[Check out my brand-new book, System of the Beast. It reveals the real agenda behind the coronavirus pandemic and how it is being used to institute Satan’s final plan of global governance.]
In previous articles, I have discussed certain expectations that the Bible describes as accompanying the end of our age. I have written about the identity of the “beasts” of Revelation 13, and how we might understand the “mark of the Beast.” I also described Paul’s discussion in 2 Thessalonians 2, concerning both the Lie and the “strong delusion” that will precede Christ’s return. I divulged the nature of the apostate church and identified some of its key figures and characteristics. Further, I covered a variety of important beliefs in the article “End Time Essentials.”
As important as it is to grasp the key biblical teachings about the last days, it may be equally critical to understand the false beliefs that are commonly associated with them. In this two-part series, I want to describe five views that, despite being widely taught and accepted, simply cannot be derived from Scripture. If that is indeed the case, then these beliefs have no place in the life of a genuine believer.
Here in part one, I am going to cover the following topics:
- The view that Christians will be taken away in a secret, pre-Tribulation “Rapture”
- The belief in a literal, 1,000-year “Millennial Reign”
In addition to these, I am going to throw one more in as sort of a bonus. Though the “bonus” belief is far less consequential than the other two, it is still worth exploring.
Let’s take these in turn, starting with the so-called “Rapture.”
Though I spoke extensively about this matter in another article, I will highlight several important things. The first is that the word “rapture” is never mentioned in the Bible. This, however, does not mean that we can immediately dismiss its existence. Plenty of words are not specifically used in the Bible that nevertheless speak spiritual truths. Among these are words like Trinity, Eucharist, and even Easter (except, oddly, in the KJV!). The Trinity is synonymous in thought with “Godhead,” just as the Eucharist and Easter are synonymous with the Lord’s Supper and Resurrection Day, respectively.
The problem with the Rapture is not its name, but in how it is taught. Chiefly, the problem lay in the teaching that believers will someday be taken away to live in heaven, and that this will take place prior to the great “Tribulation” (the time of suffering and chaos at the end of the world). The belief is that these “raptured” believers will then return again with Christ some period of years later (3-1/2 or 7 years, typically), after the Tribulation period has been raging.
This entire notion is primarily derived from 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Following his description of how Jesus will return from heaven, Paul says this: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (my emphasis).
The word translated as “caught up” is a form of the Greek harpazō, and this is the term that would later be translated into Latin as rapturo. As you might have imagined, from rapturo came the English term “rapture.”
This generally describes how the term came to be, and it most essentially means to “catch,” “steal,” or “carry off.” However, the form of harpazō used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 literally reads, “we will be carried off.” Specifically, Paul intended it to mean that believers—at the Second Coming, or the Parousia—would be lifted into the sky to meet the King of kings as he once again enters our world.
In fact, this meeting will serve as something of a welcome home party. The term Paul used in 4:17 for “to meet” is apantēsin. It is used only three times in the NT, and each time it refers to meeting someone and then returning with them. Again, the purpose was to return with them. This is like going out to meet a newly arrived official so you can travel back together. Believers will be what Ben Witherington III calls “the royal entourage,” or the divine escort party.
If we are properly understanding the context and the language Paul used, it becomes clear that this passage has nothing whatsoever to do with being swept away from the earth to live in heaven. Rather, it is about welcoming the One from heaven back to earth. In fact, the grand goal of the Christian faith and the climax of human history is about God making a new heaven and earth (2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:1).
Being zapped away to heaven—either at death or at Jesus’ coming—is not part of the plan, and the Bible is emphatic about this.
[In order to avoid redundancy, I provide more proof for this in the second false belief (below)]
While 1 Thessalonians 4:17 has clearly been key in propagating this false teaching, a contributing factor is Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:40-41. There, he discusses the events surrounding the end and uses examples from everyday life to make his point:
- “Two men will be in a field; one will be taken and the other left.”
