The Millennial kingdom
refers to the thousand-year
reign of Christ
specifically mentioned in Revelation
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
This is usually seen as the same Messianic Kingdom anticipated by the Old Testament prophets
. The major views regarding this millennial kingdom follow:
- Dispensational premillennialists propose that Christ’s return will precede the millennium but will be in two stages: First, to rapture his saints, leaving all others behind, and then after seven years of tribulation, to publicly institute his visible millennial reign. Dispensationalism also has a uniquely Jewish view of the millennium in which God will literally fulfill his OT promises to ethnic Israel, promises not given to Gentile believers.
- Historic premillennialists, following some of the early church fathers, teach that the return of Christ will precede a literal thousand years of peace in which Christ would reign upon earth.
- Postmillennialists generally see the millennial kingdom as a “golden age” ushered in by the church through the triumph of the gospel, not only in bringing individuals to salvation, but also in dominating culture. In this view, Christ’s return is at the culmination (conclusion) of this millennial age, hence the name post-millennial.
- Amillennialists believe that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is a figurative number indicating the whole period between Jesus’ resurrection and his return (i.e. the current church age). In this view Christ now reigns and rules from heaven in and through the church bringing people into the kingdom of God through the preaching of the gospel.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The word “rapture” comes from the Latin rapere
used by the Vulgate
to translate the Greek
, which is rendered by the phrase “caught up” in most English translations. See below:
It is the term used primarily in Dispensationalism
to refer to the “catching up” of believers who are alive at the Lord’s return, which they see as an event preceding the Lord’s “official” second coming
, and the setting up of his millennial Kingdom
on earth. Dispensational premillennialists distinguish the rapture from Christ’s second coming to earth. The degree to which the rapture is secret or public is a separate issue. The timing of the rapture is associated with a final period of Tribulation
anticipated by Scripture
The majority view taught in dispensationalism
, is referred to as the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. This is the belief that the Rapture will occur sometime prior to the beginning of “Daniel’s 70th Week,” interpreted as the final seven years of this age. In this view, believers will be translated into immortal bodies in the Rapture before the great persecutions by the Antichrist and seven years of Tribulation
. Central passages for this view include 1 Thessalonians 4-5
, Revelation 3:10
, and all the passages that describe the Tribulation, but lack the word ekklesia in them (e.g., Daniel 9
; 12; The Olivet Discourse; and Rev. 4-18
According to this view, the Christian Church (that existed prior to this seven year period) has no vital role in Daniel’s seventieth week and is therefore removed from the scene while God completes his program for Israel. The pre-trib rapture is the view popularized through the work of dispensational preachers such as Hal Lindsey
and Tim LaHaye
in his recent Left Behind
novel series. However, the definitive works on the subject include John Walvoord’s The Rapture Question,
J. Dwight Pentecost’s Things to Come,
and Charles Ryrie’s Dispensationalism
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (Matthew 24:21
) Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13
) The Great Tribulation
is the specific event of God’s judgment carried out upon the earth “immediately prior to the second coming of Christ in glory.
In the futurist scheme of Christian eschatology, the Tribulation is a relatively short period of worldwide persecution and judgment lea
ding up to the Second coming
of Jesus Christ. For Historic and Dispensational Premillennialists
, this also precedes the establishment of his earthly Millennial Kingdom
More specifically, the tribulation is seen as corresponding to Daniel’s “seventieth week” and lasting 3.5 years — the seven years of the “seventieth week” is divided into two periods of 3.5 years, the first 3.5 years are believed to be a time of security but the last 3.5 years is identified as “the Great Tribulation” a time of severe persecution of God’s people.
The time period for these beliefs is based on the phrase “time, times, and half a time” found several places in the book of Daniel (e.g. Daniel 12:5-7
), and interpreted as “a year, two years, and half a year.” The phrase also occurs in Revelation 12:14
, with the related periods of a “thousand two hundred and threescore days” in Rev. 12:6
, and “forty-two months” in Rev. 13:5
. The “thousand two hundred and sixty days” and “forty and two months” are seen as prophetic months (averaging 30 days), hence 1260/30 = 42 months or 3.5 years.