The 1000 Years: Four Charts and a Couple Ancient Quotes


I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received after posting a presentation on the 1000 years of Revelation 20 earlier this month. In case you didn’t see that presentation, I’ll summarize by saying that I’ve come to believe that the “1000 years,” a.k.a. “the Millennium,” covered the time period between the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) and the Second Great Revolt (AD 132-135). The text in Revelation 20 is certainly challenging, and I’m not finished thinking through it.

The last two weeks I had the privilege of further discussing this topic with Pastor Michael Miano (of Blue Point Bible Church in Long Island, New York) on his radio program, The Hairy Ticks Variety Show. In last Tuesday’s episode, we referred to three charts that I created in an effort to continue thinking through these things and to hopefully see more clearly what the text is saying. In this post I would like to share those charts along with one additional chart (“The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4”), a couple of quotes from early church authors, and an interesting observation from a friend about “Gog and Magog.”

Outline

A. Four Charts
         1. The Reign of the Saints – Spiritually Versus on Thrones
         2. The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4
         3. Contrasting the “Short Time” (Rev. 12:12) & the “Little While” (Rev. 20:3) of Satan
         4. Deceiving the Nations to War (Satan Led This Effort Twice)
B. Two Quotes from Early Church Writers
1. A quote from Eusebius (Attributed to Luke)

         2. A quote from the Apocalypse of Paul
C. An Observation from a Friend about Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39 and Rev. 20:8)

A. Four Charts

1. The Reign of the Saints – Spiritually Versus on Thrones

Saints Reigning Prior to AD 70

Saints to Reign After AD 70

The saints were reigning (spiritually) after the Day of Pentecost. These texts seem to reveal that Christ first returned in judgment, the beast was defeated, the resurrection took place, and the saints inherited the kingdom. Then the saints sat on thrones to judge.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:7-11).
23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth,
trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute[a] the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. 26 But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. 27 Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him’” (Daniel 7:23-27).
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 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” (Matthew 19:27-28).
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45-47).
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31).
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” (I Corinthians 6:23).
“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12).
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nationsHe shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces‘ – as I also have received from My Father” (Revelation 2:26-27).
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
“…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6). “…You have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:4-10).

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. …they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

It was not my intention to leave out any passages which could be placed in either column in the chart above. If you can think of any additional passages, please let me know and I’ll try to edit them into the post. To be clear, I acknowledge that Christ was already reigning well before AD 70 (e.g. Acts 2:29-36) and I believe He still reigns today (e.g. Revelation 11:15). This chart is simply about when the saints, especially the martyred ones (Rev. 20:4), would sit on thrones with Him to reign and judge for 1000 years.

Regarding the timing of “in the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28), I’ve noted the parallels between this verse and Matthew 25:31.

[1] “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'” (Matt. 19:28).

[2] “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matt. 25:31).

If Matthew 25:31 was fulfilled in AD 70, which is most likely a consensus view among preterists, then the same is true of Matthew 19:28.

2. The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4

(Which came first – the mark of the beast or the 1000 years?)

(Note: In the “Time Frame” column, I compared my view with the Transmillennial view [red font], the view that the 1000 years took place between the cross and the Jewish-Roman War)

PASSAGE

TIME FRAME

NOTES

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…” (Rev. 20:4a). AD 70 –>
(My view)

(AD 30 –>)(Transmillennial view)

As the chart above reflects, my understanding is that before these thrones were set up, Christ returned in judgment, the beast was defeated, the resurrection took place, and the saints inherited the kingdom.
“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands…” (Rev. 20:4b). AD 66-70
(My view)AD 64-68? AD 66-70?(Transmillennial view)
I’m basing this time frame on my understanding that the beast of Revelation was Israel and the Zealot movement, and that this was the 42 months of the beast’s authority (Rev. 13:5). See this ongoing series for more details. Rev. 13:4-17 describes the enforced worship of the beast, his image, and his mark. I have not yet posted on this in my series on the beast.
“…And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4c). AD 70 – 132
(My view)
(AD 30 – 66)(Transmillennial view)
Those who were especially singled out to reign with Christ for the 1000 years were those who had been martyred (beheaded) for refusing to worship the beast. Rev. 15:2-4 portrays them as victors and overcomers.*

*The Transmillennial view says that the 1000 years began around AD 30, ended around AD 66, and then the “little while” of Rev. 20:3, 7-10 took place from AD 66-70. However, I would respectfully point out that, if it’s acknowledged that Rev. 20:4 draws directly from Rev. 13:4-17, then this position has those souls being martyred after the 1000 years ended. Thus, they would [1] first reign for 1000 years and [2] then be martyred by the beast, which appears to be the opposite order of what we see in Revelation 20:4. In order to reconcile this view with the text, it would seem necessary to demonstrate that the mark, image, and worship of the beast was enforced (upon penalty of death) prior to AD 30, but of course this is not possible and I’ve never seen anyone attempt to do it.

