Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 2

The End Times

In my last post, we defined the term Eschatology and reviewed the Four Views of interpreting the Book of Revelation.  In this post, we will define Dispensation and Millennium.

The word dispensation became prominent in biblical studies in a recent eschatological movement which dates from 1830 in Scotland.  This movement called dispensationalism can be traced back to the visions of Margaret McDonald, a member of the Plymouth Brethren Church.  She believed that the return of Christ would be in two distinct stages.  The believer would be caught up to the Lord in the air before the days of the antichrist.  Then there would be a final revelation of Christ at the end of the age.

The Role of J.N. Darby:  This two-stage return of the Lord, unheard of before 1830, became the platform for a movement called dispensationalism.  Miss McDonald’s pastor J. N. Darby (1800-1882) picked up on her idea and began to make use of it in his sermons.  Darby was responsible for developing the two-stage coming of Christ into a fully developed eschatology or theology.  He had been an Anglican clergyman until 1827 when he left the church to join the Plymouth Brethren.

Darby set forth the idea that God has set up seven time periods called dispensations for His work among human beings. The seventh or last dispensation will be the millennial reign of Christ (cf. Revelation 20). In each dispensation, people are tested by their obedience of God’s will according to a specific revelation of that will.

The Role of C. I. Scofield: Darby visited the United States on several occasions and won many advocates to his theology. However, C. I. Scofield popularized the dispensational system in his study Bible of 1909. He set forth seven dispensations in God’s dealing with human beings.

1.    Innocency (Gen. 1:28) This is the period of time in the Garden of Eden.
2.    Conscience (Gen. 3:23) This is the awakening of human conscience and the expulsion from the garden.
3.    Human Government (Gen. 8:20) This is the new covenant made with Noah, bringing about human government.
4.    Promise (Gen. 12:1) This is the new covenant made with Abraham.
5.    Law (Ex. 19:8) This is the period of acceptance of the Jewish law.
6.    Grace (John 1:17) This dispensation begins with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
7.    Kingdom (Eph. 1:10) This constitutes the final rule of Christ. [1]

Dispensationalism had a surge of popularity thanks to the writings of Hal Lindsey, whose Late Great Planet Earth (1970) was the decade’s best-selling book, and its acceptance by President Ronald Reagan, whose foreign policy, his opponents feared, was greatly influenced by dispensationalism’s view of a fast-approaching Armageddon. [2]

The millennium (Latin for 1,000 years) refers to the reign of God’s people—especially martyrs – either spiritually before Christ’s second coming or else literally after His return but before the last judgment and the new creation.

Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.” ~ Revelation 20:6

Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks about a 1,000-year period of saints ruling, yet this has been a matter of such great dispute that entire theological systems have been constructed based on particular interpretations of this chapter. [3]

Steve Gregg writes:

“It may surprise many to learn that the greatest issue of controversy related to the Book of Revelation, from earliest times to the present, has not been over the identity of the two witnesses in Chapter XX, or the meaning of the number “666,” or the timing of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation.  Already, in the third century, the watershed issue in the interpretation of the Apocalypse was defined in terms of the “thousand years” in Revelation 20.” [4]

In my next post, we will explore the Three Main Views of the Millennium.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  Holman Bible Dictionary.

[2]  Dictionary of Christianity in America edited by Daniel G. Reid

[3]  52 Words Every Christian Should Know by Kendell Easley

[4]  Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated by Steve Gregg

11 thoughts on “Glossary of Theological Terms Used in the Study of the End Times ~ Part 2

  1. Don Hi

    I am with Kathy. It’s always so cool to read these posts, the result of so much study and research. It’s very refreshing to see the study explained and developed with no bias and your conclusions reached. Especially in this area, which honestly is not one I have dived into that much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Annie,

    We will be unpacking most, if not all, of these verses when we get to the respective passages in Revelation. I’m planning on digging deep into Scripture for sup pot/explanation of Yochanan’s visions as compared to the other prophets of the Bible.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I will look forward Don to reading your Message please let me know if I miss it, I have a lot of catching up to do but appreciate your effort to share God’s Truth.

      I have been reading a good book about the End times and if wanted I can leave you a link for a free copy, it does clear a lot of man made confusion.

      Blessings – Anne.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Would love to look at the book. I have a ton of resources now, but one more can’t hurt. 🙂

        By far my favorite at the moment is: Revelation – Four Views, Revised & Updated by Steve Gregg.


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