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30 Reasons Why I am an Amillennialist (Part One)

In my book, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, I conclude by describing what I call a cumulative case for amillennialism. This “cumulative case” entails 30 reasons why I find amillennialism to be the most cogent and convincing and biblical of all eschatological systems. In this article and one to follow I will set forth those 30 reasons.

(1) Amillennialism best accounts for the many texts in which Israel’s OT prophetic hope is portrayed as being fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the believing remnant, his body, the Church. Contrary to all forms of dispensationalism and much of premillennialism, the fulfillment of the OT covenant promises is not to be found in the restoration of national, ethnic Israel, in a literal 1,000-year earthly kingdom, but in the King himself and his new covenant people, the Church, the true Israel of God. The “promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. . . . who is Christ. . . . And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:16, 29).

(2) Amillennialism best accounts for the way in which the OT prophets spoke of the future in terms, images, and concepts borrowed from the social and cultural world with which they and their readers were familiar. In other words, they communicated the realistic future glory of God’s eschatological purposes in the hyperbolic or exaggerated terms of an ideal present. That realistic future glory will be consummated, not in a semi-golden age intervening between the second coming of Christ and the eternal state, but in the latter alone, on a New Earth where righteousness dwells.

(3) Amillennialism best accounts for the presence of typology in Scripture, according to which OT persons and events and institutions find a deeper and intensified expression and consummation in the antitype. This is especially seen in the way Jesus is portrayed as the antitypical fulfillment of the many OT types and shadows.

(4) When the OT speaks of the consummation of God’s renewal of creation it knows nothing of a 1,000-year period preceding the eternal state. Rather its focus is on the New Heavens and New Earth (Isa. 65:17-22; 66:22), consistent with what we read in the NT as well (Revelation 21-22). This, of course, is precisely what amillennialism argues for.

(5) Amillennialism provides a superior and more cogent explanation of the seventy-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9, which we saw is designed to evoke a theological image, namely, that in the person and work of Jesus God will act to bring about the final jubilee of redemptive history. The 10-jubilee framework (i.e., the 490 years or 70 weeks) is thus symbolic of the divine work of redemption, at the conclusion of which the eternal and perfected jubilee will appear: the New Heavens and the New Earth.

(6) I also find amillennialism to be a superior scheme for understanding redemptive history insofar as it alone is consistent with the NT testimony concerning the termination of physical death at the time of the Second Coming of Christ. Premillennialism falls short in that it necessarily entails the perpetuation of death beyond the return of Christ, beyond that point when death is “swallowed up in victory” (Isa. 25:7-9; 1 Cor. 15:52). Paul is quite clear and to the point in telling us that the end of all physical suffering and human mortality occurs at the time of the return of Christ and the resurrection of the body. At that time, says Paul, Isaiah 25:7-9 will be fulfilled. At the Second Coming of Christ, says the apostle, “Death will be swallowed up in victory.” No physical death can occur after the Second Coming. If it could, Paul would be wrong in saying that death is swallowed up in victory, in fulfillment of Isaiah 25, at the moment of the Second Coming.

(7) Yet another affirmation of amillennialism is found in the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8, where we are told that God will one day “wipe away all tears,” a prophecy that according to Revelation 21:1-4 comes to fruition when the New Heavens and New Earth are created. What makes this an argument for amillennialism is that Paul says Isaiah 25:7-9 will be fulfilled at the time of the Second Coming (1 Cor. 15:50-55). The point, simply, is that the New Heavens and New Earth “come” when Christ does, at the end of history, not some 1,000 years later.

(8) A related point is that amillennialism alone is consistent with the NT teaching that the natural creation will be delivered from the curse and experience its “redemption,” in conjunction with the “redemption” of our bodies, at the time of the Second Coming of Christ (Rom. 8:18-23). Premillennialism again fails insofar as it requires that the earth continue to be ravaged by war and sin and death. Premillennialists must necessarily believe that the renewal of the natural creation and its being set free from bondage to corruption does not occur, at least in its consummate expression, until 1,000 years subsequent to Christ’s return.

(9) Amillennialism is more consistent with the NT teaching (2 Pet. 3:8-13) that the New Heavens and New Earth will be inaugurated at the time of Christ’s second coming, not 1,000 years thereafter. Believers in the present age are “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,” which is to say they “are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:12-13). This is the focus of our expectations, not a 1,000-year period within history in which unrighteousness dwells.

(10) Amillennialism is superior to premillennialism insofar as the latter view requires that one believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return. Amillennialism alone affirms the NT truth that all hope for salvation terminates with the Second Coming of Christ. The opportunity for eternal life is now, in the present church age, before Christ comes, not later, in some millennial age, after Christ comes.

(11) Amillennialism alone is consistent with the NT teaching that the resurrection of unbelievers will occur at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, not 1,000 years later following an earthly millennial reign. Thus, amillennialism more clearly accounts for John 5:28-29 where Jesus declared that “an hour” is coming when there will be a single and universal bodily resurrection of both believers and non-believers. Premillennialism must posit a gap of 1,000 years between the two.

(12) Related to the previous point is that premillennialism necessarily entails the belief that unbelievers will not be finally judged to suffer eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ. Yet 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 asserts that “those who do not know God” and “who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus . . . will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction . . . when he [Christ Jesus] comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thess. 1:8-10a; emphasis mine; see also Matt. 25:31-46).

(13) Amillennialism alone can account for Paul’s declaration that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50-57). Premillennialism again fails because it posits the existence, in a supposed post-parousia earthly millennial reign, of both unbelievers and believers who remain in their natural, “flesh and blood” bodies.

(14) The superiority of amillennialism to premillennialism is also seen in the fact that the former, unlike the latter, does not have to solve the problem of what happens to those believers who experience physical death during the course of this purported earthly millennial reign. Amillennialism does not have to posit the improbable (if not bizarre) scenario in which there are thousands and thousands of individual resurrections occurring subsequent to Christ’s second coming, or, should that be rejected, the notion that those who die in Christ somehow exist in an immaterial state in some undefined proximity to their Savior while he and those believers who are resurrected live and reign on the earth. Is it really the case that the Bible teaches an earthly reign of Christ in which potentially hundreds of thousands (millions?) of physically dead believers hover in his presence, strangely mingling with physically alive unregenerate people, as well as physically alive but unglorified regenerate people, as well as resurrected and glorified people? As noted above, for the premillennialist, the alternative is to assert, without the slightest hint in the Scriptures, that untold multitudes of individual bodily resurrections occur during the millennial age as believers die physically, one after another.

(15) Amillennialism is more consistent than any other view with the teaching of the NT that the prophesied restoration of Israel is fulfilled in the Church, the true Israel of God (I have in mind such texts as Matt. 8:10-12; 24:31; Rom. 9:25-26; Rev. 2:17; 3:9; 7:15; and 21:14). Although many historic premillennialists also affirm this truth, they are then hard-pressed to provide a cogent explanation or rationale for why there would even be a post-parousia millennial kingdom.

To be continued . . .

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