Premillennialism

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  • Premillennialism

    Premillennialism teaches that the Second coming will occur before a literal thousand-year reign of Christ from Jerusalem upon the earth. In the early church, premillennialism was called chiliasm, from the Greek term meaning 1,000, a word used six times in Revelation 20:2-7. This view is most often contrasted with Postmillennialism which sees Christ's return after a golden "millennial age" where Christ rules spiritually from his throne in heaven, and Amillennialism which sees the millennium as a figurative reference to the current church age.

    Background

    Premillennialism was the most widely-held view of the earliest centuries of the church. Philip Schaff has said, "The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene Age (A.D. 100-325) is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, . . . a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papia, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius." (History of the Christian Church, Scribner, 1884; Vol. 2, p. 614)

    Premillennialism began to die out in the established Catholic Church during the life of Augustine (A.D. 354-430). Chiliasm was suppressed by the dominant Catholic Church, but survived through various "fringe" groups of Christians during the mediaeval period. During the Reformation, Anabaptists and Hugenots helped to revive premillennialism and it was adopted among some Puritans during the Post-Reformation era.

    The greatest development and spread of premillennialism since the early church came in the late 1800's - early 1900's with the rise of U.S. Fundamentalism and Dispensationalism. Starting in the British Isles and spreading to America, premillennialism (in its dispensational form) has become prominent in the Evangelical faith.

    Two varieties of premillennialism

    Premillennialists fall into two primary categories: historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. Historic premillennialism is so called because it is the classic form which may be found in writings of some of the early church fathers (mentioned above), although in an undeveloped form. Dispensational premillennialism is that form which derives from John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) and dispensational theology. It is dispensational premillenialism that first taught the notion of a pre-tribulation rapture.

    Historic premillennialists reject the idea of a pre-tribulation rapture and the uniquely Jewish nature of the dispensationalist's millennial kingdom (see below). It is often assumed that all premillennialists are dispensational in their theology. This is a confusion that should be avoided. Historic premillennialists such as George Eldon Ladd are consistent Calvinists who did not accept the basic tenets of dispensationalism.

    Uniqueness of dispensational premillennialism

    Classic dispensationalists (ala C. I. Scofield and Lewis Sperry Chafer) are pre-tribulationists and believe that the second coming will be in two stages separated by a 7-year period of tribulation. At the first he will return in the air to rescue those who are Christians at that time (the rapture). Then follows a seven-year period of suffering in which the Antichrist will conquer the world and kill those who refuse to worship him. At the end of the seven years, the final witness will go out before men and angels and Christ will return to the earth. He will defeat the Antichrist, and rescue the Jews and those who have converted to Christianity during the tribulation period.

    Dispensationalism has also spawned Mid-tribulationists who believe that Christians will not be removed until 3-1/2 years of the final seven years have elapsed. They place the Rapture when the Temple sacrifices have been halted and the Antichrist has enshrined himself in the Temple, calling himself God.

    By contrast, historic premillennialists would be generally categorized as "Post-tribulationists" because they see no appreciable difference in the timing of the rapture and the "official" second coming. Thus they hold that Christ will not return until the end of the Great tribulation and that Christians will suffer for the faith as they bring forth the final witness associated with the 5th seal of the book of Revelation.

    The belief in the pretribulation or midtribulation rapture theories of dispensationalism is often criticized, on the grounds that it results in the division of Christ's single return into two stages. Some see it as an impossible "apartheid of the Elect" of sorts which is not seen in Scripture. Pretribulationists defend it on the basis of a Scripture passage which affirms that God has not appointed His people to wrath and the promise to the Philadelphian church: "I also will keep thee out of the hour of trial, which is about to come upon the whole habitable world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." Post-tribulationists counter that the tribulation associated with the final witness of the saints is in no way connected to the wrath of God. This wrath of God will only only come at the last day and it will fall upon the heads of the wicked at the last judgment.

    Some specifically criticize dispensational premillennialism for its uniquely Jewish character of the Millennial Kingdom. Specifically for anticipating the rebuilding of the Hebrew Temple and the offering again of animal sacrifices during the millennial reign of Christ. In dispensationalism, the return of the sacrifices will be ceremonial in nature. Like the ceremony of Communion or the Lord's Supper they believe that the sacrifices will be performed on the appointed feast days in the future Millennium. They say that the reason the animal sacrifices will continue is because they will be enacted as a memorial to the Savior who came to earth as the Sacrifice Lamb. However, critics view the idea of blood sacrifices re-instututed after Christ's return as incompatible with Christ's completed work and find the idea abhorrent (O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, p.248).

  • #2
    Hi William, that was an excellent and well researched article. I'm Historic Premil as well and as I'm new to this forum I am glad to see that the subject is, at least, addressed here. There have been many notable theologians who were and are of the Historic or Classic persuasion. Some of them are Past Notables: F.F. Bruce, Walter Martin, J. Barton Payne, Heny Alford, Theodore Zahn , Francis Schaeffer, John Gill, George Eldon Ladd, Charles H. Spurgeon. Current Notables: John Warwick Montgomery, Roger E. Olson, Wayne Grudem, Millard Erickson, Russell D. Moore, Craig L. Blomberg (Denver Seminary), Gordon Clark, John Piper.
    If you or any reader would like an extensive list of Post-tribulationists which includes Amillenarians here is the link: Link
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    • #3
      Welcome to the forum mardabo!

