Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Amillennialism: A Word Direct From The Scriptures
by Tony Warren
INTRODUCTIONWhat position we take on the millennial reign of Christ's kingdom is very important to the Church. And despite the many voices of denial, eschatological agnosticism is akin to blindfolding ourselves to a large part of the scriptures concerning the kingdom of God. And it is doing so while endeavoring to preach on the nature of that very same kingdom. The reality is, whatever God has inspired written in His word is a revelation to us, and thus cannot ever be looked upon as a non-essential or unimportant. As faithful Christians we should have the mindset that all of God's word is essential and necessary for sound theology and spiritual growth in living to the glory of God in this world. This is the way that I believe we should approach eschatology.
Eschatology, or the study of the Kingdom of God in His plan concerning the last or final events of history, can be a very complex subject. However, it is also very spiritually profitable and rewarding for the conscientious Christian. The reason that this subject may appear rather confusing to some is the different scriptures that (when not considered circumspectly) often seem to support one point of view or another, are often challenged with strong and convincing retorts. And because many scriptures are used out of context and haphazardly (and yes, even deceitfully), they really don't prove what they are being purported to prove. Thus the end times are often viewed in a rather insular fashion, wherein parts of the scriptures are seemingly in conflict with other parts. As a result, we have competing groups with tunnel vision, unwisely building their eschatology upon their favorite passages, set apart from the big picture of the entire Biblical record.
The four major eschatological positions regarding Christ's Kingdom are called, Amillennialism, Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Praeterism (Preterism). Despite the objections by many theologians, these positions are biblically incompatible with each other. Therefore at best only one of these views can be the truth of scripture. And so it is incumbent upon those who desire truth, to search out the scriptures and earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. True understanding comes through the diligent study of God's word (2nd Timothy 2:15), via the Spirit, and is born of the faith of Christ. Nothing that God has planned and foretold in His word concerning the human race, is insignificant with regards to our sojourn on this earth. Nor can it be without some planned spiritual bearing on our lives. In other words, God didn't inspire the doctrines of the millennial reign of Christ to be penned and incorporated into scripture just to take up space. They are there because the Lord wants us to know about the things to come, and glean just how they are intimately identified with the body of Christ, the things that have been, and things that are. Thus, whatever is in God's word is basic, necessary, and even essential for living a good Christian life according to the divine purpose and will of God. The bible is the blueprint, the guidebook, and the revelation of what God has given us to know of these things. So in order to have a truly accurate understanding of eschatology, we must search these divinely inspired scriptures, rather than the dogmas and traditions of men. Whatever prophecy is recorded "within" scripture, is the true authoritative eschatology that God inspired. By the same token, whatever prophecies are from "outside" of the scriptures, are of personal opinion, and thus are an eschatology of private (personal) interpretation, supposition or speculation. As the prophet Joseph so rhetorically and wisely asked, "Do not interpretations belong to God? (Genesis 40:8)" ...indeed they do! Thus His word interprets His word, or as is commonly stated, "the Bible is its own interpreter."
With this basic "Principle" of sound exegesis in mind, I can tell you that Amillennialism is not a word that you will find in the scriptures. That is to say, unless you know exactly what the word delineates. Then you will discover that (like the word trinity), though it's not a word literally written within scripture, it is clearly a word that is used to define and describe the sound biblical doctrine that is. Therefore, what the word represents is taken "directly" from the pages of the word of God. What we will see in this study is that everything that Amillennialism has stood for is explicitly expressed on the pages of Holy Canon. And in this exposition, we will endeavor to show this conclusively, and without ambiguity. For what is today commonly called Amillennialism, is "nothing more" than what the scriptures themselves plainly declare. In its pure form, it is the undeniable and biblically validated truth that the prophesied coming of Messiah, the deliverance of Israel, the binding of Satan, the Peace, Safety, Government, Rule, Temple Building, Righteousness, Prosperity, Kingdom and Millennial Reign of Christ, has indeed already come. And if this is the truth, then the word Amillennial is simply the testimony to the witness of the word of God itself. It is nothing more than a declaration of God's kept promises, and their ultimate fulfillment in the extension of Christ's Kingdom of heaven, on earth.
Millennial PositionsSo that we can better understand the debate, we will start with a brief definition of the four major millennial positions in the Church today. Because in understanding these different eschatologies, we will get a better awareness of how each doctrine views the Church's mandate, plan, and final victory in accomplishing this mission.
AmillennialismWe should understand that in all these different views of eschatology, it is not simply a matter of opinion about chronology, it is actually a matter of a different hermeneutic, and of different type of exegesis. These systems differ not only in their methodology, but also in the way those who hold to them understand biblical history and its examples. So in coming to an understanding of what each eschatological doctrine teaches, we come to better understand the very structure, purpose, and nature of the Kingdom of Christ, and His/Our reigning within.
The word millennium is a Latin term meaning one thousand years. It's from the root words [mille], meaning thousand, and [annum], meaning years. In Greek (yes Greek, not Latin), placing the letter "a" before a word negates the word. So a-millennial literally means "no millennium."
However, we should note that contrary to false claims, Amillennialists do in fact believe there is a millennial reign of Christ, but not on an temporal physical throne upon this sin cursed earth. They believe that the Messiah has come to reign upon the throne of David in the Kingdom of heaven. So the word Amillennial itself is literally accurate as it is understood to mean, "no millennial reign on an earthly or worldly throne." Use of this word in any sense other than a "no future earthly kingdom reign," would be a misnomer.
This view of eschatology maintains that the present reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4), began with His ascension to the throne of God, and that this is what the apostle Peter was speaking about in Acts 2:30-32. Christ instituted His kingdom reign by His death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne of David, and it will be fully realized and manifested in heaven at His second coming.
The Amillennial Christian does not support the idea that the Kingdom of Christ is an intangible, but that it is incontrovertibly real, effectual, substantive, factual and essential. The kingdom is of a spiritual, rather than worldly (earthly) or carnal nature. They believe that the Kingdom of Christ on earth is now being extended and advanced through the preaching of the gospel of Christ, by His witnesses.
By contrast, the term Premillennialist (or Chiliasm) identifies Christians who believe that the thousand year reign spoken of in Revelation chapter 20 is earthly or physical in nature. It is where Christ literally returns to earth as potentate, to set up a temporary kingdom where the saints will rule with him. Pre-millennial literally means before millennium, or before the thousand years. This doctrine teaches that sometime in the future Christ will return to earth, but will not execute the last judgment at once. He will begin a literal one thousand-year reign upon a physical throne in the Middle East. In this eschatology Christ will reign and govern physically from Jerusalem, and peace will have rule on earth from the nation of Israel. Generally, Premillennialists believe in two separate and unequal programs. A national (rather than individual) salvation plan for the genetically Jewish people, and another separate plan for everyone else (any non-Jew or Gentile). They generally hold that future redeemed Israel will be the center of government and the spreading of the gospel to the nations of the world. In this, they generally reject the contention that Christ has already come to redeem and deliver Israel, and that He is already presently the center of rule and Government as prophesied.
There are different forms of Premillennialism (Dispensationalism, Historical, etc.), but in general, they do not believe that many Old Testament scriptures that were obviously fulfilled, are "completely" fulfilled. They often take the position that fulfillment in Israel (if any) is incomplete, and the pertinent scriptures dealing with this have yet a further future "literal/physical" fulfillment. For example, some Premillennialists look for Elijah to literally/physically come back to prepare the way for Christ's rule, because they don't believe that John the Baptist "completely" fulfilled that prophesy.
Another view that has seen some increase in popularity within some Reformed circles recently, is Postmillennialism. This is the view that the millennium will produce a future golden age of the Church that will precede the second advent of Christ. They (as do the Amillennialists) offer up the scriptures that declare that Christ is ruling in His kingdom now, and that the kingdom of God is now being extended through the servants of that kingdom preaching the gospel. But they differ greatly from the Amillennial view in that they believe that at the end of this kingdom age, there will be an age of righteousness and worldwide turning to Christ.
The word "post," means after, and thus Post-millennial identifies those who believe in the return of Christ after this future golden age or period. This belief system usually holds that this golden age of the Church will feature the exercise of Christ's power and authority demonstrated in this world, whereby its rulers will be hindered in their wickedness. The influence of Christianity will excel and spread until a future time when most of the world will be in obedience to God's laws. Those who hold to this view generally expect that after they have created this just, God-fearing society, Christ will then return, and the judgment and resurrection will occur.
The Praeterist (or Preterist) view means it's past fulfillment. Praeterit is Latin and means Pre (before) in fulfillment. i.e., [L. praeteritus, gone by]. It is expressing time fulfilled. There are many different types of Praeterists including, partial and full. They generally believe that most or all of Bible Prophecy has already been fulfilled in Christ, and the on-going expansion of His Kingdom. They hang this belief of Past-fulfillment on many different verses, including the witness that Jesus and his apostles said that his coming (or presence) and the end of all things, would occur soon (they surmise, in that physical generation).
Most full Praeterists spiritualize the majority (or all) of Matthew chapter 24 as having already taken place in the past, and often believe that Christ actually returned in 70 AD, fulfilling the prophesy of the second advent.
Of all these diverse and adverse millennial positions, only the Amillennial view can be "totally" supported in all of its pertinent declarations concerning the kingdom with unambiguous scripture. Not with a scripture that we claim should be interpreted to mean these things, but scripture that actually says them! Of course, I fully realize that this is a bold statement from which I should expect skepticism and cynicism. But in this study we will go through the verses one by one to prove that this is the truth. For we all know that making these bold declarations is the easy part, but an "undeniable" defense of them requires the unquestioned "unadulterated" witness of scripture. That is what we shall provide.
Interpretive Liberty or LicenseSome of the critics of Amillennialism joy in labeling it a pessimistic view of God's kingdom. But nothing could be further from the truth. Postmillennialists in particular often charge that the Amillennialist does not believe that the world as a whole will be evangelized or discipled. This is a false and indefensible charge. We most certainly do believe that the whole world will be evangelized, but in the exact same manner as God says Christ came to save the whole world. I.e., as God defines the terms, not as man does. The problem is that there are those theologians who confuse pessimism with a scholarly and biblically sound view of the fate of the world. This is a view in full agreement and accordance with the whole Bible. There are no "pie in the sky" theological theories of a temporal earthly glory in the end of the world in true Amillennialism, only the realistic and scriptural view that Christ's Kingdom triumphs by the spread of the gospel that all of the elect are saved. Its glory is in the realization that many will "overcome the world" and be translated into the kingdom by the blood of Christ. We don't triumph by converting everyone (or nearly everyone) in the world, nor did our God ever prophecy conversion of the whole world that way. The Church was commissioned to call a remnant whom the Lord has Chosen, "out of" the world. It was not commissioned to create a righteous world. Rather, that in the success of the Church "calling many out" of the world unto the Kingdom, Christ's Kingdom increases exponentially. The advancing of Christ's Kingdom was never prophesied to be such that the Church would one day make the world righteous. It was prophesied that the Messiah would make righteous an elect remnant from the world, whom God would call through preaching. In this most obvious of truths is found our unfailing optimism, and our unshakable faith in the ultimate success of the Church age. It is a success not defined by any misunderstanding of changing the world, but in that we successfully call a remnant in the world "to change." This is not the pessimism charged by many Postmillennialists, it is the very same "good news" of the gospel message, which has been preached for centuries. It wasn't pessimism then, so it cannot be pessimism now. Selah!
