To “Millennium” or Not?

What about you? Do you believe in a (literal) millennium? That is, do you think Christ will establish a 1000 year rule on earth, through Jerusalem, before which there will be a great battle and after which there will be the final great battle, the resurrection and eternity? Or do you see the millennium more in metaphorical terms?

Some of us grew among the branches of Christianity where firm views on such questions were not only given as answers but any questionings led to suspicion of one’s orthodoxy. Others find this whole millennium thing weird and backward.

It’s all based on one text, Revelation 20:1-10, and I have the whole text after the jump. Tony Thiselton, in his new book, Life after Death, argues that there is a “new approach” to this entire debate. He makes two major points and then offers his view:

First, he shows that some in the early church did believe in what is more or less a “literal” millennium (Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Lanctantius) while others see it as metaphor for the church age (Origen, Tyconius, Augustine, Luther). In other words, there is no consensus in the church on this one.

Second, more lack of clarity. Judaism is unclear here and, to top this off, there are conservative evangelicals (he cites Hendrikson, Mounce) who don’t think Rev 20 is teaching a “literal” millennium. In other words, the millennium should not be held as a clear teaching of the Bible.

But Thiselton proposes another way of examining this: he suggests seeing the difference (as he did with immediate vs. intermediate state) between participants and observers. He contends then that millennium imagery in Rev 20 is language designed to console and encourage the faith of the persecuted and not an objective map of what will happen. (This is, as I read Thiselton, both unprovable and a way of affirming the metaphorical views of Augustine and Luther.) He argues that prophecy is “primarily” language for participants and not a future map. (The word “primarily” does not solve any problem for if it isn’t a map then it isn’t a question of “primarily” but an “either/or.”)

 

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 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.

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Paul W

    I’m one of those who find the whole millennium thing as odd if not really weird.

    Perhaps it is connected to a King Jesus orientation to the gospel. Christ, as I understand it, was inaugurated as King and his reign/kingdom has already begun in significant and earthy ways. Accordingly, I have tended to think of the kingdom also as a current and growing reality.

    I’ve not given the use of the term millennium much thought. My default setting on it has been that it is a way of describing the expansive period of time in which Christ is now reigning as king and before that reign comes to its fullest culmination/fruition at the “second coming” (another loaded term I know).

  • Sam

    My views on the millennium are not that strong. However, I do lean toward thinking that both 1. Christ will return prior to the millennium and 2. it will not be a literal millennium in the popular dispensationalist sense. What sticks out to me is that there is a process that happens between Christ’s return and what is called the eternal state. The world is not immediately and magically put to right at his return. Rather, God still goes through a process (aka the millennial reign of Christ) before sin is completely done away with. So I would consider myself at this point as pre millennial, however, this is significantly different from the pre millennialism popular in evangelical circles.

  • http://getrad2.blogspot.com Blessed Economist

    The millennium is a distorted and truncated version of the Kingdom of God that robs us of the promises of God.
    http://www.kingwatch.co.nz/Times_Seasons/False_Teaching/millenium.htm

  • http://timmhallman.blogspot.com Tim Hallman

    The millennium is a metaphor. Much like the image of Jesus and lampstands, of a whore riding a beast, of a sword coming from Christ’s mouth, of a lake of fire that consumes Death and Hades. These are all really rich and powerful metaphors, to be sure.

  • Peter

    Not that it solves all the problems or answers all the questions, but it does seem to me that a good starting place is simply to ask yourself, “What about all the numbers in this book (Revelation)? Are they literal or figurative/representative?” Then respond with an approach that is consistent; otherwise, on what basis will you say, “This number is literal (144,000?), but this other number is figurative”? With all the 12′s and 10′s in there, it sure seems figurative to me.

  • http://growinggrace-full.blogspot.com/ Chris Donato

    It seems to me that chiliasm in the early church was more like today’s partial preterism (except they were looking forward to a literal 1000 years). In other words, no early church chiliast would be a premillennialist today, because their views were based on what was actually happening during their time.

  • http://antiitchmeditation.wordpress.com jeff weddle

    I believe in a literal kingdom. IF there isn’t one, it makes the prophets a waste of time and God quite deceptive. However, I’m aware this makes me an idiot and I’ve come to terms with that!

    The argument that prophecies are figurative, that physical promises to Israel are spiritually fulfilled in the church, misses the point because I can just as easily counter that the spiritual promises to the church can be physically fulfilled to Israel, since God obviously doesn’t always mean what He says. Two can play at that game!

  • Ron Newberry

    Agree with Tim #4. Revelation is symbolic and not to be taken literally, especially the numbers. See Micky Efird Bible studies on Revelation.

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    As Revelation is apocalyptic literature, I take it to be highly figurative. I don’t take the millennium as literally a thousand years. Nor do I take it as somewhere off in the future. I believe it has already begun: Before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, Jesus declared that all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). We have been raised with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies, at the right hand of the Father, the place of ruling and reigning (Ephesians 2:6). satan has been bound so that he can no longer deceive the nations and prevent them from gospel, so the commission Jesus gave the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 will be fulfilled. I am, in a word, post-millennial in my viewpoint.

  • http://DrIBEXIdeas William Varner

    No it is not “all based on Rev 20.” It is based on the promises of a future for Israel and Rom 11:25-27.

  • Kenton

    Add me to the other commenters (except jeff weddle).

    I imagine that the phrase 1000 years has poetic use that goes back before its use in the book of Revelation. We still use it today some. Oscar Hammerstein III starts of the libretto for The Sound of Music with “The hills are alive… with songs they have sung for a thousand years.” David Bowie in the song “Golden Years” pines that he will “stick with [his] baby, for a thousand years”.

    Are those literal? Meh, probably not.

  • Jerry

    Having come to faith in the era of Late Great Planet Earth, Jack Van Impe,etc I wasn’t even aware of other options. I now tend to fall into the a millennial camp.

  • dopderbeck

    I think the approach that seems this text, like all of Revelation’s prophetic visions, as primarily an encouragement to the faithful Church, is generally correct.

  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey Cochran

    I’m not really sure my view matters. I doubt we will come to a consensus and certainly we will not determine truth based on a preponderance of supporters for one view or the other.

