I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Saturday, March 13, 2010



A. Method of Interpretation: the controlling methodological assumptions each position brings to the prophetic material.

B. Its Heritage: is simply seeking to point to the point in history when each perspective began to develop into a systematic framework for interpreting the “last things” in scripture and history.

C. The Millennium: refers to a period of time, mentioned explicitly in Rev 20:1—6.

D. The Kingdom of God: in the broadest sense is God’s reign through Jesus Christ (the NT never defines the kingdom, only describes it. See: Mt. 13, Mk 4, Lk 8).

E. Israel and the Church: this is specifically addressing the relationship (or lack thereof) between the ethnic, historical nation of Israel and the church of the NT era. Mostly concerning OT promises, prophecies, etc.

F. The Rapture: This term comes from the Latin word rapio in the Latin version of the Bible, called the Vulgate. It is referring to the saints being “caught up,” most explicitly mentioned in I Thess 4: 13—18.

G. After the Millennium: This category is obviously relative to how a particular position will define the millennium itself, and will be defined within the context of each respective position.

H. Popular Modern Proponents: The brief list of names at the end of each summary is to expose you to some of the more notable scholars that write for and from each perspective; to provide a place to begin, if you were to become interested in studying further, on your own, the options available.

I. The Tribulation: Mt 24:15—21. Amillennialism views this as already (pre-70 A.D.) and not yet, when it will be fully realized at the end of the age, just prior to Christ’s second coming. Generally speaking, Postmillennialists view this as purely a historical event that occurred in 66—70 A.D., although there will be a mixture of kingdom victory and persecution throughout the church age. Premillennialism is split. Generally, the Historical/Classical view takes a Post-Tribulation position of the Christ’s return (seeing the Rapture and the Second coming as two sides of the same event). The usual rule within Dispensational Premillennialism is that Christ will privately return for his church prior to a 7 year period of “great tribulation,” thus, they are Pre-Tribulation. However, there are those in both Premillennial camps that would maintain that the Rapture will occur mid-way through the Tribulation period; hence this is a Mid-Tribulation view.


A. Method of Interpretation: Grammatical—Historical

B. Its Heritage: This position has its roots in the first century, being taught by early church fathers: Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian and others (1st—4th centuries). Although eclipsed by Amillennialism for a largest part of church history following the 4th century, it has maintained a following and is still popular among many scholars today.

C. The Millennium: After an intense period of persecution and tribulation, Christ will return to institute an earthly 1000 year kingdom (some take this number to be literal; others as an indefinitely long period of time).

D. The Kingdom of God: The kingdom of God is already a spiritual reality in the church since Pentecost, yet will become a visible earthly reality during the millennium after Christ’s return.

E. Israel and the Church: The church is the fulfillment of Israel. Israel, nationally speaking has no major role in last things; the church inherits the promises of Israel.

F. The Rapture: Will be a public event were all believers, living and dead, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air immediately prior to the millennium. These will immediately return with Christ to judge the world and establish the millennial kingdom.

G. After the Millennium: At the end of the millennium Satan will be released for one final battle in which he will be defeated and judged. There will be a second resurrection; of unbelievers, who are judged. The eternal state follows.

H. Popular Modern Proponents: George Eldon Ladd, Wayne Grudem, Theodore Zahn, Robert Gundry.


A. Method of Interpretation: Strict—literal.

B. Its Heritage: Is a relatively new system, having its inception in the 1830’s, pioneered by J. N. Darby and further developed by C. I. Scofield (e.g., The Scofield Reference Bible). Due to the volatile climate of the Middle East; namely in the Holy Land, and the outstanding popularity of the Left Behind book and movie series this position is hands down the most widely held in America today, especially at the popular level.

C. The Millennium: At the end of the 7 years of great tribulation Christ will return to earth to establish a literal 1000 year, earthly reign from geographic Jerusalem. This period is to fulfill the OT promises to the nation Israel; including an earthly temple, the Levitical priesthood and much of the sacrificial system.

D. The Kingdom of God: Is the literal physical kingdom prophesied in the OT during which God will fulfill his promises to ethnic Israel. Because the religious leaders of Israel rejected their King (Christ) at his first coming, the kingdom was postponed until his second coming, after Israel has undergone a period of intense suffering (i.e., the great tribulation). The believers who come out of the tribulation shall enter and populate the earthly millennial kingdom.

