Differences In Doctrines

Dispensational Premillennialism

Dispensational premillennialism believes in a literal interpretation of both the Old and New testaments. Thus, those holding this view believe in a literal thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. They also believe that Israel and the New Testament church are two separate entities in God's eternal plans.

Dispensational premillennialism believes that there will be a "rapture", when all the dead saints will rise from their graves and all the living members of the church shall be caught up with them to meet Christ in the clouds (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). Christ will not actually step foot on earth at this time. (The second coming will not be until after the Great Tribulation.)

The rapture precedes a seven-year period of tribulation (forseen in Daniel 9:27) which in turn will precede the thousand-year period of time when Christ will literally reign on the throne of David (Revelation 20:1-6; Luke 1:32).

During this seven-years of tribulation, God will be pouring out the first of His judgments upon the earth. There will be three-and-a-half years of world peace under an AntiChrist figure (Daniel 7:8; Revelation 13:1-8) who will establish a world-church (Revelation 17:1-15), followed by three-and-a-half years of the greatest suffering the world has ever known (Revelation 6-18).

At the end of this period, Christ will return, literally. (Matthew 24:27-31; Revelation 19:11-21). He will judge the world (Ezekiel 20:33-38; Matthew 25:31; Jude 14-15), bind Satan for one thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3), and raise the Old Testament and tribulation saints from the dead (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:4). This is when Christ will begin His millennial reign over the earth from His capital in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3). Throughout His reign, there will be no war (Isaiah 2:4) and even animals will dwell in peace (Isaiah 11:6-9).

At the end of this thousand year reign, Satan will be released and will gather all the armies of the entire world in one final, all-out battle, referred to as "Armegeddon" (Revelation 20:7-9). After this ill-fated battle, Satan and the wicked are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10), while the righteous proceed into their eternal state in the realm of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1ff).

This view recognizes two separate categories of Godís people: the nation of Israel, and the New Testament church (body of Christ), and believes that God has a redemptive plan for Israel, apart from the Church.

Historical Premillenialism

The historical premillennialist interprets some prophecy as having literal fulfillment while other prophecies have a semi-symbolic fulfillment. For example, the seal judgments (Revelation 6) are viewed as having been fulfilled in the course of history, rather than in the future, as God works out his redemptive and judicial purposes leading up to the end.

Rather than the belief of an imminent return of Christ, the historical premillennialist believes that a number of historical events (e.g., the rise of the Beast and the False Prophet) must take place before Christ's Second Coming. This Second Coming will be accompanied by the resurrection and rapture of the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18), and will usher in the millennial reign of Christ.

The Jewish nation, while being perfectly able to join the church in the belief of a true faith in Christ, has no distinct redemptive plan as they would in the dispensational perspective.

The historical premillennialist is uncertain of the duration of the millennial kingdom, and whether it is literal or metaphorical.


The postmillennialist believes that the millennium is an era, rather than a literal thousand years. Christ will reign over the earth during the millennium, not from an literal and earthly throne, but through the gradual increase of the Gospel and its power to change lives. In other words, those holding to this doctrine believe we are already living in the "millennial age".

After this gradual Christianization of the world, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked. This view is called postmillennialism because of their belief that Christ will return after the millennium.

There are several different versions of postmillennialism. Generally speaking, the postmillennial viewpoint holds to a "partial-preterist" interpretation of Revelation and the various judgment prophecies in the Gospels, believing that the majority of those prophecies were fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.

The postmillennialist sees the millennial kingdom as the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that he would become "a great nation" and that "all peoples on earth would be blessed" through him (Genesis 12:2-3). This holy reign will come about via gradual conversion (rather than premillennialism's cataclysmic Christological advent) through the spread of the Gospel.


The amillennialist believes that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ's resurrection, at which point he gained victory over both Satan and the Curse. There will not be a future thousand year reign; Christ is reigning at the right hand of the Father over His church right now.

After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked. Amillennialists do not actually ignore Revelation 20:1-6, they just interpret it (and much of apocalyptic literature) spiritually, rather than literally.

