Revelation 20: Minority Views on the Millennium (Part 2)


Revelation 20: Minority Views on the Millennium (Part 2)

Adam Maarschalk: March 20, 2010

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 20:1-15

This is now the second post on minority views on what is known as the Millennium. The primary purpose of this post and the previous one is to acknowledge that there are some whose beliefs regarding the Millennium do not fit into the three well-known camps: premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism. In the previous post we highlighted two such views: [A] the position of J. Stuart Russell (1816-1895) and Duncan McKenzie (and others) that the Millennium began in 70 AD and continues until now [B] Kenneth Gentry’s newest viewpoint on Revelation 20:4-6; what he calls “The Martyr’s Millennium.”

In this post we will examine the position of full-preterism, which does not see Revelation 20 as either a present (ongoing) or future reality, but as having been completely fulfilled in the past. If the reader has not already noted the position of J. Stuart Russell and Duncan McKenzie (see previous post: Part 1), it would be good to do so by way of comparison with what is to follow:

C. Full Preterism: One Thousand Years Represents Only 40 Years

I’ll admit—I approached this post with very little prior knowledge of the full-preterist position on the Millennium and the content of Revelation 20. Still, I will do my best to articulate some of the distinctives of this position. A few sources have been referenced below, but if anyone knows of some other good online resources which give a clear and concise synopsis of this position, please let me know. For now, though, here goes:

[1] According to full-preterism, the period of time designated as “the thousand years” of Revelation 20 (verses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) is representative of the period between Christ’s resurrection around 30 AD until Jerusalem’s judgment and destruction in 70 AD. In this way, the thousand years is not a literal 1000 years in the future (premillennialism), nor is it the nearly 2000 years and counting of this present Church age (amillennialism/post-millennialism), but it covers the scope of one generation (about 40 years in length). It parallels the one generation that God gave to the Jewish people to repent before judgment came upon their nation.

For the Church in its infancy, it was a generation in which growth and expansion took place (e.g. Romans 10:18; Colossians 1:6, 23; cf. Matt. 24:14) before the Old Covenant system was judged and the New Covenant age continued on unencumbered by the hindrance known as Judaism (cf. I Thess. 2:14-16). This time period parallels the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness before coming into the Promised Land.

Kenneth Gentry’s points in the section above would appear to make him a proponent of full preterism as regards Rev. 20:4-6, except that he doesn’t seem to view the reigning of the first-century believers (in the intermediate state) as beginning and ending between 30 AD and 70 AD. For Gentry, those who take their place on thrones do so in the first century, but there is nothing to say that they also left those thrones in the first century.

[2] The release of Satan at the end of “the thousand years,” in which he surrounds the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:7-10; cf. verse 3), mirrors the intense persecution which came against the saints as recorded elsewhere in Revelation (Rev. 13:5-7; cf. Rev. 11:2-12, esp. verses 2 and 7; Rev. 12:13-17; Rev. 1:9; Rev. 6:9-11).

Still, I remain unconvinced. Persecution is a normal expectation for believers (e.g. II Timothy 3:12), so it’s entirely possible that just as an intense period of persecution marked Church history between 60 AD—70 AD the same would be true (as it has been during many periods since then) in our future. It’s also true at present for many believers in various places around the world.

Full-preterism says that the Second Coming took place in 70 AD, pictured here in Rev. 20:9 as “fire coming down from heaven” (a parallel to II Thess. 1:6-10, esp. verse 8). While the Jewish enemies of the Church were consumed in 70 AD, the same is not true of the vast majority of the Church’s non-Jewish persecutors, namely Rome. Here’s why I say this. I do agree that “the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Rev. 20:9) which is targeted by Satan’s armies is a reference to the Church, for reasons already given:

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.

During the 40 years leading up to 70 AD, the Jews were the major persecutors of the Church, but Rome under Nero was especially vicious toward the saints from 64-68 AD, as we have written elsewhere. The Church’s Jewish persecutors were judged in 70 AD, but not its Roman persecutors, as one could reasonably expect if Rev. 20:9 was fulfilled at that time.

