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SUMMARY GRAPHS OF MILLENNIAL VIEWS

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  13 Comments
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In this article I will summarily present the core distinctives of the four major evangelical views. Such summaries are easy to grasp and quite helpful for presenting the differences between the systems.

Amillennialism

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1. The Church Age is the kingdom which the Old Testament prophets predict. God expands his people from the one nation of Israel in the Old Testament to the universal Christian church of the New Testament, making this phase of God’s people the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).

2. Christ binds Satan during his earthly ministry at his first coming. His binding prevents Satan from stopping gospel proclamation. This allows for multitudes of sinners to convert to Christ and insures some restraint upon evil.

3. Christ rules spiritually in the hearts of believers. We may expect occasional, short-lived influences of Christianity on culture and society, especially when Christians live out the implications of their faith.

4. History will gradually worsen as evil’s growth accelerates toward the end. This will culminate in the great tribulation, with the arising of a personal Antichrist.

5. Christ will return to end history, resurrect all men, and conduct the Final Judgment, and establish the eternal order. The eternal destiny of the redeemed may be either in heaven or in a totally renovated new earth.

Historic Premillennialism

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1. The New Testament era church is the initial phase of Christ’s kingdom, which the Old Testament anticipates especially in its prophetic books.

2. The New Testament church may win occasional victories in history, but ultimately she will fail in her mission, lose influence, and become corrupted as worldwide evil increases toward the end of the current era, the Church Age.

3. The church will pass through a future, worldwide, unprecedented time of travail. During this period a personal Antichrist will arise, possessing great religious and political power. This era is known as the great tribulation, which will punctuate the end of contemporary history. Historic premillennialists differ significantly from dispensationalists in that their system is post-tribulational.

4. Christ will return at the end of the tribulation to rapture the church, resurrect deceased saints, and conduct the judgment of the righteous in the “twinkling of an eye.”

5. Christ then will descend to the earth with his glorified saints, fight the battle of Armageddon, bind Satan, and establish a worldwide, political kingdom, which Christ will personally administer for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. (Historic premillennialists often do not demand the Revelation’s 1000 years be a literal time frame.)

6. At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and will cause a massive rebellion against the millennial kingdom and a fierce assault against Christ and his saints.

7. God will intervene with fiery judgment to rescue Christ and the saints. The resurrection and the judgment of the wicked will occur and the eternal order will begin. The eternal order may be either a recreated material new heavens and new earth, or it may be simply a heavenly environment.

Dispensationalism

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1. Redemptive history is divided up into seven categorically distinct dispensations, wherein God works with men under each dispensation in different ways. Hence, the name “dispensationalism.”

2. Christ offers renewed Davidic Kingdom — an earthly, political structure — to the Jews in the first century. They reject it, leading him to postpone it until the future.

3. The Church Age is a wholly unforseen and distinct era in the plan of God. It was altogether unknown to and unexpected by the Old Testament prophets.

4. God has a separate and distinct program and plan for racial Israel, as distinguished from the church. The church of Jesus Christ is a paren-thetical aside in the original plan of God.

5. The church may experience occasional small scale successes in history, but ultimately she will lose influence, fail in her mission, and become corrupt as worldwide evil intensifies toward the end of the Church Age.

6. Christ will return secretly in the sky to rapture living saints and resurrect the bodies of deceased saints (the first resurrection). He is removing them out of the world before the great tribulation. The judg-ment of the saints transpires in heaven during the seven-year great tribulation period before Christ’s bodily return to the earth.

7. At the conclusion of the seven-year great tribulation, Christ will return to the earth in order to establish and personally administer a Jewish political kingdom headquartered at Jerusalem for 1,000 years. During this time, Satan will be bound, and the temple and sacrificial system will be re-established in Jerusalem as memorials.

8. Toward the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be loosed so that he may surround and attack Christ at Jerusalem.

9. Christ will call down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies. The second resurrection and judgment of the wicked will occur, initiating the eternal order.

Postmillennialism

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1. Jesus Christ founds his Messianic kingdom on the earth during his earthly ministry and through his redemptive labors. His establishing the “kingdom of heaven” fulfills Old Testament prophetic expectations regarding the coming kingdom.

2. The kingdom is essentially redemptive and spiritual, rather than political and corporeal. Although it has implications for the political realm, postmillennialism is not political, offering a kingdom in competition with geo-political nations for governmental rule.

3. The kingdom will exercise a transformational socio-cultural influence in history. This will occur as more and more people convert to Christ, not by a minority revolt and seizure of political power in history nor by the catastrophic imposition of Christ at his second advent from outside of history.

