Different viewpoints - The millennium - Part 1

SERMON TOPIC: Different viewpoints - The millennium - Part 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 16 July 2007


Sermon synopsis: What is the difference between Amillennialism, Postmillennialism and Premillennialism? What was the position of the early church? What does Revelation 20 teach? Will the whole world be converted before Jesus comes? Has God forsaken Israel and are all the Old Testament promises to Israel fulfilled in the Church?
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Areas of debate

In the last century, eschatology* has been studied and argued more than at any other time period in church history. Among Christians, the major areas of study and debate include:

The timing of Bible prophecy




The timing of the Millennium




The timing of the rapture




* Eschatology (from the Greek ἔσχατος, Eschatos meaning ‘last’ + -logy) is a part of theology concerned with the End Times.

What is the Millennium?

Latin: mille ‘thousand’ + annum ‘year’.

‘The Millennium’ in Bible prophecy refers specifically to a 1000-year golden age when Jesus, as the Jewish Messiah, will reign on earth from Jerusalem in fulfillment of the OT prophecies.

Premillennialism is also called millenarianism or chiliasm from the Greek chilloi (thousand).

In the NT, the Millennium is described by John in Revelation 20.

A, pre & Postmillennialism


The entire Church age (starting at the Cross) is the Millennium (not a literal 1000 years).

Christ reigns in heaven.

Christ returns after the figurative Millennium.


Millennium is a future (or current) literal (or figurative) 1000 years.

The Church will reign on earth.

Christ returns after the Millennium.


Millennium is a future literal 1000 years reign by Christ.

Christ himself reigns on earth (from Jerusalem) with his Church.

Christ returns after the church age (pre, mid or post-tribulation rapture) before the Millennium.

A, Pre & Postmillennialism




Revelation 20










Figurative or Literal 1000 years

Literal 1000 years


The Cross

Future golden Christian age

End of tribulation

Who reigns

Jesus in heaven

Christians on earth

Jesus on earth (Jerusalem)

State of Satan now


Will be bound before 2nd coming

Free (‘Prince of this age’)


Replaced by Church

Replaced by Church

Has a separate irrevocable covenant




Two (before & after the Millennium – Rev 20)

Second coming

After the current ‘Millennium’

After the future ‘Millennium’

Before the future Millennium

Revelation 20

A summary of the plain literal teaching of Revelation 20 is:

There are 2 resurrections.

The 2 resurrections are separated by a 1000 years

During this 1000 years Jesus reigns on earth.

This follows a period when the Beast has ruled (Tribulation).

Those who are part of the first resurrection are blessed.

Those who are part of the first resurrection will reign with Jesus.

Rev 20:4 … They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.







On the contrary, some at the second resurrection and Great White Throne judgment are cast into the lake of fire.

Rev 20:7 When the thousand years are over… 11 … I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books… 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

During this period Satan is bound in the Abyss.

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended…



Revelation 20

History Premillennialism: 1st C

Premillennialism was the original Church view in the 1st – 3rd century. Theologians who held it during the 1st century AD were Papias (c 60-130) and the author of the Epistle of Barnabas.

In circa 400 AD Jerome writes of Papias “He is said to have perpetuated a Jewish tradition of the thousand years, which Irenaeus and Apollinaris etc. follow, who say that the Lord will reign in the flesh with the saints after the resurrection. Tertullian also in the book On the Hope of the Faithful and Victorinus of Pettau and Lactantius are said to be of this opinion.” 1

The author of this epistle probably wrote between the years AD 70–131 and was a Premillennialist, holding to the sexta-septamillennial scheme. He notes that “a day is with Him a thousand years” and that “in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished”. After that “His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man” and “then shall He truly rest on the seventh day” which is the seventh 1000-year period. 2

1 Illustrious Lives 18 2 The Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 15

History Premillennialism: 2nd C

Theologians who held it during the 2nd century AD were Justin Martyr (100-168), Tertullian (150-220), Melito of Sardis (died c.180), Irenaeus (140-202) the disciple of Polycarp.

Justin is one of the first Christian writers to clearly describe himself as continuing in the ‘Jewish’ belief of a temporary messianic kingdom prior to the eternal state. He wrote in chapter 80 of his work ‘Dialogue with Trypho’, “I and others who are right-minded Christians on all points are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built… For Isaiah spoke in that manner concerning this period of a thousand years.”