    Your review of Thistelton, highlights my frustration. It is clear that there is no consensus of the Church Fathers on this matter, so laundry listing which view each Father adhered to is helpful knowledge but worthless in determining truth.

    It is also true that historically eschatology has been much based on the present predicament of the Church. For the past two centuries America has been in a tight spot because we’ve discovered that the “New World” is not a realized eschatology, so we are seeking for truth still.

    There will continue to be mystery about this until Christ returns. We can conjecture what the writer’s were trying to accomplish with their writing. It is clear that Paul was comforting the Thessalonians in 1 Thess 4, letting them know that God has a plan for those asleep in Christ. However, his comfort must be grounded in truth, which he built off of current apocalyptic messianic imagery. I see the value in Thisleton’s observation that the millenial language is meant to console and comfort the persecuted. These are good intentions, which need to be grounded in truth, whether hyperbolized or not, specific or unspecified.

    It seems to me that in spite of the figurative language in apocalyptic writing, there is always a set of truth within the hyperbole that comes close to the reading. Though the language is mythological in nature the bad guys are real and the strife, terror, persecution, and judgement actually occur and is corporate in nature not individualized to the spiritual life of the believer (though I suppose that understanding may not be outside of God’s potential revelation). This can be evidenced from the book of Daniel, whether taking an Amillenial or Millenial view events appear to have some historical actualization whether they are fully realized or not.

  • Robert A

    I’m in the midst of an extended study on the book of Revelation and have contemplated this thought often.

    I currently hold a progressive dispensational, ecclectic (historicist-futurist), historical premillenialist view of Revelation.

    So yes I do hold to a literal millennium (today) but don’t think it’s gonna happen anytime soon and have no clue what it would look like.

    The whole book is confusing and seems to mix so many metaphors it is downright ridiculous to take a dogmatic stance in any position.

  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey Cochran

    By the way, for my two cents – I believe in a millenium.

    Why? Because it would be just like God to prove that sin is an issue in a golden era. My favorite professor says, “The way God works in the past is a pattern and promise for the future.” There are clearly shifts in God’s program based on mans failure. That’s why we can say that there is a post-edenic, post-noahic, post-conquest, post-captivity program. Each is a marker of humanity’s failure in performing it’s part of the covenant. Praise God for a unilateral royal grant covenant with Abraham because we need it. No doubt a Millenial Kingdom marked with a final rebellion would continue to prove how desperately we need a loving God who is willing to make a bow in the sky pointed at himself as a maledictory oath of his relentless commitment to humanity.

  • Patrick Hare

    Is there literally a key to the abyss? a literal snake/dragon? a literal abyss which can be locked and sealed? will an angel literally grab Satan and throw him? can we literally see souls? will there literally be an army with as many soldiers as there are grains of sand? will people literally have marks on their foreheads?
    What sort of hermeneutic allows us to pull one or two images out of apocalyptic literature and consider them literal when everything else in the passage is clearly a spiritual metaphor?

  • John G

    If this passage just said that Jesus would reign for a thousand years and his people would reign with him as priests, then I would have no problem with the thousand years being figurative of the present “church age” (Jesus reigning and his people reigning as priests is “literal” no matter how the thousand years are taken).

    But I wrestle with the fact that for the thousand years, Satan is bound and thrown into the abyss, and the people who reign with Christ are Christian martyrs who have been raised from the dead. If we are right now in the millennium (it being figurative of the present “church age”), how is Satan presently unable to deceive the nations, and what does it mean that the Christian martyrs described in the passage have been raised from the dead, if it has already occurred?

  • Jeff Martin

    I like Gordon Fee’s explanation of it, with a little addition onto it that amillenials make.

    Fee’s position is basically that of an amil perspective, which means that his credentials with the Assemblies of God as a minister is more political and nostalgic than anything.

    Unlike a lot of amils though he rightly focuses on the martyrs. Most amils include all the believers in this and claim the first resurrection is people having faith in Christ.

    But Fee shows that this interlude is for the purpose of bringing a word of comfort to those yet to be martyred for their devotion to Christ.

    I think, for Fee, the first resurrection, would be equivalent to an active participation in reigning with Christ, whereas, I assume, though Fee does not say, the rest of the dead are still awaiting judgement. I guess his point is, is that being martyred basically means that a time of judgement is not needed since the martyr’s actions proved they are worthy.

    I dont know if I agree with Fee that the reason for Satan’s lock up is to assure the readers that they are not forgotten. Fee’s statement seems to be quite an understatement! God is seen in Scripture as a pursuer, not just someone who remembers (Psalm 139).

    I like most Amils reading of the lock up in that it has to do with the time from Jesus’ coming when he saw Satan fall like lightning and Jesus showing everyone that he not only came for the Jews but also for the Gentiles! At this juncture in history is when temple curtain has been torn!

    In any event, I believe Fee is mostly accurate in that the focus is on encouraging those who are afraid of possible martyrdom.

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    John G,

    In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus announced that all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (which means He now reigns over heaven and earth). The He commissioned the disciples to go and make disciples “of all the nations,” baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded.

    I do not think that Jesus sent them on a fool’s errand, a mission that will not cannot be fulfilled. Rather, since all authority for heaven and earth belongs to Jesus, I fully expect that all the nations of the earth will one day be discipled, baptized and taught His commands (this is basically what postmillennialism is, in my understanding). The devil is bound so that he cannot prevent this from happening. He cannot deceive the nations — they will eventually be discipled.

    Paul teaches us that God has raised Jesus and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:19). He also teaches us that God has “made us alive together with Christ” and “raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). He speaks of this as a done deal, not a future expectation.

  • http://developingtheology.blogspot.com James Korsmo

    I reservedly hold to a traditional pre-Millennial position, and I think it is based not only on Rev 20 but also on 1 Cor 15:20-28 (though the meaning of latter text is [not surprisingly] disputed), which may also point to some type of interim reign between the return of Christ and the final defeat of death and the handing over of all things to God.

