Overview of Revelation: What is Premillennialism? Debate over Revelation 20

Within the study of eschatology is the debate about when will Jesus come again.  There are three main interpretations of the Bible here known as amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism.  These beliefs all stem from Revelation 20 where Jesus’ Second Coming and the Millennium is discussed in some detail.

What is premillennialism?  This is the belief that Jesus will physically come again (the Second Coming) before (“pre” means before in Latin) the ushering in of the Millennium spoken about in the book of Revelation (Revelation 20:1-6).  Jesus comes, the Millennium begins, giving unbelievers a chance to turn to God, Satan in bound and then he’ll lead a final revolt, then the judgment occurs.

Amillennialism (“a” means no in Greek) is the belief that the book of Revelation is figurative and the time frame is indeterminate. Revelation 20 refers to the church age during which Satan’s power over the nations is restrained so the gospel can reach more people.  This belief holds that we are already in the church age, waiting for Christ to come and judge, and therefore Christ’s reign is in heaven and not here on earth.

Postmillennialists (“post” means after in Latin) see the millennium as a future period when truth will be revealed and accepted by the majority of people.  They believe in the literal 1000 year period or Golden Age but unlike the premillennialists, they believe the church, man, and nations will all eventually turn to Christ first and only when the majority of the world is ready for Christ will he return physically to earth and judge mankind and usher in the New World Order.  They believe the 1000 years has not begun yet.

Did you catch the key difference between the postmillennialists and the premillennialists? Postmillennialists believe man will convert people and reference Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission).  Premillennialists believe Jesus himself will come and convert the majority of mankind to him.

In sum, amillennialists don’t believe in a physical coming of Jesus.  Postmillennialists and premillennialists believe Jesus will physically come to usher in his kingdom–the debate is in the details of when as well as the actual 1000 year period itself.

All agree that this world will end and Jesus will establish an eternal kingdom here on earth. The debate is over how and when.  Again, does it matter?  We can hold onto the hope and the truth that there will be a time when Jesus will reign.  For now, he reigns in our hearts.

This is at the end of our study but it’s good to have this idea in your head now and be thinking on it as we go along.  Perhaps there will be clues elsewhere.

To me, this is just plain interesting.  I love how God doesn’t make it clear because I believe the details don’t matter to Him.  He wants us.  Always has.  Always will.  As long as we’re secure in Him, the rest is merely fodder for the soul.


4 thoughts on “Overview of Revelation: What is Premillennialism? Debate over Revelation 20

  1. Well, AToZ Mom is doing her usual great job of giving us a heads up as a preview of what is to come in her last several posts.There was an interesting post on her site on 7/21 by “dillicas” that posted a reply from Todd Wethall @ BSF headquarters on the approach they would take. You can read the note that explains that BSF holds a premillennial view. All the three views were summarized by AToZ above. They are held by Christians, but they differ in WHEN Jesus reigns and the TIMING of His reign. One comment I would offer is that all 3 positions believe in a literal and physical 2nd Coming of Jesus. However, A-millennialism does deny that the reign of Jesus will be a literal, physical kingdom here on earth. For the a-millennialist, the reign of Christ is a present spiritual kingdom, where Jesus reigns in the hearts of believers. They believe that Jesus will return at His Second Coming to judge all people and bring in the eternal state. They also deny a literal 7 year period of Tribulation before the Second Coming, and deny a literal 1000 year period of reign after His Second Coming, thus the term “a-millennial” meaning “no” millennial. Every thing in AtoZ’s commentary above was right on, except her statement of “in sum, a-millenialist don’t believe in a physical coming of Jesus.” They do believe that Jesus will return in physical form, but just believe that Christ is ruling and reigning on earth right now in the hearts of believers. Then someday in the future there will be a physical Second Coming of Jesus followed by the eternal state and no actual 1000 year reign on the physical earth.
    Sometimes the three positions can be confusing, and I heard a preacher one time say he prefers the term “Pan-Millennialism” because it will all “pan out” in the end, and thus not getting overly stress on which position to take. In the end Jesus triumphs over evil. The Book of Revelation is all about the revealing of Jesus. It is always interesting to study about the Anti-Christ(the beast), the false prophet, the red dragon(Satan), Armageddon, etc. HOWEVER, we need to look up to Jesus and look to His Coming in victory and not the other sinister characters in God’s plan for the ages! Sometimes in the study of this great book, we get hung up in symbols, dramatic episodes, etc. and overlook that Jesus is the main character in the play as He has been in the entire Bible!


  2. Thanks for putting us in the mind frame, it helps us to begin thinking and preparing ourselves for this years study of Revelation. I appreciate the time you take to explain, I know it’s God work and you definitely following His calling.


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