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Premill, Amill, & Postmill--oh, my!

Psa. 31:15: "My times are in Your hand." No matter your view: Every second, you're securely held!

The 1000-year reign of Christ, talked about in Revelation 20, has caused lots of discussions among Christians. Some believe it will happen before Jesus comes back (premillennialism), others think it'll happen after (postmillennialism), and some say it's more symbolic (amillennialism). These views show how people interpret biblical prophecies and the end of God's plan differently.


Bottom-line: I believe that this doctrine of the millennium should not be a cause for division. Discussing and debating it is important, but we should not allow it to create division. It's notable that good and godly individuals who hold firm belief in the Bible may have differing perspectives on this issue.


What matters most: It is finished! God wins! Jesus is coming again!

Nevertheless, let's look at the most common views on Rev. 20:1-10.

View #1: Premillennialism

The word "millennium" means a thousand years in Latin, from "mille" meaning thousand and "annus" meaning year. "Pre" before "millennialism" refers to Christ's second coming before the millennium. In simple terms, "premillennialism" means Christ's return before the 1000-year period listed in Revelation 20:1-10.


Premillennialism believes:


1. Christ will come back at the end of this era, after the Great Tribulation, along with his followers, to rule on earth for 1,000 years.


2. During this period, Israel will receive the blessings promised to Abraham and David regarding their land, people, and king. Believers in the New Testament will also partake in these blessings to some extent (Rom. 11).


3. The current church doesn't fully fulfill these promises to Israel (2 Chron. 7:14). Some aspects are being fulfilled now, but others will happen in the future.


4. The millennial kingdom, lasting 1,000 years, will be when Jesus rules over the earth as the promised Messiah. It starts after his second coming and the end of the tribulation, serving as an intermediate phase before the eternal state (Rev. 21-22).


Adherents then-and-now:


Premillennialism was the main belief in the early church and was held by a lot of important people like Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, and others. Later on, it was also supported by many well-known figures such as John Wesley, the Mathers, and various scholars in the 19th and 20th centuries like Ryrie, Walvoord, and MacArthur. "Left Behind" series fans would agree with this, generally.


Some Challenges to this Belief:


·      First, premillennialism tends to view God's kingdom as primarily physical and national. Scripture—and especially the rest of the book of Revelation—views it primarily as spiritual and worldwide. This is similar to how the New Testament views other Old Testament prophetic terms such as the seed of Abraham or the tabernacle of David or Jerusalem in symbolic terms.


·      Secondly, premillennialism tends to view Christ's Kingdom as yet-to-come rather than already-being present. Scripture testifies repeatedly that it is already present in New Testament times, even in the life of Jesus (Luke 17:20-21; Matthew 12:28, etc.).


·      Third, premillennialism tends to separate major events of eschatology by many years, up to a thousand years, while Scripture, especially Matthew 13, sees these events of the last times as transpiring in very rapid succession.


·      Finally, premillennialism teaches that Christ will return to earth physically a thousand years before the end of the world. However, Acts 3:20-21 and several other texts teach that Christ will be in heaven until the end of time.

View #2: Amillennialism

Amillennialism believes:


Is a belief about the end times that says there won't be a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth.


1. The Reign of Christ: According to amillennialism, Christ's reign with His followers happens between His first and second comings. This means we're living in that time right now.


2. Understanding the Kingdom: Amillennialists see the kingdom of Christ either as the church on earth or as the saints in heaven. They believe there won't be a future earthly reign of Christ. What’s more, the number "thousand" is symbolic, representing a long period.


3. Fulfillment of Promises: The promises made to Israel regarding land, descendants, and a throne are thought to be fulfilled spiritually in the church.


4. Transfer of Promises: Amillennialists think that because Israel didn't fulfill the conditions set by God, the promises made to them have been transferred to the church.


5. Current Rule of Christ: They believe Christ is currently ruling from heaven, seated on the throne of David. Satan, they say, is currently restricted between Christ's two comings, particularly in his ability to hinder the spread of the gospel.


This belief is supported by passages like Matthew 12:29 (illustrating Satan's restriction), Luke 10:17-19 (describing Christ's authority over Satan), and Colossians 2:15 (depicting Christ's victory over evil powers).


Adherents then-and-now:


Some notable figures who have held this belief include Origen, Augustine, the Roman Catholic Church, Wycliffe, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Zwingli, and in more recent times, scholars like B.B. Warfield, L. Berkhof, O.T. Allis, Hendriksen, and R.C. Sproul.


Some Challenges to This Beliefs:



1. Interpretation of the Millennium: Amillennialists interpret the millennium symbolically as the period between Christ's first and second comings, rather than a literal 1,000-year reign. However, this symbolic interpretation can be contentious as it requires reconciling various passages throughout Scripture (Revelation 20:1-10).


2. Fulfillment of Prophecy: Amillennialists believe that the promises to Israel in the Old Testament are spiritually fulfilled in the church. However, this raises questions about the literal fulfillment of those promises, particularly concerning Israel's restoration and the land promises made to them (Jeremiah 31:31-34).


3. Understanding of Satan's Binding: Amillennialists interpret Satan's binding in Revelation 20 as symbolic of his restriction in hindering the spread of the gospel. Critics argue that this interpretation may downplay the significance of Satan's influence and the reality of spiritual warfare (Revelation 20:1-3).


4. Inconsistencies in Interpretation: There can be inconsistencies in how different passages of Revelation are interpreted within the amillennial framework. For example, while some passages are understood symbolically, others may be interpreted more literally, leading to inconsistencies in interpretation (Revelation 20:4-6).


