Monday, April 12, 2010

Exegetical Eschatology: Millennial Misunderstandings

In "The Coming(s) of the Son of Man" and "Parousia and the Definite Article" we identified some of the presuppositions we tend to read into the texts which speak of Christ's "coming." First, we discovered that there are several "comings" of Jesus, and so we cannot assume that every reference to His "coming" promises His final return. Second, we learned that the manner in which the Greek word παρουσία (parousia)--"coming, presence, appearance"--is used does not demand a single παρουσία, but instead merely assigns ownership thereof to Christ. It is His παρουσία. Therefore, we must examine each "coming" in Scripture independently and determine based on the context that to which it refers.

Today we'll look at a few assumptions we tend to make when we discuss Jesus' "Millennial Reign." For those who are not terribly versed when it comes to biblical eschatology, the modern dispensational view (taught, for example, in the Left Behind series of books) teaches something along these lines: Jesus will come to "rapture" His Church--dead and living--at the beginning or in the middle of the "Great Tribulation," a 7-year period of time following which Jesus and His saints will return and reign for precisely one thousand years on earth. During this time, called Jesus' "Millennial Reign," there will be peace on earth as Satan is bound, unable to have any influence in the world, and as Jesus and believers in their glorified bodies reign, physically present. (If any of my readers disagree to any extent with this summary, please let me know and I will try and correct it if appropriate.)