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The End of the Age: Defining Terms

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The Millennium

There are three major positions in the church on what is called the Millennium . The word Millennium refers to a 1,000-year period. It is taken from the Latin prefix milli, which means 1,000. So, we are in the third millennium after Christ.
The word Millennium means one thousand years.
The Bible passage that mentions the “thousand years” is . Let me read it and you tell me how many times the phrase 1,000 years appears. OK?
Revelation 20:1–10 ESV
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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. 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. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 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. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:1–7 ESV
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 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. 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. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 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. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison

This expression, taken from Latin words, means 1,000 years. The Bible passage that mentions the “thousand years” is Rev. 20:1–7, where the word appears six times. The Latin Vulgate uses mille anni and its variant renderings to translate the Greek chilia ete.

Various theological proposals have been offered to explain this passage from Rev. 20 as well as various other Scriptures that might be taken to speak to the same issue. One’s view on this text will be determined by one’s approach to interpreting predictive prophecy and by one’s view on symbolic and apocalyptic language.

Broadly there are three schools of thought: amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism. The prefixes “a,” “pre,” and “post” suggest the view of the timing of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second advent in relation to the “thousand years.” Hence, postmillennialists argue that Christ returns after the “thousand years.” Premillennialists argue that Christ comes before the thousand years. Amillennialists also contend that the Lord comes after the thousand years much like postmillennialists, but they understand the thousand years differently. For the amillennialist, as the prefix suggests, there really is no literal thousand years. Instead, the whole interadvent period between the first and second comings of Christ is taken to be the “millennium.”

This expression, taken from Latin words, means 1,000 years. The Bible passage that mentions the “thousand years” is Rev. 20:1–7, where the word appears six times. The Latin Vulgate uses mille anni and its variant renderings to translate the Greek chilia ete.

Various theological proposals have been offered to explain this passage from Rev. 20 as well as various other Scriptures that might be taken to speak to the same issue. One’s view on this text will be determined by one’s approach to interpreting predictive prophecy and by one’s view on symbolic and apocalyptic language.

Broadly there are three schools of thought: amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism. The prefixes “a,” “pre,” and “post” suggest the view of the timing of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second advent in relation to the “thousand years.” Hence, postmillennialists argue that Christ returns after the “thousand years.” Premillennialists argue that Christ comes before the thousand years. Amillennialists also contend that the Lord comes after the thousand years much like postmillennialists, but they understand the thousand years differently. For the amillennialist, as the prefix suggests, there really is no literal thousand years. Instead, the whole interadvent period between the first and second comings of Christ is taken to be the “millennium.”

Three Major Views

Three Major Views

Six times. But what does a thousand years mean? Well, you’d think it means a thousand years, but there are actually three different views on what that phrase means and when the 1,000 years occurs.
The three schools of thought among Christians concerning the millennium are: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and postmillennialism. The prefixes “pre,” “post,” and “a” refer to the timing of the Christ’s second coming in relation to the thousand years.
The prefix pre means “before.” Premillennialists argue that Christ comes before the thousand years. They understand that Scripture teaches that Christ will return and sets up a 1000-year kingdom on earth over which He reigns.
Broadly there are three schools of thought: amillennialism, premillennialism, and postmillennialism. The prefixes “a,” “pre,” and “post” suggest the view of the timing of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second advent in relation to the “thousand years.” Hence, postmillennialists argue that Christ returns after the “thousand years.” Premillennialists argue that Christ comes before the thousand years. Amillennialists also contend that the Lord comes after the thousand years much like postmillennialists, but they understand the thousand years differently. For the amillennialist, as the prefix suggests, there really is no literal thousand years. Instead, the whole interadvent period between the first and second comings of Christ is taken to be the “millennium.”[1]
The prefix post means “after.” Postmillennialists argue that Christ returns after the thousand years. They understand the Millennium to refer to a golden age on earth where the gospel has triumphed, most of the people on earth are Christians, and we enjoy peace for a long time and then Christ returns. The church brings in the Millennium, and the 1,000 years is not a literal 1,000 years.
The prefix a means “no” or “without.” Amillennialists, as the prefix suggests, contend that there really is no literal thousand years. For the amillennialist, the period between Christ’s first coming and His second coming is taken to be the Millennium. In other words, we are in the Millennium right now, with Christ reigning from heaven in the hearts of His people—and it’s been 2,000 years, so the 1,000 years is not literal. There will be no earthly kingdom in this view; the millennium is spiritualized.
Amillennialists also contend that the Lord comes after the thousand years much like postmillennialists, but they understand the thousand years differently. For the amillennialist, as the prefix suggests, there really is no literal thousand years. Instead, the whole interadvent period between the first and second comings of Christ is taken to be the “millennium.”[1]
Amillennialists also contend that the Lord comes after the thousand years much like postmillennialists, but they understand the thousand years differently. For the amillennialist, as the prefix suggests, there really is no literal thousand years. Instead, the whole interadvent period between the first and second comings of Christ is taken to be the “millennium.”[1]
So, which view is right? Well, good people, smart theologians, and dedicated Christians throughout the ages have adopted all of these views.
I would call myself a premillennialist. Many Old Testament prophecies and New Testament passages seem to speak of a literal earthly kingdom, and this was the view for the first few hundred years of the early church.
I understand and can appreciate amillennialism, and I have several friends who hold to this position. For me, however, there are too many passages that need to be explained away, or reinterpreted, or spiritualized in order to make it work. It seems like a system imposed on the Scriptures rather than a straight forward reading of the text.
[1] Zachariades, D. (2003). Millennium. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1127). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Postmillennialism has fallen on hard times. It was popular in the 1800s, but then came WWI and WWII. Plus, the biblical teaching seems to be that rather than things getting better and better as history progresses, things will actually get worse and worse before Christ returns—the love of people growing cold, increased persecution of God’s people, false teachers and false prophets multiplying.

