The millennium is the period of time described in the Book of Revelation during which Christian martyrs will rule with Jesus Christ. After the millennium, when Christ has knocked down all enemies and submitted to all things, he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father and heaven and earth will be redone. Some Christian traditions literally interpret the millennium as a thousand years that precede or follow the coming of Christ; others see a pictorial interpretation in the context of Scripture: an indefinite period that begins with Jesus' resurrection and ends with his return. (Revelation 20,1: 15-21,1.5; 3,19: 21-11,15; Acts 1: 15,24-25; Revelation; Corinthians)
Two views on the millennium
For many Christians, the millennium is a very important doctrine, wonderfully good news. But we don't emphasize the millennium. Why? Because we base our teachings on the Bible, and the Bible does not make statements as clear as some think on the subject. For example, how long will the millennium last? Some say it will take exactly 1000 years. Revelation 20 says a thousand years. The word "millennium" means a thousand years. Why would anyone doubt this?
First, because the book of Revelation is full of symbols: animals, horns, colors, numbers that are symbolic, not literal. In Holy Scripture, the number 1000 is often used as a round number, not as an exact count. God means the animals in the mountains by the thousands, it is said, without that means an exact number. He holds his covenant for a thousand genders without meaning exactly 40.000 years. In such scriptures, a thousand means an infinite number.
So is “a thousand years” in Revelation 20 literal or is it to be understood symbolically? Can the number of thousands in this book of symbols, which are often not meant literally, be understood exactly? We cannot prove from Scripture that the thousand years can be understood exactly. Therefore, we cannot say that the millennium lasts exactly a thousand years. However, we can say that "the millennium is the length of time described in the Revelation ..."
We can also say that the millennium is “the period of time during which the Christian martyr rules with Jesus Christ”. Revelation tells us that those who are beheaded for Christ will reign with him, and it tells us that we will reign with Christ for a thousand years.
But when do these saints start to govern? With this question we get into some very hotly discussed questions about the millennium. There are two, three or four points of view about the millennium.
Some of these views are more literal in their approach to Scripture and some more figuratively. But none refuses the statements of Scripture - they only interpret them differently. All of them claim that they base their views on Scripture. It is for the most part a question of interpretation.
Here we describe the two most common views on the Millennium with their strengths and weaknesses, and then we will return to what we can say with the utmost confidence.
- According to the pre-millennial view, Christ comes back before the millennium.
- According to the Amillennial view, Christ comes back after the millennium, but it is called amillennial or not millennial because it says that there is no specific millennium that is different from what we already are. This view says that we are already in the period of time that revelation 20 describes.
This may seem absurd to believe that millennial rule is a time of peace that is only possible after Christ's return. It may appear that "these people do not believe the Bible" - but they claim to believe the Bible. In the interest of Christian love, we should try to understand why they believe the Bible says this.
The premillennial point of view
Let's start by explaining the premillennial position.
Old testament: First, many Old Testament prophecies predict a golden age in which people have a right relationship with God. "The lion and the lamb will lie together, and a little boy will drive them. No sin will be done anywhere on all my holy mountains, saith the LORD. »
Sometimes it appears that this future will differ drastically from the present world; sometimes it seems to be similar. Sometimes it seems perfect, and sometimes it is mixed with sin. In a section such as Isaiah 2, many people will say: "Come, let's go to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God Jacob, to teach us his ways and we'll walk on his ascents! For instruction will come from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem » (Isaiah 2,3).
Nevertheless, there will be peoples to be rebuked. People will need plows because they have to eat because they are mortal. There are ideal elements and there are normal elements. There will be little children, there will be marriage, and there will be death.
Daniel tells us that the Messiah will build a kingdom that will fill the earth and replace all the former realms. There are dozens of these prophecies in the Old Testament, but they are not critical to our specific question.
The Jews understood these prophecies as an indication of a future age on earth. They expected the Messiah to come and rule and bring these blessings. Jewish literature before and after Jesus expects a kingdom of God on earth. Jesus' own disciples seem to have expected the same thing. So when Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, we cannot pretend that the Old Testament prophecies did not exist. He preached to a people who expected a golden age ruled by the Messiah. When he spoke of the "Kingdom of God," that was in her mind.
