The Way It Happened

Revelation 20:4, The Difference Between Pre- and Postmillennialism

… and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

//The millennium, from a Christian framework, refers to a period of one thousand years during which Christ will reign on earth. The technical difference between pre- and postmillennialists is simply this: One group thinks Jesus will return before the 1000 years begin, and the other thinks Jesus will return after the 1000 years are over. Also, 1000 isn’t always understood literally; it may mean simply “a long time.”

Note the word “will” in both definitions. Premillennialists and postmillennialists both agree that Jesus’ return is yet to come. Both groups are futurists, and both dream of Christ’s second arrival.

So on the face of it, there seems little difference between the two groups. What’s a thousand years here or there, right? Yet the philosophical difference is very great.

A premillennialist tends to attach little emphasis to this world and its politics. Her mood is one of expectancy and anticipation, for the day Christ returns to establish his kingdom. This world is going to get worse and worse, she imagines, until finally God steps in with a glorious return on the clouds. Then, we’ll have 1,000 years of Godly rule.

Postmillennialists, on the other hand, imagine that Christ’s reign during the 1,000 years is spiritual in nature. Human participation is therefore required; Christ aids us in establishing a Christian kingdom on earth, and will not return until the 1,000 year reign is complete. While premillennialists delight in the moral decline of the world, because it means Christ’s return is imminent, postmillennialists consider it their optimistic, Christian duty to redeem the world, to aid in reformation, so as to Christianize and make the world suitable for Christ’s return. He can’t come until we set things right.

The two groups are really as different in thinking as night and day.


  1. This world will never be “made right” before Christ returns! We as human beings are not capable of doing that … only the Lord can do that!

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