PMW 2021-079 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is the second and concluding study on the exaggerated role of the millennium in eschatological studies. It is important for you to read the preceding article before jumping into this one. I am arguing that John’s half-chapter is given too much place in prophetic discussions. This has led many Christians to misunderstand the function of the millennium in Revelation, as well as its length.
Properly understood, the thousand-year time frame in Revelation 20 represents a long and glorious era and is not limited to a literal 365,000 days. The figure represents a perfect cube of ten, which is the number of quantitative perfection (as Augustine argues long ago). The thousand here is no more literal than that which affirms God’s ownership of the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps 50:10), or promises Israel will be a thousand times more numerous (Dt 1:11), or measures God’s love to a thousand generations (Dt 7:9), or expresses the desire for a thousand years in God’s courts (Ps 84:10), or compares a thousand years of our time to one of God’s days (Ps 90:4). Terry even surmises that “it may require a million years.”
Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation
By Larry E. Ball
A basic survey of Revelation from the preterist perspective. It sees John as focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
The millennial designation, then, is John’s visionary portrayal of Christ’s kingdom, which the Lord establishes at his first coming. Revelation 20:1 clearly presents the passage as a vision; John opens with: “and I saw” (Rev 20:1a). This strongly suggests its symbolic import and is evidence against a strictly literal interpretation of the one thousand years. In addition, the first event we see in the vision is Satan’s binding with a chain, which surely is not literal (especially since his binding appears as a spiritual event elsewhere: Mt 12:29). And what kind of key would unlock “the abyss” (Rev 20:1)? And where would it be kept? Surely the key is a symbol of control, as when Christ holds “the keys of death and of Hades” (Rev 1:18). May we really imagine that the Lord holds physical keys that control death and Hades?
Revelation 20:4–6 speaks of the saints living and reigning with Christ, which appears elsewhere as a spiritual reality in the present experience of God’s people (1Co 3:21–22; Eph 1:3; 2:6; Col 3:1–2). In Revelation 20:6 we read that “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years,” whereas in Revelation 1:6 John applies this same imagery to John’s first century audience: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” This reigning of the saints with Christ on thrones pictures the kingdom of Christ, which is already established (cf. ch. 10). His kingdom, then, is defined chronologically as a complete and perfect, long-lasting period. Warfield approvingly cites William Temple: “The church is still in its infancy. Two thousand years are as two days.” As James Adderley expresses it: “Christianity is a very young religion” and “we are only at the beginning of Christian history even now.”
Besides, elsewhere Christ’s second coming occurs at “the end” (1Co 15:23–24) and brings in “the last day” resurrection (Jn 6:39, 40, 44, 54). “Therefore, in view of the total absence of supporting evidence from the New Testament, it is exceedingly hazardous to claim that a thousand years intervene between Christ’s coming and the end of the world on the grounds that Revelation 20 teaches a millennium.”
The millennial era has already lasted almost 2,000 years; it may continue another 10,000 or more for all we know. It is the perfect time of Christ’s rule in his kingdom (Rev 1:5–6) — a time that shall eventually result in the subduing of all nations.
Now that we have had this two-part study of the abuse of the millennium: “Go. And sin no more.”
Click on the following images for more information on these studies: