33. What is amillennialism?
Amillennialism believes that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 is a figurative term for Christ’s present kingdom on earth and in heaven between His first and second comings, during which the devil is significantly bound, and which will be concluded with these co-incidental climactic end-time signs: the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the everlasting kingdom.
Revelation is apocalyptic literature, a genre which abounds in symbolism and imagery. Therefore, amillennialists regard the 1000 years of Revelation 20 figuratively. It is a long period of time, though not an unlimited period.
Amillennialism means literally “no-1000 years,” which seems to imply that amillennialists do not believe in any “1000 years.” They do, but they do not believe in a literal 1000 year period sometime in the future. That’s why some argue for amillennialism to be called “now-millennialism,” because they view the present as part of the 1000 years.
…for Christ’s present kingdom on earth and in heaven…
The kingdom of Christ has come, is coming, and will come.61 Old Testament prophecies of the kingdom of God are already being fulfilled as Christ’s kingdom comes on earth, and also as He reigns in heaven.
… between his first and second comings…
There are only two comings of Christ to this earth, the first was when he came in humiliation, and the second when he will come in glory to judge the universe. There are no further comings, and there is no idea of one coming in two phases.
…during which the devil is significantly bound…
Christ’s first coming did bind the devil significantly, but not fully or forever. There will be a future brief unloosing of the devil.
…and which will be concluded with co-incidental and climactic end-time signs:
Though the signs of the times are with us in the whole period between Christ’s first and second comings, these signs will intensify and climax before the second coming of Christ. The conclusion of time will involve a cluster of concurrent events: the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth.
…the second coming of Christ…
Christ will come to the earth only one more time; to end time and to judge the world. …the resurrection of the dead, There will be one resurrection, a general resurrection of all the dead (John 5:28-29, Acts 24:15; Dan. 12:2), while living believers will be transformed and glorified.
…the final judgment…
At the final judgment, unbelievers will be consigned to eternal punishment, while believers inherit eternal life in the new heavens and earth. Believers will also be judged but not as to destiny, only as to the level of reward.
…and the everlasting kingdom.
All these major events (second coming, resurrection, final judgment) will occur immediately before the new heavens and the new earth are revealed.
34. How does an amillennialist interpret Daniel 9:24-27?
Daniel 9:24-27 is apocalyptic literature that uses figurative language to predict the nature, timing and consequences of Christ’s work at His first coming.
Daniel was written for the Israelites who had been living as captives in Babylon for almost seventy years. It was about 540 BC and it looked as if the Babylonian gods had defeated the God of Israel and the Israel of God. Eighty-two-year-old Daniel wrote to correct this false impression. The structure of the book is:
• Chapters 1-6: Faithful living in evil times (historical narratives about Daniel’s godly life in Babylon)
• Chapters 7-12: Forward looking in evil times (dreams and visions about the future)
One day, as Daniel was reading the prophecy of Jeremiah about a seventy-year exile for Israel (Jeremiah 25:8-11; 29:10-14), the angel Gabriel appeared to him with a message about another seventy. In effect, Gabriel said,” Daniel, you’ve been thinking about the seventy years of exile for God’s people. Well that’s not the only seventy in God’s program for Jerusalem. In seventy periods of seven, Jerusalem will witness even greater things.”
…is apocalyptic literature…
Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation are full of apocalyptic language, characterized by symbolism, visions, allegories, parables, and symbolic actions. Usually there is a sharp distinction between the heavenly and earthly spheres. The literature takes a pessimistic view of the earthly sphere, and usually centers hope in the heavenly realm, from which salvation will come.
…that uses figurative language…
The Bible uses “seven” as a figure of perfection, and “ten” as a figure of completion. Therefore, Daniel’s “seventy sevens” is a perfect and complete period of time. Just as forgiving seventy times seven is a figure for complete and perfect forgiveness, so Daniel’s “seventy sevens” is the “decreed” period in which the greatest work of God is brought to complete perfection.
…to predict the nature…of Christ’s work at His first coming.
Daniel portrays this greatest work of God, Christ’s redemption, with three negatives and three positives (Daniel 9:24).
- To finish the transgression לְכַלֵּא הַפֶּשַׁע: sin will brought under control so that it no longer reigns to the same extent
- To make an end of (lit. seal up) sins וּלְהָתֵם חַטָּאת: sin will be securely locked up
- To make reconciliation for (lit. cover) iniquity וּלְכַפֵּר עָוֹן: When sin is covered it is atoned for
- To bring in everlasting righteousness וּלְהָבִיא צֶדֶק עֹלָמִים: God will being in a righteousness from without, eternal in origin and duration
- To seal up (lit. authenticate) the vision and prophecy וְלַחְתֹּם חָזֹון וְנָבִיא: God’s Word will be accredited and attested by these events
- To anoint the Most Holy וְלִמְשֹׁחַ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים: God will qualify and enable His Son, the “Holy of Holies” for His central role and huge responsibilities in this great work of redemption.
…to predict the timing…of Christ’s work at His first coming…
Daniel divides the “seventy sevens” into three divisions (Daniel 9:25-27):
- 7 sevens: A medium period of time (@ 460 to 410 BC) which began when Artarxerxes gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem. Daniel describes this as “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” This restoration and rebuilding occurred under Ezra and Nehemiah.
- 62 sevens: A much longer period of time (@ 410 BC to 30 AD) which began with Jerusalem rebuilt and restored, and finished with Christ’s first coming and, more specifically, with the beginning of His public ministry.
- 1 seven: A relatively short period of time (@ 30 AD) which began with Christ’s first coming (especially the beginning of His public ministry) and included His life, death and resurrection.
…and to predict the consequences of Christ’s work at His first coming.
After 7 + 62 sevens (69 sevens), or in the middle of the seventieth seven, “Messiah will be cut off,” a phrase used both for death and for ratifying a covenant. This “cutting off” will be for the benefit of others, “not for himself,” and it will “confirm the covenant with many.” The covenant of grace, as revealed through the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David , and as further prophesied by Jeremiah, will be fulfilled by the Messiah.
In the middle of the seventieth seven, Messiah will cause the whole temple worship to cease, to be rendered unnecessary by His death and resurrection. The temple sacrifices did not actually cease until Jerusalem was desolated by Titus in 70 AD, but that was really just the outward manifestation of what had already happened in God’s eyes. In God’s eyes, Christ’s death rendered the sacrificial system unnecessary and over. So, although the Jews continued to reject Christ’s sacrifice and offer animal sacrifices, God viewed this as “the overspreading of abominations,” for which He would punish them with desolation. “The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be with a flood (Daniel 9:26).”
35. How does an amillennialist interpret Matthew 24?
In Matthew 24, Jesus uses the classic prophetic methods of foreshortening and typology to predict not only the near judgment of Jerusalem, but also the continuing course of world history, and the climactic judgment of the world.
When you look at a mountain range from a distance, mountain peaks which are separated by many miles can sometimes look as if they are right beside one another. It’s only when you get closer to the peaks that the distance between them becomes more obvious.
In a similar manner, when the Old Testament prophets looked ahead they sometimes saw events separated by many years as if they were right beside one another. It’s only as time gets closer to the predicted evnets that the distance between them becomes obvious. This is sometimes called “prophetic foreshortening.” “The widely separated mountain peaks of historic events merge and are seen as one (Hendriksen, Commentary on Matthew, 846).”
In Matthew 24, Jesus presents the future fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the end of the world as intertwined. But as time gets closer to the predicted fall of Jerusalem, the events are seen as separated by time.
…and typology to predict…
One of the reasons why Jesus and the prophets used prophetic foreshortening was to teach that the first event was a “type” of the latter. It was a smaller prophetic picture of a larger future event. When the first event occurred, then we could learn better what the larger event would be like. For example, the Old Testament prophets used the exodus of Israel from Egypt, as a type of the exodus of Israel from Babylon in 538 BC.
In Matthew 24, Jesus presents the events surrounding the end of Jerusalem in 70 AD as a type, a prophetic picture, of the church’s experience in all ages, climaxing in the events surrounding the end of the age itself. Using the palette and colors of imminent events (the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans), Jesus painted a vivid picture of the future: ongoing enemy opposition together with ongoing divine judgments on these enemies, opposition and destruction that would climax and reach its highest height at the end of time.