- “Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”
To some, this suggests that people are taken away to heaven before the Tribulation while the rest of the world is left to endure it. Here again, this is a flawed interpretation. In this text, Jesus is referring to both the unexpected nature of his return and the speed with which these events will occur. His return—and the subsequent separation of the righteous and the wicked—will come as a surprise to many and will occur and in a flash. We know this because Jesus’ basis for comparison was the Great Flood:
“ . . . they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
In an instant, one person is taken and the other is left. Just as Noah and his family were lifted off the earth—later returning to a “new earth,” of sorts—so shall believers be caught up to meet the Lord at his return and then return to a new earth.
As Jesus explained through his Flood analogy and Paul clearly states in 1 Thessalonians 5:4, this day should not take believers by surprise but will certainly do so for nonbelievers.
Like the events described within 1 Thessalonians 4:17, those in Matthew 24:40-41 have nothing to do with the righteous being expedited off to heaven before the time of Tribulation. That will already have occurred; as Jesus said, “the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved” (Mt. 24:13), and “if those days had not been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (24:22).
Elsewhere, Jesus further clarifies exactly what will be occurring when he comes back. In the parables of the Sheep and the Goats and the Wheat and the Tares, he explained that the righteous and the wicked are separated at his return, when the Judgment is at hand.
This means that Jesus is not coming to snatch believers away only to return again (some years later) to judge the world. There is one return, and it marks the very end of our age. At that time, the living and the dead are judged, the forces of evil are destroyed, and the new earth is forged.
There is simply the Second Coming (the “Parousia”), and there will be no need for a third or fourth.
The unfortunate truth is that many within the church have been sold a false bill of goods on all this. They have errantly been told that dying and going to heaven is the end-goal of the faith and that a butchered view of the Rapture is the endgame of our world. Escaping before the earth descends into chaos has become the focal point, even though all the saints of the past—including the apostles themselves—were not spared from suffering, persecution, and even death.
A pre-Tribulation Rapture is a belief that is propagated and embraced because it is emotionally appealing but not because the Bible supports it. When this motivation is exposed, it becomes evident that modern-day Rapture theology is nothing more than theological comfort food.
For those interested in how this false view of the Rapture came to permeate so many churches—despite being devoid of biblical evidence—see my article here.
The next false belief I will cover in part one involves what is often called the “Millennial Reign,” which is the period spoken of in Revelation 20:1-10. Specifically, I want to explain why I believe a future 1,000-year reign of Christ is both unscriptural and illogical.
In general, there are three primary views that can be held regarding how the millennium is viewed: 1) premillennialism, 2) postmillennialism, and 3) amillennialism. The premillennial view holds that Christ returns to earth prior to the millennium—“pre” meaning before—where he will gather the faithful for a literal 1,000-year period. At that time, he will proceed to rule over believers while Satan is “bound” in the Abyss and, well, something happens to the unsaved masses (discussed later).
The postmillennial view—“post” meaning after the millennium—typically holds that the thousand years is a symbolic period that marks something of a golden age of Christianity. Whether it is viewed to begin with the resurrection of Jesus or at another point later on, the world gradually improves as time unfolds and the gospel is preached. In this sense, Christ ultimately returns to a world that has gradually become heaven on earth.
Not only is this view rather unpopular, but it’s counter to all the biblical descriptions that the state of the world actually worsens prior to Christ’s return (Mt. 24, Eph. 5:16). Further, Hebrews 2:8 states that “at present we do not see all things subject to him (Christ).” It’s also clearly not how our present world is operating, as we don’t observe things getting better and better. Far from it.
For these reasons, I will not discuss more about the postmillennial view. I believe it to be the most unlikely of the major views, and probably by a landslide.
I will discuss the amillennial view more at the end, but it suggests that the millennium is also a symbolic period. However, amillennialists hold that the world declines prior to Christ’s return and that the millennial reign began with his resurrection and ascension.
This is a general explanation of the three, and there are various points of divergence within them. For example, there are premillennialists who don’t believe in a literal thousand-year reign, even though most tend to. There is grey area, to be sure. In fact, this issue has been debated since the early days of church history among thinkers like Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Papias, and others. For more on this point, I refer you to Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s video here.
