Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My problem with Premillenialism

As you may or may not know, I am generally have a historical Premillenial view of the 1000 year reign of Christ. However, I do see a major problem in this view. There are problems in all the views, "pre-", "post-", and "a-". My biggest problem with the literal Millennium would come from Chapter 21 of Revelation.

Before I show why that chapter is a problem, some ground work has to be laid. In Greek ἀπάντησις (Apantésis) means to meet one, and carries the idea of escorting a person back. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is what is commonly called "the rapture" from the Latin rapio, a translation of the Greek ἁρπάζω (harpazō), meaning to catch up.

The idea is that we will be caught up (ἁρπάζω), (and changed as per 1 Cor. 15:51-52), to meet and escort (ἀπάντησις) Jesus to earth at his second coming.

Revelation 19 depicts this with the imagery of the Church on horses behind Jesus as he returns to the Earth.

When we come to chapter 20, the Church is said to be reigning for 1000 years. There is a theme throughout the Old Testament prophets that the Lord, Jehovah, (which in this case I take as a reference to Jesus), will reign from Jerusalem over the Earth and the nations will bring him tribute.

When we come to chapter 21, we see the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. Verse 2 says that it is, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband". In verse 9 the angel says, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." Clearly then, this isn't meant to be taken as a literal city, but as the Bride of Christ, as the angel describes. Paul likens the entire Church to the wife of Christ in Ephesians 5:25-26. Verses 12 and 14 of Revelation 21 seem to make sense with the statement that the Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." (Ephesians 2:19-20 ) The jewels and glory of the city would seem to be the same as what Paul says, "so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish". (Ephesians 5:27 and compare with 1 Corinthians 3:11-12).

All of this to say that in Chapter 21 verse 2 says that the Church is "coming down out of heaven". Verse 1 clearly puts this in the time frame of "a new heaven and a new earth". The problem arises, why is the Church coming down out of heaven, if they have been reigning on Earth with Christ for 1000 years? The Amillennial interpretation here seems to fit the best. This then would be just another picture of the second coming. This would be a recapitulation of Chapter 19, albeit from a different angle and emphasis, this time on the Church instead of the victorious Christ. This would mean that the New Heavens and the New Earth are inaugurated after the second coming and not after a millennium. Chapter 20 then would also be a retelling, or recapitulation of this same theme from a different angle. The battle in 19 and in 20 would be describing the same event, but from a different angle.

But that's my major problem with the Premillenial understanding. It's strength is in Chapter 20 and Zechariah 14. The question I have to ask myself now is, which is the bigger problem, the Amillenial interpretation of Chapter 19, or the Premillenial interpretation of Chapter 20. Perhaps I should follow Sherlock Holmes' advice, "When you have eliminated the possible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Grace and peace to you,


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