(Note: This study is part of a series of studies
relating to the premillennial view of the kingdom. Frequently this study will
refer to other of the studies in the series. To understand the whole picture,
and especially to see the other articles that we refer to from time to time,
please go to www.gospelway.com/instruct and see the section about Man and His Future.)
is dangerous for many reasons. My main objections are that it (perhaps unintentionally)
belittles the authority of Christ, the death of Christ, and the significance of
the church and the gospel, while at the same time exalting materialistic goals,
Jewish nationalism (respect of persons), and Mosaic practices. These problems affect
our present service to God. [For details about these points, see the link above
for our other articles on premillennialism.]
premillennialism also contradicts clear gospel teachings about the second
coming of Jesus. The purpose of this lesson is to examine these contradictions.
summary of premillennial teaching:
vary widely in their theories. The following is a general summary as believed
by many, but remember that there are many variations. [See God's Prophetic
Word, by Foy Wallace, p. 347-349; cf. Lion and the Lamb on Planet Earth, by
will first come invisibly, unknown to men in general (the parousia), raise the
righteous dead, and take them from the earth for a 7-year period of
"rapture." During this time will be great suffering on earth called
end of this 7 years, the forces of evil will gather to fight against Jesus, who
will visibly return (epiphaneia) to defeat them at the battle of Armageddon.
will then establish an earthly, civil kingdom over which He will reign as King
from Jerusalem for 1000 years. At the end of 1000 years, the wicked dead will
be raised, then all men will be judged and receive their eternal rewards.
Contradictions Between Premillennialism and the Bible
Bible teaches that Jesus will personally come again, just as He left (Acts
1:9-11). As we consider what will happen when He comes, please note the
contradictions to premillennialism.
Men Will Be Raised at the Same Time.
5:28,29 - The "hour" is coming in which "all" will be
raised, both good and evil. "Hour" should mean a particular (short)
period of time. Since premillennialists insist that prophecy must be taken
literally, this leaves no room for 1000 years between the resurrection of the
good and evil. The difference between the resurrection of the good and that of
the evil is not when they will occur, but the reward each will receive.
24:15 - Paul looked for a (one) resurrection of both the just and the unjust,
not two resurrections separated by 1000 years. [23:6]
claim "resurrection of the dead" differs from "resurrection from
the dead." But cf. Col. 1:18 to Rev. 1:5; Acts 23:6 to Phil. 2:11; Luke
20:35 to Matt. 22:30f.]
Earth Will Be Completely Destroyed - 2 Peter 3.
Corinthians 4:18 - Things seen are temporary, not eternal. Some people claim
the earth must stand forever, but it follows from this passage that the earth
must be destroyed eventually.
3 gives information about the destruction of the earth. This should be taken
literally, since the context is doctrinal instruction, not symbolic or poetic.
Since premillennialists insist on taking prophecy literally, let them do so
- Mockers ask about the promise of Jesus' coming (parousia), which
premillennialists say is the invisible coming before the rapture and
millennium. But both of the "comings" are before the 1000-year reign.
- God once caused the earth to perish in a flood. The present heavens and earth
are likewise reserved for fire at the day of judgment and destruction of
- As we wait for that time, God is longsuffering so men can repent and not
10-13 - When the "day of the Lord" comes, the heavens will pass away
and be dissolved, elements will be dissolved and melt with fervent heat, and
the earth will be burned up. This will happen at the day of judgment (v7) which
is Jesus' coming or parousia (v4).
passage would mean that the judgment and the destruction of the earth would be
at Jesus' coming (parousia), not 1000 years later.
14-17 - Paul taught the same things, including some things hard to understand.
But those who pervert this teaching, do so to their own destruction. Watch out
lest we are carried away by error and fall from steadfastness. So false
teaching about these matters can lead us to sin and be lost.
argue the "day of the Lord" may be 1000 years long, per v8. But it
also says "1000 years is as one day," so by their logic the
millennium might last one literal day! Actually, v8 is describing the length of
waiting till Jesus comes, not the length of time while He is here. And it
describes how long this seems to God, not to people.]