The disciples: Jesus announced that the kingdom was near. Then he left her and said that he would return. It would not have been difficult for these followers to conclude that Jesus would bring the golden age when he returned. The disciples asked Jesus when he would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1,6). They used a similar Greek word to speak about the time of restoration of all things when Christ returns. Acts 3,21: «Heaven has to receive him until the time when all that God has spoken through the mouth is brought back of his holy prophets from the beginning. »
The disciples expected Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled in a future age after Christ's return. The disciples did not preach much about this golden age because their Jewish listeners were already familiar with this concept. They needed to know who the Messiah was, so that was the focus of the apostolic sermon.
According to the premillennialists, the apostolic preaching focused on the new things God had done through the Messiah. Focusing on how salvation through the Messiah was possible, she did not have to say much about the future kingdom of God, and it is difficult for us today to know exactly what they believed and how much they knew about it. However, we see a glimpse in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.
Paul: In 1. Corinthians 15, Paul details his belief in the resurrection, and in this context, he says something about the kingdom of God, which, according to some, refers to a millennial kingdom after the return of Christ.
«For as they all die in Adam, they will all be brought to life in Christ. But everyone in his order: as the first child Christ; after that, when he comes, those who belong to Christ » (1 Corinthians 15,22: 23). Paul explains that the resurrection comes in a sequence: first Christ, then later the believers. Paul uses the word "after" in verse 23 to indicate a delay of approximately 2000 years. He uses the word "after" in verse 24 to indicate another step in the sequence:
«Afterwards the end when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all rule and all power and violence. Because he must rule until God puts all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death » (Vv. 24-26).
That is how Christ must rule until he has put all his enemies under his feet. This is not a one-time event - it is a period of time. Christ rules a temporal period in which he destroys all enemies, even the enemy of death. And after all that comes the end.
Although Paul does not record these steps in a particular chronology, his use of his word "after" shows various steps in the plan. First the resurrection of Christ. The second step is the resurrection of the believers and then Christ will rule. According to this view, the third step will be to hand everything over to God the Father.
Revelation 20: The Old Testament predicts a golden age of peace and prosperity under God's rule, and Paul tells us that God's plan is progressing gradually. But the real foundation of the pre-millennial view is the Book of Revelation. This is the book many believe it reveals how it all comes together. We need to spend some time in Chapter 20 to see what it says.
We begin by observing that Christ's return is described in Revelation 19. It describes the wedding supper of the lamb. There was a white horse, and the rider is the word of God, king of kings, and lord of lords. He leads the armies from heaven and he
rules the nations. He overcomes the beast, the false prophet and his armies. This chapter describes the return of Christ.
Then we come to Revelation 20,1: "And I saw an angel descend from heaven ..." In the literary flow of the Book of Revelation, this is an event that takes place after Christ's return. What did this angel do? «... he had the key to the abyss and a big chain in his hand. And he took hold of the dragon, the old serpent, that is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. " The chain is not literal - it represents something that a spirit being can keep in its place. But the devil is tamed.
Would the original Revelation readers persecuted by the Jews and the Romans think that Satan had already been bound? We learn in Chapter 12 that the devil seduces the whole world and wages war against the Church. This doesn't look like the devil is being held back. He will not be held back until the animal and the false prophet are defeated. Verse 3: "... and threw it into the abyss and sealed it and put a seal on it so that it should no longer seduce the people until the thousand years were completed. After that he has to be released for a little while. » John sees the devil tamed for a while. In chapter 12 we read that the devil seduces the whole world. Here he is prevented from seducing the world for a thousand years. It's not just tied up - it's closed and sealed. The picture we are given shows complete restriction, total inability to seduce, no longer any influence.
Resurrection and dominion: What happens during these thousand years? John explains this in verse 4: "And I saw thrones and they sat on them and the judgment was given to them." This is a judgment that takes place after Christ's return. Verse 4 then continues:
"And I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast and its image and those who had not accepted its sign on their foreheads and on their hands; these came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. »
Here Johannes sees martyrs who reign with Christ. The verse says that it is those who have been beheaded, but it is unlikely that it is intended to pick out this specific form of martyrdom as if Christians killed by lions would not receive the same reward. Rather, the expression "who were beheaded" seems to be an expression that stands for all who gave their lives for Christ. That could mean all Christians. Elsewhere in Revelation we read that all believers in Christ will reign with him. So rule with Christ for a few thousand years, while Satan is bound and can no longer seduce the people.
