What Are the Opposing Views of the End Times?
The most prevalent views of the end times are Premillennialism,
Dispensationalism, and Amillennialism. Basically, the
Dispensationalist interprets prophetic passages (such as the book of Revelation) in a
literal sense, while the Amillennialist interprets these prophetic
passages symbolically. This leads to the Dispensationalists belief in a
thousand-year earthly kingdom, while the Amillennialist believes this
is a heavenly kingdom. This article will attempt to explain these
different views, but a more in depth study is found in The Four Views of the
Millennium, by Robert G. Clouse.
The Millennial Kingdom
As stated above, perhaps the most pivotal point in the doctrine of the
end times is how one interprets the passages referring to the
thousand-year millennial kingdom. We will examine the different
viewpoints by listing each relevant scripture passage, followed by an
explanation of the passage from the various viewpoints.
The View for an Earthly Millennial Kingdom
And I saw an angel coming
down from heaven, having the keys to the abyss and a great chain in his
hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who
is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him
into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should
not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were
completed; after these things he must be released for a short
time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment
was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been
beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and
those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not
received the mark upon their forehead and reigned with Christ for a
thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life
until the thousand years were completed. This is the first
resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in
the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but
they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a
thousand years. And when the thousand years are completed,
Satan will be released from his prison.
The dispensationalist (D) says that the thousand years referenced 6
times in these 7 verses refers to the earthly reign of Christ (and the
Church) from Jerusalem for the thousand years immediately preceding eternity.
The amillennialist (A) says that verses 1 through 3 refer to the Church
age, that these verses do not come chronologically after chapter 19,
that Satan is bound during the Church Age, that verses 4 through 6
refer to the current kingdom which is established in heaven during the
Church Age, and that the 1000 years is just a long period of time--not a literal 1000 years.
And God blessed them (man
and woman); and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill
the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over
the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the
The Dispensationalist says
that this verse identifies God's plan for man as including an earthly kingdom ever since man was created.
2 Samuel 7:12-13
When your days are complete
and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant
after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his
kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish his kingdom forever.
The Dispensationalist says that here God was promising an earthly kingdom to David.
There will be no end to the
increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over
his kingdom. To establish it and to uphold it with justice and
righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord
of hosts will accomplish this.
The Dispensationalist says that the reference to the throne of David is
proof of an earthly kingdom since David's kingdom was earthly.
And in the days
of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a
will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another
people; it will
crush and put an end to all those kingdoms, but it will itself
The Dispensationalist says that "the days of those kings" indicates an
earthly kingdom since these other kings were earthly kings of the
earthly kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
And behold, you
will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you
shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most
High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will
have no end.
The Dispensationalist says that since the birth of Jesus in 1:31 was
literal, so also must be the throne of David in 1:32 and the house of Jacob in 1:33.
And the seventh
sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of
the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He
will reign forever and ever."
The Dispensationalist says that the "kingdom of the world" must mean an earthly kingdom.
"Therefore say, 'Thus says
the Lord God, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble out of
the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you
the land of Israel.'" "When they come there, they will remove
all detestable things, and all its abominations from it. And I
shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within
them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh
and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep
my ordinances, and do them. Then they will be my people, and
I shall be their God."
The Dispensationalist says that this is the current re-gathering of Israel during the Church Age.
Therefore thus says the Lord
God, "Now I shall restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the
whole house of Israel; and I shall be jealous for My holy name. And
they shall forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they
perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with
no one to make them afraid. When I bring them back from the
peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall
be sanctified through them in the site of the many nations. Then
they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into
exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own
land; and I will leave none of them there any longer.
The Dispensationalist says that Israel will eventually "live securely
on their own land" and that God will "leave none of them out."
Ezekiel 40:2a, 43:7
In the visions of God He
brought me into the land of Israel ... And He said to me, "Son of man,
this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of my feet,
where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the
house of Israel will not again defile my Holy name, neither they nor
their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when
The Dispensationalist says that "this is the place" refers to "the land of Israel."
For I will gather all the
nations against Jerusalem to battle and the city will be captured, the
houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but
the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then
the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He
fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on
the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and
the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from East to West by a
very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the
north and the other half toward the south. And the Lord will be king
over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His
name the only one.
