Revelation 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 2)
Adam: January 27, 2010
Scripture text for this study: Revelation 20:1-15
In the previous post, following an introduction, we examined the first four verses of Revelation 20 from an amillennialist viewpoint. In doing so, we noted that the majority of amillennialists see “the millennium” as taking place right now (between Christ’s ascension and His Second Coming), but primarily in heaven for those who are in the intermediate state. In the previous post, we dealt extensively with the question of how–and to what extent–Satan is presently bound. In this post we will examine the remaining 11 verses of Revelation 20:
Verse 5: Having read of those who come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years, we now read: “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.” Here, Sam Storms briefly describes the most common premillennial view of the resurrections mentioned in this passage:
The “coming to life” in 20:4b is a physical, bodily resurrection of believers that occurs at the second coming of Christ before the millennium. The “coming to life” in 20:5a is also a physical, bodily resurrection, but of unbelievers after the millennium. Therefore, the bodily resurrection of all mankind comes in two stages separated by a thousand years.
Jason Robertson notes that “the first resurrection” has historically been defined by amillennialists in various ways:
- Believed by Amillennialists to either be referring to the renewal of life that occurs at conversion or to the transfer of the believer’s soul from earth to heaven at death.
- Amillennialists like Augustine and Calvin interpreted this to be referring to regeneration, and that the regenerated are now living and reigning with Christ in His spiritual kingdom which He inaugurated at His first advent.
- Other Amillennialists like Hendriksen, [Greg] Beale, [B.B.] Warfield, and [Meredith] Kline believed that “first resurrection” refers to the believers’ death and translation to heaven, who are now reigning with Christ.
- On either of these views then, the “first resurrection” phrase refers to a spiritual resurrection not a physical one, and it occurs before—not after—the second advent. The kingdom is now, is spiritual, and is the progressive fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Acts 24:15 says that “there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” Does this text leave room for two separate resurrections of the righteous and the unrighteous, separated by 1000 years (or any amount of time), as premillennialism sees in Revelation 20? Steve Gregg (p. 470) answers this question by concluding that Revelation 20 is not, in fact, speaking of two physical resurrections:
The Scriptures elsewhere teach that there will be only one physical resurrection at the end of time, which will include the righteous and the unrighteous (cf. John 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-15; compare “the last day” in John 6:39, 40, 44, 54, and 12:48). We find this resurrection of bodies from their graves at the end of the Millennium (v. 13). It follows that there can be no other physical resurrection than that mentioned at the end of the chapter and that the “first resurrection” mentioned in verses 5 and 6 must therefore be a spiritual one. Such a Christian’s experience of regeneration is frequently spoken of in terms of a spiritual rising from death to life (cf. John 5:24; 11:34-35; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 2:13; 3:1; Rom. 6:4-5, 13). It is further justified by the fact of its juxtaposition with the second death (v. 6). There are two deaths: one physical, and one nonphysical (v. 14). That one resurrection should be spiritual and the other physical conforms to the dichotomy of the passage with reference to the two deaths.
Kenneth Gentry agrees with this assessment, and makes this comparison with John’s discussion of the resurrection in his gospel account (pp. 85-86):
This first resurrection is—salvation. Note how John, the author of Revelation, earlier recorded Christ’s instruction in which he parallels spiritual resurrection unto present salvation and physical resurrection unto eternal destiny: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live [first resurrection]. …Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned [second resurrection] (John 5:24-29, italics added). In fact, because of Christ’s physical resurrection, we are spiritually resurrected (Rom. 6:4-14; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 3:1).
Verse 6: In this verse, we read these words, “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power…” This same promise was given to the first-century believers living in Smyrna: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life… The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:10-11). James Robertson again draws a comparison with what Jesus said in John 5:
The “second death,” which is everlasting punishment, is said to “have no power over them.” Obviously not, if they are saved and/or in Heaven. John quotes Jesus as saying in John 11:25-26, “25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
In short, the first resurrection is salvation for the believer, which the unbeliever does not experience. The second resurrection is physical, the one and only physical resurrection spoken of in Scripture. Whoever experiences the first (spiritual) resurrection has nothing to fear with regard to the second (physical) resurrection, at which time judgment will occur. Prior to that time, they will reign for “a thousand years.” As Martin Luther famously wrote in the margin of his Bible, “Born once – die twice; born twice – die once.” Well-known amillennialist Meredith Kline speaks on these matters at length, and in a very academic manner, here.
[At this point, it might be good to point out that premillennialism seems to exclude a certain group of people from experiencing any physical resurrection at all. This system teaches that there will be unconverted people who will enter into a physical kingdom (the Millennium) without glorified bodies, and that some of these will experience a conversion during that time. Premillennialism proposes that there will be two physical resurrections, separated by a period of 1000 years, for two different groups of people: the saved (first) and the lost (later). When do the newly converted “millennium saints” then experience a physical resurrection?]