      Thank you for the link. And, just a brief tour, many of the articles published throughout the site are to encourage discussion. If you wish to create your own thread on any subject, by all means, please do under the best category.

      God bless,
      William
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      • #4
        There's me! I'm premillennial! Who's to say premillennialism wasn't believed before 100 A.D.? What the Scriptures say and real life prove the amillennial view to be wrong. And on that bombshell, I leave the discussion open for "whosoever will" or "whosoever won't".
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
          There's me! I'm premillennial! Who's to say premillennialism wasn't believed before 100 A.D.? What the Scriptures say and real life prove the amillennial view to be wrong. And on that bombshell, I leave the discussion open for "whosoever will" or "whosoever won't".
          The millennium is the church age. The universal, invisible church is the kingdom of God, ruled by Christ - a king, not a prince.

          The Bible does teach premillennialism (premillennial amillennialism). Jesus came in judgement to fully end the Temple age, in 70 AD, and to fully established the Church age. Matthew 24 lays it out: Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”...
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          • #6
            You left out the rapture, tribulation, and 1000 year reign of Christ. They are literal, you know.
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            • #7
              Saint Augustine didn't think of those things as events in day-to-day history so why do people 1,600 years later think in those terms? It doesn't seem reasonable that after 2,000 years a "soon" return is still advocated as if it ought to be seen as "soon" in years.
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              • #8
                I go by Scripture, not man. The difference between Reformed and my beliefs are that I believe the Bible means what it says, literally concerning the eschatology, and Reformed believe it either doesn't exist and/or is figurative. I base my belief on what I see in the Scriptures, Reformed believe in what man teaches them, in spite of 1 John 2:26 and 2 Timothy 2:15.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                  You left out the rapture, tribulation, and 1000 year reign of Christ. They are literal, you know.

                  I don't take visions literally. Several times, parts of the vision that St. John sees are explained, and never does the explanation show that the vision is to be taken literally. Living in a city of pure gold would be hellish, not divine (the gold city is the church). No dragan has swept a third of the stars out of the sky (the dragon is satan and the stars are fallen angels). Even outside of visions are figures of speech. Yet, I take the Bible more literally than you do, outside of visions.

                  Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. Does this mean God owns the cattle on only 1000 hills? No, God owns the cattle on thousands of hills, however many hills there are. Just the same, Christ's reign is thousands of years, however many years here are. Christ's reign is Now. The kingdom of God is now. But, his kingdom is not of this world.

                  The great tribulation that Jesus spoke of was 66-73 AD. Josephus gives horrors the Jews were subjected to that are far more gruesome than even Hitler has been accused. He explains, "I have to recount is an act unparalleled in the history of either the Greeks or the barbarians, and as horrible to relate as it is incredible to hear?" And, this just when Jesus said it would happen, within a generation of his day. And, the Christians were spared this because they listened to Jesus and fled when Jesus told them to flee.

                  The rapture is what happens after you die. It's not a false hope of avoiding death given to generations of Christians.

                  I once believed as you. I was raised in the Pentecostal world, where the people are obsessed dispensationalists. Every service, every sunday school, contained a proclamation of dispensationalism. Someone or someones in every service would wail (yes, wail) about seeing "signs", someone in Sunday school would always remind us to "watch Israel, the olive tree", etc. I remember that kind of stuff from my earliest memories of church. But, as I learned the Bible better and as I learned history better, those believes gave way to what I believe now.
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                  • #10
                    I never believed in Pentecostal beliefs regarding the tongues. Didn't know about their eschatology, but sounds weird. I am referring to the rapture and the 1000-year reign, not the figurative beasts that John literally saw. He saw a city of gold He saw all the things he says he saw. They may in whole or in part be figurative as to how these things occurred/will occur, but were seen. The rapture is quite clearly described, as is the 1000-year reign of Christ, so you simply don't believe the Bible in its entirety if you don't believe those things. I don't care, simply don't care what other churches or scholars say about these things, as I care what the Bible says. I know I am Spirit-led, as it says we should be. Leaving your old church should have been for Biblical reasons, not because you were talked out of it.

                    People who seek people out for guidance on their doctrines habitually are not trusting God. Especially when they should test what the others say in accordance with Scripture. I know like-minded people, even on this forum, so I am not alone in my beliefs. Your description of the rapture does not match Scripture, nor does your belief in when the tribulation happened. Ignoring the 1000 year reign of Christ altogether or making it out as figurative, quite frankly is a bunch of garbage. Just look around. How can you say Jesus is ruling the earth with the saints with all that is going on?

                    This sounds blunt, and I'm sorry, but you are dangerously close to not being a believer at all, just confused; but God is the judge, so I will not judge whether you are a believer or not, but it is dubious how your beliefs skip Scriptures that don't match your church's beliefs. You also ignore 1 John 2:26-27, Timothy 2:15, and the other verses I gave you. You don't agree with any of the verses I gave you... it isn't me you don't believe, it is Scripture, and that is what is so dubious IMO. I simply don't believe all the church doctrine you adhere to. I believe some of it because it jives with Scripture, but some doesn't.