Verse 5 then inserts a casual thought: "(The other dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were completed)". So there will be a resurrection at the end of the thousand years. The Jews before the time of Christ only believed in a resurrection. They only believed in the appearance of the Messiah. The New Testament tells us that things are more complex. The Messiah comes at different times for different purposes. The plan is progressing.
Most of the New Testament only describes a resurrection at the end of the age. But the Book of Revelation also reveals that it is gradual. Just as there is more than one "Lord's Day", there is more than one resurrection. The scroll opens to reveal further details of how God's plan is accomplished.
At the end of the inserted commentary on the other dead, verses 5-6 return to the time span of the millennium: «This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who participates in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them; but they will be priests of God and Christ and reign with him for a thousand years. »
The vision indicates that there will be more than one resurrection - one at the beginning of the millennium and another at the end. The people will be priests and kings in Christ's kingdom when the nations are no longer seduced by Satan.
The verses 7-10 describe something at the end of the millennium: Satan will be liberated, he will seduce the people again, they will attack God's people and the enemies will be defeated again and thrown into the fiery pool.
This is an outline of the premillennial view. Satan is now seducing the peoples and persecuting the church. But the good news is that the persecutors of the church will be defeated, Satan's influence will be stopped, the saints will be raised and reign with Christ for a thousand years. After that
Satan will be released for a short time and then thrown into the fiery pool. Then there will be a resurrection of non-Christians.
This seems to be the view which most of the early church believed, especially in Asia Minor. If the Book of Revelation intended to give any other perspective, it did not succeed in making a great impression on the first readers. They apparently believed that upon his return, a millennial reign of Christ would follow.
Arguments for Amillennialism
If premillennialism is so obvious, why do so many Bible-believing Christians believe in something else? They face no persecution or ridicule on this issue. They have no obvious outside pressure to believe in anything else, but they do anyway. They claim to believe the Bible, but they claim that the biblical millennium ends when Christ returns, instead of starting. Whoever speaks first seems to be right until the second speaks (Proverbs 18,17). We cannot answer the question until we have heard both sides.
The time of Revelation 20
With regard to the amillennial view, we would like to begin with this question: What if Revelation 20 is not fulfilled chronologically according to Chapter 19? John saw the vision of chapter 20 after seeing the vision in chapter 19, but what if the visions did not come in the order in which they are actually fulfilled? What if Revelation 20 brings us to a different time than the end of Chapter 19?
Here is an example of this freedom to move forward or backward in time: Chapter 11 ends with the seventh trumpet. Chapter 12 then takes us back to a woman giving birth to a male child, and where the woman is being protected for days on 1260. This is usually understood as an indication of the birth of Jesus Christ and the persecution of the Church. But this follows in the literary flow after the seventh trumpet. John's vision has taken him back in time to outline another aspect of the story.
So the question is: is this happening in Revelation 20? Does it put us back in time? More specifically, is there evidence in the Bible that this is a better interpretation of what God reveals?
Yes, says the amillennial view. There is evidence in the Scriptures that the kingdom of God has begun, that Satan has been bound, that there will only be a resurrection, that Christ's return will bring a new heaven and a new earth, without any phase in between. It is a hermeneutical mistake to put the Book of Revelation, with all its symbols and interpretation difficulties, in conflict with the rest of Scripture. We need to use clear scriptures to interpret the unclear instead of the other way round. In this case, the Book of Revelation is the unclear and controversial material, and the other New Testament verses are clear in this matter.
Prophecies are symbolic
Luks 3,3: 6 shows us, for example, how we should understand Old Testament prophecies: «And John the Baptist came all over the Jordan region and preached the baptism of the buses for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the speeches of the prophet Isaiah: It is a voice of a preacher in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord and make his climb! All valleys are to be raised, and all mountains and hills are to be lowered; and what is crooked should become straight, and what is uneven should become a level path. And all people will see the Savior of God. »
In other words, when Isaiah spoke about mountains, roads, and deserts, he spoke in a very pictorial way. Old Testament prophecies were given in symbolic language to represent the events of salvation through Christ.
As Jesus said on the way to Emmaus, the prophets of the Old Testament referred to him. If we see their main emphasis in a future period, we do not see these prophecies in the light of Jesus Christ. It changes the way we read all the prophecies. He is the focus. He is the true temple, he is the true David, he is the true Israel, his kingdom is the true kingdom.