Kenneth Gentry has this to say on the believer’s present status in God’s kingdom (pp. 84-85):
[God’s] kingdom does not await some future, visible coming (Luke 17:20-21; Col. 1:13). Consequently, Christ claimed to be king while on earth (John 12:12-15; 18:36-37), and God enthroned Him as King following His resurrection and ascension (Acts 2:30-36). Since His resurrection Christ has “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18), for He is at the right hand of God, ruling over His kingdom (Mark 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rom. 8:34; 14:11; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18; 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; I Peter 3:22; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). As a result, first-century Christians proclaimed Him King (Matt. 2:2; Acts 17:7; Rev. 1:5), and new converts entered His kingdom (John 3:3; Col. 1:12-13; I Thess. 2:12).
The other reality involves our present rule with Him in His kingdom. John tells the seven churches of the first century that Christ “has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6). This present priestly kingship is exactly what Revelation 20 relates of the millennial kingdom: “They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (20:6).
Paul mentions our present rule as well: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6; cf. 1:3; Col. 3:1-4). Whatever surprised responses might arise against this viewpoint, the fact remains: The Bible teaches we are presently “seated with Him.”
C. Satanic Rebellion Crushed (Rev. 20:7-10)
Verses 7-10: When we were told in verse 3 that Satan was bound and sealed for a thousand years, we were also told that he would be released after that “for a little while.” Now we are given these details: “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Numerous questions come to my mind when examining this passage. In what sense does Satan “deceive the nations” at this time? Is it in the same way as he did prior to being bound? Does “earth” here refer only to Israel/Palestine, as it has so many times in Revelation? Or does it refer this time to the entire globe, especially because of the phrase “the four corners of the earth”? Does the mention of Gog and Magog here mean that this vision and Ezekiel’s vision are one and the same, or does it only indicate similarities between this battle and that one (i.e. Ezekiel’s, having taken place in the past)? Does this army literally march across land, converging on one location, or is this symbolic of a movement against one specific people (i.e. followers of Christ; thus, speaking of persecution)?
Every indication in Revelation thus far is that “the beloved city” in verse 9 must be the New Jerusalem (i.e. the Church—Heb. 12:22-24; Gal. 4:24-27), and not earthly Jerusalem. After all, Jerusalem in John’s day was designated by the names “Sodom” and “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8), and a strong case has been made that it also bore names like “the great prostitute” (Rev. 17:1) and “Babylon the great” (Rev. 14:8, 16:19, and 18:2). Nothing in Revelation since chapter 11 has occurred to suggest that natural Jerusalem is now (in chapter 20) deserving of the title “beloved city”; in fact, the opposite is true.
We will designate a separate post for a more thorough discussion of Ezekiel’s vision of Gog and Magog, as well as implications for the fact that John mentions these two entities here in this text. That post will be titled “Revelation 20: Two Views of Gog and Magog” (it can be located in the Revelation 20 Introduction and Outline post once it’s up). Suffice it to say, though, that many amillennialists see verse 9 as speaking of Christ’s Second Coming, articulated in terms of “fire [coming] down from heaven and [consuming] them.” For most partial-preterists, this is the only mention of Christ’s Second Coming, as Rev. 1:7 and Rev. 19:11-16 speak of Christ’s judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Kenneth Gentry says of this passage, “In Revelation 20:7-15 we witness the Second Coming and final judgment. But since this is so distant from John’s day, he only quickly mentions them” (Four Views, p. 86). Mark Copeland likewise comments,
If any section of Revelation pertains to the time just prior to the Lord’s final coming, I believe it is this one. The description is brief, for the book was written for the benefit of Christians in Asia Minor about things to shortly come to pass (cf. 1:1-4; 22:6, 10). These Christians would not experience this last attempt of Satan. But to assure them (and us!) that Satan would ultimately be defeated, we have the description found in these few verses (7-10).
David Chilton makes a similar statement:
(The Book of Revelation) is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies in the establishment of the New Covenant Temple. In fact, as we shall see, the word coming as used in the Book of Revelation never refers to the Second Coming. Revelation prophesies the judgment of God on apostate Israel; and while it does briefly point to events beyond its immediate concerns, that is done merely as a “wrap-up,” to show that the ungodly will never prevail against Christ’s Kingdom. But the main focus of Revelation is upon events which were soon to take place.” (David Chilton, Days of Vengeance, p. 43)
Steve Gregg goes into more detail on these four verses (pp. 472, 474, 476):
We had been forewarned in verse 3 that when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison [v. 7]. In that place we were assured that his freedom would be short-lived, though here we learn that his brief liberty is occupied in the same kind of mischief—but on a more intensive scale—as that in which he was engaged prior to being bound. This speaks of a brief period of indeterminate duration at the end of the Christian era, during which Satan will be permitted to resist the church on a global scale…
The truth having never since the time of Christ been successfully resisted, Satan’s release to deceive the nations [v. 8] would seem to constitute the ultimate setback for the church, as the majority of the world devolves to a paganistic state comparable to that which prevailed before the First Coming of Christ.
