An Outline of Biblical Eschatology

August 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

The study of the end times is something that many people agree will happen. However, many people disagree about the manner in which the end times will occur. This blog post presents a biblical outline of eschatology (the study of “last things”). This outline is derived from the notes of Dr. Lanier Burns who teaches Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. 

An Outline of Biblical Eschatology

I.     ESCHATOLOGY IS ABOUT HOPE

A.    First and foremost, Eschatology is about hope. 

B.    Biblical Evidence of Hope

1.     Old Testament (Isa 11:1; Lam 3:25-26)

“The believer’s hope is in God, trusting His mercy, truthfulness, loyal love, and power for what he has promised” (Lanier Burns, “The Importance of Eschatology: The Priority of Hope,” in ST106 class notes, Dallas Theological Seminary, spring, 2015, 68).

2.     New Testament (1 John 2:28; 3:3; Heb 6:19-20; 10:23)

“The NT focuses on elpis [ελπις: hope, expectation] on every day concerns” (Lanier Burns, “The Importance of Eschatology: The Priority of Hope,” 70).

C.     We should have faith in many things, but hope in the promises of God are the good ones.

II.     BIBLICAL BASIS FOR ESCHATOLOGY

A.     Adamic Decree (Gen 1:26-28)

1.     The Creational Decree

a)     “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26–27, NLT)

(1)     From this man was supposed to “rule” or “reign.”

(1)     From this man was supposed to be “fruitful” and “multiply.”

(1)     From this man was supposed to a family and live harmoniously.

b)     Psalm 8; Hosea 6:7; Hebrews 2:5–9; Rev 21-22

c)     “Adam was not created merely innocent but with a positive holiness that enabled him to have face-to-face communication with God. Neverless, his holiness was not the same as the Creator’s, for it was limited by virtue of Adam’s being a creature” (Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism¸ revised and expanded [Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007], 59.

2.     The Fall

“The Fall is clearly one of the most important watersheds in Scripture, requiring adjustment in humanity’s ‘economic’ (dispensational) understanding of divine and human relationships” (Burns, “The Eschatology of the Pentateuchal Covenants, Part 1, Adam and Noah,” 146-147).

“Human rebellion jeopardized that blessing to the point of bringing the human race and most of life on the earth to the point of extinction. Individually, all people faced death. Collectively, entire families, tribes, and cultures along with terrestrial life itself could be lost” (Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993], 129).

a)     Gen 3 (cf. Rom 5:12-15, 18)

“He [Adam] failed the test about eating, and, as a result, far-reaching judgments were pronounced on him, his wife, mankind, the serpent, and the creation.”
Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 59

(1)     “The Fall introduces the REDEMPTIVE THEME in progressive revelation that extends from the ‘covering of skins’ in Gen 3:21 to the final cleansing judgments based on the Cross, when ‘there will no longer by any sea’ (Rev. 21:1) which is the biblical symbol for the chaos of sin” (Burns, “The Eschatology of the Pentateuchal Covenants, Part 1, Adam and Noah,” 147).

(2)     “At the same time that God pronounced his judgment, He also graciously intervened, promised a Redeemer, and made immediate provision for the acceptability of Adam and Eve in their sinful condition before God” (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 59).

b)     Burns’ 3 Universal Apostasies of Fallen Humanity

(1)     The Flood (Gen 6:1-8)

(2)     The Dispersion (Gen 11:1-9)

(3)     The Apostasy of the End Time (Matt 24:36-39; 1 Peter 3:18–22, 2 Peter 2:4–10; 3:8-10)

B.     Noahic Covenant (Gen 9)

1.     The extreme sinfulness against God continues in history.

2.     “God repeats His Adamic decree to Noah with the significant stipulations about the sacredness of blood, a redemptive theme that was at the core of the sacrificial system (Lev 17:10-16)” (Burns, “The Eschatology of the Pentateuchal Covenants: Part 1, Adam and Noah,” 151).

3.     First time the word “covenant” (בְּרִית) is used is in Gen 9:13, and 199 times after that in the OT (Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. [Logos Research Systems, 2000] 136).

