We are definitely living in the last days.
And yet the last day has not come.
That’s how we talk if we use the vocabulary of the New Testament.
The last day refers to the future—the culminating day of God’s final salvation and wrath being revealed for all to see (see 1 Thess. 5:1–11). We are told in Scripture that though we know this day is coming, we cannot know the day or the hour of the last day itself (cf. Matt. 24:36).
The last days refers to the period of time we are now in—between Christ’s death/resurrection/ascension and his second appearing or return. This is also called “the last time/s” (Jude 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:20) or “the last hour” (1 John 2:18) or “the end of the ages” (1 Cor. 10:11).
It is helpful to think of the Old Testament as the age of promise, where God promised his people a Messiah who would establish and rule over his Kingdom.
With the advent of Jesus as the Christ, or the Messiah, we have the age of fulfillment. The promises of God are being fulfilled in these last days, even if they will not being ultimately or finally consummated or fulfilled until the last day. Theologians call this the “already” (it has already dawned, the fulfillment has begun) and the “not yet” (it is not yet finalized or complete). The illustration at the top of this page illustrated how both the inbreaking blessings, along with suffering and tribulation, continue in this overlap of the ages. For a helpful summary of this paradigm, see Ben Gladd’s piece here “The Two Ages.”
If you want to check out the biblical references for yourself on the last day vs. last days/last time/last hour/end of the ages distinction, see below:
“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. . . .” (1 Pet. 1:20)
“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)
“But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Heb. 1:2)
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” (2 Tim. 3:1)
“In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” (Jude 1:18)
“. . . scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” (2 Pet. 3:3)
“Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.” (James 5:3)
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)