Theories of Understanding End Times and Revelation

There are a great number of ways people think about the end times. Much of the discussion is based on how we interpret the book of Revelation. Since it is easy to get lost in all these confusing philosophies, I thought I’d give a very brief run down on some of the more popular views about what is called “eschatology,” especially in regards to Revelation. Forgive me if in pursuit of brevity, I lack in precision.

  • Preterism
    Everything in this book is about events that have already happened. It could be that Revelation is all about persecution of the early church, Rome, and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

  • Historicism
    Biblical prophecies line up with historical events, but these parallels are still ongoing.

  • Futurism
    Prophecy can match up with history, but a book like Revelation is more about future events.

  • Idealism
    Revelation is not a historical book, but its imagery is symbolic of the struggles and good and evil, and of God’s ultimate victory.

Much conversation centers around a thousand year reign of Christ–a millennium. It is only mentioned in Revelation 20, but has garnered a lot of attention. The views on this are as following, again briefly, with a warning about unnecessarily long words:

  • Premillennialism
    Christ comes again and begins a literal thousand year reign on earth. Within this view there are differences about a rapture of God’s followers as to when it happens-before a seven year tribulation, in the middle, or afterward.

  • Postmillennialism
    Christ comes after a thousand year reign that takes place on earth, either one that has begun already or that is still to come in the future.

  • Amillennialism
    There is no literal thousand years. Christ is already reigning at the right hand of God and he will return at a time unknown.

That is just a brief hint of the discussion that can consume your entire day if you let it. But if you would like a few more sentences on it you can read more here and here.

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