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Different Views of Jesus' Return

Dispensational Premillennialism      Amillennialism      Postmillennialism      Historic Premillennialism

Different views exist about the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These views reflect tradition, method of interpretation and personal opinion.  Tradition and hermeneutics are man created and neither should cause one to adopt a position contrary to the plain clear language of scripture. 

The Bible is the only foundation for doctrine.  "The true rule is this: God's Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so." (Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles II, 15.) Our common goal should be to emulate those noble Jews of Berea who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  Acts 17:11 ESV

Those who identify as evangelical and reformed both believe in the imminent return of the Lord.  Evangelicals usually hold to dispensation premillennialism and reformed usually hold to amillennialism.  There is disagreement on the timing of his coming and the resurrection and judgment.  The view that the church will endure the great tribulation and be taken up to meet the Lord at His return after the tribulation is the historic view of the church.

Dispensation and historic premillennialism share much in common but are built upon different foundations.  Dispensation theology is the basis of dispensation premillennialism.  It teaches Christ has two bodies; the nation of Israel and the church; the promises made to Abraham apply to the nation of Israel or Abraham’s physical seed.  Covenant theology is the basis of historic premillennialism and teaches Christ has only one body and the promises made to Abraham are for all who receive Christ.  Different foundations bring about different doctrinal structures that are reflected in the understanding of yet to be fulfilled prophesies.

Dispensation premillennialism, the newest view

Dispensation theology is the foundation of this view which teaches the history of God’s dealing with mankind is divided into dispensations, periods of time, in which God administered events differently.  This view was popularized by C. I. Schofield (1843 – 1921) through his study Bible.  Schofield’s dispensation theology is unique in the history of the church.
   
John Darby (1800 -1882) is usually credited with formulating the secret pretribulation rapture, a prominent feature of this view.  Some (do an internet search) have said that a Roman Catholic priest named Emmanuel Lacunza published a work in 1812 which espoused the secret rapture.  Crediting the pretribulation secret rapture to Lacunza is based on what I have read.  I have never read the Lacunza work and don’t know if it is in print and it really does not matter.

Dispensation premillennialism teaches the church will be secretly taken out before the great tribulation. Other unique beliefs are; the church and Israel are two distinct and separate bodies, each with its own separate character and place in the present and future; that the old covenant and physical nation of Israel will be restored by God and a physical temple will be rebuilt in present day Jerusalem and animal sacrifices will be reinstated. 

The scriptures teach that Christ came to save “his people” from their sins; one people, not two. 

Matthew 1:21  ESV
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

John 10:16  ESV
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Ephesians 4:4 – 6 ESV
“4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”


Dispensation theology does not view the old covenant as presented by the writer of Hebrews.  Rather it believes the old covenant will again be activated when the physical nation of Israel is formed and the physical temple rebuilt.  This is also the view of many physically descended Jewish scholars.

Consider how the writer of Hebrews describes the old covenant and the priesthood.

Hebrews 7:12 ESV
“For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.”  The Levitical priesthood has been discontinued; superseded by a new high priest who is Jesus Christ.  The writer of Hebrews says that when the priesthood change so does the law.

Hebrews 7:18 ESV
“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness”  The law of the old covenant has been replaced because it wasn’t sufficient to expunge sin.  Christ fulfilled all the demands of the law and has removed its condemnation by nailing it to his cross.  The work of Christ totally expunges (removes by erasing or crossing out) the sins of those who believe.  No need to return year after year to offer up sacrifices for sin.
  Christ is now the high priest who by the sacrifice of himself has opened the way into the most holy place, the throne of God.  All who believe are now a nation of kings and priests.  Christ is our high priest who lives forever and makes intercession for us.

Colossians 2:13 – 14 ESV
“13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”


Luke 22:20 ESV
“And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  A new covenant has been instituted and sealed with the blood of Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 8:13 ESV
“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”  The old covenant became obsolete when the new covenant was established.  The old covenant with the physical temple and animal sacrifices has vanished and the new covenant made with the blood of Christ is now eternal.  This applies to all believers whether they be physically descended from Abraham or are the descendants of Abraham through faith in Christ.

