(mih leh' ni uhm) A term not found in Scripture but taken from Latin to express the “thousand years” mentioned six times in
Revelation 20:1-7. The meaning of the thousand years and the relation of Christ's future coming to them have given rise to various millennial views.
Evangelical Christians hold three main views: amillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, and historic premillennialism. A popular view of yesteryear was postmillennialism, but it is no lonhyger widely held, though a new form of it combined with reconstructionist theology has appeared.
The use of the prefixes a-, pre-, and post- with the term millennial could be misleading. Much more is involved in these viewpoints than merely positioning the return of Christ in relation to a millennium. In spite of the danger of over-simplification these terms are so widely used that they furnish the working labels for a study of end time prophecy. The names given the views suggest the general drift of each one.
Postmillennialism The growth of the church and the power of the gospel will cause the world to get better and better until the present order blends into the millennium during which the righteous will be in charge on earth. Evil will be practically nonexistent. Christ will return at the end of the millennium at a time when Satan reasserts his power. The final victory of Christ will occur at that time with final judgment and the eternal order following.
Amillennialism The term suggests “no thousand years.” The idea is no literal thousand year period, but a symbolic expression related to the spiritual blessedness of present Christian experience in which Satan is a defeated enemy and believers reign in life by Christ Jesus. Therefore, this view does not look for a literal, future thousand year reign of Christ on the earth during which Satan is bound.
Premillennialism The idea is that of “before the millennium or thousand years.” Such a view positions the return of Christ prior to a millennial period. There are two broad types of premillennialism.
1. Dispensational premillennialism takes the thousand years to be literal both as to fact and number. The millennium is seen to follow a seven-year tribulation period. At the beginning of the tribulation, the church will be taken out of the world. This rapture of the church is seen as the first phase of the second coming of Christ. During the millennium, Christ will reign on the earth with His saints while Satan is bound in the bottomless pit. The Jews as a nation are seen to have a major place in the events of the millennial period. This view of future events also incorporates many other aspects of biblical prophecy, such as a second phase of Christ's return following the millennium.
2. Historic premillennialism holds to a literal, future reign of Christ on earth, during which Satan is bound a thousand years and the saints reign with Christ. Many who hold this view, however, allow for symbolism in the use of the number 1,000. While the reign of Christ will be literal, the length of the reign may or may not be exactly 1,000 years. This type of premillennialism does not divide the second coming into two phases. There is a single return between the tribulation and millennium. See Eschatology; Rapture; Future Hope; Seventy Weeks; Tribulation.
Jerry W. Batson