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11.1. Views of the Millennium

Each of the three major views concerning the Millennium is summarized below. We believe the Scriptures, when interpreted normally according to the Golden Rule of Interpretation, teach premillennialism—that after Christ returns He establishes a literal, earthly kingdom lasting one thousand years and rules from the throne of David. After the thousand years, God creates a new heaven and a new earth which is the eternal state that most today would consider as “heaven.” Then, Christ’s throne and the Father’s throne (Rev. Rev. 3:21+) merge into a single throne, “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. Rev. 22:1+).

Views of the Return of Christ and the Millennium1
ViewChrist ReturnsCharacteristicsInterpretation
PremillennialismBefore the 1,000 year kingdom. Christ returns before establishing His literal kingdom on earth. He will reign with his saints in fulfillment of OT and NT prophecy. The reign on earth will last for 1,000 years. Futurist
PostmillennialismAfter a golden age on earth.Christ will return after the 1,000 years which represent a golden age of unspecified duration. This age is ushered in by the triumph of the gospel as the world converts, in large part, to Christianity through the efforts of the church. Idealist or Preterist
Amillennialism2 (No literal earthly kingdom.)There is no literal reign of Christ over an earthly kingdom. Christ is presently reigning over a spiritual kingdom in either: (1) the hearts of men; (2) heaven, or (3) the church. The 1,000 years is a symbol representing an extended period of time.3 Many amillennialists believe that the fullness of the kingdom has already arrived on earth and we are presently in the age between the first and second resurrections. “Generally speaking, this view holds that Christ will return in His second coming and immediately usher in the new heaven and the new earth with no intervening thousand-year reign. This view interprets many passages in the Old and New Testaments that refer to the millennial kingdom as being fulfilled in a nonliteral way, either in the present experience of the church on earth or the experience of the church in heaven.”4 For example, Jerome: “The saints will in no wise have an earthly kingdom, but only a celestial one; thus must cease the fable of one thousand years.” 5 Idealist or Preterist


Notes

1 For an excellent introductory overview of these views and their variations, see [John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 282-290].

2 “Amillennialism today is divided into two camps. (1) The first . . . holds essentially to the Augustinian amillennialism, . . . This of course is also the view of the Roman Church. It finds the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises concerning a kingdom and kingdom blessings in Christ’s reign from the Father’s throne over the church, which is on earth. (2) The second . . . attacked the Augustinian position that the kingdom is earthly and viewed the kingdom as God’s reign over the saints which are in heaven, thus making it a heavenly kingdom.”—J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 387.

3 W. A. Criswell and Paige Patterson, eds., The Holy Bible: Baptist Study Edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), 1825.

4 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974), 352.

5 Robert E. Lerner, “The Medieval Return to the Thousand-Year Sabbath,” in Richard K. Emmerson and Bernard McGinn, eds., The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, 38-50, cited by [Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, The Return (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 58].