In my opinion, this view excludes the very people (the martyrs) who were explicitly named in Rev. 20:4 from participating in the 1000 years. On the other hand, I believe the text shows that the saints were beheaded first (AD 66-70) and then reigned with Christ (after AD 70).

3. The “Short Time” (Rev. 12:12) & the “Little While” (Rev. 20:3) of Satan

(Are they the same or are they different?)

Revelation 12:7-12

Revelation 20:3, 7-10

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them[a] in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[a] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

In Rev. 12:7-12, Satan was cast out of heaven and came “down” to the earth and the sea, having great wrath. In Rev. 20:3, 7, Satan was cast into a bottomless pit and later released from his prison in the bottomless pit.

I made this chart in response to someone’s comment that the “short time” of Rev. 12:12 and the “little while” of Rev. 20:3, 7-10 are identical. My conclusion is that they are very different.

What about Satan’s fall from heaven (Luke 10:18) and his judgment (John 12:31) spoken of by Jesus in the gospels? These statements may very well be parallel to Revelation 12:7-12. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Did Jesus mean that this had already happened when He made these statements, or that it would happen almost immediately (perhaps at the time of the cross)? Or was Jesus stating that this would happen at the end of the old covenant age, i.e. closer to AD 70? In the case of John 12:31, it seems to be a reference to what would happen at the end of the age since it’s coupled with “the judgment of this world” (compare with II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2, Eph. 6:12; etc.). My understanding is that that world was judged at the end of the old covenant age (around AD 70).

4. Deceiving the Nations to War (Satan Led This Effort Twice)

(Note: The time frames in the middle column of this chart reflect my understanding.)

PASSAGE

TIME FRAME

NOTES

“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). Prior to the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) When John wrote Revelation, Satan was presently deceiving the whole world.
For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). The First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) The nations were being deceived into joining a tragic battle.
“He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:2-3). After the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) or at least after Jerusalem fell in AD 70 Satan was captured and bound so that he could not deceive the nations during the upcoming “1000 years.” What kind of deception was he prohibited from carrying out during the 1000 years? Was it “deceiving to war”? I think so, because that’s what he did before the 1000 years, and that’s what he would do again –briefly – after the 1000 years.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7-8). The Second Great Revolt (AD 132-135)

After the 1000 years, Satan was released and briefly allowed to deceive the nations to war a second time.

Rev. 20:8 speaks of the effort to deceive the nations “to gather them together to battle.” This very closely mirrors what took place leading up to the First Great Revolt: “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of Almighty God” (Revelation 16:14). There are those who would say this was recapitulation, i.e. restating the main points of the same story. However, I believe it’s clear in Revelation 20 that the nations were deceived to war before and after the 1000 years. So that would mean the same story wasn’t told twice, but rather there were two different stories.

B. Two Quotes from Early Church Writers

1. Eusebius

I recently came across an interesting quote from Eusebius (AD 263-339), known as “the father of church history,” concerning the timing of the 1000 years in relation to the resurrection of the dead. What caught my eye is that he attributed a teaching to Luke, the author of the book of Acts, that the resurrection of the dead would come before the “1000 years.” This doesn’t prove anything, but it’s insightful when it comes to how the very early church may have viewed the sequence of the 1000 years in relation to the resurrection. Speaking of Luke, Eusebius wrote (“Church History,” Book III, Chapter 39.11-12):

“The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures” (emphasis added).

2. Apocalypse of Paul

The Apocalypse of Paul, part of “the New Testament Apocrypha,” proposed the same sequence for the 1000 years. This book states (chapter 21) that the destruction of the first earth (II Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:1) would come first and then Christ would rule for 1000 years. This is supposed to be Paul’s testimony of what he heard when he was caught up to the third heaven (II Cor. 12:1-4):

“And [the angel] brought me down from the third heaven, and led me into the second heaven, and again he led me to the firmament, and from the firmament he led me unto the gates of heaven. And the beginning of the foundation thereof was upon the river that watereth all the earth. And I asked the angel and said: ‘Lord, what is this river of water?’ and he said unto me: ‘This is the Ocean.’ And suddenly I came out of heaven, and perceived that it is the light of the heaven that shineth upon all the earth (or, all that land). And there the earth (or, land) was seven times brighter than silver. And I said: ‘Lord, what is this place?’ and he said unto me: ‘This is the land of promise. Hast thou not yet heard that which is written: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth? The souls therefore of the righteous when they are gone forth of the body are sent for the time into this place.’ And I said unto the angel: ‘Shall then this land be made manifest after (lat. before) a time?’ The angel answered and said unto me: ‘When Christ whom thou preachest cometh to reign, then by the decree of God the first earth shall be dissolved, and then shall this land of promise be shown and it shall be like dew or a cloud; and then shall the Lord Jesus Christ the eternal king be manifested and shall come with all his saints to dwell therein; and he shall reign over them a thousand years, and they shall eat of the good things which now I will show thee.’”