5. Exegesis of Revelation 20: The interpretation of Revelation 20, particularly the sequence of events surrounding the binding of Satan, the first resurrection, and the reign of Christ, can be challenging and subject to different interpretations, making it difficult to arrive at a consensus among scholars (Revelation 20:7-10).

View #3: Postmillennialism



Is a belief about the end times where Christ's second coming is anticipated to happen after a period called the millennium.


1. The Role of the Church: Postmillennialists view the church as the agent that will usher in the kingdom of God on earth. They believe this will happen through the preaching of the gospel. Some liberals within this view think the millennium will come about through human effort and natural progress, akin to evolutionary advancement.


2. Christ's Presence: According to postmillennialism, Christ won't physically be present on earth during the millennium. Instead, he will rule in the hearts of people. His return to earth is anticipated after the millennium.


3. Duration of the Millennium: Postmillennialists don't necessarily see the millennium as lasting for a literal 1,000 years. It's more about a period of time marked by peace and prosperity.


4. Fulfillment of Promises: In this view, the church, not Israel, is believed to receive the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and David, but in a spiritual sense.


This perspective envisions a future where the world becomes increasingly Christianized and aligned with God's will before Christ's eventual return. Biblical support for these ideas can be found in passages such as Matthew 13:31-33 (parable of the mustard seed and leaven), Daniel 2:44 (prophecy of God's kingdom filling the whole earth), and Revelation 20:4-6 (mention of a thousand-year reign).


Adherents then-and-now:


Postmillennialism was first taught by Daniel Whitby (1638-1725), and has been held by notable figures such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Wesley, Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, Augustus H. Strong, James Snowden, Lorraine Boettner, B.H. Carroll, and G.W. Truett. Some scholars would also identify Augustine as a postmillennialist. Although not as popular today, this view has found advocates within movements associated with Theonomy, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. Figures like Rushdoony, Gary North, and Gary DeMars are associated with these movements. Even individuals like Pat Robertson and some associated with the Christian Coalition have shown sympathy towards aspects of this position.


Some Challenges to this Belief:


·      First, it views the last years of this world too optimistically. It's okay to be an optimistic millennial. That's my (Darin’s) own position. But this is a supreme optimism that seems to ignore, in this golden age of peace, some of the texts that Jesus speaks about and Paul that the last days will also be times of unbelief, self-centeredness, worldliness, worshipping of the Antichrist, and great tribulation and persecution (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Matthew 24:4-14, etc.)


·      Secondly, postmillennialism tends to view the present age as sort of smoothly transitioning into the coming age. But Scripture presents a great catastrophe, a tremendous intervention of God, a passing away of the old heavens and earth, and the establishment of the new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21, etc.).

What is your view (Pastor Darin)?

1. The New Testament teaches that God's promises to Israel have already come true in a spiritual, international kingdom, and they will yet be fulfilled in ultimate glory. Perhaps we hope and we pray and we trust in a revival in Israel before the end, but not a nationalistic earthly reign from Israel. We believe that based on texts like Hebrews 12, Luke 17, and Matthew 12.


2. Scripture indicates that Christ's coming in glory—the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked, the judgment day, and the end of this age—will all take place together in history, back-to-back. As we have seen these were almost simultaneous, not dispersed over a thousand years. That's implicit in Matthew 13, Matthew 16, Matthew 24, John 5, and Acts 24.


3. Revelation is a book of symbolic visions. We've been seeing that all the way through the book.  Both the numbers— such as 1,000 and its images such as binding with a chain here and sealing in a pit and images used elsewhere in the book—and images are not always consistent with a wooden, literal interpretation. It is an apocalyptic book, after all. But they're communicating through strong images, metaphors, and symbols great spiritual truths. So, why would Revelation 20 suddenly be the one chapter to be taken literally?


4. Revelation follows a cyclic structure. We've seen that again and again. John is repeatedly bringing the reader to the return of Christ at the end of each cycle. So, chapter 19 ends the cycle of the conquest of Babylon. And remember that covered chapters 17 through 19 with a victorious return of Christ. Chapter 20, just like chapter 12, steps back to consider the whole era. And like all the cycles of the book of Revelation, the beginning of each cycle steps back to the first advent and moves then from the first advent to the second advent in the entire gospel age.

Again, what do Christians agree upon at Jesus’ return, even we disagree on the 1000-year reign? He will come …

1. Suddenly & unexpectedly (Matthew 24:44).

2. With great power and glory (Mark 13:26).

3. Swiftly like lightning (Matthew 24:27).

4. Triumphantly & visibly on the clouds (Revelation 1:7).

5. Majestically with angels (Matthew 25:31).

6. Imminently & without warning (Matthew 24:42).

7. Gloriously in the sky (Titus 2:13).

8. In a blaze of light (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

9. Decisively with a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

10. Peacefully like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

11. Victorious over darkness (1 Corinthians 15:57).

12. Suddenly like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

13. Mercifully for the faithful (2 Timothy 4:8).

14. Dramatically with signs (Matthew 24:30).

15. Loudly with a trumpet call (1 Corinthians 15:52).

16. Sovereignly to gather believers (Mark 13:27).

17. Eternally with everlasting joy (Isaiah 35:10).

18. Boldly with flaming fire (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

19. Gracefully with love and compassion (Luke 6:36).

20. Righteously to judge the world (Acts 17:31).