Theorists and philosophers have debated many issues over the years. Is there a God, when was the universe created, how did mankind come into existence? Much of the Bible is prophecy. Prophecy is defined as a prediction yet to come to pass. The prophecies of the Bible will be debated until the end of time, until the Lord can answer all of our questions for us. One of the most prophetic books of the Bible is Revelation. The Revelations God gave to John will on the island of Patmos have been debated for ages. One of the most debated subjects of Revelation is the millennium. Revelation 20:1-6 says “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”1 We will now explore the different views of the millennium: dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism. Each view holds their own strong points and negatives.
The first view of the millennium is dispensational premillennialism. This view states that "hold that Christ will come before a seven-year period of intense tribulation to take His church (living and dead) into heaven. After this period of fulfillment of divine wrath, He shall then return to rule from a holy city (i.e., the New Jerusalem) over the earthly nations for one thousand years."2 This view holds that the Millennium with Christ on earth will exist after the seven year period of tribulation in which the bowl judgments and the trumpet judgments will be poured upon the Earth. This view is held by those who take the Bible in a literal sense, and that follow the Bible on a chronological basis. The tribulation period will happen and then Christ will return for a 1000 year span. The believers who became believers during the tribulation and believers will peacefully populate the earth and those who were raptured seven years prior will reign with Christ in the New Jerusalem during the millennium. According to religioustolernce.org, this view is said to have been "declared a heresy in ancient times, was reintroduced circa 1830."3 The reason being is that many believe that since there is an uprising in Revelation 20:7-10 where nations fight against Jesus Christ. Why after the return of the Messiah on Earth are there still people fighting against God. This view would mean that either natural born people will be born through the Millennium and there will still be sin or that Christians that are in the New Jerusalem with Christ will sin against Jesus. Proponents against this view hold 1 Corinthians 15:22-28 as a foothold. The proponents state that all earthly governing authority will be abolished by Christ during the 1000 year reign of Christ. In 1830 John Darby reintroduced the subject of this topic and used Revelation 20:1-6 as a foothold for his beliefs. He claimed that this use of the millennium is literal and takes Revelation as a timeline laid out for us. While I do agree with the opponents of premillennialism, it may be that the opposing forces in Revelation, after the Millennium, may be influenced by the release of Satan from his cage. After the millennium there will be a final war between saints and demons.
The next view goes along with the last view in most senses and that is historic premillennialism. The major difference between the two beliefs is that this view holds that Christ will return for His people and rapture them after the seven year tribulation. This theory was held by much of the church during the first few centuries of the Christian church. Directly after the return of Christ is the millennium of Christ where once again the Christians will be with Christ in the New Jerusalem, but it does not hold any timeline in between the rapture and the return to the New Jerusalem during the millennium. According to LaHaye "Toward the end of the third century, an allegorical approach to Scripture began to dominate theological thought...Not until after the Reformation was there a revival of premillennial thought."4 He goes on to say that this is the most understood theory in today's church age, but does not state whether it is historic or dispensationalist. I understand his thinking to be mostly dispensationalist.
The next main view is Postmillennialism. This view holds that the millennium is not a literal 1000 years, but the time that is fulfilled through the spreading of the gospels. This view holds that the time after Christ is the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham and the peace of the church. While they hold that the millennium is an actual time from Revelation, they don't hold that it is an actual 1000 years. According to Boettner "It is an indefinitely long period of time, perhaps much longer than a literal one thousand years."5 This theory does not mean that when Christ returns that He will return to a world with all Christians, but to a world that where Christianity is not the unusual thing, but where Christianity is more accepted as the norm. Some do claim that Christ will return to a Christianized world. This view was incredibly popular up until the twentieth century. LaHaye says "It was all but eliminated as a result of the World Wars, the Great Depression, and the overwhelming escalation of moral evil in society."6 I agree with LaHaye on this as I don't see Christianity on the rise, but more of a lack of respect and a misunderstanding on Christians as a whole.
The next view is amilllennialism. This view holds that the time of the church was put into place after the resurrection of Christ. When Christ rose again, he gained control and power over Satan and at the time is where the millennium started. This view does not hold a literal interpretation of Revelation 20. They hold that at the time of Christ's return, this will bring in the judgment of Christ. The believers of this theory see no actual reign of Christ on Earth as we know it. Many of these believers hold the Bible verse II Timothy 4:1 to a literal approach when it says "who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing" as meaning that His judgment will come at His next appearing. I believe this is a loose translation of this verse. I do believe that one day we will all be judged by our God and Savior, but to use this as meaning there will be no millennium on Earth, and avoiding other Scripture that points to a millennium does not make much sense.
It's strange to see such a difference in beliefs in Eschatology.
It seems that the only things that Christians can agree on when it comes to Revelation is that Christ will return, that Christians will be risen at some point and a judgment. When it comes to the rest of Revelation, there is no agreement. In my opinion, I hold to believe the dispensationalist premillennialist theory. I take a literal approach to the book of Revelation and it's time table. When Revelation 20 holds that there will be a millennium after the tribulation, I hold that literally. I believe that Satan will be let out of his cage for a short time and that will cause some havoc. But Christ and His army will fight for peace. After this there will be a great judgment where even demons will confess The Lord to be God.
Boettner, Loraine. The Millennium. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), 1957. 14.
Blue Letter Bible. Four Views on the Millennium. http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/mill.cfm. Last accessed May 11, 2013.
LaHaye, Tim. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers), 2004. 234
Robinson, B.A. Competing Theories of Eschatology, End Times, Millennialism. ReligiousTolerance.org. 2012. Last accessed May 11, 2013.
1All Biblical references will be made from the NIV version unless otherwise noted.
3 Robinson, B.A. Competing Theories of Eschatology, End Times, Millennialism. 2012.
4 LaHaye, Tim. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. 234.
5 Boettner, Loraine. The Millennium. 14
6 LaHaye. 234.