What is the purpose of the millennium according to historic premillennialism

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Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
Like many who post on the Puritan Board, I cut my theological teeth on dispensation premillennialism after coming to Christ, with my "dispensational years" being from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. The "liberals" had spiritualized the Bible into meaningless, and the "conservatives" whom I knew took a literal approach to almost everything in the Bible. Growing up in a liberal Methodist church where I never heard the gospel preached, I easily swung to a fundamentalist literal position.

The longer is tried to understand eschatology through literalistic lens, however, the more complicated and seemingly contradictory things appeared. Introduced to historic premillennialism, I discovered what seemed a less complicated and less contradictory approach to eschatology. For me, however, historic premillennialism served as a halfway house to amillennialism, the position to which I've come over the past decade-plus and where I am quite settled.

Pastoring a tangentially (nominally?) Southern Baptist Church, however, keeps me among a smattering of dispensational premillennialists and a growing number of historic premillennialists, the latter, I think, sliding into that position because of the problems with dispensationalism and yet being able to continue holding onto a future millennial.

Having said that, the one thing that I cannot put my finger on is the purpose of the millennium in the historic premillennial context. Is it like a "do-over," giving humanity another shot at serving its Creator? Is it an attempt to have a more literal fulfillment of OT prophecy in a more spiritual setting than the dispensational view? It really seems like a repeat of the church age and a final "final" battle over Satan and evil. Can somebody provide some help?

Thank much.
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not a premillennial in any way, but I believe that a majority of historical premillennial theologists recognize the recapitulation in the book of Revelation. John Piper holds this view, perhaps checking with the Desiring God website would help. Some of them still believe that there are two people of God so they view the millennium as a way for God to fulfill His promise to the Jews.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not a premillennial in any way, but I believe that a majority of historical premillennial theologists recognize the recapitulation in the book of Revelation. John Piper holds this view, perhaps checking with the Desiring God website would help. Some of them still believe that there are two people of God so they view the millennium as a way for God to fulfill His promise to the Jews.
Thanks, R.J. I don't know any historic premillennialists who hold to the two people of God view, which I thought was one of the things that separated them from dispensational premillennialists.

What is hard to find, for me at least, is what the millennium is all about. The dispensationalists have a literal temple with literal sacrifices (a view which boggles the mind), but the historic dispensationalists that I've run across, either in person or by printed page, so not.

I found a Puritan Board thread on this very topic from a dozen or so years back and no one offered an answer. But historic premillennialists are usually very insistent on their view, though not militantly so as the Dispensationalists are. It seems the "Why?" of the millennium would be an important thing to understand and explain were I an historic premillennialist.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
Check out George E Ladd's What is The Kingdom of God? There is a PDF on Monergism.com https://www.monergism.com/topics/eschatology/all-millennial-views/historic-premillennialism
Thanks for the link. It's been over twenty years since I read that.

Okay, so the kingdom of God is now and not yet, with the not yet being fulfilled in the millennial kingdom. Am I understanding Ladd correctly?

And it seems that Ladd is saying that kingdom will come in power and vanquish sin and sinners, but the millennial kingdom, according to historic premillennialists, will not really be without sin, right? Won't there be unregenerate descendants born to believers who will comprise those whom Satan purportedly gathers at the end of the millennium, or am I conflating historic dispensationalism with dispensational?

If I understand Ladd correctly, the purpose of the millennium is for Christ to reign on Earth instead of his reign being from heaven over his church on Earth. But even then, there will be unregenerate who acquiesce to his reign (please correct me where my understanding of Ladd is incorrect).
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
Robert Culver seems to suggest that there will be no marriage nor sexual relations in the kingdom. He says the point of the millennium is for the Saints to rule and reign with Christ and to imprison Satan. They have a major problem if there is no intimacy though, because according to most premillennials Satan leads an army against the Saints at the end of the millennium. Where do those people come from?
It is all very silly, which is why I am 100% amill. If a premill like Piper can admit to the recapitulation in the book of Revelation, how can he still claim to believe in a literal millennium? Apparently they don't believe that chapter 20 is part of the recapitulation.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
Robert Culver seems to suggest that there will be no marriage nor sexual relations in the kingdom. He says the point of the millennium is for the Saints to rule and reign with Christ and to imprison Satan. They have a major problem if there is no intimacy though, because according to most premillennials Satan leads an army against the Saints at the end of the millennium. Where do those people come from?
It is all very silly, which is why I am 100% amill. If a premill like Piper can admit to the recapitulation in the book of Revelation, how can he still claim to believe in a literal millennium? Apparently they don't believe that chapter 20 is part of the recapitulation.
It does seem silly. Revelation is all about symbolism and then one gets to chapter 20 and it becomes literal, at least to some degree. So, yes, Satan leads . . . whom?