The mention of Gog and Magog [v. 8] seems a direct identification with the battle prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, thus placing the time of this battle at the end of the Millennium (the church age), rather than before the Millennium, where most premillenarians locate Ezekiel’s battle.
The whole world having turned hostile to Christ and the church, all nations will endeavor to battle against the camp of the saints (v. 9). This may be warfare of a spiritual sort, but since such battle against the church meant persecution in Revelation 11:7 and 13:7, it is likely that persecution of the church on a grand scale is what is in view here as well. The beloved city (v. 9) is the New Jerusalem described more fully in chapter 21, which is an image of the church (cf. 21:9-10; Heb. 12:22ff.).
The career of this rebel force and their diabolical leader comes to a final end with the Second Coming of Christ, here depicted with the words fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them (v. 9). The Second Coming of Christ will be “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:8). It is the “day of the Lord…in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). This coming of the Lord with its attendant burning up of the earth clearly could not have occurred at the beginning of the Millennium since, in such a case, there would be no venue for the playing out of the earthly drama in this chapter.
At the coming of Christ in fiery judgment, the devil (v. 10) is not going to be temporarily chained but, rather, he is to be cast into the lake of fire… The lake of fire, you will recall, is where the beast and the false prophet are (v. 10; cf. 19:20). This statement presents a slight problem for amillennialism in that it presupposes an earlier judgment upon the Beast and the False Prophet, whereas this view considers both Revelation 19:20 (the judgment of the beast) and Revelation 20:10 (the judgment of the devil) both to be describing the same event, namely, the Second Coming of Christ.
In an attempt to remove the difficulty, R. Fowler White proposes that “20:10 need only imply that at the Second Coming the devil is cast into the lake of fire shortly after the beast and the false prophet are cast there.”
As already mentioned, preterism removes the difficulty in another way, by not seeing Revelation 19 as speaking at all of Christ’s Second Coming, but rather His non-physical coming in judgment upon Jerusalem/Israel in 70 AD, which we have already proposed. When Historicism is coupled together with amillennialism, this difficulty exists. However, when preterism is coupled together with amillennialism, there is no such quandary. I also wrote about this in the “Revelation 20: Introduction and Outline” post, under the section “Preliminary Thoughts on Revelation 20.”
On another note, both II Thess. 1:8 and II Peter 3:10-13 are taken by some partial-preterists (and full preterists, of course) to refer to the events which took place in 70 AD, rather than to a future Second Coming. This is especially plausible if “the earth and the works that are done on it” (II Pet. 3:10) is a reference to Israel/Palestine just as it very often is in the book of Revelation. (We will come to the expression “new heavens and a new earth” (I Pet. 3:13) in our study of Revelation 21 and will discuss this in length at that time. A key question to keep in mind for now is this: Does this expression denote [A] the New Covenant body of Christ [B] a literal new heaven and new earth in the eternal state, or [C] both in a now-but-not-yet sense?)
Sam Storms’ take on this passage is this (keep in mind that he is a historicist, and not a preterist):
At the end of the age there will emerge an intensified form of tribulation and apostasy as well as a personal antichrist (the AM, however, does not identify this period of tribulation with Daniel’s 70th Week, as does the Dispensational Premillennialist, nor does he define its purpose as having anything to do with the restoration of national theocratic Israel. It should be noted, however, that some AMs do believe in a mass salvation of ethnic Israel at the end of the age). Christ’s return at the close of this period will synchronize with the general resurrection and general judgment of all men, believers and unbelievers alike, to be followed immediately by the eternal state (i.e., the new heavens and the new earth). In other words, here is the major point of difference between the AM and Premillennialist: the former denies whereas the latter affirms an earthly, visible rule of Christ for 1,000 years between His second coming and the final resurrection, judgment, and introduction of the eternal state.
To the subject of this judgment we now turn.
D. The Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15)
Verses 11-12: Steve Gregg, in his commentary on these verses (p. 478, 480), takes note of a couple of reasons why amillennialists believe the Second Coming must occur at this time, at the end of the thousand years rather than at the beginning (as premillennialism supposes):
The judgment of the great white throne (v. 11) is not a special judgment to be distinguished from other judgments of the close of the age (e.g. a separate bema judgment of the believers only, some thousand years earlier), but simply a description of the only ultimate judgment at the coming of Christ, involving believers and unbelievers (cf. Matt. 25:31; Rom. 2:5-10; Rev. 11:18). The “great white throne” is thus not a technical label to distinguish this event from others like it, but merely a statement of the color of the throne (white), suggesting purity, upon which God, or Christ, is seen seated at the last day (John 12:48).