…not only the near judgment of Jerusalem…
Jesus is definitely referring to judgment on the physical city of Jerusalem. “Let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains (Matt. 24:16).”
…but also the continuing course of world history…
Jesus moves beyond Jerusalem and beyond His age to tell the disciples that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.”69 But the future will not just see ongoing expansion of the Gospel Kingdom, there will also be wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets, and apostasy. “But the end is not yet,” and “these are the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:6, 8).” In other words, these events will continue throughout all history. They will not just mark the end of history. However, they will increase and intensify towards the end of history.
…and the climactic judgment of the world.
Jesus does not stop either with the fall of Jerusalem or continuing course of world history. He goes on to speak of the end of all world cities and all world history. “Then shall the end come…And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:14, 29-31).”
We must remember the context of this prophecy was Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction, and the disciple’s questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world (Matt. 24:2, 3)?” So, we can expect an answer that will deal not just with the destruction of Jerusalem, but also of the end of the world. And that’s exactly what we get, with the one being a type of the other. The disciples connect the two events chronologically, but Jesus connects them typologically. That also fits the main emphasis of Matthew 24-25 which is the necessity of readiness.
We may structure Matthew 24:1-51 as follows:
a. v. 1-3: The Big Question
b. v. 4-14: The Rest of History in Outline
c. v. 15-28: The Rest of History in Detail
d. v. 29-31: The End of History
e. v. 32-51: Application: Be ready
Each of these sections conclude with a focus on the end of the world, but as the sections progress, the end comes more and more into view.
The greatest difficulty with this interpretation is how to interpret Jesus’ concluding words: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matt 24: 34).” There are four ways of explaining this.
First, “this generation” is all mankind (or all believers) and “all these things” is everything until Christ’s second coming. However, it would seem superfluous to say that mankind, or believers, or all things would continue until they no longer continue.
Second, “this generation” is all people living at that time and “all these things” are the end of Jerusalem or the end of the world. This interpretation implies that Jesus made a mistake. If He meant the end of Jerusalem, then His mistake was in saying that the Gospel would be preached to all nations before then. If He meant the end of the world, then His mistake was in saying that people of that generation would still be alive then. We reject both possibilities because Jesus, as God, could not make a mistake. Third, “this generation” means the Jews as a race of people, and “all these things” are the end-time signs. However, if Jesus meant this, He could have chosen the Greek word most commonly used for a “race of people,” or “successive generations,” rather than the more ambiguous word he did use. The fourth interpretation, and the one I favor, is that “this generation” means the Jews of Christ’s day and “all these things” is limited to the end of Jerusalem. This requires a switch of time zones between verses 35 and 36.
That does fit the wider context, as Jesus has already been switching from one time zone to another, from the near destruction of Jerusalem to the more distant end of the world, with the former being a type for the latter. So, as he moves to application, from verse 32 onwards, he switches again between the known period of Jerusalem’s destruction (v. 32-35), to the unknown day of the world’s destruction (v. 36 ff).
The immediate context also supports this distinction. Look at how Jesus introduces the switch: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” He is contrasting the known and nearer Jerusalem destruction (v. 32-35) with the unknown and more distant destruction of the world (v. 36 ff). It is also significant that he talks of the world’s end as a “day and hour” which fits the last day and hour more than the destruction of Jerusalem which was over many days and hours.
v. 32-35 Be ready because the imminent days of Jerusalem’s end is known
v. 36-51 Be ready because the day of the world’s end is unknown
36. What is the message of the book of Revelation?
The message of Revelation is that Christ and His Church will defeat the Devil and his armies.
But despite all the opposition to the Church, both from within and without, Christ and His Church will conquer all enemies: death, hell, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, and the men who worship the beast. And despite temporary affliction, the Church will emerge washed, victorious, triumphant and reigning in the new heavens and the new earth.
Revelation was written not only for John’s generation but for all subsequent generations of Christians, who also would suffer in the ongoing afflictions of the Church in this world.
37. What is the structure of the Book of Revelation?
Revelation is composed of seven parallel sections describing the period between Christ’s first and second comings.
