The Millennial Views

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29. What is the millennium?

The millennium is the 1000 year reign of Christ and his saints following the binding of Satan, which, because of many diverse interpretations, has become central to eschatology.

Lecture notes:
The millennium is the 1000 year reign of Christ and his saints, following the binding of Satan…
A “millennium” is a thousand year period of time (from Latin mille, thousand, and annus, year).  It is the English translation of two Greek words  χιλιοι, used six times in Revelation 20:1-7, and nowhere else in the Bible.
…which, because of many diverse interpretations…
There are diverse interpretations because of:

  • Different approaches to the interpretation of prophecy: literal, typological, spiritual, a combination, etc.
  • Different views of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments: complementary, contradictory, commentary, etc.
  • Different ways of reading Revelation: sequential, cyclical, symbolic, literal, past history, the present, the future, etc.
  • Desire for simplicity versus complexity

…has become central to eschatology.
The study of eschatology includes death, the intermediate state, the resurrection, the final judgment, heaven, hell, and the new heavens and the new earth. But, because of the diversity of views, the millennium has taken up a disproportionate amount of time compared to these more important subjects.
It was Randy Alcorn who pointed out how Reformed theologians have especially neglected heaven in their writing.  Calvin commended meditation on heaven but he wrote little about it.  William Shedd’s three-volume Dogmatic Theology has eighty-seven pages on hell but only two on heaven.  Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology devotes but one page out of 737 to the eternal state of heaven.


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30. What are the four main millennial views?

The four main millennial views are amillennialism, postmillennialism, historic premillennialism, and dispensational premillennialism.

Lecture notes:
The four main millennial views are amillennialism…
The prefixes post-, and pre- refer to Christ’s second coming. They describe the timing of Christ’s return to earth.  Will it be after the millennium (post-millennialism) or before the millennium (premillennialism)?
Amillennialism is sometimes called “now-millennialism” because it believes that the millennial kingdom is now.  It began with the first coming of Christ and will end with His second coming.

…postmillennialism…
The future millennial kingdom will be a golden period of Christianity on earth, followed by the return of Christ.
…historic premillennialism…
Christ will return to set up a glorious millennial kingdom on earth.
…and dispensational premillennialism.
Like historic premillennialism, dispensational premillennialism also sees the return of Christ before the millennial kingdom but is considerably more complicated in its “timetable” of events.

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31. Are there any similarities between these very different views?

Though these views differ significantly, yet they share important fundamental beliefs, and they have all been held by good and godly Christians.

Lecture notes:
Though these views differ significantly…
The main differences concern:

  • The timing and nature of Christ’s Kingdom
  • The timing and nature of Christ’s second coming

…yet they share important fundamental beliefs…
When highlighting the differences, we want to remember how much we share in common with those who hold opposing views:

  • The Scriptures are the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God
  • The death of Christ was a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice
  • Christ is the only way of salvation
  • Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ
  • Christ and his Church will conquer the devil and his angels
  • There will be a future, visible, personal coming of Christ
  • Every individual will receive a resurrection body
  • Everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ
  • The righteous will be rewarded in heaven and the wicked punished in hell

…and they have all been held by good and godly Christians.
Whether we look at the past or the present we can find godly Christians who held to all the different views:

  • Amillennialists include Augustine, Louis Berkhof, Geerhardus Vos, Abraham Kuyper, William Hendriksen.
  • Postmillennialists include Charles Hodge, William Shedd, Robert Dabney, Benjamin Warfield, Iain H Murray.
  • Premillennialists include John Gill, Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray McCheyne, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer, George Ladd, Don Carson, Al Mohler.
  • Premillennial dispensationalists include: John Whitcomb, John Macarthur, Dallas Seminary Faculty.

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32. What are the fundamental differences between the four (main) millennial views?

The four (main) millennial views differ in these eight areas: the length of the 1000 years, the nature of Christ’s kingdom on earth, the relationship between Israel and the Church, the role of the Devil, the tribulation, the end-time signs, the number and timings of the resurrections and of Christ’s coming(s).

Lecture notes:
The four (main) millennial views differ in these eight areas:
There are other differences between these views, and there are differences within the views, but we are focusing on the main differences between the mainstream representatives of each view
…the length of the 1000 years…
Is this a symbolical number for a long period of time, or a literal 1000 years?
…the nature of Christ’s kingdom on earth…
Is it spiritual, physical, or both?
…the relationship between Israel and the Church…
Is the Church the fulfillment of Israel, a replacement for Israel, identical with Israel, or distinct from Israel?
…the role of the devil…
When he is bound, when he is let loose, and what can he do?
…the tribulation…
When is it and who goes through it?
…the end-time signs…
Are they past, present, or future? What is the order and intensity?
…the number and timings of the resurrection(s)…
These range from one (amillennialism and postmillennialism) to three or four (premillennial dispensationalism).
…the number and timings of Christ’s coming(s).
How many comings and what order?