[3] Full-preterism sees the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) as having taken place by 70 AD. In the first section we already noted that “progressive” partial-preterist Duncan McKenzie believes that this passage began to be fulfilled in 70 AD (and that this fulfillment is ongoing for every individual upon death). He also sees the judgment of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) as somewhat parallel to Rev. 20:11-15, and thus a 70 AD event, as did J. Stuart Russell in his 1878 classic “The Parousia.” Before examining this possibility further, I’d like to note what Wikipedia (rightly or wrongly) says is the full-preterist view of the Second Coming and the Resurrection of the Dead:

Full Preterism holds that Jesus’ Second Coming is to be viewed not as a future bodily return, but rather a “return” in glory manifested by the physical destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in A.D. 70 by foreign armies in a manner similar to various Old Testament descriptions of God coming to destroy other nations in righteous judgment. Full Preterism also holds that the Resurrection of the Dead did not entail the raising of the physical body, but rather the resurrection of the soul from the “place of the dead”, known as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek) and that both the living and the dead were raised, changed, caught away and glorified together into one/corporate matured New Covenant Body of Christ. Some versions of Full Preterism teach that the righteous dead obtained an individual spiritual and substantial body for use in the heavenly realm, and the unrighteous dead were cast into the Lake of Fire. Some Full Preterists believe that this judgment is ongoing and that it takes effect upon the death of each individual (Heb. 9:27).

Other Full Preterists believe that because the Book of Revelation was signified (or “symbolized”, according to its first verse, Revelation 1:1), the Lake of Fire was only A.D. 70’s Gehenna (Jerusalem’s garbage dump, not Hell) as it burned. Moreover, this burning was just aionios (pertaining to an age), not eternal. The hermeneutic of audience relevance confines this judgment and punishment to the 1st century AD.

If this position held that only the faithful dead were raised and brought out of Hades at this point, this would be one thing. But the living too?  Were they physically caught away? If so, the planet would have been left with only unbelievers in 70 AD. Or am I missing something, such as an interpretation of the rapture which deems it as only a spiritual occurrence? Has Wikipedia misrepresented the full-preterist position on this matter? Feedback is welcome. This next quote is interesting, though, also from the same Wikipedia source:

Critics of Full Preterism point to the Apostle Paul’s condemnation of the doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17-18), which they regard as analogous to Full Preterism. Adherents of Full Preterism, however, dispute this assertion by pointing out that Paul’s condemnation was written during a time in which the Resurrection was still in the future (i.e., pre-A.D. 70). Their critics assert that if the Resurrection has not yet happened, then the condemnation would still apply.

Regarding the position of full-preterists that the Millennium was 40 years in length (roughly 30 AD—70 AD), I did find this rather clear explanation which is to follow. It was left as a comment by “Reformer” (on 7/6/2006 at 11:29) here:

I suggest that the millennium was 40 years in length and transpired (past tense) thusly.

It commenced with Jesus’ baptism and anointing in the Jordan River in A.D. 26; was heralded by his resurrection and the “first resurrection” of many, but not all, Old Testament saints in A.D. 30; progressed as his 1st-century followers “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 KJV); and ended in A.D. 66. Satan’s loosening to “deceive the nations” (Jews, Romans, and others) into the Roman-Jewish War began in A.D. 62 or 64 and ended six to eight years later at Daniel’s “time of the end” in the fall of Jerusalem in the Fall of A.D. 70 (Dan. 12:4). When the “last days” were finally over and the “power of the holy people has been [was] finally broken” (Dan. 12:7), the rest of the dead were raised on the “last day” (singular) of those “last days” (plural) and Satan was cast into the lake of fire, sometime between A.D. 70 and 73.

The viability of this 40-year time span being the millennial reign of Christ can also be drawn from and enhanced by Jesus’ end-time parable of the talents. He spoke of “a man [Jesus] going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them [his 1st-century disciples] . . . . After a long time [but within their lifetime – i.e. 40 years] the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them [judgment]” (Matt. 25:14, 19).

Full preterist [Max] King, summarizes his perspective on this short length of time for Christ’s millennial reign this way:
“The impressive thing about Christ’s consummating reign is that He did not have to reign over a long period of time in order to achieve all that a thousand-year reign symbolized . . . . The point of Christ’s reign is missed when the thousand years symbol is made to mean a long, indefinite period of time.” (The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p-214-215).

