What Happens Next? Amillennialism

A look back to what we covered last week concerning premillennialism, in order to have a point of reference.

Different Ways to View Revelation

Historicists – draw parallels between John’s vision and significant historical events. They seek to place major events of history within John’s writing like, the rise of the papacy, the protestant reformation, etc.

Futurists –  interprets the book of Revelation as literally as possible. This view leaves little room for symbolism. In fact, symbolism is only considered when something cannot be understood in a strictly literal fashion. Therefore, for the Futurist, the vast majority of Revelation has yet to take place. Futurism is most concerned with the time and the signs immediately preceding the return of Christ, and the state of God’s people at that future point.

Idealists –  see Revelation through more of an allegorical representation of the types of things or events believers may expect in the time between the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom and its consummation. This story is of the struggle of the Christian church in the world, and God’s continued preservation of his people through it.

Preterists – approach to Revelation understands that most of the book was fulfilled in the decades immediately following the establishment of the church. Though the book of Revelation does briefly address the distant future, most notably the return of Christ and final judgment, the majority of the book is concerned with the original readers’ present reality. Therefore, from where we are sitting, Revelation describes much of what has already taken place (source).

Summary of the View

Amillennialism – literally translated means “no millennium”. This is a bit misleading. Amillennialist believe in a millennium of sorts, but not a physical, literal sense as premillennilalists do.

Instead, Amillennialist believe that Christ is presently reigning in the hearts of his people, the church (both living on earth and in heaven). Thus the reference to the millennium in Rev. 20 is metaphorical reference to Christ’s rule during the church age. Most simply put, church age = millennium.

What about the unfulfilled covenants made to Abraham and David?

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. – Rom. 9.6-8

David? Once again, the Amillennialist would say that this was fulfilled by Jesus.

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,“‘The Lord said to my Lord,“Sit at my right hand,35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” – Acts 2.29-36

While premillennialists hold to a distinction between Israel and the church, Amillennialist do not hold to such a distinction. Consider:

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. – Eph. 2.11-22

End Times Timeline

Rapture – occurs alongside the general resurrection, just prior to the Eternal State.

Tribulation – although tribulation and great tribulation will be encountered until the second coming, The Great Tribulation is believed to coincide with the fall of Jerusalem, thus Amillennialists place it in the specific years of 33-70AD, emphasizing The Great Tribulation from 66-70AD. Amillennialist thus are categorized as partial preterists, meaning that most of what is described in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24) was fulfilled during the fall of Jerusalem.

Antichrist – Amillennialist disagree about the exact nature of the Antichrist, some place him in and around the fall of Jerusalem (i.e. Nero), some say he is yet to come.

Signs of the times – Amillennials believe that there will be “ups and downs” throughout church history, but prior to the second coming there will be an increased separation between the people of God and the unredeemed. Persecution and apostasy will increase as Satan is loosed and allowed to cause a heightened attempt to destroy the work of God.

Benefits:

  • Simple
  • Doesn’t forget the big picture.
  • Avoids much of the complexity of a premillennial view of the millennium. (resurrected and non-resurrected people; the natural state.

Concerns:

  • over-spiritualizes eschatology. We read the rest of scripture in a more literal sense.
  • Rev. 20.4
  • Is Satan bound or not?

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