- "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."
The Evangelization of the world is not God's plan, except as it is defined by the measured Choosing "of a remnant" from every nation of the world. Christ came to save the world, not everyone in the world. Again, that's not pessimism, that's the optimistic faith in our assurance that Christ indeed will build His Church, even in the midst of this desperately wicked world. God forbid we should call that plan pessimism. On the contrary, we are confident that Christ will successfully build His Church, and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. He's done that for the last 2000 years. The commission of the Church has always been to spread the gospel and advance the Kingdom of Christ, as so plainly illustrated in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:13-25). And unless Christians from the time of the cross until today have labored in vain, it never was, and it never will be pessimism. Those kinds of charges are simply another form of ad hominem rhetoric. They are disingenuous accusations made simply for effect. The implication being that those who do not believe as they do, do not believe God's righteous Kingdom triumphs. This is blatantly false, but vain accusations are used this way in a futile attempt to defeat plain scripture concerning the end time period.
- "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;"
Humanistically speaking, it would indeed be very easy to offer a rosy unrealistic outlook on the world, but it would also be unjustifiable from the scriptures. There has always been the evangelization of a chosen few, a remnant of the world that is made righteous. And the closer to the end of the world that we come, this remnant will become smaller than ever. Because Satan will be loosed from the chains of his pit onto the world to deceive. The work of the Church is to spread the gospel message to a world that is desperately in need of it. Its task is to shed light upon a world that will suffer the wrath of God. To bring a spiritual peace to a world that isn't ever going to have earthly peace, because the heart of mankind is desperately wicked. The world isn't going to get better, it will get (and has gotten) progressively worse, until the Lord returns to a world where love of God has grown so cold that there is rampant Apostasy.
It's a rhetorical question illustrating the bankrupt nature of the world when Christ returns. He will return to a world where iniquity abounds because love of God has grown cold, and man in his arrogance thinks to rule himself in God's house. He will return to a world that has had Satan loosed upon it as judgment. He will return to a world where the Dragon has gathered the nations from the four corners of the earth together against God. This is the end of the matter. It will not be a golden age of worldwide bliss or of spiritual awakening of the world, but a world that is come under judgment of God. There will be faith found only in the remnant.
- "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
While the Postmillennial view appeals to the humanity of man, the Premillennial view appeals to the traditions of man. It is basically an offshoot of the old Judaic tradition in the law-bound beliefs in nationalism, earthly governments, and genealogical glory. When studied carefully, it is both inconsistent and contradictory. Unfortunately, like its namesake Judaism, Premillennialism continually denies God's fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies (which scripture clearly declare have already been fulfilled).
Amillennialism gives us an authoritatively consistent and biblically tenable doctrine that doesn't undermine God's Word of fulfillment. We need a recognition in the Church that when God's Word says something is fulfilled (completed), then it's fulfilled. And this makes perfect sense, because it testifies to the emphasis of God's Word on the inward man, the spiritual nature of Messiah's Kingdom, and of those who reign in it. It confirms that we are citizens of that kingdom (now), as prophesied, and presently reign in true peace as kings and priests unto our God. Not in a carnal or political government in the middle eastern city of Jerusalem, but in a spiritual government that is upon Christ's shoulders. We are part of the rule of a spiritual city from above. Earthly Jerusalem remains in bondage, rejecting this rule of Christ.
We are ruled in a government wherein we are subjects who obey the laws thereof "in Christ," who rules over us. Amillennialism is the Historic Protestant Church view in which "every point" can be unambiguously justified with scripture quoted word for word. The only detail that can even be honestly debatable as not "explicitly" stated in scripture, is the spiritual length of the time of the one thousand years. And even this belief is made abundantly clear by the context, the nature of the millennium, and other scriptures that deal with the subject of the reign of Christ. i.e., when compared with all other scriptures, it is seen to be God breathed and the only possible way that the one thousand years can be understood.
- "For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
- But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all."
To use an analogy, if you are told to go south for ten miles, then west for ten miles, and then north ten miles, it doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that your position must be ten miles west of your starting point. Even though you are not explicitly told that you are ten miles west of where you started, it is the "only" possible place you can be, considering your movements. Likewise, God has given us all the information needed to understand what is the New Covenant Millennial reign of Christ, spoken of in Revelation chapter twenty. The problem is not that the evidence is not there, the problem is in Church indoctrination and traditions. And ironically, many theologians that claim they take the scriptures very literally, have accused those of us who literally follow these scriptures concerning the reign of Christ, of following tradition instead. Nevertheless, we know that:"If God inspired it written, it cannot be man's private interpretation, it's God's explanation. And if God, through His word, reveals what was hidden, it cannot be man's personal creation, it's God's light of illumination."A fundamental principle of sound hermeneutics is that no scripture can be looked upon as "not true." God's Word is inerrant so that even the difficult passages that we may not yet understand, we must unquestionably receive as true. Our understanding has to be brought into agreement with what is written. e.g., John the Baptist said He was not Elijah (John 1:21). But Jesus said if we will receive it, this was Elijah which was prophesied to come. Which declaration of scripture is the truth? Is this a mystery? The answer is, both statements are truth, because John was not the Elijah who lived years before, but He was the Elijah that was prophesied to come before Christ. So shall we wave our hands in the air and condemn Christ for "spiritualizing" a clear prophecy calling for Elijah to come before Christ? Of course not, but this is often how Premillennialists react to God's Word when it is to be understood spiritually.
Thus the answer is not in stubbornly insisting that Elijah literally be reincarnated in another body to fulfill scripture according to tradition, but in our "receiving" the testimony of the whole of scripture. We discern by the Spirit of God that the prophesy was for one to come walking in the same spirit and power that Elijah (Elias) did. Both the witness of John, and the witness of Jesus was true. But scripture has to be defined and interpreted by God, not modern day teachers or by traditions. Let God define His own terms. As righteous Joseph declared of mysteries:
- "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.""..do not interpretations belong to God?"Indeed they do. So we must read scripture with the mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:16), that we humbly receive what God has inspired written, rather than choose to ignore it or twist it for our own purposes. It should never be about what we think is right, but about what God says.
Historic MisconceptionsThere is the common misconception by some Christians that Augustine (Augustin, AD 400) was the author of what is today called the Amillennial view of the kingdom of Christ. Others credit Origen (3rd century) as the chief architect of this teaching. But neither of these conclusions are true. We should be careful to understand that the term Amillennial was not known to either Origen or Augustine. While it is true that these people were somewhat instrumental in bringing this teaching back to the forefront of the Church of their day, this doctrine by no means originated with them. As we will see, it is straight from the pages of scripture. So in the same way that the Reformation was the restoring of doctrines faithful to scripture (not the start of them), likewise Augustine's noted preaching of what the scriptures said about the Kingdom was in response to teaching error. It was not the beginnings of a new teaching, it was the returning to what Christ taught, just as the reformation was. What is commonly called Amillennialism is as old as the scriptures themselves. And though obviously not known by this name, it has always been the "biblical teachings" of the Church. Of course, man has a penchant to label everything in order to separate (for better or worse), but the truth signified by this label is found clearly on the pages of Holy canon. And not that consensus validates anything, but nearly the entire Protestant Reformation, the faithful revitalizing and restoring of the Church to leaning upon the authority of scripture, took a distinctly Amillennial view of eschatology. Looking at the Protestant Churches which grew out of that Reformation, you would never know this by where Protestant eschatology has fallen in our day. Reformation leaders like Martin Luther held to the present kingdom view of the thousand years of Revelation chapter twenty because it was delineated on the pages of scripture. He did not blindly accept it because of Church tradition, he recognized that the millennium reference was to all of New Testament Church history. He found by scripture that it could not refer to a thousand-year earthly event. The truth is, Nearly all of the Great Christian Reformers, from John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, to Philipp Melanchthon (to name a few) understood the scriptures to teach what we today call Amillennialism. These men believed it not because they were taught this, but because they believed in sola scriptura, they were thereby convinced of its sound "scriptural foundation." And anyone who insists that nearly all the Reformers were Amillennialists simply because they were blindly following tradition (as some have hypothesized), doesn't really understand much about the Reformation, nor about these reformers.
Amillennialism was always the majority view of the Historic Protestant Reformed Christian Church. It's only relatively recently that Protestants (to a large degree) have forgotten their Historic Reformation roots which were grounded solidly in "sola scriptura" eschatology. Sadly, most Protestant Churches today have strayed from that faithfulness, and fallen into the snare of Premillennial Dispensationalism, and other unsound doctrines.Proverbs 22:20The faithful men of old who wouldn't go beyond the marks or boundaries of what the scriptures said, today, seem rare breeds. Church leaders in greater and greater numbers appear to judge by supposition, assumptions and Church tradition. They seem to depend upon what their theological teachers theorize, or judge by what seems right in their own eyes. They have gone outside the boundaries and guide posts of scripture. The early Protestant Reformers knew the error of this, and judged the millennial reign between the ancient landmarks of scripture. I.e., they defined it by what was in God's Word, not by popular opinions or books. It is not insignificant (as some would have you believe) that the early Reformed Protestant Church almost exclusively held this eschatological view. These were not men who blindly followed tradition (as their break from the Roman Catholic Church demonstrated), and so for detractors to claim that they were merely following Catholic tradition, shows either an inherent ignorance of these men, or an acute bias and lack of Historical objectivity.
- Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set."
Many of the Christians in our day do not really know Protestant Church history, and so are very often quite surprised (even shocked) when they discover that nearly all of the Protestant Reformers and the entire Reformed and Lutheran traditions were (what today is called) Amillennial. The reason that this history is not widely known in Christendom is primarily because the advocates of Premillennialism today so dominate Christian Radio, Books, and TV, that people easily get a biased and warped view of Church history and theology. And unfortunately, they are deluged with half-truths, diatribes against stated and commonly understood scriptures, and even deliberate distortion of the Amillennial teaching. Moreover, Amillennialism has suffered from the failure of Reformed Church writers to defend the position against those who label the position heretical and anti-Semitic. As a result of this neglect, there are a great many people who only know Amillennialism by what self-serving Premillennialists and Postmillennialists tell them it is. Which in most cases is unbiblical, misleading, and very often deliberately inaccurate.
In addition, some theologians today put forth the claim that early church history (before the Reformation) is that Premillennialism (called chiliasm at the time) was the prevailing view of the Church until the introduction of Amillennialism in the fourth century. This is neither an innovative tactic, nor can it be proven. Many scholars have studied and written on this issue and shown it to be false. Included on this list are many respected theologians such as Alan Patrick Boyd, graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Louis Berkhof, D.H. Kromminga, Philip Schaff, Ned Stonehouse, and W.G.T. Shedd. Alan Boyd declared boldly that the best that can be said of the early Church fathers is that they were "seminal Amillennialists." .
