Is it “end of the world” or “end of the age”?



My son has fallen into the web of denominational teachings, including some off-the-wall organizations with the typical anything-goes philosophies, premillennialism, rapture, etc. He and I have finally begun to discuss the truth with the myths he believes. I have sent him several of your articles on the "End of Times, Rapture, etc" he has begun to read. But he claims that he will only discuss the King James Version of the Bible as his reference.

His first reply was, the KJV lists the accounts of Matthew 24:3 as the prediction of the end of the world. Personally, I understand that the end in this KJV predicts the end of the Jewish world via the Roman destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. My problem is how to best explain to him the meaning of "end of the world" vs. "end of the age" so that he will understand and grasp the truth. I sent him the extensive scriptures that without question explain the reality and difference between the end of the world and the end of the Jewish age, but this one point he brings up at the onset, in my opinion, is very critical to start the conversation.

I would appreciate your input or advice on how to best explain this matter in terms he would understand.

Thanks in advance.


If someone is determined to cling to an idea, no amount of evidence is going to persuade the person to change. Thus, this explanation will likely only lead to denial or finding something else to support his cause.

The phrase in Matthew 24:3 is a part of the disciples' questions concerning Jesus' statement that all the beautiful buildings they were admiring would be torn down (Matthew 24:2). They ask Jesus about three things:

  • When will this destruction happen?
  • What advance signs will be given of Jesus coming in judgment on Jerusalem?
  • What are the signs that this age will end?

In the disciples' mind, the three questions are all in regard to the same thing. To a Jew, the destruction of Jerusalem would be the end of the age. Thus, even if you insist that the phrase is "end of the world," it doesn't support any premillennial doctrine. When Jesus answers their questions, he splits them into two questions. Matthew 24:4-35 discusses the warning signs of Jerusalem's destruction and the certainty that Jesus' prophecy would take place. Matthew 24:36-25:46 is Jesus' answer to the question about the end of the age. Unlike the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus repeatedly states that when the end of the world happens is unknown (Matthew 24:36) and will have no advance warnings. For details see:

In regards to the question as to how the end of Matthew 24:3 should be translated into English, the Greek word aionos means an indefinitely long period of time, including eternity. Thus, it can be translated as "age" or "era." The word can also designate the world in terms of the course of time on the world (as opposed to another Greek word, kosmos, which designates the world in terms of space). Thus, it can refer to the direction this world has gone or is heading over time.

"In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2).

"so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).

In the two passages above, both are in the same context, and both have the same word aion but they are translated differently. (By the way, all the major English translations chose the same words in these two verses.) It just depends on how the translators saw the emphasis -- whether eternal time or worldly time. Since Peter makes it clear that when Jesus returns, it will be the end of the physical world (II Peter 3:10-12) that also means it will be the end of the age.

The disciples thought that the destruction of Jerusalem marked the end of the world. They could not imagine the world continuing with the great city remaining. Jesus' answers point out that the disciples really asked about two separate events. The end of Jerusalem had warning signs that needed to be heeded, but the world would continue to go on. The end of the world will have no warning signs.

The reason the newer translations use "age" instead of "world" in Matthew 24:3 is because Jesus talks about fleeing to the mountains (Matthew 24:16) and praying that the time to flee is not on a Sabbath day (Matthew 24:19-20). Neither of these is possible if Jesus was discussing the end of the physical world, so to avoid confusion, they chose "age" for the disciples' question.

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