Since I’m spending a good deal of time writing about the book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse of John, I thought I should give everyone an overview of the End Times. That way, we don’t get lost in the details. And the first and most important point is that the End of the World is not soon.
The End Times is formally called “the tribulation”. A common opinion in Catholic End Times theology (eschatology) is that this time period is divided into two parts: the lesser tribulation and the greater tribulation. And that is my opinion also. I do not believe that the world will end in my generation, nor within the next few generations. I also do not believe that the first part of the tribulation has yet begun.
So here is the basic timeline of my admittedly fallible and speculative theology on the End Times:
Overview of the End Times
A. The first part of the tribulation (sometime in the 21st century)
B. The inter-tribulation period (begins 21st century, ends 25th century)
C. The second part of the tribulation (early 25th century)
D. A long time of peace and holiness on earth (lasting another 1200 years plus)
E. The general Resurrection and general Judgment
F. God makes a new Heaven and a new Earth (continuing forever)
The first part of the tribulation occurs sometime in our generation, lasts less than 20 years, and then is followed by a time of peace, holiness, and prosperity. Then there is the long inter-tribulation period, in which the world continues to be a place of holiness as well as sinfulness. The inter-tribulation period lasts a few hundred years. Next is the time of the Antichrist, in the early 25th century AD, when the Church is greatly persecuted. Jesus Christ returns during that time.
After the second part of the tribulation, there is a long period of peace on earth lasting over 1200 years. This is not the error of Millenarianism, because Jesus does not rule over the earth in person, during that time. Instead, this is a time of holiness on earth, when the Church reigns over the faithful. Jesus will be in Heaven. There will still be governments and various problems in the world, because there will still be sin. But it will be a much different time as holiness will reign and sins will not be so severe and so prevalent in humanity.
Only after that long time of peace and holiness does Jesus return for the general Resurrection and general Judgment. Therefore, the so-called “last day”, which is the day of the Resurrection and Judgment, is well over a thousand years from now.
Even this term the “last day” is a misnomer, as after the general Judgment God makes a new Heaven and a new Earth. So there will still be people living on Earth after the so-called last day and continuing forever.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.