4.     Allen Ross captures the perspective of this story (Gen 9:18-29) in light of its larger context, “It is important to remember the purpose and focus of this section of the book: the record of world events under the Curse” (Allen Ross, “Genesis,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip Comfort, vol. 1 [Tyndale, 2008], 80).

C.     Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12-22)

“The Abrahamic covenant clarifies the way in which God will fulfill for humanity the blessing promised to Noah for all flesh. . . The blessing is not full detailed in the Genesis narratives but subject to further revelation” (Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 139-140).

1.     The “Promise” Provided to Abraham (12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:18-21; 17:1-8; 22:16-18)

The AC [Abrahamic Covenant] represents a distanced dispensational stage in the development of God’s salvation of the earth, and it would not be inappropriate to designate the stage as ‘promise.’ God’s plan that had been given to Adam and Noah is now mediated through Abraham and Israel, the nation of Israel being the new aspect of the dispensational transition” (Burns, “The Eschatology of the Pentateuchal Covenants: Part 2, Abraham,” 169).

a)     blessing (12:3)

b)     the family . . . nation (12:1; 17:2)

“The successive election of the patriarchs and the response of God in faith reveal two important principles for the history of Israel: (1) further selectivity in the physically elect line is possible; and (2) the true heirs are those who believe in God, those who receive the covenant from Him by faith” (Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 137).

c)     unconditional promises (12, 15)

“The abiding nature of the Abrahamic covenant provides the ultimate revelation of its unconditionally. While God imposes various obligations on Abraham’s descendants, biblical history records numerous failures on their part in meeting them. Nevertheless, this covenantal relationship remains in force through the generations, guiding the history of redemption to a blessed conclusion” (Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 135).

“Heb ‘my covenant.’ The Hebrew word בְּרִית (bérit) can refer to (1) the agreement itself between two parties (see v. 7), (2) the promise made by one party to another (see vv. 2–3, 7), (3) an obligation placed by one party on another, or (4) a reminder of the agreement. In vv. 9–10 the word refers to a covenantal obligation which God gives to Abraham and his descendants” (Translation Note for Gen 17:9, Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible, First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible [Biblical Studies Press, 2006])

d)     the land (15:17-19; see 1 Chr 16:15-17 & Ps 105:8 as referencing the “capital city”)

e)     the sign . . . circumcision (17:11)

“The rite of circumcision as an outward sign is added. Paul, in speaking of the need for faith ‘to circumcise the note,’ notes that the sign of the seed was added only AFTER the covenant had been established and ratified in Genesis 15. . . Circumcision is associated with an identification of God and the family” (Burns, “Eschatology of Pentateuchal Covenants,” 174).

f)     conditional blessings (18:18-19; 22:15)

(1)     This is a statement of conditionality for the blessings upon that generation, not for the seed.

(2)     In other words, “the requirements of the Abrahamic Covenant are obedience for blessing in this life rather than conditions for its fulfillment” (Burns, “Eschatology of Pentateuchal Covenants,” 176).

(3)     See Lanier Burns, “Eschatology of the Pentateuchal Covenants, Abraham” 177-182 for the conditionality and unconditionality of the Abrahamic Covenant.

2.     The Unconditionality of the Abrahamic Covenant

a)     Biblical Texts (Gen 15; Ex 32:1-14)

b)     Because the Abrahamic Covenant is a continuum of the intention of the Adamic Decree, then the Abraham Covenant likely is unconditional.

c)     The Abramic Covenant is by its own nature a gracious commitment from God to fulfill specific promises.

d)     God formalized the Covenant in an unconditional way (Gen 15).

3.     The “Promise” Received to Jews & Gentiles (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; 11; Gal 3:11)

Righteousness is Based on Faith

a)     Paul quotes Gen 15:6 as Abraham is an example (Rom 4:1-4, 9, 22; Gal 3:36).

b)     More parallels (Rom 4:6-8 = Ps 32:102; Rom 4:10-11 = Gen 17:11ff).

c)     “Faith” is seen as the “just life” (Rom 1:16-17; Gal 3:8-9).

