Though radical apocalyptic movements arose in the late Middle Ages, they were rare exceptions. Since Augustine, most theologians believed the Millennium of Revelation 20 referred to the present age of the church. The focal point of eschatology was not the consummation of history but the future status of individuals before God.

Beginning with Martin Luther's 95 Theses, the major Reformers challenged many medieval church doctrines, but with eschatology, they seemed mostly satisfied with this traditional emphasis and teaching.

Hidden future

Martin Luther taught that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. Thus individual salvation is a present reality.

However, Christians will continue to struggle with a contradiction: "We do not wait for forgiveness and all graces as though we would not receive them until the life to come; rather, they are now present for us in faith—even though they are hidden and will be revealed only in the life to come." To be a Christian involves living out the tension between the already and the not yet.

"In the life to come, we shall no more have need of faith," he wrote. "For then we shall not see dark through a glass (as we do now) but we shall see face to face." For Luther this hope is a fundamental and indispensable component of the Christian life.

Luther applies this individual eschatology also to the church. Like the medieval church before him, Luther rejected a future millennial reign and interpreted Revelation 20 as a description of the historical church rather than the end of history. In the present age, the church must continue to endure the hostility of both the world and Satan until the lordship of Christ is made clear at the end.

Still, Luther departed from aspects ...

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