Jesus' Coming, All Men Will Be Judged and Eternally Rewarded.
is no room for 1000 years between Jesus' coming (parousia) and the judgment.
Thessalonians 4:13-18 [cf. 5:1-9]
coming (parousia) of the Lord (v15), the righteous, whether they were dead or
alive, will be with the Lord forever (always - v17). This is eternal reward,
not a 7-year rapture.
this coming (parousia) will not be silent, invisible, or unobservable. It will
be accompanied by a shout, voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God
(v16). The wicked will know when this happens for they will suffer destruction,
not just tribulation - 5:3.
say "the dead in Christ rise first" (v16) means they will rise at the
first resurrection, 1000 years before the wicked are raised. But the context
contrasts the dead in Christ (v13) to the alive in Christ (v15), not to the
wicked dead. V16 says the dead in Christ rise "first," then those who
are alive in Christ are caught up to meet the Lord (V17). The resurrection of
the wicked is not under consideration and is not mentioned.
that day" when Jesus' comes (v10) and is revealed from heaven with the
angels (v7), the following will happen: afflicted Christians will receive rest
(vv 4,7) and those who know not God and obey not the gospel will receive
vengeance in flaming fire, punishment, even eternal destruction (vv 7-9).
righteous will enter their rest from trouble on the same "day" that
the wicked will be punished. But premillennialism says the righteous will rest
and rejoice through the rapture and millennium before the wicked are punished.
Jesus comes with the holy angels, then all nations are gathered and separated
good from evil. The righteous will enter eternal life, and the wicked will
depart into everlasting fire (vv 41,46).
will not be two comings, nor will the righteous be enjoying rest and bliss 1000
years plus the rapture before the wicked are punished. Both enter their reward
at the same time.
15:22-26 - At Jesus' coming (parousia), then comes the end, when he delivers
the kingdom back to the Father, having raised all who died through Adam (v22).]
9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 16:27 - After death comes judgment, each person being
judged according to what he did in the body, good or bad. When Jesus comes,
then He will reward every man. Cf. Luke 16:19ff; 2 Cor. 1:7,8]
say Jesus will come invisibly (the parousia) "for" the saints to take
them to the rapture, then at the end of the millennium he comes visibly
"with" the saints (the epiphaneia). But 2 Thess. 2:8 refers to
"the manifestation (epiphaneia) of his coming (parousia)." And 1
Thess. 3:13 says His coming (parousia) will be "with" the saints, not
"for" the saints.]
One on Earth Can Know in Advance When Jesus Will Come.
religious groups have set definite dates, but all have failed:
come back anytime, and no one can know when.
Thessalonians 5:1-6 - Regarding the "times and seasons" (of Jesus'
coming to raise the dead - 4:15), the day of the Lord comes as a thief in night
(totally unexpected with no signs or warning) - vv 1-3. Not only do we not know
the specific day, we do not even know the times and seasons.
- Since the time is unknown, we should watch and be ready all the time. What is
the value in knowing a specific time? If we knew He would return in 2010,
people would wait till 2009 to start obeying! But meanwhile we can die any
moment. If we can die or He can come at any moment, we are motivated to live
right all the time.
3:10 - The day of the Lord will come as a thief. No one can set a day or year.
Those who set dates mark themselves as false teachers, for they claim to know
what the Bible expressly says no one can know.
24:35,36,42,44,50. Note that Paul and Peter knew He would not come in their
lifetime - Acts 20:29,30; John 21:18,19; (2 Peter 1:14)]
Brief Study of Matthew 24 and Revelation 20
previous studies we examined most Old Testament, and many New Testament,
passages used by premillennialists. We here consider their main New Testament
texts. Since the Bible does not contradict itself, we must not interpret these
in ways that contradict plain passages.
often quote symbolic passages, tie them together without proving they go
together, ignore context, then make unfounded assertions. If you challenge
their conclusions, they demand that you explain these verses. If you cannot,
they conclude they must be right!
