William Miller

Adventist, Millerite,
Seventh Day Adventist.


Revised  2023

This work is completely independent of any existing religions denomination, church, organisation or group, a voice from a wilderness.


About 1829, William Miller, like Darby, studied various ideas that were being bandied around and from these, he consolidated his beliefs, one of which was that Mankind had lost immortality through Adam's crime and so all had to die.  The correction for the condition of mankind's inherited death induced by Adam, was the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.  Miller's research led him to believe that he was living near the end of the world system and that soon, the 1,000 year reign of Christ would start.  He believed that Christ would return in the flesh to the earth, when he would judge the world's population and burn it along with all the wicked (all except them).  The saints (them) would be saved and would then begin ruling for 1,000 years.

Miller also adopted some earlier Bible scholars' time calculations and on the basis of these, he predicted that Jesus Christ would return to earth in 1843/44.  This would trigger a second advent or presence of Christ, which would then be followed by a 1,000 year millennial reign.  This date had been calculated using a time prophecy in Daniel 8:14 "Until two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings have gone by: then the sanctuary will have its rights restored".

Miller arrived at his calculation by applying the common Bible time conversion found at Numbers 14:34, "a day for a year" so 2,300 days became a length of 2,300 years.  He started this 2,300 years from the year 457 BC, the then assumed date of the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, when he gave a decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8).  Thus, according to his calculation, 2,300 years would end in 1843/44.  Miller's chronological plan also concluded that 6,000 years of human history would end in 1843; the rest of his calculations were all pegged around this main Daniel time prophecy.

On the expectation of this date, Miller built up a following of some 50,000.  They watched and waited; the year came and went with no second advent, no return of Christ and no start of the 1,000 year reign.  The miscalculation splintered his movement into smaller groups, developing various versions of his ideas.  This non-appearance was later referred to as "The Great Disappointment".  Many continued to accept Miller's date as correct, but that the event of Christ's return occurred in heaven and that at a later date, he would visibly return to the earth.

One of these fragmented groups developed a belief that the 1843 date was wrong, and that Christ would return in 1853.  When the 1853 date also passed with no evidence of the return of Jesus Christ, another group split occured.  Later some formed Evangelical Adventist groups; some took the name 'Seventh Day Adventists'.

With all this resurgence in the study of Bible chronology and prophecy, there emerged individuals who took up an earlier chronological calculation worked out by an English Bible scholar, Bowen.  He had calculated that human history started with Adam's creation in 4127 BC.  From this, they worked out that 6,000 years of human history would end in 1874.  In fact, there were many other versions of Bible dating chronology in circulation at this time.  Probably, the best known of these was Archbishop Ussher's.  He dated back the creation of Adam to 4004 BC with 6,000 years running out in 1997.

Many used this chronology of Bowen and calculated the second coming of Christ in the flesh to be concurrent with the 6,000 year date, 1874.  Their reasoning was based on God's seventh creative rest day, following the end of six previous working creative days, each being 7,000 years long.  They then reckoned that the scriptural evidence supported a conclusion that the last 1,000 years of this 7,000 year rest  day, would be the Bible 1,000 year reign of Christ.  Subtracting 1,000 years from 7,000 would mean the 1,000 year reign would start after 6,000 years had lapsed, which according to Bowen's chronology worked out as 1874.  On this piece of evidence, they expected 1874 to see the return of Christ, and focused the rest of their beliefs around this date.

When it came and went with nothing visible happening, some fell back to claiming the return was invisible in the heavens.  At this point, the fragmented Adventist and Millerite groups ceased searching further and so stopped progressing.  They had had their hands bitten with the failure of their date predictions and so enveloped themselves in religious time capsules, forming Adventism in its various forms, and licked their wounds.  They have remained more or less at the same position to this day, having become wary of prophetic time calculations.  Following after Miller, came another bible prophecy calculator,  Charles Russell. 

Many bible time calculations since William Miller have continued in an effort to clearer understanding of God's word.  Many sincere bible studiers over the last 200 years have pushed forward and refined much scriptural understanding.  These advancements have provided greater clarity and knowledge of God's Kingdom and its time table.