FAQ: Christians and the End of the World
A guide to beliefs about the End Times and Jesus' return.
What do Christians believe about the end of the world?
Nearly all Christians are taught that Jesus Christ will return in glory and reign eternally.
But beliefs differ about how this will happen. Many Catholics, liberal Protestants, and Orthodox Christians in the U.S. do not emphasize the end of the world. Though their denominations have end-times theologies, these Christians would rarely hear preaching on it. These denominations focus on Jesus' words that people cannot "know the day or the hour" (Matthew 25) of the end and tend not to speculate on the details.A majority of evangelical Protestants, however, stress specific ideas about the end of the world. They believe that certain events must happen prior to Jesus' return, and that many of these events are happening now. Drawing from Matthew 24, Paul's epistles, and the Book of Revelation, evangelicals look for signs of the end of the world.
Some evangelical Christians in the U.S. believe in a more specific End Times scenario called the Rapture.
What are the signs of the end of the world?
Many Christians cite Matthew 24, in which Jesus tells his disciples that certain events will herald the end of the world:
In the same chapter, Jesus also says that the Great Commission--his command to spread the Gospel to all the world--will be fulfilled before the end comes.
Citing Revelation 13, some Christians believe that an Antichrist will usher in the End Times. Many evangelical Protestants see the establishment of Israel (the reclaiming of the Jewish homeland) as a favorable sign of the last days. Evangelicals base their support of Israel on Bible prophecies such as Ezekiel 36:24--"I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land"--and on God's original gift of the land to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17).
What will happen at the end?
According to Matthew 24, Jesus will come in glory and will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from the four corners of the world.
What is the Rapture?
According to some evangelicals, the Rapture is an End Times event when born-again Christians will be "caught up" into the air and meet Christ in the clouds, as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Many believe that this will happen unexpectedly, and people will suddenly rise from their cars or kitchen tables into the sky. According to Revelation 20:4 and 20:6, at some point after the Rapture Christ will begin a thousand-year reign.
Read more about the Rapture and the tribulation.
Are Christians who believe in the End Times "rooting" for chaos and violence in the Middle East because they usher in the last days?
No. Most Christians who believe the last days are imminent would see increased wars and violence as inevitable but regrettable signs of the end of the world. Because of their end-times beliefs, some evangelical Christians strongly support Israel and Israel's right to defend itself. For these Christians, losing the Jewish homeland would be a step back in terms of Christ's return.