The Premillennial Deception
                                 
Chiliasm Examined in the Light of Scripture
                                                                     By: Brian Schwertley
                                                                  Edited by: Stephen Pribble


Premillennial Contradictions

The predominant eschatological view among Bible-believing Christians in the twentieth century is premillennialism. Premillennialism is the view that after His second coming, Jesus Christ will rule the earth for 1000 years. Thus Christ’s second coming is before the millennium (premillennial). Premillennialists teach that at the second coming of Christ, the living saints are raptured and the dead saints are raised from the dead. All these saints are given glorified, immortal bodies. They meet Christ in the air and return to rule with Him on earth for 1000 years. This 1000-year period is one of worldwide peace and righteousness. At the end of the 1000-year period Satan is loosed from his prison to deceive the nations. Vast armies rebel and attack Christ and the saints in Jerusalem; these armies are then destroyed by fire from heaven. After the defeat of these rebel armies the final resurrection and judgment take place; then comes the eternal state. This, in brief, is the essence of premillennialism; there are many variations. Among premillennialists there are pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation rapturists. Dispensational premillennialists place the rapture not at the second coming but at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation.

1. The myth of literal vs. non-literal interpretation

Premillennialists argue that they hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture, while charging that their theological opponents (e.g., postmillennialists) have a tendency to spiritualize prophetic passages. The truth is that premillennialists, amillennialists and postmillennialists all believe that Scripture should be interpreted literally at times and symbolically at other times, depending on the context of the passage and intent of the author. Premillennialist authors tell their readers that they interpret the Bible literally. But if you read their books, scenes with bows, arrows and horses become future battles with tanks, helicopters and airplanes. The mark of the beast becomes a computer chip or bar code. The locusts from the bottomless pit (Rev. 9) supposedly become attack helicopters, and so on. Are there any premillennial authors or commentators who believe that the beast from the sea with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 13) is a literal creature? The point is, premillennialists, amillennialists and postmillennialists all interpret some passages symbolically and some passages literally. The only way to determine who has the best interpretation is to use sound biblical principles of interpretation in examining the passages in question. This means that the context, the audience, the author’s intent, the time of the writing, and so on, must be considered. Furthermore, Scripture cannot contradict Scripture; therefore, when two passages seem to be in conflict with one another, the clearer passage should be used to interpret the less clear. This principle is very important, for there are many clear passages in the New Testament which teach about the second coming of Christ.

Premillennialism is based on a literal interpretation of Revelation 20. Most premillennialists are unaware of a postmillennial interpretation. Many premillennialists are told that fundamentalists are premillennial while theological liberals are postmillennial. Most premillennialists do not know that the dominant view among protestants from the Reformation to the late 1800s was, in fact, postmillennialism. Premillennialism became the dominant view after the 1909 publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. Premillennialists are often unaware of the many serious theological and exegetical problems that accompany their interpretation.

2. The day of the Lord

The premillennial position is that Christ will return and the saints will be resurrected, then after 1000 years of earthly rule the final judgment will occur and the wicked will be judged. Note that the premillennialist believes there is a 1000-year gap between the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. The resurrection of the saints and the resurrection of the wicked are also separated by 1000 years. Does the Bible teach that there is a 1000-year gap between the second coming of Christ and the final judgment? Does it teach that there is a 1000-year gap between the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked? Actually, there is no gap between these events. In fact, as will be shown, the Bible teaches that these events are to occur on the very same day. Thus, premillennialism is theologically and biblically impossible.

The gospels and epistles present a unified picture of the second coming and the judgment by Jesus Christ. The second coming of Christ, the rapture, the resurrection of the righteous and wicked, and the judgment of the righteous and the wicked all are to occur on the same day. The Apostle Paul teaches that when Christ returns, He will take vengeance on the wicked. The wicked will receive everlasting destruction, but Christ will dwell with the saints. All who believe will admire and glorify Christ. When will this occur? On “that day” (singular), “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Th. 1:7-10). [1] Is there a 1000-year gap between the destruction of the wicked and the glorification of the saints? No, they both occur on that day. Does Christ crush the wicked from His throne in Jerusalem? No, He is revealed from heaven. On the final day Christ comes from heaven to judge all men, both the righteous and the wicked. “The reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked are interwoven with each other as to time, and made to follow, both of them, immediately on the coming of the Lord. Surely this passage should make perfectly clear that there is no secret rapture to be followed at an interval of seven years by an open revelation of the Lord and His glory to the world. Surely it is perfectly clear also that since the coming of the Lord brings upon the wicked ‘eternal destruction away from the face of the Lord,’ there are no wicked who will survive His coming to be ruled over a millennium to follow. But there must be wicked people surviving, according to the premillennial scheme.” [2]