The glory of the Lord at this point is such that the earth and the heaven fled away (v. 11) from before His face. This in itself indicates that the Second Coming did not occur a thousand years earlier. Why would not the glory of the returning Christ have brought about this flight of the natural world into nonexistence at that earlier time? It can hardly be thought that His glory at His coming will be less intense than it would be a thousand years later. Since the coming of the Lord is in fact the end of the natural universe (2 Pet. 3:10-13), we read that there was found no place for them (v. 11), making way for a new heaven and a new earth to occupy the place left vacant by their dismissal (21:1).
The fact that John saw the dead (v. 12) arise and come before God to be judged proves that it is at this point, and not a thousand years earlier, that the Second Coming is seen. The judgment is everywhere associated with Christ’s Second Coming in Scripture (cf. Matt. 25:19, 31; II Thess. 1:8ff; II Tim. 4:1). [See also I Cor. 15:23.]
Q: In verse 12 we read that “books” were opened, as well as “the book of life.” Does this seem to indicate that only the wicked are judged at this judgment, or also the righteous? In his commentary on verse 12, Steve Gregg says,
The presence of the Book of Life seems to imply the presence of the righteous, whose names are to be found there, while we are also told explicitly that John also saw there those who were not found written in the Book of Life (vs. 15). This judgment, then, wherein the dead were judged according to their works (v. 12), includes believers as well as unbelievers, despite the clear teaching of Scripture that salvation is not attained through works (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). It is all equally clear teaching of Scripture that a Christian is known by his works as surely as is an unsaved man (Jas. 2:15-18; Tit. 1:16; 2:14). Therefore Christians who are saved by grace through faith will be proven to be so as the result of an examination of their works (Matt. 16:27, 25:31ff; I Pet. 1:17).
This concludes our verse-by-verse study of Revelation 20 from an amillennial viewpoint. In the next post (Part 3) we will take a look at two very interesting articles:  “Why the Early Church Finally Rejected Premillennialism” by Dr. Charles E. Hill, and  “A Return to Types and Shadows in the Millennial Age?” by Kim Riddlebarger.
In Part 4 (of our “Revelation 20: Amillennial Viewpoint” series) we will look at two more articles:  “Problems with Premillennialism” by Sam Storms, and  “Dispensationalism Today, Yesterday, and Forever” by Grover Gunn (posted by PJ Miller and also by Job of “Heal the Land” (under the lengthy but fitting title “Premillennial Dispensationalism Effectively Claims that the New Covenant Has Not Yet Arrived, Which Means We Are Still Under the Old”).
All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.
 As noted before, Kenneth Gentry’s viewpoint on this passage has changed. His new viewpoint is articulated in a two-part series titled “Revelation 20: Minority Views on the Millennium.” This and all posts on Revelation 20 can be located in our Revelation 20 Introduction and Outline.
 It’s also perhaps reasonable to consider that Ezekiel’s battle of Gog and Magog may have already taken place in history prior to this Satan-led battle, and that the former battle is simply referenced because of similarities in this latter case. Perhaps not, though. An entire post has now been devoted to the subject of Gog and Magog, titled “Revelation 20: Four Views on Gog and Magog.”
 According to Sam Storms, most Amillennialists view the book of Revelation as spanning the entire time period from Christ’s first coming until His Second Coming in the future, but consisting of seven sections running parallel to each other: (1) chapters 1-3; (2) chapters 4-7; (3) chapters 8-11; (4) chapters 12-14; (5) chapters 15-16; (6) chapters 17-19; (7) chapters 20-22. This is the Historicist view, and of course preterists do not see the book of Revelation quite this way. While the first six parallels may be true, partial-preterists see the bulk of Revelation as having been fulfilled in the 70 AD judgment of God upon faithless Israel. The Millennium does more or less chronologically follow chapters 1-19 for partial-preterists, except that the Millennium does not begin in 70 AD but at the cross. There is an overlapping of the ages for one generation, as the Old Covenant age was only brought to a complete end until the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 AD, even though the New Covenant age was established when Christ went to the cross some 40 years earlier. This brief overlapping of the ages will be discussed at length in a two-part series titled “A Discussion of Two Ages.”
11 thoughts on “Revelation 20: Amillennial Viewpoint (Part 2)”
Great post Adam!
They were born again-this is the first resurrection.and they lived and reigned with Christ for all eternity…
Below Isaiah gives us a word-picture of the ‘everlasting’ reign of Christ.This is what reconciliation to God through Him looks like to those who believe.Jesus ascended to Heaven to receive dominion,glory,and a Kingdom which is his universal church.