That there were a few early professing Christians holding to a Chiliast eschatology is not debated. Men like Barnabas, Papias, and Irenaeus held to this view. But it is also very clear from their writings that they didn't have a learned or sound understanding of eschatological scriptures. For example, Barnabas incredibly believed that the events of his day were the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel (7:7-8) concerning the little horn and the ten kingdoms. Their eschatology is by and large a simplistic layman understanding born out of a naive form of "literal at all costs" exegesis.
No one should really look to men to form their doctrines anyway, we should look to the Word of God for what is correct. But I only include these facts to illustrate that the prevailing view that the historic early church was Premillennial is quite misleading and unproven. And they are quite often applying the name Premillennialism to the historically traditional Old Testament Judaic belief that an earthly Messiah would come to reign in Israel. After the cross, this Old Testament tradition found its way into some parts of the early Church, as did many other Jewish fables (Titus 1:14; 1st Timothy 1:4; 2nd Timothy 4:2-4). These fables about an earthly reign for the nation Israel, where Christ would come back to earth as a man, was the lifelong dream of the Jewish nation. However, this was not what the prophesy truly declared. And that is why Israel missed recognizing Christ at His first advent. And Dispensational Premillennialism is just a modern day name for the same old doctrines of Chiliasm, or Judaism.
Just as Amillennialism was not called amillennialism until relatively recently, yet the doctrine is as old as the Church, Likewise, Premillennialism was not called Premillennialism until recently, but this doctrine is likewise as old as the Church. Because its foundation is in the expectations of the old Jewish tradition of a coming worldly kingdom advent. History reveals that Chiliasm (or what has become known today as Premillennialism) was simply a rebirth or offshoot of the Old Testament Judaic Kingdom beliefs cloaked in New Testament apparel. Simply a modification and continuation of the very same erroneous doctrines and misconceptions about the Messiah, His Government, Reign and Peace, that Israel harbored when Christ first appeared unto them. Author William H. Rutgers said in his thesis, "..that chiliasm roots in this particularistic Judaic Apocalyptic mold cannot be gainsaid"  The truth is that Chiliasm (the age old belief and expectation of the Jews that the Deliverer's kingdom is of this world), was really not considered important enough for the Church to counter until the time of the outbreak of the chiliasts (literally, 1000). It was not the predominant doctrine.
This word Chiliasm historically took on the added meaning of a time of universal peace when the downtrodden would prosper. This of course due to the fact that the Jewish tradition held (and still holds) that this prophesy of peace was an earthly peace, rather than an inner Peace with God that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7). Their view was that since the pattern of six days in God's creation process was followed by a day of rest, likewise this pattern carried over into the Kingdom. Namely, after six thousand years of history there would then be 1000 years of peace (rest). This belief was thought to be supported by the scripture that says 1000 years is as one day (2nd Peter 3:8). As the 6000 years came and passed, this has of course been proven inaccurate. These teachings were obviously in error.
The Chiliasts of the middle ages who are so proudly embraced as the forerunners of Premillennialism by many theologians, were generally a sect of revolutionaries with visions of grandeur in the misconception of a literal kingdom Israel in which Christ would physically return to the earth to reign. This compromise (blending Old testament Judaic traditions and beliefs of a coming earthly Messiah establishing a political government, with New Testament Christianity that Messiah reigns 1000 years) was an accommodation to Judaic carnal ideas. They (as the nation of Israel before them), refused to accept that Messiah had already established His Kingdom in everlasting Peace, and delivered His people from bondage by His death and resurrection. These early ideas about the millennial reign are rooted in these same erroneous Judaic traditions, rather than in sound hermeneutics that deal honestly with New Testament truths.
In times of severe persecutions or despair, there would be those who would arise again with this interest in Chiliasm, which became their hope under trying times. The Chiliast zealots believed they were going to take up arms and overthrow the government physically, to make way for the coming king. It was only "after" these heresies began to grow in the Church, that Augustine and others considered the Chiliast doctrine important enough to speak out about it, to restore the major schools of thought in what is now known as Amillennialism. The very same "restoring" or returning to sound Biblical principles which characterized the Reformation.
Augustine's exhortation to the Church to understand the millennial kingdom in the light of God's Word rather than worldly or carnal rules and thrones, for all intents and purposes sent Chiliasm to an early grave. Calling this, "a doctrine of worldliness," His testimony that the scriptures bear witness that the Church is the spiritual kingdom of God upon the earth, and that Christ was presently reigning on His throne, galvanized the Reformation and most all of the then Christian world to this view. The fact is, the only Premillennialists of the period of Protestant Reformation were radical reformers . So this belief was for all intents and purposes non-existent in Protestant Reformation times. And most all of the Church creeds and confessions are distinctly Amillennial, including two of the preeminent creeds of the early Church, the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles' Creed reads "He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead," and the Nicene Creed reads, "shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end." In these creeds we see both the judgment and the resurrection takes place at his second advent, and that Christ's Kingdom is not temporal (literally 1000 years) but everlasting. Even the Lutheran Augsburg Confession contained a rejection of the Premillennialism of the Anabaptists. John Calvin condemned historic Premillennialism as a theory that makes the rule of Christ a temporary and transient kingdom, which negated the true hope, which is seen in the eternal Kingdom. So this tradition soon died out as Reformers faithful to scripture almost universally taught what we today call Amillennialism. The second Helvetic Confession (1566) specifically condemned Premillennialism as being "Jewish dreams." This eschatology was clearly seen as incompatible with scripture, and was as a dead issue for the historic Protestant Church of the day.
Sadly, it was revived after being delineated by Baptist layman William Miller  in the early and mid-1800's. In the late 1850's John Nelson Darby  put forth a new form of this Premillennialism, calling it Dispensationalism. In this was taught that God interacts with man in epochs (periods of time) or dispensations. This view was brought into the mainstream by Cyrus Scofield with the publication of his "Scofield Reference Bible." Many others, getting ideas from his bible, wrote their own conclusions about it, one building on the writings of another, until we have the Dispensational doctrine in its present flavors today. After the rise of these errors in the first half of the nineteenth century, Dispensational Premillennialism finally gained general recognition, and eventually domination among Protestants.
In our day, Christians have been told over and over again by Premillennial authors (and their advocates) that God has a special love for the Jewish race, no matter what evil they might do or how they may continue to deny God's Anointed Christ. This (besides being in direct contradiction to God's own written Word), makes no biblical sense. Scripture makes no such claim. As it is written, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel -Romans 9:6". Clearly, there is individual salvation, not national or racial salvation. The bottom line of this doctrine is that it teaches that a person's racial descent (being physically Israel's seed) makes them God's chosen People. I.e., merely by being born of that blood, and regardless of lifestyle, faithfulness or obedience, they are deemed chosen people by genealogy. Israel (to these theologians) is a matter of race or ethnicity, and not faith in God. Again, in direct contradiction to all that God stands for. The truth is that all Israel is not Israel, and all Jews are not Jews. God has declared that He will define Israel, and men in their pride and arrogance have no part in that defining. Truly, if Christ makes the captivity of Israel free, then the Kingdom of God has come, and those who wait for another kingdom of Christ, are waiting in vain.
What is the Kingdom of God/HeavenThe theme of the Kingdom of God is found in both the Old and the New Testaments, and it embodies the divine purpose of God for man in heaven and earth. The Kingdom is spoken of both as a present realized rule and reign, and also from the perspective of being our future habitation. There the saints will spend eternity with their Christ in His Kingdom. Using an analogy, it would be as if you received an inheritance from one who has died. By law the inheritance is yours from the moment of death. But when you take possession of the inheritance left you (days, weeks, months or years later), that can also be spoken of when you received the inheritance. Likewise, Christ died and left us the inheritance of the Kingdom. It is lawfully ours right now. Yet it is also reserved for us undefiled in heaven (1st Peter 1:4). So we both realize the kingdom now, and shall receive it as the purchased possession at the consummation. There are practical examples in scripture of both these senses of inheritance. The kingdom is spoken of as a "present realized reign" in passages like 1st Corinthians.
1st Corinthians 15:24
Here the Kingdom of God is represented in the body of Christ. We reign as Kings and Priests unto God on earth "now" because he dwells within us, and we are His representatives on earth. We are the body of Christ. Therefore, the Kingdom being spiritually within us, when the end comes and we are caught up together to be with the Lord, that is the delivering up of the Kingdom to God that 1st Corinthians speaks of. As is written, we are kings and reign in Christ's kingdom now, and will also reign with Him in eternity.
- "Then cometh the End, when He shall have delivered up The Kingdom to God, even the father.."
- "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
- And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen".
So God's Word declares plainly that we are companions in the "Kingdom of Christ," because we collectively make up His body, and He rules over us, and governs us. This makes us part of the Kingdom of God on earth. There are many who have the misguided idea that the Kingdom of Christ will come as an earthly reign, and be established over in the Middle East city of Jerusalem. But God has always made it clear that His Kingdom doesn't come that way, because it is not of this world. In other words, it is not that type of Kingdom.
- "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."
The kingdom of God is not "over there" in the middle east, it is within us because Christ is within us. He is the Kingdom, and we are the body of that kingdom on earth. It's not a Kingdom that can be seen here, or in once holy locations like Jerusalem, nor could it be such an earthly Kingdom after the fulfillment of "that" shadow or type by Christ. He is the true of whom these types foreshadowed. Everyone who is Saved has a part in the Kingdom by being in Christ, and Christ in them. That's what Christ meant when He said that the kingdom doesn't come with observation, it was within them. And even as Christ was talking about this as He told the Apostles that He gives them the keys of the Kingdom, and whatsoever they loosed "shall have been" loosed in heaven. It's the bringing many into the Kingdom by the preaching of the gospel, where God's will is done on earth, as it is in Heaven. That's the hallmark of the Church. They do God's will on earth by the promulgation of the gospel. It is with this that they loose and bind, and it is this gospel which is the keys to open and shut the Kingdom. We were given the power of the gospel (Acts 1:8) when Christ ascended to heaven, and the Kingdom of Christ on earth is being extended by the preaching of Word. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
- "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
On the other hand, we also see the Kingdom from the perspective of the inheritance that we will receive after the consummation. This is because Christ (Thee Kingdom) returns just as He went away, and that is when we shall physically possess that which is already ours. This is the consummation of the bride as we join Christ and shall be like Him. The perspective of the consummated Kingdom can be seen in passages such found in Corinthians:
1st Corinthians 15:50
This is the Kingdom of heaven from the perspective of after the consummation. So the Kingdom of God that we are of now, will eventually be delivered up to God to its final state. And this state is the Kingdom that flesh and blood cannot inherit. It is the Kingdom "in" heaven. And so clearly we see that the Kingdom is both now, and it is also the state which we will be in after this earthly life. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming Kingdom, which is future. And that is yet another direct contradiction to the teaching of Premillennialism concerning God's coming Kingdom. The future Kingdom in heaven is the consummation of what has already been established on earth. The analogy God uses is of a bride who is already married, but hasn't yet consummated the marriage. Or again as the actual taking physical possession of an inheritance that is already legally ours. The Kingdom we reign in is now, and the consummated Kingdom is our final state. Likewise, we are positionally already saved, and yet we will be saved from Hell at Christ's return. Just as we have already been redeemed, and yet also will be redeemed at Christ's return. In other words, His return is the consummation, the culmination or bringing to "completion" the realized Kingdom. Christ's resurrection from the dead is what made the kingdom of God a reality, and His coming again is what will consummate it.