Lastly, I propose that the fulfillment of a 40-year, millennial reign from A.D. 26 to 66, a 6 to 8-year loosing of Satan from A.D. 62 or 64 to 70, and “the end of all things” (1 Pet. 4:7) and the judgment (1 Pet. 4:17) in A.D. 70 – 73, which were all termed as “at hand” in that same 1st-century time context (Rev. 1:3; 22:11; 1 Pet. 4:7), is the most Christ-honoring, scripture-authenticating, and faith-validating of all the millennial and eschatological views I have seen so far. This is the strength to be kept. It coincides exactly with the present-age and right-hand reign that Paul described in Ephesians 1:20-22: “. . . which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age” [i.e., his millennial reign] but also in the one to come [i.e., post A.D. 66-70].

Those who would object to a past-fulfillment interpretation for Revelation’s millennial period, or for any aspect of its prophecy, must overlook or otherwise non-literally interpret Revelation’s self-imposed, prologue, and epilogue time statements. Again, the fulfillment context for the whole of this prophecy was time restricted by the book itself. That is the discipline that must be honored and the strength that must be kept.

And, yet, Revelation’s prophecy contains an exegetical basis for an ongoing, idealistic relevance as well.

At this point, I’d like to expand on some of the distinctives of the full-preterist position on the Millennium as noted above. Helpful in this regard will be the website of David Green (Preterist Cosmos). David Green is one of four authors of what is reported to be a ground-breaking book, “House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology (A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?).” Green has so far fielded and answered a total of 112 questions regarding full preterism, and I will draw on several of these answers to help paint a picture of the full-preterist position on the Millennium.

Green provides his own explanation for why “the thousand years” of Revelation 20 can be seen as only a period of about 40 years. This question is asked here (“How do you interpret the ‘thousand years’ of Rev. 20? Assuming you believe the Millennium was fulfilled in A.D. 70 (as most other preterists today seem to believe), how do you exegetically justify spiritualizing away a “thousand years” to mean merely a literal 40 years?”):

ANSWER: I interpret the “thousand years” of Rev. 20 to symbolize the eschatological “fulness of the times,” when all things were fulfilled and filled up in Christ. (Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10, 23; 4:10)

Ps. 50:10 is often cited, usually by postmillennialists, to teach that “a thousand” symbolizes literally “many thousands or millions“: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Ps. 50:10)

The postmillennialists reason that God owns the cattle on every hill, therefore “a thousand hills” symbolizes or represents “many thousands or millions of hills.” Thus, they reason, we are led by Scripture to interpret the “thousand years” in Rev. 20 to mean “many thousands or millions of years.”

That reasoning sounds solid at first glance. However, the context of Ps. 50:10 does not lead us to a principle that a symbolic “thousand” always signifies “many thousands.” Rather, it leads us to the principle that a symbolic “thousand” signifies “all” (of something), or more specifically, the “fulness” (of something). Ps. 50:10 is in fact reiterated and its “thousand” is interpreted for us two verses later: “…The world is Mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Ps. 50:12b)

In Ps. 90:4 a “thousand years” is as “yesterday” and as “a watch in the night.” In II Peter 3:8 a “thousand years” is as one “day.” In those verses, a “thousand” (and “yesterday” and “a watch” and a “day“) is used to denote how that God fills up time itself, whether the time of yesterday or of a day or of a night or of an aeon. (Compare Job 7:7; Ps. 39:5; 90:2; 144:4; Heb. 13:8; Jms. 4:14.)

In Ps. 105:8, a “thousand” corresponds with “forever,” i.e., eternity: “He has remembered His covenant forever, the word that he commanded to a thousand generations.” (Ps. 105:8)

In Scriptural usage, a symbolic “thousand” can correspond to “1” (day / yesterday / a watch in the night), or to “13,169,103” (hills), or to “eternity” (“forever“). A “thousand” can be likened unto, or used to represent, a number lesser or greater than a literal thousand. Only its context can determine its literal numerical meaning. The basic idea that is communicated by the symbol is “fulness.”

