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PREMILLENNIALISM: A SHORT DEFINITION

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  Leave a comment

The term “premillennial” derives from the compounding of three Latin terms: pre (“before”), mille (“thousand”), and annum (“years”). The prefix pre signifies that Christ will return before the millennium in order to establish it.

Premillennialists believe that Christ initiated the spiritual, anticipatory phase of his kingdom in the first century. In the kingdom’s current spiritual phase God is gathering an elect people into the Church. But history will eventually decline into the great tribulation when the Antichrist arises and the Church apostatizes. After this Christ will return to resurrect deceased believers and transform living ones, fight the battle of Armageddon, and establish his one thousand year reign on the earth. During his millennial rule righteousness and peace will prevail on earth. At the very end of the millennium Satan will be loosed and will gather a rebellion against Christ, only to have God intervene to destroy Satan, resurrect deceased unbelievers and transform living ones, judge all men, and establish the eternal order.

Consequently, premillennialism is pessimistic. As George Eldon Ladd explains: “This evil Age is to last until His return. It will for ever be hostile to the Gospel and to God’s people. Evil will prevail. . . . Persecution and martyrdom will plague the Church.” (1) Contemporary representations of premillennialism appear in the following books, written by competent scholars:

Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung, eds., A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to “Left Behind” Eschatology (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2009).

Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology, vol. 3: Spirit-Given Life: God’s People Present and Future (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

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Footnote

George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 124.

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

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