Jeremiah 31:31 – 33 ESV
“31 Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”


Dispensation theology does not comprehend the difference between the descendants of flesh and the descendants of promise.  Because of this misunderstanding some scripture passages are misapplied.  Verse eight below.  “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,”.  “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”  The differences between the descendants of flesh and descendants of promise are clearly defined.  The following should be read and taken plainly as written.  Look for the obvious.

Romans 9:3 – 8 ESV
“3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 
5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 
8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”


Christ is the promised seed of Abraham thereby making all those who belong to Christ Abraham's descendants.  Below are two quotes but it would be good to read the entire context in Galatians chapter 3. 

Galatians 3:9 ESV
“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”  

Galatians 3:16 ESV
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, And to offsprings, referring to many, but referring to one, And to your offspring, who is Christ.”   The purpose of the physical nation of Israel was to bring Jesus the messiah into the world to accomplish the redemption of his people and establish a new covenant wherein the law of God is written on the heart and not on stone, where all who believe become descendants of Abraham and heirs of the promises made to Abraham.

There is only one body of Christ, not two bodies.  The church has not replaced Israel but rather believing Gentiles have been joined to Israel.  There is only one olive tree with natural branches and wild branches grafted into one tree with Christ as the root.
Ephesians 4:4 - 6  KJV "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

Romans 9:25 - 26 ESV
“25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
Those who were not my people I will call my people,
and her who was not beloved I will call beloved.
26 And in the very place where it was said to them, You are not my people,
there they will be called sons of the living God.”


Romans 11:11 -12 ESV
“11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”


Romans 11:17-24 ESV
“17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,
18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”


Ephesians 2:11 - 13 ESV
“11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” 


These texts clearly indicate that all who belong to Christ belong to Israel.  Those Gentiles who believe, branches of the wild olive tree, have been grafted into Israel, the natural olive tree.  The church is not a replacement for Israel but the combining of believing Israelites with believing Gentiles into one body in Christ.  The blood of Christ has brought all who are children of Abraham by faith into the commonwealth of Israel and they inherit the covenants of promise.  Faith, not flesh, is the basis of citizenship in Israel and inheritors of the promises made to Abraham.  One olive tree with natural and wild branches grafted into the one tree, one body, with Christ as the root.

The promises God made to the physical descendants of Abraham, Israel the nation, were conditional.  If they obeyed and kept his law they would be blessed but if they disobeyed and broke his law they would be destroyed. 

Deuteronomy 8:19 – 20 ESV
“19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.
20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.” 


Joshua 23:15-16 ESV
“15 But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you,
16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”


They continually violated God’s laws that were given to Moses and God destroyed them.  Their destruction is plainly recorded in the old covenant (testament).

In 720 BC the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel composed of ten tribes with Samaria as its capital.  They were removed from the land because of idolatry and completely disappeared from history.  In 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah and destroyed Jerusalem.  The inhabitants were deported to Babylon.  Some exiles returned to Jerusalem in 536 and later.  However Judah was never restored as an independent nation but remained a vassal state as long as it existed.  The temple and temple worship were restored but these also were destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD after God established a new covenant with Israel.

Hebrews 8:13 ESV
“In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” 

The promise that the Messiah would come from Judah was fulfilled which was the purpose and decree of the God of Israel.  The old covenant was set aside when the new covenant was instituted.  The weak old covenant will not be restored because Jesus the Messiah paid for (blotted out) the sins of his people which the old covenant could not do. 

To rebuild a physical temple and reinstate the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices would be an affront to God as it would demean the sacrifice of Christ and Christ's work as High Priest.  The curtain to the most holy place was ripped from top to bottom when Christ died signifying that the way into the most holy place was open apart from the physical temple of the old covenant.  The temple was completely destroyed by Titus in 70 AD.  The old covenant was set aside when Christ died and rose from the dead.  A new covenant is now in place and it is sealed with the blood of Christ himself. 

If and when a new physical temple is built in the earthly Jerusalem it will be done by those who are physical descendants of Abraham and not by those who are his descendants by faith.  That temple and that priesthood vanished when Jesus by his own blood became the guarantor of a new covenant wherein the way to the presence of God has been opened to all who receive him.

