Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Revelation Day 2



What are the major millennial views held by Christians discussed in Revelation 20 and what are some of the fundamental differences?

Day 2 

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, May 19, 2020

Read Revelation 20:1-10. (Yes, we jumped ahead for a moment, but this is by design).

Of course, there are many differences of opinion (some that even caused church splits) regarding the millennium (1,000-year period). But there are central differences between the four popular views. They can be categorized as:

·         pre-millennialism (two forms: historic and dispensational), and
·         post-millennialism (two forms: a-millennialism, and “classic” post-millennialism).

With pre-millennialism, Christ’s return would be prior to the millennium.  With post-millennialism, Christ’s return would be after the millennium. A-millennialism is a variant of post-millennialism (meaning without a “millennium”) but this is not entirely accurate. A-millennialism does have a millennium but not in the same sense as might be expected, it is more spiritual. Regardless, a-millennialism has Christ returning after the spiritual millennium. 

The chart below gives a visual of foundational differences between the positions. Note that at least three of these positions are false doctrines as they cannot all be true at the same time. This is why the Bible needs to be consulted on every question, regardless of theological leanings.


Table 1: Millennial Views (in a general sense)


Dispensational Pre-millennialism
Historic Pre-millennialism
A-millennialism
Post-millennialism
Kingdom
Future
Now
Now
Now
Millennium
Future
Future
Now[1]
Now
Prosperity
Future
Future
[Now] Only in a spiritual sense
Now and growing
Date of the book’s writing
Mid A.D. 90’s
Mid A.D. 90’s
Prior to A.D. 70
Prior to A.D. 70
View in the End
Pessimistic
Pessimistic
Pessimistic
Optimistic
Dispensational rapture event
Typically yes
No
No
No

Another note of clarification is that Dispensational Pre-millennialism has two basic forms: Pre-tribulation and Mid-tribulation where a rapture event will occur before the tribulation period (Pre-Tribulation/“Pre-Trib”) or in the middle of the Tribulation (Mid-Tribulation/“Mid-Trib”).

You may also hear about Post-Tribulation/“Post-Trib” but that is essentially the same thing as Historic Pre-millennialism where any alleged rapture event is equated with the combined resurrection of all people to begin the an alleged 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. A-millennialism, Historic Pre-millennialism, and Post-millennialism do not have a rapture event like the dispensationalists have. Any reference to a rapture in their literature was the second coming and judgment of all people and the time of the end to begin eternity in either heaven or hell.

Another note of discussion is that Historic Pre-millennialism, A-millennialism, and Post-millennialism have been historical positions of the church going back to the early church fathers.  Dispensational pre-millennialism is the “new kid on the block” being first articulated in detail and popularized in the mid-1800s by John Darby Nelson (d. 1882).

Darby, an Anglican priest and lawyer who was instrumental in the initiation of Brethren churches and founded the Exclusive Brethren, believed the churches that came out of the reformation were in ruins and that the Christ’s coming was nigh, so it was time to prepare to leave the world in a secret rapture event where there is a multi-stage return of Christ.[2] More on this discussion on Day 22.

Sadly, theologies can have a tendency to get in the way of good straightforward readings of Scripture. This is one significant reason why this study was developed. To do something radical: go back and see what the Bible actually says. From time to time, these views may be commented upon, however, this study is meant to see what “Scripture says” on various questions concerning end-times. As you continue in this study, you will find that some views simply fall short of Scripture.   

Read Revelation 1:10-20 twice and meditate on it.



[1] The nature of the millennium is different between A-millennialism and Post-millennialism.
[2] Jeramie Rinne, Will Christians Be Secretly Raptured?, The Gospel Coalition, October 9, 2014, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/will-christians-be-left-behind/; Editors, John Nelson Darby: Father of dispensationalism, Christianity Today, accessed April 20, 2018, https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-nelson-darby.html.

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