D.     Mosaic Covenant (Exodus-Deuteronomy)

“To the children of Israel through Moses was given the great code that we call the Mosaic Law. It consisted of 613 commandments covering all phases of life an activity. It revealed in specific detail God’s will in that economy. . . . The people were responsible to keep all the law (James 2:10), but they failed (Rom. 10:1-3). As a result, there were many judgments through this long period [Exod 19:1-Acts 1:26]” (Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 63).

1.     The Nature of the Covenant

a)     Suzerainty-Vassal (sovereign-slave or ruler-subject) Treaty Form

(1)   Suzerain-Vassal Treaty Defined

“The Abrahamic Covenant was a “grant” covenant; meaning it was a unilateral covenant from God to Abraham. The Mosaic Covenant is a ‘Suzerain-vassal’ treaty between a king (Suzerain) and his subjects (vassals). The Suzerain-vassal treaty is a bilateral agreement between the king and the nation subject to him where the king promises to allow his subjects to enjoy a peaceful life in return for their service to the king” (Bock and Blaising, Progressive Dispensationalism, 142).

(2)   Elements of a Suzerain-Vassal Treaty

(a)     Identity of the King (Exod 20:2; Deut 1:1-6)

(b)     Historical Relationships between the King and the People (Exod 20:2; Deut 1:6-4:49)

(c)     Stipulations, the Laws of the King (Exod 20-31; Deut 5-26)

(d)     Blessings and Curses (Lev 26; Deut 27-30)

(e)     Witnesses (Deut 4:26; 30:19; 31:28)

(f)      Ceremonial Meal (Exod 24:9-11)

(g)     Filing of the Treaty (Exod 25:16; 40:21; Deut 31:25-26) (Bock and Blaising, Progressive Dispensationalism, 143)

b)    Unconditional Covenant Conditioned on Obedience

(1)   It rests in the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant of the future.

“The Abrahamic covenant is the fundamental relationship. The Mosaic covenant is dependent upon it” (Bock and Blaising, Progressive Dispensationalism, 144).

(2)   Yet, the current blessings of Israel are dependent on their obedience.

2.     Important Texts of the Covenant

a)    The Continuity of the Law

Exod 19:3-6; Matt 5:17-20; 7:12; 22:34-40; Rom 3:31-4:1; 7:14; 8:4; 13:9-11; 1 Cor 10:6; Gal 5:13-15, 6:2 1 Tim 1:8-9; 1 Pet 2:9

b)    The Discontinuity of the Law

Rom 7:4-7; 10:4; 1 Cor 9:20-21; Gal 3:10-14, 18, 21, 24; Eph 2:14-15; Heb 7:18-19; 8:13; 9:8-9, 14-15; 10:1, 8-14

3.     The Fulfillment of the Law

a)     Partially, the Law was fulfilled by successive faithful remnants of the “house of Israel.”

b)     Fully, the Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matt 5:17; Rom 8:3-4, 10:4).

c)     Reworded, “Him” (Jesus) not “It” (Law).

4.     8 Unique Aspects of the Law

a)     The Law has divisions; they guide application.

b)     The Law should be interpreted through Christ; the use of the OT in the NT.

c)     Some laws cannot apply such Leviticus 20 on capital punishment.

d)     The Law is good; it points to Christ.

e)     The New Covenant (Christ) is “better” than the old.

f)      The Law is weak; it cannot save.

g)     What about discontinuity passages and the clear discontinuities in the New Testament?

h)     The apostolic decision was expressed in Acts 15:7-28 (Lanier Burns, “The Mosaic Covenant: Exodus through Deuteronomy,” PowerPoint).

E.    Davidic Covenant

“The Davidic covenant was given unilaterally as Yahweh promised a Davidic house in response to David’s offer to build Yahweh a house. The provisions of the covenant were unconditionally given even though one provision was a condition assuring God’s discipline of each royal son who sinned” (Elliott Johnson, “Covenants in Traditional Dispensationalism,” in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism [Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999], 139).