- "But this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."
Critics excel in trying to create the illusion of a contradiction, when (as you can see) it is quite evident from scripture that we both reign in the Kingdom now, and the kingdom to come, flesh and blood cannot inherit. We understand by scripture that the present Kingdom does not in any way contradict the future consummation or coming of the kingdom of God. To deny we reign in a present Kingdom is to deny the Word of God. Likewise, to deny that the future Kingdom cannot have flesh and blood in it, is also to deny scripture. Therefore, the truth of these statements is self-evident.
So we have read of Christ's present reign in His Kingdom (Colossians 1:130), and we read of the state of the eternal Kingdom (1st Corinthians 15:50) which flesh and blood cannot inherit. But there is not one single word in all of scripture about an "in-between" kingdom that will be established upon earth as Christ comes back to rule in Israel. It is not insignificant that scripture only explicitly declares this present Kingdom, and the Kingdom of God which flesh and blood cannot inherit. So Amillennialism triumphs biblically in declaring these truths, because obviously it is the witness of the Word. The Kingdom of God is open now, and now is the acceptable time to receive it.
Humility, as a Child, is how we receive the Kingdom of God as a present reality. If there were no Kingdom of God yet, then God wouldn't encourage us to receive the Kingdom humbly, as a child would. The unfortunate part is that most of those who speak against Amillennialism either don't know what the word means, don't want to know what it means, or don't want others to know what the word means. Because anyone looking at the doctrine honestly will understand that it is simply the solid unadulterated testimony of what the Bible itself says about Christ's reign.
- "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.."
I read one Premillennial publication that decried the fact that:"..Amillennialists insist that the New Covenant with the Church is the Kingdom of Christ, and that His kingdom has already started."I honestly had to ask myself, who could actually disagree with this assessment? Yet this publication stated it "as if" it was untrue. Another writer stated the exact same thing, and then proceeded to soundly condemn it as "Augustine's theory." But the truth is, unless Augustine wrote the Bible, this isn't theory at all, and it's hardly Augustine's authorship. What book could these theologians possibly be reading that denies that Christ already established His Kingdom? It certainly is not the Bible. This teaching is not of Augustine, it's not theory, and neither is it a private interpretation. It is a solid Biblical fact! Why so many choose to deride this truth as if it was some sort of lie, or some un-biblical theology, is a question that only they can answer. Because Jesus Himself told us that the Kingdom was now and that He was sowing seed (Children of God) in this Kingdom. So unless Christ didn't know what He was talking about, or these authors do not believe what Christ said, then His Kingdom indeed has come and the Children of His kingdom are those of the Church. There simply is no getting around what God says, unless we choose to change times and laws or twist His words to conform to our own views. The scriptures speak volumes on the matter, and they speak it so very plainly.
Clearly this is not Augustine's theory that Christ is now bringing His children into the Kingdom of God, it's the Word of truth. The Kingdom (according to God) is now. And believers are children of this (His) kingdom, which are sown of God. From Pentecost until now, Christ has planted the children of His Kingdom in the world. Is that Amillennialist rhetoric, or is that the plain Biblical truth which Christ taught? If it is the truth of scripture, then the real question is "why does man fight against these truths?"
- He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
- the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one."
I find it amazing how Jesus spoke over and over again about His Kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, and the nature of this kingdom, and yet said not one solitary word about His (alleged) future Kingdom or reign on earth at His second coming? If that doesn't tell us something, then what will? Something as significant as Christ physically descending to earth again to rule from Jerusalem, we would expect to read it somewhere in the Bible. Not only don't we read it, all we have is man's personal interpretation that this will happen. This is quite different from God actually saying these things. What He actually said was that the Kingdom and the children thereof are now, and that His reign in this Kingdom is now, and that the future Kingdom is one which flesh and blood cannot inherit. To find any writing of an earthly reign in between, we would have to add that to the scriptures. And indeed many have "read into" the scriptures their own political views and private opinions concerning a coming earthly reign.
Why would anyone decry the fact that Amillennialism teaches that Christ is now reigning from His throne in heaven, and that we are reigning with Him? Yet many theologians loudly protest this, and claim that it is a product of faulty exegesis. But the scriptures declaring this are unambiguous. i.e., they don't say this implicitly, they say it quite "explicitly." If we accept the authority of scripture, this point shouldn't even be a source for debate. Yet, because of the modern Church traditions that seem to override scripture, it has become debatable.
If we accept that the Word of God alone is the "ultimate" authority, then why is this doctrine that is taught so clearly in the scriptures, so hard for some people to receive? Why is it so reviled, so spoken evil of, and so vilified as error when it is obviously unadulterated Holy writ? That is the question of the hour. This is God's Word of truth and yet (incredibly) modern theologians try and use it as some sort of proof text which they claim shows Amillennialists are not following scripture literally. But truly, doesn't it show just the opposite? What it shows is that we understand the Kingdom literally the way God inspired it to be written, and intended it to be understood. We understand it as a spiritual Kingdom, not as a pile of bricks in a plot of dirt located in the middle east. God's kingdom is not meat and drink, and God's word precludes a worldly (physical or earthly) Kingdom to come. The truth is, we could not have been translated into the Kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13) if Christ had not yet established His kingdom yet, could we? That would be the height of foolishness and confusion. Either what God inspired written of our having been translated into Christ's kingdom is the truth of God's word, or it is a lie. It can be one or the other, but not both. So again, the Amillennialist doctrine triumphs Biblically. It's not something "read into" scripture, it is something that is scripture.
- "Who hath delivered us from the Power of darkness, and hath translated us into The Kingdom of His dear Son."
The Kingdom of God has been present with us all throughout Church history, and it is being extended to the entire world, the fulfillment of God's great commission. Are we preaching the good news to the world of a King which has no Kingdom, or are we preaching the gospel of being regenerated and translated into His Kingdom? The Kingdom of Christ has extended from the past, into the present, and also into the future.
The gospel of this Kingdom was to be preached as a witness from that time Christ instituted it, until the end came. And there was no other kingdom of Christ mentioned that should come in between. There's a good reason for that. There is no other earthly Kingdom. Christ never spoke of it at all. When the end comes, this Kingdom shall be delivered up unto the Father (1st Corinthians 15:24). By Grace of God in dealing honestly with these scriptures, we understand that what is called Amillennialism is nothing more than the Bible truth of this present Kingdom being extended to the nations. And who will condemn Christians for believing what the Bible plainly and unambiguously says about Christ's present reign in this Kingdom?
- "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Some theologians have come to understood this contradiction (claiming that Christ has no kingdom as yet), and so they have begun splitting hairs by confessing, "Yes, Christ is in a kingdom, but He does not yet reign." In essence, they make Christ a refugee in heaven just waiting to take rule of His Kingdom on earth. God Forbid! Christ is set on the right hand of God and now rules the destinies of nations and individuals, all for His own purposes, and in the interest of the Elect whom He has bought by His shed blood. The idea that He does not yet reign in His Kingdom is contrary to what scripture declares, and should clearly be seen as obvious error. The questions just cannot be reconciled with the answers. Has Christ established His kingdom and is reigning right now in that kingdom? Has Christ brought the promised Peace, and are we translated into His kingdom with Him? Has He already gone to the cross "and redeemed Israel?" All these questions are never effectively answered by the proponents of Premillennialism, but are answered clearly by God's word. And that alone (being the ultimate authority) is what both theologian and laymen alike should surrender to. Not to modern day televangelists views, but to the authority of the word. Interpretation by Sola Scriptura, the scriptures alone. For as righteous Joseph under inspiration of God declared, "do not interpretations belong to God?" Indeed they do. And so the question is, what does God say on the matter? Let us allow scripture alone to be the final authority.
Christ 'Has' established a Kingdom, not will..Christ 'Is' a king right Now, not will be..Colossians 1:13It's not a Kingdom that lasts 'literally' a thousand years as some believe, for it's not an earthly kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world, and we reign on earth until Christ returns, and in heaven forever. A literal thousand-year kingdom on earth just doesn't qualify considering what God has said about it. We were translated from the Kingdom of darkness, and into the Kingdom of Christ, are become part of the Kingdom of Light. We are now as strangers and pilgrims here on earth because our real
- "Who hath delivered us from the Power of darkness, and hath translated us into The Kingdom of His dear Son."
- "and He shall reign over the House of Judah for ever, and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."
home/kingdomis in Heaven. But when we are in Christ on earth, we are in Heaven on earth. We are waiting the time when we'll possess the Kingdom, which we have already received in Christ Jesus. A Kingdom which is reserved for us.Matthew 28:18He is not going to be a King someday, and we will be servants of that King someday; He is King now, in both heaven and earth, and does reign until He hath put all things under His feet. We are now the servants of that King, and he has all rule and authority. Note carefully that it says in both heaven, and earth. David's Son will forever be, "King of kings and Lord of lords." An earthly kingdom (which Christ rejected) has absolutely nothing to do with that fact (see acts 2:30-31). Christ "now" reigns on the throne of David. Again, that's not Amillennialist rhetoric, that's the Biblical facts that any Christian can plainly read for themselves.
- "And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All Power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.
- go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Christ 'Does' Reign in His Kingdom, not will..1st Corinthians 15:25Though many arrogantly deny this, what does the scriptures say? Christ is already reigning over His kingdom. He is our now our king, and we are now His servants worshipping and serving him in this kingdom. He will reign in this established Kingdom until He hath put all enemies under His foot, and then will be the consummation of the Kingdom. NOTE: the last enemy will be death. Which of course means, He must reign from now, until the white throne judgment. Once again, condemnation of Postmillennialism and Premillennialism. This reign 'obviously' must be now, started at the ascension, and 'must' last from the ascension to the throne, to the judgment when the last enemy death, is put under His feet. CLEARLY, to deny this is to deny what is written here.
- "For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His foot."
- "and again Isaiah saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the gentiles, in him shall the gentiles trust."
We 'Do' Reign with Christ in His Kingdom, Not will..Ephesians 2:6In our soul we have been raised up with Christ, in our bodies we reign on the earth as Kings and Priests unto God (As prophesied and fulfilled; Ex. 19:16; 1st peter 2:9; Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10) because He redeemed us to God by His blood, and raised us to sit in His Kingdom with Him. Therefore are we kings and priests unto God and reign on earth. These aren't theories based on assumptions, these are not Augustine's words, this is the witness of scripture. We reign with Him in His Kingdom right now according to God's Word. Else, He hasn't redeemed us and made us a Royal (king is the same Greek word) Priesthood, as 1st Peter says.