1. Christ in the midst of the seven candlesticks: the church in the world (chs. 1-3):
As seven is the biblical number for completeness, the seven churches represent the complete church of Christ through the ages. The seven churches are not seven periods of time but seven spiritual conditions which are constantly repeated in the life of every church.
2. The book with seven seals: the church persecuted by the world (4-7):
As each seal is opened, God’s providence reveals suffering and persecution for the church. However this is against the backdrop of Christ’s victorious death and resurrection (Rev. 5:5, 6), and ends with the two sides of God’s final judgment (Rev. 6:12-17; 7:9-17).
3. The seven trumpets of judgment: the church victorious over the world (8-11):
This section presents the church as avenged, protected and ultimately victorious. It climaxes again with the final judgment (Rev. 11:15, 18).
4. The woman, the child, the dragon: Christ persecuted by the devil and his helpers (12-14):
This section begins with Christ’s first coming as Savior (Rev. 12:5), and ends with His second coming as Judge (Rev. 14:14-15). In between, the five enemies of the church are introduced: the dragon, the beast out of the sea, the beast out of the earth, the great harlot, and the men that have the mark of the beast.
5. The seven bowls of wrath: Christ judging the devil and His helpers (15-16):
There are very clear parallels between the trumpets in the third section and the bowls here[footnote]Trumpet/bowl parallel: Earth (Rev. 8:7, 16:2), sea (Rev. 8:8, 16:3), rivers (Rev. 8:10, 16:4), sun (Rev. 8:12, 16:8), pit/abyss/throne of beast (Rev. 9:1-2, 16:10), Euphrates (Rev. 9:14, 16:12), second coming to judge (Rev. 11:15, 16:16-17)[/footnote] indicating that this is the same period of time presented in different imagery. Like the previous sections, this one also concludes with the final judgment (16:20).
6. The fall of the harlot and beasts: Christ defeating the dragon’s helpers (17-19):
Babylon represents the world without God and the world against God. But she and all her supporters shall fall, especially at the second coming of Christ and the final judgment (Rev. 19:11, 19, 20).
7. The judgment on the dragon: Christ victorious over the dragon (20-22):
Just as chapter 11 ended with the final judgment, and chapter 12 took us back to the first coming of Christ, so chapter 19 ends with the final judgment and chapter 20 takes us back again to the first coming of Christ. Just as sections five and six ended with references to a final battle, so this last section also refers to THE battle (Rev. 16:14; 19:19; 20:8).
The book of Revelation consists of seven sections, each describing the same period of time – starting with the first coming of Christ and concluding with His second and final coming. However, though the sections describe the same events in the same period of time, there is development within the book. First, though every section concludes with the final judgment, there is an increasingly intense focus on it as the book unfolds. Second, the book moves from the visible surface conflict between the church and the world in sections 1-3, to the more invisible underlying conflict between Christ and the dragon in sections 4-7.
38. What are the biblical presuppositions for the amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20?
Amillennialists believe in the spiritual-literal fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, the synchronization of end-time events, and a belief in one unchanging and unfailing plan of God.
Old Testament prophecies portray the future Kingdom of God in very physical terms. Amillennialists have been criticized for interpreting these descriptions in a purely spiritual or heavenly way. Amillennialists have responded to this with a more nuanced interpretation of these passages. They begin with spiritual fulfillment at the first coming of Christ (Luke 17:20-21). But they go on to see not just spiritual but also physical fulfillment as the kingdom of Christ spreads throughout the earth. And they conclude with a very literal and physical fulfillment with Christ and His people reigning over the new heavens and the new earth.
…the synchronization of end-time events…
Amillennialists see only two ages, the present temporary age, and the final eternal age to come. They do not see any age in between these. They base this on the verses which teach that the second coming will be immediately followed by the final judgment, the dissolution of the old earth, and the creation of the new (Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 3:19-21; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).
…and a belief in one unchanging and unfailing plan of God.
Amillennialists do not see different messages in the Old and New Testament. They do not see different messages for different people groups. They see one message in the Old and New Testament and one message for both Jews and Gentiles. God did not change His plans.
