Eccl 1.10 states, “Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already, in the ages before us.” “Ages before us.” Rom 16.25 says, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages.” “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification” (1Co 2.7). So far we have “ages long ago” (previous to the writer of Eccl), and “before the ages” – before time and creation. “Ages” starts with creation: “In the distant past I was fashioned, At the beginning, at the origin of earth” (Prov 8.23). Then, when we get to Paul, there were “long ages” before his time. He wrote, again: “and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things” (Eph 3.9). Creation. Ages.
“The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and generations, but now is manifested to his saints” (Col 1.26). Ages and “generations” appear to go together as well. “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (ITim 1.17). Jesus is the King of the ages. From first to last (Isa 41.4). So, we have ages, which clearly end (else, why have ages, plural?). One comes, another one goes. Paul speaks that in his time the “end of the ages” had come (1Co 10.11). Jesus spoke of an end of an age (Mt 24.3). “Who did save us, and did call with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, that was given to us in Christ Jesus, before the times of the ages” (2Ti 1.9). Whoever the “us” is here, God knew them, and saved them through Christ. That was his eternal “purpose” before the ages even began. Not to make salvation possible, but actual. “upon hope of life age-during, which God, who doth not lie, did promise before times of ages” (Tit. 1.2). Now, this “times of the ages” – how long does this span? It would seem to encompass the entire span of human history (which is made up of “ages” or “generations”). “for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebr 9.26). Here again, an end of previous ages is announced. But, is that end of all ages?
“that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2.7). Answer: nope. The end of past ages brings about more ages to come. The end of the age in Paul’s day was not the end of all ages. In numerous places Paul spoke of “this age” or his own time. There was God, who existed before the ages, or generations. Then, we have the first age, or generations. Then, after awhile, we have “ages past” and an “end of an age” in particular in Paul’s day. However, “ages to come” indicates that more ages are, well, to come!
“not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph 1.21). Ages end. Ages come. Ages go. “and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Hebr 6.4). What are the “powers” of the “age to come”? Clearly, the future ages is not Paul’s “present evil age”. Every age has evil in it. I guess every generation has some evil in there as well. These “powers” were “already” at work in Paul’s present generation, but, they would not stop working once his age, or generation ended. If they are powers of coming ages, then clearly, the same power at work then in his age, would be at work in the coming ages. They are powers of(descriptive genitive) the age(s) to come. But, as we have seen, ages do come to thier end. At least the past ones did. “Ages long ago” are past, ended ages. Lot’s of “ends of the age” going on, don’t you think? Job 8.8 reads, “For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out.” Ages come and ages go. They have a beginning and they have an end. God is King of them all.
We also have “last days” which appear to be particular to the last days of Israel preferred covenant status and the Mosaic institutions. The arrival of the new covenant would mark an “end of an age(s)”. One could perhaps see the “covenants” in the past as “ages” or “eras”. The Era of the Davidic Covenant. The Era of the Noachic Covenant, etc. “Dispensation” or “Adminstration” is another word that is used. And, God is with them all, “from the first to the last” (Isaiah 41.4). Ecclesiastes tells us “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (3.10). Sounds pretty straightforward. God knows all the ages, from the first of them, to the last of them. In between them are many “ends” to particular “ages”. Former ages. Past ages. ...
Yes, the Bible speaks of the “end of the [previous] ages” in Paul’s day. We can mark AD 70 as an “end of an age”. But, it didn’t end all ages. There are more to come. ... Paul spoke, “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3.21). This is a future reference to future “generations”. That little word, “all” there says a lot. God knows them all, from the first to the last (Isaiah 41.4). ... The Purpose of God has been set into motion before the end of Paul’s age ended. It was set into motion at the Cross. It redeemed the elect of the past ages, and redeemed the elect of the coming ages, as it redeemed the elect of Paul’s present age. One Church. One People. One God. One Eternal Destiny of Glory. ...
John Owen made distinction as well between “last day” and “the last days”. The “last days” refer to the end of the Hebrew Commonwealth (Works of John Owen, Vol 19, 12-13). Whereas, if you read comments (sermons), on the resurrection of the dead, that is the “last day.”
I would also add Ephesians 1.10: “in regard to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth — in him;” This phrase, “the dispensation of the fullnes of the times (plural)” encompasses “in the ages to come” (1.21). This is restoration language – united creation itself with the redemption in Christ (Rom 8.19-ff). It comes about in the “times” to come. Not all at once. It was inaugurated. It’s purpose was to bring to “all things” in unity with the Son AND the Church.