Two men see a woman across the street. The first says, "There goes your
wife." The second replies, "That's not my wife." First:
"Who is it then?" Second: "I don't know." First: "If
you don't know who it is, how do you know it's not your wife?" Second:
"Because I know my wife and that's not her!"
passages are offered by premillennialists to prove their view. They are
obligated to prove their conclusions follow from the verses. If I disagree, I
am not obligated to explain what they do mean; I must show simply that they do
not mean what premillennial folks claim. We have proved our case by other clear
doctrinal passages. I do not have to understand all symbolic passages to know
they do not teach things that contradict other clear doctrinal passages.
Matthew 24 (cf. Mark 13 & Luke 21)
passage says nothing about a reign of Jesus on earth for 1000 years, hence it
cannot be used to prove premillennialism. It is mainly used to prove Jesus is
about to come plus the "rapture." But we have already seen there will
be no signs for Jesus' second coming.
signs Jesus listed are signs of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 - vv 1-34
discussion began with a prophecy of the destruction of the temple (which
occurred in 70 AD). Disciples asked when this would happen, what would be the
signs of His coming and of the end of the age. It was the disciples, not Jesus,
who tied the destruction of the temple with the end of the age.
13:2-4 - The signs pertain to Jesus' coming in judgment in the destruction of
the temple. [Luke 21:5-7]
warns them not to be led astray. Many today are led astray in these matters.
these signs can be shown by the Bible or history to have been fulfilled before
the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD:
Wars and rumors of wars (vv 6,7). Note that "the end is not yet."
(Wallace p. 249
and earthquakes (v7; cf. Acts 11:28ff; Wallace, p. 250).
Persecution of Christians (vv 8-13; cf. Acts 6-12, etc.)
Gospel preached to the whole world, then the end shall come (v14). Note that
this was fulfilled in the first century - see Col. 1:5,6,23.
15-20 - The final sign plus exhortation to flee the city.
The abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place as spoken by Daniel
[Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11]. Luke 21:20 explains that this was a prophecy that
Jerusalem would be surrounded by Roman armies. [Cf. Matt. 23:38]
16-20 - Then those in Judea should flee. Luke 21:20,21 - When
"Jerusalem" is surrounded, people in the city should leave and those
outside should not go in. If this is Jesus' return to rapture His people, why
flee to the hills? Why should only those in Jerusalem and Judea flee? [Luke
says the Romans entered the temple, then unexplainably retreated, Christians
fled, and the siege began (Wallace, p. 252).
21-31 - Prophecy of suffering during the siege and destruction
18-26 - Great tribulation during those days. Josephus says the famine, disease,
and war killed 1,100,000 people. (Wallace, p. 253f).
27-31 - The Son of Man comes in judgment and destruction. This is symbolic, not
a personal coming. The Old Testament used similar language for God's coming in
destruction and judgment on a nation (Isa. 19:1; 13:10; 27:13; 34:4,5; Jer.
15:9; Ezek. 32:7,8; Joel 2:10,30,31; cf. Matt. 26:64; Psalms 97:2,3).
forth the angels (lit. "messengers") to gather the elect refers to
preaching the gospel, which went forth as a result of the fall of Judaistic
persecution (Isaiah 11:11-16; Acts 2:39; Romans 15:12; Wallace, p. 254f; cf.
"elect" in v22).]
32-34 - Summary of the nature of signs and time of events
32,33 - These are signs like signs of seasons. By them you know an event is
This is the key verse. "This generation will by no means pass away till
all these things are fulfilled." The destruction of Jerusalem occurred
within 40 years of this time.