Hebrews 10:19 22
"19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
  ESV

New covenant, new high priest and new priesthood, new way into the holy places.

Where is God’s temple now?

Acts 17:24 ESV
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,”

2 Corinthians 6:16 ESV
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,   I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 – 17 ESV
“16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”


Christ is the temple of the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:22 ESV  “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”
 

Postmillennialism, the second newest view

Postmillennialists share with amillennialists the belief that Christ’s kingdom on earth began during his first advent and this present age is the reign of Christ on earth; that Satan is now bound; that increasingly successful preaching of the gospel will convert most during this present age; that Christ will come again after (post indicating after) an age of increasing righteousness and peace brought about by the church. 

This view was created in the Savoy Declaration of 1658 which was a creed adopted by the Congregational Churches in England.  Thomas Goodwin and John Owen were proponents of this view.  This is a relatively modern view compared to historic premillennialism.  It was somewhat common in the USA in the mid 1800s and early 1900s.  Many Union enthusiasts during the War Between the States (sometimes referred to as the American Civil War) believed their war would bring about an era of righteousness and peace.  Those who worked to institute prohibition which became law from 1920 to 1933 in the USA also believed they were helping bring about an era of righteousness and peace.

Jesus and Paul spoke about the conditions that would exist prior to his return.  The view that the world will become better and better through the influence of the church does not match what scripture states nor what history has shown thus far.

Matthew 24:12 ESV
12 "And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." 

2 Timothy 3:1 ESV
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” 

Amillennialism, the second oldest view

This view was adopted by the council of Ephesus in 431 AD.  An explanation of this view cannot be undertaken apart from a partial examination of the council of Ephesus 431 AD and Augustine who brought pagan Greek reasoning into the interpretation of God’s word.  Augustine (354 - 430 AD) postulated, refined and developed the amillennial view based upon the teachings of Origen (184 - 253) and others who denied the plain reading of Scripture. 

The council of Ephesus in 431 AD also declared Mary to be “the mother of God”.  I relate this to give you the theological sense of this council.  There is nothing in God’s word that could possibly indicate that God has a mother.  This is heresy plain and simple.  Mary was blessed among women but she was born the same as all others.  She was the woman chosen by God to bring the baby Jesus into the world.  Mary should be remembered and honored but not worshiped.  A human mother is attributed to pagan gods.  The living God does not have a mother.  The Creator is eternal.  To call any woman "the mother of God" is heresy.

Hebrews 7:3 ESV
“He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.”

The council of Ephesus convened in June and July of 431 AD.  Augustine died August 28, 430 AD.  Augustine’s beliefs and writings greatly influenced the deliberations and conclusions of this council.  Most of the beliefs of Augustine are those held today by the Roman Catholic church.  These include purgatory, prayers for the dead and Mary as the mother of God.  There is no scriptural basis for these.

The council of Ephesus in 431 AD was characterized by acrimony and political maneuvers.  In reading about this council I was impressed with how much it resembled a modern day religious convention or a session of the United States Senate or House of the representatives.  It wasn’t nice and friendly.  The definite winners were those who formally sanctioned and adopted pagan Greek philosophy into the church.  This was evident in the council adopting Augustine’s allegorical views and declaring Mary to be the mother of God.  Both are philosophically related and have their birth in pagan religion.  Their other acts pale in significance to these two decisions.  The results were not good for the true church.

Augustine is revered by the Roman Catholic church.  His book, The City of God, was accepted by the Roman Catholic church as the only position on the second coming of the Lord.  It remains today the position of the Roman Catholic church and most reformed denominations.

I cannot give a chronological summary of this view because it is an unsolvable jig saw puzzle.  If you wish to see the chronology of this view consult the internet.  What I found about the chronology of this view was incongruous which simply means lacking in harmony or compatibility.  It most certainly does not agree with plainly understood scripture.  To hold the amillennial view one must change the word of God.

