Pre-Millennialism: What it is and Why it is Wrong

I. Introduction

A. Have you ever heard of Dispensationalism, the Rapture or The Thousand Year Reign of Christ in Jerusalem?  These are concepts that are part of the Dispensational Pre-millennialism that we are going to deal with.

B. Even if you don’t know much about pre-millennialism that does not mean that this error is far removed from you.  Most Baptist Churches are pre-millennial along with many independent Bible Churches.


II. Historical and doctrinal background

A. Brief history

1. Pre-millennialism had its beginning in this country about 1850.

2. In 1909, C. J. Scofield published the Scofield Reference Bible, which was a King James Version with his own interpretation given in notes by various texts.  This became and still is the Bible of the Dispensationalists and Pre-millennialists.

B. Dispensationalism.

1. Dispensationalism is the root error of Pre-millennialism.  All Dispensationalists are pre-millennialists, but not all Pre-millennialists are Dispensational.

2. Dispensationalists usually divide the Scripture into seven dispensations or time periods.  They do this according to their own presuppositions as to how all things will end.  Then they interpret the prophesies of the Bible according to their presuppositions.

3. Dispensationalists insist upon a rigid application of an exact literal interpretation of Scripture especially when it has to do with Israel and the Church.

4. Dispensationalism makes a sharp distinction between Israel (the Kingdom people) and the Church.  The Church is composed of those who are saved between Pentecost and the Rapture.

a. Israel and the Church remain distinct throughout history and cannot be viewed as being united into one.

b. Israel is presented as being for and of the earth and the Church is of and for heaven.

5. The result of Dispensationalism’s wrong view of the Church is that it sees the whole of God’s saving relationship to man as centered in His relation to the Jews.

a. The church, the body of Christ, is not part of God’s initial redemptive plan.

b. The Church is a parenthesis or side track to God’s ongoing purpose with Israel.

c. God has two people and two plans.

d. Most of the writings of the O.T. prophets and part of the N.T. belong not to the Church, but to Israel.

6. The concept of Pre-millennialism’s pre-tribulation Rapture arises from Dispensationalism’s concept of the Church.  The Church must be raptured out of the world before the tribulation comes because it is not a part of the kingdom of Israel.


III. Now let us look at Pre-millennialism more specifically.

A. The name Pre-millennialism expresses that they believe that Christ will return before (pre) the millennium.  Millennium means literally 1000 years.

B. They teach that Christ comes twice before the millennium.

1. The Rapture.  Christ’s first coming is called the Rapture or secret rapture.

a. It is an invisible coming of Christ for His saints (Church).

b. No signs signal this coming of Christ which can happen at any time.

c. The wicked will not know what happened when suddenly drivers of cars, planes and trains are caught up or raptured thus causing crashes and mass confusion.  Graves of the saved are opened and their bodies resurrected, and the living faithful shall be transformed.

d. The raptured ones shall go to be with Christ in the air for 7 years.

1) During these 7 years the great tribulation takes place, but the church escapes this in the air.

2) The purpose of the tribulation is to purify the unconverted on earth.

3) Many will be converted, especially the Jews, who will return to Palestine.

4) The Antichrist will reign in Jerusalem.

2. The Revelation.  This second coming of Christ takes place after the 7 years of tribulation.  (The Rapture is called Christ’s coming FOR His church, the Revelation is Christ’s coming WITH His Church).

a. Antichrist will be destroyed by Christ at this time.

b. Satan will be bound for 1000 years.

3. The Millennium

a. During the Millennium Christ will reign with His people in peace and prosperity for 1000 years from Jerusalem.

1) Some teach that the Millennium is only for the Jews and the Church is in heaven with God.

2) Others teach that both Israel and the Church will be in the Millennial Kingdom.

b. Pre-millennialists believe that this will be the time when the prophecies concerning Christ’s glory and kingdom will be fulfilled on earth.

1) Christ will sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem.

2) Some teach that the temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices will be reinstituted as commemorations of Christ’s death.

c. After the Millennium Satan will be loosed for a short time in order to deceive the nations of Gog and Magog.

1) These nations will attack Jerusalem, only to be destroyed by Christ as He comes for Judgment (a third coming).