As I understand it within a preterist framework, the biblical and eschatological context of Revelation 20 should lead us to interpret the “thousand years” to signify the fulness of the times of the Christological fulfillment and filling up of all things.

The exact, literal, historical dates for the beginning and the end of “the millennium” are sometimes a subject of debate among preterists. Generally though, the beginning of the millennium is placed somewhere between Christ’s first Appearance and the beginning of Paul’s ministry to the gentiles. And the end of the millennium is generally placed in the years A.D. 66-70 (the years of the Jewish War that ended in the fiery destruction of the persecuting, old-covenant world).

One of the tenets of full-preterism which we have already seen is that the Great White Throne Judgment took place in 70 AD. Green takes on this question here (“How would you explain the Great White Throne Judgment and the Judgment Seat of Christ from the preterist perspective? When do these judgments take place?”):

ANSWER: The terms “Great White Throne” (Rev. 20:11) and “Judgment Seat of Christ” (II Cor. 5:10) refer to God’s Judgment of all men, which took place in 70.

Here are Scriptures that show that the Apostolic church was living in the final days of crisis before the Resurrection of the dead and the Judgment:

“…’There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.’ …And as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment which is about to come….” (Acts. 24:15, 25; Jn. 5:28-29)

“…He has fixed a Day in which He is about to judge the world…” (Acts 17:31)

“…Christ Jesus, Who is about to judge the living and the dead.” (II Tim. 4:1)

“…The Judge is standing right at the door.” (Jms. 5:9)

“…They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (I Peter 4:5)

“…but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which is about to consume the enemies. (Lk. 19:27)

Revelation 11:1-18 reveals that God judged the living and the dead, the just and the unjust, at the fall of Jerusalem. After Jerusalem was trodden under foot for 3 1/2 years, (Rev. 11:2) a tenth of the City fell in an earthquake (Rev. 11:13) and seven thousand men were killed. (Rev. 11:13) Then “quickly” afterward, (Rev. 11:14) “the kingdom of this world” became the eternal Kingdom of the Father and the Son. (Rev. 11:15)

The kingdom of this world” was the kingdom of the Pharisees and chief priests. (Amos 9:8; Matt. 8:12; Heb. 9:1) The Church became the eternal Kingdom of the Father and the Son (Compare Jn. 14:23; Rev. 22:3) when the unredeemed sons of the kingdom were cast out in 70 AD (Matt. 8:12):

Therefore I say to you [chief priests, Pharisees and elders], the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” (Matt. 21:43)

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Lk. 12:32)

But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” (Dan. 7:18)

“…until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. (Dan. 7:22)

Revelation 11:18 reveals what happened when the Kingdom was taken from the Pharisees and given to the Church:

And the nations were wrathful, and Your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and to give the reward to Your bond-servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”

The Pharisees, chief priests and the elders saw their Judge seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of Heaven, in God’s calling out and empowering of His Church throughout the Last Days. (Matt. 26:64; I Cor. 14:21-22) By 70 AD, all the tribes of the Land understood as well, (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7) when they fell by the sword and were led captive into all the nations, (Lk. 21:24) and when the Temple and the Holy City were reduced to rubble. (Lk. 19:44; 21:5,6)

In that Great Day, the dead were raised, both the just and the unjust, and were judged according to their works. (Dan. 12:1-2) The sons of the flesh were cast out, but the Church was perfected, confirmed, and established, and was given eternal dominion over the earth as God’s Kingdom of priests. (Dan. 12:3; I Peter 5:10-11; Rev. 5:10; 22:5)

Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Dan. 7:27)

Green also proposes that Hades serves as both a representation of judgment on earth and as eternal torment after death. He believes that one pitfall of some full-preterists has been to take the annihilationist position that where Scripture speaks of Hades, Gehenna, or the Lake of Fire that it is only speaking of earthly judgment. That discussion can be seen here.

Related to this question, Green also took on the question of how this judgment (as also recorded in Matthew 25) was fulfilled. This question is asked here (“Assuming that the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats was fulfilled in A.D. 70, my question is how was it fulfilled? Was it fulfilled symbolically on Earth, or was it fulfilled in Heaven?”):

ANSWER: The prophecy of Matt. 25:31-46 was fulfilled in Heaven. It was a prophecy (not a “parable”) of the Judgment of the dead of Christ’s generation.

