The Theological Context of Premillennialism -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:600 (Oct 1993)
Article: The Theological Context of Premillennialism
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Theological Context of Premillennialism

John F. Walvoord

[This article, written by the eighth editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, was published in July 1951, John F. Walvoord was the second president of Dallas Theological Seminary and was editor of Bibliotheca Sacra from 1952 through 1985. This article is reproduced here without editing except for adding bibliographical information to the footnote entries.]

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...

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