What is Millennialism, where does the term come from, and when did this theory originate? One could talk about the 3 major theories, (1) Pre‑Millennialism, (2) A‑Millennialism, and (3) Post‑Millennialism; but this has been done by many other men much more able than we are.
Therefore, we will attempt to help you understand that the Pre‑Millennialism theory is really a "Jewish Millennialism." Most Christians believe the theory is Christian in origin; and they will cite Revelations 20:1‑7 and say it is talking about the "millennium" but some say the theory predates the Christian era.
Looking at the Jewish Encyclopedia it has the following to say about the millennial theory. It states that the Millennium (or Chilliasm) is actually older than the Christian church itself In other words, it isn't a Christian idea after all. The reign of peace, lasting a thousand years, which will precede the last and final judgment and the future life, is a concept which has achieved a special importance in the Christian church, where it has been termed Chillaiasm, designating the domination of Jesus with the glorified and risen saints, will rule for a thousand years. Chilliasm, or the idea of the thousand years is, nevertheless, older than the Christian church. For the belief of a thousand years, at the end of time, as a preliminary to the resurrection of the dead, was held in Phariseeism. This concept is expressed in Jewish literature in the Book of Enoch and etc.
Some of the early church fathers had some strong things to say about the Millennium. Gregory (335 or 336‑395 A.D.), the Bishop of Nyssa, asked, "Do we promise the gluttony of the Millennium? Do we declare that the Jewish animal‑sacrifices shall be restored? Do we lower men's hopes again to the Jerusalem below, imagining its rebuilding with stones of a more brilliant material? What charge like these can be brought against us?" (The Nicene and Post‑Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 5, p. 544)
Again, in his commentary on Isaiah 60:1, Jerome (492 A.D.) spoke negatively about, "these half‑Jews who look for a Jerusalem of gold and precious stones from heaven, and a future kingdom of a thousand years, in which all nations shall serve Israel."
Pastor John L. Bray, in his booklet entitled. "The Millennium," summarized the history of this doctrine on page 57:
"In the last part of the 2nd century, and in the third century, those who believed in an earthly Millennium were known as 'chiliasts.' They believed and taught a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ at Jerusalem following His second coming.
"Some people in the 3rd and 4th centuries actually rejected the book of Revelation because of this theory the chiliasts had given to Revelation 20.
"By the end of the fourth century, Millennialism lost out. Then A‑Millennialism became dominant under the influence of St. Augustine. The Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. condemned belief in Millennialism as a superstition, and the doctrine of the Millennium was officially discarded by the church. Except for scattered fragments, we do not hear much more about it until the sixteenth century, when futurism was revived by Francisco Ribera, a (Jewish) Jesuit priest (1537‑1591 A.D.), and the Italian cardinal Roberto Belarmino (1542‑1621 A.D.).
"Emmanuel Lacunza, (a Jewish Spanish Basque 1731‑1801 A.D.) also a Jesuit priest, built on to the other Jesuits' teachings, adding new ideas of his own in his book, 'The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty' published first in 1812 (after Lacunza's death) in Spanish and then translated into English by Rev. Edward Irving and published in London in 1827. This book also had the first hint of a two‑stage second coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time of an intervening period of judgments, with 45 days between the Rapture and the descent of Christ to the earth for the judgements on the earth to take place." (The Millennium, John L. Bray, p. 57)
This is Margaret Macdonald's handwritten account of her 1830 Pre‑Trib revelation, as included in Robert Norton's "Memoirs of James & George Macdonald, of Port‑Glasgow" (1840), pp. 171‑176. The Italicized portions represent her account as it appears in shorter form in Norton's "The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church" (1861), pp. 15‑18.
This was the so‑called vision, or dream that the Rev. Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren, and Cyrus I. Scofield with his bible was used to forward the false Rapture Theory which has taken such a hold in Christendom today. There were others such as Emmanuel Lacunza who also brought forward the Rapture Theory. But it was this vision or dream, and Irving which really set the thing in motion.
"It was first the awful state of the land that was pressed upon me. (At the end of this first sentence Norton adds a footnote which is explained at the bottom of p. 171: 'I think I ought not to omit stating that in the course of the memorable evening of which the above paper is a very incomplete outline, one individual was expressly mentioned by name as the future desolator of this land, who at the time (nine years ago) was not at all pre‑eminent as the leader of infidelity, but who has since so notoriously and awfully become so ‑ Mr. Owen.'
"The Owen referred to was Robert Owen (1771‑1858), described by Fredrich Engels in his 'Socialism: Utopian and Scientific,' (1880) as one of the leading socialists of the early nineteenth century. A lengthy article on the editorial page of the January 10, 1973, Kansas City Star entitled 'Tracing the History of Communes' says Owen established a number of communities that were Communistic in nature.