Does the Apostle Paul teach that Christ will return to earth, and then set up a 1000-year reign which is to be followed by a final judgment? No, he does not. Paul says that the second coming of Christ and the glorification of the saints will occur immediately prior to the final state. Paul does not teach that a 1000-year gap exists between the second coming and the end of earthly, human history: “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.... Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.... Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:23-25, 50-54). Christ returns, the saints receive immortal, glorified bodies; “then comes the end.” There is no 1000-year earthly kingdom, for when Christ returns, He delivers the kingdom to the Father. Furthermore, after Christ’s return, death is completely destroyed and abolished. How can there be converts in the millennium who live, have children and die, if death is abolished at the second coming? “The whole design of the latter portion of this chapter is to show that after the resurrection, the bodies of believers will be like the glorious body of the Son of God, adapted to a heavenly, and not earthly condition.” [3]

The Apostle Paul teaches that both the righteous and the wicked will be judged on the same day: “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey
unrighteousness; indignation and wrath” (Rom. 2:5-8).

The inspired apostle says nothing of a 1000-year gap between the judgment of the righteous and the wicked. Christ’s second coming is always associated in Scripture with the final judgment of all men. This will occur “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16).

The Apostle Paul always teaches in his epistles that the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, the reward of the righteous and the condemnation of the wicked occur on the same day—the day of the Lord. He says, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then suddenly destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief.... For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Th. 5:1-4, 9-10). “Paul associates the second coming with the resurrection and the ensuing glory of the saints and the sudden destruction of the wicked. Without the shadow of a doubt, that day has its reference to both parties:—believers are to look for it (1 Th. 5:4-10), for then they shall obtain salvation in all its fullness (vs. 9), then they shall ‘live together with him’ (vs. 10); while that same day will bring the false security of unbelievers to an end in their ‘sudden destruction.’” [4] Paul does not tell the Thessalonians that a secret rapture will occur seven years prior to the second coming. The rapture occurs on the same day that the wicked are judged. [5] If the wicked receive “sudden destruction” and the saints are glorified, no one is left to populate the earth during the premillennialists’ 1000-year reign. After Christians receive their heavenly, glorified bodies, they do not marry and bear children. Who, then, is there to rebel against Christ at the end of the 1000-year earthly reign? The glorified saints certainly cannot rebel, and the unbelievers are all suffering torment in the lake of fire.

The Apostle Peter fully concurs with Paul’s teaching regarding Christ’s second coming. In his second epistle he deals with scoffers who deny the second coming of Christ: “‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’... But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.... But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3:4-12).

Peter teaches that the second coming, the day of judgment and the beginning of the final state occur contemporaneously. Like Paul, Peter says that these events occur on “the day of the Lord.” According to premillennialism Christ does not come on the day of judgment, because He is already on earth ruling from Jerusalem. But Peter says that when Christ returns, the judgment occurs and then the heavens and earth are destroyed. The premillennialist believes that Christ will return and rule on earth for 1000 years before the elements are destroyed. Thus Peter’s account of Christ’s coming totally contradicts premillennial doctrine.

Premillennialists teach that there is a 1000-year gap between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked. They teach that the bodily resurrection of the wicked occurs at the end of the millennium. But the parables of Jesus Christ totally contradict premillennial doctrine. In the parable of the wheat and the tares Jesus said that both will grow together until the harvest: “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in a bundle to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Mt. 13:30). [6] The harvest obviously refers to the final judgment. “At last the separation shall be such that all the wicked shall be cast into hell fire, and the godly placed in heaven.” [7]
In Matthew 25 Jesus instructed His disciples with regard to the second coming: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt. 25:31-46). Christ described a general judgment of all men, not just the wicked. He placed the final judgment immediately after His return, not 1000 years after His return.

