The Two Ages and the End Times
For some strange reason, American Protestants have abandoned their principle of allowing clearer texts of Scripture to guide their interpretation of less clear texts. This is especially evident when we consider "the end times". People first turn to Revelation 20 and the apocalyptic texts of Daniel, and they then attempt to harmonize Paul and Jesus with their (often idiosyncratic) interpretation of these visions. If, however, the New Testament's "two age" structure is recognized, we avoid the error of expecting an earthly Millennium (a Golden Age). "This age" is characterized by earthly structures like marriage, farming, and having families (Mark 10; Luke 20). It is also described as being in opposition to God. It is "the present evil age" (Gal. 1). Its earthly rulers express a different kind of wisdom (1 Cor. 1-2), which Christians must avoid (Rom. 12). It is even directed by Satan, "the god of this age" (2 Cor. 4), though Jesus reigns over him (Eph. 1). Thankfully, "this age" will end. "The end of the age" is characterized by judgement unto hell or heavenly glory (Matt. 13). Then, "the age to come" begins, and (as you might expect) it relates to eternal life (Mark 10; Luke 18) and the end of the earthly structures that characterize "this age" (Luke 20).