What Is Premillennialism?

In Bible/Theology, Blogs by Bruce Scott16 Comments

Jesus is coming back!

All biblically conservative Christians believe that to be true. The Second Coming of Christ is one of the cardinal doctrines of the faith. Questions arise, however, as to the timing of Christ’s coming and the nature of His Kingdom.

Before we try to answer those questions, a distinction needs to be made. Although some might disagree, the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Christ are two separate events. The Rapture is when the bride of Christ is caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The Second Coming is when Jesus Christ sets His feet on planet Earth once again. The timing of the Rapture in relationship to the Second Coming is its own discussion. For the record, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry takes the position that the Rapture will occur prior to the Tribulation Period and thus at least seven years prior to the Second Coming.

As to the questions surrounding the Second Coming of Christ, theologians have coined terms that aren’t found in the Bible, but they do serve as tags by which we can identify the various views. These terms are Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Premillennialism. What do these terms mean and how do they differ?

The majority view of the early church up until the 5th century, Premillennialism is the belief that Jesus Christ will return to planet Earth prior to or pre- the Millennium. This comes from a natural reading of the biblical text.

First, you’ll notice that each term has the same core word, millennialism. Living in the 21st century, most of us have heard of Millennials. Millennials refers to young adults born just before or up to the turn of the century, or more accurately, the turn of the millennium. Millennium comes from two Latin words that mean a period of 1,000 years. Thus, Millennialism is the topic of or belief in a period of 1,000 years. The Bible mentions a period of 1,000 years only 10 times (Ps. 90:4; Eccl. 6:6; 2 Pet. 3:8 [twice]; Rev. 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Although the Revelation passages are the numerical basis for the doctrine of millennialism, the doctrine entails much more than just a length of time. It also entails the nature of Christ’s Kingdom.

The second thing you’ll notice about our three theological terms—Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Premillennialism—is that all three begin with a prefix. These prefixes are a clue as to what each view holds. The prefix A- means not or lacking. The prefix Post- means after or subsequent to. The prefix Pre- means prior to or before.

So what exactly do our three theological terms mean?

Amillennialism: Taking root in the 5th century, Amillennialism is the belief that there will not be a future, material, literal, 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth. Rather, Christ’s Kingdom is present and immaterial, one where He reigns spiritually in the hearts of His believers on Earth and in heaven. The 1,000 years of Revelation 20 are not literal of time, but symbolic of the entire period between Christ’s resurrection and His return. According to Amillennialism, Satan is currently bound. Even so, good and evil will increase until the end of the age. At that time, Satan will be released and lead a worldwide apostasy. Christ will then return, the dead will be raised, and Christ will adjudicate one final judgment of all people. His followers will subsequently enter the Eternal and Blessed State.

Postmillennialism: Dominant in the 19th century and making a comeback today, Postmillennialism is similar to Amillennialism in that Christ’s Kingdom began in the 1st century, is present now, the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 are to be understood symbolically, and Satan is currently bound. Postmillennialism differs with Amillennialism as to the Kingdom’s location. Postmillennialism claims the Kingdom will actually be on the earth, but not as a consequence of Christ’s return. More optimistic than Amillennialism, Postmillennialism asserts that through the preaching of the gospel and the progressing, positive social influence of the church, eventually peace, faith, and righteousness will prevail over most of the world for an unknown period of time. Jesus will then return to the earth. Thus, His return is after or post the “millennium,” the golden age. Like Amillennialism, Postmillennialism holds to a general resurrection, a general judgment, and the Eternal and Blessed State of believers in Christ following Christ’s return.

Premillennialism: The majority view of the early church up until the 5th century, Premillennialism is the belief that Jesus Christ will return to planet Earth prior to or pre- the Millennium. This comes from a natural reading of the biblical text. Christ’s Second Coming in Revelation chapter 19 precedes His Millennial Reign in chapter 20.

There are two predominant branches of Premillennialism. The first is Historic Premillennialism. The second is Dispensational Premillennialism. The primary differences between the two are 1) Historic Premillennialism does not see a sharp distinction between Israel and the church in God’s program, while Dispensational Premillennialism does, and 2) Historic Premillennialism believes in a Post-Tribulation Rapture, while Dispensational Premillennialism generally does not. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry holds to Dispensational Premillennialism.

