Given that in some segments of our society, we are constantly hearing about predictions about the date and time of the end of the world, I thought the following would be appropriate to share. Given that we Orthodox are celebrating the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in a few days, it is appropriate to listen to the words of the Apostles themselves regarding this issue, which reinforce Christ’s very words in the Gospels.
We cannot call ourselves Orthodox Christians and not believe in the Second Coming of Christ. Christ will come at the end of time. We pray this in the Nicene Creed, in the Pistevo. He, in a very real (not symbolic) yet mystical way, also comes to us every time at the Divine Liturgy through His Precious Body and Blood. We as Orthodox believe that there will be signs that will tell us when the end times are approaching, but it is extremely important to note that we don’t know the year, the day, the hour. Certain prophecies also must be fulfilled..so yes, the end of the world is not coming in December 2012.
Since I’ve been quoting and will be quoting from Holy Scripture, I want to stress that, as Orthodox Christians, we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, put the Bible together. Therefore, the Bible is the Church’s book. The Bible did not just fall out of the sky. The Church put it together and decided which books would be in it and which would not. Therefore, the Church is the only one who has the authority to interpret the Scriptures. When we explain the Scriptures, we must do so with the mind of the Church.
Regarding the “secret gospels” that we hear about nowadays in the media, they were known about in the early Church and Saint Irenaeus (Άγιος Ειρηναίος), bishop of Lyons, in what is now modern-day France, wrote about them. There’s nothing to hide. These Gnostic Gospels date from the second and third century A.D. and were full of heresy. The Gnostic heretics gave the title of their writings with the name of one of the Apostles in order to deceive some people who didn’t know any better. The actual writings of the New Testament are from the Apostles themselves or from someone close to them. All the writings of the New Testament come from the time period when the Apostles were still living. There’s no conspiracy theory. An honest look at history confirms that. The Saints’ lives confirm that this was not a conspiracy, especially when the Saints suffered setbacks and persecutions for believing in the divinity of Christ and remaining loyal to the Church.
From Saint Paul, we read:
– “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Περὶ δὲ τῶν χρόνων καὶ τῶν καιρῶν, ἀδελφοί, οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε ὑμῖν γράφεσθαι· αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκριβῶς οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ ἡμέρα Κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν νυκτὶ οὕτως ἔρχεται.
– “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5).
“Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπ’ αὐτόν, εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι’ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι’ ἡμῶν, ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον· ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον Θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστι Θεός. Οὐ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ταῦτα ἔλεγον ὑμῖν;”
From Saint Peter, we see that “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10).
“Ἥξει δὲ ἡ ἡμέρα Κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης ἐν νυκτί.”
What the Apostles write reinforces the words of Christ Himself from the Gospel:
From the Gospel of Matthew
– “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27).
“ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ἡ παρουσία τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.”
-“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
“Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης καὶ ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι τῶν οὐρανῶν, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατὴρ μου μόνος.”
-“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).
“γρηγορεῖτε οὖν, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε ποίᾳ ὥρᾳ ὁ Κύριος ὑμῶν ἔρχεται.”
-“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44).
“διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ὑμεῖς γίνεσθε ἕτοιμοι, ὅτι ᾗ ὥρᾳ οὐ δοκεῖτε ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἔρχεται.”
From the Gospel of Mark
-And Jesus answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many (Mark 13:5-6).
ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀποκριθεὶς ἤρξατο λέγειν αὐτοῖς· Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ. πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι, καὶ πολλοὺς πλανήσουσιν.
-Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Mark 13:21-22).
καὶ τότε ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ, ἰδοὺ ὧδε ὁ Χριστός, ἰδοὺ ἐκεῖ, μὴ πιστεύετε. ἐγερθήσονται γὰρ ψευδόχριστοι καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται καὶ δώσουσι σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα πρὸς τὸ ἀποπλανᾶν, εἰ δυνατόν καὶ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς.
-“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
Βλέπετε, ἀγρυπνεῖτε καὶ προσεύχεσθε· οὐκ οἴδατε γὰρ πότε ὁ καιρός ἐστιν.
From the Gospel of Luke
-“And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.” (Luke 21:8)
ὁ δὲ εἶπε· Βλέπετε μὴ πλανηθῆτε· πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐλεύσονται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου λέγοντες ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι καί ὁ καιρὸς ἤγγικε. μὴ οὖν πορευθῆτε ὀπίσω αὐτῶν.