History Premillennialism: 2nd C

Irenaeus is best known for his work ‘Against Heresies’.* In the fifth book he concentrates largely on eschatology. In one passage he argues that a future earthly kingdom is necessary because of the promise to Abraham. He wrote “The promise remains steadfast… God promised him the inheritance of the land. Yet, Abraham did not receive it during all the time of his journey there. Accordingly, it must be that Abraham together with his seed … will receive it at the resurrection of the just.” (5.32)

In another place he explains that the blessing to Jacob “belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom when the righteous will bear rule, after their rising from the dead. It is also the time when the creation will bear fruit with an abundance of all kinds of food, having been renovated and set free… And all of the animals will feed on the vegetation of the earth… and they will be in perfect submission to man. And these things are borne witness to in the fourth book of the writings of Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp.” (5.33.3)

Irenaeus also held to the sexta-septamillennial scheme writing that the end of human history will occur after the 6,000th year. (5.28.3)

* written against the Gnostic heresy

History Premillennialism: 3rd C

Theologians who held it during the 3rd century AD were:

Hippolytus (170-235) the disciple of Irenaeus.

Cyprian (200-258)

Commodianus (250)

Lactantius (250-325)

Victorinus of Pettau (martyred c. 303)

Methodius of Olympus (martyred c. 311)

Nepos - a bishop in Egypt who wrote ‘The Refutation of the Allegorizers’.


An early representation of Cyprian, influential Carthaginian bishop

In the 3rd century the Alexandrian Origen was the first to openly challenge Premillennialism. He thought that the ‘Jewish’ view was too literal and popularized the allegorical approach to interpreting Scripture, combining Christianity with the philosophy of the Greek philosopher Plato. In so doing, he laid a hermeneutical basis for the view that the promised kingdom of Christ was spiritual and not earthly in nature.

Though a brilliant man who was dedicated in his Christianity, Origen had many distorted teachings that were far from Biblical Christianity, including 2 creations, the pre-existence of souls, and other unusual doctrinal innovations. He also rejected the idea of physical resurrection (Greek philosophy influence*) and believed in ultimate salvation of all human beings and fallen angels, including the devil.

Origen completely spiritualized Christ’s second coming teaching that “Christ’s return signifies His disclosure of Himself and His deity to all humanity in such a way that all might partake of His glory to the degree that each individual’s actions warrant.” (Commentary on Matthew 12.30).

* Greek philosophers from the time of Plato thought only in terms of immortality of the soul.

Origen (185-254)

History Amillennialism: 3rd C

History Amillennialism: 4th C

In the 4th century Eusebius (c. 263-339), viewed Constantine’s reign as the Messianic banquet, and held to anti-Premillennial views.

Eusebius wrote that Papias, the disciple of John was “a man of small mental capacity” because he had taken Revelation literally and he ‘blamed’ him for influencing Irenaeus*, whose scholarship was obviously impeccable.

* Historically, allegorical interpreters have commonly looked down on literal interpreters as stupid or slow since they are unable to ascend to the deeper, spiritual insights of the allegorical approach. A classic example of this attitude is in the writings of Eusebius when writing about Papias, who interpreted prophecy literally: “Papias… says that there will be a Millennium after the resurrections of the dead, when the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this earth. I suppose that he got these notions by a perverse reading of the apostolic accounts, not realizing that they had spoken mystically and symbolically. For he was a man of very little intelligence, as is clear from his books. But he is responsible for the fact that so many Christian writers after him held the same opinion, relying on his antiquity, for instance Irenaeus and whoever else appears to have held the same views.

Eusebius of Caesarea

Constantine’s “Promised Land”

Reading Eusebius’ ‘Life of Constantine’, you see that this radical change in doctrine had something to do with the belief that Christianity had triumphed over paganism and that Constantine was like a ‘Moses’ who brought God's people into the promised land. Constantine, the then Roman Emperor, had converted to Christianity, stopped the Christian persecution and made Christianity ‘respectable’.

With persecution and martyrdom seemingly past, it was much easier to accept the idea that Satan was already bound and that Christians were living in a golden age of Christ's rule over the nations.

Coupled with an anti-Semitic perspective that seemed to explode in the Church at this time, a Millennium that had anything to do with the Jews was offhandedly rejected.

