Top Reasons For (and Against) Premillennialism

Yesterday during the sermon, I shared why I am still convinced premillennialism is the best understanding of our Christian hope.

Here are what I consider the most persuasive arguments both for and against premillennialism. What would you add to the list? Which of these do you find most or least convincing?

Arguments for Premillennialism:

*The irrevocable nature of the Abrahamic & Davidic Covenants (Gen. 12; 2 Sam. 7)
*Timeline of Daniel’s 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-27 )
*Consistent Judgment/Restoration Theme of Israel in OT prophets
*Consistent use of Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutics – authorial intent
*Romans 9-11 – Partial hardening of Israel until the fullness of Gentiles comes in
*The Church as a “Mystery” previously unrevealed in Scripture (Eph. 3:9-11)
*Kingdom Motif in Scripture – Messiah to reign over this earth in peace and righteousness
*Satan as present ruler of this world – will not be bound until millennium
*Book of Revelation – makes good sense when taken at face value
*Christians spared from God’s wrath – this includes escape from the Great Tribulation (Rom. 8:1; Rev. 3:10)
*The two-phase advent of Christ shows it is possible to have a two-phase parousia (appearance and second coming of Christ)
*Harmonizing all NT passages on kingdom, resurrection, judgment, Christ’s return points to a two-phase return and multiple judgments.
*Bible foresees a period when Messiah and resurrected saints will rule in a world where sin/death still exist (preceding the eternal state) (Isaiah 11)
*A strong millennial hope in early centuries of the church

Arguments against Premillennialism :

(Obviously, I disagree with these points and can offer rebuttals to each. But I’ve have heard many of these arguments and find them at least worth considering.)

*The appeal of a simple eschatological system – one return, one resurrection, one judgment
*All remaining kingdom promises could be fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth
*NT Use of OT – spiritual/typological/Christological fulfillment of OT promises
*”My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36)
*”The Kingdom of God is at hand, in your midst” (Mark 1:15)
*Curse of fig tree represents judgment on Israel (Mark 11:12-14)
*No clear evidence for a rapture
*Church is equated with “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16)
*The Millennium is only mentioned one chapter in the Bible (this one really irks me!)
*Two different “brides” of God/Christ? (Jer. 2:2; Eph. 5:25)
*Return to Judaism would be a huge step backward
*Dispensationalism is a recent development/aberration in church history

Related Post:

*The Millennium: An Issue that Just Won’t Go Away

5 thoughts on “Top Reasons For (and Against) Premillennialism”

  1. A friend on Facebook wrote: “Thanks! Another one for me has been that Jesus returns and there is still death and sin for 1000 years, to some degree. Most Amill guys like myself have had trouble getting past that. Have you heard that point much?”

    My response was: Yes, thanks. That is another valid argument. The idea of an era where sin and death could co-exist with Christ’s rule is difficult, yet not impossible, to imagine. This is one of the main features that differentiates the Millennium from the New Heavens/New Earth, aka the Eternal State. It comes from messianic prophecies such as Isaiah 11:1-5; 65:20; Jer. 33:14-15; Ps. 72; and the sequence of events in Rev. 20:4-9 where Satan’s last-ditch revolt occurs after Christ’s Millennial reign. Even the Transfiguration hints at a scene where raptured (Elijah), resurrected (Moses), and mortal (Peter, James, John) human beings could all co-exist with the glorified Christ. I believe sin will be heavily curtailed during the millennium and the curse largely lifted. For the first time in human history, the vast majority of earth’s inhabitants will worship the one true God. However, pockets of evil will persist and be swiftly judged. It seems to me that anyone who suggests Christ is already fulfiling the Davidic covenant and that we are already in the Millennial State runs into the same problem — in fact worse. For sin and death not only exist in the present evil age, but dominate the present world system, and Satan is still ruler of this world.

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Hope you are well. In dealing with this subject as many others it’s important that we don’t just read one side. (I know im preaching to the choir). While premillennialism has some history throughout church history the dispensational understanding is a fairly new one. However, it became the prominent understanding in evangelical circles over the 20th century. So much so that many people take its tenents for granted without really looking at what the majority of church history has said/ written about it. In saying all that, would you be willing to share what full treatments (books/dissertations) that give a positive argument for amillenialism and or ones that argue against a dispensational hermeneutics you have read. Curious, thanks

    Patrick

  3. Yes, it is definitely good to get both perspectives. I’ve read Grahame Goldsworthy’s book “Gospel and Kingdom” as well as interacted with many articles/posts and some books/passages from Storms, Waldron, Riddlebarger, Reymond, Carson, Poythress, Dever, Clowney, and Moore. I also attended the Westminster Seminary conference with you several years ago. In each case, I’ve come with an earnest desire to understand the Scriptures and the other camp’s point of view. And in each case, I’ve walked away more firmly convinced that dispensationalism is the correct interpretation. There are many underlying issues at play in this debate (hermeneutics, covenants, typology, OT use of NT, kingdom, eschatology), and I think both sides have been guilty at times of letting their theology shape their exegesis. But at the end of the day, dispensationalism still makes more sense and I feel has been grossly misrepresented by most amillenialists today. Is there a book you’ve found particularly helpful in the debate, either supportive of covenant theology or critical of dispensationalism?

  4. Stephen, thanks for the response. I would agree that the conference wasn’t necessarily the best defense against dispensationalism. I too was hoping for a little more interaction with dispensationalism. I think that had more to do with its focus. It was directed toward those who already hold to a Redemptive Historical hermeneutic. So when you are preaching to the choir a lot of short hand takes place. But at the end of the day I agree with you on the conference. It wasnt their best.
    I think what might be helpful is to read a solid treatment on Covenant Theology and I should have stated that instead of Amil in the original post. The reason being, as you are well aware, is that the hermeneutic one holds to (dispensational/ Covenantal) plays a major role in where one lands in terms of eschatology. I would suggest O Palmer Robertson’s Christ of the Covenants and Ligon Duncan’s lectures on CT from RTS.

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