  • Matt Edwards

    While there is certainly a ton of metaphors in Revelation, I don’t think the millennium is one of them. If it is a metaphor, what is it a metaphor for? The church? That doesn’t seem to fit with the passage.

    Revelation fits the genre of Jewish apocalyptic–usually written to persecuted people to reveal to them what is going on “behind the scenes” in the spiritual realm so that they might have the confidence to persevere. The persecution of the faithful in Revelation includes beheading by the beast and his minions, and the millennium seems to be an encouragement that “someday the beast is going to be brought to justice and the faithful will reign with Christ in his place.” That is language of the future (with implications for the present).

    “Kingdom” language would have been very concrete for the early followers of Jesus. A literal Messiah with a literal reign would have made more sense to them than a figurative messiah reigning through the church.

    I agree that millennium language is strange, veiled, and flukey. But there is enough for me here to think that this is talking about a future reign of Christ (whatever that looks like) and not the present reign of Christ through the church.

  • http://dribex.tumblr.com William Varner

    Why did the Fathers closest to John, the second century ones mentioned in the post, hold to millennialism? True there was no consensus among all the Fathers, but something that could be called a consensus existed in the second century. Some of them even knew John. Isn’t that important to consider?

  • John W Frye

    As a former dispensationalist (trained at Dallas Theological Seminary), to hold to a literal millennium you have to posit *the* dispensational distinctive that God has one program (prophetic map) for the Church and another program (prophetic map) for literal Israel. The work of EP Sanders, NT Wright, Scot McKnight, James Dunn and so many others push hard on this peculiar dispensational distinctive, i.e., the sharp separation of Israel and the Church. Richard Bauckman’s *The Theology of Revelation* offers exegetical wisdom and gripping theology to this discussion.

  • PaulE

    I’m definitely open to being persuaded one way or another. However, at present I tend to agree with John G in #18 here. There are a lot of questions/aspects where I feel like a spiritual/metaphorical reading lacks explanatory power. The presence of the martyrs which he mentions is one aspect (which keeps me from being able to connect Rev 20 to John 5 as perhaps I’d like); but then for me it extends beyond that to things in Ezekiel 40-47 and Zechariah 14. Maybe those things were fulfilled at the first coming? But I have a hard time seeing how and find there to be a lot of hand waving.

    (I think the number 1000 itself is probably symbolic of a complete age; but I still anticipate a future earthly reign of the Lord, which seems more the crux of the issue.)

  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey Cochran

    @ John Frye #24. Well put, but does the distinction have to be so sharp? Admittedly, I have not read Wright, McKnight and Dunn on this specific issue. Though I’m sure I have every book of theirs in reference to this matter on my shelf or kindle. Since you have done the research, would you mind directing me to peculiar chapters or sections to look at in their writings. I’d love to do the research and get caught up in the conversation. Please include *Bauckham, I’m assuming that’s who you really meant. Your Fellow Alumnus.

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    Matt Edwards #22,

    The language of a “thousand years” reign is found on in one place in the Bible, in a book in which there is a “ton of metaphors.” That should give us deep pause before we take it as literally a thousand years.

    Apocalyptic pulls back the curtain and, indeed, shows us what goes on behind the scenes. John was showing his audience what was happening behind the scenes. Revelation 20 shows us what is going on behind the scenes right now. Jesus is ruling with the saints and the devil is bound so that he cannot deceive the nations and prevent that nations from being discipled, baptized and taught to follow King Jesus. At the end, there will be a final conflict and final judgement.

    In John’s day, the “beast” was Nero, and he has been brought to justice (see Kenneth Gentry’s “Before Jerusalem Fell” for an extensive treatment of a pre-AD70 date for revelation, and also the identification of Nero as the “beast”).

    Jesus is indeed the Messiah and His rule and reign has actually already begun. He announced it when He said to the disciples, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” That is the language of ruling and reigning, a kingdom that has really and actually begun. And He really, truly reigns now through His assembly, the Church, the body of Messiah. (I have come to realize that there are governmental implications when Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my assembly.”)

  • http://natomaschurch.wordpress.com Mike

    I am a “reader” for our denominational board examining pastors for ordination. I do the reading for all the Eschatology papers. Therefore, this discussion of the Millennium and its implications comes up a lot for me.

    I know most of the papers espouse premillennialism because they cannot be ordained if they don’t. I also know most of them are paying lip service to the concept…they don’t know what will happen and frankly, the Book of Revelation is a mystery to most pastors in their 20s.

    However, the implications of Premillennialism do stand out when they talk about how this affects their ministry. The greatest surge of chiliastic opinion today is for a new Postmillenialism. This is espoused by the teachings of Kingdom Now, Manifest Sons, Seven Mountains groups and many others. These groups teach that the Millennium is a period where the church reigns on earth and that Christ will return at the end. They use the figurative language of Revelation 20 as teaching the enemy is “bound” by the actions of the Faithful church.

    This triumphalism is not a moot issue. It changes the way we act. It sits at the heart of most Christian political movements in the US. It has even “hijacked” the intercessory prayer movement. Premillennialism teaches us to expect the Lord to return to set up his Kingdom. Postmillenialism teaches us to take this world by force (whether political, spiritual or physical force).

    So this is not just a theological issue. It is ripping apart the American church.

  • PaulE

    Jeff Doles,

    You are right that there is a strongly realized component to the reign and rule of Christ. But that doesn’t seem to be whole the picture either: “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.”

    Even in Ephesians which emphasizes the realized components of our co-reign with Christ as you point out – we are seated with him in the heavenlies – and which gives us sure hope that we will not be overcome by the evil one, yet there is still a reality of danger: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

    1 Thessalonians describes how Satan blocked Paul’s efforts; Peter warns that the devil prowls; Paul councils in 1 Timothy 5 about women being led astray to follow after Satan. None of these things are suggestive to me of an age in which Satan is bound, but rather one still called “this present evil age.”

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    PaulE #29,

    Yes, there are things that are now being realized and things that are not yet realized. As others have said, the kingdom is already and not yet. That is, already begun though not yet done. As a postmillennialist, I do not expect it to be fully manifested until the return of King Jesus.