Amillennialistists maintain the coming of the Lord is future but the tribulation is past and was fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus’ legions in 70 AD; that Titus was the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel; that Matthew 24:30 symbolically refers to the church, not the coming of Christ; this present age is Christ’s reign on earth; rejects a literal thousand years reign of Christ on the earth; believe “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is allegorical; that thousand really doesn’t mean thousand but an unspecified period of time; Satan is now bound; assigns an allegorical meaning to Revelation in general and chapter 20 in particular; the return of Christ will precipitate a resurrection of all the dead, elect and damned, at the same time and the final judgment of all at that time; reject a “first” and a “second” resurrection by claiming that “the first resurrection” in Revelation 20 is spiritual and occurs in heaven.

This view is older than dispensation pretribulationism but it is not the oldest view.  It is a tradition which the reformers did not correct. An allegorical method continues to be used by amillennialists to interpret yet to be fulfilled prophecies.  Augustine’s book, The City of God, is the foundation of this view and a book of doctrine for the Roman Catholic church.

“Now, in ‘City of God", Augustine viewed the thousand years of Revelation 20 not as some special future time but ‘the period beginning with Christ's first coming,’ that is, the age of the Christian church.”

“The devil is bound throughout the whole period, from the first coming of Christ to the end of the world, which will be Christ's second coming.”

The two quotes above of Augustine’s views are from following link.
https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-61/amillennialism-millennium-today.html

“The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man" — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse "an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold", he says, "on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years", — that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed.”
— Augustine (24 August 410) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine

Is Satan bound during this age as Augustine declared?  Consider the following scriptures.

2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers.  How can anyone say Satan is bound in this age?  He is the god of this world today and blinds unbelievers from seeing the truth.  Satan is not yet bound.

Acts 5:3 ESV
“But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?”  Satan was free and filled Ananias’ heart and caused him to lie.  Satan is not yet bound.

Peter in 2 Peter 5:8 ESV
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  If he is prowling the earth to find someone to devour then how can he be bound?  Satan is not yet bound.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 ESV
Paul spoke of Satan hindering him so how is he bound?  “because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.”  Satan is not yet bound.

1 John 5:19 ESV
John declares the whole world is within the power of the evil one.   “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  Satan is not yet bound.

Ephesians 6:11 – 18 ESV
Paul tells the Ephesians to put on the whole armor of God to protect themselves “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”   Why would we need to do this if Satan is bound?  Satan is not yet bound.

Romans 16:20 ESV
Paul declares that Satan will be crushed soon plainly indicating that Satan was not bound at that time.  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”  Satan is not yet bound.

James 4:7 ESV
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  If the devil is bound why does James admonish his readers to resist him causing him to flee?  Satan is not yet bound.

Augustine was a highly educated intellectual and is considered by the Roman Catholic church as their greatest theologian.  He is also highly regarded by reformed denominations.  Augustine used the allegorical method to arrive at his conclusions regarding Christ's return and his kingdom on earth.  Satan is not bound in this age.  In this matter Augustine’s beliefs missed the plain truth of the written word.  Who should we believe, Augustine or God?

Encyclopedia Britannica 1969 Volume 2 page 754 states the following about Augustine.  “His mind was the crucible in which the religion of the New Testament was most completely fused with the Platonic tradition of Greek philosophy; and it was also the conduit by which the product of this fusion was transmitted to the Christendoms of medieval Roman Catholicism and Renaissance Protestantism.”

A brilliant intellect supplied with the best of human wisdom is more apt to alter and deny the plain reading of God’s word than a person who is the opposite.  Perhaps this is why God did not choose many wise. 

1 Corinthians 1:26 – 29 ESV
“26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards. 
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 
28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”  


A fuller understanding of the above can be gained from reading the entire context.
Remember Paul said the Greeks desire wisdom.  The mind of the flesh is at war with God.  Even those who profess Christ must fight daily to overcome the desires of the flesh and of the mind.   

Romans 7:18 ESV
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” 

Ephesians 2:3 ESV
“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” 

True discernment of the things of God is a work of the Holy Spirit not the result of human intellect or wisdom.

http://www.religionfacts.com/augustine  “Augustine remains a central figure both in Christianity and in the history of Western thought. Heavily influenced by Platonism and neo-Platonism, particularly by Plotinus, Augustine was an important part of the "baptism" of Greek thought and its entrance into the Christian, and subsequently the European, intellectual tradition. Also important was his early and influential writing on the human will, which is a central topic in psychology and ethics, and one which became a focus for later philosophers such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.”  