The Dispensationalist says that Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives
identify earthly scenes, but above all, the scriptures explicitly state
that, "The Lord will be king over all the earth!"
And so when they had come
together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You
are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is
not for you to know times or epochs which the father has fixed by His own authority.
The Dispensationalist says that this would have been the perfect
opportunity for Jesus to announce that there would be no earthly
kingdom, if that were the case. Instead, he implies that it will be delayed.
For the sons of Israel will
remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or
sacred pillars, and without ephod or household idols. Afterward
the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David
their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord in the last days.
The Dispensationalist says that Israel without a king or a temple
during the Church Age, but soon she will turn to God and David (her
will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord's.
The Dispensationalist says that Mount Zion and the mountain of Esau are the earthly sites of the kingdom.
The Lord has bared His holy arm in the site of all the nations, that
all the ends
of the earth may see the salvation of God.
The Dispensationalist says that the millennium must be on earth so that
"all the nations" and "all the ends of the earth" may observe it.
I will make the
lame a remnant, and the outcasts a strong nation, and the Lord will reign over
them in Mount Zion from now on and forever. And as for you,
tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion to you it will come--even
the former domain will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.
The Dispensationalist says that again, Mount Zion and Jerusalem are
earthly sites, indicating an earthly kingdom.
"In those days and at that
time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth and He
shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth... Thus says the
Lord, 'If you can break my covenant for the day and my covenant for the
night, so that day and night will not be at the appointed time, then My
covenant may also be broken with David My servant that he shall not
have a son to reign on his throne, and the Levitical priests, my ministers."
The Dispensationalist says that God promises here never to break his promise of a kingdom that he made to Israel.
I have made a covenant with
My chosen; I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your seed
forever, and build up your throne to all generations.
The Dispensationalist says that the references to seed, throne, and all generations implies an earthly kingdom.
May he also rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
The Dispensationalist says that the River and the "ends of the earth" are on the earth.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven.
The Dispensationalist says that Jesus prayed for the kingdom which was going to come to the earth.
And thou hast
made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.
The Dispensationalist says that "they will reign upon the earth."
The View for a Heavenly Millennial Kingdom
The Amillennialist says that since Israel did not obey God, then God's promises to her are nullified.
So, the Lord gave Israel all the land which he had sworn to give to their fathers,
and they possessed it, and lived in it.
The Amillennialist says that God has already fulfilled His promise of an earthly kingdom to Israel.
If it does evil
in My site by not obeying my voice, then I will think better of the
good which I had promised to bless it.
The Amillennialist says that God repented of His promises to Israel because of her disobedience.
Then Jonah began to go
through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty
days and Ninevah will be overthrown.
The Amillennialist says that this is an example of God repenting from a previous promise.
And He was saying to them,
"Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who
shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has
come with power.
The Amillennialist says that this verse shows that "the kingdom" was realized at the cross.
And He has made us to be a
kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and
dominion forever and ever! Amen.
The Amillennialist says that "the kingdom" is realized in Christians.
For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the
kingdom of His beloved Son.
The Amillennialist says that "the kingdom" is the church.
1 Thessalonians 2:12
...God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
The Amillennialist says that "the kingdom" is realized.
Jesus answered, "My kingdom
is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then
my servants would not be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the
Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is in Heaven, not on earth.
For behold, I
create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is in the new earth to come.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is in Heaven.
Now having been questioned
by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered
them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be
observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is," or, 'There it
is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is not of tangible earth, but
that it is spiritual, and that it is realized now, ever since Jesus came.
humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of
The Amillennialist says that this shows that the kingdom is in Heaven, and not on earth.
Truly I say to you, I shall never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day
when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom was realized at Jesus's death.
For the kingdom
of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is not tangible or earthly.
1 John 2:18
Children, it is
the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many
antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.
The Amillennialist says that this proves that "the last hour" or "the latter days" refers to the whole Church age.
1 Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to
them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon
whom the ends of the ages have come.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that the Church age is the last age, and not earthly kingdom follows.
Truly I say to
you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom was realized at Jesus's death.
and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I
have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
The Postmillennialist says that the kingdom will come gradually as the earth is improved and evangelized.
But seek first
His kingdom and righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is within our grasp in the Church age.
...When He had
made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that the kingdom is in Heaven.
