Is the teaching that there is no 1000 year Kingdom heresy? If so, fully 1/2 of Christian denominations today believe there will not be a 1000 year kingdom including Orthodox and Roman Catholics, Methodists and Lutherans. Even some Messianic congregations express this belief. So will there be a Millennial Kingdom or not?
Four Views on the Millennium
Let’s begin this new series of articles by looking at the four main views of the Millennium:
(Graphic By Lamorak – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5744605/)
This graphic displays the four main eschatological views in the Church. Three of the views include a 1000 year Millennial Kingdom where Jesus reigns upon the earth. Amillennialism denies this Kingdom will take literally take place.
This view assumes the Church will be persecuted by the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation. After that tribulation, those holding this theory believe Jesus will return to resurrect and rapture believers. After the Rapture, those holding this theory believe Jesus and believers will return to the earth to rule and reign for a thousand years. At the conclusion of the 1000 year Kingdom, Jesus will conduct a final judgment and enter the eternal state with those who have placed their faith in him. Both the Pre-Wrath (the view I believe to be correct) and Post-Trib. Rapture camps hold this view. This is the historical view of the Church and dates back to the teaching of the Apostles and early Church Fathers.
The view is identical to the previous view except that it assumes a Rapture of the Church prior to the 70th Week of Daniel, and that it will not be subject to the persecution of Antichrist. The Pre-Trib. Rapture camp believes this view. The Pre-Trib. view was developed in the 19th Century and has become the most popular view among Evangelicals.
This view holds that the Church will enter a “golden age” of 1000 years as more and more people come to Christ until eventually nearly the entire world becomes believers. At this point Jesus would return to resurrect the dead, hold the last judgment, and then begin the eternal state. This view does not believe in the 70th Week of Daniel nor in the Rapture. This view was quite predominant in the progressive, social gospel movements of the 18th and 19th Century.
This view holds that the 1000 year reign of Christ is symbolic of the time between his first coming and second coming; and that it is not a literal 1000 years, but that it is symbolic of his Spiritual reign. Like Post-Millennialists, most Amillennialists do not believe in he 70th Week of Daniel nor in the Rapture. They do believe that Jesus will return someday to resurrect the dead, hold the last judgment, and usher in the eternal state. Historically, Amillennialism rests on the teaching of Origen who took a “spiritualized” approach to prophecy rather than a “physical” view; that prophecies would be spiritually realized and should not be taken literally. Although almost all Christian Denominations denounce Origen as a heretic; still many embrace his eschatology of Amillennialism.
If Amillennialism is correct, nearly everything written on this site and in my three books is wrong. There will be no Rapture, no 70th Week of Daniel, no prophecies needed to be fulfilled prior to Jesus’s return, etc. This makes this discussion an important one. If Amillennialism is true, I need to shut down this site as do many other prophecy sites. We will spend a couple weeks examining it.
History of the Millennial Views
The Early Church was unashamedly Pre-Millennialist. Writing in the Second Century, Justin Martyr had this to say in his Dialogue with Trypho:
But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” Justin Martyr
And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem” Justin Martyr
Iraneus was another early Church Father who taught that the Church will face Antichrist during the Great Tribulation and after that Christ will return and usher in his Millennial Kingdom:
But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that “many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
The Seventh Day
Iraneus mentioned the Seventh Day, but the Church has forgotten this critical teaching, which in and of itself proves the Millennial Kingdom. It is very well explained by the Epistle of Barnabus cited by Clemens, Alexandrinus, Eusebius, Jerome, and many ancient Fathers (even Origen.)
(3) And in the beginning of the creation he makes mention of the sabbath. And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and rested the seventh say, and sanctified it.
(4) Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end.
(5) For with him one day is as a thousand years; as himself testifieth, saying, Behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, that all things shall be accomplished.
(6) And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day: he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars; and he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day (a thousand years). (Barnabus 13:3-6)
This wonderfully explains the understanding of the Great Creation Prophecy explained by Peter and the Writer of Hebrews which has been forgotten by the Church. (Please see THIS ARTICLE for a deeper understanding of the Great Creation Prophecy.)
The Writer of Hebrews’ Seventh Day
The writer of Hebrews clearly explains this teaching within the canon of scripture:
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (or Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb. 4:3-11)
It is incredibly important to understand this passage which clearly speaks of the Millennial Kingdom, a Seventh Day. Notice the Writer of Hebrews says that Joshua (it is most likely Joshua, his name and Jesus’s are identical in the Greek) did NOT provide us rest upon entering the promised land and that is why a Seventh Day, a seventh 1000 years, is still coming.
Of even greater interest is what follows this statement. It is obvious that the seventh day (the 1000 years) and the rest of God was still remaining when Hebrews was written! We are told we must labor to enter the 1000 year rest. Our discussion of Amillennialism should end right here, but there is more, much more.
Peter’s Seventh Day
Peter speaks of this same 1000 years and calls those who claim there won’t be a PAROUSIA or Rapture are morckers or scoffers:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming (PAROUSIA or rapture)? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water (the Creation) through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief (2 Pet. 3:3-10)
Peter demonstrates that all the ages of the creation prophecy “days” are 1000 years long. Peter is clear that the mockers don’t know the date of Jesus’s return because they don’t understand the creation account (in which the seventh day is mentioned) and its prophetic meaning. If they did, they would know that Jesus returns 6000 years after creation; and that a 1000 year day of rest remains after that.
John’s Seventh Day
John of course, re-enforces this teaching in the Book of Revelation:
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God.They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4-6)
John’s testimony is the same as the writer of Hebrews, Peter, and the early Church Fathers. There is a thousand year reign of Jesus in which the resurrected will reign with him.
So the teaching of the “Seventh Day” is fundamental to our understanding of the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus. The concepts of seven millennia as prophesied by Genesis has been ignored and forgotten by much of the Church, but as we can see, it was an integral understanding of the Apostles and the early Church Fathers and framed their understanding of eschatology.
In the next article in this series, we will study whether this 1000 years is a literal thousand years or a figurative length of time.