Augustine was born into a well to do family.  He was greatly influenced by the pagan Greek philosophers and this is clearly evident in his theology after he became a member of the Catholic church.  It is of particular interest to note that his view of Christ’s return uses allegorical interpretation in the exegesis of yet to be fulfilled prophesy. 

Allegorical interpretation was a pagan Greek invention and is covered is some detail in Methods.  Augustine and the reformers were flesh and blood and subject to error.  His writings are not the breath of God but the views of a highly intelligent man who used human wisdom and tools of pagan Greeks to arrive at some of his views.

“Every being, therefore, is a good; a great good, if it can not be corrupted; a little good, if it can: but in any case, only the foolish or ignorant will deny that it is a good. And if it be wholly consumed by corruption, then the corruption itself must cease to exist, as there is no being left in which it can dwell.”  The Enchiridion/Chapter XII (Augustine) 

Augustine believed there remains some good even in the presence of evil in a being.  His comment is the opposite of Paul’s writing to the Romans. 

Romans 7:18 ESV
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” 

Plain reading of Romans 7:18 apart from philosophical reasoning is very easy to understand and agrees with other scriptures.  Who should we believe Paul or Augustine?

“Nothing, then, can be evil except something which is good. And although this, when stated, seems to be a contradiction, yet the strictness of reasoning leaves us no escape from the conclusion.”  The Enchiridion/Chapter XIII (Augustine) 

Augustine relied on human reasoning as the basis for this conclusion.  His appeal to human reason shows the influence of pagan Greek philosophy and their system of allegorical interpretation.

My intent is to show Augustine in a true sense and his writings reveal a fallible man whose interpretations should be closely examined by comparing them to the scripture.  Having read some of his works I would say he excelled as a philosopher but fell short as a theologian.  We should not believe something just because Augustine wrote it.

“Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”
John Wesley, The Works of the Late Reverend John Wesley (1835 Edition), volume 2, p. 110

Augustine believed in infant baptismal regeneration and without baptism there was no salvation.  Augustine did not understand the new birth as described by Jesus in John chapter 3.

"It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated ---- when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, `Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents' or `by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,' but, `Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.' The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam" (Augustine, Letters 98:2 AD 412).

Augustine believed that salvation and eternal life came through ecclesiastical (church) functions or works.  He simply did not understand the gospel.

“[According to] Apostolic Tradition --- the Churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal. This is the witness of Scripture too” (Augustine, Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:24:34 AD 412).

Augustine also denied that God created the world and the heavens and everything in them in six days.  He believed that it was all done in a flash and God simply used the six day story so man could understand it.  How would Augustine know this?  Augustine denied the foundation of the Bible and also denied the future as related in the Bible.  Beginning to end Augustine denied God's word.  He changed it to suit his own theology.  Satan also denied God's word in Genesis and continues to do so.  Augustine denied God's word therefore he is not worthy of trust regarding the Scriptures.

His works are available on the internet for purchase and also free at some sites.  Download his works and examine them for yourself if you wish.  A better use of time would be to read the Bible not rehashing the disputes of those past whom God has already sorted.  Understanding scripture is found in scripture and the Holy Spirit not in Augustine nor any other person or means.

Revelation 20:1 – 7 ESV
“1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 
2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who 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 for a thousand years. 
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 
6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. 
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison”


Psalms 50:10 is sometimes used to show that thousand in Revelation 20 does not really mean thousand. “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.” “All” and “thousand” are both used in this context.  God absolutely owns the cattle on an actual thousand hills plus everything that exists because he is God the creator of all things. This verse simply and plainly shows the extent and magnitude of God’s ownership. It does not state nor imply that thousand does not mean thousand.  It is neither allegorical nor metaphorical by the standard definition of the words. 

