future history 101 - -michael j. vlach, dispensationalism: essential beliefs and common myths p. 56

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  • Future History 101 Powell 68

    Future History 101 Part 7: The Millennial Reign


    + The period of time associated with Revelation 20:1-6

    Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and

    a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is

    the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the

    abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the

    nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released

    for a short time. Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were

    given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded

    because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had

    not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on

    their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the

    Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the

    1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is

    the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power

    over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will

    reign with Him for 1,000 years. -Revelation 20:1-6 HCSB

    + The Millennial reign is by far the most debated subject in Eschatology

    “A short passage in the book of Revelation has been the subject of vast

    eschatological investigation. It is the passage that speaks of a ‘millennium.’

    Whole systems of eschatological thought have been labeled and identified in

    accordance with the place the millennium holds within each system.”

    -R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus p. 193


    + Premillennialism

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    Pre (Before) Millennium (1,000 year reign)

    Premillennialism is the belief in a 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth will

    follow the Second Coming and precede the Eternal State (New Heavens and

    New Earth.)


    Premillennialism is the oldest view of eschatology according to church

    history. All of the early church fathers were premillenialists. The view was

    known as Chiliasm (Millennium.) The early church believed in an earthly

    kingdom reign of Christ following the Second Coming but preceding the

    Eternal State. See below the following comments by early church fathers:

    Clement of Rome (AD 30-100) and Justin (AD 110-165)

    “And the fact that it was not set of the seventh day equally with the other

    days, ‘and there was evening, and there was morning,’ is a distinct indication

    of the consummation which is to take place in it before it is finished, as the

    fathers declare, especially Saint Clement, and Irenaeus, and Justin the martyr

    and philosopher.”

    -Justin, Fragment XV comments by Anastasius. emphasis added

    Papias (AD 70?-155)

    “That there will be a period of a thousand years after the resurrection from

    the dead when the kingdom of Christ will be set up an material form on this

    earth.” -Papias, Fragments of Papias 3.12

    Irenaeus (AD 120-202)

    “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he

    will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem;

    and then the Lord will come from heaven and the clouds, and the glory of the

    Father, sending this man and those who followed into the lake of fire; but

    bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the

    hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance,

    and which Kingdom the Lord declared ‘that many coming from the east and

    from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’”

    -Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book V Chapter XXX. emphasis added Hippolytus (AD 170-236)

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    And six thousand years must needs be accomplished, in order that the

    Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day on which God rested from all this

    works. For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the

    Saints, when they shall reign with Christ, when he comes from heaven, as

    John says in his Apocalypse.

    -Hippolytus, On the HexaËmeron, Fragments from Commentaries. emphasis added

    Two Major Types of Premillennialism:

    Dispensational Premillennialism:

    Dispensationalism maintains a strong distinction between Israel and

    the Church. Popularized in the mid 1800s by John Nelson Darby and in

    the early 1900s by C. I. Scofield, Dispensationalism has shaped several

    generations of Pastors and Theologians (See Part 6: Old Testament

    Portrayal of Christ, Section C.) Classic Dispensationalism teaches that

    there are two separate covenant peoples of God: Israel and the church.

    The view of pretribulational rapture found its start in

    Dispensationalism. Dispensationalists see that the church must be

    removed for God to begin working with Israel as a covenant people

    again. Dispensationalists teach that once the church is raptured, the

    tribulation will begin along with the revelation of the Antichrist.

    “Dispensationalism is a system of theology primarily concerned with

    the doctrines of ecclesiology and eschatology that emphasizes the

    historical–grammatical meaning of Old Testament prophetic passages

    and covenants, a distinction between Israel and the church, and a

    future salvation and restoration of the nation of Israel in a future

    earthly kingdom.”

    -Michael J. Vlach, Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths p. 50. emphasis added “The pre-trip rapture view has traditionally been an important part of

    Dispensationalism. It may even be the most recognizable facet of

    dispensational theology.”

    -Michael J. Vlach, Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths p. 56

    Historic Premillennialism:

    Historic Premillennialism gets its name from the History of the Early

    church. Historic Premillennialism was the eschatology of the early

    church (the people closest to the Apostle’s teaching.) As it is probably

    obvious at this point in the work, Historic Premillennialism is the

    position to which I personally hold and believe. All of the rebuttals

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    given toward other positions in this work are offered from the

    Historic Premillennial position.

    On most major points Historic Premillenialists find themselves in

    agreement with Dispensationalists, but there are significant

    differences. The greatest difference is in the understanding of the

    covenant people of God. Historic Premillenialists argue that there is

    one not two covenant peoples. Historic Premillenialists do not believe

    that the church has replaced Israel (Replacement Theology,) rather

    they believe that gentiles have been grafted into the covenant

    promises with believing Israel. They also believe at the end of the

    seven-year tribulational period, Israel as a nation will be re-grafted

    into the covenant with gentiles and believing Jews, when they call out

    to Jesus as their Messiah.

    Because Historic Premillenialists do not maintain a hard distinction

    between Israel and the church, they do not hold to a pretribulational

    rapture. Historic Premillenialists see the church going through the

    Great Tribulation and being raptured just prior to the Second Coming

    of Jesus Christ, when God will reveal his wrath against unbelieving

    humanity. The posttribulational rapture was the position of the

    Church fathers.

    “The early church placed the return of Christ after the period of great

    tribulation. This is called a posttribulation position.”

    -Gregg Allison, Historical Theology p. 685

    Historic Premillenialists accurately cite there is no promise in the

    New Testament that teaches the church will not go through the

    Tribulation. The rapture is the resurrection of the saints of God, and

    Revelation 20:5 clear states that the Dawn of the Millennium will

    coincide with the “First Resurrection.” If the rapture (a resurrection)

    occurs at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, how could the

    resurrection at the beginning of the Millennium be called the “first.”

    Also, Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 confirms several things will

    happen before the rapture: the apostasy, the revelation of the

    Antichrist, and the Abomination of Desolation.

    The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were

    completed. This is the first resurrection. -Revelation 20:5 HCSB emphasis added

    Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being

    gathered to Him: We ask you, brothers, not to be easily upset in mind

    or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from

    us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has come. Don’t let anyone

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