1.     The Nature of the Covenant

a)     A Difficult Topic

(1)     Based on the fact that we (Americans) live in a democratic republic which places extremely high value on consensus and majority vote instead of theocratic monocracy (Matt 7:28-29).

(2)     Based on our theology which often prioritizes personal salvation instead of a biblical worldview (Burns, “The Messianic Covenant: David,” PowerPoint).

b)    5 Elements of the Davidic Covenant from 2 Samuel 7:12-16

(1)     It is an unconditional covenant with conditional blessings (vv. 11-12, 15).

(2)     When God makes a covenant with us, he will protect his image (v. 14).

(3)     I will be his father, and he will be my son (v. 14).

(4)     Conditional discipline (v. 14).

(5)     To serve God is to rule the world (Burns, “The Messianic Covenant: David,” PowerPoint)

c)     The Structure of the Davidic Covenant

“The Davidic covenant was established in 2 Samuel 17 and was cast in the form of ancient Near Eastern royal grant treaties. It contained a perpetual and unconditional divine promise to fulfill the grant of dynasty, kingdom, and throne to David and his descendents, culminating in the Davidic Messiah” (Kenneth Barker, “The Scope and Center of Old and New Testament Theology and Hope,” in Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church, edited by Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992], 309).

(1)   The Promise to Build the Davidic Kingdom

“The central and primary promise is that of building the house of David. This is explained by the Lord’s promise to establish the kingdom of David’ descendant, a promise which is repeated four times in 2 Samuel 7, as well as 1 Chronicles 17” (Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 159-160).

(a)     House: Refers to a succession of rulers in which a son was promised in each generation to reign.

(b)     Kingdom: Refers to the relm of reign which includes the chosen people as the descendents of Abraham.

(c)     Throne: Refers to a “chair of state.”

(2)   The Promise of a Special Relationship with David’s Son

“The promise to David was that his son would establish the mode by which God would be present among his people, and by which the people in turn would worship God” (Blaising and Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 161).

(a)     However, if that son was disobedient he was to be disciplined like a wayward child (2 Sam 7:14-15).

(b)     That which was adopted by the Father was promised the privilege of making request for an enlarged in heritance (Elliott Johnson, “Covenants in Traditional Dispensationalism” in Three Centeral Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, 128).

2.     Key Texts of the Covenant

a)    Old Testament

Exod 4:22-23; 2 Sam 7:12-16; Pss 2; 89: 20-27; 110:1, 4

b)    New Testament

Matt 1:1, 17, 20; 3:17; 16:18; 17:1-13; 21:1-11; 22:41-46; 27: 32; Luke 24:26; Acts 2:34 (quote from Pss 110:1, 4); 4:23-26 (quote from Pss 2:1-2); 13: 32-36 (quoted from Pss 2); Rom 1:1-4; Col 1:15, 18 (quote from Pss 89:20-27); Heb 1:5 and 5:5 (each quoted from 2 Sam 2:11-17 and Pss 2); Heb 1:13 (quote from Pss 110:1, 4); Heb 5:6 (quote from Pss 110:1, 4); Heb 7:17-20 (quote from Pss 110:1, 4); Rev 3:7; 22:16-21

3.     The Fulfillment of the Covenant

a)    Followers

As Christians, we are followers of the King (Acts 12:26).

b)    Princes and Princesses

As the spiritual seed of David, we are princes and princess of the King (Rom 1:1-4; 8:17; Gal 4:7).

c)    Ambassadors

As called believers, we are ambassadors of the King (2 Cor 5:20) (Burns, “The Messianic Covenant: David”).

F.    New Covenant

1.     Important Texts of the New Covenant

Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36:24-32; Matt 26:27-29; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3; Heb 8:1-7; 9:8-12, 23-38; 10:11-24

2.     The New Covenant in the Old Testament

a)    The New Covenant Was Promised to Nation of Israel (the entire united nation; both Israel and Judah)

“It is clear from Jeremiah 31:31 that Yahweh promises to make a new covenant with all of Israel, that is, ‘with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.’ . . . One new covenant with Israel and Judah indicates God’s determined purpose to see the divined nation of Israel once again reunited as a single people” (Bruce Ware, “The New Covenant and the People(s) of God,” in Dispesationalism, Israel, and the Church, 70).

b)    The Nature of the Covenant

(1)     Unilateral “Grant”

(a)     Jer 31: “I will” (v. 31); “I will” (v. 33a); “I will” (v. 33b); “I will” (v. 33c); “I will” (v. 34a); “I will” (v. 34b).

(b)     Ezek 36:32

(2)   Conditional Blessings

Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness they still had to endure exile; yet the New Covenant promise still stood. See 2 Chr 7:14.

c)    The Promises of the New Covenant

(1)     A new relationship to the Law (Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26)

(2)     A new relationship to the Spirit (Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26-27)

(3)     A complete forgiveness of Sin (Jer 31:34; Ezek 36:25)

(4)     A relationship with all covenant people (Jer 31:34; Ezek 36:28)

3.     The New Covenant in the New Testament

a)     The Cross of Christ (Heb 8-10)

b)     The Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:6-9; 2:1-6)

4.     Fulfillment of the New Covenant

“The new covenant was instituted only after the death of Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, and then He and the provisions of the covenant were offered to the nation following His resurrection and ascension. Some of the provisions were then made available as given to the remnant gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost. The new covenant will be inaugurated in fulfillment when Israel as a nation will accomplish her national destiny (Rom. 11:26-27)” (Johnson, “Covenants in Traditional Dispensationalism,” in Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, 146).

a)     Christ as the High Priest (Heb 8:1-7; 10:11-17)

b)     Christ’s Body and Blood (Matt 26:27-29; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:7-11)

c)     The Holy Spirit Is Now Present (2 Cor 3:7-11; Heb 9:8-12)

G.     The Day of the LORD

1.     Old Testament

a)     Amos 5:18-24 (“day of the LORD” v. 20)

b)     Obadiah 15-17 (the “day” is near v. 15)

c)     Zechariah 14:1-2 (the “day of the LORD” is coming v. 1)

d)     Zephaniah 1:14-18 (the “terrible day of the LORD is near” v. 14)

e)     Joel 1:15 (the “day of the LORD is near”)

f)     Joel 3:14 (the “day of the LORD will soon arrive”)

2.     New Testament

a)     1 Cor 1:7-8 (the ἀποκαλθψις, εως, f “revelation, disclosure” / “day when Christ returns” v. 8)

b)     1 Thess 5:1-3 (the “day of the Lord’s return” v. 2)

d)     Php 1:4-6 (the “day when Christ Jesus returns” v. 6)

e)     2 Pet 3:10 (the “day of the Lord”)

3.     Conclusions on the “Day of the LORD”

a)     God intervenes to bless and judge according to his word.

b)     The “Day of the LORD” in the Old Testament becomes the “Day of Christ” in the New Testament.

c)     Marv Rosenthal and the “Pre-Wrath” position believes there is a so-called “clear biblical teaching” on this topic, of which there is not. (Which, is why we have so many views!)

III. 3 VIEWS ON THE TRIBULATION

Views on the Tribulation are primarily based on Dan 9:24-27; Matt 15:15; 24:14, 21, 37; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36; John 14:3; 17:15; 1 Cor 15:50-53; 1 Thess 4:13-5:9; 2 Thess 2; Rev 3:10; 6:16-17; 20

A.     Pretribulationism

1.     Summary

The rapture occurs before the Tribulation. The promises of God mean the church does not go through the Tribulation. Rapture passages and second coming are separate events (even if they are discussed in the same passages. Advocated by John Feinberg

2.     Key Texts

Dan 9:24-27; Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:1-51; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36); 1 Thess 4:13-5:9; 2 Thess 2

3.     Problems & Issues

Period of peace? Divine wrath? Complicated?

B.   Midtribulationism

1.     Summary

The rapture occurs in the middle of the Tribulation. Sees the “week” of Daniel 9:24-27 as separated. Advocated by Gleason Archer.

