Saturday, April 30, 2022

Genesis 1 and the Roots of Premillennialism

 

The case for Premillennialism does not begin in Revelation 20—it starts in Genesis 1. How so? Remember that Premillennialism consists of four elements: (1) a future kingdom; (2) an earthly kingdom; (3) a kingdom of the Messiah who represents man; and (4) a kingdom that is 1000 years in duration.

To see how Premillennialism relates to Genesis 1 we need to look at Genesis 1:26–28:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

What is described in this passage relates to points 1, 2, and 3 above—a future kingdom, an earthly kingdom, and a kingdom of man who rules as God’s mediator. In short, Genesis 1:26-28 teaches that man, as represented by Adam, is to “fill,” “rule,” and “subdue” the earth. The concepts of “rule” (radah) and “subdue” [kabash] have strong king and kingdom implications. These are forceful terms used of kings in the Old Testament. Man is tasked to by God to forcefully rule the earth. The command for Adam and Eve to “fill the earth” means that the commands to rule and subdue will also apply to the descendants of the first couple.

So what does this mean and how does it relate to Premillennialism? God created man in His image to rule and subdue the earth as God’s mediator. To be more specific, man was created to rule from and over the earth. Man was not created to reign from heaven over heaven or from heaven over a spiritual realm. Nor was man tasked to reign over the earth from heaven. No, man was created to rule from the earth and over the earth. We could call this a “boots-on-the-ground kingdom.” Psalm 115:16 states, “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.”

Adam, as representative of mankind, sinned and failed the kingdom mandate (see Gen. 3). Man can only rule successfully for God’s glory while being in a right relationship with God. But that was ruined with the Fall. Man’s destiny to rule the earth was not removed, but he cannot do it successfully while alienated from God. Man cannot succeed with sin and the curse present.

Mankind ever since, including the theocracy of Israel, failed to rule and subdue the earth successfully. But God never abandoned His plan for man to rule the earth rightly. A successful mediatorial kingdom reign of man as God’s mediator over the earth must happen! Psalm 8:4-8 reaffirms that even in a fallen world man’s right to rule the earth and its creatures remains. Hebrews 2:5-8 also says man is destined to rule “the world to come” even though now we do not yet see that occurring.

So how does this kingdom mandate happen? Jesus, the Last Adam, and perfect representative of mankind, will make it happen. He is destined to successfully rule from and over the earth to fulfill the kingdom mandate. Jesus is worthy to rule the earth because He is perfect and because of His atoning death (see Rev. 5:9-10). No other person can accomplish this.

When Jesus returns He will establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:31; Acts 3:20-21; Rev. 19:15) and rule the earth. And so too will those who are united to Jesus (see Rev. 5:10; 20:4). 

In short, Jesus will succeed from and over the realm where Adam and mankind failed. This means a successful mediatorial kingdom. When this successful reign occurs Jesus will hand the kingdom over to God the Father and the Eternal State will begin (see 1 Cor. 15:24-28). Man’s task will be successfully completed and the Eternal State will commence. This is the ultimate “Mission Accomplished!” in human history.

To come back to our original assertion—Genesis 1 is connected with Premillennialism. It does not mention “1000 years” but this passage reveals that man is destined to rule from and over the earth, which is at the heart of the premillennial view. Jesus is the One who will make it happen!

The premillennial view does indeed have roots in Genesis 1!

Michael J. Vlach is a seminary professor and author. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeVlach


Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Four Elements of Premillennialism

Just a quick note on what makes Premillennialism what it is. Premillennialism asserts there will be a future, earthly kingdom of the Messiah (Jesus) for a period of 1000 years.

There are four elements associated with Premillennialism: (1) a future kingdom; (2) an earthly kingdom; (3) a kingdom of the Messiah and (4) a kingdom that lasts for 1000 years.

I believe the first three elements are discussed in Scripture even before one looks at Revelation 20 and its mention of a 1000-year reign of Jesus and the saints.

First, that the kingdom is future is taught in passages like Matthew 6:10; 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 2:26-27; 19:15, etc.

Second, that the kingdom will be an earthly kingdom is taught in passages like Psalm 2; Psalm 72; Psalm 110; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11; Zechariah 14:9; Matthew 5:5; 6:10; 19:28-30; 25:31; Rev. 5:10; 19:15, etc.

Third, that the kingdom is Messiah’s kingdom is taught in passages like Psalm 2; Psalm 110; Isaiah 9, 11; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 1:6, and many other texts, etc.