We see the same with Peter. Peter said that a prophecy was fulfilled by Joel in his own time. Let us observe Acts 2,16: 21: «But that is what was said by the prophet Joel: And it shall happen in the last days, says God, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see faces, and your old men shall have dreams; and in those days I will pour out my spirit on my servants and on my maidens, and they shall prophesy. And I will do miracles up in the sky and signs down on earth, blood and fire and smoke vapor; the sun is to be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great day of the Lord's revelation comes. And it shall happen: whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. »
Indeed, many of the Old Testament prophecies are actually about the age of the Church, the age we are now in. If there is a millennial age yet to come, then we are not in the last days. There can not be two sets of the last days. When the prophets spoke of miracles in the sky and strange signs of the sun and moon, such prophecies can be fulfilled in a symbolically unexpected way - as unexpected as the pouring of the Holy Spirit upon God's people and speaking in tongues.
We should not automatically reject the symbolic interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies because the New Testament shows us that we can understand the Old Testament prophecies symbolically. Old Testament prophecies can either be fulfilled through symbolic fulfillments in the church age, or in an even better way in the new heaven and earth after Christ's return. Everything that the prophets promise we have better in Jesus Christ, either now or in the new heaven and earth. The Old Testament prophets described a kingdom that will never end, an eternal kingdom, an eternal age. They did not talk about a limited "golden age" after which the earth will be destroyed and rebuilt.
The New Testament does not explain every Old Testament prophecy. There is simply an example of fulfillment that shows that the original scriptures were written in symbolic language. This does not prove the amillennial view, but it removes an obstacle. In the New Testament we find more evidence that leads many Christians to believe in the amillennial conception.
First of all, we can take a quick look at Daniel 2. It does not support premillenialism, despite the assumptions that some read into it. "But at the time of these kings the God of heaven will establish a kingdom that will never be destroyed; and his kingdom will come to no other people. It will crush and destroy all these kingdoms; but it will stay forever » (Daniel 2,44).
Daniel says that the kingdom of God will eliminate all human kingdoms and remain forever. There is no indication in this verse that God's kingdom will come in phases of a church-age almost destroyed by a great tribulation, and then a millennial age almost destroyed by the release of Satan, and finally followed by a new Jerusalem becomes. No, this verse simply says that the kingdom of God will conquer all enemies and remain forever. There is no need to defeat all enemies twice or build the empire three times.
The Mount of Olives Prophecy is the most detailed prophecy Jesus gave. If the millennium is important to him, we should find a clue there. But this is not the case. Instead, we see Jesus describe his return, followed immediately by a judgment of reward and punishment. Matthew 25 not only describes the righteous who are resurrected to judgment - it also shows how the ungodly face their judge and are given to anguish and extreme darkness. There is no evidence here for a thousand-year interval between the sheep and the goats.
Jesus gave another indication of his understanding of the prophecy in Matthew 19,28: «But Jesus said to them: Truly, I say to you, you who have followed me will be born again when the Son of Man is seated on the throne his glory, also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. »
Jesus does not speak here about a span of a thousand years, in which sin still exists, and in which Satan is only temporarily bound. When he speaks of the restoration of all things, he means the renewal of all things - the new heaven and the new earth. He says nothing
over a millennial time span in between. This concept was not Jesus, to say the least
important, because did not say anything about it.
The same thing happened in the early church. In Acts 3,21, Peter said that "Christ must remain in heaven until the time when everything that God has spoken about is brought back through the mouth of his holy prophets from the beginning." Christ will restore everything when he returns, and Peter says that this is the correct interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies. Christ does not leave sin behind to cause a tremendous crisis a thousand years later. He fixes everything at once - a renewed heaven and earth, all at once, all at the return of Christ.
Notice what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3,10:12: «The day of the Lord will come like a thief; then the skies will melt with a great crash; but the elements will melt with heat, and the earth and the works on it will find their judgment. » The fiery pool cleanses the whole earth at Christ's return. It says nothing about a thousand year period. Verses 14 read: "... where the skies will melt and the elements will melt from the heat. But we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth after its promise, in which justice resides. Therefore, my dear ones, while you are waiting, you will endeavor to find yourself in peace in front of him immaculate and immaculate. »
We are not looking forward to a millennium, but to a new heaven and a new earth. When we talk about the good news of the wonderful world of tomorrow, that's what we should focus on, not a temporary period of time where sin and death still exist. We have better news to focus on: we should look forward to the restoration of all things in the new heaven and on the new earth. All this will happen on the day of the Lord when Christ returns.