(Greek gene) - "the whole multitude of men living at the same time ...
used esp. of the Jewish race living at one and the same period ..." -
Matt. 23:36; 12:39-45; 17:17; 11:16; Luke 17:25; Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:15; Heb.
3:10. Note that people in the distant past or future are a different generation
- Luke 1:48,50; Acts 13:36; 14:16; 15:21; Eph. 3:5,21; Col. 1:26]
to prepare for Jesus' coming (vv 35-51)
section could still refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, or it could begin a
prophecy of Jesus' second personal coming (with literal destruction of heaven
and earth - v35 cf. 2 Peter 3). In either case, the lesson is that, as at the
flood of Noah, men would be caught unprepared, so Christians should get ready.
[Cf. Wallace, p. 257ff]
40,41 - Two in the field or grinding - one taken and the other left. This
simply refers to a separation.
does not say one would be mysteriously whisked away to be with Jesus. It does
not say where one would be "taken" or what would happen to the other
who would be "left."
is the destruction of Jerusalem, believers would flee and be saved, but
unbelievers would remain and suffer; hence, a separation (vv 15,16ff).
is Jesus' personal return, all will gather before Jesus for judgment
(25:31-46). Of the two which had been in the field, etc., there would be
separation when they come before Jesus for judgment - one taken to eternal
reward and one left to destruction.
case, Matt. 24 does nothing to prove the premillennial view.
4-6. This is the only Scripture that mentions a 1000-year reign of any kind.
Other "proof-texts" premillennialists offer do not even mention a
1000-year reign. If this one does not prove a literal, earthly 1000-year reign
of Christ, then no passage anywhere proves it.
the things this passage does not prove, but which it must prove if
premillennialism is true.
literal resurrection followed by a literal 1000-year reign.
1:1,2 - The introduction of the book shows that the message would be conveyed
in symbols or "signs." The visions John saw were
"signified" to him. "Signify"means "to give a sign, to signify, indicate" -
Grimm-Wilke-Thayer (related to the word for "a sign, mark, token").
By definition a sign or symbol is something that refers to something else, but
not literally to itself. (Examples illustrating this use of "signify"
are John 12:32,33; 21:18,19; Acts 11:28.)
some examples of symbols in Rev. 20: chain (v1), dragon (v2), beheaded souls
(v4), beast (v4). Are these all literal?
some symbols in the context of Rev. 20: great harlot (19:2), the Lamb (19:9),
marriage of the Lamb (19:9), rides a white horse (19:11), eyes like a flame of
fire (19:12), sword out of his mouth (19:15,21), treads the winepress of God's
wrath (19:15). Are these literal descriptions of a literal king?
these are not literal but symbolic, then why take the 1000 years, the first
resurrection, or the reign to be literal, earthly, or physical? Should one
passage in a symbolic context be used to reach conclusions completely contrary
to clear truths taught elsewhere in doctrinal contexts?
other obviously symbolic uses of the number 1000 in poetic or prophetic
contexts. The idea is a large and complete number: the whole or completeness of
some large quantity.
50:10 - The cattle on a thousand hills belong to God.
105:8 - God's word is remembered to a thousand generations.
90:4; 2 Peter 3:8 - 1000 years is as a day and a day as 1000 years.
resurrection of all the righteous
says all the righteous will participate in the first resurrection, but the
passage says it is a resurrection of those beheaded for Jesus' testimony (v4) -
beheaded martyrs. If we take the passage literally, as premillennialists
insist, then what will happen to those faithful saints who were not beheaded?
on earth, especially in Jerusalem
passage nowhere mentions the earth, Jerusalem, or even Palestine. All these
things are essential to premillennialism, but none are found in Rev. 20, which
is the only passage mentioning a thousand-year reign. Where is there any
passage that says Jesus will set foot on earth again, let alone reign from
Jerusalem in Palestine?
civil, political reign like David's.
nature of the reign is nowhere stated as being political like David's. Yet that
is what premillennialism requires.
that follows Jesus' second personal coming.
personal, literal coming of Jesus is nowhere mentioned as occurring before this
1000 years. [The battle of chap. 19 is symbolic like Old Testament comings in
judgment - see notes on Matt. 24 above.]
this passage serve as the fundamental proof text of premillennialism, when it
omits most of the major elements of the doctrine? All it mentions are 1000
years, a reign, and a resurrection, but the context implies these are symbolic
not literal. And all the other major elements of premillennialism are missing.