And then, fourth, Jesus’ kingdom is stated to last 1000 years before the Eternal State according to Revelation 20.

Note that the first three elements of Premillennialism mentioned above—(1) future, (2) earthly, and (3) Messiah’s kingdom—are well established in Scripture even before one looks at Revelation 20. 

What is new in Revelation 20 is the fourth element—that Messiah’s kingdom will last 1000 years before the Eternal State of Revelation 21–22 begins.

Hypothetically, if we did not have Revelation 20, we could still know that there would be a future, earthly, kingdom of the Messiah from other Scripture texts. What we would not know is how long Messiah’s kingdom would be before the Eternal State.

So Revelation 20 contributes to the Premillennial understanding but it is not everything there is to the premillennial view.


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A Brief Comment on Premillennialism

 

Yes Premillennialism believes in a literal 1000-year reign of Jesus. But the length of this period is secondary to a more foundational issue. At the heart of Premillennialism is the belief that there will be a future earthly kingdom reign of the Messiah from and over the earth in which Jesus and His saints rule the nations and transform every aspect of the world, culture, society, nature, animal kingdom, etc.

This is the fulfillment of the rule and subdue mandate of Genesis 1:26, 28 and the complete fulfillment of all the dozens of promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New covenants which include spiritual, physical, national, and international dimensions.

This is also a period in which Jesus will rule with a rod of iron in the realm of His rejection at His first coming (see Rev. 19:15). The coming millennium is the direct sustained reign of Jesus the Messiah from David's throne (Luke 1:32-33; Matt. 25:31). It involves Jerusalem, the nation Israel, and all the nations of the world. After this Jesus hands the kingdom over to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24, 28) and the eternal kingdom commences. At this time the Father and Son will be on the same throne according to Revelation 22:1, 3.

To me, Premillennialism is not some incidental doctrine. It is an important part of the Bible's storyline and a great source of hope.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Jesus Tells Us When He Will Sit on the Davidic Throne


In Luke 1:32-33, Gabriel told Mary that her son, Jesus, would sit on the throne of His father, David. This is the Davidic throne.

On two occasions Jesus explicitly linked His sitting on David’s throne with His future return and kingdom. Matthew 25:31 states:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, THEN He will sit on His glorious throne." (emphasis added)
Here, Jesus connected His sitting on His throne with the time of His coming in glory and all the angels coming with Him.
Second, in Matthew 19:28 Jesus linked His sitting on His throne with the renewal of the cosmos (“regeneration”), and the twelve apostles sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel:
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”
Put together, Jesus will sit upon the throne of David in connection with: (1) His return to earth in glory; (2) all the angels coming with Him; (3) the renewal of the earth/cosmos; (4) the twelve apostles sitting upon twelve thrones; and (5) the twelve apostles judging the restored twelve tribes of Israel.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

NEW RELEASE: THE OLD IN THE NEW BY MICHAEL J. VLACH

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament. The book is published by Kress Biblical Resources with an imprint from The Master’s Seminary. I have been working on this book since 2011. It was formed through years of teaching a Th.M. seminar at The Master’s Seminary called, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament.”

Trying to understand NT quotations of the OT is a huge topic for any one person but I have tried my best to address most NT uses of the OT in this book. This includes the “harder” cases like Matthew 2:15’s use of Hosea 11:1, and Paul’s use of “seed” in Galatians 3:16. In his endorsement of this book, Walter Kaiser states, “He [Vlach] has also taken up a wide sample of most, if not all, of the passages usually raised on this subject and has given a reasonable solution in Scripture text after Scripture text—in a succinct, but credible manner. I cannot endorse Vlach’s work too highly, for I found that he had hit the nail on the head in case after case.” 

I also address the various ways the NT authors quoted and used the OT. In addition, I also evaluate the seven different approaches to this topic. And I lay out the perspective that I think is accurate.

This topic is very complex but it is understandable. In the end I argue that the NT authors quoted and used the OT in an overwhelmingly contextual way. The quotations of the OT are consistent with the inspired authorial intents of the OT authors. To grasp this, one must know when the NT authors are quoting the OT concerning meaning, and when they are quoting the OT concerning significance or implication.

This book also takes a minority view that the NT authors were not reinterpreting, transforming, or transcending the meaning of the OT. I hold that there is great continuity (not discontinuity) between the message and storyline of the OT and that found in the NT. To understand how the NT authors quote the OT, one must also understand the concepts of (1) Messianic hope; (2) corporate representation; and (3) divinely intended correspondences.