And in his church:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
“The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
Thanks, Seroled. I remember very much enjoying putting this post together, as well as the previous one. I’m still sorting some things out in my mind regarding the millennium, but there is no doubt about the truth of Christ’s glorious reign and His work of reconciling fallen man to Himself. His works and His wonders and truly amazing!
You are welcome Adam,this was well done,its no wonder you enjoyed putting it together!
Now, while we both sort out what the ‘a thousand years’ or the forever reign of Christ is.I am now and have in the past,considered that we are currently in this reign (Colossians 1:12-14)
That we have been since the Lord’s ascension to receive his Kingdom (Dan 7;13,14) and since the ambassadors of Christ preached the Gospel of reconciliation to all nations after the first Pentecost after His ascension.
The picture that Isaiah gave to Israel (65:25 11:6) and gives to us looks like love,peace and joy of the fellowship of all ‘kinds’ by the one Spirit.While showing us the impossible things apart from God.Unnatural mixers,the nations of believers Jew and Gentile in the one body of Christ.
Think of your last answer to John K on the post ‘My desire for Ethnic cleansing’ I did! 🙂
Something from one of my favorite authors 🙂
DANIEL 7:9-10 IN SUPPORT OF J. S. RUSSELL’S POSITION
ON THE MILLENNIUM
James Stuart Russell proposed that what seems to be two throne scenes in Revelation 20:4 and 20:11-15 is really one throne scene (that occurs at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium).61 Russell’s position maintains that, in Revelation 20:4, John describes the setting up of God’s kingdom (v. 4, “And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them . . . .” cf. Dan. 7:9). In verses 7-10, John digresses and talks about what would happen at the end of the millennium (v. 7, “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison”). In verse 11, John continues his description of the throne scene and judgment that he began in Revelation 20:4 (“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it . . . .” cf. Dan. 7:9).
Thus, Russell’s position is that Revelation 20:4-15 is describing one throne scene that occurs at the beginning of the millennium with a parenthetical description on what will happen at the millennium’s end in Revelation 20:7-10. This sounds unlikely at first, but it is exactly what Daniel 7:9-11 shows.
Consider the following comparison of Daniel 7:9-11 and Revelation 20:4, 11-12. I am using the New Revised Standard Version here with the letters A-E for the five points of comparison (underlined emphasis mine).
Notice that it is only by combining the elements of both Revelation 20:4 and 11-12 that one gets all five elements of what is, in Daniel 7:9-10, clearly one throne scene:
This comparison lends credence to the proposition that Revelation 20:4 and 20:11-15 (drawing from Daniel 7:9-10) indeed show one throne scene at the beginning of the millennium, not two throne scenes (one at the beginning of the millennium and one at its end).62 Matthew 25 shows this very sequence; the judgment was to commence at the beginning of the kingdom reign, not at its end:
The proposition that Revelation 20:4 and 11-12 form one judgment brings Revelation 20 into line with both Daniel 7:9-10 and Matthew 25:31ff, which show the judgment commencing at the beginning of the saints inheriting the kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:23-27). Elsewhere, Matthew explicitly states that this time of Jesus’ coming for the judgment would happen in the lifetime of the generation listening to Him.
This coming of Jesus with his angels to reward people according to their works refers not to the transfiguration (as some would say) but to the Second Advent and judgment (cf. Rev. 22:12). Some of Jesus’ younger audience would still be alive when it happened some forty years later (cf. James 5:8-9, “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold the Judge is standing at the door!”).
I shall discuss the sequence of the millennium in more depth in volume two of this series (which examines the Antichrist as revealed in Revelation). For now, just note that Daniel 7 shows the full establishment of God’s kingdom (what Revelation shows as the beginning of the millennium) at the AD 70 defeat of the little horn/individual beast (i.e., at the destruction of the demonic ruler working through Titus; Dan. 7:8-11, 21-27; Rev. 19:11-20:4). The AD 70 commencement of the millennium was the beginning of the judgment; it continues from that time as individuals die (cf. Rev. 14:6-13).
Both Daniel 7 and Revelation provide the same sequence for the saints possessing the kingdom. Daniel 7:21 shows the little horn making war with the saints and overcoming them (cf. Rev. 13:4-7). Immediately after this, the little horn is defeated by the coming of God (Dan. 7:22), something the NT shows as the coming of the Word of God to defeat the individual beast (Rev. 19:11-21). At this time (i.e., AD 70) the little horn/beast is delivered to the fire as the heavenly court is seated for the judgment and the saints possess the kingdom of God (Dan. 7:11, 24-27; Rev. 19:20-20:4). This sequence explains why one of the groups that comes alive at the beginning of the millennium consists of those who had been killed for not taking the mark of the beast (Rev. 20:4; cf. 13:11-18). These are martyrs of the beast who were killed in the three-and-a-half-year great tribulation of AD 67-70 (cf. Rev. 13:4-7) and are resurrected at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium (cf. Dan. 12:1-7).