    Nonetheless, I believe that satan is indeed bound so that he cannot deceive the nations and keep them from coming to King Jesus the Messiah — I believe that the commission King Jesus gave His disciples, to disciple all nations, will be fulfilled. Even Paul, in his day, spoke of the gospel going out into all the world.

    John tells us that the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining (1 John 2:8). It was already happening in his day and continues to happen in ours.

  • John W Frye

    Joey @26,
    To start, read Scot McKnight’s *A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context*. As for N.T. Wright, almost any of his works where he talks about the nature and meaning of apocalyptic language in the Jewish and New Testament writings…though N.T. Wright does see a future for Israel as a nation. I know that progressive dispensationalism is softening the sharp divide between Israel and the Church, but I don’t think even a soft divide is exegetically supported. Thank you, too; I did mean Bauckham. Another good book on Revelation is *Revelation and the End of All Things* by Craig R. Koester.

  • http://growinggrace-full.blogspot.com/ Chris Donato

    I used to say that I’d wake up a postmillennialist and go to bed a (historic) premillennialist (kind of like waking up an Austrian and going to bed a anarcho-syndicalist).

    But allow me to quote an email response from the former bishop on this particular issue (back when responding to personal emails was still possible for him): “Dear Chris: Not sure I can help locate myself on schemes which are to my mind all open to various criticisms. I just try to call it as I see it and to remember that the model for all eschatology is what God did for Jesus on Easter morning… Warm greetings, Tom Wright”

  • http://awaitingawhiterobe.wordpress.com MikeB

    if by millenium we mean a future reign of Christ on the earth after His return then I “to millenium”.

    Particularly I tend to land in a progressive disp/historic pre-mill position. Part of the rationale is what William Varner mentions in #23 regarding the “consensus” of early church writers in the 2nd century around chiliasm.

    @Tim Hallman
    “The millennium is a metaphor”
    if it is a metaphor then what does it represent?

    @Jeff Doles
    Even if the millennium is not exactly a thousand years, what do we do with Jesus telling the disciples in Acts 1 that the kingdom would come later or Matt 24 where Jesus appears to be setting up the kingdom after His return on the clouds? There is also promises and imagery in many of the OT prophets regarding Israel in the land.

  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey Cochran

    @John Frye #31
    Thanks for the Koester suggestion. I added it to my amazon wish list. Koester’s a fav!

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    MikeB #33,

    In Acts 1, when the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus did not answer “Yes,” did not answer “No,” did not answer “Not now, later.”

    His answer was, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

    In Matthew 24, we see King Jesus coming in judgment upon Jerusalem, destroying the temple and the city. He promised this would happen within their generation. And it did, in AD 70. The language of verse 29-31 is apocalyptic.

    Jesus came preaching, in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Not far off into the future, but near at hand. At the end of Matthew, before Jesus ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father (which is the place of ruling and reigning), Jesus announced to the disciples, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” That is kingdom language. To have all authority in heaven and on earth is to have heaven and earth as His domain — the domain of the King, which is the kingdom.

    Regarding Israel in the land — believing Gentiles were not included in the promise, being grafted into Israel (Romans 11). The land was enlarged to include the whole earth. For Abraham, in Romans 4:13, Paul calls Abraham the heir, not just of the land of Israel as it was at that time, but of the “world” (kosmos). The promises made to Israel are fulfilled in a way far greater than Israel expect — which seems to be the way God always fulfills His promises.

  • http://JesusCreed Bev G

    I attended Regent College and so had the privilege of sitting in J.I. Packer’s class. One day a frustrated student asked him once why there were some really thorny issues in scripture and then seemingly only ambiguous options for answers. Surely, he said, God knew we would endlessly argue over them and he could have made the answers a lot clearer. Dr. Packer answered, “that’s because only love can solve them.” Imagine what the Christian community would look like if after doing all the hard academic work, people came to their conclusions but held them with gentle humility instead of strident dogmatism. Personally, I hold an amillenial position has the least number of problems….but I could be wrong. I still find Stan Grenz’ Four Views of the Millenium to be most helpful.

  • http://jtcochran.blogspot.com Joey Cochran

    @Jeff Doles #35

    This week I am teaching 1 Cor 4 to our students. In this text Paul says, “9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” ESV

    As I live within the tension of the “already and not yet,” I understand that serving King Jesus is no easy task then or now. Quite honestly the circumstances of his followers are very akin to Paul’s description of himself. However, you and I are somewhat insulated from this as we sip our coffee and blog in our offices or homes.

    Because of these observations, I have trouble buying into the full binding of Satan today. So I can’t buy into a Post-Millenial view.

    Likewise, I won’t deny that the Kingdom is present and in the process of fulfillment. Victory is certain but not actualized, yet. Thus, I appreciate the fluidity allowed in Progressive Dispensationalism.

  • http://awaitingawhiterobe.wordpress.com MikeB

    @Jeff Doles

    Jesus’ reply in Acts 1:7 starts with:
    “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority…”.

    I take this as Jesus answer to the question. This not the time the kingdom will be restored to Israel. Implying that this would happen later.

    This follows 40 days of post resurrection and pre-ascension teaching on that topic (Acts 1:3). While we can’t be sure all that Jesus taught during this time it does seem likely/possible that the kingdom still being future is likely given the disciples’ question after that teaching.

    For me this is bolstered by Acts 3. Here Peter says that if Israel repents then Jesus can return and restore all things. Now the kingdom is not explicitly mentioned but IMO it is likely that this is what Peter means since this is Israel’s hope/desire.

    That said, eschatology is a difficult topic and all the views have pro/cons. You seem to have studied and worked through the issues so it is unlikely neither of use will provide “new facts” that will convince the other regarding millenial views. ;)

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    Joey Cochran #37,

    Notice the purpose for the binding of satan in Revelation 20:3, “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.” It does not mean that he would not be able to persecute those who bring the gospel to the nations (e.g., Paul, Peter, etc.). So 1 Corinthians 4:9-13 does not demonstrate that satan is not already bound. Postmillennialism is not the view that the kingdom is already fully actualized, but that it is present and in the process of fulfillment, that the victory will be actualize, and that all the nations will be discipled.

