This is a brief comparison and overview of the pre-millennial, amillennial, and post-millennial views. I will not argue for or against any view, nor go into depth with their beliefs, but simply give a brief summary of each, along with a few of their differences.
The millennium is the thousand year (whether literal or figurative) reign of Christ. The word “millennium” is not in the Bible, but is formed from two Latin words meaning “thousand” and “year”, which come from Revelation 20:1-6 “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
PRE-MILLENNIALISM- The term premillennialism literally means that Christ will return before the millennium. There are two versions of premillennialism- “dispensational premillennialism” and “historic premillennialism”. Both views generally teach that the millennium is a literal period of time for a literal reign of Jesus. Both teach that the millennium will be preceded by a time of great tribulation under the Antichrist and his beast-kingdom, and then the binding of Satan. Both teach that the millennium will be followed by the “new heavens and new earth” (Revelation 21:1).
The two views differ in that dispensationalists believes that there are two different plans for Christians and Jews, and that Christians will be taken through a rapture of the church, but historic premillennialism holds that the two groups adhere to the same plan. Dispensational premillennialism holds there will be a silent rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) before the Great Tribulation, but historic premillennialism teaches that the rapture will occur at the second coming of Jesus.
Both versions of premillennialism teach that the millennium is a literal future event, but postmillennialism and amillennialism teach that we are now in the figurative millennial period. Both versions of premillennialism teach that Israel will be evangelized to accept Christ, but postmillennialism and amillennialism generally say that Israel has been rejected by God, and no longer has any spiritual significance.
POST-MILLENNIALISM- The term postmillennialism literally means that Christ will return after the millennium. The millennium is believed to be figurative or metaphorical of a long period of time, or an era, preceding the second advent. Some do view it as a literal thousand years, but believe it emerges slowly, with no clear beginning. Postmillennialism says Satan was bound at the cross, and that the millennium begins when most of the world is Christianized. We are now, therefore, probably in the millennial era. This view does not believe in a rapture. During this millennial period, the gospel will increasingly prevail over the nations, and will establish a reign of peace, which will endure until Christ returns for the final judgment. Through the preaching of this gospel, Christianity expands throughout the earth, and the kingdom of Christ steadily grows until Christians and Jews are possessed of its blessings. Evil will be restrained throughout the thousand years. At the end of the millennium, but before Christ returns, evil will again be released upon the world.
AMILLENNIALISM- The term amillennium literally means “no millennium”. This view believes that the thousand years is symbolic, rather than literal. It says that Satan was bound (Revelation 20:1-3) at the cross of Christ, and the entire Christian era, between the two advents, is the millennium. Therefore, we are now in the figurative millennial era. This view believes that Christ could return at any time, but only after a short and terrible period of tribulation. This view does not believe in a rapture. After Christ returns, the resurrection and judgment will immediately occur, the earth will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10), and then the eternal “new heavens and the new earth” will be created.
Both amillennialism and postmillennialism tend to overlap in certain areas. Both believe that Christ is now reigning from heaven, and will return after the millennial period. The two views differ in that postmillennialism believes the world is getting better, as the nations are led to Christ. But, amillennialism believes Christians are now reigning with Christ, regardless of how bad the world is.