IS THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF REVELATION 20 DIFFERENT FROM
THE KINGDOM REIGN OF DANIEL 7?
To avoid having to admit the existence of post-AD 70 prophecy, full preterists attempt to separate the saints possessing the kingdom in Revelation 20:4 (which they contend happened around AD 30)63 from the saints possessing the kingdom in Daniel 7 (which clearly happens right after the great tribulation, Dan. 7:21-22). Full preterists are forced to try to differentiate these two accounts of the saints possessing God’s kingdom because, if a full preterist acknowledges an AD 70 beginning to the millennium (i.e., right after the tribulation), it violates the basic premise of their paradigm (that all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70). Since there are prophecies that happen at the end of the millennium (e.g., Rev. 20:7-10), full preterists are forced to take the untenable position of saying the saints’ possession of the kingdom in AD 70 (cf. Dan. 7:23-27) was not the beginning of the millennial reign but the end!
It is impossible, however, to make a legitimate case that the kingdom reign spoken of in Daniel 7 (vv. 18, 22, 27) and the millennial reign of Revelation 20 are speaking of two different reigns. Of the kingdom reign in Daniel 7, verses 9-10 (NRSV) read, “As I watched, thrones were set in place . . . The court sat in judgment . . . .” Of the millennial reign, Revelation 20:4 (NRSV) reads, “Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge . . . .” You cannot legitimately make these two visions into two separate events, one (Rev. 20:4) supposedly starting at AD 30 and the other (Dan. 7:9-10) starting at AD 70. Full preterists have to try, however; it is either that or admit the millennium began at AD 70 (which would mean that all prophecy was not fulfilled at AD 70). Scripture clearly teaches that it was at AD 70, not AD 30, that the saints sat on thrones (symbolic of their fully possessing the authority of God’s kingdom, Matt. 19:28; Rev. 3:20-21; cf. Luke 19:11-27).64
Finally, some full preterists say that because the millennial kingdom is said to be a thousand years (which, although symbolic, is a bounded time period), it must be different from the kingdom reign of Daniel 7 (which is said to be everlasting, v. 27). The meaning of God’s kingdom being everlasting, however, is that it would not be overthrown like the four kingdoms that come before it: “His [the Son of Man’s] dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). At the end of the millennium (which is still future to us), the reign of God and his people is not overthrown; rather, it is made more glorious as Satan is finally disposed of in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:7-10). What will be destroyed at the end of the millennium is everything that is evil.65 The kingdom of God continues into eternity (cf. Rev. 22:3-5). Thus, the end of the millennium is not the end of God’s kingdom but the transformation of it into a more glorious state. One could thus say that the AD 70 beginning of the millennial reign was the first phase of the eternal kingdom.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD WAS FULLY ESTABLISHED AT THE AD 70 DEFEAT
OF THE LITTLE HORN
Three times Daniel 7 shows the sequence of the coming of Antichrist and the resulting great tribulation (see below). This is followed by the saints possessing the kingdom of God, the AD 70 start of the millennium. Daniel 7:8-11, 21-22, and 24-27 each show God’s people possessing the kingdom (symbolized by thrones put in place as the court is seated; Dan. 7:9-10; cf. Rev. 20:4) immediately after the great tribulation (cf. Acts 14:22).66 This happened at AD 70, at the time that the little horn’s dominion was taken away:
In contradiction to those who say the millennium began at AD 30 (whether that be traditional amillennialists or full preterists), Daniel 7 clearly (and repeatedly) shows the kingdom reign beginning after the great tribulation, at the AD 70 defeat of the little eleventh horn. Again, this explains why one of the groups that comes alive at the beginning of the millennium consists of those believers killed by the beast (cf. Rev. 13:11-18).
It should be clear that Revelation 20:4 shows a post-tribulation beginning of the millennium; there is no way that those who were killed by the beast were resurrected at AD 30.
I just took a closer look at your lengthy comment above. The section titled “DANIEL 7:9-10 IN SUPPORT OF J. S. RUSSELL’S POSITION ON THE MILLENNIUM” has some excellent study material in it. This comment came in just as I was preparing to leave for my 10-day trip to Ohio, during which time I had no access to the internet for 5 days, so I only skimmed what you had to say at the time…
I especially appreciate the comparison of Daniel 7:9-11 and Revelation 20:4, 11-12. Inserting the letters A-E for the five points of comparison into the texts is very helpful. I agree with your conclusion on this point, then:
For further clarity, it can also be laid out this way:
[A] Thrones were set in place (Daniel 7:9a, Revelation 20:4).