Also used in an attempt to negate the thousand years in Revelation chapter 20 is this verse in 2 Peter chapter 3.  “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

2 Peter 3:1 – 13 ESV
“1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,
3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,
6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.
7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 


The meaning in 2 Peter 3:1 – 13 is plain and obvious. Time is not relevant to God himself rather it is subject to him because he created it.  The creator is above or outside of time therefore is not bound to time.  Mankind is bound within and to time. God’s decrees will occur even when a scoffer thinks nothing has happened in his life therefore he denies the truth of God’s word.  What is perceived as long and unchanged to a human of 70 years cannot be compared to the mind of eternal God whose decrees are eternal.  Peter simply compared man’s time bound mind to God’s eternal mind.

There is simply not anything in the language or context in 2 Peter that negates, obviates or eliminates a literal understanding of a thousand years in Revelation 20 or says that a thousand does not mean thousand or day does not mean day. This passage is neither allegorical nor metaphorical by the standard definition of the words.

Those who interpret otherwise see this passage through lens colored by their use of a particular method of interpretation and these lens allow them to change the meaning of words or insert added meaning into the context in an attempt to support their view.  To add to the context or change the definition of words is always wrong.

In Revelation chapter 20 “thousand years” is repeated six times. The word “thousand” in the new testament is used 29 times in the ESV and 42 times in the KJV and always means thousand, not anything else. Repetition in another text that is not prophetic would be used to show that God simply and emphatically meant exactly what he said. Remember John 16:13, the Holy Spirit speaks expressly, precisely, "guides into all truth" and "declares the things that are to come".

WARNING Revelation 22:18 – 19 ESV
"18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."


If we compare apples to oranges and conclude both to be apples does it change the facts? To conclude that both are the same through subjective reasoning doesn’t make an apple an orange nor an orange an apple. Did God create the heavens and earth in six days, six thousand years or six million years?  Did Gideon fight with thirty, three hundred or three thousand?  Did Peter deny the Lord three times, thirty times or three hundred times?  Did Jesus feed five dozen, five hundred or five thousand people?  Are numbers used in scripture meaningless or allegorical merely because they are used in yet to be fulfilled prophesy?  To use 2 Peter 3:8 in an attempt to disprove what was plainly stated and repeated six times in one short context in Revelation 20 is akin to “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”   Matthew 23:24 ESV

Historic premillennialism, the original view

Historic premillennialism is the original or oldest view and teaches that the great tribulation is future and occurs before Christ returns in the clouds with power and great glory; the elect will be resurrected and taken up to meet the Lord in the air; Christ will subsequently establish his rule over the earth for a thousand years; the rest of the dead will not be resurrected until after the thousand year reign of Christ; the final judgment will occur after Satan leads a revolt against Christ at the end of the thousand year reign; Satan is defeated then bound and cast into the lake of fire forever as will all whose names are not written in the lamb’s book of life that was written before the foundation of the world; the present world and heavens will be destroyed with fire; God will create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness forever dwells.  Historic premillennialism views the body of Christ as all who believe in him, both Jew and Gentile; there is one body, not two;  God has established a new covenant with Israel and sealed it with Christ's blood, the old covenant has vanished.

Proponents of historic premillennialism include John the Apostle who wrote the book of Revelation, Papias (AD 60 – 130) bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia (Irenaeus wrote that Papias was a “hearer of John” (Haer. 5.33.4).) , Polycarp (A.D. 70-155), bishop of Smyrna, Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus (AD 130-202), Tertullian (AD 160-230) who gave us the Latin word Trinity and Lactantius (c. 250 – c. 325). Others could be included but these are enough to show that very early church fathers who wrote on the subject were premillennialists.

The historic view is covered in more detail in the exposition of the Lord’s return.

Historic premillennialism is recorded in writings of church fathers of the first century and later.  It is recorded in the book of Revelation. Visions of Cobra helicopters and such like are not part of historic premillennialism.  This view does not use the pagan Greek method of allegorical interpretation.  This view believes scripture as it is plainly written.  This view sees the obvious and does not search for a hidden meaning.

Disclaimer
The description of the different views I have offered do not represent the views of every person whether evangelical or reformed but they convey a general concept of these views and their history.  These descriptions are based on my understanding of the different views therefore not complete.  If your opinion is that my descriptions are inadequate or inaccurate it is because of my ignorance not malevolence.

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