39. When are the “1000 years” of Revelation 20?
The “1000 years” is figurative language for the period and events between Christ’s 1st and 2nd comings, both on earth and in heaven.
No millennial view believes in a literal key or chain, because you cannot bind a spirit with something physical like a chain. Other Scripture passages also use “1000” figuratively (Deut. 7:9; Ex. 20:5-6; Ps. 50:10-11; Ps. 84:10).
…for the period and events between Christ’s 1st and 2nd comings…
10 and its multiples are symbols of completeness (e.g 10 commandments, 10 plagues, etc.). So 1000 years is the lengthy complete period between Christ’s first and second comings.
…(and events) both on earth and in heaven.
Revelation 20: 1-3 describe “1000 years” of the devil’s activity on earth, having been bound. Verses 7-10 focus on the devil’s activity on earth, having been briefly released before being finally defeated. Verses 4-6 are a parenthesis describing what happens in heaven during the “1000 years.” There is not the slightest hint that this passage is connected with the Old Testament prophecies of national glory for Israel. What we have is a contrast between the glorious experience of the martyrs in heaven with the tribulation that believers on earth have to pass through for a time.
40. What happens during the 1000 years on earth?
Christ’s death and resurrection devastates the devil’s ability to deceive the nations until close to the end of time.
John says, “I saw an angel…”(Rev. 20:1) There are four reasons to view this “angel” as the Son of God. First, “angel” is literally “messenger.” So this is a heavenly messenger with a message. Second, the Son of God appears as an “angel” elsewhere in Revelation (Rev. 1:13-15; 10:1). Third, He comes with a key and a great chain, symbols of judicial authority and ability. Fourth, a titanic battle is presented by using the “Son of God versus Satan” language of Matthew 12:28-29 (cf. John 12:31-32).
In Matthew 12:28-29 Christ devastates the devil’s abilities by binding him and casting him out, the same two verbs used to describe the work of the “angel” in Revelation 20:2-3. This view of how Christ’s life and death devastated the devil is also echoed by the apostles (1 Cor. 15:26; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8).
So Revelation 20:1-10 describe the two climactic points in Christ’s victory over Satan: victory at His first coming (the cross), and victory at his second coming (the end).
…to deceive the nations…
“But,” you say, “the Devil seems far from bound and cast out to me!” That’s why it is important to consider the stated earthly effect of the binding: it stops him from deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:3). The devil is devastated but not yet destroyed. He is bound in some significant ways, but not in others. He is greatly restricted, but not paralyzed. He can still trouble souls and do damage, but he can no longer prevent the international spread of the Gospel, he cannot destroy the church, and he cannot unite the nations under antichrist (yet). He is not powerless nor inactive. He rages like a chained dog. But instead of the nations conquering the church, the church spreads through the nations by the Gospel (in contrast to much more limited spread pre-Christ). This does not mean that the world will be Christianized, nor that there will be a 1000 year period of world peace and prosperity. The world will be a mixture of good and evil, war and peace, until Christ returns.94 However, the kingdom is coming in a way that it never did nor could before Christ’s death.
…until close to the end of time.
This chaining lasts “until the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season (Rev. 20: 3, 7).” Near the end of time, God will release the devil from his chain and allow him to “go out to deceive the nations” again (Rev. 20:8). But, at the end, the binding will be made perfect and complete (Rev. 20: 9-10).
41. What happens during the 1000 years in heaven?
The souls of glorified saints are spiritually resurrected to live, reign, and judge with Christ in perfect holiness and happiness, while the rest of the dead experience the second death.
With the words, “And I saw thrones…”(Rev. 20:4) John transitions from an earthly scene to a heavenly. “Throne” is mentioned forty-seven times in Revelation, and all but three of these are situated in heaven. The heavenly location is confirmed by John saying he saw “the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.” Sometimes “souls” can mean whole persons (Acts 2:41), but the “souls” in Revelation 20 have been beheaded and are no longer in the body. And, although the contextual focus is on the martyrs of John’s day, they are representative of all the reigning saints in the intermediate state – that blessed condition between earthly death and full heavenly glorification in the body. The promise of Revelation 3:21 is being fulfilled: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
…are spiritually resurrected to live with Christ…
These Christian “souls” had lived and died for the Gospel. Having refused to give up the testimony of Jesus, or to receive the “mark of the beast,” they were put to death. However, John raises his eyes from that scene of earthly bloodshed to heavenly glory and sees these same “souls” now living and reigning with Christ. They are contrasted with “the rest of the dead” in verse five. Both the souls that “lived with Christ” and “the rest of the dead” had died, but their experience after death could not be more different.