- "and hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Christ 'Has' brought Peace to the earth, not will..Christ 'Has' redeemed Israel, not will..Luke 1:79Messiah already brought a kingdom, and brought peace to the earth. It's not a peace as the world defines it, or as Premillennialism defines it, or peace as the world gives peace (between two earthly nations), it's peace between God and man. Not peace between the Arabs and the Jews, but a peace wherein your heart will not be troubled, because the enmity between you and God is gone. It is the peace wherein you have no need to fear the wrath of God. This is The peace Christ brought to the earth, the peace that passeth understanding. It is not a peace between the earthly nations. It is a peace that is far superior, which is far more precious and lasting. The unspeakable Gift of the Kingdom sent into all nations!
- "To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the Way of Peace."
- Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth Peace, good will towards men."
- "PEACE I leave with you, My Peace I give to you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid."In the book of revelation we read that John speaks of being a "brother, and companion in tribulations, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," (Rev. 1:9). How can he be a companion with us in the Kingdom of Christ, if Christ has not established His Kingdom? It makes no sense at all. And the whole Bible is a witness of scripture that says the very same thing. The Israel of God is Christ, and he whom is in Christ is in the Kingdom of God. He who is servant of a Kingdom, must of necessity have a Kingdom in which to serve, and a King to which they serve. This is simple logic and theological common sense. We can't have Christ as our established ruler (King), without His rule being over the people of a principality or Kingdom. But some theologians are doing theological gymnastics in order not to "receive" these most obvious truths of scripture. This is not the humility before God so divinely demonstrated by the Bereans of Thessalonica (Acts 17:11).Luke 1:68Christ has redeemed Israel from the curse by being cursed and dying on the cross in their stead. Christ became sin for His People (2nd Corinthians 5:21) and redeemed Israel. Unfortunately, many theologians today are making the exact same mistake that the children of Israel did at Christ's first advent. They rejected Him because they didn't understand how the redemption of Israel takes place, or how the captivity of Israel must be set free. It was by the death of Christ on the cross, not by some action or event that takes place in the future. They misapply, misunderstand, and misuse the scriptures to teach that these things are to be understood in a carnal or worldly fashion. Worldly peace, worldly government, worldly redemption, freedom from worldly prisons or literal earthly captivity, and worldly reigns, kingdoms and nations. This was the error of Israel, and is the error of Premillennialism. And to some degree it is also the error of Postmillennialism in their looking for worldwide conversion in global Christianity, and not the conversion of the remnant "out of" the world. The age-old Judaic errors of literalism, wrapped up in New Testament clothing.
- "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and Redeemed His people."
- "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel; and besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done."
- "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
The First ResurrectionAnother point that some detractors of the Amillennialist position condemn is that we say that the scripture teaches that "The First Resurrection" is the new birth. But again, either that is true, or our God is not telling the truth when He says it! One or the other, take your pick. God's Word teaches us that Christ is the first born from the dead that in all things he might have preeminence. That's the first resurrection from the dead. So the question is, "is Christ the first born from the dead or not?" Because if that's not true, then the resurrection wherein God says "we were raised up in His death," is frankly all a monumental deception. If it is true, then as Christ is the first raised from the dead, and we who were raised up with Him have part in the first resurrection. And if it's not true, then when Jesus told Martha (who thought that Lazarus would be first raised up in the last day) that, "HE was the Resurrection," it was all a lie, and all those raised in Him are not really raised up in His First Resurrection. We must then ask ourselves, "are believers raised up with Christ in a Pretend Resurrection, or was it with Christ as the first born from the dead?" Were we ever dead and raised up before Christ raised us up? The answer is no. So then this must of necessity be the "first" resurrection, just as we are told Christ is the first raised from the dead. If we really believe that Christ was the "first" from the dead, then the answers are obvious. We were raised up with Christ in his "First Resurrection." Again, maybe not according to some theologians, but according to the Holy Scriptures we were. And interpretations do belong to God.
- "And you being Dead in your sins, and the un-circumcision of your flesh, hath he made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespass."
And so according to "scripture alone," it would seem that many are really missing the whole point about both the first resurrection from the dead, and our being raised up to reign with Him in heaven. For if it's not the first (in God's defining of the first), then we have chaos, confusion, and a contradiction in the scriptures which sticks out like a sore thumb.
- "Even when we were Dead in sins, hath He made us Alive together with Christ (by Grace ye are saved).
- And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:"
- "And He is the Head of the Body, the Church; who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead that in all things He might have Preeminence."
Scripture teaches us of two principle resurrections of the dead. It speaks of the resurrection in Christ (John 11:25, Ephesians 2:5) which is the called the first. But it also speaks of another resurrection at the last day (John 11:24, 1st Corinthians 15:52). Only one can be the first resurrection of the saints. And I want to say that again for emphasis. ONLY ONE can be the first Resurrection. And that is what many theologians cannot seem to comprehend. You cannot have two separate events, both called the first resurrection in scripture. That is confusion and God is not the author of confusion. In Revelation 20:5, the First Resurrection refers to what has occurred that made those souls who have died able to live and reign with Christ, while the souls of those who were unsaved (the rest of the dead) could not go to live and reign with Christ. The rest of the dead (unsaved who died) "they lived not again" until the second resurrection when they must be raised from death to stand for judgment before the throne of God. What the chapter is doing is contrasting the souls of the saved, which though they are dead, yet they still live and reign with Christ in heaven, with the souls of the "rest of the dead" (the unsaved) who didn't have life again until the second Resurrection. The ones who reign with Christ after death are those who have had part in the first resurrection. The expression, the First Resurrection clearly refers to the souls of the saints that are raised first, in distinction from the raising of these wicked (rest of the dead) that occurs after the millennium. This is at the the second resurrection. It is totally consistent with the Amillennial view.
- "Buried with Him in Baptism, wherein also ye were Risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the Dead."
There are those who attempt to split hairs, who say that Christ's "resurrection" is not the exact same phrase as "first resurrection." And so they conclude Christ's resurrection is not the same as a first resurrection. But besides from this logic being self-serving, since Christ clearly says He's the Firstborn from the dead that He might have preeminence, it's also inaccurate. If (as righteous Joseph says), "God shall give an answer of peace, and interpretations belong to Him," then God (Sola Scriptura) must define the First Resurrection, not man. And Graciously, He does. But again, "if we will receive it!" And again, He does it unambiguously.
Christ is the "First Resurrection" from the dead according To God. From the context it should be clear to anyone with no preconceived ideas that Christ is the first resurrection, the first that should rise from the dead. And note, it's according to God's Word, not according to Amillennialists, or Augustine, or Origen. So who would dare to declare that these things are untrue? The sad truth is that many will dare to declare it, but unambiguously this is the raising of Christ from death to life. And God defines Him as the first. And so, as saith the scriptures, "Let God be True, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4)". Once again, Amillennialism triumphs biblically and is found to be nothing more than what is defined by the Word of God. The first resurrection was instituted at Christ's preeminent resurrection. His ascension to the throne was the start of the Millennial Kingdom reign, and all those who have part in that resurrection are they who reign with Him in the Kingdom. And upon these, the second death hath no part. And that is what Revelation 20 is declaring.
- "That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."
Blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection, because they are now made Kings and Priests unto God, the Children of the Kingdom, and they never lie, they live and reign with Him, and the second death cannot harm these.
- "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
And this is only a natural progression of scripture, because when we study prophecy we find that most of the prophecies concerning Israel and the millennial kingdom reign are now being fulfilled through the Church. The New Covenant is with spiritual Israel, and is being extended by the body of Christ. Peace has been brought, we have no fear of our enemies, the government is upon Christ's shoulders, He rules and we serve, we live and reign with Him in his kingdom, we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to God's Promises. All those prophecies are fulfilled. But again, this is (incredibly) railed upon by many theologians as both unbiblical and as unrighteous spiritualizing. But, in all honesty, there cannot be much question about the truth of it. The New Testament or Covenant (same word) is with Israel (according to scripture) and so unless the scriptures are wrong, or the Church isn't a part of this New Covenant in Christ's blood, then once again, Premillennialists are barking up a tree with a Lion in it. The Gentiles are as branches grafted "into" the Covenant tree Israel. This is clearly signified in Romans chapter 11. The Olive tree symbolizes Covenant Israel, and there are Gentiles that are grafted into this Covenant Israel on the New Testament side of the cross. So, what's to debate? We who were once Gentiles, are as branches taken from our wild Gentile tree, and grafted into the tree representing Covenant Israel, and are after spoken of as the New Covenant/Testament Congregation. This body is the new Covenant children of God. To deny this I believe is to deny the very scriptures that proclaim it. So again, what Bible are these detractors not reading concerning God's people being one body, New Covenant Israel? Moreover:
In times past, before we were in Christ, we were Gentiles, the uncircumcision, aliens or foreigners from the commonwealth of Israel. That's what we were before, but are not anymore. By being in Christ, we are reconciled together with God and the Jews, one commonwealth or [politeia] citizenship in Israel. We are now all one people in Christ Jesus. All of these scriptures become null and void in the humanist Judaic views, but they are totally consistent with what is called Amillennialism. By a believer having been raised up in the "First Resurrection" with Christ, he is by that new birth, brought into the Israel of God. Jew and Gentile reconciled into one body. There is One Body, which is Christ, not two. There is one Israel of God, not two. There is one Olive Tree of God, not two. There is one everlasting Covenant with the Israel of God, not two. And one man strengthened or confirmed that Covenant in His blood at the cross (for all), and He is not going to do it again in the future. The redemption of New Covenant Israel has already been accomplished. Their king has already come, and He reigns and continues to reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. This is the Millennial reign of Christ present in our day. And when Christ returns, it will be to usher in the second resurrection. It will be the time of the raising of the dead, and the judgment. But because we had part in the first resurrection, we have no part in that judgment. There is no second death for those who have part in the first resurrection.
- "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh who are called un circumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made with hands,
- That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the Covenants of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
- but Now ye who were sometimes far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
The One Thousand YearsSome theologians look at the number 1000 in revelation chapter 20, and insist that it must be a literal length of time. In fact, some go so far as to say that it's precluded it can be understood any other way but literal. But the book of Revelation is replete with symbolism and figurative language, and so why would anyone even begin to think that this "must" be understood literally? Considering the context, they would have to be predisposed to thinking this way. It is self-evident that they are showing their bias by even making such an untenable statement. Are dragons, seven headed beasts, candlesticks that are olive trees, locusts like scorpions, vials with prayers in them, blood coming out of a winepress, the seas turning to blood, precluded from being understood any other way but literally? Who are they kidding saying the thousand years must be taken literally? By the Spirit of God we understand that what is to be understood as literal, and what is understood spiritually, is defined by the scripture itself, and not by consensus or opinion. And certainly not because a popular theologian or author says it must be.