The Emperor Constantine

History Amillennialism: 4th C

Tyconius, an African Donatist* of the 4th century, was one of the earliest theologians to challenge Premillennialism.

A major hurdle that anti-millennialists needed to overcome was that Revelation 20 speaks of multiple resurrections. This cannot be if anti-millennialism was to gain a foothold. It was Tyconius, who suggested an allegorical interpretation of this passage to get away from the plain meaning of the literal text.

He rejected the eschatological and futuristic view of Revelation 20. Instead, he said that the Millennium was being fulfilled in the present age and that the 1000 years mentioned was not a literal 1000 years.

He also viewed the ‘first resurrection’ of Revelation 20:4 as a spiritual resurrection which was the new birth.

As the Donatists were deemed heretics by the Catholic Church, it is ironic that it is Tyconius’ reading of John’s Apocalypse that determined the Catholic Church’s exegesis of Revelation 20.

* The Donatists (founded by the Berber Christian Donatus Magnus) were followers of a belief considered a heresy by the broader churches of the Catholic tradition. They lived in the Roman province of Africa and flourished in the 4th and 5th centuries.

History Amillennialism: 5th C

In the 4th / 5th century Jerome (342-419) derided the idea of a 1000-year earthly kingdom of God as a fable. In his commentary on Daniel, written shortly before the year 400, Jerome argued that “The saints will in no wise have an earthly kingdom, but only a celestial one; thus must cease the fable of one thousand years.”

Jerome’s reason for rejecting ‘Chiliasts’ was that they were too linked to Judaism: For Jerome, Chiliasm and Judaism are identical.

He removes the very foundation of Chiliasm by spiritualizing the Apocalypse (Revelation).

He hesitates to condemn the doctrine outright, for he can see that it was held by many Fathers.


History Amillennialism: 5th C

In the 5th century, Augustine (354-430 AD), who is often referred to as the ‘Father of Amillennialism’, popularized the views of Amillennialism in his book, De Civitate Dei (‘The City of God’, 412-26).

Like Origen before him, Augustine also interpreted scripture allegorically. The Bible, he believed, had been veiled by God in order to exercise those seeking Him.

This famous Bishop of Hippo abandoned Premillennialism and interpreted Mark 3:27* to be a present binding of Satan throughout the church age.

He was the first to identify the Catholic** Church in its visible form with the kingdom of God. For him, the millennial rule of Christ was taking place in and through the church, including its sacraments and offices.

* Mk 3:27 … no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man.

** Catholic - derived, through Latin, from the Greek adjective καθολικός, meaning ‘general’ or ‘universal’.


Greek philosophy influence

There are at least 3 reasons why Augustine changed his view from Premillennialism to Amillennialism:

Carnal view of those supporting millennial teaching in the 5th century.

Condition of blessing in the church

Influence of Greek philosophy

Like Origen, Augustine had been schooled in Greek philosophy and could not escape its influence in spite of what the Scriptures themselves warned.

Colossians 2:8 says: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”


The Catholic position

Augustine wrote: “The saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years, understood in the same way, that is, of the time of his first coming…Therefore, the church even now is the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, even now His saints reign with Him.”

Augustine’s Amillennialism quickly became the accepted view of the church. It became so accepted that the Council of Ephesus (431) condemned the Premillennial view as superstitious.

Although the Catholic Church officially endorses Amillennialism, they do not dispute that the Premillennial view was the predominant view in the 1st to 3rd century church and that Augustine was the turning point.

According to www.catholic.com

As far as the Millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the Amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been “Amillennial” … The Church has rejected the Premillennial position, sometimes called “millenarianism” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that Premillennialism “cannot safely be taught,” though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.

The middle ages (5th – 15th C)

Augustine’s theology would dominate the church for over 1000 years.

The Roman Catholic church, using Origen’s system of interpretation and Augustine’s theology, soon applied and instituted the teaching that they were the inheritors of Israel’s promises including the ‘Kingdom’ promised to Israel and therefore must take ultimate authority over the political powers of this world, thus arriving at their policy of ‘temporal power’ i.e. control of both Church and State whenever and wherever possible, becoming ‘The Church Militant’.

At one point during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church held authority over virtually all the rulers of Europe. History witnesses that this was one of the most oppressive periods of Christianity, both toward Christians and those outside the Church.