Paul presents the same view in 2 Thessalonians 1,6: 7-8: «For God it is righteous to retaliate to those who beset you, but to you who are afflicted to rest with us when the Lord Jesus will reveal himself from heaven with the angels of his power. » God will punish the first century persecutors when he returns. This means a resurrection of the unbelievers, not just the believers, when Christ returns. That means a resurrection without a period in between. He says it again in verses 10: "... in flames of fire, to retaliate against those who do not know God and who are not obedient to the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer punishment, eternal ruin, from the face of the Lord and from his glorious power when he comes, that he will be glorified by his saints and will appear wonderfully to all believers that day; for what we have testified to you, you believed. »
This describes a resurrection, all at the same time, the day Christ returns. When the book of Revelation speaks of two resurrections, it contradicts what Paul wrote. Paul says that the good and the bad are raised the same day.
Paul simply repeats what Jesus said in John 5,28: 29: “Don't be surprised. For the hour will come when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and will come forth who have done good, the resurrection of life, but who have done evil, the resurrection of judgment. » Jesus speaks of the resurrection of the good and the bad at the same time - and if anyone could best describe the future, it was Jesus. If we read the Book of Revelation to contradict Jesus' words, we misinterpret it.
Let us look at the Letter to the Romans, Paul's longest outline of doctrinal questions. He describes our future glory in Romans 8,18: 23: «Because I am convinced that suffering at this time does not count against the glory that is to be revealed to us. Because the fearful wait of the creature is waiting for the children of God to be revealed. Creation is subject to impermanence - without its will, but through the one who submitted it - but with hope; for creation too will be free from the bondage of impermanence to the wonderful freedom of God's children » (Vv. 18-21).
Why does creation wait for the children of God when they receive their glory? Because also the creation will be freed from its bondage - probably at the same time. When the children of God are revealed in glory, the creation will no longer wait. The creation will be renewed - there will be a new heaven and a new earth when Christ returns.
Paul gives us the same view in 1 Corinthians 15. He says in verse 23 that those who belong to Christ will be resurrected when Christ returns. Verse 24 then tells us: "Afterwards the end ...", ie when the end will come. When Christ comes to raise up his people, he will destroy all his enemies, restore everything, and hand the kingdom over to the Father.
There is no need to demand a millennial time span between verse 23 and verse 24. At least we could say that if time is involved then it was not very important to Paul. In fact, it seems that such a period would contradict what he wrote elsewhere, and it would contradict what Jesus himself said.
Roman 11 says nothing about a kingdom after Christ's return. What it says might fit in such a timeframe, but in Romans 11 itself there is nothing that could cause us to envision such a temporal period.
Now we have to look at the strange and emblematic vision of John, which triggers the whole controversy. Does John, with his sometimes bizarre animals and celestial symbols, disclose things that other apostles did not reveal, or does he again present in different ways the same prophetic framework?
Let's start in Revelation 20,1. A messenger [angel] comes from heaven to bind Satan. Someone who knew the teachings of Christ would probably think: this has already happened. In Matthew 12, Jesus was accused of casting out evil spirits by their prince. Jesus replied:
"But if I cast out the evil spirits through the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come to you" (V.28). We are convinced that Jesus cast out demons through the Spirit of God; thus we are also convinced that the Kingdom of God came to this age.
Jesus then adds in verse 29: «Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and rob his household goods if he does not first bind the strong man? Only then can he rob his house. » Jesus was able to order the demons around because he has already entered and bound the world of Satan. It is the same word as in Revelation 20. Satan was defeated and bound. Here is more evidence of this:
- In John 12,31, Jesus said: “Now judgment is being given to this world; now the prince of this world will be expelled. » Satan was expelled while Jesus was working.
- Colossians 2,15 tells us that Jesus has already stripped his enemies of their power and "triumphed over them through the cross".
- Hebrews 2,14: 15 tells us that Jesus destroyed the devil by taking his death on the cross - that is a strong word. "Because the children are now flesh and blood, he also accepted it equally, so that by his death he would take the power out of those who had control over death, namely the devil."