4. Postmillennialism expects the gradual, developmental expansion of Christ’s kingdom in time and on earth before the Lord returns to end history. This will proceed by a full-orbed ministry of the Word, fervent and believing prayer, and the consecrated labors of Christ’s Spirit-filled people.

5. Postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history (continuous with the present) in which the very gospel already operating will win the victory throughout the earth, fulfilling the Great Commission.

6. After this extended period of gospel prosperity, earth history will draw to a close by the personal, visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ (accompanied by a literal resurrection and a general judgment) to introduce his blood-bought people into the consummative and eternal form of the kingdom. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.

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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.

13 responses to SUMMARY GRAPHS OF MILLENNIAL VIEWS

  1. Post-mil Christians play to win, buoyed by their confidence in the Coach and Playbook.

    A-mil Christians don’t expect to carry the ball too far past the 50 yard line, but they love the Coach, and will play their hearts out for Him.

    Pre-mil Christians cower in their own end zone, cede the field to the enemy, and wait for a helicopter ride out of the came. if they are conscientious, they sell helicopter ride tickets.

    • Great summary. What’s the sport analogy, American Football? Whatever, the postmillennial view is the only one that fits in with Jesus’ parables – let’s go with what Jesus thinks, eh!

  2. I know there are variations on all of these, but I wanted to point out that there is a form of amillenialism that could almost share the postmillenial graph. Jay Adams has probably written the most concise teaching of this type of amillenialism. I think the main difference is that the world in not getting better so much as both the Gospel and wickedness spread/grow until the last day. So, I guess it would still have the straight line to Christ’s return, but the great tribulation would be at 70 AD.

    • I agree with the addition that those amillenialists who (rightly in my view) espouse inaugurated eschatology, such as NT Wright, would hold that the rule of God is spreading too. Very little difference between this form of optimistic amillennialism and the form of postmillenialism which believes that the rule of Christ started with his life/ascension/judgement at 70AD. How about a new term: nuncmillennialism?

    • Jay Adams little volume on Revelation The Time is at Hand is exceptionally good–my favorite.

      • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. April 1, 2012 at 6:30

        Adams’ book is an excellent help! Another of his small books that provides insights into preterism is: Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? In this one he distinguishes orthodox preterism from hyperpreterism.

  3. Hi Kenneth,
    Thanks for your article, and for this blog! It’s good see it’s being updated regularly. I have just recently (as in 1 week ago!) become a convinced postmillennialist. Although I came to the conviction through the scriptural evidence, I have to admit that it is a most excellent view to hold. What a relief to have hope, and purpose, especially regarding points 3, 4 & 5 of the post-mil summary above.

    Thanks for your writings. Keep it up.

  4. Daniel Jansky January 25, 2012 at 6:30

    Hi! I got a question… the most difficult part of Postmillennialism for me to explain is 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Which verses refer to the First Coming, and which to the Second (or His judgement coming). How do we know since they sound similar. I am not talking about 1 Thess. 4 or 2 Thess. 2, as I understand those from a partial-preterist viewpoint. But what about the little verses throughout? I would appreciate a link to a commentary or webpage that would help out with this. Thank you. (Some example verse are 1 Thess. 1:10, 3:13, 5:1-3, 23; 2 Thess. 1:7-10.)

  5. I was thinking about this the other day. If the Preterists are right and Christs kingdom was inaugurated in 70 A.D., then what if the millenium was a literal 1000 years? When would it have ended? Well, a Jewish year has 360 days and so if you add 1000 years of 360 days each and do all the math, the last year of this kingdom would have been 1054 A.D which just happened to be the exact year of the Great Schism, when the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church split in half. Prior to this event Christendom extended all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Perhaps we live in the time when Satan has been loosed but eventually the Gospel will triumph and Christ will return. Let me know your thoughts on this.

  6. The apostle Peter said, in A.D. 33, that Christ was already at that time sitting on David’s throne (Acts 2:36), and the apostle Paul told the church at Colossae that they were in the kingdom (Col. 1:12-13). John wrote in Revelation 1:6 & 9 that Christians were a “kingdom” of “priests” and as verse 9 says, “I John, who also am your brother and companion in tribulation, and IN THE KINGDOM, and patience of Jesus Christ…”

  7. The Bible clearly states that Christ’s kingdom existed in the first century. See Acts 2:30, 36. Peter states that Christ is already reigning on David’s throne. See Colossians 1:15ff. Here Paul tells the church at Colossae that they had been translated into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:15) and that kingdom is Christ’s church (v. 18, 24; cf. Eph. 5:23). John states that he and other Christians alive in the first century were in the kingdom (Rev. 1:6, 9). Christ’s church is the kingdom and there not be any physical reign of Christ on earth (see Heb. 8:1-6, specifically what is said in v. 4; see also Zech. 6:12-13).

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