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

Revelation 20:1-7

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.

Genesis 1:28

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 earth.

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.

Isaiah 9:7

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.

Daniel 2:44

And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which 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 endure forever.

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.

Luke 1:31-33

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.

Revelation 11:15

And the seventh angel 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.

Ezekiel 11:17-20

"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.

Ezekiel 39:21-29

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 they die.

The Dispensationalist says that "this is the place" refers to "the land of Israel."

Zechariah 14:2-4,9

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!"

Acts 1:6-7

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.

Hosea 3:4-5

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 earthly king).

Obadiah 21

The deliverers 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.

Isaiah 52:10

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.

Micah 4:7-8

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.

Jeremiah 33:15,20-21

"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.

Psalms 89:3-4

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.

Psalms 72:8

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.

Matthew 6:10

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.

Revelation 5:10

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.

Joshua 21:43

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.

Jeremiah 18:10

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.

Jonah 3:4

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.

Mark 9:1

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.

Revelation 1:6

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.

Colossians 1:13

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.

John 18:36

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.

Isaiah 65:17

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.

Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Amillennialist says that the kingdom is in Heaven.

Luke 17:20-21

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.

Matthew 18:4

Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The Amillennialist says that this shows that the kingdom is in Heaven, and not on earth.

Matthew 26:29

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.

Romans 14:17

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.

Matthew 24:34

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.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore 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.

Matthew 6:33

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.

Hebrew 1:3b

...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

Genesis 15:18

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.

Deuteronomy 30:1-5

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.

Numbers 23:19

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 it good.

The Dispensationalist notes that since God is true to His word, that He is still obligated to give Israel an earthly kingdom.

Psalms 89:34-37

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 faithful.

The Dispensationalist says that God emphatically promises not to change His mind about the earthly Davidic kingdom.

Isaiah 49:15-16

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

Matthew 21:43

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, `beloved.`"

The Amillennialist says that this shows that the church replaced Israel.

Hosea 2:23

"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 includes Gentiles.

Romans 2:29

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

Matthew 12:29

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.

Matthew 16:18

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.

Luke 10:18-19

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.

John 12:31

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

Ephesians 10:12

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.

The Rapture

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 horses.

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

Revelation 7:14

..."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.

Joel 2:31

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.

Literal Fulfillments

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