Millennium exaggeratedPMT 2016-009 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am beginning a two-part series on the millennium. I will be highlighting how its significance in eschatological discussions is exaggerated. I am calling for balance on this issue.

Revelation 20:1–6 present us with a time frame that plays a far greater role in the eschatological debate than it warrants. Oddly, Stanley J. Grenz asserts of “evangelical postmillennialists” that “as a millenarian viewpoint, of course, it builds its primary case from a futurist interpretation of John’s vision.” This is simply not so. As I show in chapter 3 and argue in my chapter in Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, “I would prefer to leave Revelation 20 out of my presentation.” In their debate book Antony Hoekema scolds postmillennialist Loraine Boettner for not dealing with Revelation 20:1–6 in his argument for postmillennialism.

Incredibly, this passage dominates the thinking of various eschatological schools. But amillennialist William Cox wisely argues: “Most millennial thinking begins with Revelation 20, since this is the only place in the entire Bible where the thousand years is mentioned. We feel that Revelation 20 ought to be our last stop, not our first.” Indeed, “this is one of the most hotly debated issues in the whole field of eschatology.” Grant Osborne reminds us that “few issues have divided the church for as long a time as this, for the church in the first three centuries had extensive debates over ‘chiliasm.’”

Adam in the New TestamentAdam in NT
by J. P. Versteeg

Carefully examining key passages of Scripture, Versteeg proves that all human beings descended from Adam, the first man. He argues that if this is not true, the entire history of redemption documented in Scripture unravels and we have no gospel in any meaningful sense.

See more study materials at:

The role of Revelation 20 in the debate is absolutely essential to premillennialism. Historic premillennialist Timothy P. Weber notes that “the key biblical passage for such [golden age] speculation is Revelation 20, in which Christ returns to earth, defeats Satan, and sets up a thousand-year kingdom on the earth.” Premillennialist Craig L. Blomberg agrees: “for evangelical New Testament interpreters, the millen-nial debate reduces ultimately to an understanding of Revelation 20.” He notes that: “George Eldon Ladd . . . liked to say in class that he could have been an amillennialist if it were not for Revelation 20.”

Premillennialism’s depending on Revelation 20 is surprising for at least two major reasons. First, the only place in all of Scripture that associates “one thousand years” with the reign of Christ is in the first six verses of this one chapter. Against such a complaint, premillennialist Ladd comments: “the fact that the New Testament in only one place teaches an interim kingdom, between this age and the Age to Come is no reason for rejecting it.” Yet the postmillennial concern is well-justified. If a literal earthly millennium is a prominent era in redemptive history, the very goal of history (as premillennialists and dispensationalists argue), then why should we not expect a reference to the thousand years appearing in more than one passage?

Second, the thousand-year reign occurs in the most figurative and difficult book in all of Scripture. If it is a literal time frame, why is it that it is only mentioned in this highly symbolic book? It is a bit odd, too, that this time frame is a perfectly rounded and exact multiple of ten, which seems more compatible with a figurative view.

B. B. Warfield is surely correct when he comments: “we must not permit ourselves to forget that there is a sense in which it is proper to permit our understanding of so obscure a portion of Scripture to be affected by the clearer teaching of its more didactic parts. . . . The order of investigation should be from the clearer to the more obscure.” But dispensationalists and premillennialists seldom honor this hermeneutical principle. In fact, “nothing, indeed, seems to have been more common in all ages of the Church than to frame an eschatological scheme from this passage, imperfectly understood, and then to impose this scheme on the rest of Scripture vi et armis.”Climax of Revelation DVD

The Climax of the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)

Six lectures on six DVDs that introduce Revelation as a whole, then focuses on its glorious conclusion. Provides an important, lengthy Introduction to Revelation also.

See more study materials at:

Historic premillennialist Chung complains: “Many Reformed theologians . . . spiritualize key passages of the Bible that must be interpreted more literally from the kingdom perspective. For example, many Reformed covenant theologians have taken Revelation 20:1–6 as a metaphorical account, denying the fulfilment of the physical millennial rule on the earth.”

Robert Clouse well notes: “These categories [amillennial, premillennial, postmillennial], although helpful and widely accepted, are in certain respects unfortunate as the distinctions involve a great deal more than the time of Christ’s return.” Nevertheless, as I note above, amillennialist Hoekema scolds postmillennialist Boettner for not dealing with Reve-lation 20:1–6 in his presentation of the postmillennial conception of the kingdom.