Of the three, it is the premillennial view—just like the “pre-Trib” Rapture view—that has arguably become the most prominent among mainline Protestants (and a fair number of Catholics). As stated at the beginning of this section, this is the view I am specifically targeting here.
If this is such a debatable matter, how can I view premillennialism and its future 1,000-year reign of Christ to be false? The reason is simple: if you interpret Revelation 20 in this way, then the text will be at odds with everything else in Scripture.
If we were to set Revelation 20 on the shelf for a moment—not dismissing it, but merely pausing our evaluation of it—then I would suggest that one could not find virtually any evidence for the premillennial view elsewhere in the Bible.
Jesus and the apostles were rather clear about what will occur at the end of our age: Jesus will return, the living and the dead will be judged, the powers of evil will be thrown into Gehenna (hell), and the new heavens and new earth will be established. This is all seen as one corporate event and not as a piece-meal that Jesus puts together over the course of several return visits.
I cannot show every piece of evidence here and now, for the sake of time, but just consider these examples:
- Jesus’ parables of the Weeds and the Tares and the Sheep and the Goats explicitly state that the righteous and the wicked will be separated—in the everlasting sense—at his return.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 clearly states that the wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction—not with years of earthly tribulation—when Jesus returns. As Paul said, this will happen “on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people” (1:10a).
- Jude likewise placed these events at the return of Christ (1:14-15).
Even consider other parts of Revelation itself. In 22:12, Jesus said this: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves.” This strongly suggests just what the passages above do: that the Judgment and separation of the righteous and the wicked occur at Jesus’ arrival, and not over the course of several visits.
All these examples reveal that there cannot be multiple returns and a series of judgments. Jesus returns just once; ONCE! As the Nicene Creed states: “He (Jesus) will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” Those who constructed our great creeds picked up what the biblical authors were laying down; there is one return and one Judgment.
With this said, the key question is this: should we evaluate Revelation 20 in light of the entire canon of Scripture, or should we evaluate all of Scripture in light of Revelation 20?
The answer should be obvious. One of the few incontrovertible rules of biblical interpretation and hermeneutics is that we cannot take a verse or passage in isolation but must view it alongside the rest of the biblical teachings. We cannot “cherry-pick,” so to speak. As I try to point out as often as possible, so much disagreement—and even heresy—could be avoided if we all dedicated ourselves to this principle.
Allowing one particular interpretation of Revelation’s “thousand years” to determine our entire eschatological perspective—usurping all other texts in the process—is a complete abuse of Scripture and any sincere attempt at interpreting it. Sadly, I feel this is exactly what many have done. A literal 1,000-year reign, which begins at the Second Coming, just doesn’t mesh with anything else in the Bible. In fact, it turns most of what Jesus and the apostles said on its head.
More than that, there are also serious logical problems to contend with in the premillennial view. To me, the most glaring issue is that there is no way to make sense of what occurs during that time. For the saved, the explanation boils down to something like this: “They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6b). In the existential words of Porky Pig, “that’s all folks.” Absolutely nothing else is known.
However, the issue of what happens to the unsaved during the thousand years is far more perplexing.
Satan is supposedly bound in the Abyss—that is, the infinite and unfathomable depths—and believers are reigning with Jesus, but what is everyone else doing? What of the aforementioned “unsaved masses,” which will unfortunately exist at the end? Are they going to work, raising kids, grocery shopping, hosting or attending parties, and posting videos on TikTok? If so, being unsaved doesn’t seem to be all that bad. Were they left out of the Kingdom, just to continue living in a world much like the one that has always existed?
Or, are they living (and dying) as hell breaks loose for 1,000 years? If so, what is the purpose of that? How are people continuing to populate the earth for the duration of the millennium, when the world would supposedly be in unparalleled turmoil? Why are those children being born destined for damnation, when those living before that time were not?
And there’s more . . .
