Quick Guide to Four Views of the End Times

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Amillennialism Postmillennialism  Dispensational Premillennialism Historical Premillennialism

What is ammillennialism?

  • The view that the millennium is the spiritual reign of Jesus in the hearts of his followers
  • The first resurrection in Revelation 20:5 is not a physical restoration from the dead but is either
  1. the spiritual resurrection, also known as regeneration, OR
  2. the life that believers experience with God between their deaths and their final resurrection
  • Christ’s triumph over Satan through his death and resurrection around AD 30 restrained the power of Satan on earth (Revelation 20:1-3).
  • Persecution of Christians (tribulation) will occur until Jesus comes again, as will the expansion of God’s kingdom (the millennium).
  • When Christ returns, he will immediately defeat the power of evil, resurrect the saved and unsaved, judge them, and deliver them to their eternal destinies.
 What is postmillennialism?

  • The view that believes that the coming of Christ will occur after the millennium.
  • The millennium reign in Revelation 20:1-6 represents a long time period when, through the preaching of the gospel, most of the world will submit to Jesus Christ.
  • During this time, Satan will have no power over the earth and regimes will collapse (Revelation 19:19 – 20:3).
  • A period of great tribulation may precede the millennium.

What is dispensational premillennialism?

  • The view that Jesus will come back to earth after a seven-year tribulation and will rule during a thousand-year millennium of peace on earth.
  • In addition, God will still give to the nation of Israel the land described in Genesis 15:18 (from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates – the full extent of King Soloman’s kingdom).

What is historical premillennialism?

  • This view believes that Christians will remain on the earth during the great tribulation.
  • The tribulation will purify the churches by rooting out false believers, and the second coming of Christ will precede the millennium.
  • Like dispensational premillennialists, historical premillennialists see the millennium – the thousand-year reign of Jesus – as a literal, future event.

What do amillennialists emphasize?

  • Many amillennialists believe that the book of Revelation consists of seven sections. Instead of dealing with successive time periods, these seven sections use apocalyptic language to describe the entire time from Jesus’ first coming until his second coming in seven different ways.
  • Amillennialists tend to emphasize the historical context of Revelation and what the book meant to first-century readers.

What do postmillennialists emphasize?

  • Postmillennialists place great confidence in the preaching of the gospel; they contend that the gospel will eventually spread in such a way that nearly everyone in the world will turn to Jesus Christ.
  • One Scripture cited in favor of this view is Mark 3:27. Augustine understood this verse to mean that before Jesus can claim his kingdom, those that are lost (the “possessions” of Satan, “the strong man”) must come under the control of Jesus.
  • Postmillennialists believe that this golden age is described in such Scriptures as Psalm 2:8, Isaiah 2:2-4, Jeremiah 31:34, Daniel 2:35, and Micah 4:1-4.
  • Postmillennialists tend to emphasize the power of the gospel to transform societies and individual lives.

What do dispensational premillennialists emphasize?

  • Dispensational premillennialists believe the rapture and the second coming of Jesus are two separate events. The rapture comes before the great tribulation, and the second coming occurs after it.
  • During the seven years of tribulation, natural disasters and wars will occur on earth, and people who are faithful to Jesus will suffer intense persecution.
  • Dispensational premillennialists emphasize literal interpretations of Revelation.

What do historical premillennialists emphasize?

  • Historical premillennialists try to balance symbolic and literal interpretations of Revelation, emphasizing both what the book meant to first-century readers and how it might apply to people’s lives today.

According to amillennialists …

  • The great tribulation represents disasters, wars, and persecutions that have occurred throughout church history.
  • Most references to “Israel” in Revelation are symbolic references to the people of God on earth (compare Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16).
  • In apocalyptic literature, numbers represent concepts, not literal statistics. For example, six represents incompleteness, seven represents completeness, ten indicates something that is extreme but limited, twelve represents the perfection of God’s people, and 1,000 symbolizes a great amount or long period of time.
According to postmillennialists …

  • During the millennium, Christ will rule the earth through the gospel, through his Spirit, and through the church. He will not, however, be physically present on earth.
  • The resurrection depicted in Revelation 20:4 represents the spiritual regeneration of people who trust Jesus Christ.
  • The second coming of Christ, the final conflict between good and evil, the defeat of Satan, the physical resurrection of all people, and the final judgement will occur together, immediately after the millennium (Revelation 20:7-15).

 

According to dispensational premillennialists …

  • During the great tribulation, many Jews will turn to Jesus Christ.
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were unconditional; therefore the Jews will still receive the land described in Genesis 15:18. The establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 fulfilled a key end times prophecy.
  • All references to Israel in Revelation refer to the nation of Israel.