After death the Christian souls “lived,” which can mean “they came to life.” Compared to earthly existence, entering heaven is like a coming to life, like a resurrection, as the soul leaves this world of death, is purged from sin, and is fitted for heavenly communion. It is true that the Greek verb behind “lived” is often used for bodily resurrection. However, it is also used for non-bodily or spiritual resurrection.100 Thus John describes this coming to heaven of believers as “the first resurrection.” “On such the second death hath no power.”101 The first death is the physical death of the believer. The second death is the soul in eternal torments. The believer passes through the first death, but never the second. In summary, just as first and second death refer to different degrees of death, so the first and second resurrection describe different stages of eternal life. Bodily resurrection, the second resurrection for believers, is mentioned later in the chapter,102 when the 1000 years ends.
…to reign and judge with Christ…
Christians reign with Christ in heaven. They share in the glory, benefits and activities of His reign throughout the 1000 years. They also judge with Christ. In His role as judge, Christ shares information with them, consults them, and even perhaps delegates some judgment to them.
…in perfect holiness and happiness…
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.”103 What a reward after the sufferings of this life! To live, reign and judge with Christ!
…while the rest of the dead experience the second death.
In contrast with the dead who “lived,” who experienced this first resurrection, the “rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”104 “Until…” does not mean that the rest of the dead were unconscious or non-existent. And neither does it mean that their condition changed at the end of the thousand years. It simply means that they did not come to enjoy the life that believers enjoyed when they died, and that loss lasted throughout the period between Christ’s first and second comings. John is only speaking of what happens in the thousand years, not what happens afterward. To summarize, the believer experiences one death then two resurrections – the first spiritual, the second physical. The unbeliever experiences two deaths – the first physical, the second spiritual and eternal – and one resurrection – when the body is resurrected to join his soul in eternal death.
42. What will happen at the end of the 1000 years?
At the end of the 1000 years, the devil will be released to deceive and stir up the nations against the church, but the Lord will return to deliver the church, resurrect all, and finally and fully bind the devil.
At the end of the 1000 years, the devil will be temporarily released with minimal restriction (Rev. 20:3, 7-9). Christ will unbind him and let him go for a time. This will result in serious deception and severe persecution. Gog and Magog were two well-known pagan kings who fought against the Jews in Old Testament times. In Revelation 20:8 they are used as symbols for the final attack of the devil and his armies against the Church. Antichrist will rise to lead the forces of evil in a violent persecution of Christianity (Rev. 20:9; Matt. 24:6-14, 21, 22), which will result in large-scale and widespread apostasy from the Christian faith (2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1-6; Lk. 18:8). This will all climax in one last battle, already referred to in Revelation (Rev. 20:8; 16:14; 19:19). In these earlier references, we learned what would happen to the heathen kings, and to the false prophet. But here we discover what happens to Satan as a result of the battle.
…but the Lord will return to deliver the church…
At the climax of this last battle, when it appears that Satan and his armies are on the verge of victory, Christ will appear in triumphant glory (Rev. 20:9ff; Matt. 24:30), to deliver the church and destroy all his enemies.
After winning this climactic battle, the Lord will raise all people from their graves for the final judgment (Rev. 20:10-15). This bodily resurrection is a single event for all people.
…and finally and fully bind the devil.
So history ends with the defeat of Satan, and Christ on His great white throne. The greatest manifestation of wickedness will form the backdrop to the greatest manifestation of grace.
43. What are the strengths of amillennialism?
Amillennialism is relatively simple, it interprets the obscure in the light of the clear, does justice to the powerful effect of Christ’s first coming, fits “few find it” language, and represents the Kingdom of God as eternal not temporal.