I haven’t come across any quotes from early church writers stating that the 1000 years would take place before the resurrection of the dead or before the destruction of the first heaven and earth, but if you find any please feel free to share them.

C. An Observation from a Friend about Gog and Magog

Revelation 20:7-8 states that when the 1000 years would expire, Satan would be released from his prison and gather the nations, “Gog and Magog,” to battle. There was some discussion under my last post as to whether or not the gatherings of “Gog and Magog” in Ezekiel 38-39 and in Rev. 20:8 refer to the same event. I do not believe they are identical references. As this post reveals, I believe Ezekiel 38-39 was fulfilled during the days of Esther. Ancil McBarnett, who I was able to meet this year and last year at the Blue Point Bible Church conference, agrees and had this to say:

“Ezekiel [38-39] happened during [the time of] Esther. Revelation seems to refer to that to register a similar occurrence on a wider scale. The big clue is Ezekiel describes a war after the people were displaced and then return and then this war took place. In Revelation it’s the same. It describes a war after the people were displaced [in] AD 70, then returned, [and] then this war took place” (Ancil McBarnett, Facebook, April 21, 2018).

In other words, the “Gog and Magog” attack of Ezekiel 38-39 took place after the Babylonian exile, while the “Gog and Magog” attack of Revelation 20:7-10 took place after the Roman exile. That’s the idea anyway, and personally it makes sense to me.

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The 1000 Years and the Two Wars of Revelation 20 (Long Island Conference Presentation)


The weekend of March 23-25, 2018 I had the privilege of participating for the third year in a row at the Blue Point Bible Conference in Long Island, New York. The theme of this conference, which was hosted by Pastor Michael Miano, was “Examining Crossroads: Biblical Controversies.” As always, it was a great weekend of fellowship. learning, discussion, and being challenged.

The topic I presented about is certainly a controversial one: the “1000 years” of Revelation 20. It wasn’t too long ago that I was saying this is among the most difficult chapters in the Bible to understand. So it seemed surreal to find myself giving a presentation about it. I still have things to learn about this passage, and I welcome any feedback from those who read this post and/or watch the video. Here’s the video, along with my written notes (this video can also be viewed here):

Introduction

Only 10 verses (Revelation 20:1-10) are devoted to this topic of the 1000 years, more often called “The Millennium.” Although this topic has very limited exposure in Scripture, it has formed the basis of three major schools of thought: Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Post-Millennialism.

Whether justified or not, all kinds of Biblical passages have been cited as parallels to this brief text in Revelation 20. These include the wolf and lamb dwelling together (Isaiah 11), descriptions of animal sacrifices in Ezekiel 43, and more.

The following are some beliefs about the 1000 years:

  • They are in our future and haven’t yet begun.
  • They began about 2000 years ago and continue to this day.
  • They began in the first century and lasted for literally and exactly 1000 years.
  • They began and ended in the first century, lasting for about 40 years.
  • They began during the days of Solomon, lasting exactly 1000 years and ending just before AD 70.

I’d like to offer one more option for your consideration. I believe that the 1000 years covered a period of about 60 years between roughly AD 70 and AD 132, that is, between the First Great Revolt (AD 66 – 73) and the Second Great Revolt led by Simon Bar Kokhba (AD 132 – 135). There are six things I want to focus on in explaining why I believe this is the correct timing for this prophecy:

[1] Rev. 19:17 – 20:3 describes the capture of the beast, the false prophet, and Satan. Two of them are cast into the lake of fire. Satan is not;

[2] Why Satan was bound and sealed, and how he deceived the nations to war twice;

[3] The timing of Christ sitting on His throne with His saints (Rev. 20:4; Daniel 7:7-11, 7:23-27; Matthew 19:27-28, 25:31; Rev. 3:21);

[4] The identity of those who reigned with Christ, and the connection between Rev. 20:4 and Rev. 13;

[5] The persecution of the saints in the beloved city, Jerusalem (Rev. 20:9);

[6] How Satan joined the beast and the false prophet (who were already) in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).

Before examining these points more in depth, here’s the text we’re looking at:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:1-10, NKJV).

  1. The Capture of the Beast, the False Prophet, and Satan

Does Revelation 19 provide a direct setting for what we read in Revelation 20? In other words, do the events of Revelation 19 lead into the events of Revelation 20? Those who believe that the 1000 years ended before AD 70 would say they do not, but I believe they do. Of course, we should always keep in mind that originally there were no chapter divisions. Let’s take a quick look at the last three verses of Revelation 19. Here we see that the beast and the false prophet were captured and cast into the lake of fire, and their followers were killed and fed to the birds:

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:19-21).