If Satan is not out deceiving the nations (20:3), then would the nations be living righteously? If so, why are they not saved and living with Christ? If they are still corrupt, then what is the purpose of binding Satan, and what does that say about his role in our world? In my way of thinking, he wouldn’t seem to have any real influence at all.
Are people able to come to faith during that time? If so, why not allow the world to go on as it was before the thousand-year reign began? Why not continue to allow the “weeds and the wheat to grow together”? If people can indeed be saved, then what was the point of the Second Coming? Clearly, it wouldn’t represent some type of “cutoff” for salvation.
The questions are seemingly endless. “Illogical” is far too tame of a word, in this case.
When you get into the details of a literal millennial reign that commences upon Christ’s return, none of it makes sense. This may be why so few premillennialists offer any type of thorough explanation of what occurs during the thousand years or why it exists. Not only is there virtually no biblical information to go on, but there seems to be endless logical problems to contend with.
As for me, I fall closer to the amillennial view. Despite it being poorly named—as the term literally means “no millennium”—this view is the only one that aligns with the rest of Scripture. It affirms that the thousand years is a symbolic period, and that it occurs prior to Christ’s return rather than after. On this view, the thousand years—which is simply code for “an extended era of time”—began when Christ conquered sin and death through the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
In this event, Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross destroyed the damning power of sin (for those who follow him), thus also hampering—or “binding”—Satan’s power. After being raised from the dead and ascending into heaven, Jesus has since reigned over the church from the heavenly throne (Heb. 8:1; 9:11, 24). In other words, the church age had begun and the power of the Spirit—working in God’s people—functioned as a restraint on Satan and the forces of evil; Satan was “bound to the abyss” for a time (20:3).
To be clear, this simply restrained Satan’s power but did not eliminate it. As Elliot’s Commentary accurately describes (20:7): “The binding of Satan implied restraint put upon his power and freedom of action; the loosing means the removing of these restraints.”
Satan remained the “god of this world” and continued to have a very real (and often devastating) effect on the earth. This means that, had Jesus not conquered sin and death and then sent the Spirit into the world, things would have been much worse.
In my estimation, we are now seeing what “much worse” looks like, and this fits the view. Toward the end of the “Millennial Reign,” Satan is released from his prison to deceive the nations and unite corrupt humanity against God.
Friends, I believe this is exactly what we have seen over the last several years.
- Satanism is running rampant and in broad daylight.
- Both the great Lie and the Delusion Paul spoke about in 2 Thessalonians 2 is upon us.
- The apostate church has clearly emerged, and in a hundred different ways.
- Perhaps most importantly, the System of the Beast is taking shape before our very eyes.
Yes, it seems to me that Satan has been released from the Abyss.
If this view of the millennium sounds farfetched, consider just one more thing: there are other parts of Scripture that describe a “thousand” somethings in a symbolic way. Psalms 50:10 says “the cattle on a thousand hills” belong to God. 91:7 says “A thousand may fall at your side,” referring to the protection God provides the righteous. 90:4 says “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” More familiar to most readers is 2 Peter 3:8’s allusion to the previous verse, which reads almost verbatim.
Along the same lines, Joshua 23:10 seems to use this number as a reference to a mass number of men: “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” This is similarly seen in 1 Samuel 18:13, 2 Chronicles 1:6, and is especially obvious in Job 9:3 and 33:23.
Clearly, there is a sufficient precedent to interpret Revelation 20’s “thousand years” as a symbolic period. Given the choice between a view that contradicts most other parts of Scripture (premillennialism) and a view that fits rather naturally with it (amillennialism), the decision should be easy.
Revelation 20’s “Millennial Reign” is best understood as a symbolic period that began with Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension and ends when Satan is unleashed from the Abyss.
As I described, I fear that the latter has recently happened.
As previously mentioned, the final false teaching is not as pervasive or damaging as the previous ones but is certainly worth addressing. Unlike the Rapture, this matter precedes the return of Christ and will signal that it is near.
