MILLENNIUM. From Lat. mille, “thousand,” annum, “year”; a theological term based upon Rev. 20, indicating the thousand-year period of Christ’s future reign on the earth in connection with the establishment of the kingdom over Israel (Acts 1:6). Basically, however, it is more accurate to employ the term kingdom, which has far-reaching roots in the OT, rather than a term signifying merely a time during which the kingdom continues. Three common millennial views are held: postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism.
1. Postmillennialism. This interpretation maintains that present gospel agencies will root out evils until Christ will have a spiritual reign over the earth, which will continue for 1,000 years. Then the second advent of Christ will initiate judgment and bring to an end the present order. This theory, largely disproved by the progress of history, is no longer popular, but it has enjoyed some resurgence in recent years. Postmillennialism was promulgated by the teaching in England of Daniel Whitby, 1638-1726.
2. Amillennialism. Advocates of this view maintain that no Millennium is to be looked for except that which, it is claimed, is in progress now in this gospel age. This theological interpretation spiritualizes or, rather, gives a mystical meaning to the vast kingdom promises in the OT. Zion is construed not to mean Zion but to refer to the Christian church. It makes no trenchant differentiation between Israel and the church, a distinction that evidently underlies John the Baptist’s prophecy of the baptism of the Spirit and Jesus’ reference to this in Acts 1:5. This spiritual ministry formed the church (Acts 2; cf. 1 Cor. 12:13). The apostle Paul apparently makes a clear distinction between Israel and the church in 10:32, and he also outlines a future for Israel in Romans 11. Amillennialism does not seem to take full account of these facts. Moreover, the view contends that Satan is at present bound, a position that premillennialists maintain is hardly justified by conditions in the present age.
3. Premillennialism. This interpretation teaches that the age will end in judgment at the second coming of Christ, who will restore the kingdom to Israel and reign for at least 1,000 years. The criticism that such a view of the Millennium is based on an obscure passage in Rev. 20 is not allowed by premillennialists since this reference, they say, embraces all the kingdom promises of the OT as well as the Day of the Lord, which is prominent in Scripture and connects with the kingdom, or Millennium. Most of the opposition to premillennialism comes from the assumption that an earthly kingdom with Israel at the head would involve a retrogression from the spirituality brought in by Christ through His death, resurrection, and ascension. But premillennialists hold that the promise of the fulfillment of the covenants and promises to Israel in the OT demand such an earthly kingdom. The Millennium will be the last of the ordered ages of time. Eternity will not dawn until the Millennium is complete (Isaiah 65:17;
Isaiah 65:17-25 (NIV)
17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands.
23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain," says the Lord.
Revelation 20:1-15 (NIV)
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ 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 are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.
9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1). The Millennium will be characterized by the binding of Satan and the severe limitation of sin. The perfect sinless state, however, will occur in the eternal state after the Millennium.
bibliography: Postmillennial: D. Brown, Christ’s Second Coming (1919); L. Boettner, The Millennium (1957).
Amillennial: F. E. Hamilton, The Basis of the Millennial Faith (1942); G. L. Murray, Millennial Studies (1948); O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (1964).
Premillennial: N. West, The Thousand Years in Both Testaments (n.d.); D. H. Kromminga, The Millennium in the Church (1945); J. F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (1965).
—New Unger's Bible Dictionary
A thousand years; the name given to the era mentioned in Rev 20:1-7. Some maintain that Christ will personally appear on earth for the purpose of establishing his kingdom at the beginning of this millennium. Those holding this view are usually called "millenarians." On the other hand, it is maintained, more in accordance with the teaching of Scripture, we think, that Christ's second advent will not be premillennial, and that the right conception of the prospects and destiny of his kingdom is that which is taught, e.g., in the parables of the leaven and the mustard-seed. The triumph of the gospel, it is held, must be looked for by the wider and more efficient operation of the very forces that are now at work in extending the gospel; and that Christ will only come again at the close of this dispensation to judge the world at the "last day." The millennium will thus precede his coming.
—Easton's Illustrated Dictionary