The Term "Amillennialism"

by Rev. Thomas Miersma

Amillennialism, the doctrine both of the Bible and historic Christianity, has always been the authentic confession of the Christian faith. It is found in brief form in the oldest confession of the Christian church, the "Apostles' Creed."

VI. He (Christ) ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
VII. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

By this confession the early church taught:

  • The exalted glory and present kingly rule of Christ
  • That He should come again bodily and visibly in one future return
  • One resurrection of the dead, both of the righteous and wicked
  • One final judgment

This was further set forth by the Council of Nicea in 325 in its creed:

"... and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end."

The truth of this position was further developed by Augustine in his book, The City of God, at the time the Visigoths sacked the city of Rome . It continued to be confessed by the church in the West in the Athanasian Creed which speaks further of the resurrection and judgment:

39. He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. 40. From whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; 42. and shall give account for their works. 43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire."

By the kingdom of Christ, the early church always understood two things: a spiritual rule of Christ by His grace, Spirit and Word of His people on earth in the church and the dwelling with him of the souls who have died. With respect to the passage in Revelation 20, the church has understood the thousand years to be a symbolic number embracing the period from Christ's ascension to His return. Those who live and reign with him are "souls,"of whom the martyrs are on the foreground, who are with Him now in heaven (Revelation 20:4). That is, the millennium is a present but spiritual reality both in heaven and in the church. To it belongs also Christ's rule by His divine power and judgment over the wicked and the history of this world. This view might better be called present-spiritual Millennialism. It conceives of the return of Christ as one bodily visible coming to judge, one bodily resurrection of the dead, and the glory of a new heavens and earth, purified and raised to eternal glory.

The term a-millennial (literally non-millenial) is a rejection of a certain idea of the millennium, namely, that of a carnal, earthly kingdom in this present creation of the glorified Christ on earth. Such a carnal earthly kingdom, which includes the wicked, and incorporates various conceptions of multiple comings, resurrections and events of a thousand earthly years underlies premillennial and post-millennial theories.

The Reformed churches of the Calvinistic Reformation who hold the Three Forms of Unity, the Presbyterian churches in the original Westminister Confession, and the Swiss and French Reformed churches in the Helvetic Confessions are all confessionally amillennial, that is, they hold to historic Biblical Christianity.

The kingdom of God in this present world is defined as the church, the kingdom of His grace. The rule of Christ by His power over the nations and by the office of magistrate serves the church and the preaching of the gospel. Man enters that kingdom of God in this present world as Jesus taught, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," ..."Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:3, 5, 6. To that kingdom belong also the children of believers whom God is pleased to gather in the generations, Genesis 17:7; Mark 10:14-16.

In harmony with the truth of God's Word, both the early church and the Reformation regarded earthly millenial theories as serious errors and "Jewish fables." The fact is, that the idea of an earthly kingdom of glory in this world with abundance and riches, like that of Solomon, was what the Pharisees and scribes were seeking. It was what the multitudes which sought Jesus for earthly bread were seeking, and for which carnal desire Jesus upbraids the, John 6:26, 27. It is because Jesus did not teach such a kingdom that they were offended at His gospel of the kingdom.

The full realization of the kingdom of God is in heavenly glory, in the new heavens and earth. Just as the blood of bulls and goats were shadows of the reality of the cross, so also the earthly pictures of a kingdom of peace among the animals found in the prophets, has its fulfilment in the final glory of Christ's eternal kingdom in the new heavens and earth. This is the explicit teaching of Romans 8:19-23 and its relation to the resurrection from the dead. The same is true for the city of God, Mount Zion, and Canaan Hebrews 11:14-16; Hebrews 12:22, 23; and Revelation 21 and 22.

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