In Dispensational Premillennialism, Christ’s Kingdom is future, not present. Its time frame of 1,000 years is literal, not symbolic. It will be material, not immaterial. It will be headquartered in the city of Jerusalem in Israel on the earth, not in the hearts of believers. Believers are presently citizens of the Kingdom by virtue of their position in Christ, but they are not yet residing in the Kingdom. Dispensational Premillennialism asserts Jesus Christ will sit on the throne of David, as well as fulfill all of the Old Testament covenants and promises to Israel. Israel will be glorified among the nations. The church will be present, reigning with Christ, but still distinct from Israel. Although Satan is not currently bound in this age, he will be during the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign. Once Satan is bound, the first resurrection following Christ’s return occurs. This is the resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:4). During the Millennium, Jesus will righteously rule over the entire earth bringing peace and prosperity. After the 1,000 years, Satan will be released to deceive the nations and lead them one last time in a failed rebellion against Christ. Following that will be the Great White Throne judgment for resurrected unbelievers from every age. Since their names will not be found in the Book of Life, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Believers, on the other hand, will enter the Eternal and Blessed State of a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Jesus is coming back! First for His bride, the church, before the Tribulation. Next with His bride after the Tribulation. He will then set up His Kingdom on the earth for 1,000 years, gloriously reigning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

About the Author
Bruce Scott

Bruce Scott

Bruce Scott is the director of Program Ministries at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and is the author of The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah.

Comments 16

  1. I’ve believed in your viewpoint for over 56 years and I believe the Bible proves that viewpoint. It’s the only one that makes sense, too. Amen!

  2. First, let me thank you for your article (and your excellent book on the Feasts of Israel). It is important for the church to understand the timeline of (a) the second coming, (b) Christ’s earthly kingdom, and (c) the distinction between the church and Israel. But for the life of me, I do not understand why FOI clings to the pre-tribulational rapture theory, while shielding its readers from other second-coming timelines. Truth seekers are never afraid to have their views challenged. It’s how we learn. Aren’t Christians supposed to be truth seekers? We ask non-believers to abandon their secular worldview and come to Christ. Can’t we as Christians question (with honest critical thinking) the pre-tribulation rapture theory? The hyper-dispensationalist pre-tribulation rapture theory is objectively severely flawed with bad logic and numerous scripture distortions. It should be challenged by every truth-seeking believer. It is time for FOI (and the church) to have an honest discussion concerning the pre-tribulation timeline and the pre-wrath timeline. Having written a pre-wrath book on the second coming, I would love to be part of that open and honest discussion…

    1. Gentlemen,
      May I offer a little different approach. After careful study of the Holy Scriptures, I think we must keep an open mind as to the timing of the Rapture. Personally I believe n a pre-trib-rapture; however, if the tribulation comes as determined by the counterfeit peace agreement between Israel and the anti-Christ then I will change my position. I have two reasons for believing in the pre-trib rapture: 1) careful study of the L-rd’s Feasts seem to show the Rapture occurring with the Feast of Trumpets which preceeds the Day of Atonement (Tribulation) and the Feast of Succoat (the ushering in of the millennial Kingdom); and, 2) if the L-rd’s return is imminent as the Scriptures say, then we can only ascribe to the pre-trib position. Any other position would not be imminent. Shalom in Messiah

    2. I hope that you will appreciate reading Zola Levitt’s booklet: “A Christian Love Story”, comparing the Jewish marriage customs from Jesus’ time, with the Rapture. Zola also points out the Matthew 25:1-13 account of the ten virgins as applying to the wedding story & Rapture, as well as points out the Jewish Feast of Trumpets, & even the story of Gideon’s small army’s deliverance by God [armed with God’s symbol of deliverance–the trumpet, with the symbol of the Holy Spirit–the oil in the lamps (Judges 7)] as comparing to the Rapture. Zola’s booklets (priced very affordably at only a few dollars each from the Zola Levitt Ministries website) also share numerous Bible references that seem to go hand in hand with the “dispensational premillennialism view” (pre-tribulation rapture theory), if I understand correctly. In another of Zola’s booklets (perhaps the one on the 7 Feasts of Israel, or the one on the Feast of Pentecost), he points out how incredibly & miraculously similar the pregnancy timeline is with the Biblical Feasts, too. I hope that you are very encouraged, as I was, to read these excellent references. There is such a “fullness” in understanding the Jewish, Old Testament, & original Hebrew/Greek explanations of Bible words, in addition to understanding the “New Life” from the Holy Spirit–in Jesus, the New Testament, & realization of the Power in Jesus’ Blood & Name, as well as what He has done for us & what He will do for us!!! God is such a God of Order, & it’s so Awesome to learn more about His Story, through history, Bible stories & parables, & the Biblical Feasts/Divinely-Appointed Events. One thing is certain: we can surely Rest in His Sovereignty, & His Perfect Plan, whereby He offers us Jesus’ Righteousness in exchange for our sins, when we choose a relationship with Jesus–for the Assurance of our Salvation!!! Whatever timing God decides for His Return, will always be the Best for us, & we can faithfully trust Him!!! P.S. All Glory is the LORD’s; may we be Ready (keeping an abiding dependence on Jesus/filled with the Living Fountain of the Holy Spirit–by faith)!!!

