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The term millennium is derived from the reference to the thousand-year reign
of Christ with the saints in Revelation 20:4-6. The various millennial
views reflect different understandings of the nature of this period and
different interpretations of the chronological relationship of the second
coming of Christ to the millennial period and other events of the last
According to this view, Christ wilt return after
(post) a having period of expansion and spiritual prosperity for the church,
brought about by the preaching of the gospel; the Spirit s blessing; and
the church's work toward righteousness, justice, and peace. The period
is not a literal thousand years, but this extended rime of spiritual prosperity
in this system includes:
1. The kingdom of God is primarily a present
2. A conversion of all nations will rake place
prior to Christ s return.
3. A long period of earthly peace will occur.
4. The kingdom expands gradually through the proclamation
of the gospel, bringing about a kingdom of peace and light.
5. The kingdom is primarily understood in qualitative,
not quantitative, terms.
6. At the end of the kingdom, there will be a time
of spiritual falling away.
7. The kingdom will end with the personal, bodily
return of Jesus.
8. The Lord s return will be followed immediately
by the resurrection of all the righteous and unrighteous and the judgment
9. What is true of the gospel's spread from individual
to individual is likewise true of its spread through society's institutions
and activities, physical environment, houses, education, politics, and
both national and international affairs. In this way the whole mass of
humanity will be imbued with and governed by Christian principles and support.
Amillennialists believe there will be no (the
negative "a") literal thousand-year reign of Christ with the saints on
earth. The return of Christ is followed by the general resurrection of
both the righteous and the wickcd, the last judgment, and the passage into
the eternal state. Some specific beliefs include:
1. The two resurrections in Revelation
20:4-5 are interpreted whereby the first is spiritual and the second is
2. The thousand years in Revelation 20 is symbolic.
3. The Book of Revelation is understood in a cyclical
4. Revelation 20 must be understood hisorically
in relation to the rest of the book.
5. There is no expectation of revealed prophecy
to be fulfilled in the future except for the general beliefs about the
Lord s return. Basically this viewpoint holds that all has been fulfilled
in Christ or will be fulfilled in the new earth.
6. Generally there is a lack of prophetic interest
in contrast to premillennialism.
7. There is a sense of imminency that is shared
8. Like premillennialism and contrary to postmillennialisrn,
there is a general view that things will get worse before Christ's triumph
in the end times.
This system to institute the millennial kingdom.
The church does not go through the tribulation period. More specifically,
some primary beliefs include:
1. The Bible is to be interpreted literally,
including the passage in Revelation 20.
2. There is a difference between Israel and the
church in the plan of God.
3. The promises and covenants given to Israel will
find their ultimate fulfillment in ethnic Israel.
4. Jesus came to offer the kingdom to Israel, but
it was rejected.
5. The church is a parenthesis between this rejection
and the millennium.
6. The church will not go through the tribulation.
The saints in Matthew 24 who are pictured in the tribulation refer to ethnic
7. The coming of Christ has two aspects: (1) the
rapture of the church at the first aspect when Christ appears in the clouds
and (2) the second coming of Christ when He comes with the church to the
This position teaches that Christ will return
prior (pre) to the millennium, which may or may not be understood as a
literal thousand-year reign of Christ; but it is after the great tribulation
(posttribulation). Historical premillennialists believe that the church
will go through the tribulation period. Some of their beliefs include:
1. Christ will come back to earth to reign
over His kingdom, which will be an earthly one.
2. The two resurrections of Revelation 20 are both
physical (contrary to amillennialists view).
3. Christ will reign with righteousness and justice
over His subjects.
4. The standard of life in the Sermon on the Mount
while applicable teaching for the church today will become a reality in
5. The return of the Lord will be a unitary event
(not two stages as in dispensationalism.)
6. The thousand-year reign of Revelation 20 is
understood as a qualitative period without specifics regarding its length.
7. The church will go through the tribulation,
and then Christ will return.
8. Imminency refers to an impending coming rather
than an any-moment coming.
9. The church's hope is not for deliverance from
the tribulation but in the Lord s coming.
10. The church has in some sense replaced national
Israel (though there is still a future for israel) as God's covenant people.
11. The kingdom is present and future and is primarily
understood as the rule and reign of God rather than the realm of God.
All positions agree that Christ will come again
physically and visibly, and the church's hope is focused in Him. When He
returns, He will consummate Gods kingdom. The rule and reign of God will
be comptetely expressed as God s victory over sin, evil, Satan and death
from God's Rule and Reign: The Doctrine of Last
Things in the Holman Bible Handbook as quoted in SBC
LIFE, June/July, 1994. Used by permission.
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