http://gospelpedlar.com/articles/Last Things/hispremil.html This is one of the historic pre-millennials that believe that ethnic Jews will be saved upon Jesus return and that they will receive the OT blessings.
Among the things that have troubled me concerning premillennialism of any stripe is that it makes the new heavens and new earth seem almost anticlimactic.

Also, if the ethnic Jews are to be saved in order to receive the OT blessings and Christ literally rules a kingdom inhabited by unregenerate people (again, the rebels Satan gathers have to come from somewhere), it seems that the Messiah which Jesus disavowed to the Pharisees and to his apostles and to Pilate seems to be merely one of timing, not of substance.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Robert Culver seems to suggest that there will be no marriage nor sexual relations in the kingdom. He says the point of the millennium is for the Saints to rule and reign with Christ and to imprison Satan. They have a major problem if there is no intimacy though, because according to most premillennials Satan leads an army against the Saints at the end of the millennium. Where do those people come from?
It is all very silly, which is why I am 100% amill. If a premill like Piper can admit to the recapitulation in the book of Revelation, how can he still claim to believe in a literal millennium? Apparently they don't believe that chapter 20 is part of the recapitulation.
Where does Culver say this?
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
It seems to me that holding to a recapitulation view of Revelation is fatal to any sort of premillennialism. That said, the only recapitulation I'm familiar with is the kind taught by the likes of Hendrickson and Riddlebarger.

I don't see how you hold to premil without seeing Rev 20 coming after Rev 19 sequentially rather than as a recapitulation.

If nothing else, the OP exists because historic premils in recent decades have largely failed to teach their distinctive views. In part perhaps that's because many of them haven't thought about it a great deal. Many can't get past Rev 20 and can't accept dispensationalism, so they adopt "historic premil" and just sort of move on.
 
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RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
Where does Culver say this?
Which Part?

He says that his view of the Millennium is that only the saved will take part in the first resurrection. I do not see anything about relations in the article I cited, it is likely that I got different authors mixed up, I spent a lot of time on Monergism.com trying to find information. I am not a premillennial myself, but I noticed that the OP was not the first to bring forward similar questions without any assistance so I attempted to assist in any way that I could.
The thing about recapitulation is something the John Piper, a self professing historic premill, has stated time and again. Perhaps it is not the term 'recapitulation' that he uses? Parallelism is likely the word that he uses, but he uses it in the same way, viewing Revelation as the same story told from different perspectives. Clearly Piper does not put Revelations 20 into the parallel parts of the book. I will attempt to retrace my steps and find the quote about relations in the millennium.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Which Part?

He says that his view of the Millennium is that only the saved will take part in the first resurrection. I do not see anything about relations in the article I cited, it is likely that I got different authors mixed up, I spent a lot of time on Monergism.com trying to find information. I am not a premillennial myself, but I noticed that the OP was not the first to bring forward similar questions without any assistance so I attempted to assist in any way that I could.
The thing about recapitulation is something the John Piper, a self professing historic premill, has stated time and again. Perhaps it is not the term 'recapitulation' that he uses? Parallelism is likely the word that he uses, but he uses it in the same way, viewing Revelation as the same story told from different perspectives. Clearly Piper does not put Revelations 20 into the parallel parts of the book. I will attempt to retrace my steps and find the quote about relations in the millennium.
I was asking about the reference to marriage and sexual relations. I'll try to read through that part of his ST today or tomorrow. But I don't think he goes into much detail there compared to some of his other books. I haven't looked at this doctrine in any detail in almost a decade.
 
