The Four Views of Eschatology

As part of our preliminary study to the book of Revelation, I think it’s important that we identify the four primary positions of eschatology. In order to keep each position clear in one’s mind, I think it best to keep it simple and general. You can find many detailed treatments of all of these positions elsewhere on the internet.


The Four Primary Positions


Dispensational Premillennialism:


  1. Makes a clear distinction between Israel and the Church.
  2. There will be a 7 year tribulation period (first 3.5 years great tribulation), followed by the physical return of Christ, which will usher in the 1000 year kingdom on earth in which Christ reigns physically as King. Satan will be bound during this thousand year period.
  3. There will be either a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture of Christians. By far the most common position is pre-trib.
  4. At the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ, Satan will be let loose to gather the unbelievers against Christ, where Satan and his armies will be defeated.
  5. Great White Throne judgment of unbelievers.
  6. Creation of the New Heavens and New Earth.
  7. Extreme literal interpretation of Revelation.


Note: While not very prominent, there is also Historical Premillennialism. The primary difference between this and DP, is that HP views Israel as having its fulfillment in the Church, and that it puts the return of Christ at the end of the “tribulation period” (which is why HP is also known as Post-Trib Premillennialism).


Amillennialism:


  1. Israel has its complete fulfillment (continuation) in Christ and the Church.
  2. Views the 1000 years of Revelation as symbolic of a long period of time. The Kingdom is now and is of a redemptive and spiritual nature – not worldly or political. Christ sits upon His throne at the right hand of the Father where He now reigns over His people on earth. Began either at the resurrection of Christ or at His ascension or at Pentecost.
  3. The book of Revelation is viewed as occurring throughout the Church (Kingdom) age.
  4. Satan is bound during the Church age, in the sense that he is not allowed to prevent the spread of the Gospel message, nor gather unbelievers for war against Christ and His people.
  5. Christ will return physically at the end of this present world. The resurrection (and rapture) of both believers and unbelievers occur at that time.
  6. At the time of the resurrection, both believers and unbelievers will stand before the Judgment Throne of Christ.
  7. New Heavens and New earth is created, and begins the Eternal Kingdom.


Postmillennialism:


  1. Israel has its complete fulfillment (continuation) in Christ and the Church.
  2. The Kingdom is now during the Church Age. Views the 1000 years of Revelation as symbolic of a long period of time.
  3. Jesus reigns from Heaven over the earth.
  4. The world gets better and better during this time. Views the world becoming a utopia, a time of peace and prosperity (a Golden Age).
  5. Jesus returns at the end of this “Golden Age.” It’s at that time the resurrection and judgements occur, followed by the Eternal Kingdom.
  6. Has a lot in common with the Partial Preterist.


Preterism:


  1. Israel has its complete fulfillment (continuation) in Christ and the Church.
  2. There is Full Preterism and Partial Preterism.
  3. The Full Preterist believes  that all prophecy, including all the events of the book of Revelation, was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
  4. The Full Preterist believes that the resurrection has already occurred, and is spiritual, rather than physical.
  5. The Partial Preterist agrees with the Full Preterist regarding the book of Revelation, accept the Partial Preterist views Revelation 20-22 as still future.
  6. The Partial Preterist views the resurrection as still future, and as physical, rather than spiritual.


The primary factors that determine which position we hold, are as follows:


  1. What we believe the Bible teaches about the Kingdom.
  2. What we believe the Bible teaches about Israel and the Church.
  3. What we believe the Bible teaches about the resurrection and the rapture.
  4. What we believe the Bible teaches about the return of Christ.
  5. What we believe Matt 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 is about.
  6. How we interpret key passages in the book of Daniel.
  7. Do we interpret the Old Testament according to our understanding of the New Testament, or the other way around?
  8. How literal should the book of Revelation be interpreted?