2.     Key Texts

Dan 9:24-27

3.     Problems & Issues

C.   Posttribulationism

1.     Summary

The church is raptured after the Tribulation. This position believes that nothing makes it impossible for the church to endure and experience the Tribulation. Also believes that no description of the Tribulation indicates it is a greater suffering than what has been experienced. Advocated by Douglas Moo and Marv Rosenthal.

2.     Key Texts

Matt 24:21; John 14:3; 1 Cor 15:50-53Rev 6-19

3.     Problems & Issues

IV.  3 VIEWS OF THE MILLENNIUM 

(Material in this post about the “Millennium” is from the book, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond.)

A.     Premillennialism 1

3 Views on the Millennium and BeyondThe premillennial position believes that Jesus will establish his rule for a literal 1,000 years on earth (p. 157). This view believes that Christ will come again at the beginning of the literal 1,000 years of his kingdom and before the new heaven and new earth are created. This 1,000 year kingdom is seen as a complete replacement of the conditions humans now experience on the earth (p. 193).

Currently, the conditions that we live in now are a result of Christ ascending to heaven (Acts 1), Christ sitting at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. But the “fullness of the eschatological kingdom has yet to come” (p. 196). Part of the basis for the premillennial view is that prophets in the Old Testament speak of the future restoration of Israel with the expectation of a worldwide kingdom (Dan 2:34-35, 44; Isa 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-8; p. 193). This worldwide kingdom appears to be uniquely different than what we experience now on earth. There are three stages of resurrection in the premillennial view: 1) Christ, 2) those who belong to Christ (who are raised at his coming), and 3) the end of the kingdom (2 Cor 15:23-24; pp. 203-204). With Jesus’ coming he will raise the dead in two stages: 1) At the beginning of the kingdom so that some can participate with him in the Millennial Kingdom and 2) At the end of the kingdom he will raise the rest of the dead and institute he final judgment (1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:51-58; p. 157-158).

B.     Postmillennialism 2

The postmillennial view states that Christ’s glorious return to the earth will happen after the nonliteral 1,000 year reign of believers on earth. While the premillennialist says Christ comes to bind Satan, the postmillennialist says that Christ already bound Satan when Christ came in the first century. Therefore, the Christian, according to the postmillennial position, is already in the non-literal 1,000 year reign. This means that Satan still has some level of dominion over the world now, but it is not in the same way that he did before Jesus came to earth in the first century AD.

The postmillennial position is partially based on Isa 2:2-4 and Jer 31. Gentry states that Judah and Jerusalem in Isa 2 represent the whole people of God (p. 36). He develops this further stating the “mountain,” “house of the God of Jacob,” and “Zion” referenced in these texts refer to the church, not to the nation of Israel. A belief that the church is now in the nonliteral 1,000 year reign means there is an expectation that a large percentage of the world’s population will turn to Christ by the spirit-blessed proclamation of the gospel (p. 22) which can be summarized into the three theological foundations of postmillennialism: (1) God’s creational purpose based on God’s creation of the perfect world in Genesis means he still has a hope for its restoration (Gen 1:31; Rom 11:36; Col 1:16; p. 23), (2) God’s sovereign power to do what he does because he chooses and brings things back together in the end (Eza 46:10; 55:11; Zeck 4:6; Eph 1:11), and (3) God’s blessed provision that he has provided us what we need to proclaim the gospel (Rom 8:31). With this, the postmillennial view sees all people as blessed through Abraham’s seed (12:5-7) as a “plural” element (meaning the entirety of the church is the blessing and the blessed), not as a “singular” (Christ being the “seed”). Therefore, the hope of postmillennialism is earthly through the belief that the “earth” is the focal point from Genesis to Revelation (p. 55).