While the Catholic Church held the Amillennial view that it was the kingdom of God on earth, the following resulted:

Crusades whereby the Church endorsed the use of force to retake the Holy Land from the Moslems. The Crusaders killed many Jews as well, labeling them as ‘Christ-killers’. The Carthari, in southern France, northern Spain and northern Italy preached against the immoralities of the priesthood, worship of saints and images, and opposed the claims of the Church of Rome. In 1208 Pope Innocent III ordered a crusade whereby the inhabitants of town after town were murdered - until all of the Carthari were utterly obliterated.

Wars started by Roman Catholic Kings urged on by the Pope and Jesuits for the purpose of crushing Protestantism.

The war on the German Protestants (1566-1609)

War on the Protestants of the Netherlands (1566-1609)

Huguenot Wars in France (1572 1598)

Philip’s attempt against England (1588)

Thirty Years War (1618-1648)

The kingdom of God on earth?

The Inquisition

Pagan Rome made sport of throwing to the lions, burning and otherwise killing thousands of Christians and many Jews. Yet ‘Christian’ Rome slaughtered many times that number of both Christians and Jews.

In his ‘Critical History of the Spanish Inquisition’, Canon Juan Antonio Llorente (1756- 1823), who was General Secretary of the Inquisition from 1789 to 1801,and had access to the archives of all the tribunals, estimated that in the Spanish Inquisition alone the number of victims was 341,021 with about 31,912 executed between 1480-1808.

The kingdom of God on earth?

Amillennialism continued to be the popular view of the early reformers. They continued to hold most of Augustine’s views, for just as with infant baptism, they were unable to separate themselves completely from false teaching. However they did reject allegorical interpretation in favour of a literal approach, which set the stage for a future return to Premillennialism.

The Lutherans condemned the Anabaptists* and others “who now scatter Jewish opinions that, before the resurrection of the dead, the godly shall occupy the kingdom of the world, the wicked being everywhere suppressed.” (The Augsburg Confession Art. XVII)

Likewise, the Swiss Reformer, Heinrich Bullinger states in the Second Helvetic Confession “We also reject the Jewish dream of a Millennium, or golden age on earth, before the last judgment.”

* The term ‘anabaptist’ [Greek ανα (again) +βαπτιζω (baptize)], thus ‘re-baptizers’, comes from the practice of baptizing individuals who had been baptized previously, often as infants. Anabaptists believed that infant baptism isn’t valid, because a child cannot commit to a religious faith, and they instead support believer's baptism. The word ‘anabaptism’ is used to describe Christians of the 16th century Radical Reformation and the denominations descending from the followers of Menno Simons. Today the descendants of the 16th century European movement (particularly the Baptists, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Brethren in Christ) are the most common bodies referred to as Anabaptist.

Early reformers – 16th C

Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575)

In the 41st of the Anglican Articles, drawn up by Thomas Cranmer (1553), he described the Millennium as a “fable of Jewish dotage” although it was omitted at a later time in the revision under Elizabeth (1563).

Early reformers – 16th C

John Calvin (1509-1564)

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556)

John Calvin wrote in ‘Institutes’ that Premillennialism is a ‘fiction’ that is “too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation.”

History Postmillennialism: 18th C

Postmillennialism is the view that the Millennium begins in the present age between the two advents of Christ. It holds that the progress of the Gospel will bring in a glorious age of righteousness before Christ returns.

Postmillennialism became popular in the 18th century. The beginnings of modern Postmillennialism are usually associated with the works of a Unitarian Daniel Whitby (1638-1726).

Jonathan Edwards was a Postmillennialist who viewed the First Great Awakening as the beginning of the Millennium. However he fueled Premillennial ideas by concluding that the decline of the Roman Catholic Church would make way for the conversion and restoration of the nation of Israel.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

History Postmillennialism: 20th C

For obvious reasons Postmillennialism almost died out after the two world wars of the 20th century put a damper on the optimism of this view. The world is not continually improving, as some once thought.

However, the last 25 to 30 years have witnessed a renewed emphasis on Postmillennialism.

Atomic bomb - Nagasaki (Japan) 1945

Despite the lingering influence of Augustinian theology on the early reformers many of the Anabaptists along with the Moravians and Huguenots were generally Premillennial.