- In 1 John 3,8 it says: "The Son of God has appeared to destroy the works of the devil."
As the last passage in Judas 6: "Even the angels, who did not maintain their heavenly rank but left their dwelling, he held for the judgment of the big day with eternal bonds in the darkness."
Satan was already bound. His power has already been curtailed. So, when Revelation 20 says that John saw Satan being bound, we can conclude that this is a vision of the past, something that has already happened. We are set back in time to see a part of the picture that other visions have not shown us. We see that Satan, despite his continuing influence, is already a defeated enemy. He can no longer keep the people in complete seduction. The blanket is taken away and people from all nations already hear the gospel and come to Christ.
Then we are led behind the scenes to see that the martyrs are already with [at] Christ. Although they were beheaded or otherwise killed, they came to life and lived with Christ. They are now in heaven, says the amillennial vision, and this is the first resurrection where they come to life for the first time. The second resurrection will be a resurrection of the body; the first is simply that, in the meantime, we are living to live with Christ. All who participate in this resurrection are blessed and holy.
The first death is different from the second. Therefore, it is unrealistic to assume that the first resurrection will be like the second. They differ in essence. Just as the enemies of God die twice, so the redeemed will live twice. In this vision, the martyrs are already with Christ, they rule with him, and this takes a very long time, in the phrase "a thousand years".
When this long time is over, Satan will be released, there will be a great tribulation, and Satan and his powers will be defeated forever. There will be a judgment, a fiery pool, and then a new heaven and a new earth.
An interesting point can be found in the Greek original text of verse 8: Satan gathers the peoples not only to fight, but for the fight - in Revelation 16,14 and 19,19. All three verses describe the same great culminating struggle at the return of Christ.
If we had nothing but the Book of Revelation, we would probably accept the literal view - that Satan is bound for a thousand years, that there is more than one resurrection, that there are at least three phases in God's kingdom, that there are at least two culminating battles and there are more than one sentence from “last days”.
But the book of Revelation is not all that we have. We have many other scriptures,
who clearly teach a resurrection and teach that the end will come when Jesus returns. Therefore, if we encounter something in this apocalyptic book that seems to contradict the rest of the New Testament, we do not have to accept the weird just because it comes last as the Book of the Bible. Rather, we look at its context in a book of visions and symbols, and we can see how its symbols can be interpreted in ways that do not contradict the rest of the Bible.
We can not base a complicated theology system on the most obscure book in the Bible. That would invite problems and divert our attention from what the New Testament really is. The biblical message is not focused on a transient realm after Christ's return. It focuses on what Christ did when he first came to what he is doing right now in the church, and as a great climax, how everything ends after his return for ever.
Answers to Amillennialism
The amillennial view does not lack biblical support. She can not be dismissed without studying. Here are some books that may be helpful in studying the millennium.
- The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert Clouse, InterVarsity, 1977.
- Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary [The Revelation: Four Views, One
Parallel Commentary], by Steve Gregg, Nelson Publishers, 1997.
- The Millennial Maze: Sorting Out Evangelical Options [Maze Millennium - the evangelicals
Sort out options], by Stanley Grenz, InterVarsity, 1992.
- Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, by Darrell Bock, Zondervan, 1999.
- Millard Erickson has written a book about the millennium, and a good chapter about it in his Christian Theology. He gives an overview of the options before deciding on one.
All these books attempt to outline the strengths and weaknesses of each concept over the millennium. In some, the authors criticize the mutual views. All these books show that the questions are complex and that the analysis of the specific verses can be quite detailed. That's one reason why the debate continues.
Answer by the premillist
How would a supporter of premillennialism react to the amillennial vision? The answer could include the following four points:
- The Book of Revelation is part of the Bible, and we can not ignore its teachings simply because it's hard to interpret or because it's apocalyptic literature. We must accept it as Scripture, even if it changes the way we view other passages. We have to allow it to reveal something new, not simply repeating the things we've already been told. We can not assume in advance that it will not reveal anything new or otherwise.
- Further disclosure is not a contradiction to the earlier disclosure. It is true that Jesus spoke of a resurrection, but it is not a contradiction to realize that he could be raised above all others. Thus we already have two resurrections without contradicting Christ, and it is therefore not inconsistent to assume that the one resurrection is divided into two or more periods. The point is that every person is raised only once.