Hermeneutics: Rightly Interpreting Scripture

Part of the reason that good people can come to different conclusions on the meaning of the biblical text has to do with how they interpret the Bible. They have different approaches, or a different hermeneutic. Herman—what?
Hermeneutics is the branch of theology that focuses on identifying and applying sound principles of biblical interpretation. The word comes from the same Greek word as the Greek god Hermes—the messenger god.
The Bible was written over a period of roughly 1,500 years by 40 different authors using three languages. They had different vocabularies, personalities, and cultural backgrounds. And it’s our job to try to understand what they wrote—what God wrote through them. And while it doesn’t take a PhD to understand the Bible, we do need to be careful with how we handle the text.
Paul says to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15–16 ESV
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
We need to be careful when we’re reading and trying to understand Scripture that we are handling it rightly, or accurately. We need to do our best when interpreting the Scriptures.
Paul was very clear that when he wrote Scripture, he wanted his readers to understand it.
2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
There are two basic approaches to biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. We could classify them as spiritual/allegorical, and literal/face value.
2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
NASB

Hermeneutics: Rightly Interpreting Scripture

2 Corinthians 1:13 NASB95
For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end;

Rightly interpreting Scripture

Rightly interpreting Scripture
There are several different approaches to biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. But basically, we can classify them into two groups: a spiritual or allegorical approach, and a literal or face value approach.
2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
The spiritual or allegorical approach looks for hidden and deeper meanings in the text. The problem with this approach
Two Important Face Value Conditions
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1. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
2. There are no contradictions in Scripture.
Five Keys to a Face Value Hermeneutic
1. Seek to discover the author/Author’s intended meaning.
“What is the AIM of the text?” If the plain sense makes sense, you have the right sense.
2. Recognize the importance of context.
Context includes the historical, grammatical, literary, theological, etc. A text without context is a pretext! More false doctrines and cults have been started because people took verses and teachings out of context.
3. Let Scripture interpret Scripture.
“The best interpreter of Scripture is other Scripture!” Martin Luther
If you want to understand a topic, like end times or any other topic, then you’ve got to look at all of the Scriptures on that topic. And since God is the author of Scripture, they will harmonize. And if they seem to contradict on another, it’s not the problem of the text, but your understanding of the text.
4. Understand figures of speech.
Like any piece of literature, Scripture includes figures of speech, like similes, metaphors, imagery, poetry, hyperbole—all of these are are used in Scripture and must be recognized and understood.
5. Recognize near/far implications and applications in prophetic passages.
E.g., ;
Often, in prophetic passages the prophet declares a soon-to-come event and then a distant event back to back. There will be judgment proclaimed on a nation, one of Israel’s enemies, and then he’ll jump to a prophecy of God’s worldwide judgment during the end times.
Another example is when Jesus began his ministry. In he quoted from the prophet Isaiah. He said:
Luke 4:16–19 ESV
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:16–18 ESV
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
But He stopped short of finishing verse 2 of . The rest of the verse says, “and to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God.” So, in Jesus’ first coming, He fulfilled verse 1 and the first part of 2, but at His second coming, He’ll fulfill the last half of verse 2.
This is called “telescoping,” where the prophet puts back to back prophecies that might be separated by hundreds or thousands of years.
Isaiah 61:1–2 ESV
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
Isaiah 61:2 ESV
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
This is called “telescoping,” where the prophet puts back to back two distant fulfillments
.
I realize this was a bit academic, but it’s crucial that we come to Scripture correctly and are careful how we interpret it. If we play fast and loose with Scripture,

The Olivet Discourse

Matthew 24
Matthew 24 ESV
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
For the rest of this morning, I want to start looking at what is the main biblical passage that gives us an overview of end-time events. It’s called the Olive Discourse, and it is found in . It’s called the Olivet Discourse because Jesus is speaking while He’s on the Mount of Olives.
This teaching is also given in and . And we’ll be looking at portions of those passages as we go through Jesus’ teaching here.
This is the teaching of Jesus to His disciples about events that will precede His return.
Matthew 24:1–3 ESV
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
This is the teaching of Jesus to His disciples about events that will precede His return.
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