The Millennium

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 days.

Postmillennialism
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 reality.

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 of all.

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.


Amillennialism
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 physical.

2. The thousand years in Revelation 20 is symbolic.

3. The Book of Revelation is understood in a cyclical fashion.

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 by premillennialists.

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.
 


Dispensational Premillennialism
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 Israel.

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 earth.


Historical Premillinnialism
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 the kingdom.

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 is accomplished.
 

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.