1 PREMILLENNIALISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH
Most of the earliest Church Fathers believed in a literal kingdom on earth which would follow the return of Christ. Philip Schaff, an amillennialist historian admitted:
“The most striking point in the eschatology of the Ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origin, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it…. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the Millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only a prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan.” – Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church 2.XII.158.
2 WHY A MILLENNIAL KINGDOM?
Old Testament and New Testament promises require it.
Scripture contains many prophetic passages which include promises which require an earthly kingdom for their fulfillment (e.g., Mat. 19:28). Without a future earthly kingdom, huge portions of the Old estament must be spiritualized into meaningless generalities.
Biblical covenants require it.
Four unconditional covenants were made with Israel: the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New covenants. Elements of each of these covenants remain unfulfilled and require a future earthly kingdom to bring them to pass. For example, Israel must occupy the Promised Land in peace, never to be removed again (Amos 9:1415).
Passages which don’t fit now or the eternal state.
The Old Testament contains numerous passages which cannot find fulfillment in the present state nor the eternal state. They describe a time of great blessing which is far beyond our current experience, but which includes birth, sin, death (Isa. 65:20), and the sea none of which are found in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1, 4).
To demonstrate righteous rule in the original creation.
With Jesus ruling from the throne of David on earth, the world will see what life should have been in the original created order which was “very good.”
3 MILLENNIAL PASSAGES
Identifying Millennial Passages
In many cases, Millennial passages can be readily identified because they describe an incredible time of blessing and promise, but they contain elements which are abolished in the eternal state. Watch carefully for passages which sound like “heaven on earth,” but which include mention of sin, death, rebellion, judgment, a Temple, or the sea. None of these occurs in the eternal state and provide indicators that a millennial passage may be in view. Also look for the transition between the Tribulation (or Day of the Lord) with great judgment and bloodshed, followed by promises of restoration.
Key Millennial Passages
Although there are many millennial passages, some of the most prominent include: Ps. 72:1-20; Isa. 2:2-5; Isa. 11:1-10; Isa. 66:19-24; Eze. 37:21-28; Eze. 47:1-12; Zep. 3:8-12; Mic. 4:1-13; Zec. 14:8-11, 16-21; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6-7; Rev. 20:46.
4 BIRTH AND DEATH IN THE MILLENNIUM
Raptured and Resurrected Saints
Raptured and resurrected saints participate in the Millennial Kingdom, but they do not contribute to the growth in population because they have glorified bodies (Mark 12:25).
Living Saints Survive the Tribulation
Isaiah indicates children will be born and people will die at a great age (Isa. 65:20). Who bears these children? They are from the faithful who remain alive on earth at the Second Coming. This includes the believing Jewish remnant, many who were kept safe (Rev. 12:6) and other Jews and Gentiles which managed to survive. They enter the kingdom from the “sheep and goat judgment” (Mat. 25:3134).
No Post-tribulation Rapture
This precludes a posttribulational rapture. If all the believers are taken in the Rapture at Christ’s return and then immediately return to earth, there are no believers left in their natural bodies to form the initial birthing population of the Millennial Kingdom.
5 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
One thousand years. (Rev. 20:25)
God will rule in the person of Jesus Christ on the throne of David. King David reigns as a prince under Christ. (2Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:20-37; Isa. 24:23; Jer. 30:9; 33:15-17; Eze. 34:23-24; 37:24-25; 45:22; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:5; Luke 1:30-33)
The twelve apostles will represent Christ ruling over the twelve tribes. Church age and Tribulation saints will represent Christ ruling over the Gentiles. (Isa. 32:1; Dan. 7:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev. 3:21; 5:10)
Christ’s rule will extend both spiritually and literally over the entire earth. (Ps. 2:69; 72:8; Dan. 2:44; 4:34; 7:14, 27; Mic. 4:12; Zec. 9:10)
Seat of Government
The earthly Jerusalem will be restored, blessed, and greatly expanded to serve as the seat of government and worship. (Isa. 62; Isa. 65:18-19; Eze 48:15-19; Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2)
The heavens and earth will be renewed to restore the environment to Eden-like conditions and repair the damage from man’s long reign of abuse and the judgments of the Tribulation period. (Isa. 65:17; Mat. 19:28)
Resurrected and glorified saints will rule in the midst of Christ’s “brothers” (the faithful Jewish remnant), and the “sheep” (faithful Gentiles) who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom to form its initial population. Children will be born to those who enter the kingdom in their natural bodies. (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19; 65:20, 23; Mat. 25:31; Rev. 20:4)
Many aspects of the curse (Gen. 3:1519) will be reversed. People will live to a great age, but death will still occur. As before the flood, animals will revert to vegetarianism and will no longer fear man. Living waters will flow from beneath the Sanctuary of the Temple bringing life to the regions they water. (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:20, 25; Eze. 47:8-12; Zec. 8:4; 14:8 (cf. Rev. 21:12)
The earth will be fruitful and men will enjoy the fruit of their labors. (Ps. 67:6-7; 72:16; Isa. 35:1; 55:13; 65:22; Joel 2:24-26; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14)
The region of Mt. Zion will be lifted up to form the Mountain of the Lord’s House (where the Millennial Temple will be). (Isa. 2:2; 56:7; Eze. 20:40; 40:2; Zec. 14:4, 10-11; Mic. 4:1)
Israel will finally inhabit the Promised Land permanently and in peace. She will serve as the focal point of the nations because Jesus will reign from Jerusalem. (Gen. 13:15; 17:8; 1Chr.17:9; Ps. 105:8-11; Isa. 60:21; Jer. 3:18; 7:7; 30:3; 31:8-9; Eze. 37:25; 39:25-29; Amos 9:11-15)
All implements of war will be destroyed in favor of implements of productivity. Nations will no longer go to war. Disagreements between nations will be judged by Christ from Jerusalem. (Ps. 72:37; Isa. 2:5; 9:7; Eze. 37:26; Mic. 4:3)
A temple will stand in Jerusalem and all the nations will go up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles. Sacrificial offerings will be resumed. (Isa. 2:3; 56:6-7; 60:20-23; Eze. 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20; Jer. 33:18; Dan. 9:24;
Joel 3:18; Hab 2:7-9; Zec. 6:12-15; 8:20-23; 14:16-21; Mal. 3:35)
Satan will be bound in the abyss and demons will be imprisoned in the regions of Babylon, Edom, and possibly the abyss. (Isa. 34:8-17; Rev. 18:2; 20:3)
The curse of Babel (Gen. 11:7), which introduced varied languages will be reversed. All the earth will have one language. (Zep. 3:8-12)
(Source: Tony Garland – Spirit & Truth)