Scripture reveals plainly that, in the end times, a magnificently devious figure will appear to deceive the world and persecute believers. It calls him the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” the “little horn,” and even describes him simply as the “mouth” of the Beast from the Sea (Rev. 13:5). While the Bible does not call him the Antichrist, this has become the most popular term associated with him (and that’s OK, I think). We know that he will be the opponent of God and His people, and will be controlled by Satan (2 The. 2:9). Further, John revealed that the “spirit of antichrist” was already in the world in the first century and that many lesser antichrists existed (and still do).
The major flaw I see with how many understand this figure concerns how he will be perceived. Put succinctly, it is often taught that the Antichrist will be a wildly popular and much adored figure. As the well-known pastor, Skip Heitzig—of Calvary Church (NM)—told his large congregation, the Antichrist will be the “most interesting man in the world.” This, of course, was a play on the Dos Equis commercials that were popular several years back. Skip even had a cardboard cutout of the man from the commercials, which he referenced throughout the sermon.
Heitzig is far from alone in this belief about the Antichrist. The prolific Christian author, John Phillips, made these comments about this evil figure:
“The Antichrist will be an attractive and charismatic figure, a genius, a demon-controlled, devil-taught charmer of men. He will have answers to the horrendous problems of mankind. He will be all things to all men: a political statesman, a social lion, a financial wizard, an intellectual giant, a religious deceiver, a masterful orator, a gifted organizer.”
Certainly, some of this will necessarily be true of such a figure. But I wonder: can all these descriptions really be gleaned from the Bible? Will he be attractive, a “charmer of men,” a “social lion,” and so forth? Such statements lend themselves to the view that the Antichrist will be adored by the world.
Unfortunately, no verse or passage of Scripture tells us that the Antichrist will be adored by most people, much less by all people. In the instances where he is discussed, we can only glean the following things:
- He speaks blasphemous words against God (Dan. 7:8, Rev. 13:5)
- He is a political ruler who persecutes God’s people (Dan. 7:25, Rev. 13:5)
- He is controlled by Satan (2 The. 2:9)
- He will view himself as a divine being of sorts, attempting to usurp Christ’s Lordship (Dan. 7:25, 2 The. 2:4)
- He will be destroyed by Christ at his return (2 The. 2:8, Dan. 7:11, Rev. 20:10)
There is nothing to suggest he will be remarkably good looking, charming, an unparalleled problem-solver, or anything of the sort.
Now, it is true the Revelation 13 says that many will follow (and even worship) both the dragon (Satan) and the Beast from the sea (13:4). That is, if they are not believers. However, it does not say that the world will adore (or worship) the “mouth” that comes from it. This parallel is as close as one can get to finding a biblical basis for the belief that the Antichrist will be loved by all the unsaved world, and even it doesn’t get us there.
It’s also true that a great many people will buy into the Antichrist’s schemes and deceptive appearance, just as they do now with demons like Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates (who very well might be the Antichrist). But both logic and history tell us that no person—regardless of their social, political, or religious stature—can be adored by almost the entire world. It simply doesn’t work that way, particularly in our time. Name one president that was loved by both sides of the aisle. Name a prominent figure of any type that was, for that matter.
If you think you have come up with one, research the person and you will find that public perception was/is pretty well split.
To that point, I would argue that Nero Caesar served as the initial manifestation of this figure in Revelation 13, and he most definitely was not loved by everyone in the Roman Empire. He may have been feared and forcibly revered by most, but he was certainly not loved and adored.
The world is comprised of good and evil people—the righteous and the wicked—and the two groups always see the world and its “great figures” differently. No person can, in principle, be celebrated by all or even by most. After all, the world’s most powerful and influential figure (Jesus) is easily its most polarizing. If this is true of Christ, then it’s probably safe to say that the Antichrist will be rather polarizing, too.
Don’t forget to check out System of the Beast! I sincerely believe that it may be the most important and pressing thing I have ever worked on.
 The other two uses are in Acts 28:15 and Matthew 25:6. In both instances, people were travelling out to meet others so they could escort them back with them.