Sequence of events:

1. First the Coming of the Son of Man in A.D. 70 (Matt. 25:31)
2. Then the gathering of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:32)
3. Then the separation of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:32)
4. Then the casting out of the wicked into the eternal fire (Matt. 25:41,46)

The same order of events is given in the parable of the Wedding Banquet:

…But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. THEN he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” (Matt. 22:7-13)

1. First the destruction of the City in A.D. 70 (the Coming of the Son of Man) (Matt. 22:7)
2. THEN the gathering together of the righteous and the wicked (the sheep and the goats) (Matt. 22:8-10)
3. Then the separation of the righteous and the wicked (the sheep and the goats) (Matt. 22:11-13)
4. Then the casting out of the wicked (the goats) into outer darkness, the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 22:13)

The prophecy of the Sheep and the Goats is a reiteration of the prophetic teaching of the parable of the Wedding Banquet. In both passages, the gathering and judgment of the righteous and the wicked (the sheep and the goats) take place after the destruction of Jerusalem. Both passages were fulfilled after God’s eschatological judgment on Earth was finished in A.D. 70, (Lk. 12:59) which means that both passages were fulfilled in Heaven, which means that the post-Parousia Judgment was the Judgment of the dead. As Rev. 11:18 says: “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged…'”

In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, the gathering of the good and the evil (the sheep and the goats) after the destruction of the city represented the gathering of the dead of Christ’s generation to His heavenly Tribunal after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The man in the parable who was cast out of the banquet (Matt. 22:13) represented the murderers (“the goats” / the Pharisees, etc.) who were destroyed when Jerusalem was burned, (Matt. 22:7) and who were then raised to “a resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn. 5:29)

Rev. 20:11-15 is another parallel Scripture to the prophecy of “the Sheep and Goats,” and it confirms again not only the post-Parousia time of the Judgment of the sheep and the goats, but also, more strikingly, the heavenly location of that Judgment:

And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15)

In Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 22:7-13; 25:31-46, we see the following:

1. The passing away of Heaven and Earth (the end of the old-covenant world / the Coming of the Son of Man / the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70)
2. THEN the gathering together of all men (the righteous and the wicked / the sheep and the goats) for Judgment
3. Then the judgment of all men (the righteous and the wicked / the sheep and the goats) according to their deeds
4. Then the casting of the wicked (the goats) into the fire; outer darkness, the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Rev. 20:11-15 reveals not only that the Judgment took place after the consummation of God’s eschatological purging of His Kingdom on Earth, but also that those who were judged were “the dead” –those who had been gathered from out of “the sea” and from out of “death and Hades.”

Lastly, Matt. 8:11-12; 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:42; Lk. 10:12, 14; 11:31; 13:25-28 also lead us to interpret the prophecy of the Sheep and the Goats as having been fulfilled in Heaven, as those verses tell us that at the Judgment, “the goats” saw the peoples of past generations:

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you [the Jews to whom Jesus was preaching as He made His way to Jerusalem] shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves cast out.” (Lk. 13:28)

Summary interpretation of the prophecy:

Though the post-Parousia Judgment was a judgment of all generations from Adam to Christ, the prophecy of the Sheep and the Goats is concerned only with the judgment of the dead of Christ’s generation. God’s “scapegoat” was that reprobate generation that despised and rejected the Body of the coming King. (Matt. 23:45)

The “goats” were those of that generation who had no compassion for the King’s suffering brothers (as the Rich Man had no compassion for Lazarus). The “goats” were chiefly the Jews of Judea, in union with their brothers who were scattered among “all the nations” of the Roman world. (Matt. 25:32; Jn. 11:48-52)

They had excluded believers from the synagogues and from the commonwealth of Israel. They had not only persecuted them, but they stood idly by, justifying themselves, while their brothers suffered deprivation and imprisonment through the hatred that the whole world had held against Christians. (Matt. 7:22; Jms. 2:14-17; I Jn. 3:17; Rev. 11:10)

The “sheep” were those who had loved and cared for the King’s suffering brothers (as the Good Samaritan had compassion and cared for the man on the road from Jerusalem). They were believers; those whom the Father predestined to eternal life from the foundation of the world; those who love their brothers. (Matt. 10:40-42; I Jn. 4:16-17)

By about September of A.D. 70 (the fall of Jerusalem), immense multitudes of Christians had been murdered, and even greater legions of Jews and Pagans had been slaughtered in wars. When Christ’s eschatological judgment on the earth was finally finished in A.D. 70, He gathered the vast myriads of the dead of that generation to His Judgment-Seat.