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    MikeB #38, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority…”. You take that to mean, “Not now, but later.” But that is not what Jesus said.

    In regard to the disciples question, it is important to note what Jesus affirmed to them: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …” They were focused on the “when” of the kingdom, but I believe Jesus directed their attention to the “how.”

    Acts 3 does not mean that the kingdom has not yet begun, only that it is not yet done. We are between the already and the not yet.

    The church has never had just one view on the millennium, so I don’t expect that it ever will until Jesus comes. So, I’m not out to convince anyone of my view, I am content just to clarify my view, to explain it and answer the questions of anyone who is interested in understanding it.

  • http://wccjburnett.blogspot.com/ Josh Burnett

    The Literal vs. Figurative debate has often divided Christ’s church into different camps, which Satan wants.

    Satan wants us to debate in blogs on issues that we can’t definitely give a true answer to.

    Instead of trying to answer this question, we should be focused on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ! If we spread the Jesus is our salvation message, less people will have to worry about figurative vs. literal because they will be with Jesus for eternity regardless.

  • Norman

    The bible is grounded extensively in the metaphorical much more than meets the eye. You begin to realize this when you tackle the apocalyptic literature and realize that those metaphors are found embedded extensively from Genesis to Revelation. If you don’t know the biblical terminology as defined by the mindset that wrote and constructed it then you are going to misapply a large percentage of scripture. There are paths to discern issues like Rev 20 that bring some clarity to its understanding but very few people have the inclination, time or resources to tackle it effectively. Those who don’t will always be looking in the window hoping they can find someone they trust to enlighten them. The problem is they never know enough to know if their favorite author/mentor has gotten it right.

    One of the posters mentioned the numbers of Revelation and that is a good place to start and a primer of sorts would be to spend some time in Bollinger’s Numbers found at “philologos dot org”. The next thing is you need to spend some time with some scholars work which deals with numbers of the bible. The application of numbers such as we find in the life spans of Genesis are much more theological applications and not really biological ones. First the long lives were used to denote a context that as Adam/man moved further and further away from the Garden his life spans decreased. Man became more and more corrupt as his life spans decreased. As an example the 2T writing called Jubilees deals extensively with the concept of the perfect life span as 1000 years. It describes that Adam’s failure to reach 1000 years is because of his mortal failure in the Garden. This piece of literature dates to the second century BC and was circulating among first century Jews and Christians.

    Jub 4:29 … thereof, Adam died … And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; FOR ONE THOUSAND YEARS ARE AS ONE DAY in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: ‘On the day that ye eat thereof ye shall die.’ For this reason HE DID NOT COMPLETE THE YEARS OF THIS DAY; FOR HE DIED DURING IT.

    Notice that the “day as a thousand years” that Peter quotes in 2 Peter 3 utilizes nearly the same verbiage as Barnabas does above. It also equates a Day with the extended eternal Day/lifespan that Adam missed out on because of the Fall. This is key to helping one set the context of Rev 20 because the Day as a 1000 years signifies not only eternal life missed out by Adam but also clarifies the “age” or era called a Day to also equate to 1000 years. The martyrs living and reigning a 1000 years with Christ is telling us that they attained “eternal life” through their faith in Christ and were secure in that realization. However it’s also well understood in messianic eschatological studies that important periods of time are called days or ages. The messiah was to come in the last Days or Ages of the Old covenant of Israel and it was understood that the time from John the Baptist to the end of the Temple and Judaism as it had been known was the last Day or age. That Day would be called the equivalent of a thousand years or an eternal sanction of God’s work.

    So the binding of Satan for a thousand years occurred during the culminating “last Day” when Christ entered the world; died and was resurrected thus a millennium period of time was invoked. Now the last day would come to a close and then the Kingdom would be firmly established and then the rest of the saints that were alive at that time would join in as a consummated group to also live and reign a 1000 years through Christ. We essentially have the same theme as we find in 1 Cor 15:51-52 occurring to the first century saints who were alive when the Kingdom would be juridically crowned eternally complete. Those alive would join the martyrs’ who were sleeping (dead) and be changed in the twinkling of an eye.

    1Co 15:51-52 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and WE SHALL BE CHANGED.

    However 1 Th 4 also states the same theme about the first century saints that were alive would not precede the martyred saints but would join together coventally at the desolation of the old covenant and the inauguration of the new Kingdom covenant. Don’t get sidetracked by the metaphorical language because that is how these issues were framed in Biblical parlance.

    1Th 4:15-17 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) THEN WE WHO ARE ALIVE, WHO ARE LEFT, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (I’ll give you a hint, its not talking about the rapture, but meeting God in the heavenly realm of the Holy Spirit filled life)

    These above scenarios are what is also being described in Rev 20 and Rev 21 joins in and essentially restates the same theme but in a slightly different form of metaphor. The bible tells us over and over the same story but with different settings especially issues such as final judgment upon the old covenant as it passed away and the covenant changed hands from the old people to the new.

    Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (I’ll explain the metaphor of Heavens and earth and sea sometimes else) Essentially no more sea meant no more division of the Gentiles represented by the sea and from Israel the Land. Gentiles and Jews were formed into one new man (Eph 2:15) so no more sea means no more Gentile designation.
    Rev 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, COMING DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. HE WILL DWELL WITH THEM, AND THEY WILL BE HIS PEOPLE, AND GOD HIMSELF WILL BE WITH THEM AS THEIR GOD. (4) He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for THE FORMER THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY.” (the old covenant passes away)

    Now back to Rev 20 where Satan is bond until the 1000 years is over and is released for a little while. This is picked back up in verse 7 where Satan along with his cohorts the Beast and the false prophet would be destroyed and eternally condemned forever.

