in the Temple at that time was deplorable. Along with Simeon (Luke 2:25–35) she represents those pious Jews who were faithfully looking for the coming Messiah.

Seeing Jesus in the Temple, Anna recognizes him immediately as the Messiah. She then gives praise to God for him and speaks of him to all of the others who, like her, were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). As the story unfolds, the religious establishment associated with the Temple in Jerusalem rejects Christ and ultimately has him crucified. Anna, however, represents the true remnant, those connected with the true prophetic tradition of the Old Testament who were looking expectantly for the Messiah (see REMNANT).

Self-centered and self-seeking people like the scribes and Pharisees did not acknowledge the Messiah, reacting to Jesus with hostility rather than faith. People like Anna, by contrast, recognized him readily and proclaimed him as Messiah to all who were really looking for the Coming One.


Surprisingly, the term antichrist (Gk. antichristos) is only used four times in the Bible (1 John 2:18, 22: 4:3; 2 John 7). John warns his dear children that it is already the last hour and that just as they have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come (1 John 2:18). The spirit of Antichrist, John says, is already in the world (1 John 4:3). He defines the Antichrist as a man who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22), as every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus (1 John 4:3), and as a deceiver who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 7). John seems to rely on the false prophet theme common in the Old Testament when describing the antichrist(s).

Although the specific term is only mentioned a few times in Scripture, the concept of antichrist-type figures

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