C.     Amillennialism 3

The amillennial view states that the New Testament teaches all events of Christ’s second coming will occur at the same time in a cluster (p. 100). This is based upon the understanding that anyone who has accepted Christ is the “true Israel” because Christ is Israel and anyone who is in Christ is also in Israel (p. 88-89). With this position, the amilliennialist believes that the day lies ahead when Christ will come again, believers will be resurrected, there will be judgment for all, the New Heaven and New Earth will be created, the final kingdom will be inaugurated, and those who have been redeemed will be in a blessed state (p. 129). This “day” according to the amillennial view is a short period of time in which all these events happen at once. There is not a literal 1,000 year of reign of Christ (premillennial) nor is there a non-literal 1,000 year reign of believers (postmillennial). This position is based on John 2 where Jesus refers to himself as the true temple of God (p. 98-99). In addition, the amillennialist does not believe that the Old Testament teaches a future millennial kingdom of Christ (p. 100) but rather that the Old Testament prophets speak of the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom and blessing (Gen 17:7-8; 48:4; 2 Sam 23:5; 1 Chr 16:17-18; Ps 105:10-11; Isa 45:17; 55:3; 61:7-8; Jer 32:40; 50:4-5; Ez 16:60; 37:26; Dan 4:3, 34; 7:14, 27; 12:2). Additionally, the promise of the Old Testament for Israel to take the promised land is no longer binding, but instead it is now promised to the “elect in Christ” (p. 99). As a result of this there will be a restoration and renewal of the earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev 21:1) which should be seen as the New Heaven and New Earth, not for a 1,000 years but for eternity (p. 91). Therefore, the amillennial view does not see Rom 11 or Rev 20 as describing a 1,000 year reign with Christ at the beginning (premillennial) or end (postmillennial).

 

Bibliography of Texts Referenced in This Post

Bateman, Herbert. Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism: A Comparison of Traditional and Progressive Views.

Blaising, Craig and Darrell Bock, Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church: The Search for Definition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992.  

Blaising, Craig and Darrell Bock. Progressive Dispensationalism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993.

Blaising, Craig, Alan Hultberg and Douglas Moo. Three Views on The Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath, or Posttribulation, 2nd edition. Edited by Stanley Gundry and Alan Hultberg. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010.

Blaising, Craig, Kenneth Gentry, and Robert Strimple, Three Views on the Millenium and Beyond. Edited by Stanley Gundry and Darrell Bock. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Logos Research Systems, 2000.

Gentry, Kenneth, Sam Hamstra, C. Marvin Pate, and Robert Thomas, Four Views on the Book of Revelation. Edited by Stanley Gundry and C. Marvin Pate. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

Ross, Allen. “Genesis,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Edited by Philip Comfort, vol. 1. Carole Streame, IL: Tyndale 2008.

Ryrie, Charles. Dispensationalism. Revised and expanded. Chicago, IL: Moody, 2007.

Svigel, Michael. “When He Returns: Resurrection, Judgment, and the Restoration.” Exploring Christian Theology: The Church, Spiritual Growth, and the End Times. Volume 3. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2014.

Walvoord, John, Zachary Hayes, and Clark Pinnock. Four Views on Hell. Edited by Stanley Gundry and William Crockett. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Notes:

  1. Some additional notes about the Premillennial view from Lanier Burns, “Eschatological Positions,” PowerPoint. (1) Christ returns to defeat all enemies to fulfill God’s Word. (2) Christ vindicates and rewards his people. (3) Christ rules the earth from Jerusalem. Primary text is 20. Questions are if this is theologically incompatible, too Jewish, or too irrelevant?
  2. Some additional notes about the Postmillennial view from Lanier Burns, “Eschatological Positions,” PowerPoint. Postmillennialism = Christ returns to Christianized world after period of peace.  (1)  Believes that the kingdom of God extends now through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit. (2) The world will eventually be Christianized. (3) Christ is to return at the end of a long period of righteousness. Questions and issues relate to the promises originally made to Israel, what to do with the order of Rev 20, and if we will ever live in a Christianized world?
  3. Some additional notes about the Amillennial view from Lanier Burns, “Eschatological Positions,” PowerPoint. Amillennialsm = No millennium. (1) Christians and the church have replaced Israel. (2) Christians are the Israel of God. (3) As a result of this, covenant theologians make a great deal of Christ’s position and work at the right hand of God. Questions and issues are if Satan is really bound, is Christ ruling with a rod of iron, what do you do with Rev 11, 20, and Scriptures dealing with an “intermediate theocratic kingdom.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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