Three Views: Post-millennial, A-millennial, and Pre-millennial:
Post-millennialists are highly optimisitic and maybe for good reason. That is yet to be decided. This view interprets the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33) to support this understanding. This parable does not inform us as to the extent to which the Kingdom would grow analogous to the seed. Some parts of the world are experiencing a revival of the Gospel. Yet the world is also increasingly becoming evil. Passages such as Matthew 7:13-14, 24:21-30; Luke 18:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12-13; 4:3-4 are used to reject this view.
It is obvious from the preceding Scriptures that Satan is not bound in our present time. As the world exhibits goodness and some virtue it is also increasingly becoming evil. If the millennium is here and now then what of the present evil or dark spiritual influence today? Some opponents of a future millennium suggest that Satan is literally bound and sealed away yet to explain the presence of evil today it is explained that his demons are still active. For example, if a leader of organized crime was sealed away from society his followers, still persuaded of the same objectives, could still inflict crimes or evil against humanity. Yet, even the demons know of an impending doom. In Matthew 8:29 we read, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
“It is generally agreed that the view of the church for the centuries immediately following the Apostolic era was the premillennial view of the return of Christ.” In his Systematic TheologyRobert Culver states: “It is not surprising therefore that chiliasm (belief in the thousand-year reign) was widely spread, if not universal, in the first three centuries.” Phillip Schaff, in his voluminous History of the Christian Church writes:
“The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it.”
Here Schaff, who was not a proponent of premillenialism, cites men such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin, and Irenaeus as early teachers of that very view. Not long after Romish doctrines began to take root in the primitive church amillenarianism became popular. It seemed the hope of Christ’s return where man rule and reigned with Christ was misplaced. At this point amilleniarianism began to ascend and eclipse premillenialism. In the post-Reformation era however postmillennialism began its rise. Postmillennialism would lose its luster during WWII.
Systematic theologian Henry C. Thiessen suggested that “From the 4th Century on, the belief in the millennium declined.” New Testament scholar Ben Witherington suggests, "The vast majority of early Christian writers who commented on the matter did indeed understand Revelation 20 and texts like 1 Corinthians 15 to refer to a reign of Christ on the earth prior to the end, prior to the final judgment and the new heaven and the new earth. We may thank figures like Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 263–339) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430) many centuries after the time of the New Testament writers for changing the way such texts were read."(13)
Using a literal method of interpretation one cannot deny that the Second Coming of Christ is both literal and accompanied by a millennial reign. It is the place, nature, and timing of these events that believers have debated for some time. At the moment, this writer holds to the historic premillennial view which sees believers continuing until a future or perhaps present tribulation until Satan is bound and Christ returns to earth to establish the millennial kingdom.
A literal reading of Revelations 20 should produce a premillenial view. Other views will have to spiritualize this unit of text in order for it to make sense otherwise. Unlike the present condition of earth, which is full of confusion and mounting evil, Christ will usher in a “golden era of peace and prosperity” This Reign of Christ will be marked by allegiance and devotion to Him alone. As a result of Christ’s reign joy, peace, healing, protection, and justice will flourish. In his work The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgement, Glory Bloesch rightly warns premillennialist. He suggests:
“In addition an egocentric strand runs through premillennialism. The Christian goal sometimes appears to be experiencing the pleasures of the millennium rather than glorifying God in lowly service. Our service to the world should be fueled by hope in the second advent of Christ, but this hope should turn us ever more to the world in its poverty and misery rather than away from the world toward an idyllic kingdom that lies on the other side of history.”
Christians must not just sit by idle and complacent as though we must wait to experience pleasure and life in Christ only in the Millennium. The Kingdom of God has come and is coming. Jesus Christ does reign in our hearts and has come and will come again but this does not mean believers must simply wait and do nothing. We should fuel and not stifle our "service to the world" by this "hope"(Titus 2:13). It is all the more reason to do something for the Kingdom now or as Bloesch says, “on this side of history.”
7 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.
8 Hindson, Ed. Et al. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (p. 234). © 2004 by Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson
9 Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come (p. 373). © 1958 by Dunham Publishing Co. Zondervan
10 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.
11 Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997). History of the Christian church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
12 Thiessen, Henry C. (1949) Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (366)
13 Witherington, Ben Revelation and the End Times : Unraveling God’s Message of Hope (Kindle Locations 1273-1275). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
14 Hindson, Ed. The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future (p. 200). Twenty-First Century Commentary Series © 2002 by Tyndale Theological Seminary
15 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 89.