When we have studied this issue carefully, and taken all things into consideration, we are brought to the inescapable conclusion that the number one thousand in Revelation chapter 20 signifies the "fullness" of time that the dragon is bound. It is no more literal than the key and chain that holds the dragon in the bottomless pit is. Since the understanding of the number 1000 of Revelation is dealt with extensively in the Revelation Chapter 20 study, we will not go into it extensively here.
Briefly, numbers are often used in scripture to signify spiritual truths. One thousand signifies the fullness of whatever is in view. This spiritual significance includes the number 10, and multiples of it such as 100, 1000. The numbers 10, 100 and 1000 are "full numbers" which are even in our day used figuratively to illustrate the fullness of whatever is in view. As someone today might say, "I've told you ten times already," or "I'll love you a thousand years, or a million years." Likewise the number ten and its multiples are used to illustrate the fullness of whatever is spoken of in scripture, whether it be time, virgins, plagues, Blood, etc. For example, the days of the tribulation of the Church of Smyrna are 10 signifying the fullness of time. Again, in the parable of the 10 virgins, we see the number 10 signifies the fullness of the Church. Again, the beast that appears with 10 horns, which signifies the fullness of time that it will reign in power (horns=Power) near the end of the world. Other notable pertinent applications were the ten plagues upon Egypt, signifying the fullness of God's wrath upon it; the ten commandments, which signified the fullness of God's will and law concerning His people; or the ten talents, ten thousand saints, etc. The number 10 signifies that a full measure of something is in view.
And so considering all these things, along with the apocalyptic (uncovering) of the symbolic character of the book of Revelation, there is no question but that Christians are justified in considering a spiritual or allegorical view. In order to insist that the one thousand years of Revelation chapter 20 must be understood literally, one would first have to show that a figurative understanding is Biblically unjustified. And that cannot be done. The number 1000 is 10 multiplied by 100, and represents the fullness of this long period of time. It is the fullness of time that Satan is confined, the fullness of time (millennial) the Church reigns as the kingdom of Christ in heaven and on earth, and the fullness of time in which the rest of the dead who didn't have part in the "first resurrection" will not live again before they are raised in the second resurrection unto their judgment.
Old Covenant promises to Israel, Fulfilled in New Covenant IsraelThe Old Testament (as understood by Premillennialists) is Israel-centered rather than God centered. But the New Testament reveals that the history, ordinances, and indeed the very nation of Israel itself were types and shadows of spiritual realities that would come in Christ (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:1-5; 10:1; 1 Cor. 10:18). Not fully understanding this most basic of Biblical principles is at the root of most of the millennial errors of theologians. When God says something is fulfilled, then it is fulfilled. The types of Old Testament Israel (Prophets, Jerusalem, Feasts, Priests, the Law, Kingdom, Land, Sacrificial System, Temple, Deliverance, etc.) were all fulfilled in Christ (Luke 24:27). The problem is that many people, whether consciously or unconsciously, refuse to accept the fact that these types were actually fulfilled in Christ. They may give lip service to understanding it, but in practice they deny it. In point of fact, the scriptures are devastating to such an unfulfilled approach to the Old Testament prophesy, for it would prolong what God has once and for all abolished by the cross. Namely, the institutions and shadows that were of the nation Israel. These "types" were fulfilled.
That all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms concerning Christ. It's not insignificant that national Israel rejected Christ for the very same reasons that some theologians today reject Amillennialism. They just refused to believe God's truth that "He" was the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture that prophesied of a Messiah who would come and establish His government, rule and righteousness in the kingdom of Israel. Because their Judaic traditions put forth the idea that the prophecy was of a earthly government, ruler, and a kingdom, and that didn't fit what Jesus came to do. That wasn't the Kingdom that the "true" Christ came to establish. Premillennialism, and in a sense Postmillennialism, looks for the very same worldly (carnal) or earthly fulfillment in prophesy. They do not discern or understand that this is the "very same" error that national Israel made. In fact, Premillennialism is 'nothing less' than the old Judaic law bound earthly expectations. It is the age-old Judaic tradition that Christ's Kingdom is an earthly Kingdom taking a form just like the world's kingdoms. In other words, Christ coming to a geographical political nation on earth, to a earthly city, sitting on an physical literal earthly throne, in a literal Temple. None of this was prophesied, and none of it is true.
- "And He said to them, these are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me."
- "Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,"
- "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;"
Theologians have a hard time comprehending that Christ's Kingdom is not meat and drink, and His Holy place not made with hands. These Old Testament realities were "figures" or types pointing to Christ, their fulfillment. The prophecy concerning rebuilding the Temple and the reigning of Christ in Israel were not to be interpreted as the world defines terms, but as God defined them.
- "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:"
What are some of the basic Biblical foundations of Amillennialism? If the promises made to Israel were to the Church, Israel, rather than the Middle Eastern political nation or people, then we should see the fulfillment of them clearly delineated in scripture. And if we do, then these worldly doctrines are found wanting, and once again Amillennialism triumphs Biblically.
In his statement we see the Spiritual and intellectual depths of God's wisdom which He has incorporated into His prophecies for us to mine knowledge and understanding. The New Testament or Covenant (with Israel) reveals the truth of the old Covenant. In careful study and rightly dividing the word of truth, we see the prophesies concerning Israel (for example Jeremiah 31, and Hosea 1) refer to the New Testament congregation. It is the representation of the elect of all nations brought into the Kingdom. It is only in this that God's promise that Israel would never cease to be a "nation" before Him can be fulfilled (Jer, 31:36). Most certainly He was not speaking about an earthly nation, as the earthly nation of Israel surely has ceased to exist in history. Until 1948 there was no worldly or earthly nation Israel. But the true understanding of this prophecy is that it speaks of God's chosen people, His Spiritual congregation that will never cease, and not the earthly representation of it."The New Testament is in the Old concealed, and the Old Testament is in the New revealed."
The political nation Israel rejected Christ's truth concerning this, and it seems that much of the Church today is following in that same error. They don't understand the concept of the external Church contrasted with the indivisible Church. They neglect the concept of "types" and the fulfillment thereof. Considering these things in light of scripture illustrates that the Millennial reign, and the redemption of Israel, both started at the cross. The promises to Israel are not now null and void as some might suppose. Nor has the Church replaced Israel as some boastfully claim. Indeed Israel has not been abandoned. The promises to Israel "stand" because they were not made to a literal earthly nation, but to a chosen people who bring forth the fruits worthy of repentance. Unfortunately, some people have no concept of the way Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled in Christ. Those promises to Israel are kept, and are fulfilled in Christ, and in whosoever God chooses to call Israel, by reason of their being in Christ. He is the true Israel of God.
- "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
- And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
- "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt."
God is plainly talking about His Son Christ, and speaking of Him as the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Israel. So, whosoever man defines as Israel is insignificant. For Christ is the "true" Israel and the essence of its being. Therefore, those in Him are Israel because they get their fundamental new nature, virtue, and qualities from Him. Which of course is why we are called Christ-ians, and why we can be grafted into the Covenant Olive tree (Romans 11) Israel. Because we are the body of Christ.
- "And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."
If we look carefully at the promises made to Israel, and their fulfillment, we will get a better understanding of the mystery of the Old Testament, in the "light" of the New testament.
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
- "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are sons of the living God."
There is the undeniable truth of fulfillment in the Church of what God had promised to Israel in the book of hosea. He would make Israel as the sand of the sea by bringing into her the Gentiles who were not His people, to now be His people. The mystery (Romans 11:25; Colossians 1:26-27) of the Old is revealed in the New Testament. He has made both Jew and Gentile one body in Christ, and that is the fulfillment of the promise that the Children of Israel would become as the sand of the sea because He would make them His people who were formerly not His people. To deny this is to deny the very scriptures which say it. To the noble, these truths are made self-evident by the authority of scripture, through the working of the Spirit within them.
- What if God, willing to shew His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,
- and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory,
- even us whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
- As He saith also in Hosea: I will call them My people, which were not My people, And her beloved, which was not beloved."
- And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My people; There shall they be called children of the living God."
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
- "Then I will sow her unto Me in the earth; And I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy; Then I will say unto them who were not My people, thou art My people; And they shall say, Thou are my God!'"
1st Peter 2:9-10
Again the clear consistently scriptural view that these things promised Israel were all fulfilled in the New Covenant Church. And we should not loose sight of this fact in the midst of the various millennial posturing by some theologians. It is God who says the scriptures were fulfilled in the New Covenant. It's not sporadically, but consistently we see God's promises to Israel applied to the Church. This is not an error by scribes, it is not coincidence, and it is not to be ignored as if it doesn't exist. This is God ordained, and it illustrates to us that Israel is a kingdom, and a Priesthood, and a special people "Only" in Christ. In the Old Covenant it was by faith as they looked forward to the coming Messiah, that He would fulfill the law of blood for them (by the blood of animals is no flesh justified). And in the New Covenant it is by faith, we looking backward at the coming of Christ and his fulfilling the law of blood sacrifice. Two perspectives, but one identical salvation program. The Grace and faith of Christ is what saves us all. There is no other salvation program.
- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
- which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God, which had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
The Promise made to Israel
The Promised fulfillment in Israel, The Church
- "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people, for all the earth is mine.
- And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak to the children of Israel."
1st Peter 2:9
The law is fulfilled in Christ, as He is the head, the authority of the body. We can keep God's commandments because of Christ in us. Other doctrines may claim that Israel (the literal nation) are the elect or chosen people, a peculiar (special) people, but here God assigns these terms to the Israel of God, which is the Church. Are there two Holy nations, two special people, two Kingdoms of Priests of God (the word translated royal in 1st Peter 2 is the same as kings)? No, there is but one Israel of God, and the nation of Israel was just a type of this Israel. It was a shadow of the true Israel of God, to whom the promises were made. So while many theologians err in looking for national salvation, God is very clear that His is an individual salvation. In the Old Testament, the people were saved just as they are in the New Testament. By grace, through the faith of Christ (Ephesians 2:8). They were a special and chosen people by the Spirit of Christ alone. A remnant out of the nation was truly saved, but never the whole nation. The promises to them, as they are to us, were fulfilled in Christ.
- "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
- "in that day will I raise up The tabernacle of David, which is fallen, And close up the breaches thereof; And I will raise up its ruins, And I will build it as in the days of old;
While many misguided souls are still looking for the temple to be rebuilt in Mid Eastern Jerusalem, God informs us that the rebuilding that "He" was prophesying about was not a literal temple in earthly Israel, but the Temple of Christ. And He Himself is the chief cornerstone of that rebuilding. i.e., the stone that the builders rejected is become head of the corner. Let us not be so enamored by worldly prophecy and vain visions of Israel building a literal temple, that we miss the whole point of the "building again" (acts 16:15). The Temple was already fallen when Christ ascended to the throne. It didn't fall in AD 70 (as even some Reformers suppose), but it fell when they crucified the Lord at the cross. They destroyed the Temple, and its rebuilding was fulfilled in Christ three days later, as these verses in Acts chapter 15 clearly reveal to anyone willing to actually receive what they declare. The rebuilding of the Temple is fulfilled, with Christ being the chief corner stone. So again, Amillennialism triumphs Biblically.
