Amillennialism can be traced back to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., especially to the writings of Augustine. Through his influence “it became the dominant interpretation in medieval times,” and was also embraced by the Protestant Reformers, says Clouse (9-10). It has held its own in competition with the other views even until now. Some major modern defenders include Louis Berkhof, O.T. Allis, and William Hendrikson. See especially William Cox, Studies; and Anthony Hoekema, Bible and “Amillennialism.” Hoekema’s work is highly recommended.
The word “Amillennialism” literally means “no millennium.” This is an unfortunate title since it suggests that the proponents of this view do not believe in any kind of millennium. This certainly is not the case. Amillennialists believe there is a millennium as taught in Revelation 20:1-6; but unlike the other views, they do not believe that it entails any kind of physical, earthly rule or paradise. In this view, kingdom prophecies are seen as being fulfilled on a spiritual level in terms of spiritual realities. A typical version is as follows:
The amillennial view begins with the unique idea that Jesus established his kingdom when he came the first time. At that point he established his lordship through his death, resurrection, and ascension; and inaugurated his church on the Day of Pentecost. Since then Jesus has been reigning from heaven as Lord over the hearts of his people. Thus the kingdom exists on earth in and through the church, which is the new Israel. This kingdom is spiritual in nature, not earthly or political; and it does not involve a universal material paradise.
The millennium thus is equivalent to the church age, at least up until near its end. All the conditions described in Revelation 20:1-6 began to exist when Jesus came the first time, when the church began. Satan was defeated and bound as the result of Jesus’ redeeming work. The “first resurrection” has likewise been taking place since the Day of Pentecost, though Amillennialists disagree as to what this means. These conditions will prevail for the “thousand years,” a number that is not literal but is symbolic for a long period of time.
For Amillennialists the actual end time is quite uncomplicated. At the end of the church age or millennial kingdom, Satan will be loosed and will launch a concentrated spiritual (not military) attack upon the church (not Israel). This will be Armageddon and “God and Magog” combined; and it will be worldwide, rather than focused on a single geographical area. In the midst of this battle, the second coming itself occurs. Christ returns visibly to the earth, destroys the church’s enemies, raises all the dead in a single resurrection, raises all the dead in a single resurrection, changes all the living, takes them all away to a single judgment day, and then inaugurates the eternal states.