Sunday, April 21, 2024
Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsJUST THINKING: I Am A Premillennialist

JUST THINKING: I Am A Premillennialist

I was just thinking about a text I recently received. I was asked if I believe in a premillennial return of Christ. My simple reply was, “I certainly do!” When it comes to the Word of God, I am a literalist. However, I am by no means alone in that belief. Some of the great theologians of history were/are as well. I must add that I also believe the Bible teaches a pretribulation rapture of Christ’s believer… but that’s another column.

The Premise

Things are not going to get better on our planet. Contrary to what some teach, people are not going to become so good that we will usher in the Millennium. In fact, the Bible (in II Tim. 3:12-13) says that, in the future, believers will be persecuted for living godly lives while evil people will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

There is coming a time of Great Tribulation on earth. It is described as “Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble” and is projected to be for a period of seven years. After that, Jesus will return as the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:11-16). He will then rule as King of the earth for a period of 1,000 years. Some say that the Word doesn’t mean an actual 1,000 years, but only a very long time. I will address that in a moment. While the Tribulation will be Israel’s ruin, the Millennium will be Israel’s restoration.

This is Not a New Belief

Contrary to what some are teaching today, premillennialism is not a recently developed perspective of eschatology. The belief in a 1,000-year reign on earth by the King of kings and Lord of lords is a literal, not symbolic, doctrine of God’s Word.

The naysayers regarding this coming event say that its beginning only dates back to 1830. However, history does not bear that out at all. There were those believers who lived much closer to the end of the first century when the Book of Revelation was written who believed and taught about a millennial kingdom. I am talking about 2nd and 3rd-century believers — not 19th-century Christians.

Writings from Those Early Believers

One of the earliest writers was a man named Papias (A.D. 60-130) who had been a pupil of John the Revelator. Papias taught that “there will be a millennium after the resurrection of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this earth.”

Polycarp (A.D. 70-155), like Papias, who was a contemporary of John, the writer of the Revelation. In fact, history records that he was a pupil of John. Polycarp was a resident of Smyrna and was most definitely a premillennialist.

Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165), who was Jewish, gave this testimony of his position as a premillennialist: “But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.”

My allotted space in this column will not permit me to list all the testimonies of the early believers, but I know that by far the majority of the believers in the first three centuries were most certainly premillennialists. Why? Because they lived so close to the time of the New Testament writers. It wasn’t until around the 4th century that Augustine began to teach an amillennial view of eschatology. That took hold and was predominantly taught until the mid-1300s.

The Bible is the Basis for Belief

While I believe the testimonies of the early followers of Christ are important, the Bible is our standard… our basis for true belief. As the centuries have passed, various individuals have come up with their own distorted views of eschatology. Time can most assuredly take its toll on history. Today there are those who are determined to rewrite the past. They are choosing to remove mention of the Holocaust, the Civil War and other events from our history books. Such has also been the effect on the biblical teaching of the bodily return of Christ and the material kingdom on earth for a period of 1,000 years.

The writer of Revelation was not told to mention in passing a long-time kingdom to come. He was told to speak of it six times in the short space of four verses. In Revelation 20, you can read of the following: 

• Satan will be bound for 1,000 years.

• He will not deceive the nations until the 1,000 years end.

• The dead in Christ will come to life and reign with the Lord until the end of the 1,000 years.

• The rest of the dead will not come to life until the end of the 1,000 years. Blessed are those of the first resurrection — they will be priests of God and Christ and reign with Him for 1,000 years. 

• Satan will be released from his prison after the 1,000 years conclude, to try to deceive the nations.

Six times a thousand years is mentioned. Is that an arbitrary number, an estimated amount of time? Was the 400 years of captivity in Egypt just a big number to represent many years? Was the 70 years of captivity in Babylon only a large amount of time and not a true rendering? If God stated those exact numbers then, why would He use symbolic numbers in these four verses? Because God is not the author of confusion. What He says, He means!

I was just thinking,I am truly glad to believe in the millennial reign of Christ with a fulfilled promise to Israel of 1,000 years of peace on earth under the King of kings and Lord of lords.

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