The Millennium – Revelation 20

Posted: January 9, 2010 in Theology
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Revelation 20

1. Scripture – Rev.20:1-6


These views are not just differences of opinion on the sequence of events but are dramatically different opinions on the very nature of the millennial kingdom.

2.1 Amillennialism

2.1.1 Rev.20 describes the present church age

2.1.2 Satan’s influence has been reduced

2.1.3 Those reigning with Christ are the dead – they are already reigning with Christ

2.1.4 Christ’s reign is not physical

2.1.5 1,000 years is figurative for “a long time”

2.1.6 One judgment period with no delay


2.1.7 The binding of Satan happened during Jesus ministry on earth


2.2 Postmillennialism

2.2.1 Continual progress of the gospel will usher in millennial age

The Great Commission anticipates progress Mt.28:18-20
Parables anticipate progress Mt.13:31-32

2.2.2 Not a literal 1,000 years – just a long time

2.2.3 Christ will return at the end of the millennium

2.2.4 One resurrection to judgment at the end of the millennium

2.3 Premillennialism

2.3.1 The present church age continues until the tribulation

2.3.2 Christ will return to establish a physical kingdom on earth for 1,000 years

2.3.3 Believers will be resurrected to reign with Him

They will reign with glorified bodies physically present with those who do not have glorified bodies
See Isa.65:20

2.3.4 Satan is restrained during this time

2.3.5 Satan is loosed at the end of the millennium and leads a rebellion

2.3.6 The final resurrection of unbelievers to eternal judgment

3. Hermeneutical notes

3.1 Is 1,000 years literal?

Several mistakes are possible here. The argument against a literal understanding goes something like this: “Revelation is a book full of symbols. 1,000 is symbolic of a long time like ‘the cattle on a thousand hills’. If you treat the rest of the visions in Revelation as symbols, be consistent and treat 1,000 as a symbol”

Agreed, Revelation is a book of symbols and it’s possible that 1,000 is meant to mean a long time. The mistake is creating a hermeneutic that says if a term is used symbolically once, it must always be treated symbolically.

Another point to consider is in distinguishing what was revealed to John by vision and by revelation. John couldn’t see 1,000 years, this must have been revealed to him.

The best approach to interpreting Revelation is the same as any other book, that is to treat each passage literally and let context determine when a symbol is being used. This pushes the focus back on the Word rather than on man’s predispositions.

Having said all that, I understand that the rule doesn’t solve the 1,000 years problem but it allows us to debate from the same field of reference.
3.2 Satan’s power is diminished

Amillennialists suggest that the picture of Satan chained and thrown into the abyss is symbolic of his decreased power in this age based on the work of Christ.

The picture of a lock and chain and the phrase “locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore” would indicate more than just diminished ability.

Satan will not be allowed to deceive the nations, not even a little bit, during the Millennium. He will be set free for a short time at the end of the Millennium which indicates that he can resume his role of deception.

Furthermore, what would be different about God restraining Satan? Has He not always done so? See Job.

3.3 Chart of symbols

angel = angel
heaven = heaven
key to the Abyss, great chain = power to stop Satan’s ability to deceive
dragon, ancient serpent = Satan
1,000 years = 1,000 years (or a long time)
Abyss = ?
thrones = positions of authority to rule
They came to life = physical resurrection
four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog = every nation on earth
Like the sand on the seashore = too many to count
march across the breadth of the earth – that’s a lot of soldiers
camp of God’s people, city He loves = Jerusalem
fire came down from heaven = fire from the sky? – no indication of a weapon of some sort
lake of burning sulfur = more miserable and permanent than the Abyss
for ever and ever = permanent residence
great white throne = different and superior to the other thrones
Earth and sky fled from His presence = ?
books were opened = deeds of the dead
Another book, book of life = judgment of final destination
death and Hades = holding place of the dead before final judgment
lake of fire = final destination of the unrighteous

4. If you need a chart




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