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RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I am still searching for the quote but, wouldn't the view of a literal millennium during which the first resurrection takes place include Matthew 22:23-33 ? And if so, wouldn't that mean that there is no sex in the millennium? Also, Ladd and Culver? were Baptists, If they do not hold that children of believers are to be baptized, how could they say that children of believers can take part in the resurrection of the righteous? If they are born during the millennium would that automatically make them believers from birth? It seems logical that Ladd and Culver believed that there was no sex in the millennium...
I will still attempt to find that quote.
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
Reading through all of this work again I find it disturbing that the historical pre-millennials continually attack all Amillennials on the idea of the first resurrection being our regeneration. I do not hold this view and I know many other amillennials who hold that the first resurrection takes place upon our death, when we go to be with our Lord in Heaven. We believe that only believers go on to our eternal destinations the moment that we die, the unregenerate seem to remain until the final resurrection at which time they are judged and sent into eternal torment.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I find it disturbing that the historical pre-millennials continually attack all Amillennials on the idea of the first resurrection being our regeneration.
I haven't read every amil work out there, but that is generally understood to be the standard amil teaching. I don't think I have anything else handy, but that's what the amillennial Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible asserts: "Just as the second death is the ultimate punishment of hellfire after the (first) death of the body, so the first resurrection is a gift of spiritual life before the (second) resurrection of the body."

Here's another resource that teaches the same thing: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/first-and-second-resurrection/

What amil writer(s) teach something besides the first resurrection being regeneration?
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I haven't read every amil work out there, but that is generally understood to be the standard amil teaching. I don't think I have anything else handy, but that's what the amillennial Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible asserts: "Just as the second death is the ultimate punishment of hellfire after the (first) death of the body, so the first resurrection is a gift of spiritual life before the (second) resurrection of the body."

Here's another resource that teaches the same thing: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/first-and-second-resurrection/

What amil writer(s) teach something besides the first resurrection being regeneration?
Both resurrectio s reference glorified bodily forms, so why would the first one be when born again?
 
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RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry it took so long to find this, It was actual a quote from John Gill not from Ladd or Culver like I had original thought. Also, it wasn't a direct quote. I had said that the author made it sound like there was no sexual relations.

1d. This glorious and visible kingdom of Christ, will not take place till after the resurrection of the just, and the renovation of the world {3}. As soon as Christ personally appears, the dead in him will rise first; this is the first resurrection, which they that have a part in, shall reign with Christ a thousand years; as appears from the above place in the Revelation referred unto. These "children of the resurrection", as Christ calls them, #Lu 20:35,36 and who will be worthy of "that world", the new world, in which Christ and they will reign, will be like the angels, die no more; nor will they eat and drink, in a corporal sense; nor marry and be given in marriage; carnal appetites will not be indulged; nor carnal pleasures enjoyed: in this state, nothing but pure, refined, spiritual pleasures, will be had, suited to the bodies and souls of men, united in the resurrection state.
From http://www.historicism.com/Gill/gillmill.htm There is also a link to the article on Monergism.com.
Sorry it took me so long to find it, I'm at work trying to read in between doing actual work.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for finding that, and thanks for continuing the discussion. I very much appreciate it.

