Historic premillennialism – What is it?Historic premillennialism falls under eschatology, the study of the end times. It is usually contrasted with dispensational premillennialism.
As for historic premillennialism, adherents believe that the Old Testament foretold of the church of the New Testament, that the age of grace (in which we live currently) was predicted in the Old Testament, that an earthly reign of Jesus Christ of 1,000 years (a millennium) will occur after His second coming, and that the rapture of the church will occur after the tribulation.
Teachers of dispensational premillennialism say the New Testament church is not foretold in the Old Testament, that the present age of grace is parenthetical in the history of God's relationship with Israel because the Jews rejected the kingdom, that there are seven distinct divisions of time (known as "dispensations," the current age of grace being the sixth), and holds to a pretribulational view of the rapture.
There are many verses and passages in the New Testament about Jesus' return, including Matthew 24, much of the Revelation, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18.
Historically, church fathers favored historic premillennialism, including Ireneaus, Papias, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Hippolytus. They taught that the kingdom of God would be visibly manifest on earth after the second coming of Jesus. First, the Antichrist would appear and a seven-year period of tribulation would commence. Following that would be the rapture and Jesus' 1,000-year reign, followed by eternity. This was the prevailing belief in the first three centuries or so after Jesus rose from the dead. However, when Rome made Christianity its official religion in the fourth century, amillennialism took over.
Protestantism reverted back to premillennialism—teaching that the tribulation is followed by 1,000 years of Christ's peaceful reign before a climactic battle when the forces of evil are conquered forever.
More modern teachers of historic premillennialism include George Eldon Ladd of the Fuller Theological Seminary, Walter Martin, John Warwick Montgomery, J. Barton Payne, Henry Alford (a noted Greek scholar), and Theodor Zahn, a German New Testament scholar.
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