- The cause of extra phases of God's kingdom. The Jews awaited the Messiah, who would introduce the golden age immediately, but he did not. There was a huge time difference in fulfilling the prophecies. This will be explained by later disclosures. In other words, inserting never-before-revealed periods of time is not a contradiction - it's a clarification. The fulfillment can and has already taken place in phases, with unannounced gaps. 1. Corinthians 15 shows such phases, and also the book of Revelation in its most natural meaning. We must allow for the possibility of things developing after Christ returns.
- The amillennial view does not seem to deal sufficiently with the language of Revelation 20,1-3. Satan is not only bound, he is also imprisoned and sealed. The picture is one where it no longer has any influence, not even partially. It is true that Jesus spoke of binding Satan, and rightly, that he defeated Satan on the cross. But Jesus Christ's victory over Satan has not yet been fully realized. Satan is still active, he still seduces a huge number of people. The original readers, who were persecuted by the kingdom of the beast, would not easily assume that Satan was already bound, which could no longer seduce the peoples. The readers knew well that the overwhelming majority of the Roman Empire was in a state of seduction.
In short, the follower of the amillennial view could answer: It is right, we can allow God to reveal new things, but we can not suppose from the start that every unusual thing in the book of Revelation is indeed a new thing. Rather, it may be an old idea in a new dress. The idea that a resurrection could be separated by a temporal gap does not mean that it is indeed. And our idea of what the original readers felt about Satan should be our interpretation of what the
Apocalyptic symbolism really means control. We can make a subjective impression
of a book written in symbolic language, do not build a sophisticated scheme.
Now what should we say after seeing the two most common views about the millennium? We can say with certainty that "some Christian traditions interpret the millennium as literally 1000 years that precede or follow the return of Christ, while others believe that the evidence of Scripture indicates a symbolic interpretation: an indefinite period that coincides with Christ's resurrection begins and ends when he returns. »
The millennium is not a doctrine that defines who a true Christian is and who is not. We do not want to divide Christians based on their choice of how to interpret this topic. We acknowledge that equally sincere, equally educated, and equally faithful Christians can come to different conclusions about this doctrine.
Some members of our church share the premillennial, some the amillennial or other perspectives. But there are many things in which we can agree:
- We all believe that God has all power and will fulfill all his prophecies.
- We believe that Jesus has already brought us into his kingdom in this age.
- We believe that Christ has given us life, that we will be with him when we die, and that we will rise from the dead.
- We agree that Jesus defeated the devil, but Satan still exerts influence in this world.
- We agree that Satan's influence will be completely stopped in the future.
- We believe that everyone will be resurrected and judged by a merciful God.
- We believe that Christ will return and triumph over all enemies and lead us into eternity with God.
- We believe in a new heaven and a new earth where justice lives, and this wonderful world of tomorrow will last forever.
- We believe that eternity will be better than the millennium.
We have much where we can agree; we do not need to divide on the basis of different understandings of the order in which God will do His will.
The chronology of the last days is not part of the Annunciation mission of the Church. The gospel is about how we can enter into the kingdom of God, not about the chronology of when things happen. Jesus did not emphasize chronology; he also did not emphasize an empire that would last for a limited time. Of the 260 chapters in the New Testament, only one deals with the millennium.
We do not make the interpretation of Revelation 20 an article of faith. We have more important things to preach and we have better things to preach. We preach that through Jesus Christ, not only in this age, not only for 1000 years, but forever can we live in joy, peace and prosperity that never ends.
A balanced approach to the millennium
- Almost all Christians agree that Christ will return and that there will be a judgment.
- No matter what Christ will do after his return, no one who believes will be disappointed.
- The eternal age is much more glorious than the millennial. At best, the millennium is the second best.
- The exact chronological sequence is not an integral part of the gospel. The gospel is about how to enter the kingdom of God, not the chronological and physical details of certain phases of this kingdom.
- Since the New Testament does not emphasize the nature or timing of the millennium, we conclude that it is not a central bar in the Church's mission.
- People can be saved through the millennium without a belief. This
Punkt is not central to the gospel. Members can represent different opinions.
- No matter what view a member shares, he or she should acknowledge that other Christians sincerely believe that the Bible teaches otherwise. Members should not condemn or mock those who have other views.
- Members can educate themselves on other views by reading one or more of the books listed above.
- by Michael Morrison