by R.J. Evans
“Pre” means “before” and “millennium” means “a period of a thousand years.” Premillennialism is simply “the doctrine that the appearance of Christ on earth will precede a millennium—one-thousand year earthly reign of Christ in Jerusalem.” There are various types of premillennialists, but generally speaking, they believe: Christ came the first time to establish an earthly kingdom, but the Jews rejected Him, so He postponed it and established the church instead; they believe Christ will return the first time to take the righteous (living and dead) with Him up to heaven for a seven year period, referred to as “the Rapture”; during this seven-year period there will be great tribulation on earth; the Lord will return with His people and restore Israel and reign on His throne in Jerusalem for one-thousand years; at the end of this period Satan will be loosed and lead a battle against Jerusalem; Satan will be defeated and cast into hell; afterwards the unrighteous dead will be raised, judged and also cast into hell, while the righteous will go to heaven.
In light of the above, our first observation concerning this doctrine is that it is the product of an overactive imagination. This doctrine originated in the early 2nd century by such men as Irenaeus. Secondly, premillennialists fail to make a distinction between what is literal and what is symbolic. Theirmain “proof text” is Revelation 20:1-10. But before we make some observations from that text, we must realize that there are many passages which are not written in symbolic language that do not mention nor do they allow for a thousand year reign of Christ here on earth. (Please read Jn. 5:28-29; 1 Thes. 4:13-18; 2 Thes. 1:5-10; 2 Pet. 3;1 Cor. 15:20-26; Matt. 25:31-36).Furthermore, even Revelation 20:1-10 does not specify the following: (1) the second coming of Christ, “Rapture” or “tribulation”; (2) the reign of Christ on earth; (3) a bodily resurrection (John saw “souls” not bodies); (4) all the righteous (only those “beheaded”); (5) the throne of David; nor (6) Jerusalem or the land of Palestine.
There are two major tenets of this theory. One maintains that there remains a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. All along, these theorists believe the Jews are still the chosen people of God and their nation will be fully restored during the millennium. But the Bible does not teach such— “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). When Christ died, He “made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us...that He might reconcile them both to God in one body” (Eph. 2:14, 16). The “one body” is the church or kingdom (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:13, 18). Another tenet of the premillennial view is that the kingdom is yet in the future. Again, the Bible does not teach this! In the Scripture, we see that the kingdom and the church are used interchangeably. Let us note the following:
- Jesus and John the Baptist preached that the kingdom was “at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).“At hand” signified that in only a short period of time the kingdom would be established.
- Jesus stated,“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight...but My kingdom is not from here” (Jn. 18:36). Why would anyone be looking for an earthly kingdom when Jesus plainly said His kingdom “is not of this world”?
- The establishment of the kingdom was foretold by the prophets.The prophecy of Daniel 2:31-45 spoke in sequence of four worldwide earthly kingdoms—Babylon, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman. And it was during “these days” — that is, in the Roman era, the last worldwide empire, the kingdom of God would be established. (Dan. 2:44) During the days of the Roman Empire, the church or kingdom was established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
- Jesus taught that the kingdom would come while some of the people who were in His presence listening to Him speak would still be alive.See Mark 9:1. If the kingdom has not yet been established, then there are some very old people (almost 2,000 years old) still walking around somewhere on earth today.
- Jesus promised Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matt. 16:19).Peter used those “keys” beginning on the day of Pentecost, swinging open the doors of the kingdom (the church) by making known the terms of entrance (Acts 2:38).
- The Apostle Paul gave thanks unto the Father who “has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).Notice he is speaking in the present tense. The same thing can be said of Hebrews 12:28.
- While in exile on the Isle of Patmos, John spoke of himself as being “in the kingdom” (Rev. 1:9).
When the Lord returns, while never setting foot on earth, the earth and the entire universe will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3). Also, in the Bible, the second coming of Christ is referred as “the last day,” “in that day,” or “the hour” in which He will return, raise the dead, and judge the world—leaving absolutely no room whatsoever for a thousand year period. At the second coming of Christ, He will deliver “the kingdom of God to the Father” (1 Cor. 15:24). Premillennialism is a theory of man based upon a distorted explanation of Revelation 20:1-10, and many other passages which they have perverted, misconstrued, misapplied, and taken out of context. There is no foundation for the premillennial doctrine in the Word of God!