Millennial Series: Part 11: The Theological Context of Premillennialism -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:431 (Jul 1951)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 11: The Theological Context of Premillennialism
Author: John F. Walvoord


Millennial Series:
Part 11: The Theological Context of Premillennialism

John F. Walvoord

The oft-repeated charge that premillennialism is only a dispute over the interpretation of Revelation 20 is both understatement and a serious misrepresentation of the facts. Opponents of premillennialism delight to point out that the reference to the thousand years is found only in Revelation 20. Warfield observes in a footnote, “‘Once, and only once,’ says the ‘Ency. Bibl.,’ 3095, ‘in the New Testament we hear of a millennium.’“1 The issues of premillennialism cannot be so simplified. The issues are neither trivial nor simple. Premillennialism is rather a system of theology based on many Scriptures and with a distinctive theological context. The reckless charge of Landis that European premillennialism is based only on Ezekiel 40–48 and that American premillennialism is based only on Revelation 20:1–7 is as unfair as his more serious charge that “actually their bases are both contra-Biblical,” and that premillennialism “is a fungus growth of first-century Pharisaic rabbinism.”2 Most opponents of premillennialism have enough perspective to see that premillennialism has its own Biblical and theological context and that its origin in the early church as well as its restoration in modern times is based on Biblical and theological studies. It is the purpose of this phase of the study of premillennialism to examine the general features of premillennial theology in contrast to opposing views. Premillennialism involves a distinctive principle of interpretation of Scripture, a different concept of the present age, a distinct doctrine of Israel, and its own teaching concerning the second advent and millennial kingdom.

Principles of Premillennial Interpretation

The literal, grammatical-historical method applied to eschatology. The debate between premillenarians and other millenarians hangs to a large extent upon the principles of interpretation of Scripture which each group employs. This is commonly recognized by all parties. The amillenarian Albertus Pieters states, “The question whether the Old Testament prophecies concerning the people of God must be interpreted in their ordinary sense, as other Scriptures are interpreted, or can properly be applied to the Christian Church, is called the question of spiritualization of prophecy. This is one of the major problems in biblical interpretation, and confronts everyone who ...

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