According to historical premillennialists …

  • God’s promise to give Abraham all the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18) was made to the “offspring” of Abraham – one, particular offspring whose name is Jesus (Galatians 3:16).
  • During the millennium, Jesus will reign from Jerusalem not only over the land promised to Abraham but also over the whole earth. In this way, Jesus will completely fulfill God’s promise that Abraham’s “offspring” would gain the land from the Nile to the Euphrates.
  • The true Israelites in every age have been those who trust in Jesus as the divine Messiah-King (Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 6:16). Before Jesus arrived on earth, people trusted in Jesus by looking expectantly for a Messiah who was yet to come (Hebrews 11:13, 39-40). Most references to “Israel” in Revelation refer symbolically to the church.

What Scriptures seem to support amillennialism?

  • The Bible frequently uses the number 1,000 figuratively (Psalm 50:10; 90:4; 105:8; 2 Peter 3:8).
  • The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4) could refer to the spiritual resurrection (the regeneration or new birth) of persons who trust Christ (Romans 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-4). The first resurrection could also refer to a Christian’s life with Jesus after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  • The second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saved and unsaved will occur at the same time (Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).
  • The saints are on earth during the tribulation (Revelation 13:7).

What Scriptures seem to support postmillennialism?

  • Every ethnic group will receive the gospel before the second coming (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).
  • The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4) could refer to the spiritual resurrection (the regeneration or new birth)
  • of persons who trust Christ (Romans 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-4). The first resurrection could also refer to a Christian’s life with Jesus after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  • The second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saved and unsaved will occur at the same time (Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).

What Scriptures seem to support dispensational premillennialism?

  • God will remove Christians before the outpouring of his wrath during the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were unconditional (Genesis 15:7-21).
  • The church is not specifically mentioned between Revelation 4 and 19.

 What Scriptures seem to support historical premillennialism?

  • The revealing of the Antichrist precedes Christ’s return (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
  • The tribulation will root out false members from the churches (Revelation 2:22-23).
  • The saints are on earth during the tribulation (Revelation 13:7).
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were conditional (Genesis 22:18; 2 Chronicles 33:8; Isaiah 1:19-20; Jeremiah 7:6-7).
  • The New Testament frequently uses “Israel” and “the twelve tribes” to refer to Christians (Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 9:6-8).

When has amillennialism been popular?

  • Amillennialism became popular in the 5th century. It has remained widespread throughout church history.

 When has postmillennialism been popular?

  • The earliest writer who was clearly postmillennialist was Joachim of Fiore (1135 – 1202), although many historians believe that early church leaders such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine of Hippo leaned toward postmillennialism.
  • During the 1800s, postmillennialism increased in popularity. Some Christians even believed that the increased work of missionaries throughout the world represented the beginning of the millennium.
  • During the early 1900s, a world war and an economic depression raised questions in many people’s minds about whether the world was actually becoming a better place, and postmillennialism diminished in popularity.

When has dispensational premillennialism been popular?

  • This view emerged in the 1800s among the Plymouth Brethren (group of fundamental Bible Churches founded in the 1820s).
  • Dispensational premillennialism increased in popularity in the late 1800s and remains widespread today.

When has historical premillennialism been popular?

  • Historical premillennialism seems to have been the earliest view of end times among Christians who lived just after the apostles.

Who are some prominent amillennialists?

  • Martin Luther, John Calvin, E.Y. Mullins, Abraham Kuyper, G.C. Berkouwer, Herschel Hobbs, Stanley Grenz, and J.I. Packer.
  • Many students of early church history believe that the church father Augustine of Hippo (AD 354 – 430) was an early amillennialist. He once said, “During the thousand years when the devil is bound, the saints also reign for a thousand years. Without any doubt, these two time-periods are identical and point to the time between the first and second coming of Christ.” [Augustine, The City of God, 20:9]

Who are some prominent postmillennialists?

  • Jonathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield, Augustus H. Strong, Charles Hodge, R.L. Dabney, Loraine Boettner, and R.C. Sproul.

Who are some prominent dispensational premillennialists?

  • J. Nelson Darby, C.I. Scofield, Harry A. Ironside, Gleason Archer, Donald G. Barnhouse, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Charles Stanley,Norman L. Geisler, and Tim LaHaye.

Who are some prominent historical premillennialists?

  • Many early church fathers – including Lactantius (240-320), Irenaeus (130-200), Justin Martyr (100-165), and probably Papias (60-130), a disciple of the apostle John.
  • David Dockery, John Warwick Montgomery, George R. Beasley-Murray, Robert Gundry, George E. Ladd, R. Albert Mohler, and Russell Moore.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

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