E. Israel and the Church: Israel and the church are two very distinct entities, with two individual redemptive plans. The church age is a parenthetical time in God’s plans for Israel—largely unknown to the OT prophets.

F. The Rapture: Is a “secret” event which proceeds the 7 year period of great tribulation. Here, all believers from Pentecost until the tribulation will be “caught up,” taken to heaven, at which time the marriage of the Lamb will occur. Simultaneously, on earth, the Anti-Christ will rule. In the last three and a half years God will pour his wrath upon the earth in judgment.

G. After the Millennium: At the end of the millennium Satan will be released for one final battle in which he will be defeated and judged. There will be a second resurrection; of unbelievers, who are judged. The eternal state follows.

H. Popular Modern Proponents: Charles Ryrie, J. Vernon McGee, Lewis Chafer, Norman Geisler, John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey (i.e., The Late Great Planet Earth), Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (i.e., the “Left Behind” series).

III. AMILLENNIALISM (or Inaugurated Millennialism)

A. Method of Interpretation: Redemptive—Historical

B. Its Heritage: Beginning with St. Augustine (4th—5th century A.D.), this position became the dominant view of most of the church, being slightly modified and taught by the Protestant Reformers. With the rise in biblical theological interpretive methods today, many scholars are finding this position to be the simplest, yet most comprehensive view for accounting for the flow and progressive nature of God realizing his redemptive purposes for his creation.

C. The Millennium: Was inaugurated at the time Christ’s resurrection. The millennium is now, in the sense that Christ is ruling over his growing kingdom through the church while Satan is bound and restrained in a great degree. The kingdom is already a spiritual reality now, but not yet fully realized. It will be visible and physical after Christ’s second coming, in the new creation.
D. The Kingdom of God: A present spiritual reality, being participated in through faith in Christ. The kingdom will be visible, wholly pervasive and fully realized at the consummation.

E. Israel and the Church: The church is the eschatological fulfillment of Israel. The church is the realization of the OT hopes for Israel, redefining the people of God to include Jews and Gentiles without distinction.

F. The Rapture: At the end of the millennium (i.e., church age) believers will be “caught up” with Christ in the air to immediately accompany him in a royal procession, return to earth to judge the wicked and establish the new creation.

G. After the Millennium: At the end of the millennium (church age) Satan will be release from his restrained capacity and allowed to make war with the saints. Christ returns, defeats Satan and the rest of his enemies; ushers in the consummation (New Creation).

H. Popular Modern Proponents: John Murray, William Hendrikson, Anthony Hoekema, Gregory K. Beale, Meredith Kline.


A. Method of Interpretation: Covenantal—Historical

B. Its Heritage: Building off a theology of history taught by Joachim (12th cent.), some Protestant Reformers began to identify the recovery and expansion of the Gospel in 16th century Europe with the millennium mentioned in Rev 20. More contemporarily, the Industrial Revolution with all its promises of human possibility led to a revival in postmillennial thought. Human progress seemed unstoppable at the dawn of the 20th century; however, two world wars and the bloodiest century of human history has led many to abandon the notion of a “golden age” before Christ’s return.

C. The Millennium: Is understood to be a time in which the majority of the world would be Christian, thus, inaugurating a “golden age” where Christ would virtually rule the entire earth from heaven through Spirit filled preaching of the Gospel, after which Christ will return, the dead would be resurrected, judged and the eternal state ushered in.

D. The Kingdom of God: A spiritual reality experienced on earth through the expansion of the Gospel, and the conversion and Christianization of over half the world.

E. Israel and the Church: The church is the fulfillment of Israel. Israel, nationally speaking has no major role in last things; the church inherits the promises of Israel.

F. The Rapture: The rapture is simultaneous with the Second Coming of Christ; in most cases it is synonymous with the resurrection of believers.

G. After the Millennium: Christ returns; the dead are raised and judged, and the eternal state is ushered in.

H. Popular Modern Proponents: Gary North, Kenneth Gentry Jr., R. C. Sproul, Rousas J. Rushdoony, Greg L. Bahnsen.

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