1.            Dispensational Premillennialism.


A complex series of comings of Christ that mandate God having two separate and distinct programs for history; one involving the nation of Israel and the other involving the church.

¸     This age ends in a “rapture” where Christ snatches the church from the earth

¸     A 7-year period of tribulation ensues during which the Anti-Christ arises and persecutes Israel

¸     Christ returns with his saints and establishes his 1000-year earthly reign

¸     Christ puts down a final rebellion, judges the nations, and ushers in the eternal state


This view is or fairly recent origin, having been construed and brought to popularity through the Plymouth Brethren in the 1800’s. At the heart of this view is the contention that there are two future comings of Christ. The problem is that the Scriptures which are used to try to present such a distinction to not lend themselves to it.



Second Coming

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven... (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky... (Matthew 24:30).

With the trumpet of God...(1 Thessalonians 4:16).

He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet (Matthew 24:31).

We who are alive shall be caught up together... (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

And they will gather together His elect from the four winds... (Matthew 24:31).

We... shall be caught up together with them in CLOUDS (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

They will see the Son of Man coming on the CLOUDS of the sky... (Matthew 24:30).

...if you will not wake up, I will come like a thief (Revelations 3:3).

The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (Matthew 24:44; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 and 2 Peter 3:10).

...the coming of our Lord Jesus WITH all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

...the Lord came WITH many thousands of His holy ones (Jude 14).


It seems as though the writers of the New Testament went out of their way to correlate the events of the Lord's return, even going so far as to deliberately use the same vocabulary and terms. There is no hint in the Scriptures that we are to understand these as separate and distinct events from one another. Unfortunately, this prophetic view has been recently popularized in the guise of a series of books of "Christian fiction."


2.            Historical Premillennialism.


Similar to the Dispensational scheme as outlined above, but without the separate “rapture” (this event is seen to be the same as the 2nd coming). Unlike its Dispensational counterpart, it does not hinge upon an acceptance of Dispensationalism nor does it mandate a separation between Israel and the church.


The problem that this view faces is in understanding the Kingdom to be limited only to a thousand years when 2 Peter 1:11 speaks of the "eternal kingdom." This problem is solved by maintaining that the 1000-year millennium is only the first phase of the eternal kingdom.


3.            Amillennialism.


Views the prophecies of tribulation and the kingdom as being fulfilled throughout this present age. Christ returns at the end of this age to usher in the eternal state. This view looks at Revelation 20 and sees it as symbolic language for the present continuing kingdom today. Satan is seen to be bound with reference to his ability to deceive the nations. It is for this reason that the gospel has gone out to all of the nations and there are today believers to be found in every nation.


This view answers the previous dilemma about the kingdom being an everlasting kingdom. Furthermore, it can view a passage like 2 Peter 3:10-12 at face value instead of insisting that this is an event taking place at the close of a 1000 year kingdom in which Jesus has ruled; a description that hardly sounds like "a thief."


4.            Postmillennialism.


This view sees the church spreading throughout the world and the Lord eventually establishing His kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. Christ returns at the end of the age to find a church victorious. Much of modern Postmillennialism is seen hand-in-hand with a 5th view known as Preterism.


5.            Preterism.


The word "preterist" is taken from the Latin word meaning "past." This view denies any future fulfillment of the book of Revelation and sees the events it describes as already having been fulfilled within the first century after Christ.


There are several different forms of Preterism. Full Preterism views all of the prophecies of the Bible as having already been fulfilled in their entirety since the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Full Preterism is a very recent innovation that has no adherents in any of the writings of the early church. Partial Preterism maintains a future return of Christ, but views His “coming in the clouds” as described in Matthew 24:29-31 as having been fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the fall of Jerusalem.


With regards to Preterism, I am reminded of the words of Jesus when He said to the disciples, "The days shall come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Look there! Look here!' Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day." (Luke 17:22‑24).


It seems to me that the Preterist is one who is pointing to the A.D. 70 event and saying, "Look there! Look here!" But there is going to be no mistaking the coming of the Son of Man when He finally returns. It is clear from a reading of the apostolic and church fathers that ALL of them expected a future return of Jesus Christ. It would be strange indeed if the entire church failed to understand the fulfillment of so many of the New Testament prophecies on such a major point.


Fundamental to full Preterism is the idea that there is no future physical resurrection of the dead. But the pattern for our resurrection is that of Jesus. The big idea presented in 1 Corinthians 15 is that Jesus arose from the dead. This was not merely some sort of spiritual resurrection. His resurrection was bodily and physical. Furthermore we are told that His resurrection serves as the paradigm for our own resurrection. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). He is the firstfruits and we are the “later fruits.”


When Paul came to Athens, he was mocked by the Greeks for believing in a physical resurrection. Such mockery would not have been forthcoming had he held that the resurrection was only going to be of a spiritual or mystical nature. But he went out of his way to side himself with the Pharisees who believed in a physical resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6-8).


One wonders whether the Full Preterist is completely consistent in his views. After all, most Full Preterists continue to partake of the Lord’s Supper in spite of the fact that Paul said that the eating and drinking serves to “proclaim the Lord's death UNTIL HE COMES” (1 Corinthians 11:26).





Historic Premillennialism

Dispensational Premillennialism


Context and genre are important interpretive considerations

Strong inclination toward literalism

Second Coming

Christ’s 2nd coming takes place after the millennium. This coming initiates a general resurrection, the judgment of al men, and the eternal state for believers and unbelievers

Christ’s 2nd coming takes place before the millennium

Christ comes in a rapture and then again after a 7-year tribulation to establish an earthly kingdom

Timing of the Kingdom

God’s kingdom is a present earthly reality that started with Christ’s first advent

There is a present reality to the kingdom, but this will give way to a future fulfillment of 1000 years

An earthly kingdom lasting 1000 years will be established by Christ after His 2nd coming

Nature of the Kingdom

The kingdom is spiritual in nature. It will grow to fill the whole earth

The kingdom is spiritual in nature.

The 2nd coming will establish a literal 1000 year kingdom on earth

The literal 1000 year kingdom on earth will be primarily Jewish in nature

Millennium Description

We are in the millennium now. It will slowly and progressively become a “golden age.”

We are in the millennium now. The millennium is the church age.

The millennium is future. Christ will reign with absolute control.

The millennium is future. The Old Testament Jewish economy will be restored.

Millennium Duration

A prolonged period of time greater than a 1000 year period. The 2nd coming follows the millennium.

Exactly 1000 years. The 2nd coming precedes the millennium

Satan’s Binding and Current Status

At Christ’s death and resurrection Satan was bound with respect to his ability to deceive the nations and prevent them from hearing the truth about God.

The future 2nd coming of Christ will cause Satan to be bound 1000 years. He is not bound now, but rules the kingdom of this present world.


Took place in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The church is in tribulation in this age.

A future 7 year tribulation will precede the 2nd Coming. The church will go through this tribulation

A future 7 year tribulation will precede the 2nd Coming. The church will escape this tribulation by being “raptured.”


The Rapture and the 2nd coming take place at the same time.

The Rapture precedes the 2nd Coming by 7 years.


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