[B] The Ancient of Days sat on His throne (Daniel 7:9, Revelation 20:11).
[C] Ten thousand times ten thousands stood before His throne (Daniel 7:10c, Revelation 20:12a).
[D] The court sat in judgment with Him (Daniel 7:10c). Those who had been beheaded for their testimony, and who had not worshiped the beast, came to life, were given authority to judge, and reigned with Christ for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4).
[E] Books were opened (Daniel 7:10d, Revelation 20:12), and the dead were judged according to what was written in the books.
If this comment could accommodate a chart, it could be made even more clear. Thanks so much, though, for laying this out.
Thanks Adam, glad it makes sense. I do have a chart on page 138 of my book. An AD 70 beginning of the millennium puts a hole in the full preterist (de facto) creed of all fulfilled by AD 70. They thus can not accept my postion (not if they want to stay a full preterist, which most desperately want to do . . .).
If anyone else wants to see the chart, see here. (Start on pg 137).
Has ‘one’ of your favorite authors 😉 written any chapters on the passages below?
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; (1 Thessalonians 4:16 RSV)
then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17 RSV cf.1 Cor 15:51,52 RSV)
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.This is the first resurrection. (Rev 20:5 RSV)
Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years. (Rev 20:6 RSV)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28 RSV)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.(Rev 20:11 RSV)
1) What do you believe happened to the saints that were alive at Jesus’ coming in 70AD? Were they caught up and changed at the last trump?
You believe that all the dead were raised in AD70, and that resurrection and judgment continues (today) One dies reconciled to God (his name is found written in the book of life) his works are judged, and he enters the Kingdom of God.Another dies (his name is not found written in the book of life) his works are judged, and he is cast into the lake of fire.
2) What in your opinion, was the first resurrection? Who are the rest of the dead,and why do they not come to life until the thousand years have ended?
3) Do you believe that the 12 tribes of Israel were already judged in 70AD (Dan 7:9-10/Rev 20:4,11-14) or are they to be judged at time of the Regeneration? (Paliggenesia see Rev 21:1)
Please not so many difficult questions at once!
OK here are some brief answers.
1. Go to the google preview of my favorite author’s book http://books.google.com/books?id=ZL89vmcBUJwC&dq=the+antichrist+and+the+second+coming&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=69VQxzDFpL&sig=vKl4GVeC0mUt8M3UaQK2l2GyxYg&hl=en&ei=Jum0Sv2kEIWesgOytsTQDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7#v=onepage&q&f=true
Click the full screen button to the left of “contents” so it is easier to read. Start on pg. 374, Be sure to check out the chart by Beale on the parallels between Matt. 24 and 1 Thess. 4:16-17. It is an eyeopener and in mind devestates the position that one of those sections of Scrupture is talking about AD 70 and the other the end of time. No, I do not believe in a literal rapture at AD 70. I believe the dead were raised and that living believers went through an ontological changer where we now do not have to wait for our resurreciton bodies at death (you can see a symbolic portrayal of this in Rev. 11 with the two witnesses; they represent God’s people). Since Ad 70 we do not sleep (ie the state of with the Lord but not having a resurrected body yet cf. Rev.6:9).
2.I believe that Rev. 20:5a may be a scribal comment that mistakingly became included in the text (i.e. a gloss). I discuss that in this article (about 60% of the way into the article). http://sites.google.com/site/antichristandthesecondcoming/j-s-russell-s-position-on-the-millennium-the-neglected-third-way-of-preterism
3. I see the AD 70 full establishment of the kingdom of God (ie the time of the millennium) as being the same as the time of the regeneration. Here is something from my book pgs. 303-307 on that.
<b.THE TIMING OF REVELATION 21-22
In examining the new heaven and new earth in Revelation, the first consideration is that of timing. Revelation 21 shows the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride for her husband to the new heaven and new earth (vv. 1-2). This is referring to AD 70, the time of God’s marriage to his people at the destruction of harlot Jerusalem (Rev. 19:1-9; cf. Matt. 22:1-10; Matt. 8:10-12). Thus, the new heaven and new earth do not happen after the millennium, they are concurrent with it.14 That is, the new heaven and earth and the millennium are two images of the same time, the AD 70 full establishment of God’s kingdom (cf. Is. 65:17-25, where the new heaven and earth is described using language associated with the millennium).
Consistent with this, notice how “the regeneration” (that would happen in the new heaven and earth, cf. Rev. 21:1-5) was to take place at the AD 70 “judging” of Israel (Matt. 19:28); it is synonymous with the full establishment of the “kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30).