- "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.
- And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
- After this I will return And will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up;
- that the residue of men might seek after the LORD, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the LORD who doeth all these things.
- known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world."
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
- "My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
2nd Corinthians 6:16
Again, the promise to Israel, and the fulfillment of that promise clearly seen in the people of Israel, which are the Church. Indeed, one must begin to wonder, "what's to debate?" Why are so many people so against what is clearly nothing more than God's Word of truth about Israel and Christ's present reigning as king over it? One reason is because a great many are truly ignorant of these truths, but more are simply "content" to believe what they've been taught in their Church traditions, rather than spending the energy to search it out to see if what they've been taught is actually true (as the more noble Bereans -Acts 17:11).
- "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God. As God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
- "And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions:
- And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.
- And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
- The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
- And it shall come to pass That whoever shall call upon the name of the LORD Shall be delivered. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call"
This is what the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fulfilled. It is the prophesy "to Israel" which was recorded in Joel, and obviously is fulfilled in the Church. The Cross brought that deliverance to Jerusalem. It's not a future deliverance in a physical land, and it's not a future reign in a earthly throne. That prophesy pointed to the firstfruits of harvest (Pentecost). Not literal bounty of corn and grains, but a Spiritual bounty. Again, if this is fulfilled in the Church, then the prophesy to Israel was clearly a prophecy to the Church. Amillennialism is the only view that does not attempt to do to an end-around to avoid all these scriptures. We Receive them as the truth of God's Word, which they obviously are. The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost is the reason that we are Holy as God is Holy. It's the reason we are a special people, a spiritual nation of Kings and Priests unto our God. Only in Christ is that possible. It's possible because we have put on the righteousness of Christ, and thus live and reign with Him. In Him only are we the Holy nation of Israel. And only because He is Israel, the ultimate Firstfruit, God's Firstborn.
- But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
- And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
- And on My servants and on My hand maidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
- And I will shew wonders in heaven above, And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
- The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before that great and notable day of the LORD come.
- And it shall come to pass That whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD Shall be saved."
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
- "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, ye shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am Holy."
1st Peter 1:15-16
The passages correlate because they are written to the same people (the Israel of God). Nations can attempt to be Holy, but they never are. The only way individuals can really be Holy is to be in Christ. Then they are the Holy nation of Israel. Without the Lord's chosen people being in Christ, they have no part in the New Covenant with Israel. And this New Covenant with Israel was confirmed (made strong) and fulfilled at the cross. It is not a future event or future redemption as some think.
- but as He which hath called you is Holy, so be ye Holy in all manner of conversation,
- Because it is written, "Be ye Holy, for I am holy."
The Promise made to Israel
The fulfillment was in Israel, The Church
- "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah."
And in case any of the various millennial groups should look for ways to rationalize this away, God directly speaks about the passage of Jeremiah 31:31 in Hebrews chapter 8, and goes on in Hebrews chapter 9-10 to make it absolutely clear that this New Covenant with Israel is the New Covenant with the Church. i.e., it's fulfilled prophecy according to God's Word. The Lord "has" made a New Covenant with Israel, not will, and He's strengthened it in His blood (Hebrews 9:16-18).
- "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."
The New Covenant with Israel and all the implications of the millennial reign are particularly problematic for the Premillennialists, because Jeremiah 31 is unquestionably addressed to Israel, and the commentary upon it in Hebrews chapters 8-10 make it clear that it's the New Covenant Congregation. Read those chapters for yourself and see if that passage of Jeremiah 31 of the promise to Israel was referring to the New Covenant dispensation of the Church. Once again, the solid foundation in God's Word, and the accuracy and consistency of Amillennialism, triumphs Biblically.
The question of defining Israel is not the scope of this study, and has been covered in depth in the Israel of God study, so I won't go heavily into that here. Other Bible Studies relating to it are also available in the eschatology section of this site. They all show that it is quite evident that the New Covenant with the Church is the New Covenant God prophesied Christ would come and establish with Israel.
Doesn't that scripture speak of the Old Covenant with Israel being old, and so Christ came to confirm the New Covenant in His blood (Hebrews 8:15-17)? Unambiguously this is the New Covenant with Israel, and it's clearly speaking of the New Covenant Church. I'm sorry to say that the problem is not clarity, the problem is that many people don't like what they read in chapters such as Hebrews 8-10 and so they effectively void them or ignore them. The unfortunate and sad truth is, many theologians are more interested in justifying their traditional Church doctrine, than they are in holding to truth. In the Old Testament context, the New Testament reveals that they refer not to the restoration of an apostate Israelite congregation, but to the restoration of the congregation in Christ Israel. The calling of both Jews and Gentiles to repentance and faith in the Messiah, that they might live and reign in righteousness, peace, and safety. These New Covenant references to Old Covenant Promises and blessings that Gentile believers also enjoy, make it evident that they always concerned the Church. For it is the New Covenant congregation, and the Old is passed away.
- "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
This foundational promise to Abram is the premise for many contemporary claims that God has given a specific land to Israel "forever." The truth is, the New Testament shows these promises were given to Abram (including, "in you all the nations will be blessed"), as an illustration that the gospel would go to the Gentiles, not as an promise of a earthly land to Israel. Again, this is made abundantly clear by scripture:
- "and the Lord appeared unto Abram and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded He an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto Him."
There the New Testament reveals the truth concealed in the Old Testament mystery. That this Prophesy was not of a literal land, and was not of the physical Jews (as of many) but was of "ONE," which was Christ Jesus. The nations of the world would be blessed in "this" Israel.
- "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds as of many, but as of one, and to Thy Seed, which is Christ."
The most devastating blows to Premillennialism come from the Witness of God himself. God declared that the promises that he made to the fathers concerning the literal land, were conditional promises (Deu.8:18, 20) and they were "All" fulfilled. NOT ONE remains to be fulfilled (Deu. 9:4-6; Neh. 9:7-8) if interpretations belong to God.
So why are Premillennialists waiting for the fulfillment of a time of Peace for earthly Israel, when they will have rest from all their enemies? And God having fulfilled this, why would anyone be waiting for a time when God would fulfill what He promised to their fathers, when He said it's already fulfilled? Is God's Word untrue or untrustworthy? When they say He hasn't yet fulfilled the promises to the fathers concerning the land and the Peace, they make God's Word that He had into a lie. And it is all because they do not accept the concept of "fulfilled prophesy." Even when it's written in plain language which is impossible to misunderstand (as the above scripture). God says all the promises to the fathers were fulfilled, and not one thing remained unfulfilled of all the promises that He made to their Fathers concerning the house of Israel. Is that true, or is that subject to private interpretation?
- "And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it and dwelt therein.
- And the Lord gave them Rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers, and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; and the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
- There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the House of Israel, all came to pass."
The bottom line is that the Bible totally justifies the doctrine of Amillennialism, and likewise totally repudiates the view of a genealogical or national salvation plan. Jesus warned Israel of vain genealogies, saying He could of the very stones raise up children to Abraham, but many were not listening then, as many are not listening today. The Jewish people and the Gentiles are now made one by the blood of Christ, "both" reconciled together to God. Not two congregations, but one (Ephesians 2:16). But Premillennialism curiously seeks to separate what Christ said He has made one, and to exalt Israel to an earthly purpose that is separate from the purpose of the Christ-born children of God. The marvelous truth is that with the New Covenant, God has not replaced Israel (the new covenant "is" with Israel), He has "included" the Gentiles. There is a big difference. If he had replaced Israel, he would have chopped off all the olive tree branches, not broken off some branches and left some (the Disciples and Jews that become Saved). A remnant is chosen by Grace, of Jew and of Gentile. The Kingdom was primarily national Israel before the cross. After the cross, the mystery is revealed that the kingdom would "include" the Gentiles also (Romans 11:5, 17, 25). The Nation Israel would no longer be the representation of the kingdom. That sign is taken from them, and given to another who brings forth fruits. Given to all those in Christ (who are the fulfillment of the typology). What the Old Testament kingdom of Israel represented was fulfilled in Christ (Thee Israel), and so all who would be Israel, would be in Him. i.e., Israel (the Kingdom) would be defined By God, not men. For not all that are called Israel, are Israel (Romans 9:6). Because not all were in Christ. It's "this" that makes men the Israel of God.
- "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
He's talking to the Disciples there. These are Jewish people. They would be given the kingdom. Yet, in Matthew 21:32 He says the Kingdom would be taken from Israel, and given to another nation bringing forth fruits. Is that a contradiction? What is that other nation? It is the New Olive tree made up of Jews and Gentiles alike. There is no Contradiction, because as Romans chapter 9 said, "they are not all Israel which are of Israel." Maybe in Premillennial definition they are looked at that way, but not in God's definition. The Children of the flesh are not the Children of God (Romans 9:8), but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. Those who were of the promise, these are those whom Jesus says it was the Father's good pleasure to give the kingdom (Luke 12). Those of Israel who are not children of promise (in Christ) are those that the Kingdom would be taken from. These are the branches broken off from the Olive tree of Romans chapter 11. These are those who have no part in the Kingdom nor do the live and reign in the millennium with Christ.
- "fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Note that the Kingdom Jesus refers to when speaking to His disciples is "not" an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that will be established by the efficacy of His death on the cross, and his ascension to the throne. It is in agreement with the Amillennial position, and totally contradictory to the views and theory of an earthly Kingdom and reign. Totally inconsistent with the idea of Jewish people being separate from the Church, and totally contradictory to whom God defines as His People. We have heard the interpretations of men, but in scripture we find the truth of what God defines as His people and Israel and inheritance.
This is what God says about the issue, and it's contrary to man's opinions and traditions of ruling. In this context, we (the Church) who worship God in Spirit and rejoice in Christ, are the circumcision. Not according to some theologians, but according to the Word of God. It's just as the verse in Ephesians 2:16 declared that it was no longer two (Jew and Gentile) but both has been made one in Christ, and reconciled to God. Which again is the very essence of the doctrine today called Amillennialism. God says, neither Circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision (-Gal. 5:6). In this context that means it doesn't matter if you are Jew or Gentile. God doesn't differentiate. God's thoughts are far above man's thoughts, and God's definitions are the authority, not man's definitions. We should stand out as those who define doctrine by God's Word, not by Webster's dictionary, nor congregational traditions.
- "For we Are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Man confidently and piously declares that a Jew is someone of the flesh Jewish, and often adds arrogantly, "..that's all there is to it!" But God (whose thoughts are above man's) is the one who declares all these things to be true. We merely give testimony or witness to His Word. This little fact usually gets lost in all the rhetoric about, "those unrighteous Amillennialists who spiritualize." Nevertheless, in God's eyes, a Jew is not by flesh or genealogical line, but by what is inside Him. He is a Jew by the Holy Spirit of God, by being circumcised in heart by Christ. He is circumcised in the shedding of blood in the cutting off of his sins, not his foreskin. He is not a Jew by national pride or heritage, but by faith.