Two questions then, realizing you’re amil and not premil: (1) Who are those whom Satan rallies at the end of the millennium against Christ according to this view, and (2) Is this “renovated” world the eternal new world or will a new “new” world replace the renovated one?
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not certain about the first question, perhaps at the time of the second resurrection they believe that there will be time in between that resurrection and the judgment?
But I can tell you for certain that John Gill believes that the renovated earth is the new earth. Most tend to think this, they use Isaiah 11 to rationalize this.
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
I found this from the same Gill article;
5b1. What will become of the new earth, after the thousand years of the reign of Christ and his saints on it are ended? whether it will be annihilated or not? My mind has been at an uncertainty about this matter; sometimes inclining one way, and sometimes another; because of the seeming different accounts of it in #Isa 66:22 where it is said to "remain" before the Lord, and in #Re 20:11 where it is said to "flee away" from the face of the judge; as may be seen by my "notes" on both places, and by a "correction" at the end of the "fourth" volume on the Old Testament; but my last and present thoughts are, that it will continue for ever; and that the passage in #Re 20:11 is a rhetorical exaggeration of the glory and greatness of the judge, which appeared such to John in the vision, that the heavens and earth could not bear it, and therefore "seemed" to disappear; the phrase, "from whose face", which is unusual, seems to suggest and confirm it. I am of opinion therefore, that the new earth will be a sort of an apartment to heaven, whither the saints will pass and repass at their pleasure; and which agrees with other scriptures, which speak of the saints dwelling on, and inheriting the earth for ever {38}.
5b2. Who the Gog and Magog army are, that shall encompass the camp of the saints, when the thousand years are ended? What makes an answer to this the more difficult is, that at the general conflagration of the present earth, all the wicked in it will be burnt up, and none but righteous persons will dwell in the new earth; it is to no purpose therefore, to think of Turks, Tartarinns, Scythians, and other barbarous nations {39}, types of these; nor of any remains {40} of the wicked who escaped the general destruction, as supposed; nor of such frightened at the first appearance of Christ, who fled to the remotest parts, and now resume their courage, and come forth: it is a strange absurd notion of Dr. Burnet {41}, that these will be men born of the earth, generated from the slime of the ground, and the heat of the sun; and increasing and multiplying after the manner of men, by carnal propagation, after a thousand years will become very numerous, as the sand of the sea, and make the attack they are said to do. But there is no need to have recourse to so gross an expedient as this: the persons are at hand, and easy to be met with; they are "the rest of the dead", the wicked, who live not till the thousand years are ended; and then will live, being raised from the dead, even all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world; which accounts for their number being as the sand of the sea: and these rising where they died, and were buried, will be in and come from the four quarters of the world; and as they died enemies to Christ, and his saints, they will rise such; hell and the grave will make no change in them; and as they laid down with the "weapons of war, their swords under their heads", they will be in a readiness, and rise with the same malicious and revengeful spirit; and though it will be a mad enterprise, to attack saints in an immortal state, who cannot die; and Christ, the King of kings, at the head of them; yet when it is considered, that they will rise as weak and feeble: as unable to resist temptation, and as capable of deception as ever; and what with being buoyed up with their own number, and the posse of devils at the head of them; and especially considering the desperateness of their case, and this their last struggle to deliver themselves from eternal ruin; it may not so much be wondered at, that they should engage in this strange undertaking {42}.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
I found this from the same Gill article;
5b1. What will become of the new earth, after the thousand years of the reign of Christ and his saints on it are ended? whether it will be annihilated or not? My mind has been at an uncertainty about this matter; sometimes inclining one way, and sometimes another; because of the seeming different accounts of it in #Isa 66:22 where it is said to "remain" before the Lord, and in #Re 20:11 where it is said to "flee away" from the face of the judge; as may be seen by my "notes" on both places, and by a "correction" at the end of the "fourth" volume on the Old Testament; but my last and present thoughts are, that it will continue for ever; and that the passage in #Re 20:11 is a rhetorical exaggeration of the glory and greatness of the judge, which appeared such to John in the vision, that the heavens and earth could not bear it, and therefore "seemed" to disappear; the phrase, "from whose face", which is unusual, seems to suggest and confirm it. I am of opinion therefore, that the new earth will be a sort of an apartment to heaven, whither the saints will pass and repass at their pleasure; and which agrees with other scriptures, which speak of the saints dwelling on, and inheriting the earth for ever {38}.
5b2. Who the Gog and Magog army are, that shall encompass the camp of the saints, when the thousand years are ended? What makes an answer to this the more difficult is, that at the general conflagration of the present earth, all the wicked in it will be burnt up, and none but righteous persons will dwell in the new earth; it is to no purpose therefore, to think of Turks, Tartarinns, Scythians, and other barbarous nations {39}, types of these; nor of any remains {40} of the wicked who escaped the general destruction, as supposed; nor of such frightened at the first appearance of Christ, who fled to the remotest parts, and now resume their courage, and come forth: it is a strange absurd notion of Dr. Burnet {41}, that these will be men born of the earth, generated from the slime of the ground, and the heat of the sun; and increasing and multiplying after the manner of men, by carnal propagation, after a thousand years will become very numerous, as the sand of the sea, and make the attack they are said to do. But there is no need to have recourse to so gross an expedient as this: the persons are at hand, and easy to be met with; they are "the rest of the dead", the wicked, who live not till the thousand years are ended; and then will live, being raised from the dead, even all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world; which accounts for their number being as the sand of the sea: and these rising where they died, and were buried, will be in and come from the four quarters of the world; and as they died enemies to Christ, and his saints, they will rise such; hell and the grave will make no change in them; and as they laid down with the "weapons of war, their swords under their heads", they will be in a readiness, and rise with the same malicious and revengeful spirit; and though it will be a mad enterprise, to attack saints in an immortal state, who cannot die; and Christ, the King of kings, at the head of them; yet when it is considered, that they will rise as weak and feeble: as unable to resist temptation, and as capable of deception as ever; and what with being buoyed up with their own number, and the posse of devils at the head of them; and especially considering the desperateness of their case, and this their last struggle to deliver themselves from eternal ruin; it may not so much be wondered at, that they should engage in this strange undertaking {42}.
Now that is strange to my mind, and it’s the sort of thing that happens the more literally one takes apocalyptic literature. The new earth will have rebellion and those whom Satan leads are the resurrected wicked. Did I get that right?
 

