Question One: Will there be a Millennium - an earthly reign of Christ?
Arguments for Yes
- A natural reading of Revelation 20 suggests that there will be a literal one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ, with two separate resurrections.
- A number of passages appear to teach about a time that sounds like the millennium (Psalm 72:8-14; Isaiah 11:2-9; 65:20; Zechariah 14:6-21; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
Arguments for No
- Only one passage (Revelation 20:1-6) appears to teach a future earthly millennial reign of Christ, and that passage is obscure. It is unwise to base a major doctrine of Scripture on one passage of uncertain interpretation.
- Neither Jesus nor Paul taught about the millennium. The millennium is not mentioned in the Bible outside of Revelation.
- A number of Scriptures teach that Satan is presently being restrained - Matthew 12:28-29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Hebrews 2:14; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 12
- Revelation is a symbolic book. The "thousand years" or Revelation 20 signifies the idea of perfection or completeness, representing the completeness of Christ's victory over Satan, and the perfect joy of the redeemed in heaven.
- Scripture seems to indicate that all the major events to come (resurrection of believers and unbelievers, final judgment, establishment of new heaven and earth, eternal state) will happen at once (Matthew 24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 2 Peter 3:10).
Question Two: Will the Second Coming take place before or after the Millennium?
Arguments for After (That the world will experience Millennial conditions before Christ returns)
- The Great Commission leads us to expect that the gospel eventually spread to the entire world. Since Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and promises to be with us until the fulfillment of the commission, we should expect that the gospel will successfully spread to the entire world (Matthew 28:18-20).
- Jesus gave several parables, which appear to teach the growth of the kingdom until it fills the world with its influence (Matthew 13:31-33).
- Many verses speak of God redeeming the world (Psalms 47, 72, and 100; Isaiah 45:22-25; Zechariah 9:10; Hosea 2:23; Revelation 7:9-10).
- Angels and saints are described in Scripture as being hosts, myriads, an innumerable multitude, ten thousand times ten thousand (e.g. Luke 2:13; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 5:11). Such language is never used to describe the lost. Heaven is described as being the next world, a great kingdom, a country, a city, whereas hell is pictured as being a comparatively small place: a prison, a lake, a pit (Luke 20:35; Matthew 5:3; Hebrews 11:16; 1 Peter 3:19; Revelation 19:20; 21:1, 8-16).
- Historically speaking, the world is becoming increasingly Christian. Social conditions are improving.
Arguments for Before (That the Millennium will not begin before Christ returns)
- Biblical data seems to indicate a great wickedness and a cooling off of the faith of many before Christ's return (Matthew 24-25 - especially 24:21-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Further, the Bible never teaches an earthly reign of Christ without his physical presence.
- The Bible teaches that relatively few will believe (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 18:8).
- The world is not becoming a better place. We see unprecedented levels of drug abuse, marital infidelity, pornography, homosexuality, rebellion against authority, superstition, materialism, greed, and falsehood.
- Many passages teach that Christ could return at any time and that we must be ready (Matthew 24:42-44; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 22:20). This would seem to contradict the idea of a long period of time required for the millennium on earth preceding his return.
- Postmillennialists do not agree on the subject of the two resurrections of Revelation 20.
Question Three: Will Christ remove the church before the Tribulation, or will he return after the Tribulation?
Arguments for Before (That the church will escape the Tribulation)
- The Tribulation is a time for the outpouring of God's wrath. It is not appropriate for Christians to be subjected to God's wrath. Paul promised the Thessalonians that they would not experience the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).
- Jesus promises in Revelation 3:10, "I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." This seems to indicate that the church will be taken out of the world before that hour of trial comes. In fact, nowhere does Scripture speak of the church being present during the Tribulation.
- If Christ returns after the Tribulation and defeats all his enemies, then there will not be enough unbelievers left to populate the millennial kingdom.
Arguments for After (That Christ will return after the Tribulation)
- Matthew 24 says the elect will be present during the Tribulation. Consistent with the usage of this term throughout Scripture, the elect refers to believers.
- Revelation 3:10 does not go so far as to say that the entire church will be taken out of the world before the Tribulation. It is made to one church. It could refer to a time of suffering that took place in the Roman Empire. It promises that God will guard them, but not necessarily remove them from the world.
- Tribulation has been the experience of Christ and the church throughout the ages (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7). Therefore, it would not be surprising if the church endured the Great Tribulation.
- Many verses, naturally interpreted, seem to indicate that the hope of the church is the return of Christ after the Tribulation (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-8; 2:1-12; Revelation 19:1-9).
- If the church is going to be taken out of the world before the Tribulation, one would think that the New Testament would explicitly teach this. Instead, the Bible teaches a public and visible rapture just moments prior to his coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
- The New Testament does not seem to justify the idea of two separate returns of Christ (once for his church, and seven years later to bring judgment), or the idea of a secret return of Christ.
- Pretribulation teachings are based on inferences from disputed passages. If Scripture clearly taught the pretribulation position, it should have been discovered before the nineteenth century. Instead, the majority of those in church history have believed that the church would go through the Tribulation.