Assurance of Not Violating the Covenant
On that day, the Lord made a
covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this
land, from the river of Egypt, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates."
The Dispensationalist says that Israel has yet to occupy all the land
from the Nile to the Euphrates, so this prophecy must be fulfilled in the future.
So, it shall be when all of
these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse... and you
return to the Lord your God and obey Him,... then the Lord your God
will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you, and will
gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has
scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth,
from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will
bring you back. And the Lord your God will bring you into the
land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it and He
shall prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
The Dispensationalist says that God's promise of an earthly kingdom
included honoring Israel's repentance after their disobedience.
God is not a
man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent. Has He
said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make
The Dispensationalist notes that since God is true to His word, that He
is still obligated to give Israel an earthly kingdom.
My covenant I
will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of my lips. Once I have sworn
by my holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants
shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall
be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is
The Dispensationalist says that God emphatically promises not to change His mind about the earthly Davidic kingdom.
Can a woman forget her
nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her
womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Behold I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
The Dispensationalist says that Israel is inscribed on the palms of God's hands.
The View That the Church Replaces Israel
Therefore I say
to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing fruit of it.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that the church replaced Israel.
The View That the Church is "Spiritual" Israel
Romans 9:6, 8, 25
But it is not as though the
word of God has failed, for they are not all of Israel who are
descended from Israel... That is, it is not the children of the flesh
who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded
as descendants... As He says also in Hosea, "I will call those
who were not my people, `My people,` and her who was not my beloved,
The Amillennialist says that this shows that the church replaced Israel.
"And I will save her for
Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had
not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not my
people, 'You are My people!' and they will say, 'Thou are my God!'"
The Amillennialist says that Israel was replaced by the church which
But he is a Jew who is one
inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the
Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
The Amillennialist says that the church replaces Israel.
The View That Israel Was Not Replaced by the Church
Romans 11:5, 23, 26a, 28b
In the same way then, there
has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God`s
gracious choice... And they also, if they do not continue in
their unbelief, will
be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again... And
thus all Israel will be saved... they are beloved for the sake of their fathers.
The Dispensationalist says that this is a prophecy of Israel returning to God during the Great Tribulation.
Hebrews 8:10, Jeremiah 31:33-34
"For this is the new
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those
days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their minds and I will
write them upon their heart, and I will be their God, and they shall be
my people. And they shall not teach anyone his fellow citizen, and
everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me
from the least to the greatest of them.
The Amillennialist says that this is the Church. The
Dispensationalist says that it must mean literal Israel since the
prophecy includes a lack of teaching while that is what the Church is commissioned to do.
The View That Satan is Bound during the Church Age
Or how can anyone enter the strong
man's house and carry off his
property unless he
first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
The Amillennialist says that this passage proves that Satan was bound when Jesus came.
And I also say
to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will
build my church, and
the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that Satan is bound during the Church Age.
And He said to them, "I was
watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold I have
given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all
the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that Satan is bound now, but
this is not a picture of when Satan was originally cast from Heaven.
Now judgment is upon this world, now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.
The Amillennialist says that this shows that Satan is bound now.
The View That Satan is Not Bound during the Church Age
For our struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces
of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The Dispensationalist says that Satan is "Alive and well on planet earth" during the Church Age.
Revelation 19:7-8, 14
"Let us rejoice and be glad
and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and
His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to
clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is
the righteous act of the saints... And the armies which are in heaven,
clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white
The Dispensationalist says that these verses prove that there will be a
rapture because at the time of the Second Advent, the Church is seen returning to the earth with Christ.
The Great Tribulation
..."These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation...."
The Dispensationalist's origin of the term "great tribulation."
Revelation, Chapters 6 Through 19
The Dispensationalist says that this is the 7-year period of Great
Tribulation immediately preceding the Second Advent.
The sun will be turned into darkness, the moon into blood, before the great and awesome
day of the Lord comes.
The Dispensationalist says that this is part of the Great Tribulation that must come before the Second Advent.
Micah 5:2-5, Luke 2:1-6 (the Savior is born in Bethlehem); and, Zechariah 9:9-10, Matthew 21:5 (riding the foal of a donkey)
The Dispensationalist says that these and all prophecies are meant for literal interpretation.
Owen Weber 2009