RJ Spencer

Puritan Board Freshman
That seems to be what Gill is getting at. In his own words, and practically the same breath, he affirms that he believes the Earth during the millennium will be the New eternal earth and that the Army of Satan at the end of the millennium is those that take part in the second resurrection. He even admits that some of Revelation 20 should be taken spiritually which is something that they attack the Amill for.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Bill (@Broadus),

This may be of help (from Dean Davis' High King of Heaven). The acronym GETD in the text is from the book's subtitle, Discovering The Keys to the Great End Times Debate:
 

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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Now that is strange to my mind, and it’s the sort of thing that happens the more literally one takes apocalyptic literature. The new earth will have rebellion and those whom Satan leads are the resurrected wicked. Did I get that right?
Yes,as there will be physical people still born, and not glorified then.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
What is hard to find, for me at least, is what the millennium is all about. The dispensationalists have a literal temple with literal sacrifices (a view which boggles the mind), but the historic dispensationalists that I've run across, either in person or by printed page, so not.
I am pre-wrath premil, though I don't write much about it. I'm sure there is a "purpose," but a premil could just respond, "Why does there have to be a stated purpose? If Scripture says it, ex hypothesi, then it's there. That's all we need."
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Both resurrectio s reference glorified bodily forms, so why would the first one be when born again?
Precisely because the amil doesn't believe that both resurrections refer to a bodily resurrection. I disagree with amils, but they are quite consistent on this point.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If a premill like Piper can admit to the recapitulation in the book of Revelation, how can he still claim to believe in a literal millennium?
All depends on where in the text the recapitulation is taking place. Most amils will say that the final events of Revelation (full return, bodily, etc) aren't spiritual recapitulations for something else. So at least some part of Revelation 20 are being interpreted literally from an amil perspective.
 

Broadus

Puritan Board Freshman
. . .
I'm sure there is a "purpose," but a premil could just respond, "Why does there have to be a stated purpose? If Scripture says it, ex hypothesi, then it's there. That's all we need."
If, indeed, Scripture says it, then that is enough. Still, does Scripture definitely lay out things without giving a purpose, either explicitly or implicitly?

Dispensational premils would say the purpose is to fulfill literally OT prophesy. What about historic premils? I don’t find they take that same approach, in that they spiritualize the temple and renewed sacrifices.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
If, indeed, Scripture says it, then that is enough. Still, does Scripture definitely lay out things without giving a purpose, either explicitly or implicitly?

Dispensational premils would say the purpose is to fulfill literally OT prophesy. What about historic premils? I don’t find they take that same approach, in that they spiritualize the temple and renewed sacrifices.
We would still see that as bring the fulfillment of the Messianic Age, as when the Kingdom is extended over entire Earth, as He reigns and then the Eternal State.
 
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