Premill? Amill? or Postmill? Part 2

Posted: March 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

This weekend I am preaching on Revelation 2-3 and 20-22 (a lot I know!) and I wanted to use the blog to deal with issues that I will not have time to address on Sunday night. 

When we get to Revelation 20 we read:

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who 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 for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Now the questions that have vexed the church, especially over the last few hundreds years, is, “Is the 1000 years literally 1000 years or symbolic of a very long time?  Will Christ literally reign, along with his followers, over the earth for 1000 years (or a very long  time) while everything else on earth continues on as ‘normal’ while Satan is bound in hell?  Or does this passage symbolically speak of the church age, which we are living in, but will end with another brief period of persecution before Christ returns?”

Three camps proposing three very different answers emerged within Christianity over the last few hundred years: the premill camp (Christ will return and reign for 1000 years alongside his followers over the earth,which will continue to be populated by non believers until the final judgment); the amill camp (this is all symbolic of the spread of the church until the return of Christ and there will not be a literal reign of Christ over the earth until the “new heavens and new earth.”) and; the postmill camp (the Gospel will spread until it exerts such an influence over the earth that it will be as if Christ is literally reigning and will be so until his literal return and final judgment).

What do you think?

The postmill camp was very popular among certain strands of Christianity in the 18th and 19th centuries but tragedies such as the Civil War, WWI, the influenza epidemic, WWII, the holocaust, etc. convinced many that things were not getting better and growing toward a Gospel centered Kingdom but getting progressively worse.

The premill camp appears to be the dominant influence within early Christianity and regained it’s influence thanks to the advent of dispensationalism (i.e., the Left Behind, pretrib rapture stuff invented by Anglican layman and attorney John Nelson Darby in the 19th century).   Although it should be pointed out that the earliest church leaders were Historic or Classic Premillennialists rather than Dispensationlists.  More on that later, but suffice to say that the earliest Premills did not believe in a pretribulation rapture or that the church age could be brokered into “seven dispensations.”

Finally, the amill camp gained dominance thanks the influential 5th century preacher/theologian Augustine who argued that the Old Testament promises to Israel were to be claimed by the church not Israel due to their rejection of Jesus. 

Pretty complicated, huh?

Take another look at Revelation 20 and prayerfully ask which one you think is best and I’ll be back with my two cents…for what that is worth.

Grace and peace.

  1. Nora says:

    Google “Copy of MacDonald’s Handwritten ‘Pretrib Revelation’ is Found!” And Joe Ortiz’s “End Times Passover” blog (3/9/10) is the first to air a facsimile copy of any part of it!
    If you are looking for arguments used by pretrib rapture teachers, Google “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy.”

    (above seen just now on the net)

  2. Hi, I liked your article, I to have seen the amill etc and where it coems from how the early christians adopted the greel allgorism means m which augustin has doen and the cov guys with post mill, the question I have is why is this so domiante inthe face of scripture, is man that scared that God might do something we can’;t control or a real love for the earth and an effort to twist the Rev 20, why?

    I can not agree with repalcement theology, either

    • Revolution says:

      Franz, thanks for stopping by. Agree to disagree. The idea that amill comes from anything other than an honest (and early) interpretation of scripture is a theory but not one that has won widespread acceptance even in conservative circles. I respect the historic premill approach and the amill approach and believe both have a basis in Scripture (although I lean toward the latter) but it is clear that premill dispensationalism is certainly a modern creation, which raises disturbing questions about the activity of the Spirit over the years.

      Again, thanks for stopping by. Grace and peace.

  3. Thanks for the reply, the point of interest for me was the orgin of amill tied to the 5 th century process agustine used? developed from or out of the philo etc. the catholic church goes with amill, than what of the other verses came to mind, such as the issue of replacement theology and other like views that seem to arise out of the changes toward amill or post mill, can we really use what a man who does not know the lord as a mechanism to influence the scriptures to this degree? it;s been on my mind seeing the nature of the greek philosphers to do this and influence earlychristians?

    I relaize mistake may take place but , how far does it go to make what we see no longer beleiveable, may bea real concern for many seeing all these systems man comes up with. thanks much.

    • Revolution says:

      Thanks again. My point was that it is only a theory that Augustine invented amillennialism in the 5th century and it is not a theory that has gained wide acceptance among scholars. Furthermore, the premill position runs counter to early Jewish interepretations of apocalyptic literature. Most scholars believe that early Christians were either classic or historic premills or amill. The new kid on the block is dispensationalism, which is essentially the product of the imagination of John Nelson Darby. Again, thanks so much for dropping by. Very interesting.

  4. True I have had to wonder on many occasions but historical accounts of the influence of the greek hellenism was strong, now with antioch more literal, I noticed basic knowledge of the differences in the two schools is hardly discussed among many christians.

    Average guy has no idea wherea lot of this comes out of, I prefer to think all of us are spirit led, asnd translate out of the same spirit therei written in,in the same spirit there written in, Holy spirit in us is God, this has led me to question numerous stands I took over the many years,and fell back to I must believe and do not need the greek logic to tell me what the spirit says? just a thought.

    Romans 11 was a huge issue for me in Bible school, some said it;s not the jews , wow, so what is going on I wondered? if that is not isreal than what is paul speaking of? part of last times theology so I pondered so much of this and had to ask myself, why does man have sucha hard time with what God will do seeing it;s all about him, and his glory. I felt aht is hard for man to grasp or except.

    sorry about the mis spell I am a diabetic, later at night things get off base scary, been loosing weight and hikingand bike riding, genetic issue seems like the gene is inall my brothers, thank you so much your kind and well informed I am pondering this with all the new changes in theology.

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