Our weekday Bible Study class just started studying the book of Revelation, and not surprisingly, the class began with a discussion of different views about the end times and what will happen. I thought this would be of interest to our readers, so here they are.
- Historic pre-millennialism, also called chiliasm. There will be a literal 1000-year reign of Christ, starting with His second coming. Satan will have a brief season of power and then be defeated. After this the resurrection of the dead and the final judgement will occur.
- Post-millennialism. In this view, Christianity will spread through the world eventually leading to a time when people live in peace and joy. At this point, Christ will come again, followed by the short season of Satan’s power. Satan is defeated, followed by the resurrection of the dead and the final judgement.
- Dispensational millennialism. This interpretation was popularized originally by the Scofield Study Bible in the early 1900’s. It is also the basis for the “Left Behind” books and movies. According to this view, there is a secret coming of Christ, and then the rapture of true Christians. This is followed by seven years of tribulation led by the anti-Christ. He is defeated at Armageddon at which point Christ returns visibly and reigns for 1000 years. Satan the has a brief season of power and is defeated. The resurrection of the dead and the final judgement follow.
- Amillennialism. Amillennialists believe that the 1000-year reign is figurative language for the church age (the time in which we are now living). The church is the new Israel. This age began when Jesus ascended into heaven. When Christ comes again, the resurrection of the dead and the judgement will follow. There is no rapture.
This is a very brief summary of each viewpoint, and I am sure I have not included every detail. The vast majority of Lutherans are amillennialists. In my experience, Lutherans spend little time speculating on the end times as the Bible clearly states in Matthew 24:36:
” But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.“
We believe the book of Revelation to be not a detailed prediction of future events, but a vision assuring us of the final victory of Christ, and a comfort to the church on earth.
Few Christians today hold to historic premillennialism or post millennialism. Many however, have been influenced by the ideas put forth by dispensational millennialism.
For more about the end times see these posts:
Unraptured by Zack Hunt — Book Review