Between 1790 and the mid-19th century, Premillennialism was a popular view among English Evangelicals, even within the Anglican church. The English essayist, historian, and politician Thomas Macaulay observed this and wrote “Many Christians believe that the Messiah will shortly establish a kingdom on the earth, and visibly reign over all its inhabitants.”

Throughout the 19th Century, Premillennialism continued to gain wider acceptance in both the US and in Britain, particularly among the Irvingites, Plymouth Brethren and Seventh-day Adventists.

Resurgence: Premillennialism 16th – 19th C

Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859)

John Nelson Darby, Anglican founder of the Plymouth Brethren, is regarded by many as the father of modern Dispensationalism.

This view holds to a very literal interpretation of Scripture and a rigorous distinction between God’s program for Israel and for the Church.

In the US, the dispensational form of Premillennialism was propagated on the popular level largely through the Scofield Reference Bible and on the academic level with Lewis Sperry Chafer’s 8 volume ‘Systematic Theology’.

Dispensational Premillennialism – 19th C

C.I. Scofield (1843-1921)

John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)

In the early 1900’s Clarence Larkin published many books and charts that have been extremely helpful to Christians. Practically all of the Premillennial prophecy teachers today got their basic prophecy knowledge directly or indirectly from Larkin and Scofield.

In the 20th century, Dispensationalism became the most popular eschatological perspective in the US. With it came the popular belief of a Pretribulational rapture.

Through the rapid expansion of the Evangelical* and Fundamentalist** Christian communities in the 20th and 21st centuries, Premillennialism has advanced further into the churches of Asia, Africa and South America.

* The distinctive doctrines of Evangelicals include a belief in the supreme authority of Scripture over tradition (sola Scriptura); in the literal interpretation of Scripture; adherence to the historic creeds; the need for a personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and holiness; and a belief in the imminent, visible and personal return of Jesus Christ.

** Christian Fundamentalism (despite the stigma attached to the latter term) is the most active, exclusive and conservative wing of Evangelicalism, both theologically and politically. Its popularity is, in part, due to its near monopoly of television and radio evangelism.

Dispensational Premillennialism – 20th C

Clarence Larkin (1850-1924)

Popular proponents of dispensational Premillennialism are J. Dwight Pentecost who wrote the excellent prophetic handbook ‘Things To Come’, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie (in the notes for the Ryrie Study Bible) and Charles Feinberg.

Dispensational Premillennialism – 20th C

J. Dwight Pentecost

Dr. Charles Ryrie

More recently Dispensationalism has been popularized through Hal Lindsey's 1970s bestseller, ‘The Late, Great Planet Earth’ (28 million copies) and through the ‘Left Behind’ Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins (over 65 million in series).

Hal Lindsey

Tim Lahaye & Jerry Jenkins

Dispensational Premillennialism – 20th C

Latin: a = ‘not’.

This view holds that the number of years in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the Millennium has already begun and is identical with the church age; and that while Christ’s reign is spiritual in nature during the Millennium, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish permanent physical reign.

They see prophecy and Revelation in more of a symbolic light. The Kingdom of God is strictly spiritual and heavenly.

Amillennialists generally believe that Israel has been permanently set aside, or even replaced for all time and that God’s current plan of salvation involves only the church.

When Augustine wrote about Amillennialism, he believed the thousand years might in fact be literal. Back then a thousand years had not yet passed. So he believed that it could be literal. But he also said it could be figurative. It was not until 1000 AD that the literal thousand years of Augustine had to be abandoned (for obvious reasons).

Amillennialism -doctrine

Postmillennialism doctrine

Postmillennialism sees Christ’s second coming as occurring after (Latin ‘post’) the Millennium, the Golden Age or era of Christian prosperity and dominance.

Although some Postmillennialists hold to a literal Millennium of 1000 years, most Postmillennialists see the 1000 years more as a figurative term for a long period of time (identical to Amillennialism). Among those holding to a non-literal ‘Millennium’ it is usually understood to have already begun, which implies a less obvious and less dramatic kind of Millennium than that typically envisioned by Premillennialists.

Postmillennialism also teaches that the forces of Satan will gradually be defeated by the expansion of the Kingdom of God throughout history up until the second coming of Christ.

Many Postmillennialists also adopt some form of preterism, which holds that many of the end times prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled.

