It is written:
“And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time. 36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” (Daniel 11:35-36)
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
“And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” (Daniel 12:6-7)
“But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13)
Please notice the following phrases that are used in the above cited verses:
1. “Time Of The End” (11:35; 12:4)
2. “Finished” (12:7);
3. “End Of The Days” (Daniel 12:13)
What era of time is being described by these words?
In order to answer that question, we need to take some time and investigate some matters pertaining to the history of the Bible.
In the year 250 B.C., the Old Testament (which was originally written in Hebrew) was translated into the Greek language. This translation is known as the Septuagint (often referred to as the LXX). One researcher, in exploring the vast storehouse of information left to us by the early Christians, has detailed the creation of the Septuagint:
“As we all know, God has often used Gentile rulers (like Cyrus and Darius) to accomplish His will. So we should not be surprised to find that God worked through a Greek ruler to provide a Bible for both the Gentile world and for the world of Greek-speaking Jews. During the third century B.C., God moved the Greek ruler of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, to commission the Jewish sacred writings to be translated into Greek. Ptolemy was a descendant of one of Alexander the Great’s generals. The reason that Ptolemy wanted to have these writings translated into Greek was because he was assembling the largest library ever in existence. And he wanted to include in his library the wisdom of all of the various peoples with whom the Greeks had interaction. The Greeks in Egypt had been in contact with the Jewish people in Palestine for quite some time. In fact, there was a large colony of Greek-speaking Jews living in Alexandria at the time. Ptolemy asked the Jewish high priest in Jerusalem to send him men who could translate the Hebrew sacred writings into Greek, and to bring with them the scrolls of the Jewish writings. The high priest sent him 72 translators.2 These events are all described in a letter written by a man named Aristeas. According to his account, Ptolemy had the translators work on the island of Pharos, situated in the harbor of Alexandria. He did this so that the translators would have a quiet place to work. Aristeas wrote that Ptolemy divided the translators into separate groups. He did this so they would work independently of each other. That way, there would be no collusion among them to hide the Jewish prophecies and laws from the Gentile world. According to Aristeas, when they all finished translating, their translations were compared, and they all read exactly the same. For that reason, their translation was viewed by the Jews—and later by the Christians—as divinely inspired.” (David Bercot, Discovering The Septuagint, 110-125 (Kindle Edition); Scroll Publishing)
Neil Lightfoot has provided some interesting corroboration of these events:
“On the other hand, it has long been recognized that Aristeas preserves at least a substratum of truth on how the Septuagint began. What, then, can we learn from this letter? The following seems either factual or plausible concerning the Septuagint. Aristeas describes the origin of the Septuagint with the translation of the Pentateuch. This was done in Alexandria, where there was a large Jewish population and where a translation from Hebrew to Greek would be needed. Ptolemy II in some way may have been connected with the translation; he was well known as a patron of literature. Demetrius likewise may have been involved. He may have suggested the translation to Ptolemy I, but the project may not have been completed until the beginning of the reign of Ptolemy II.2 There are other factors to consider. According to Aristeas, the Pentateuch was translated in the third century B.C. This date is quite reasonable. The names of the translators fit in with known names in the third century B.C.; and Philo reports that in his day, the first century A.D., an annual festival was still being held on Pharos to honor the place “in which the light of that version first shone out.”3 (Neil LIghtfoot, How We Got The Bible, 2173-2178 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Quite often in the New Testament, when Jesus or HIs Apostles quote from the Old Testament, they actually quote from the Septuagint and not the original Hebrew. This is one of the reasons why when we turn in our English Bible to an Old Testament quotation made from the New Testament, it does not always line up exactly the same.
Matthew 21:15-16-But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant. 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND NURSING INFANTS YOU HAVE PERFECTED PRAISE’?”
Jesus, in defending His actions, quotes from Psalm 8. Yet when we turn in our Bibles to Psalm 8, the text reads:
Psalm 8:2-Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
Notice that in Jesus’ quotation from this Psalm, He says “You have PERFECTED PRAISE.” Yet in Psalm 8:2, it reads “You have ORDAINED STRENGTH.”
Did Jesus misquote Scripture?
Not at all!
In the Greek Septuagint rendering of Psalm 8:2, we are told, “You have perfected PRAISE.”
The reason why our Old Testament reads different is because our English Old Testament is based primarily on the original Hebrew, and not the Greek translation that Jesus and His Apostles frequently used.
Bercot gives us some specific examples of how often Jesus and the Apostles quote from the Septuagint instead of the original Hebrew:
“In the early 1980s, two evangelical scholars, G. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, compared all of the New Testament quotations of the Old Testament against both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. In 1983, they wrote up their findings in a book entitled Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey. Out of 340 quotations from the Old Testament, they found that 307 of them are from the Septuagint. There are only 33 quotations that are clearly from the Masoretic Text rather than the Septuagint. Remember, these men were not liberal scholars. They were conservative scholars, and their book was published by Moody Press.” (David Bercot, Discovering The Septuagint, 558-564 (Kindle Edition); Scroll Publishing)
Clearly, Jesus and His Apostles knew the Septuagint and often quoted from it as the Word of God!
With that in mind, how does the Septuagint translate these phrases in Daniel (“time of the end,” “finished,” and “end of the days”)? The Septuagint uses the Greek word “sunteleia” in translating all of these words. In fact, this word is only used six times in the entire Septuagint, each time in these passages (note that the word is used twice in Daniel 12:7, and 13, making the total number of six times).
One of the best rules of interpretation of the Bible is to allow the New Testament to supplement our understanding of the Old Testament. With that in mind, notice that the Lord Jesus uses the word “sunteleia” five times in the New Testament.
Matthew 13:39-40-The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age (sunteleia), and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age (sunteleia).
Matthew 13:49-So it will be at the end of the age (sunteleia). The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
Matthew 24:3-Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age (sunteleia)?”
Matthew 28:20-teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (sunteleia).” Amen.
The only other time this word is used in the New Testament shows it has a reference to the Christian Age:
Hebrews 9:26-He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages (sunteleia), He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Every time that Jesus uses the phrase “sunteleia,” He applies it to the events that will take place before the Second Coming.
Allowing the New Testament to define the Old Testament word “sunteleia,” it becomes clear that this phrase had reference to the Christian Age, and most frequently to the events that would take place at the end of the Christian Age.
There are other clues, of course, from Daniel 11:36-12:13 that suggest that “sunteleia” referred to the end of the world itself. For example, Daniel talks about the resurrection of the dead occurring during this “sunteleia.”
Daniel 12:1-2-At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
That this is talking about the literal resurrection of the dead seems to be made clear by what the angel tells Daniel at the end of the chapter:
Daniel 12:13-But you, go your way till the end; for you shall REST, and will ARISE to your inheritance at the end of the days.
This resurrection of the dead will occur at the time of the Second Coming of Christ (cf. John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15).
Yet the events described in Daniel 11:36-12:13 are suggested by some to have reference to another period of history, involving a wicked man by the name of Antiochus.
Could this be the case?
That question will be the focus of our next study.