Three major schools exist in the field of eschatology, the study of the end times: premillenialism, amillenialism, and postmillennialism. According to Smith (2005) all of these schools have the belief that the Rapture is part of the Second Coming of Christ. They all believe that the Christian church is the “spiritual Israel” (p. 25) and that a new Heaven and a new Earth will be formed in which “God is intimately present with his people” (p. 27). Important differences exist, however, in terms of how the eschatological schools deal with the Antichrist, the Tribulation, and Armageddon.
In addition, these schools of thought differ on the Second Coming, the Resurrection, the Judgment and, of course, on how the Millennium is determined. Premilleniumism: In premillennialism, the Antichrist is an actual person who contains satanic powers. The Tribulation occurs, through which the nation of Israel will be converted. During Armageddon, the church is present; however, this period is a time of rebellion. Following Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ occurs, during which the Millennium is established. In addition, all dead believers will be resurrected at this time.
The Second Coming also begins the period during which the actions of the dead believers will be judged. This period of judgment ends following the Millennium, when all of the dead will be raised and judged. During the Millennium, Christ establishes His kingdom on Earth (Smith, 2005, pp. 25-27). Amillennialism: According to the school of amillennialism, the Antichrist is only representative of satanic powers; however, a real person may appear that contains them. The Tribulation, which is a “final outbreak of evil, occurs (Smith, 2005, p. 25). During final rebellion of Armageddon, the church is present.
Following Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ occurs, during which the new Heaven and the new Earth is established. Unlike premillennialism, only one resurrection and one judgment occurs for all of the dead at the Second Coming. In the amillennial school of thought, the current age is the Millennium, which ends at the time of the Second Coming (Smith, 2005, pp. 25-27). Postmillennialism: The school of postmillennialism believes that most of the predictors for the presence of the Antichrist, a representation of satanic power that exists during the church age.
The Tribulation is the present age, during which the occurrence of evil eventually decreases. Armageddon is not a rebellion; rather, Christ is leading the church to vanquish His enemies. As in amillennialism, the Second Coming of Christ occurs follows Armageddon, during which the new Heaven and the new Earth is established. Again, only one resurrection and one judgment occurs for all of the dead at the Second Coming, but it follows the Millennium. The Millennium is established when Christ leads the people to preach “the Good News” (Smith, 2005, pp. 25-27).