The Arminian – Amillennial Connection

 


All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


 

While not readily apparent, there is a true connection between Arminian theology and the Amillennial position on prophecy. There is an unmistakable harmony between the two. This harmony confirms the truth of both theologies, because truth never contradicts itself, but always runs side by side in all its many parts of the whole.

 

Corporate Election

 

I believe the Bible teaches that election is corporate, not individual. This is an Arminian position. God chose a people for Himself. He called a people out of the world for Himself. The Church is the corporate people of God, whom Christ is Head. God chose His Son as the Corporate Head of His people. Individually, through faith in Him, we become members of God’s corporate people. Our election is, therefore, in the Elect Christ. We become a part of the Elect Church upon faith in the Elect Christ — not that we are elect individuals before we even come into the world, as Calvinism teaches.

 

Amillennialism

 

Foundational to the Amillennial position, is that ethnic, national Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and the Church:

 

Galatians 3:16-18; 28-29
16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise: but God hath granted it to Abraham by promise……..28 There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

 

It was Christ who was always in view in the Old Covenant, not ethnic Israel, not the physical seed of Abraham. Christ fulfilled the promises to national, ethnic Israel. National Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ, who is, thus, True Israel of the New Covenant. The physical nation of Israel was rebirthed as a spiritual nation in Christ:

 

1 Peter 2:5-10
5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. 7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; 8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

 

In Christ, we are a “spiritual house,” a “holy nation.” The Church in Christ, is now “the people of God.” What Peter describes here is a spiritual nation, not a physical, ethnic nation. Clearly, Peter is using Jewish terms and referring to the past form of Israel, and revealing the continuation of Israel as a spiritual nation — in Christ. There is only one people of God. Not two. There has always been but one people of God. Under the Old Covenant, it was ethnic, national Israel who were the people of God. Under the New Covenant, it’s spiritual Israel who are the people of God. Thus the Church is Israel in Christ. The Church doesn’t replace Israel, but is the continuation of it in the form of a spiritual nation, a spiritual people. As individual believers, we are spiritual Jews:

 

Romans 2:28-29
NET – 2:28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, 2:29 but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code.This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

 

Romans 9:6-8
6 But it is not as though the word of God hath come to nought. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: 7 neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.

 

As spiritual Jews, we must be the spiritual seed of a spiritual nation. That only makes sense. That Israel is a spiritual nation in Christ is something that both Paul and Peter made clear in their writings (see also Eph 2:13-22) — who were themselves of the physical seed of Abraham. They understood the spiritual nation that Israel was to become in Christ and the Church. The idea that all these Scriptures have absolutely nothing to do with the nation of Israel, that it’s completely separate from the Church, separate from the spiritual Israel that Peter and Paul describe, reveals a positional bias. The only way to see a separate plan for the nation of Israel apart from the Church, is to interpret the Old Testament with an Old Testament understanding — from a Jewish perspective. The proper way to interpret the OT is according to the teachings of the NT. If we don’t interpret the OT according to a NT understanding, we will surely come away with a faulty understanding. The New Testament fulfills the Old, therefore, it must interpret the Old.

 

The Kingdom of Christ: When dispensational premillennialists interpret the book of Revelation, they do so through the eyes of the Old Testament. Thus they view the references to Israel and the 1000 years of Rev 20:1-10 as referring to the nation of Israel, and that it’s completely separate from the Church. However, because amillennialists interpret Israel and the book of Revelation with a New Testament understanding, they view the references to Israel and the 1000 years to be the Church and the whole Church age. In other words, the Church is the Kingdom of Christ, and that Jesus is presently reigning over His kingdom:

 

Colossians 1:13
ESV – 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

 

Also see Acts 2:29-36. For a detailed discussion of this passage, click on the following link:

 

 

While the Kingdom of Christ is now, it has its ultimate fulfillment in the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and the New Earth of Rev 21.

 

The Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for a literal, physical kingdom (just like premillennialists today), over which, their Messiah would reign as King. However, they rejected Christ as their Messiah. As a nation, they missed it. They didn’t understand that Christ came to fulfill the promises made to Israel. Premillennialists make the very same mistake today. They don’t understand that the Kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom, just like Israel is a spiritual nation in Christ. The two are inseparable. They are one and the same.
The Arminian – Amillennial Connection

 

Just as God chose the nation of Israel – Abraham as the corporate head – to be His people, so did He choose the Church to be His people, of whom Christ is Head. Abraham is the sub-head of the Church, since we are spiritual Israel as his spiritual children. Just as Abraham is head of ethnic Israel, so is he head (sub-head) of spiritual Israel in Christ. Ethnic, national Israel were the people of God. They were God’s chosen people. Therefore, they were a type of the people in Christ who was to come in the New Covenant. The corporate body of ethnic Israel served as a type and shadow of the corporate people in Christ, which is the Church. The shadow cast by the corporate choosing of the people of God in the Old Covenant, must necessarily be seen as the corporate choosing of the people of God in the New Covenant. Otherwise, it’s not a true shadow, it’s not a true type. If God’s choosing of His people in the Old Covenant is corporate, then it would be completely inconsistent to change His method of election by going to an individualistic form of choosing in the New Covenant. It doesn’t fit the pattern. The Jews of Jesus’ day, with their history, would naturally view election as being corporate. Accordingly, the idea of individualistic election is out of harmony with the pattern of election that was provided under the Old Covenant.

 

Amillennialism is based on the position that Israel has its fulfillment in Christ — who is therefore, True Israel of the New Covenant. It’s based on the position that Israel continues as a spiritual nation in the form of the Church. It’s also based on the position that the Church is the Kingdom of Christ. The Church of Christ has its election in Him — as the Corporate Head (Eph 5:23; Col 1:13,18). Christ is also the Corporate Head of His Kingdom, as King. Using biblical terminology, Jesus is not the Head of the individual believer, but of the entire body of the Church [and of His Kingdom]. Individually, we have our identification as the elect of God only as we are in the Elect Christ and in His Church.

 

So then, Christ is the Elect of God; the Church has its election in Christ; the individual believer has its election only as members of the Church. There is no election apart from being IN Christ and IN His Church. The doctrine of election is not a means of getting in Christ and into the Church, it’s a position. When we place our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we enter into His election and into the election of the Church in Christ. Individually, we are elect only by being in Him, through faith in Him.

 

Therefore, if you – as an amillennialist – accept that the full identity and existence of Israel is in Christ, then you must also accept that the election of Israel is in Christ — for Israel is not a single person, but a corporate body. Thus, Christ encopasses the full embodiment of election, just as He fully embodies Israel. And there you have the Arminian and Amillennial connection.

 

We must conclude, then, that election cannot be individualistic, it must be corporate. Election is not a means, but the position we have in Christ and in His Church. We as individual believers have our election only as we are in Christ, as individual members of the corporate Church – of whom Christ is the Corporate Head.

 

Bottom line: if you accept the Amillennial position of eschatology, then you cannot also accept the Calvinist position of individual, unconditional election. There’s clearly a disconnect between those two positions. They are not compatible.

 

On the other hand, there is perfect harmony between the Arminian Corporate view of election and of the eschatological position of Amillennialism.

 

I agree with John MacArthur, who believes that every Calvinist should be a premillennialist:

 

 

For a more in depth treatment of this subject, click on the link below: