Will the Second Coming of Christ Take Place Before the Millennium or After?

 

COPYRIGHT ©2013 - James M. Frye

All scripture quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Bible. Any deviations are not intentional. All underlines, bold and words within brackets are the author's.

For more articles on other issues, please visit our website at: www.seekingfortruth.com

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This article may be duplicated (or printed) for distribution provided that no changes are made to it and the above copyright remains intact. It may be distributed only in its original form, unedited, and free of charge.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The Millennium

The term “Millennium” refers to that period spoken of as “a thousand years” in Revelation chapter 20. Since it would take a full-length book to go into Revelation chapter 20 in detail, this article will be limited to answering just one question, “Will the second coming of Jesus Christ take place before the millennium or after?”

There are three main views regarding the millennium - premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. Premillennialism holds that Jesus will come before (pre) the millennium, whereas both postmillennialism and amillennialism hold that Jesus will come after (post) the millennium. Which is correct? Will Jesus come back before the millennium or after?

 

Interpreting Scripture

The book or Revelation is an unclear book filled with many signs and symbols which must be carefully interpreted to prevent error. One of the most important principles of interpreting scripture is that all unclear passages (like Revelation chapter 20) must be interpreted in light of clear passages of scripture.

Another important principal of interpreting the Bible is that no scripture may be interpreted in a way which causes it to contradict other passages of scripture. God doesn’t tell us something is true in one scripture and then contradict Himself in another. (For more on how to interpret the Bible, see our article, “How to Interpret the Bible”.)

We must apply both of these interpretive principals to our question at hand. First, we must look at what the clear verses in scripture teach regarding the second coming, and then, and only then, will we be prepared to understand the unclear passage (Revelation 20) in light of those clear passages. We also may not interpret the unclear passage (Revelation 20) to contradict what we learn from those clear passages.

 

The Clear Verses

As we have seen, the proper way to interpret scripture is to go to the clear verses on a given subject first. Then we must interpret the unclear verses regarding that subject to align with (and not contradict) what we have learned from the clear passages. With that in mind, let’s do exactly that in regard to our question.

When we look at the clear verses in the New Testament regarding the second coming of Christ, we find four main events which will take place. These events are listed below.

 

1. There will be a period of great deception.

Matt. 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matt. 24:4 ...Take heed that no man deceive you.

Matt. 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Matt. 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Matt. 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

 

2. Jesus will come immediately after this time of great deception to destroy unbelievers, and the heavens and the earth in flaming fire.

Matt. 24:29-30 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

2 Thess. 1:7-8 ...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 Pet. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

 

3. There will be a general resurrection and judgment of all who have ever lived.

John 5:28-29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Acts 17:31 Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Matt. 25:31-33 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Matt. 25:34,41 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: .... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

 

4. There will be new heavens and a new earth.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

 

The Unclear Passage - Revelation 20

 

Now that we have discovered from clear passages 4 events which will take place at the time of the second coming of Christ, we are ready to look at the unclear passage of Revelation chapter 20. In order to determine whether Jesus will come before or after the millennium, all we need to do is examine Revelation chapter 20 and see if these 4 events take place before or after the 1000 years mentioned in that passage. If these 4 events occur before the 1000 years, then we will know that Jesus will come before the millennium. But if these 4 events occur after the 1000 years, then we will know that Jesus will come after the millennium. Let’s take a look.

The millennium is over beginning with verse 7.

Rev. 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired …

Therefore, everything from verse 7 on takes place after the millennium. Now, let look for our 4 points.

 

1. There will be a period of great deception.

Rev. 20:7-8 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth...

 

2. Jesus will come immediately after this time of great deception to destroy unbelievers, and the heavens and the earth in flaming fire.

Rev. 20:8-9 ...Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

 

3. There will be a general resurrection and judgment of all who have ever lived.

Rev. 20:10-15 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

4. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Rev. 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

 

It couldn’t be more clear! These 4 events, which the clear verses of scripture tell us will take place at time of the second coming of Christ, will take place after the millennium. They are right there in Revelation chapter 20 after the 1000 years are over. Any honest reading of the passage must admit this. Therefore, we can conclude based upon the authority of scripture that Jesus will come back after the millennium.

This also means that the premillennial view is found to be in error and in direct contradiction with what the clear verses of scripture teach. After being presented with this information, the only way someone can continue to hold to premillennialism and say that the second coming of Christ will take place before the millennium is to twist this unclear passage (Revelation 20) by making it contradict the clear passages of the rest of the New Testament. That is a violation of the accepted rules of Biblical interpretation that unclear passages must always be interpreted in light of clear ones, and that no scripture may be interpreted to contradict other scriptures.

Regardless of this information, many will still refuse to accept this truth from scripture and will continue to try and defend pre-millennialism. What will they say when they are presented with the clear verses of scripture which contradict their view? They will begin to twist them to say that they don’t really mean what they clearly say? When you ask them how they know that they don’t mean what they say, they will tell us that they know this because of what Revelation 20 says. That is exactly backward! It is contrary to every accepted rule of Biblical interpretation. Premillennialists agree that unclear passages must always be interpreted in light of clear ones, but in practice they misinterpret Revelation 20 to do the exact opposite.  

 

Conclusion

 

We began this article with a question, “Will the second coming of Christ take place before this millennium or after?” Following sound principles of Biblical interpretation, we began by going to the clear verses of scripture first. Upon doing so, we identified 4 events that will take place at the time of the second coming of Christ.

Next, we then went to the unclear passage of Revelation 20. We wanted to know whether these events would take place before the millennium or after. Upon examining the text, we found all 4 of these events right in the text after the millennium was over. Therefore, we were able to conclude, based upon the authority of scripture, that the second coming of Christ will take place after the millennium and not before as many people teach. (For more reasons why the second coming can’t take place before the millennium see our article “The Great End-Time Error”.

Will you accept what the Bible teaches regarding the timing of the millennium?