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Amillennialism – The Rise and Fall and Rise Again Of a Doctrine

Amillennialism – The Rise and Fall and Rise Again Of a Doctrine

Without a Millennium

The Doctrine For The Majority

You would not know it by all the “Left Behind” hype, but the majority of Christians today do not believe in Dispensational Premillennialism (the belief that the Rapture will happen sometime before the Second Coming of Christ and His literal 1,000 year reign). Many Protestants forget that Catholic Christians still make up the majority of believers and they, in large part, hold to Amillennialism. We briefly touched on the history of how this doctrine came to dominance in the 5th century here, so I won’t retread that tire.

But let’s jump into what Amillennialism means and its possible implications…

The Nuts and Bolts

A Brief Look At Amillennialism

Theopedia has this definition:

Amillennialism (Greek: a- “no” + millennialism) is the view in Christian eschatology which states that Christ is presently reigning through the Church, and that the “1000 years” of Revelation 20:1-6 is a metaphorical reference to the present church age which will culminate in Christ’s return. It stands in contrast to premillennialism, which states that Christ will return prior to a literal 1000 year earthly reign; and postmillennialism, which states that Christ’s return will follow a 1000 year golden age ushered in by the church…

Although the term amillennialism is widely used, some prefer the term realized millennialism, saying it describes the position more accurately than the former, which emphasizes what they do not believe about the millennium, rather than what they do believe.

This doctrine emphasizes the idea that most of prophecy should be kept in its symbolic context and the promises of God to Israel should be spiritualized so that they are transferred to the Church. Therefore any promise that is given to physical Israel now applies to the Christian.

Since Amillennialism teaches that the 1000 year reign of Christ is purely symbolic – this means that is can last an indeterminate time. The doctrine contends that the period started at Christ’s resurrection and will continue on until His Second Coming. Satan’s power was also bound so that he could not prevent the spread of the Gospel (Revelation 20:3). But while Satan’s influence has been “bound” in that he cannot deceive the nations and thus hinder the Gospel, evil still has considerable sway in this period.

This means that while Christ is reigning through the Church presently, we have a type of dual reigning – that of Christ through the Church and Evil through the World. Realized Millennialism also states that at the end of the Last Days there will be a precipitous rise in wickedness and a Great Tribulation will come once Satan is loosed again on the world. This time will be followed by Christ’s Second Coming. This will usher the Great Resurrection of both the wicked and the righteous. Then comes the Great White Throne Judgment and the introduction of the eternal state of the New Heavens and New Earth.

Amillennialism Chart

Why Other’s Don’t Believe

The Problems with Amillennialism

If you have read my other posts, I am trying not to have a “dog in this fight.” I will try and keep neutrality, so that both the good and bad can be weighed. So here are the main points of detraction that people level against Realized Millennialism:

1. Satan Bound? (Revelation 20:3) For those living right now, and for that matter the last 2,000 years, it sure does not feel like Satan has been “bound.” His dominance is felt in almost every facet of our lives. Amillennialism clarifies this by stating that Satan is bound in the life of those living according to the will of God. But since millions of Christians have been martyred for their faith, others have been deceived into unbelief, and countless fractures exist in the Church today – if Satan is bound, it is a very loose binding indeed.

2. Non-Literal Thousand Years? (Revelation 20:1-9) Proponents of Amillennialism state that the 1,000 years is only talked about in one passage, so it is tricky at best to base a doctrine off of one Scripture. Best to keep it figurative unless you have more corroborating Scriptures.

Well, if you take 2 Peter 3:8 “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years” and Hebrews 4:9 “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” as prophecy – you could take this as confirmation that the “day of rest” will last a thousand years…

3. Spiritual Israel? Nowhere do we concretely see that God has completely abandoned physical Israel. In fact, Paul, a Jew himself, says in Romans 11:11-12 “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

So we see that while they have been temporarily rejected because they have rejected the Gospel, the rejection is not forever.

Wrapping Up

Tell me what your thoughts are. Do you take the prophecies literally or see a more symbolic meaning? Do you see the Bible teaching that the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation? Weigh in in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or Google +.

About The Author

Ken Mafli

is passionate about Theological Anthropology and has been studying the Bible, humanity, and how we relate to God for over 20 years.

Number of Entries : 53

Comments (2)

  • Matthew Abate

    Hi Ken,

    I stumbled across this article on your blog by pure happenstance. I’ve been working through the various views on Revelation. One thing that I must confess is a general reticence on dogmatic assertions. Your article seems to take the same approach, which I appreciate quite a bit.

    To answer a few of your questions, I believe that scripture teaches that the Great Tribulation is only three and a half years long, and that it’s synonymous with the 2nd half of Daniel’s 70th week. The church will be present on the earth while it takes place; however, we’ll be sealed for preservation according to Rev. 7:3-4 and 9:4. In all honesty, I go back and forth on the 2nd half of Daniel’s week either being still future or symbolic for the entire present, church age.

    When it comes to interpreting prophecy, I believe that a distinction needs to be made between literal and literalistic. For example, I don’t believe that there will be an actual army of locusts on the earth. Instead, I believe that the locust army of Revelation is a symbolic referent for Satan’s demonic forces exerting their force during the Great Tribulation.

    Here’s another example about interpreting prophecy. I see Ezekiel 37 as depicting the spiritual restoration (or salvation) of Israel as symbolized by the dry bones coming to life. In one sense, this could be applied to the resurrection of the just; however, I think the context of Ezekiel 37 requires that one interpret the chapter as pointing to the end time restoration of Israel as a people, a nation.

    Keep blogging,

    Matthew

    Reply
    • Ken Mafli

      Ken Mafli

      Matthew,

      Thanks for reading and the comment! You raise some interesting points – ones that I will mull over. I appreciate it!

      Reply

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