“The average "Christian" believes that Mt. 25:31-46 is a picture of the Last Judgment. And he is right. The premillennialist has to explain this passage away because it does not fit in with his prophetic view. In his interpretation he has to forsake ‘literal’ interpretation of which he speaks so much. He has to explain that the ‘all nations’ are not ‘all nations,’ and that the nations that are there are there only ‘representatively.’ There is nothing in the passage to indicate this. It is a clear picture of the Last and Universal Judgment.” [8]

Jesus taught plainly that there will be a general resurrection in which all men will be raised on the same day. He did not say that some will be raised, and then the rest will be raised after 1000 years (or for the dispensationalist, 1007 years): “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn. 5:28-29). The idea that the resurrection of the righteous is to occur 1000 years (or 1007 years) before the end of the world is contradicted by Jesus four more times in John chapter 6: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:39-40; cf. 44, 54). The last day is the day of judgment. “Clearly there can be no other days after the last day.” [9]

3. The chronological fallacy

The premillennial position with regard to Revelation 19 and 20 is that chapter 19 describes the second coming of Christ, while chapter 20 describes Christ’s reign on earth. Granted, if one casually reads these two chapters, the premillennial position looks tenable. But if one closely examines these two chapters it will be seen that the premillennial position simply cannot be true. The premillennial, “literalist” approach to these chapters is self contradictory and suffers from insurmountable interpretive difficulties.
The premillennial position is that the events of chapter 20 follow the events of chapter 19 chronologically. In the second half of chapter 19 Christ returns and judges the nations, then in chapter 20 He reigns over the nations. But if chapter 19 is taken literally, there are no nations for Christ to rule over in chapter 20. “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.... Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great....’ And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:15-21).

Premillennialists say that this obviously refers to a literal battle. There are dead bodies on the battlefield, and the birds are feasting on their flesh. But if chapter 19 is interpreted literally, chapter 20 doesn’t make any sense. Verse 3 says that Satan is cast into the bottomless pit, “so that he should deceive the nations no more.” How can Satan deceive the nations in chapter 20 when all the nations were just completely obliterated by Christ at the end of chapter 19? The description of Christ’s destruction of those who oppose Him in chapter 19 is total: verse 19 says the birds will eat the flesh of all people, verse 21 says the rest were killed. The passage emphasizes that Christ will destroy all His opposition. When the battle is over, no one is left standing; there are no pockets of resistance. If Christ has just obliterated all the nations, and all unbelievers are dead, how then does Christ rule over the nations in chapter 20? This chapter assumes that all the nations are still in existence and that Christ is ruling over these nations. If the nations are completely destroyed in chapter 19, and in chapter 20 the nations are still intact, then clearly the premillennial understanding of these chapters is wrong.

The literalistic, premillennial understanding of the final battle at the end of the millennium also has serious problems. Revelation 20:8 speaks of the vast armies of Gog and Magog. All the nations of the earth will gather in the Middle East for a literal battle against Christ and the saints who are holed up in Jerusalem. Premillennialists teach that this is a real battle with guns, tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and so on. But this interpretation is absurd. The resurrected Christ with His glorified, spiritual body and the glorified, immortal saints cannot be threatened with physical weapons. Christ and the saints cannot be killed; they are already immortal! They cannot even be hurt by such weapons. After His resurrection Christ could pass through solid walls (Jn. 20:19). Bullets, bombs, flame-throwers, nuclear weapons, etc. cannot threaten Christ and the saints at all. All the armies of the world could not harm or be a threat to even one resurrected, glorified believer, let alone the all-powerful, resurrected Christ. The idea that Jesus Christ (who is God, possessing all power and authority in heaven and earth) could be threatened by tanks and earthly weapons is ridiculous.

4. Earthly or heavenly rule?

Does the Bible teach that Christ will rule from an earthly Jerusalem in Palestine? Is Christ’s kingdom postponed until the second coming? Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36). Christ’s kingdom does not originate from an earthly Jerusalem but from a heavenly one. It doesn’t begin at the second coming but began at His resurrection. “Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Mt. 28:18). Paul said that Christ was “declared to be [or appointed] the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). Peter said that Christ was enthroned as king in heaven immediately after the resurrection: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your foot-stool’” (Ac. 2:34-35). Daniel prophesied that in the days of the fourth empire (the Roman empire) God would set up “a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44).

