Q. How does one answer an amillennialist to prove Christ will reign a literal thousand years on earth?

Revelation 20 clearly says so, but that is only the beginning of the amillennialist’s problem. Perhaps you have already shared this passage in frustration. Amillennialists, covenant theologians, and non-dispensationalists in general (and many, if not most, are all three) have problems because, since they won’t take these passages literally, they open themselves to all manner of guesswork as to what they do mean. For example, they seemingly can’t discern between the two kingdoms taught in Scripture. The spiritual kingdom concerns the individual believer’s position in Christ. Colossians 1:13 says that the believer has been delivered from “the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Believers in Christ have been made to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The earthly kingdom, in contrast, is a future kingdom in which the unconditional promises to God’s Chosen People, Israel, will be fulfilled and in which Christ their Messiah will reign. When we see these truths, we find that other passages related to the restoration of Israel and Christ’s millennial reign fit perfectly.

Galatians 3 speaks of believers in Christ being the spiritual children of Abraham. The Jewish teachers said that to be the true sons of Abraham, the Galatians had to be circumcised. The apostle Paul refuted their teachings and pointed out that the real sons of Abraham are not those who are born Jews but those who are saved by faith. Abraham was reckoned righteous by faith, and that was before he was circumcised. Furthermore, there is the term  “the seed of David” (Romans 1:3). Please note that the Bible never uses this terminology for believers in Christ. Rather, the term refers to the nation of Israel. Christ is David’s seed according to the flesh. David the king was the progenitor of Christ the King. Christ’s occupation of the throne of David has not yet been fulfilled. This is due to the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah when He came to earth the first time. After the Rapture (Christ will catch away all His redeemed, as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18), the Jews will be divinely disciplined and be readied (the tribulation period) for their acceptance of Christ as their Messiah the second time (Matthew 23:37–39), when He comes with His saved people to rule and reign during the Millennium (1,000-year reign).

Luke 22:29 and 30 is a passage in which Christ made a promise to His disciples at the Last Supper just before His death on the cross: “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Christ was referring not to His spiritual kingdom but to the literal kingdom that will be a fulfillment of God’s unconditional promises to His Chosen People, the Jews. Again, these promises have yet to be fulfilled. We know He was not talking about His spiritual kingdom, because in that kingdom there will be neither Jews nor Gentiles, but all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

The promised literal kingdom on earth—David’s—was what James and John’s mother referred to in Matthew 20:21. And just before Christ ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, this kingdom was still on the minds of the disciples when they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Notice that the Lord didn’t ridicule them by asking something like, “Where did you ever get an idea like that?” No, it was legitimate for them to believe that this earthly kingdom would take place. Rather, He simply reminded them that it was not for them to know exactly when; that was God’s business. They were to concentrate on obeying the Great Commission after Jesus was gone to Heaven and on occupying until He returned, just as we believers still have the responsibility to do today.

Christ’s literal kingdom was prophesied in Jeremiah 23: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (vv. 5, 6). This is a promise, and it has yet to come to pass. If prophetic passages like these do not mean Christ’s millennial (1,000-year) reign, they are meaningless.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.