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Article Info:
published: 3/31/13
updated: 2/27/14

The End Times in Christian Theology



The End of the World, According to the Bible

Second Coming of Christ

On of the core doctrines in Christianity is that Jesus Christ will return one day. Known as The Second Coming, the Bible teaches that Christ will come back to the earth at an unknown time to destroy the enemies of God, rid the world of sin, reward followers, and establish peace. However, because Christians interpret key passages differently, there is not uniform agreement as to what events, if any, lead to Christ's second advent.

The three views on the end times that have been dominant in the history of Christianity are postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism. Like their names suggest, their differences center on their understanding of the 1,000-year millennial period, which is mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6,

"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" (NIV, emphases mine)

The theological term millennium is derived from the Latin word "mille," meaning one-thousand. Whether the millennial period as described in Revelation is literal or figurative is at the core of interpretative disagreements. Other significant points of disagreement between the views are what events, if any, the Bible teaches will precede the millennium, what activities will occur within the period, and if Jew and Gentile are distinguished at the time.


Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism holds that the Second Coming of Christ will occur after the millennial period. The position argues that the Kingdom of God, which is present in the world today to some degree, will be extended throughout the world by means of the Church's proclamation of the gospel.

Postmillennialism can be graphed in the following way:

Christ                                                                                                 Second Coming
____|_________________________________________________|__________________________________
                        Church Age >>>>>>>>>> The Millennium                                                 The Eternal State

 

Read the complete article on Postmillennialism.

Amillennialism

Amillennialists believe the millennium began with Christ’s first coming and will continue until the Second Coming. This is the most dominant end times' position in the history of Christianity.

Amillennialism can be graphed in the following way:

     Christ                                                                                               Second Coming
____|_________________________________________________|_________________________________
                                 Church Age  =  The Millennium                                                         The Eternal State

 

Read complete article on Amillennialism.


Premillennialism

Premillennialism teaches that The Second Coming of Christ will occur before the millennial period, which is interpreted as 1,000 literal years. Within the position, premillennialists are either "historic" or “dispensational." Both are categorized under the heading “premillennialism” because both believe that The Second Coming will occur prior to the millennial period.

Historic premillennialism can be graphed in the following way:

         Christ                                                                  Rapture/Second Coming
______|___________________|____________________|_______________________|_________________
                            Church Age                     The Tribulation                       The Millennium                   The Eternal State



Dispensational premillennialism can be graphed in the following way:

           Christ                                        Rapture                              Second Coming
_______|______________________|______________________|___________________|_______________
                               Church Age                             The Tribulation                      The Millennium             The Eternal State

Read complete article on Premillennialism.



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