                    Same with at my church. Their free will doctrine is most annoying. So is their doctrine on tithing. With yours, it's baptism and eschatology. So I haven't found the perfect church. There is none, yours or mine. Churches have been screwed up since their inception; that is why the Lord sent His apostles to visit and write to them.

                    The Bereans come as close to being right as any I know. They test what they are taught with the Scriptures, knowing they know the truth through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. People we hear from may or may not know, but trusting the Spirit, we know without a doubt.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                      This sounds blunt, and I'm sorry, but you are dangerously close to not being a believer at all, just confused; but God is the judge, so I will not judge whether you are a believer or not, but it is dubious how your beliefs skip Scriptures that don't match your church's beliefs. You also ignore 1 John 2:26-27, Timothy 2:15, and the other verses I gave you. You don't agree with any of the verses I gave you... it isn't me you don't believe, it is Scripture, and that is what is so dubious IMO. I simply don't believe all the church doctrine you adhere to. I believe some of it because it jives with Scripture, but some doesn't.
                      This is now out of hand. And before it escalates any further I must disagree with you Strat on these secondary issues and whether they are detrimental to salvation. I think you'll find that some do not agree with your interpretation or an overly literalistic method of interpretation. You say, God is the Judge, and He is, "but but but" I would like you to take a moment for self-examination before attempting to remove that speck from your brother's eye.

                      I'd also like to refresh everyone's memory that we have rules in place for members to follow. Please review them here with emphasis on our "Rules becoming of a Christian": Terms and Conditions

                      Note: I am open to private messages.

                      God bless,
                      William
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                      • #12
                        Here are a few things to consider concerning the idea of the "re-institution" of the temple and its sacrifices as a "memorial" to Christ. In no particular order.
                        1)"Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side..." John 20:27
                        Christ is here appeared once again in the upper room. He is raised from the dead, in His glorified body, never to see death again. He retains the wounds of the cross. He will be as a "reminder" to us, He is our "memorial!" We shall see him "face to face" as He really is.

                        2)The word "memorial" implies forgetfulness, a corrupt mind indeed needs a "memorial", but perfect minds, a redeemed mind does not.

                        3) Wasn't death settled on the cross? So there will be death in the new heaven and new earth?

                        4) Paul tells us in Romans that the earth itself is "groaning" anticipating there "redemption" as well. No Jesus did not die for animals, but "creation" was unwillingly subjected to futility to fulfill God's purposes. Creation also will be "set free from its bondage to corruption..."in fact don't we observe God's creatures always doing what God made them to do? Romans 8:18-24


                        Soli Deo Gloria
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                          I never believed in Pentecostal beliefs regarding the tongues. Didn't know about their eschatology,
                          Pentecostals take to Dispensationalism like fish to water.

                          The rapture is quite clearly described, as is the 1000-year reign of Christ, so you simply don't believe the Bible in its entirety if you don't believe those things.
                          Taking the things seen in visions as symbolic doesn't mean not believing. If you don't think the dragon and beast are literal, why do you take other things in the vision literally? How is after the new Jerusalem comes down, the world is still full of sinners? In your eschatology, all the sinners should be gone. Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

                          Just look around. How can you say Jesus is ruling the earth with the saints with all that is going on?
                          Jesus tells us that you can't plunder a strongman's house without first binding the strongman. This world is Satan's house, but Satan is bound by Jesus 2000 years ago, allowing Jesus to rescue the captives. Satan's binding isn't complete, he still has sway in the world, but he can't hold on to anyone who has faith in God. You want to believe the kingdom of God is of this world, but Jesus said it wasn't.

                          Same with at my church. Their free will doctrine is most annoying. So is their doctrine on tithing. With yours, it's baptism and eschatology. So I haven't found the perfect church. There is none, yours or mine. Churches have been screwed up since their inception; that is why the Lord sent His apostles to visit and write to them.
                          There are thousands of Baptist and non-denominational churches that share your view on baptism and eschatology. As for me, I could be at home at nearly any conservative reformed church, but they're not nearly so numerous.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
                            I go by Scripture, not man. The difference between Reformed and my beliefs are that I believe the Bible means what it says, literally concerning the eschatology, and Reformed believe it either doesn't exist and/or is figurative. I base my belief on what I see in the Scriptures, Reformed believe in what man teaches them, in spite of 1 John 2:26 and 2 Timothy 2:15.
                            People say that sort of thing a lot and then immediately offer their opinion as "scripture". It doesn't seem like that's the best advice. I think I'll stick with saint Augustine on the matter of the Millennium.
                            Last edited by peppermint; 06-12-2015, 05:23 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Do that. I'll stick with the Scriptures. The notion that my Scripture quotes are my interpretations doesn't make any sense. I've been backed into a corner from the top down. I use the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit and what is important to me is God knows it and I know it. Christian love... 1 Corinthians 13:2, 4-8. What a concept!
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