    3. Shalom, Jeff.

      Thank you for your comments. We at FOI understand there are a variety of views concerning the timing of the Rapture. The Pretribulation view is the position FOI officially holds as a result of our own sincere search and study of the Scriptures. We certainly are not trying to shield other believers from other views. We encourage believers to search the Scriptures for themselves and come to their own conclusions. But because we have done our own biblical inquiry and come to our own conclusion, we, as an organization, will naturally emphasize and promote, as others do their own, what we believe the Scriptures to teach on the subject.

      For further information regarding our view on the Rapture, please see our resources at https://store.foi.org/search.aspx?searchterm=Rapture&searchtype=Any.

      For an evaluation of the Pre-wrath position written by a former FOI representative, Dr. Renald Showers, please see http://a.co/d/fL5pF3K.

      Thank you again, Jeff, for your comments and interest in FOI.

    4. Dear Jeff Steinman, To understand God’s Plan of the ages is not the exercise of a moment but of a determined and studious effort. The best way to get a hold of it is to
      obtain acopy of Dwight D Pentecosts book “Things to come”. Many argue that the new birth is not necessary but many know that it is an absolute!! Premillennailism is the same! May the Lord bless you for your keen interest!!

    5. Sorry Jeff, but I couldn’t disagree more with your comment: “The hyper-dispensationalist pre-tribulation rapture theory is objectively severely flawed with bad logic and numerous scripture distortions.” Like many others, I have studied this subject biblically for many years, and remain convinced that the position with the least “flaws” and the most biblical backing, is the pre-Tribulation Rapture. If you haven’t already done so, try reading John F Walvoord’s book: “The Rapture Question”, and particularly chapter 20: “Fifty arguments for Pretribulationism”.

  3. Read the entire Word of God asking the Spirit to lead you into the truth of Premillennialism, maybe you are chosen to know the Truth?

  4. Thank you for the teachings of millennium ,amillenium,and premillennial .please pray for me for god’s wisdom,guidance,protection and my health.please pray for my family and my financial breakthrough and healing.

  5. I think it is important to remember that whether your view is pre/post/ or amill/ neither view has nothing to do with your salvation. Granted there is appears that there is sufficient information in the Bible that could make one think of a preference over the other views. I admit I have vascilated in my thought process. Currently I take the view as premillennialism but I am also willing to say I may be wrong. Thank God my salvation is not dependent on one certain view. It is good for all of us to keep searching the scriptures and keep an open mind.

  6. Premillennialism- taking the view as dispensationalism. To explain further is I hold that there will be a catching up to meet our Lord in the air. Jesus then comes in the second coming in a physical body the to earth. There appears to be a difference between the church and Israel. All I know is we cannot put God in a box but some of these questions will be answered when He shows up but for many it will be too late. I understand God want us to understand these future things but some things are left rather questionable so we will always be seeking truth.

  7. It’s sad to me that certain preachers are confusing and sending fear through their flocks in saying the church will go one on one with the beast (since He who restraineth is taken out of the way). Some are even warning Christians not to take the mark of the beast lest we lose our salvation! Last I checked, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even angels! From our side of the fence, some are now purporting that the first five seals are not even inside of the tribulation period (7 years), and that God’s wrath begins at the 6th seal when Israel signs the covenant with the beast to avoid the scourge sweeping the earth. There is no need to work out this compromise with the “6th seal rapture” view–that is, we give them the fact that God’s wrath begins at the 6th seal and they give us the pre-tribulational rapture– all of the first five seals are a template used time and again by God with the ancient Hebrews; of the individual components involved He states that His fury in initiating them will rise from the bottom of Hell…sounds like wrath to me…(read Deuteronomy) The difference this time is that, after a brief interlude at the 6th seal, a new thing begins, namely, He surpasses His ancient template and enters into the uncharted territory that are the trumpet and bowl judgments, all of which are contained within the scroll that only The Lamb of God can open.

  8. Jeff, when do you believe the rapture will occur with regard to the tribulation? What scriptures do you offer to support your belief? Please teach us. Thanks. BTW, I definitely, without any doubt, believe in the pre-trib. rapture. Blessings.

  9. very complete and clear teaching on the millennial views. Thanks for that as I can refer folks to your article..just finish teaching on that and Replacement Theology in Ladies SS class at our church. Hope I can print your article.

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