The Great Commission & End Time Prophecy

My church held a weeklong revival meeting a while back. The featured speaker spoke about Bible prophecy on the last two nights of the meeting.

I was present each night because I perform several media tasks at my church. I disagreed with much of what the speaker taught concerning Bible prophecy. As I listened, I thought of passages and verses that refuted what he taught.

I did not challenge the speaker as he taught out of respect. But, it was hard for me to watch people learning and accepting unbiblical end time teachings.

This recent experience has led to this article. This article is a rebuttal to what I heard at my church. I also write this article because I want you to consider an idea you may have never heard before.

This article explores an overlooked aspect of the Great Commission relevant to understanding end time Bible prophecy.

The Great Commission

The Great Commission is a call by Christ for His followers to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Matthew 28:18-20 records the Great Commission:

“(18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The Great Commission is often cited at my church to motivate us to witness to people and to remind us that Christ is with us. No one at my church doubts that the Great Commission is a message for Christians. Many other Christians also believe the Great Commission is a message for them.

Let’s focus for a moment on a significant promise Christ made while giving the Great Commission: “lo,I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

  • Why would Christ promise to be with believers until the end of the world?
  • Why would Christ mention the end of the world?

The reason Christ referenced the end of the world in His promise is that believers will be present at the end of the world. Christ would not make this promise if believers won’t be present at the end of the world.

The Parable of the Wheat and Tares

The parable of the wheat and tares reinforces the idea that believers will be on Earth at least until the end of the world. Christ described the wheat (believers) and tares (the wicked) both present on Earth until the harvest (the end of the world):

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30) “(37) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” (Matthew 13:37-39)

Given that believers will be on Earth at least until the end of the world, it is beneficial to our understanding of the end times to identify when the end of the world will transpire.

The End of the World

We can learn much about the events preceding “the end of the world” by examining Matthew 24. The chapter records a lecture given by Christ on Mount Olives about the future that is commonly known as the “Olivet Discourse”. Christ’s disciples asked Him to provide a sign about two things:

  1. His coming
  2. The end of the world

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3)

The request to reveal “the sign” about two events indicates that these events are linked. The coming of Christ is linked to the end of the world. Christ gave His disciples’ insight about these events. Christ indicated that there’d be many unnerving events in the world including:

  • Wars
  • Rumors of Wars
  • Famine
  • Earthquakes
  • Pestilence
  • False Messiahs

“(5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (6) And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:5-8)

Christ added that people would be hated for His name’s sake worldwide. The most challenging time that people will face this difficulty will be during the great tribulation described in Matthew 24:15-22. Christ mentioned twice in Matthew 24:9-22 that people will eventually be saved. Matthew 24:13 indicates that those who endure to the end (of the world) will be saved:

“(9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (11) And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (12) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (13) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved…(22) And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:9-12, 22)

The time when the elect will be saved shall mark the beginning of the end of the world because the elect will have endured to the end. Matthew 24:29-31 indicates that the elect will be saved immediately after completion of the great tribulation.

“(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)

Thus, the end of the world will begin after the end of the great tribulation. The signs associated with the sixth seal will follow (Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:12-17, Luke 21:25-28, Mark 13:24-27).

The Key Implication

Recall that the parable of the wheat and tares and the Great Commission both show that believers will be on Earth at least until the end of the world. Given that the end of the world will begin after the end of the great tribulation, we can deduce that believers will be on Earth during the great tribulation. Believers will be present on the earth until Christ comes to harvest the earth and save those who endured to the end of the world.

You might be uncomfortable with what I’ve written. Please understand that I am not trying to give you a false sense of security about the end times.

My article “Will Christians See the Antichrist?” also sheds light on how believers will be present on the earth during the end times. If you are skeptical, I urge you to read that article and then reconsider this article.

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Wayne Croley
Wayne Croley

Hi! I’ve studied and written about Bible prophecy since I was a teenager. My goal is to make Bible prophecy easy for you to understand while avoiding the sensationalism seen elsewhere. I am the author of several end time books, including Prophecy Proof Insights on the End Times, a comprehensive book about the end times. I hold an M.B.A. and degrees in Managerial Economics and Political Science.