He gave His brothers (who had been “last” in the world) the Kingdom in which we dwell today through faith; the Inheritance of eternal life that fills Heaven and Earth. But He sent the “goats” (who had been “first” in the world) into the punishment of the eternal fire. (Matt. 22:13; 25:41; Rev. 20:10)

Since that Day, the Judgment-Throne of our King remains, and His rule will never end:

But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom.'” (Heb. 1:8)

Therefore,

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Ps. 2:11-12)

David B. Curtis, pastor of Bible Berean Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, is also a full-preterist. In a sermon preached on April 5, 1998, he presented the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats as a 70 AD-event. His message is lengthier than the material presented above by David Green, and can be seen here. Like Green, David Curtis sees Matthew 25:31-46 as being concerned only with the judgment of the dead of Christ’s generation. In one portion of his message, he says:

We see here that the destiny of the righteous and the wicked is determined by their treatment of those Christ calls, “my brethren.” There is nothing said here about faith, the judgement is based on acts of love toward the distressed brethren of Christ. It is not surprising that this text causes much perplexity both to theologians and general readers.

William Barclay writes, “This is one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever spoke, and the lesson is crystal clear–that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need.”

Is this the doctrine of Paul? Is this the ground of justification before God set forth in the New Testament? Are we to conclude that the everlasting destiny of the whole human race, from Adam to the last man, will finally turn on their love and sympathy towards the persecuted and suffering brethren of Christ? Not according to the teaching of the New Testament…

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that salvation is by grace through faith alone [e.g. Romans 3:28, 4:5, 11:6]. Yet this text in Matthew 25 seems to be saying that judgement is based upon works. The difficulty is easily and completely solved if we regard this judicial transaction as the judgment of Israel at the close of the Jewish age. It is the rejected King of Israel who is the judge: it is the hostile and unbelieving generation of Jews, the last and worst of the nation, that is arraigned before His tribunal [cf. Matthew 23:35-36]…

As those first century Jews responded to Christ’s disciples or “brothers” and aligned themselves with their distress and afflictions, they aligned themselves with the Messiah whom they preached. The acceptance or rejection of the disciples was based upon their acceptance or rejection of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. Saul persecuted Christians because he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. In attacking them, he was attacking Christ [cf. Acts 9:5]…

Because the Jews hated Christ, they mistreated His followers. Those who believed in Christ were kind in their treatment of His disciples. Thus, judgement is based upon faith or rejection of Jesus as the Messiah…

We have here, not the final judgment of the whole human race, but that of the guilty nation or nations of Palestine, who rejected their King, despitefully treated and slew His messengers, and whose day of doom was now near at hand. This being so, the entire prophecy on the Mount of Olives is seen to be one homogeneous and connected whole. It is a clear, consecutive, and historically truthful representation of the judgment of the Theocratic nation at the close of the age, or Jewish period.

A universal judgement in our future is entirely unnecessary, those who have died since AD 70 already know where they will spend eternity. When a person dies, his spirit immediately enters heaven or hell. So, what purpose would there be of a final judgement? [cf. John 3:36, 5:54]…

Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ will not see life, they are under the wrath of God. Believers have already passed from death to life and will not come into judgement. Believers will stand before Christ to give an account of what they have done in the body and to receive rewards [cf. II Cor. 5:10].

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Another good article on a 40-year Millennium in the 1st century can be seen here:

http://www.eschatology.org/index.php/articles-mainmenu-61/40-revelation/877-a-forty-year-millennium-is-that-possible.html

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In the next post, we will discuss a variety of views on Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20).

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

All of our studies on Revelation 20 and the Millennium can be found here.

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