After the detail in the last few Q&A’s, it may not seem simple. However, believe me, compared to some of the millennial views, this is elementary school level! Whenever our interpretation of the Bible gets over-complicated, we should be asking, “Did God intend the Bible only to be understood by learned scholars?”
…it interprets the obscure in the light of the clear…
Amillennialism does not build its whole theology on one quite obscure passage in Revelation 20. It is not a conclusive argument against a doctrine to say that it only appears in one place. Even if it only appears in one verse, we should believe it. However, it is valid to seriously question if God would really have left such a vitally important doctrine as a future millennial reign of Christ on earth to one late (and highly debated) chapter of the Bible. It is better to start with multiple clear verses and interpret the rarer obscure passages in the light of that, rather than vice versa.
…does justice to the powerful effect of Christ’s first coming…
Some millennial views that emphasize a future glorious kingdom of Christ on earth (spiritual or physical), tend to minimize the impact of Christ’s first coming on the devil, the world and the church. Amillennialism gives a stronger account of this, with its emphasis on the devil being bound and the kingdom of God already growing and spreading throughout the nations
…fits “few find it” language…
There are verses which seem to teach that relatively few at most points in history will find the narrow way to Christ (Matt. 7:14). Also, Jesus himself asks if he will find faith on the earth when he returns (Luke 18:8). Amillennialism does not rule out times of revival. Neither does it rule out a future return of the Jews to Christ, which will have a reviving effect on the church. However, it is less optimistic about the prospect of some future golden age of Christianity on the earth.
…and represents the Kingdom of God as eternal not temporal.
The Bible presents the kingdom of God as eternal not temporal (1 Sam.9:7; Dan. 7:14; Lk. 1:33; Heb. 1:8). This view of the kingdom also fits the general theme of Revelation which is to look up, beyond this world; and to look ahead, beyond time.
44. What are the weaknesses of amillennialism?
Amillennialism has been criticized for misinterpreting Revelation 20 and Matthew 24, for underestimating the devil’s present power, and for cultivating unbiblical pessimism and careless complacency.
This criticism is usually focused in five areas:
1. Amillennialists make too much of the millennium only being in one chapter of the Bible.
The Bible only needs to teach something once for us to believe it, and progressive revelation explains why this was left until the end. Also there are other passages which speak of a better state than this, but which falls short of the eternal age (Ps. 72:8-14; Isa. 11:2-9; 65:20; 1 Cor. 15:23-24; Rev. 2:27; 12:5).
2. Obscurity is a result of spiritualizing the literal.
The alleged obscurity that amillennialists say they find in Revelation 20 is the result of spiritualizing what is to be taken literally.
3. The events of Revelation all take place on earth.
The angel came down from heaven to earth and clearly does work in the earthly realm (v.1-3).
4. Two different interpretations of “lived”.
“…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5).
As amillennialists say verse four means “believers come to heavenly life,” do they believe that the the rest of the dead, the unbelievers, “come to heavenly life” at the end of the thousand years?
5. “Resurrection” never means the soul going to heaven
“Resurrection” is always used of the body. This exact verb is used of Jesus’ bodily resurrection in Revelation 2:8.
…and (misinterpreting) Matthew 24…
It requires exegetical gymnastics to make Matthew 24 fit amillennialism. Instead of one sustained and chronological narrative, it requires multiple switchbacks from present to future and back again, from Jerusalem to world and back again.
…for underestimating the devil’s present power…
The devil is described as “bound,” “cast out,” “shut up,” “sealed,” which seems more extensive than the past or present results of Christ’s first coming. It is more like a total removal from influence on the earth. But Satan’s activity on the earth is still very strong (1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Jn.4:3; 5:19). Even if we accept the amillennial limitation to the deception of the nations, that also is happening even now.
…and for cultivating unbiblical pessimism…
Some critics point to Romans 9-11 and protest, “How can the future conversion of the Jews be life from the dead and bring untold blessings to the world if things are always getting worse and worse?”
…and careless complacency.
Perhaps the most powerful criticism of amillennialism is the difficulty of preserving a sense of the imminence of Christ’s second coming? If there are still things to happen like the conversion of the Jews, the rise of antichrist, or the much greater intensification of the signs of the times, how can you avoid Christians (and even unbelievers) slipping into careless complacency?