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The two sections are clearly talking about the same time period. Earlier in Matthew we were told that this time of the Son of Man coming “in the glory of His Father” would happen in the lifetime of some of Jesus’ first-century hearers (Matt. 16:27-28). The kingdom of God would be fully established at the Second Advent (Luke 19:11-27), the time of “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:19-21). Again, the AD 70 full establishment of the kingdom of God at the Second Coming (cf. Dan. 7:21-27) would be the time of spiritual renewal that constitutes the new heaven and new earth (see Is. 65:1-19 the new heaven and new earth were to take place that the (AD 70) destruction of God’s unfaithful old covenant people).
]IS THE NEW JERUSALEM A GIANT CUBE-SHAPED CITY THAT WE WILL LIVE IN?
The New Jerusalem descends to the new heaven and earth (“prepared as a bride”) at the destruction of harlot Israel on the ultimate day of the Lord. This was the time of the marriage of the bride (Rev. 19:1-9; Rev. 21:1-2). Notice that inside the “city” are the redeemed (Rev. 21:24-27), while outside it are the unredeemed:
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation is not talking about a literal cube-shaped 1,500-mile-high city (Rev. 21:16 NASB) that drops out of the sky; rather, it is revealing the bride of Christ and who is part of her and who is not (Rev. 21:9-10; cf. Heb. 12:18-29). The images of Revelation do not suddenly become literal at chapter 21. Revelation 21-22 are giving us a symbolic portrayal of the post-AD 70 kingdom age. The New Jerusalem coming to earth (Rev. 21:1-2) is a symbol of the full establishment of the kingdom of God in the earthly realm at that time (cf. Rev. 11:15-18).
Since AD 70, those who are part of the New Jerusalem bride have access to the tree and water of life; those who are not part of her do not (Rev. 22:1-2). Thus, the statement that there is no more death at this time (Rev. 21:4; cf. Is. 65:22) is speaking of spiritual death (cf. Matt. 8:21-22; John 5:24; 11:23-27) and applies to those who are part of the New Jerusalem bride; it does not apply to those who are not part of her:
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End, the First and the Last. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Again, this is not a literal picture of the future of the earth with some people in a giant cube-shaped city and some outside it; rather, it is a symbolic portrayal of the post-AD 70 kingdom order. The New Jerusalem is cube-shaped just as the Holy of Holies of the Temple was cubed-shaped (1 Kings 6:20). God dwells in the midst of his New Jerusalem wife today (Rev. 21:9-10); we are his Temple (cf. Rev. 21:22-27).
God’s people being represented by a physical structure (i.e., the New Jerusalem) is not unique to Revelation. Elsewhere in the NT God’s people are likened to a house or Temple (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:10-17; 1 Pet. 2:4-8). Notice how the New Jerusalem is built on twelve foundations which have the names of the twelve apostles (Rev. 21:14). Compare this with what Paul wrote of believers in Ephesians:
Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22; cf. Revelation 21:1-3
The meaning is the same in both contexts. A physical structure is being used as a symbol to portray the totality of God’s people. The New Jerusalem is not a giant cube-shaped city that believers will live in someday; we are the “living stones” that make up this city (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5). Believers are the New Jerusalem (cf. Is. 62:12; Rev. 3:12); we are the wife of the Lamb! Robert Gundry summarizes this concept well in an article titled “The New Jerusalem: People as Place, not Place for People” (Novum Testamentum XXIX, 3, 1987). Those who are part of the New Jerusalem wife today have eternal life; those who are not part of her do not have eternal life. It is important to notice, however, that the gates of the New Jerusalem are open (Rev. 21:25-27). Those who are outside can come in and become part of the bride by coming to the Lord; indeed, they are entreated to do so (Rev. 22:17).
Revelation shows the sea disappearing at the descent of the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:1-2 (again, this is symbolic, the sea being a symbol of the abode of the serpent and the Gentiles, cf. Is. 27:1; 60:5). The disappearing of the sea transformed the whole world into the Land at that time (i.e., spiritually speaking, the whole world became the Holy Land at AD 70; cf. Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45 where the whole world becomes a holy mountain at this time). It was at this time that the kingdom of God was fully established in the earthly realm. The kingdom authority of this planet that Adam lost to Satan (cf. Luke 4:4-8) was taken back by Jesus at the cross (Matt. 28:18; cf. Dan. 7:13-14). God then took this great authority and fully implemented his reign at the AD 70 destruction of those who were destroying the land of Israel (Rev. 11:15-18; cf. Dan. 7:21-27). This was the time of the spiritual restoration of all things (Matt. 16:27-28; 19:28).
The progressive parallelism view attributed to Sam Storms was articulated by William Hendrickson, a Christian Reformed scholar in his commentary of Revelation called More Than Conquerors.
I wasn’t aware of that, concerning Hendrickson versus Storms. Thanks for the information.