To be continued. Don’t worry the Rapture hasn’t happened. I will be back.

Click on the following images for more information on these studies:

Charismatic Gift

Thine Kingdom

Post Easy

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  1. Blaine K. Newton February 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    It’s interesting that Revelation 20 only mentions that Christ reigns (with His saints) for 1000 years; however, there is no mention in this passage that this reign is one of an earthly nature. That an earthly reign is in view is simply assumed by premillennialists from the passage, not exegeted from it.

    The NT has many references to Christ reigning, but that reign is always at the right hand of the Father in heaven, not on earth (e.g. Acts 2:33-35; Eph. 1:19-21; Phil. 2:5-10; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:2-4, 8:1, 10:12,13, etc.)

    Secondly, premillennialist seem to either overlook or minimize passages that directly refer to the present reality of the NT church as being a kingdom of priests who are reigning with Christ presently in a spiritual sense. (e.g. Rev. 1:5, 5:9,10; Eph, 2:6; 1 Pet. 2:4-9, etc.).

    Finally, what makes the earthly millennial reign of Christ seemingly lacking in support is that the NT in particular does not mention such. At the risk of arguing from silence, one would expect such a crucial doctrine to be more abundantly taught if it is, in fact, what the Bible has in mind. There is mention of the saints reigning on the earth (e.g. Rev. 5:10), but this reign is within a spiritual context, rather than a physical one.

  2. The Seeking Disciple February 2, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Dr. Gentry, could you point me to posts (if you have them) on full preterism and specifically Don Preston and his teachings. Is Preston orthodox or heretical?

  3. Kenneth Gentry February 2, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I have a book coming out in the next few weeks that is titled: “Have We Missed the Second Coming?” That will collect some helpful information in one place that I have written in various contexts. I have not written anything specifically on Preston’s views. Since he became prominent in the Hyper-preterist movement I have been tied up with my in-depth commentary on Revelation.

    The positions taken by Hyper-preterism are definitionally heretical, in that they are out of accord with the historic, corporate, public, universal, systematic Christian faith as summarized in the ecumenical creeds of the ancient church.

  4. Ronald Conley January 5, 2019 at 1:43 am

    If, upon the “second coming” (return of Christ), “the ‘dead’ in Christ” are resurrected, and changed “in the twinkling of an eye”–some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting damnation, it would seem to suggest an end to sin, sickness and death. As-a-result, wouldn’t an assumed interim period of a literal “thousand year ‘reign’ of Christ” create a paradox that suggests an end to Christ’s reign with his saints, sin continuing to exist simultaneously with his reign, and a problematic conundrum presented since, at Christ’s return, all outside of Christ are already existing apart from Him in a state of eternal damnation. Likewise, would the conundrum also suggest a need for Christ Jesus to depart His earthly domain lordship, and return for a non-biblical “third” only to be left with the task of dealing with sin, once again? Am I wrong to believe that “all” who received Christ Jesus in the past, and the present, are already reigning with Him, and will continue to reign with Him throughout eternity with no “end”, and that “at the ‘end’ of the ‘thousand year reign'” would be most correctly understood to mean, “When all of man’s failed-attempts to self-govern during Satan’s restricted (bound) period of influence upon the inhabitants of the earth has reached its appointed-ending (time), Christ Jesus will intervene–putting an “end to” sin, but without disrupting his ongoing (continuing) reign with His saints for all eternity? I am of the persuasion that “a ‘thousand’ years”, in this context, is intended to be understood as a metaphorical inference to an indefinite period, as regarding man’s understanding during this period of God’s grace with respect to the “binding of the ‘strong man’ (Satan), and the pilfering of his goods while, yet,
    redeeming the lost and growing the Church body . So, the “end” is not to be taken as a “literal” end to Christ’s reign, but an end to God’s tolerance and period of grace toward sin and the unrepentant sinners.

  5. Kenneth Gentry January 7, 2019 at 9:06 am

    The resurrection of the dead and the return of Christ are literal events that will transpire at the conclusion of temporal history. The millennial reign of Christ, however, is a symbol of Christ’s reigning throughout Christian history. Though he does actually reign, the image of 1000 years is not to be understood literally. This is as we might suspect from its appearing only one time in Scripture and in the most figurative book in Scripture; nowhere else is Christ’s reign limited to a particular length.

    The end of temporal history will be effected by the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment. At this time the earth will be radically changed and all sin will be finally judged, with sinners forever confined to hell, separated from the new heavens and new earth.

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