    Don’t get too wrapped up in the minute details but work out the big picture and once you learn the basic symbolic meanings; then see if they fit historically in the past or are they future projections. My belief is that this is simply an apocalyptic story telling about the deliverance of God’s first century people represented by the corrupt priesthood (false prophet) the Beast (Rome ruler of the nations) and Satan who from the beginning was the antichrist from the Garden onward. Once you begin understanding biblical apocalyptic literature you develop a feel for how story is presented but without doubt Rev 20 is one of the most difficult pieces there is to sort out for those not accustomed to that type of literature and even for those more versed in it as well. We all want to iron out the edges better.
    I’ll leave with a final idea or two. As I stated earlier the last Day was represented by 1000 years and there is a first century commentary of sorts called the Barnabas Epistle that also sheds light on this subject. It reveals just how predominately the understanding of a “Day as a 1000 years” was ordinarily understood in the first century as representing a day/age period. It was contemporary with Revelation and you will see the application of the term 1000 as an eternal equivalent as Barnabas illustrates the ending of the old covenant just as Rev 20 & 21 both are. As I remind the Jews told the same theme and story from many similar different vantage points stylistically speaking and here is another approach.

    Barnabas 15:4 Give heed, children, what this meaneth; He ended in six days. Hemeaneth this, that in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years; and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; BEHOLD, THE DAY OF THE LORD SHALL BE AS A THOUSAND YEARS. Therefore, children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end.

    5 And He rested on the seventh day. this HE MEANETH; WHEN HIS SON SHALL COME, AND SHALL ABOLISH THE TIME OF THE LAWLESS ONE, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day.

    8 … Ye see what is His meaning ; it is not your present Sabbaths that are acceptable [unto Me], but the Sabbath which I have made, in the which, when I have set all things at rest, I WILL MAKE THE BEGINNING OF THE EIGHTH DAY which is the beginning of another world.

    9 Wherefore also we keep THE EIGHTH DAY for rejoicing, in the which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens.

    In essence what the author is saying is that after the Kingdom of Christ has been established that there will be an Eighth Day.
    (another 1000 year reign but this one is eternal and without days or a prophetic end and no night shall be there)

    Lastly we return to the book of Jubilees where the time of the coming messiah will be a time when men attain more years then the men of old who grew close to 1000 but always fell short of eternal perfection. Men of God have become corrupt and the symbolic life spans illustrate that reality of degradation. It’s again a simple and varied method of telling the redemptive story.

    Jubilees 23:12 And in those days, if a man live a jubilee and a-half of years , they shall say regarding him: ‘He has lived long, and the greater part of his days are pain and sorrow and tribulation, and there is no peace:
    Then they shall say: ‘THE DAYS OF THE FOREFATHERS WERE MANY (EVEN), UNTO A THOUSAND YEARS, and were good; but behold, the days of our life, if a man has lived many, are three score years and ten, and, if he is strong, four score years, and those evil, and there is no peace in the days of this evil generation.’ …
    (days of messiah)-28 And in those days the children shall begin to study the laws, And to seek the commandments, And to return to the path of righteousness. And the days shall begin to grow many and increase amongst those children of men TILL THEIR DAYS DRAW NIGH TO ONE THOUSAND YEARS. And to A GREATER NUMBER OF YEARS THAN (BEFORE) was the number of the days. (more than Adam’s)

  • http://timmhallman.blogspot.com Tim Hallman

    MikeB #33

    I’m not confident what the metaphor means since I’m not the one who authored it. Obviously John the Revelator meant it to be an encouragement to the original audience. It’d be nice to know how the Seven Churches heard that portion of the long, image-rich, letter. I’m a non-millenialist, so I don’t pay much attention to that metaphor, anymore then I pay attention to all the other metaphors in Revelation. It’s just one more metaphor to me. I think there are more important elements to Revelation then the millennium.

  • CGC

    Kudos to Josh, #41 (i think you said it well :–)

  • http://matthartke.wordpress.com/ Matt

    MikeB #33

    It’s obviously popular to say that premillennialism is the oldest and most orthodox of the eschatological views, but I believe this is based on a misreading of the earliest evidence through the lens of later patristic debates. Contrary to this popular view, I would contend that there is a strand of amillennial eschatology which has deeper roots in the Jewish tradition than premillennialism. Calling this particular eschatology “amillennial” is somewhat anachronistic, of course, but as long as we understand that it stands in stark contrast with the later dehistoricizing, anti-creational, and individualistic eschatology of the Alexandrian school, the term “amillennial” is helpful to distinguish it from the belief in an earthly intermediate messianic age. Here are six short propositions in favor of this strand of amillennialism:

    1. The prevailing outlook towards history within the Jewish worldview, both in the Old Testament and in the Second Temple period, was that it was divided neatly into two distinct ages: (a) the current age, characterized by the curse of the fall, by sin and injustice, by Israel’s exile and the dominion of pagan nations, and (b) the age to come, characterized by the curse undone, by the forgiveness of sins, by righteousness and peace, by Israel’s return from exile and her exaltation over the nations, and ultimately by Yahweh’s becoming king and returning to dwell in the midst of his people forever.

    2. Only after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 do we begin to see the development of the idea of a temporary messianic kingdom between this age and the next, most notably in the apocalypses of 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra. It appears that this view of history, commonly called “chiliasm”, was a later and more scattered belief which likely arose in order to support various messianic movements while taking into account the eschatological difficulties associated with the recent destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. However, none of the speculated lengths for such a hypothetical period seems to have stuck in the prevailing Jewish worldview.

    3. Within the more traditional, non-chiliast scheme of Jewish thought, the age to come was always conceived of in very “earthly” and “this-worldly” terms. But it would be a naïve mistake to retrojectively label this prevailing outlook “chiliast” in nature, as many have done, for it lacked any interim messianic reign on earth between this age and the age to come, which is the basic tenet of chiliasm. Rather, as Strack and Bilerbeck say in Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash, “Only the post-Christian synagogue distinguishes between the days of the Messiah and the final perfection in the ‘olam ha-ba, that is, in the future world” (Vol. 3, p. 824). Or, likewise, as Hans-Alwin Wilke says in Das Problem eines messianischen Zwischenreichs bei Paulus, “Besides in the Apocalypse of John, the idea of a Messianic intermediate kingdom appears in the pseudeprigraphic apocalypses only in 4 Ezra—possibly also in Syriac Baruch” (p. 48).

