3 topics relating to the amillennial viewpoint...

  1. The Great Tribulation
  2. The final trial of the church before the second coming
  3. The persecution and apostasy of the church

Whether or not there is a "great tribulation" before the second coming of Christ. This Great Tribulation is certainly a key feature of premillennialism. Within amillennial teaching both views are present.

This article highlights a few of the biblical passages on this topic. The possible interpretations (and my votes)...

The passages used to support a premillennial "great tribulation" are better interpreted to refer to persecution and trouble for believers: (1) in general during the entire church age, and (2) in particular during the first few centuries of the church by the Roman Empire.

   End Time Prophecy Leads to Rome | The Kingdom of Israel

Great Tribulation

The following passages do not declare there will be a "great tribulation" before the second coming. If you read them assuming premillennialism then they, of course, must refer to the "great tribulation." But if you read them without that bias, they seem to demand a different interpretation.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Matthew 24:9-11)

They turn away from the faith because of persecution. False prophets deceive the people. This happens during the entire church age. These events happened early in Jesus' prophecy and seem to refer to events that will take place throughout the church age.

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

At the time John wrote this there were many antichrists and it was already the last hour. He clearly refutes their idea that there is only one Antichrist by telling them that there were already many of them and that there would continue to be antichrists throughout the church age. The Antichrist that his readers had heard about could be Nero who it was thought would reappear to take possession of the Roman Empire.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)

The "later times" is the church age. Paul is specifically talking about false teachers who were already on the scene and he warns Timothy to beware of them.

This could also refer to the time of trial and apostasy of the church immediately before the second coming, but this event is not the Great Tribulation ala premillennialism.

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Premillennialists assume that the "rebellion" occurs in the far future but it could just as easily refer to the general time that Paul's readers are familiar with. There were some very bad trends going on in Jerusalem as the Jewish revolutionaries were beginning to rebel against the Romans. This ultimately led to the Jewish War (66–70 A.D.) and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

According to some, this passage also refers to a time of trial and apostasy which will happen for the church just before the second coming of Christ.

He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:3)

According to the standard amillennial view of the 1,000 years,Satan is powerless to deceive the nations for the duration of the church age until just before the second coming of Christ. At that time he will convince the world to look to a great leader (the Antichrist) to lead them in setting up a global political kingdom. For most of the Church Age, Satan will not have sufficient influence in the world to accomplish this because he is bound.

I prefer a strictly literal interpretation of all this.The "1,000 years" ends about 1054 A.D.and there is no literal person of Antichristwith a global kingdom on earth; the Bible doesn't literally teach this.

The Jewish revolutionaries made a similar error in thinking there would be a literal political kingdom and rebelled against the Romans leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

According to some, the phrase "set free for a short time" refers to the time of trial for the church which will occur immediately before the second coming of Christ. In my view, it refers to all of human history after about 1054 A.D.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. (Revelation 20:7-8)

At the end of the church age before the second coming of Christ, Satan will be allowed to influence the world into believing that there could be a one-world political kingdom — a paradise on earth. But this movement will be inspired by Satan and it will reject God's Church, resulting in a massive wave of persecution of believers. This will be a time of trial and apostasy for the church.

In an allegorical system of interpretation,Gog and Magog represent the enemies of the people of God. The establishment of a one-world kingdom will effectively result in war against Christians and against God.

Who is John's Antichrist?

At the time John wrote his epistles it was a common saying among Christians that Nero would reappear as Antichrist. For a reference to this see "History of the Christian Church" by Philip Schaff (1819-1893). Scroll down to the section titled 16. Condition of the Church before the Reign of Trajan). Read about the Nero Redivivus myth.

It is likely John was using the term Antichrist to refer to the reappearance of Nero. John then goes on to define the characteristics of any person who is against Christ and he lets it go at that. He doesn't attempt to define any end-time view in any of the referenced passages.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which Catholics consider authoritative):

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 676

Examples are Socialism, Communism, and other utopian visions.

The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 675