"He set up communes in Ireland and Britain; his best‑known commune, however, was his American community at New Harmony, Indiana. Margaret, on the same evening she had her pre‑trib revelation, mentioned Owen as the future desolator, or Antichrist). I saw the blindness and infatuation of the people to very great. I felt the cry of Liberty just to be the hiss of the serpent, to drown them in perdition. It was just 'no God.' I repeated the words, Now there is distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear ‑ now look out for the sign of the Son of man.
"Here I was made to stop and cry out, O it is not known what the sign of the Son of man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is. I felt this need to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father's glory.
"I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but 'tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people. Many passages were revealed, in a light in which I had not before seen them. I repeated, 'Now is the kingdom of Heaven like unto ten virgins, who went forth to meet the Bridegroom, five wise and five foolish; they that were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them; but they that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.' 'But be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.'
"This was the oil the wise virgins took in their vessels ‑ this is the light to be kept burning ‑ the light of God ‑ that we may discern that which cometh not with observation to the natural eye. Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. 'Tis Christ in us that will lift us up, he is the light, 'tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit when he saw a throne set in Heaven. But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known.
"I repeated frequently, but the spiritual temple must and shall be reared, and the fullness of Christ be poured into his body, and then shall we be caught up to meet him. Oh none will be counted worthy of this calling but his body, which is the church, and which must be a candlestick all of gold. I often said, Oh glorious inbreaking of God which is now about to burst on this earth; Oh the glorious temple which is now about to be reared, the bride adorned for her husband; and Oh what a holy, holy bride she must be, to be prepared for such a glorious bridegroom.
"I said, Now shall the people of God have to do with realities ‑ now shall the glorious mystery of God in our nature be known ‑ now shall it be known what it is for man to be glorified. I felt that the revelation of Jesus Christ had yet to be opened up ‑ it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God ‑ I saw that there was a glorious breaking in of God to be. I felt as Elijah, surrounded with chariots of fire. I saw as it were, the spiritual temple reared, and the Head Stone brought forth with shoutings of grace, unto it. It was a glorious light above the brightness of the sun, that shone round about me.
"I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing ‑ so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall.
"Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it were possible the very elect will be deceived. This is the fiery trial which is to try us. It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul shall be shaken to the very center. The enemy will try to shake in every thing we have believed ‑ but the trial of real faith will be found to honor and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand.
"The stony‑ground hearers will be made manifest ‑ the love of many will wax cold. I frequently said that night, and often since, now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive ‑ for it is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness he will work ‑ he will have a counterpart for every part of God's truth, and an imitation for every work of the Spirit. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God ‑ and just in proportion as the Spirit of God works, so will he ‑ when our Lord anoints men with power, so will he.
"This is particularly the nature of the trial, through which those are to pass who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There will be outward trial too, but 'tis principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will just increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit ‑ have the light of God in you, that you may detect Satan ‑ be full of eyes within ‑ be clay in the hands of the potter ‑ submit to be filled, filled with God.
"This will build the temple. It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. This will fit us to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. I saw it to be the will of God that all should be filled. But what hindered the real life of God from being received by his people, was their turning from Jesus, who is the way to the Father. They were not entering in by the door. For he is faithful who hath said, by me if any man enter in he shall find pasture. They were passing the cross, through which every drop of the Spirit of God flows to us. All power that comes not through the blood of Christ is not of God.
"When I say, they are looking from the cross, I feel that there is much in it ‑ they turn from the blood of the Lamb, by which we overcome, and in which our robes are washed and made white. There are low views of God's holiness, and a ceasing to condemn sin in the flesh, and a looking from him who humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation. Oh! it is needed, much needed at present, a leading back to the cross. I saw that night, and often since, that there will be an outpouring of the Spirit on the body, such as has not been, a baptism of fire, that all the dross may be put away.
"Oh there must and will be such an indwelling of the living God as has not been ‑ the servants of God sealed in their foreheads ‑ great conformity to Jesus ‑ his holy holy image seen in his people ‑ just the bride made comely, by his comeliness put upon her. This is what we are at present made to pray much for, that speedily we may all be made ready to meet our Lord in the air ‑ and it will be. Jesus wants his bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus."
Charles Hodge, D.D. discusses this Jewish doctrine:
"It [pre‑millennialism] is a JEWISH DOCTRINE. The principles adopted by its advocates in the interpretation of prophecy, are the same as those adopted by the Jews at the time of Christ; and they have led substantially to the same conclusions. The Jews expected that when the Messiah came He would establish a glorious earthly kingdom at Jerusalem; that those who had died in the faith should be raised from the dead to share in the blessings of the Messiah's reign; that all nations and peoples on the face of the whole earth should be subject to them (Here one can clearly see the interjection of both truth and false doctrine, which the way with all Jewish false doctrines. A small portion of truth mixed with much falsehood, which causes many to believe in the false preaching. Thus changing Christ's teachings into falsehoods); and that any nation that did not save them should be destroyed. All the riches and honors of the world were to be at their disposal. The event disappointed these expectations; and the principles of prophetic interpretation on which those expectations were founded were proved to be incorrect." (Charles Hodge, D.D., Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 862)
William E. Cox stated:
"The phenomenon of the wide influence of (The Jewish) Scofield is heightened when one discovers that his teachings were taken almost in toto from John Nelson Darby. Darby was the outstanding leader among the Plymouth Brethren about 1830, and his 'rediscovered truths' differed radically from the cardinal teachings of historic Christianity as held by the church fathers and Reformers." (William E. Cox, An Examination of Dispensationalism, p. 56, 1963. In a discussion on Scofield and his book)
What were these "rediscovered truths" that Darby was popularizing?