    4. We do find a striking development away from the two-stage view of history in the New Testament writings. But this development does not rightly qualify as chiliasm. Instead, the NT writers develop a three-stage view of history as the result of their conviction that the messiah had already come and inaugurated the kingdom for which Israel had longed. In the view of the earliest Christians, the present time between Jesus’ resurrection and parousia is an age of overlap between the age of sin and death and the age of righteousness and life. In other words, while the worldview articulated throughout the New Testament does express the belief in an interim messianic reign, that “reign” is consistently seen as being coterminous with this present intra-advent age, this time of “already but not yet”, and never with a future transitional period after the second coming (e.g. Acts 2; 1 Cor 15; 2 Thes 1; 2 Pet 3).

    5. Revelation 20 may seem like the one exception to this particular three-stage view of history, but all the attempts to establish some form of chiliasm from that chapter end up relying mostly on other passages for the content of their view (passages like Isaiah 65:17-25, which in their own contexts actually speak of the earthly age to come) and on the thoughtless insertion of the themes of those passages into the “thousand year” framework of Revelation 20. In contrast, I have found the content of Revelation 20 to be much more in keeping with the rest of the New Testament’s portrayal of this present age of “already but not yet”, albeit with the kind of imagery appropriate to an apocalypse.

    6. Those early church fathers who adopted a chiliastic scheme seem to have relied more on the late Jewish apocalypses than on Revelation, as witnessed both by their allusions to these apocalypses and by their rejection of a heavenly intermediate state, which Revelation depicts frequently. Throughout Revelation we see the souls of the martyrs “resting” in God’s heavenly temple, not waiting in Sheol as in 2 Baruch and 4 Ezra (see Regnum Caelorum, by Charles E. Hill). Combine this with the fact that Revelation 20 lacks almost all of the distinctive features of a chiliast reign such as we find in the aforementioned Jewish apocalypses, and it becomes clear that, far from reading Revelation on its own terms, the early Christian chiliasts arrived at their particular eschatology through very different sources, and only by means of superimposing that eschatology onto Revelation did they turn their chiliasm into a distinctively Christian (or should we say quasi-Christian?) eschatology.

  • http://matthartke.wordpress.com/ Matt

    Tim Hallman #43

    I think there are probably multiple levels of meaning involved in the imagery of a 1,000-year reign. First and foremost, it seems to be an intertextual echo of the promise to the persecuted overcomers from the Church of Smyrna. Like 20:4-6, 2:10 speaks of the blessedness of martyrdom by promising that the “crown of life” will be given to those who are “faithful unto death”. This alone would be enough to remark on, but the parallel becomes explicit when verse 11 goes on to assure that those who inherit this postmortem “life” are no longer subject to the “second death”, a phrase which (very significantly) does not appear again until 20:6.

    The souls of the martyrs living and reigning with the Messiah in the millennium is clearly intended, within the scope of the Revelation, as the direct fulfillment of the promise to the Christians in Smyrna. Indeed, it would be more than unusual if the climactic scene of this prophecy, picturing the vindication of the martyred saints over their oppressors, would not have a direct application to the persecuted saints to whom it was sent. That is the great weakness of the chiliast interpretation of this passage, as it is the great weakness of a strictly futurist reading of the rest of the Apocalypse. Without a doubt, the worn out, beaten and battered saints of Asia Minor would have taken 20:4-6 as a word of comfort and fulfillment aimed directly at them, as they faced the prospects of imprisonment and possibly even of death for the sake of staying true to Christ.

    This fulfillment is seen to be much more significant, however, when we recognize the role that the archenemy “Satan” takes in both passages. The saints of Smyrna were told that Satan would be allowed to throw some of them into prison, in order to test them, for ten days. After the destruction of the beast, however, John sees Satan himself thrown into the prison of “the bottomless pit”, not for ten days, but for the greatly multiplied number of a thousand years. This scene thus shows the ultimate outworking of one of the main messages of Revelation, intended to strengthen the persecuted church in their patience and faith; that is, that he who leads into captivity will eventually go into captivity (13:10), and that the great victory will be won and the accuser will be cast down not by retaliation but by the testimony of the cross borne in word and deed by the followers of the Lamb (12:11; cf. 5:5-6, 9-10).

    The fact that 20:1-3 is intended as the fulfillment of a promise to the prospective martyrs of 2:8-12 thus points to at least one level of meaning which the “thousand years” likely carried in its original context. Ten represents totality or completion throughout Revelation (e.g. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 12, 16), and a thousand is ten to the third power, representing an intensification or heightening of the imprisonment period of 2:10 according to the law of retribution in kind, or lex talionis. The plain and powerful purpose of the numeric symbolism, in its immediate application to the suffering Christians in Asia Minor, is to evoke the conviction that their momentary light affliction—loving not their lives even unto death—is working the far exceeding glory of resurrection life, a great reversal of fortunes to be rewarded at the throne of the risen Messiah, even prior to their being clothed with new bodies at his return. Though they die, yet they will live.

    Going along with this, I also wonder if the “thousand years” might carry a politically subversive allusion to Rome. I’m thinking especially with reference to the poet Virgil, who for years had predicted a messianic deliverer before Caesar Augustus had succeeded in unifying the Roman empire and pacifying most of the known world, and spoke in exalted language of a “golden age” of Roman rule, patterned after the primordial reign of Saturn in Greek mythology (Aeneid, 6.791-96). In the first century AD, with the dawn of the so-called Pax Romana and the unparalleled growth of the Caesar cult, only more poets and politicians would follow with this tone of rhetoric, enthusiastic about the unbreakable might of Rome. And just as it was in the last century with Nazi Germany, propaganda announcing the empire’s golden age of peace was rampant in the first century, especially in the regions most sympathetic to Rome like Asia Minor, where John received his vision of a different kingdom.

    Until recently, this fact has not been given due attention in studies of the Apocalypse: that when John sees the great beast and the false prophet thrown into the lake of fire, what he goes on to convey in his vision of the “millennium” is explicitly intended as the antitype to Rome’s tyrannous reign, the transfer of the kingdom from the beast to the saints of the most high. Now, I’m not aware that Rome’s golden age was ever given the precise figure of a thousand years, and thus whether there is a more specific historical allusion in John’s own usage, but granted his track record with such allusions elsewhere in the Apocalypse, and the crucial function of this passage with foretelling the ultimate fate of the beast, I think such a reconstruction can be regarded with at least a healthy measure of plausibility.