While other views focus on the final days of humankind on earth, amillennialism sees "the last things" as having been initiated at Christ's resurrection and so, being applicable from the earliest days of the Christian church (cf. Acts 2:16-21; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:1-2; and 1 Peter 1:20). They view the final things as already accomplished, though not yet seen by sight, but by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

The amillennialist perspective sees the whole of God's redemptive revelation as twofold - promise and fulfillment; it also emphasizes that a strict-literal interpretation of Old Testament is not necessarily the most accurate way of determining what the text means.

The amillennial perspective emphasizes that the coming of the Kingdom of God is a two-part event. The first portion dawned at Christ's first advent. John the Baptist proclaimed at that time, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2) At the cross, Christ won final victory over death and Satan; He then ascended to reign upon the throne of David forever (Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30-31).

An important note is the amilleniallist's view of the church in this world: a role of suffering. The Christian will be hated by all, just as was Christ (Matthew 10:22), for a servant is not greater than his master. This viewpoint generally holds that the church will go through the Great tribulation, as opposed to Dispensational Premillennialism, which holds that the church will be raptured prior to , or perhaps mid-way through, the Great tribulation, thus missing the worst of the persecution and suffering.

Seeing church's role on earth is to suffer as Christ did, the amillenialist can hold no hope for an earthly exaltation and longs for the fulfillment of the second stage of the coming of the Kingdom. This second stage of the amillennial perspective is the final consummation of all the heavenly promises. The Christian will no longer see by faith alone, but by sight. All the shadowy things will pass away and our eternal reign with Christ will begin. The amillennialist, expecting no earthly glory for the church, places all his hope on this heavenly glory.

The Book of Revelation is probably the most poorly understood and highly debated book of the Bible. So many sincere and intelligent Christians through the years have believed so many different versions of end-time events, we would do well to examine what we believe, and why.

I believe, after a thorough and on-going study of all the Scriptures on the subject, that the most doctinally sound viewpoint is a literal interpretation of the Bible, where the nation of Israel has a separate and distinct place in God's redemptive plan, apart from the church. I would have to consider myself a dispensational premillennialist. But please, don't just take my word for it. We must each examine the Scriptures for ourselves. (II Tim. 2:15). The best way in which to interpret the Word of God is to see what it has to say about itself.

Here for your convenience is a quick comparison of the four major doctrines:

Dispenational Millennialism
  • Favored method of interpretation: literal.
  • Israel and the church: Belief that God has a redemptive plan for Israel, apart from the Church.
  • Kingdom of God: will be established in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21)
  • The Rapture: Belief that the church age will end with the rapture. Then God's redemptive plan for national Israel is continued and ultimately finished. The rapture will usher in the Antichrist, and the Great Tribulation.
  • The Millennium: Jesus will reign on earth for a literal 1,000 years, with the saints reigning with Him. Satan literally bound for this same 1,000 years.

Historical Premillenialism
  • Favored method of interpretation: grammatico-historical.
  • Israel and the church: Belief that the church is the fulfillment of Israel.
  • Kingdom of God: present through the Spirit since Pentecost - to be experienced by sight during the millennium after Christ's return.
  • The Millennium: will see the re-establishment of temple worship and sacrifice as a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice.
  • The Rapture: The saints, living and dead, shall meet the Lord in the clouds immediately before the millennial reign, where Christ will return to institute a thousand-year reign on earth.

  • Favored method of interpretation: covenant-historical
  • Israel and the church: Belief that the church is the fulfillment of Israel (i.e.= Replacement theology; belief that the church has replaced Israel in Godís covenant)
  • Kingdom of God: Belief that the Kingdom of God is experienced on earth throught the Christianizing effects of the Gospel.
  • The Millennium: a Golden Age previous to Christ's second advent during which Christ will virtually rule over the whole earth through an unprecedented spread of the Gospel; the large majority of people will be Christian.

  • Favored method of interpretation: redemptive-historical.
  • Israel and the church: The church is the eschatological fulfillment of Israel.
  • Kingdom of God: a spiritual reality that all Christians partake in and that is seen presently by faith, but will be grasped by sight at the consummation.
  • The Rapture: The saints, living and dead, shall meet the Lord in the clouds and immediately proceed to judge the nations with Christ and then follow Him into their eternal state.
  • The Millennium: inaugurated with Christ's resurrection. In an "already/not yet" sense, Christ already reigns over all and is already victorious over Satan.

Blue Letter Bible Society
"Lives Of Integrity, Words Of Prophecy" by Beth Moore
NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishers

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