Jesus preached that the kingdom of God was near or at hand (Mt. 3:2, Mk. 1:15, Lk. 4:43). He gave no indication of an earthly kingdom over 2000 years in the future but a spoke of a spiritual kingdom which was to begin immediately after His resurrection. If Christ did have an earthly kingdom in mind, why did He emphatically reject the kingdom offered to Him by the Jews? “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone” (Jn. 6:15). “From the very onset Jesus not merely gave no encouragement to, but quite definitely opposed, the expectation of the Jews that an earthly, Jewish kingdom of glory, such as David had established centuries before, was about to be set up.” [10]

The Bible does not teach that we are to wait and look forward to a time when Christ rules from an earthly Jerusalem; rather, it teaches that Christ is already king and that He already rules from heaven: “[God] raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20-21). “Kings place at their right hand those whom they design to honor or whom they associate with themselves in dominion.” [11] Jesus Christ, the exalted Redeemer, has universal dominion. What He achieved definitively by His death and resurrection is now being progressively realized throughout the whole earth.

If one interprets Revelation 20:9 literally (with Christ ruling from an earthly Jerusalem), then one has chosen an interpretation that contradicts the rest of the New Testament. Paul wrote, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). Christians belong to the Jerusalem which is above. The earthly Jerusalem corresponds to Hagar and is in bondage (Gal. 4:26). Christians are exhorted to go outside the earthly Jerusalem, “For here [on earth] we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Heb. 13:13-14). Are the saints to look forward to Christ establishing an earthly Jerusalem? Not at all! “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country...for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16).

To what, then, do the camp of the saints and the beloved city in Revelation 20:9 refer? “The camp of the saints and the beloved city, therefore, certainly represent the church and the people of God. And they represent the entire church, in the whole world and even in heaven.” [12] John says that the new Jerusalem is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2); this is an obvious reference to the church. He also equates the new Jerusalem with the Lamb’s wife (Rev. 21:9-10). Prior to the second coming, the Lamb’s wife (the bride, the new Jerusalem) exists in heaven and on earth. Thus John in apocalyptic language is describing the final attack of Satan’s forces against the church. “The nations of Gog and Magog in compassing about and coming to battle against Christendom in its widest sense certainly intend to destroy ‘the beloved city,’ the cause of Christ, and to make paganism supreme in the world. In this they revel in their wickedness and become ripe for the judgment.” [13]

The premillennialist will object to this interpretation as non-literal and thus defective. But premillennialists actually take very little of chapter 20 literally; they spiritualize freely when it suits their purpose. Does anyone really believe that armies in the future will be riding horses and using wooden weapons? Are there going to be two countries named Gog and Magog in the future? Of course not! “An axiom of Bible study is that most sections demand literal interpretation unless the context or other known Scriptures demand figurative or spiritual interpretation. In apocalyptic literature the very opposite is true: here one must interpret figuratively unless literal interpretation is absolutely demanded.... Apocalyptic writings are known to have definite characteristics, such as figurative language, imagery, numerology, hyperbole, and the like. These are used for a purpose—to teach spiritual lessons to God’s people. These characteristics are used much in the same way a producer uses stage props and scenery. The important thing in watching a drama is not the props, but the message they help to portray.” [14]

When dealing with the book of Revelation, which is filled with symbolic imagery, one must define this imagery not by the morning newspaper or CNN but by examining the clearer portions of Scripture where many of John’s pictures are clearly defined. Scripture must be used to interpret Scripture. The clear passages must be used to interpret the less clear. Premillennialists do the very opposite. Their interpretation of Revelation 20 has become a straitjacket into which all the clear passages of Scripture must be forced. Thus, instead of the simple, scriptural teaching regarding Christ’s second coming to judge the world, one finds in premillennialism separate comings, separate judgments, glorified saints dwelling among sinful men, and so on. Although premillennialism is popular and its theories regarding Russia, the Middle East and the antichrist may be exciting, its teachings, unfortunately, have little in common with Scripture.