No one person can fully master the topic of NT use of the OT before Jesus comes again, but I hope this book makes a helpful contribution. This book can be read straight through or as a reference for when one encounters a particular use of the OT in the NT.

For more information and how to purchase this book, click here

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Interview on Eschatology


Below is an interview I did on eschatology with Pastor George Lawson of Baltimore Bible Church on May 31, 2020. Topics discussed include Dispensationalism, Millennium, the Kingdom, the Rapture, and other issues. 

Click on the link below


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Monday, June 1, 2020

3 Models of Heaven in the Early Church

by Michael J. Vlach

Lately, I have been reading a book called A History of Heaven by Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang. I am fascinated with their 22-page chapter, "Irenaeus and Augustine on our Heavenly Bodies." 

The authors compare the eschatology views of Irenaeus, the early Augustine, and the later Augustine.  Irenaeus represents the early church's premillennialism. Augustine represents the later amillennial view. You can see the stark contrast between these two men. Also helpful is the distinction between earlier and later Augustine. The early Augustine held very much to a Spiritual Vision Model approach, while the later Augustine was slightly less so. I have charted out some of the differences in the perspectives. Hope you find this helpful. See below:


3 Models of Heaven in Early Church

Irenaeus
Early Augustine
Later Augustine
Main theme: Glorified Material World
Main theme: The Ascetic Promise—A Heaven for Souls
Main theme: The Ecclesiastical Promise: Physical Beauty Eternalized
Reliance on kingdom view coming from John the Apostle and Polycarp
Heavy reliance on Neoplatonism worldview
Views largely the same as the early Augustine with some modifications as mentioned below
Historical Situation: Persecution and martyrdom were main issues facing Christians of Irenaeus’s day; showed your allegiance to Christ via suffering and martyrdom
Historical Situation: Christianity is an accepted part of society; show spirituality by fleeing society and its comforts and delights
Historical Situation: Mostly same as early Augustine but Augustine became more comfortable interacting with society
Hermeneutic: Prophecies about earthly kingdom and physical blessings should be taken literally and not allegorized
Hermeneutic: a mix of literal and allegorical interpretation; don’t take Revelation literally
Hermeneutic: Mostly same as early Augustine
Heaven will be on a renewed, restored earth
Heaven has nothing to do with earth; only a spiritual realm
A renewed, restored earth will occur after Jesus’ return
Earth and material things viewed positively and will be restored in the future
Earth and material things viewed negatively and will not exist in the future heaven
Softening of dualism between physical and spiritual matters
Physical bodies viewed positively now and will exist in the future

Physical bodies viewed negatively and will not exist in the future (came close to denying bodily resurrection)
Physical bodies not viewed as negatively with later Augustine, and will exist and be beautiful in Heaven; yet must obey the will of the spirit
Food, culture, and society are often good and can be enjoyed now and in Jesus’ messianic kingdom

Food, culture, and society hinder the pursuit of God; ascetic ideal should be sought; those matters do not exist in Heaven; no social interactions
Seeing God is primary but some eating and drinking will occur, but not out of necessity; societal interactions will occur
Civilized urban life in the present can be good, is not all bad
Urban life in the present is corrupt and bad; escape it
A somewhat softening from the early Augustine; some appreciation of civilized life
Jesus’ kingdom is compensation for lost life and production in this world
Heaven is a glad escape from the present world
Mostly early Augustine
Those loyal to Jesus will regain life on earth in the future world
Those loyal to Jesus will be rewarded with a heavenly escape from the world
Mostly early Augustine
The physical body will be a major part of Jesus’ kingdom; Believers will do much with their bodies
The human body is not part of Heaven
More place for physical,  resurrected body; physical eyes will be part of seeing God
3 main eras: 1. Present era; 2. Kingdom of Messiah (millennium); 3. Kingdom of the Father (Eternal State)
2 main eras: 1. The present era is Jesus’ kingdom. 2. Then eternal state
Same as early Augustine
Not much discussion of what the Kingdom of the Father will be like after Jesus’ messianic, millennial kingdom
This is the era of Jesus’ kingdom; spiritual Heaven is the eternal state
Same as early Augustine but Augustine open to a renewed earth
Marriage, family, childbearing occur in Jesus’ kingdom (future millennium)
No marriage, family, childbearing in eternal Heaven
Same as early Augustine but some recognition of previous relationships could occur
Distinctions in genders exist in the future
No distinctions in gender
Distinctions in gender will exist in the future; gender body parts will exist, but are beautiful and lust will not occur