A-mill & Post-mill Similarities

John Walvoord observed that “Premillennialism is obviously a viewpoint quite removed from either Amillennialism or Postmillennialism.” This is so, he observes because Premillennialists are more consistently literal in their hermeneutical approach than the other two.

In many senses, Postmillennialism is simply an optimistic form of Amillennialism. This is why some debate whether Augustine was an Amillennialist or a Postmillennialist.

Even some Postmillennialists have noted their closer kinship with their Amillennialist brethren as well. David Chilton linked Amillennialists and Postmillennialists together because of their common belief that the kingdom or Millennium is the current age while Premillennialists see it as future.

Dr. John F. Walvoord (1910-2002)

Dr. David Chilton (1951–1997)

Terrible times or godliness?

Postmillennialism, Kingdom Now, Dominionism & Reconstructionism believe that in the End Times godliness will eventually pervade secular society.

However Paul writes to Timothy, “1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (1 Tim 3:1-5)

Timothy, there will be terrible times in the last days.

CORRECTION: There will be terrible great times in the last days.

Modern Postmillennialism

Dominionism arose in the 1970s in religious movements reasserting aspects of Christian nationalism. Dominion Theology is derived from the Biblical text where God grants humanity ‘dominion’ over the Earth.

The following Dominion Theology views are influenced by Postmillennialism, a view which believes that godliness will eventually pervade secular society:

Kingdom Now theology - a theological belief within the Charismatic movement of Protestant Christianity, mainly in the US.

Dominionism’s counterpart in non-Charismatic theology is Christian Reconstructionism.


Christian Reconstructionism was founded by R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North and Greg Bahnsen and supported by such leaders as David Chilton and Gary DeMar. It appeals mostly to conservative Reformed Calvinists.

They focus on the need for economic change, social justice, peace, conservation and so forth, and believe that the Church will eventually reconstruct the world by applying and enforcing Biblical principles. These principles, or laws, must be applied to all mankind, not just believers.

Quotes from Reconstructionists:

“I believe that the world will see the progressive triumph of Christ’s people until the whole world is Christian and a glorious material and spiritual era unfolds.”

“God has a plan for the conquest of all things by His Covenant People. That plan is His Law.”

R.J. Rushdoony

Greg Bahnsen

Gary North

Kingdom Now

Kingdom Now theology is a theological belief within the Charismatic movement of Protestant Christianity, mainly in the US.

Proponents believe that God lost control over the world to Satan when Adam and Eve sinned. Since then God has been trying to reestablish control over the world by seeking a special group of believers. Through these people — known as ‘covenant people’, ‘overcomers’ or ‘Joel's army’, depending on the source — social institutions (including governments and laws) would be brought under God's authority. These covenant people are ‘little gods’ — God's ‘extension’ in the world to regain authority from the devil. The church, under the leadership of ‘restored’ apostles and prophets, therefore must take over the world and put down all opposition to it before Christ can return.

Kingdom Now theology has some beliefs in common with the Latter Rain Movement, such as a belief in restored apostles and prophets. It also has a great deal in common with Dominion theology.

This theology is preached by a small minority within the Charismatic movement. However, some of the theology's most strident critics are also from within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements.


Dominionism is a teaching that the church is responsible for taking over the world in the name and power of Christ.

Dominion theology is known as The Restoration Movement, Third Wave, New Wave, Latter Rain, Christian Reconstruction and Manifest Sons of God.

Internationally known Dominionist-Reconstructionist George Grant says: “But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. WORLD CONQUEST. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.”

George Grant

Dominion theology is predicated upon 3 basic beliefs:

Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth. (TRUE)

The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan. (FALSE – Jesus does this through the cross & His 2nd coming)

Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth's governmental and social institutions. (FALSE- There will be “terrible times in the last days”).

Since Dominionists teach that the mission of the church goes beyond the spiritual transformation of individuals to a mandate to change society, they must change the laws of the land, elect Christians to office, and seek to take dominion over our world and bring it under the Mosaic Law.

This unbiblical doctrine, known previously as Postmillennialism, has also made inroads into the Charismatic Evangelical church. We see the influence of this thinking even in those who may know little about it.



Dominionists made much of Reagan’s open confession of Christianity as well as that of George W. Bush. They place much focus on Christians being elected to public office. While this in itself is a commendable practice, the intended end goal (Christian-Dominionist-rule) is not sanctioned in the Scripture.