5. The return in flaming fire

If the Bible teaches that Christ is not on earth when fire falls from heaven to destroy the wicked at the end of the millennium, but returns from heaven in flaming fire, then premillennialism cannot be true. Why? Because Revelation 20:9 describes the end of the millennium and not its beginning. “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” According to popular premillennialist teaching, Jesus and the saints are holed up behind the walls of Jerusalem, surrounded by a vast army. God the Father then rescues Jesus and the saints by destroying the vast armies of Gog and Magog. (The idea that the resurrected Christ and glorified saints need to be rescued from an attack by guns and tanks is absurd, as noted above.)

Are there other passages in the Bible that help in understanding this passage? Yes, there are many. Listen to how Isaiah the prophet describes the second coming of Christ: “For behold, the LORD will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the LORD will judge all flesh” (Isa. 66:15-16). Paul teaches that when Christ returns it will be “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God” (2 Th. 1:8). Peter says, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Paul warns Christians that when Christ returns, their works will be tested by fire: “Each one’s work will become manifest; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

Where is Christ when the fire falls from heaven in judgment on the wicked? Is He on earth in Jerusalem, as premillennialists assert? No, Christ cannot be in Jerusalem because He returns in flaming fire. [15] Thus, according to the abundant testimony of Scripture, Revelation 20:9 refers to the second coming of Christ. Why is this significant? Because it means that Christ returns at the end of the millennium which we are now enjoying; Christ’s coming is postmillennial. Christ is not saved by flaming fire; He returns in flaming fire. If the clear passages of Scripture are allowed to interpret the unclear, the Bible teaches a postmillennial return of Christ in an amillennial setting.

Footnotes:

[1] All Scriptures New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), unless otherwise noted.

[2] William J. Grier, The Momentous Event, p. 55, quoted in Loraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1957), pp. 166-67.

[3] Charles Hodge, A Commentary on I & II Corinthians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1978 [1857]), pp. 329-30.

[4] Grier, p. 54, quoted by Boettner, p. 167.

[5] “Surely Paul would not have written these words if he had been looking for a secret rapture. There is nothing here to indicate that Christians are to be raptured away seven years before the day of judgment. Rather, they are to receive relief from tribulation and suffering ‘at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with the angels of His power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel’” (Boettner, pp. 167-68). If Christians are to be secretly raptured away from the earth seven years before Christ’s second coming, then why do the Scriptures repeatedly teach that Christians are to remain on earth until the revelation of Christ? The resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, and the final judgment both occur on the same day (the day of the Lord, Mt. 13:47-50; 25:31-34, 41, 46; Jn. 5:28-29; 6:3-40, 44, 54; Rom. 2:5-8, 16; 1 Th. 5:1-4, 9-10, etc.).

[6] When Jesus explained this parable to His disciples in Mt. 13:36-43, He indicated the time that the harvest will take place. He said that the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. To preclude any idea of a partial harvest before the full harvest, the Greek word sunteleia is used (v. 39). “The word ‘end’ is translated from the Greek word ‘sunteleia,’ meaning full end. According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, ‘sunteleia’ is only used six times in the New Testament. It always designates the Judgment Day, that is, the end of the world.... The use of the Greek word ‘sunteleia’ in each of these verses absolutely precludes the possibility of the righteous being taken out of the world before the full end of the age” (Boettner, pp. 168-69).

[7] David Dickson, A Brief Exposition of the Evangel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1981 [1647], p. 189). Jesus taught the same thing in the parable of the dragnet: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 13:47-50). His teaching is that the judgment of all men, both the good and the evil, will take place at the end of the world. The good go to heaven and the wicked go to hell. They will not be separated prior to the final judgment.

[8] J. Marcellus Kik, Matthew Twenty Four, p. 94, quoted in William E. Cox, Biblical Studies in Final Things (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1966), p. 151.