Is this a solid foundation for premillennialism?
does the passage really mean?
the following explanation can be improved, but I simply seek to illustrate the
fact that explanations do exist which fit the passage and harmonize with other
context of the book
is addressed to the seven churches of Asia, who were suffering persecution
(1:4; chap. 2,3). It is written to offer hope of deliverance (2:9,10; 3:13). It
discusses things that must come to pass "shortly" (1:1,3;
22:6,10,12,20). It was written in symbolic language so Christians would
understand it but enemies would not. [Cf. Matt. 13:11]
- Souls under the altar are God's faithful people who have been martyred for
His cause. They ask when their blood will be avenged. Despite their
faithfulness, they appear to have suffered defeat and want to know when victory
resurrection - another symbol
- The same beheaded, martyred souls here reign victoriously. Physical
resurrection is victory over death. So "resurrection" serves as a
symbol of victory - in this case victory over the oppressors who cause
suffering and persecution (see Isaiah 26:13-19; Hosea 13:14; Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Note especially the Ezekiel passage, where people were suffering and thought
they had no hope. But God offers them hope, symbolized by a resurrection or
return to life.
is the meaning here, then the first-century Christians were suffering,
persecuted, and needed hope. Had their hope died? No, the assurance here is
that they will be victorious! They will live again - i.e., they will be
victorious, and this assurance of victory gives hope. This is the "first
resurrection" - a resurrection of hope and victory despite persecution and
reign with Christ - yet another symbol
2:26,27 Jesus had promised that those who overcome will rule the nations with a
rod of iron even as he had received authority from His Father. In 3:21 He makes
a similar promise to the Laodicea church that they will sit with Him on His
throne, as He sat with His Father on His throne after He overcame.
does Jesus rule? He rules now as King of His spiritual Kingdom the church. See
Psalms 110:5,6 (cf. vv 1-4); Rev. 12:5; Acts 2:29-36; 13;33; Eph. 1:20-23 (see
our studies about the spiritual reign of Christ in His church). And His
faithful rule with Him: Rev. 1:5,6; 3:21; 5:9,10; 20:4,6; 22:5; Rom. 5:17; cf.
Luke 19:19-19; Matt. 25:21,23; 19:28; 2 Tim. 2:12; Dan. 7:9,22; 1 Cor. 6:2.
follows that the reference to Christians sitting in Christ's throne is
spiritual, not physical, even as Jesus' rule is spiritual not physical. The
passage symbolically describes the victory of persecuted saints over their enemies.
The saints have been slain (death/defeat) but are raised to rule by achieving
victory over their enemies. The 1000 years does not refer to a specific length
of time but represents the completeness of the victory (1000 represents
application to us is that, just as these people suffered for the Lord, so will
we at times. But just as they were ultimately victorious to reign over their
enemies, so will we.
is a theory unproved and unprovable. The texts used to uphold it provide no
evidence that they teach what the theory states.
danger of the doctrine is that it contradicts, denies, and undermines many
essential truths of the gospel. It is much more than just unfounded
speculation. It is false doctrine that leads those who accept it to belittle
the position of Christ, the nature of His kingdom, the significance of His
church, the gospel, His death, and the importance of spiritual matters in
true Christian must oppose it.
Copyright 10/95, 8/06 David E. Pratte You are free to keep copies of this material on computer and/or in printed form for your own further study. If you have any other requests about the use of this material, please read our copyright guidelines at www.gospelway.com/copyrite.htm.