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