[9] Boettner, p. 169. “The dispensational answer to these objections is to argue that there is a secret rapture before the seven year tribulation. All Christians are removed from the earth at this time. But during the seven year tribulation there will be a mass conversion of Jews upon earth. These post-rapture saints will have children and thus provide new, unglorified believers for a general resurrection and judgment at the end of the millennium. The problem with this view is that the Bible does not teach a secret rapture seven years prior to Christ’s second coming. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Paul says that the same day Christ comes to be glorified by His saints is the very same day He returns ‘in flaming fire’ to judge the wicked. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Paul comforts the church age saints at Thessalonica with the blessed hope of rest that will be both theirs and Paul’s when Christ returns in flaming fire and judges those who have been troubling the church. According to dispensational assumptions, however, this passage could not be referring to the Christian’s blessed hope. In dispensational thinking there is no flaming judgment associated with the church return of Christ, which is a secret rapture” (Curtis Crenshaw and Grover E. Gunn, III, Dispensationalism: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow [Memphis, TN: Footstool, 1985], p. 422). Dispensationalists argue that “the blessed hope” in Scripture refers to the secret rapture. Yet Paul places the phrase “the blessed hope” in conjunction with Christ’s “glorious appearing” in Tit. 2:13. For Paul the rapture and public, visible second coming are coterminous; they are not separated by seven years. Furthermore, 1 Th. 4:16 explicitly teaches that the rapture is a public event, not secret: “for the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” If the rapture were to occur seven years before the second coming of Christ, then everyone could calculate the year, month and day of His second coming. But Jesus said that no one knows “the day or hour” of His coming (Mk. 13:32). There isn’t a shred of evidence in the Bible for a secret rapture seven years prior to Christ’s visible second coming. The secret rapture theory cannot be found in the church prior to 1830. The Bible teaches that the rapture, the general judgment and the second coming all occur on the same day: “the day of the Lord.” After a careful study of all the phrases, words and passages associated with the rapture and second coming, Oswald T. Allis wrote: “The question which confronts us is this. If the distinction between the rapture and the appearing is of as great a moment as Dispensationalists assert, how are we to explain Paul’s failure to distinguish clearly between them? And the failure of other writers, Peter, James, and John, to do the same? Paul was a logician. He was able to draw sharp distinctions. If he had wanted, or regarded it important, to distinguish between these events, he could have done so very easily. Why did he use language which Dispensationalists must admit to be confusing? Feinberg [a noted dispensationalist scholar] made the following surprising statement regarding the three words we have been discussing: ‘We conclude, then, that from a study of the Greek words themselves the distinctions between the coming of the Lord for His saints and with His saints is not to be gleaned’ (Premillennialism or Amillennialism? p. 207). Such an admission raises the question whether the distinction itself is valid. If the distinction is of importance, Paul’s ambiguous language is, we may say it reverently, inexcusable. If the distinction is negligible, accuracy of statement would be quite unnecessary. We conclude, therefore, that the language of the New Testament and especially of Paul not merely fails to prove the distinction insisted on by Dispensationalists but rather by its very ambiguity indicates clearly and unmistakably that no such distinction exists” (Prophecy and the Church [Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974], pp. 184-85).

[10] Allis, p. 71.

[11] Charles Hodge, A Commentary on Ephesians (Carlisle: PA: Banner of Truth, 1964 [1856]) p. 48.

[12] Herman Hoeksema, Behold He Cometh (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free, 1986 [1969]), p. 654.

[13] Ibid. p. 655.

[14] Cox, p. 159.

[15] Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen has noted that premillennialists assert that Jesus Christ is subjected to a second humiliation at the end of the millennium. The idea of Christ and the saints being forced by the armies of Gog and Magog to take refuge behind the walls of Jerusalem is nothing less than a second humiliation of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Christ endured humiliation only once. He came to earth to suffer and die for His people only once. He was born in a manger. He lived among sinful men. He was subjected to the temptations and assaults of Satan and the hatred of His own people. He was rejected by His disciples. He was arrested, tortured, executed as a common criminal and placed in a tomb. His life on earth at His first coming is called His humiliation. But once Christ rose from the dead, He entered into His exaltation. He is the exalted, glorified king who has “all power in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18); who rules from heaven (Eph. 1:20); whose “name is above every name” (Phil. 2:9-11). Can Christ who has “all power” be subjected to a second humiliation? No, such an idea clearly contradicts the New Testament teaching regarding His exaltation. Premillennialism is not only exegetically impossible but also theologically impossible. (The author acknowledges his indebtedness to Greg Bahnsen’s insightful lectures on eschatology.)


Sovereign Potter