Evangelical Postmillennialism is to be distinguished from the liberal form. However, one cannot overlook the role that Postmillennialism, in all its guises, has played in the rise and development of the ‘social gospel’. Postmillennarians blame Premillennial dispensationalism for creating a climate of retreat from social and political issues. 1

1 Thomas Ice: “The unscriptural theologies of Amillennialism and Postmillennialism” " pre-trib.org/ data/ pdf/ Ice-TheUnscripturalTheolo.pdf"> pre-trib.org/ data/ pdf/ Ice-TheUnscripturalTheolo.pdf

George W. Bush

Ronald Reagan



God Almighty has given His people a mandate regarding their civic duty toward the non-Theocratic State and it is not civil disobedience. Jesus, Paul & Peter all taught to obey the Roman (pagan) government and to conform to the tax laws.

Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.


Luke 20:22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25 “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

1 Pet 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

These instructions are not the teachings which the Dominionists present, however. To actually seek to overthrow a pagan government, to deal in the affairs of State, to take the world politically by force for Christ is something quite different entirely! God has NOT given any mandate for any such action.

Denarius with Tiberius’ portrait


In NT times, despite the extreme paganism of the State, the Roman Empire served as “God’s servant to do you good.” (Romans 13:4).

If we are in the Kingdom of God now, then Charismatics are correct to teach that health and prosperity is the right of every believer today. This is why ‘Reconstruction’ Calvinists and ‘Kingdom Now’ Charismatics have formed at least a loose unity - they both have the same world view.

They are not looking for Christ to return and set up His Kingdom; they are attempting to set it up for Him.

Nowhere in the NT are we instructed to infiltrate the government in order to affect a covert Christian takeover.

We should have learnt from history of Constantine and the Roman Catholic political control in the Middle Ages that the fusion of Church and the State resulted in the darkest periods of Christian history.

Replacement Theology

Replacement theology is a teaching that the church has replaced Israel permanently in the plan of God. Historically it was associated with an Amillennial & Postmillennial view of eschatology.

Historically, replacement theology has been the theological foundation upon which anti-Semitism has been built within the confines of professing Christianity. While Reconstructionists do believe that the individual Jews will be converted to Christ en masse in the future, almost none of them believe that national Israel has a future, and thus, the Church has completely taken over the promises of national Israel.

Reconstructionist David Chilton said that “ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God's Kingdom. ... the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation.” – We’ll examine this claim shortly in the light of Romans 11.

Reconstructionists DeMar and Leithart have said, “In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the church.”

Gary DeMar

Dr. Peter Leithart – former advocate of Dominionism

Replacement Theology

However a theological anti-Semitism also exists in the Dominionist plan to replace Israel with the Church, often called the ‘New Israel’.

Speaking at Edmond near Oklahoma City on April 11, 1988, Rick Godwin, a popular Christian media speaker delivered this anti-Israel rhetoric: “They [national Israel] are not chosen, they are cursed!...Yes, and you hear Jerry Falwell and everybody else say the reason America’s great is because America’s blessed Israel. They sure have. Which Israel? ‘The’ Israel - the Church… That’s the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!”

Earl Paulk states: “… the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world... through so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, ‘If you bless national Israel, God will bless you.’ Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!” (The Handwriting is on the Wall).

Rick Godwin

Earl Paulk

Replacement Theology

Proponents of Replacement theology are willfully ignorant of the clear teaching of the NT concerning the restoration of Israel.

So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (Acts 1:6-7)

Read the full Romans 11. Here is a brief summary:

God did not reject His people and has preserved a remnant.

Rom 11:1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

Replacement Theology

Israel has not stumbled beyond recovery

Rom 11:11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.

God is able to restore Israel & we are warned not to be arrogant about our current position of favour.

Rom 11:17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches… 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again…

Israel has experienced temporary hardening, but only until the full number of Gentiles have come in (end of Church Age).

Rom 11:25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

Replacement Theology

After this (the Church Age) ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED.

Rom 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

God’s call on Israel is irrevocable.

Rom 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Replacement Theology

Tertullian wrote in ‘De Pudicitia’:

For it will be fitting for the Christian to rejoice, and not to grieve, at the restoration of Israel, if it be true, (as it is), that the whole of our hope is intimately united with the remaining expectation of Israel.


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

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