  • Zach

    I have always loved Tony Campolo’s statement (which he possibly borrowed from someone else?) that he is a “panmillenialist”. Meaning he believes it will all pan out in the end.

  • Jeff Martin

    MAtt #46 – Great comments, see my similar comments on post #19. Gordon Fee expresses a similar view. I also like your view of the 1000 years.

  • http://matthartke.wordpress.com/ Matt

    Jeff Martin #48

    Great input! I love Fee’s new commentary on Revelation and I stand in general agreement with his contemporary-historical approach. I don’t agree, however, that the first resurrection is restricted to martyrs. I agree that the prospective martyrs are obviously the party in view there, but it seems to me that, within the visionary world of Revelation, there are only two parties to choose from: those who worship the beast and those who don’t and thereby suffer under his hand (cf. 13:3-10). Thus I don’t think that the martyrs (= witnesses) of 20:4-6 are presented as a sub-group of the larger community of faith, but rather as representative of the whole community itself portrayed in visionary juxtaposition with the followers of the beast. They are the “saints of the most high” of Daniel 7.

    As for the meaning of the “first resurrection,” I mostly agree with the argument set forth by M. G. Kline in his article “The First Resurrection”. The crux of the argument is that throughout Revelation 20-21 the word protos (translated “first” or “former”) is consistently used to qualify things which belong to the pre-consummate order, in contrast to those things which are “new”, i.e. consummate. Hence the way “first” and “new” are set in juxtaposition in 21:1-5:

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the first things have passed away… Behold I make all things new.”

    In light of this contextual meaning of protos, we should not understand the “first resurrection” as denoting simply the first of the same kind in a temporal sequence of two, but rather a preliminary and inferior sort of resurrection to the ultimate bodily resurrection of the new order. Thus the “first resurrection”, or “proto-resurrection”, is the preliminary coming to life of the faithful “souls” in heaven, while their bodies remain in their graves until the consummation.

    Now, although this does indeed make for an unusual and innovative use of the word “resurrection,” it is also quite appropriate, since the martyrs of Revelation 20:4-6 are people who were thought to be dead and are now seen to be, in a very real sense, alive. Yet it is nonetheless expressed as a kind of postmortem life before life, since the phrase “first resurrection” implies that there will indeed be a “second resurrection” for these martyred saints—the resurrection of the body which will take place at the end of the “thousand years,” i.e. the time when the “first” (πρῶτος) things will pass away and God will make all things “new” (καινός).

    Furthermore, the picture does not thereby collapse the concept of resurrection into a gnostic parody of a disembodied bliss, for this resurrection is qualified as being preliminary and inferior to its implicit successor: it is the protos to which the bodily resurrection is the new. The point is not that death equals resurrection for the Christian, but rather that these souls are seen as being alive in spite of having been killed by the Beast. Their fate is thereby contrasted with the fate of the Beast, who ironically went alive to the “second death”. In vindicating polarity, although these saints died, yet they live (cf. 2 Cor. 6:9).

  • Jeff Martin

    Matt #49,

    Thank you for responding! I have to say I disagree that the martyrs represent all the church in all aspects. They do represent them in so much as anyone who is threatened with death because of their testimony can relate to them considering those John is writing to are being persecuted!

    But notice that not all the dead came to life! Notice this is a resurrection! The dead were never said to come to life. Hell basically spit them out to the judgement seat. To say that one came to life is a blessing. So there had to be a second resurrection where those who are being judged and whose names are in the book of the living will come to life! Notice it is the book of the living!

    Again all Christians back then were in threat of being put to death, so they could all relate to the few that are beig talked about here and take comfort.

    Now yes, one day all God’s people will rule as those who are martyred, but for those whose death could come at any time this was exciting to hear that they would be actively participating with God and Christ instead of, simply waiting for the final day in agonizing anticipation.

  • DeWayne

    Not only is Rev 20:4-6 misread as only martyrs, of the two groups John said “I saw”, one were those with authority to judging, the second martyred for their faith, these (both) are said not having received the mark of beast, they (both) were resurrected… and not for a ‘one thousand years’ (of this earth age), but for eternity.

    More important is misinterpreted all of Rev 20:1-7, now previously including Satan bound. The problem stems from accepting misapplication of the Latin ‘Millennium’, that in most applications even the Catholic church strongly rejects.

    Here is proof, that I strongly encourage everyone validate in Gods word, this including need to use the lexicon/dictionary, validating what John of Patmos wrote in Revelation 20:1-15.

    May I reveal what I have learned of this Millennium. The Latin Millennium (in
    II Peter 3:8 & Rev 20:1-7) is agreed by scholar and Theologian
    having been translated from the Greek numeric ‘Chilioi’. The Importance, this Chilioi was found in earliest manuscripts of II Peter 3:8 and Rev 20:1-7, not the
    numeric Chilias. Please in the following do not think resorting to math theorems is outside the need to understand Gods word… and to be truthful, the word is spiritually discerned.

    Regardless, Chilioi is a cardinal numeric and plural article from the Greek math
    theorem base-10, representing the multiple (10x3rd power) to express a unit of plural ‘Thousands’, it was also pronounced as plural thousands, Note the unusual
    however, although scholar and theologian agree Chilioi is the correct
    numeric, almost all base their theorems upon the Greek numeric ‘Chilias’ or
    ‘Chiliade’, found substituted, or possibly taken from some less accepted
    document.

    What this Chilioi (also Chilias) means as found throughout NT scripture, when
    used, needs and will be found with additional numeric expressing the integer-sum within the unit Chilioi-Thousands.

    The unusual, Chilioi is found only eight times in the entire NT without these
    additional numeric to describe a sum within Thousands… found 6-times in Rev
    20:1-7, and remaining 2-times in II Peter 3:8. Not unusual, the exact quantity
    or sum within thousands years… is unknown (II Peter ‘as like’), or (Rev 20:1-7
    ‘as yet having not ended’).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X