- "For He Is Not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh,
- but He Is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
The Myth of Literal Versus Spiritual Interpretation
Premillennialists and Dispensationalists love to argue that they are the only ones holding to a very literal interpretation of the scriptures, while decrying that their theological opponents (e.g., Amillennialists and Postmillennialists) have the un-biblical tendency to spiritualize prophetic passages. But the truth is, if one interprets with a consistently literal interpretation, he will be dabbling in absolute absurdity. Not even the staunchest advocate of a literal interpretation can honestly hold to this claim. Premillennialists, Preterits, Amillennialists, Postmillennialists or any other millennialist, all believe that the scripture must be understood literally at times, but then figuratively at other times. Undeniably, they all believe that! It depends both on the context of the passage that is in view, and upon what bearing that other scriptures that illuminate it, have upon it. For example, if you read old testament scriptures, you may think that Messiah was going to come and release all the prisoners from the literal prison houses (Isaiah 42:6-7). But upon reading New Testament scriptures, light is shed upon the prophesy so that we see that it was illustrating that Christ would come to set the spiritual prisoners free (Matthew 12:28:29). He came to spoil those who sit in the darkness of the prison house of Satan. If Christ make us free, we are free from Satan's bondage. That's God interpreting scripture. In other words, God was spiritualizing. Will His good be evil spoken of by those with a positional axe to grind? Whether we should spiritualize scripture or not will be determined by God, not by our own traditions or millennial bias.
Further, these theologians don't even follow their own rules. If you read any Premillennialist doctrine, you find that they spiritualize the book of Revelation as much (or more) than anyone else does. They don't literalize the dragon, they don't literalize his having seven heads and ten horns. They Don't make the prophesy of Horsemen coming with bows and arrows as literal. They don't literalize the locusts in Revelation chapter nine that come from the bottomless pit with faces of men and women's hair. Why not? Because consistent literalism is a myth, and "all" Christians realize that some passages must be understood symbolically or spiritually, and some passages are understood literally. Which ones are determined by God, not man's faulty systems.
Knowing these things, we must conclude that this popular saying is quite obviously a ploy used to give target Christians the false impression that Premillennialists are the good guys following God's Word literally, while these other views are the unfaithful who are changing it. The truth is, we all understand scripture both literally and figuratively. The difference is that Amillennialists don't seek to give the false impression that they don't do this, nor "imply" that it is wrong to understand scripture "biblically" in its context, figuratively.
As stated, whether a passage in Revelation is understood figurative or literally is dependent upon the passage, its context, and other scriptures which also may shed light on the issue, or have some bearing on what is written. It has nothing to do with being Amillennial or Premillennial. To take the symbols in the book of Revelation literally is ludicrous, and to make a claim to understand it literally while others do not is likewise ludicrous. By the same token, to admit that Revelation is a book where there is great symbolism, while at the same time condemning those who look at it that way, makes no sense at all. And saying that it is unbiblical for Christians to look at the 1000 years of Revelation chapter 20 as symbolical, is inconsistent and self serving. The 1000 years is part and parcel of the chapter replete with symbolism (Serpent, Key, Bottomless Pit, Mark in the forehead and hand, Dragon, Great Chain, Beast, etc.), and to arbitrarily lift the 1000 years from this symbolism and self righteously declare it wrong to take it symbology is quite frankly, "ridiculous!" Interpretations belong to God. He alone can tell us what is literal and what is Spiritual.
If we want to know what Old Testament prophesies concerning Israel mean, we let God (thus, God's Word) tell us through the Spirit. We don't arbitrarily take everything literal just to cling to a man-made system, or for bragging rights, we take it as God intended it by searching it out in His Word to see how "He" wants it to be understood. ..as the faithful Bereans did.
The lack of understanding of the scriptures, and the promises concerning the nation of Israel is what drives those who hold doctrines such as Premillennialism, to condemn what is obviously Biblical. To these Theologians, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah refers exclusively to the literal nation or physical posterity of Israel, and so the promises of redemption to Israel they believe is yet future. But they are unable to explain how Christ did all His redeeming of Israel at the cross, and yet their doctrine are that scripture speaks of Him coming again for a future redemption for Israel to fulfill the prophesy that "all Israel shall be saved." Is Christ going to the cross a second time to redeem or take away sin of Israel? Or is it that redemption and all those scriptures that speak of it, are already fulfilled, and the lack of acceptance of Christ's Word of fulfillment is at the root of their error. Answers to these questions come in our receiving the New Testament explanation of the old. We must of necessity receive what has been revealed in scripture. All Israel shall be saved, but it will be all the Israel of God. For God has already declared (to those who will receive it) that ALL Israel (the nation) are not Israel. Therefore, the All Israel could never be the literal nation.
The essential reasons for our holding to what is called the Amillennial position, is that even apart from it being Biblically validated and declaring nothing more than what the scriptures themselves state, is that it is the only consistent exegesis of biblical text. It is the testimony of the faithfulness of the early Church in the teaching of Christ concerning the kingdom. And it is in complete agreement with the testimony of scripture that was handed down by the Apostles. While I make no judgments concerning the Spiritual well being of those who hold to the other millennial views, the truth is, Amillennialism is the only view that is totally supported with scriptures that cannot be denied (some of which I have posted in this essay). It is the only view that consistently gives an understanding of Revelation chapter 20 that is in "total" agreement with all other passages. Those who insist on making the millennium literal, effectively choose to deny all the other scriptures that teach otherwise. I say advisedly and emphatically, their doctrines are not doctrines taken from scripture, rather, they are doctrines read into scripture. Whether because of some misunderstanding, indoctrination, Church traditions, humanism, political bias, or just wishful thinking, their interpretations are biblically unsound. In practice what these doctrines do is to make God's Word of fulfillment, of non effect. I believe that Amillennialism is the only view that is shown to be taken direct from God's Word. If you think that anything that I have spoken here about Amillennialism, is unjustifiable in scripture, I would certainly like to hear "precisely" what verses they were, or what passage that I bare testimony to was untrue. But if it was all taken "directly from scripture," then what is called Amillennialism is nothing more, and nothing less, than the truth of the Word of God. In other words, it is a word finding its meaning directly in the scriptures. This no other millennial position can make claim to. For they are generally man's interpretations "of" scripture rather than something read explicitly. They are wrapped heavily in suppositions, or they are based on many assumptions. And as Premillennialism, Postmillennialism also looks upon fulfilled prophecies of coming righteousness and Peace on earth that were accomplished in Christ, as yet unfulfilled, and part of a future glorious event. This neglect is at the root of their error.
The bottom line is that Amillennialism is a word that describes what is written in the scripture. And what has been penned is that the Christ "has" come and He "has" established His kingdom. He "has" fulfilled the prophecy of the deliverer out of Zion. He "has" gone to the cross and redeemed Israel. He "has" set free the captivity of Israel by the defeat of him who held them in spiritual bondage (Isaiah 42:7; Luke 4:18; Hebrews 2:14-15). He "has" brought a Glorious Peace to Israel. He "has" brought a light to the Gentiles that His seed be as the stars of heaven. He "has" come to rule and is governing the nations. He "has" finish the transgression, and brought in everlasting righteousness. He "has" taken away Israel's transgression. He "has" done away with the old and established the New Covenant with Israel. He "has" been seated on the throne and reigns in His Kingdom. And He "has" translated us from the power of darkness into that very same Kingdom of His, making us Kings and Priests.
There is no biblical, logical, or rational reason to look for a so-called "golden age" of future fulfillment. We indeed are living in the age of fulfillment. Christ did not come to make the world Christian, He came to make Christians from the World. God's word has consistently spoken of a remnant "chosen by grace," out of the world, not the world in general. Truly Christ has brought righteousness, peace, and safety to this earth. But not as defined by the eschatological dogma, but as defined by the Word of God itself. To deny Christ has already brought peace, justice, government, security, righteousness, and prosperity to the earth, is to deny scripture. For while some look for a kingdom of righteousness, God declares that He has already established it.
Our Kingdom is not of meat and drink. In other words, it's not a carnal or earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one. It's not come with outward (worldly) observance, but it is come a experiential and spiritually fulfilling kingdom in the heart. A kingdom not of worldly joy in the middle east, but one in spiritual joy in the Holy Ghost. This present Kingdom of God is righteousness, so why look man for another?
- "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
By telling John to consider the miracles that no man could do but by the power of God, Christ is confirming that he is the promised King of Israel, and the scriptures were fulfilled. The miracles were the "sign" of it. Christ has visited and redeemed Israel (Luke 1:68). It has been fulfilled! No need to look for a golden age of Holiness when God has already established this New Testament Kingdom age in Righteousness, Peace, and Holiness?
- "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
- And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
- Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
- The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Nothing of the Reformed eschatology called Amillennialism is assumption, speculation, subjection, or private interpretation. These are all clear scriptures taken from the Bible alone. As the cry of the faithful men of old who read the scriptures and understood the need for a Protestant Reformation, so the faithful Church today must lean to the "authority of scripture." Our cry today must still be Sola Scriptura! Scripture alone is the ultimate or supreme authority on eschatology, not our Church, theologians, tradition or teachers. And if the scriptures be true, then Amillennialism is the witness of those scriptures. We must let scripture justify doctrine, not vice-versa. As God instructed.
- "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
As it is written, "Let God be true, and every man a liar," is the mandate God gives us to look to His Words for truth, not our teachers words. Look to His interpretation, not our own private or personal interpretations. it is the only way to :"assure" that we are following God. When we follow His word where we can quote it word for word as "saying something," not merely implying it. Scripture after all, is the ultimate authority.
- "God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."
May Our Precious Lord and Savior who giveth Graciously, provide us all with the wisdom and humility to discern what is His truth, and not our own.
[1.] Charged by writers such as Hal Lindsey, Dave Hunt, and Chuck Missler.
[2.] (cf. Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 239)
[3.] Premillennialism in America, pg. 47.
[4.] Radicals such as Thomas Muntzer (a man who was involved in the Peasant's Revolt 1524-25), Guillaume Postel, a feminist who believed he was the Shekinah reborn in 1556, and people like the militant Anabaptists who took over the town of Munster (1534)
[5.] Later Seventh-Day Adventist.
[6.] Of Plymouth Brethren.
[7.] An Exposition of Revelation Chapter 20, by Tony Warren
[8.] What Do Numbers Signify, by Tony Warren
[9.] The Israel of God, by Tony Warren
Copyright ©2000 Tony WarrenFeel free to print, duplicate, archive, display or distribute this publication, so long as the copyright notice remains intact, there are no changes made to the article, and there is no fee or charge of any kind applied to it. This publication can be distributed only in its original form, which is unedited, and without cost.
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/
Created 5/11/98 / Last Modified 10/22/00
The Mountain Retreat / email@example.com