2) After the final judgment the eternal state will begin.

a) Some teach that the Kingdom people and the Church will be united in the new heavens and the new earth.

b) Others teach that the Jews will be forever on the new earth and the Church eternally in heaven.

IV. What we believe:  Our view is called A-Millennialism (no-millennium).

A. We do not expect a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth.  The millennium mentioned in Rev. 20 refers to the entire new dispensation from Pentecost to the end of the world.

1. Rev. 20:2, 3, 7 speaks of Satan being bound for 1000 years.  This must not be interpreted literally, but symbolically, and as part of a vision.

2. Satan is not bound absolutely so he can do nothing, but that he is so limited in his work that he cannot deceive the nations to battle against the Christian nations.

B. We believe that Christ comes once at the end of the world.  He comes personally and visibly, not secretly as Pre-millennialism teaches with the Rapture.

1. The Pre-millennial view of the Rapture with two or three comings of Christ contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible in Matt. 24:30 & 37.

2. Pre-millennialism thinks that it finds Biblical basis for a secret coming of Christ (Rapture) in I Thess. 4:17.  Not so!

a. Paul teaches that those who die before Christ returns will not miss out.

b. The dead in Christ shall rise first and then those who are alive and remain will be caught up (raptured) at the same time to meet the Lord in the air.

c. They shall be with the Lord forever, not 7 years as Pre-millennialism teaches.

C. We believe that there is one people of God.

1. There is one way of salvation in both O.T. and N. T., by faith in Christ as God promised (Gal. 3:6-9).

2. There is one people of God in both O.T. and N.T. (Gal 3:28-29; Eph. 2:12-15).

D. We believe that the Bible ought to be interpreted literally except when the context makes it plain that it must be taken symbolically.

1. Pre-millennialism, in always interpreting the O.T. prophets literally, run themselves into many absurdities, e.g., interpreting Isa. 65:17ff literally, which they believe will be fulfilled in the Millennium.  Read Rev. 21:1-5 in this connection.  How do you think this must be interpreted?

2. Pre-millennialism’s rigid literalism of the O.T. prophets leads them to expect the nation of Israel today must be restored because there Christ will literally reign in the Millennium.

E. We believe that the Church will go through great tribulation before Christ comes again as clearly taught in Matt. 24:21-24.

1. Pre-millennialism denies this truth with its teaching of the Rapture through which, they say, the Church will escape the Tribulation.

2. Pre-millennialism holds before its followers a distorted and unbiblical view of what will happen before the eternal state comes.  This is spiritually dangerous.

F. We believe that Christ’s coming is marked by the signs given in the Bible (Matt 24:3ff) and not as Pre-millennialism teaches that Christ’s first coming (the Rapture) is without any signs.

V. Questions

1. Why do you think the Pre-millennialists call the Rapture “The Blessed Hope” of the Christian?

2. Is the Rapture the real hope of the Christian?  See Rev. Kuiper’s article on the Rapture in the S.B.

3. What dangers do you see in the Pre-millennial teaching that Christians will not have to face the Great Tribulation?

4. How can you be ready to face the Great Tribulations or Persecution?

5. Why are the O.T. Jews called the “Kingdom People” by Pre-millennialism?

6. What kind of Kingdom is looked for by Pre-millennialism?

7. Can you show from the Bible the kind of Kingdom we are expecting?

8. How has Pre-millennialism shaped the thinking of many in our country concerning the Jewish State today?

9. Do you believe that Christ will literally sit on David’s throne in earthly Jerusalem?

10. If Isa. 65:17ff is not fulfilled in an earthly Millennium then when is it fulfilled?

VI. Resources

Standard Bearer, Vol. 67, No. 11 p. 225, Feb. 15, 1991, The Millennium by Rev. B. Gritters.

Standard Bearer, Vol. 66, No. 13, p. 307, April 1, 1990, Book Review of The Nations, Israel and the Church in Prophecy, by Prof. H. Hanko

Standard Bearer, Vol. 66, No. 7, p. 155, Jan. 1, 1990, The Illusory Hope of the Rapture, by Rev. D. Kuiper