May 31, 2010

Who Enters the Millennial Kingdom?

Tony GarlandBy Dr. Tony Garland

Q. Would you help me and my wife with a question?

Who will enter the millennium? Will it only be the Tribulation Saints and those of us taken up in the Gathering of the Bride (Rapture)? Will any unsaved persons go into the millennium? Will all unsaved persons be killed when Jesus returns with His saints to set up the millennium?

One pastor told us that there will be no saints entering the Tribulation because they will all be gathered up. Likewise, he told us that no unsaved person will enter the millennium. Was he correct?

We look forward to your reply.

A. Scripture seems very clear that entry into the millennial kingdom is reserved exclusively for the saved: those who reject Jesus will be removed at the second coming of Christ when He establishes his earthly rule on the throne of David (Mat. 13:30,40-42; 22:12-13; 24:37-41; 25:41-46; Mark 8:10-12; Luke 17:26-37; Rev. 14:14-20; 19:17-21).

God’s resurrection program ensures that all the redeemed, both those still living and those who have already died prior to the Second Coming, will participate in the millennium. But there will be several different categories of believers who enter the millennium.

  1. Those who died prior to the giving of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, who never experienced Spirit baptism, and therefore were not part of the Church, the Body of Christ (John 7:38-39; 1Cor. 12:13).
  2. Those who came to faith after the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but who died before the catching away of the Church (the Rapture). These are raised and participate in the Rapture (1Th. 4:16-17).
  3. Those who come to faith after the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and remain living at the time of the Rapture (1Th. 4:16-17). These do not experience death, but are translated directly into a glorified state (1Cor. 15:52).
  4. Those who come to faith after the departure of the Church at the Rapture, but who are martyred during the Tribulation (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-17; 13:7; 20:4).
  5. Those who come to faith after the Rapture and survive the Tribulation (the “sheep” and “My brethren” of Matt. 25:31-40).
Of these different categories, only the last enter the millennium in their natural bodies. These are the "sheep" (gentile believers) and "my brethren" (Jewish believers) which Jesus mentions in Matthew 25. All the other saints participate in the Millennium after their resurrection (or translation) and glorification. Thus, the millennial kingdom begins with the following participants:
  • Jesus Christ reigning from the throne of David.
  • Glorified, perfected saints governing with Him.
  • Unglorified saints who, although experiencing a time of great blessing and long life, still produce sinful offspring and experience the curse of death (Isa. 65:18-25, compare especially Isa. 65:20 with Rev. 21:4).
At the close of the millennium, it is the unbelieving offspring of this last group who are deceived by Satan to participate in one final rebellion against the reign of Jesus from the midst of Jerusalem (Ps. 2; Rev. 20:7-9).

Related Links
The Significance of the Millennium - (Andy woods)
The Rapture Question - (Andy woods)
Two Resurrections - (Tony Garland)
Resurrections in Review - (Andy Woods)
Millennial Kingdom - (Tony Garland)