"Mr. John Darby...developed the concept of Dispensationalist Pre‑millennialism. This theory promotes the idea that the Jewish people must return to their homeland before the second advent of Christ can occur. Darby then married the dispensationalist theory with the singular antichrist and rapture theories by stating that there would be the judging of all nations as well as the Jews during a great and terrible tribulation for three and one‑half years. During this time, according to him, there would be 144,000 Jews who would be converted to Christianity and then, after the tribulation, those Christians who were 'raptured' before the tribulation took place would return to earth and then Jesus and the 144,000 Jews would rule all the nations for the millennium." (Pastor Earl Jones, The Christian Crusade for Truth Newsletter, March‑April, 1989, p. 6)
Scofield's reference Bible has been credited for popularizing this Jewish concept into Christian Doctrine. Nord Davis states:
"You will learn how he defrauded his mother‑in‑law out of her life savings. How he was convicted of forgery and, in another case, was sent off to prison...he openly carried on with other women, abandoned his wife and family, and never sent them a dime of support.
"When his wife finally divorced him, he married the woman with whom he was living. All the time he was writing the now infamous notes to the Scofield reference Bible. As a 'Christian' he was a disgrace. As a man he lacked ordinary chivalry of a gentleman. He called himself 'Dr.' yet he never went to any college which could convey that degree. His life as a minister makes the recent escapades of some modern ministers pales into insignificance.
"His financial support for the reference Bible came from Zionist and conspiratorial groups out of Boston Massachusetts. Chiefly known as the Secret Six..." (Nord Davis, Cyrus I. Scofield: The Pope of Prophecy Perversion)
For a more detailed study on C.I. Scofield we recommend the book, "The Incredible Scofield and His Book," by Joseph M. Canfield. So what did Scofield teach in his reference notes? Quoting from page 1227, note 6:
"Upon His return, the King will restore the Davidic monarchy in His own person, regather dispersed Israel, establish His power over all the earth, and reign one thousand years.
"The dispensation of the kingdom begins with the return of Christ to the earth, runs through the 'thousand years' of His earth‑rule, and ends when he has delivered up the kingdom to the Father...
"The gospel of the kingdom. This is the good news that God purposes to set up on the earth, in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, a kingdom, political, spiritual, Israelitish (i.e. Jewish), universal, over which God's son, David's heir, shall be king, and which shall be for one thousand years, the manifestation of the righteousness of God in human affairs...
"Two resurrections are yet future, which are inclusive of 'all that are in the graves.' These are distinguished as 'of life' and 'of judgment.' They are separated by a period of one thousand years." (Scofield Bible, pp. 1227, note 6; 1228, note 4; 1341, note 1; 1343)
All these ideas are pulled out of context from other places in Scripture and cut and pasted together into the theology called "dispensationalism" to promote a Jewish doctrine that put the reality of Christ's victory and the power of His New Covenant into the future!
The end result is an expectation for Christ to come again a second time, which would be in violation of God's Word, and would bring about His judgment, just as Moses did when he struck the rock the second time. Today this theology is popularly known as "Judeo‑Christianity" and for good reason because it is first and foremost Jewish in origin, character, and reality.
Pastor V.S. Herrell summed it up:
"To this day, the Jews continue to teach their Christ‑hatred from their Talmud, to teach their children that Jesus Christ was an impostor and not the Son of God and not the true Christ. So the Jews began to teach the doctrine that Christ was yet to come and they began to tell the Christians that when Christ was to come to set up the materialistic, futuristic, plutocratic kingdom they claimed they, the Jews, were all going to repent and because they are such special God‑chosen people, even though Christ described them as being living, breathing devils of their father the devil, they were all going to get to reign with Christ over the white goyim from Jerusalem for a full thousand years. Moreover, their Talmudic, Zionistic materialism of their real bible the Talmud, which they hold to have more authority than the Pentateuch as it is supposedly based upon the traditions of the elders which is yet another Jewish lie, and teaches the Jew that all that he can victimize and steal from the stupid goyim in this life will once again be his in the millennium when he is resurrected or reincarnated in his Jewish world order. They are also taught to never tell the stupid goyim as to what they really believe of think." (Pastor V.S. Herrel, Christian Separatist Epiphanological and Eschatological Teachings, p. 26)