I believe that the next three verses (Rev. 20:1-3) flow chronologically from this text. There we see that Satan was captured and sealed in a pit for 1000 years. In other words, these six verses (Rev. 19:19 – 20:3) are all about the capture of the major players in the war against Christ and the saints. It was Satan who gave his power, throne, and authority to the beast (Rev. 13:2) as he made war, and it was the beast who worked closely with the false prophet in that war (Rev. 13:11-17). I believe Revelation 19:17 – 20:3 describes the capture of the beast, the false prophet, and Satan in AD 70-73. This was then followed by the 1000 years (Rev. 20:4-6).

  1. Why Satan Was Sealed

Revelation 20:3 states that the purpose for sealing Satan in a pit for 1000 years was “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” This phrase “no more” indicates that he had already been deceiving the nations for some time. In Revelation 12:9, we see the same thing:

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

This is written in the present tense: “deceives.” So both Rev. 12:9 and Rev. 20:3 indicate that, when John received his visions around AD 65, Satan had been deceiving the nations for some time. This creates great difficulty for the view that the 1000 years ended around AD 66, which would mean that Satan had been bound and restrained from deceiving the nations prior to AD 66. Instead, we see in Rev. 12 and Rev. 20 that Satan had been deceiving the nations and he came down with great wrath (Rev. 12:9) and soon gave his power, throne, and authority to the beast (Rev. 13:2) who made war (Rev. 13:4-7).

A survey of the rest of the New Testament also does not seem to show that Satan was bound in a bottomless pit from AD 30-66. Instead he was “walking around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Believers who went astray could be delivered “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (I Cor. 5:5). As the god of that age, he had blinded many minds (II Cor. 4:4). He frequently transformed himself into an angel of light, and his ministers were deceiving people by pretending to be ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15). Multiple times Satan hindered Paul from coming to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 2:18). And many had turned aside to follow Satan (I Tim. 5:15). In any case, it seems impossible to reconcile Satan being bound in a bottomless pit and freely walking around like a roaring lion at the same time.

In Romans 16:20, Paul wrote that “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). It’s said that the book of Romans was written during the winter of AD 57-58. This again sounds like a church that was fighting against the schemes of Satan. It also doesn’t sound like something Paul would say if Satan was presently bound in a bottomless pit at that time.

In Rev. 20:7-10, we see that after the 1000 years Satan would be released to once again deceive the nations just as he did before the 1000 years. This time, though, his time of deception would be brief. Rev. 20:3 calls it “a little while” or “a little season.” His purpose for deceiving them was “to gather them together to battle” (verse 8). Was that his purpose in deceiving the nations the first time as well? I think it was.

I personally believe that when Revelation 20:1-3 says that Satan would be bound “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished,” this was especially a reference to how Satan had deceived the nations in preparation for the First Great Revolt of 66-73 AD. This deception was described in the first 19 chapters of Revelation. The nations he deceived to go to war during the First Great Revolt included Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, and Perea. He also deceived Jews throughout the diaspora who continued to take their marching orders from Jerusalem (Rev. 17:15).

In Rev. 20:1-3 John was told that Satan would be bound for a long time from continuing that deception, but that he would be loosed to do it again after the 1000 years (Rev. 20:3b, 7-10). I believe he was released just before the Second Great Revolt of AD 132 – 135). I believe that, just as he gave his power, throne and authority to the leaders of the First Great Revolt (i.e. the Zealots) from AD 66 – 73, he was released just in time to back the Second Great Revolt as well. Of course, both revolts ended in great failure for the Jews. In summary, I believe that Satan deceived the nations to war at the time of both great Jewish revolts; and that he gave his power, throne, and authority to the leaders of both great revolts.

  1. The Timing of Christ Sitting On His Throne with His Saints

Revelation 20:4 is not the first place in Scripture where we read about thrones being set in place for Jesus and His saints. Previous examples include Daniel 7:7-11 and 7:23-27, Matthew 19:27-28 and 25:31, and Revelation 3:21. These passages show thrones being set up when the beast is defeated, Jesus returns in judgment, and the saints receive the kingdom.

Daniel 7:7-11 shows that thrones were set in place at the time of the slaying and burning of Daniel’s fourth beast. As I’ve written elsewhere on this site, I believe the beast was captured and slain in AD 70. At this time “thrones were put in place” and “The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10). This is again confirmed in Daniel 7:23-27 where it’s said that the fourth beast, 10 horns, and a little horn would persecute the saints for 3.5 years, change times and the law, and would be defeated. At this time the saints received the kingdom (verse 27) and a court was seated (verse 26).

In Matthew 19:27-28, we read this: “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’ 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.’”

In Matthew 25:31, this is what we read: “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory.”

In Revelation 3:21, Jesus says the following to the church at Laodicea: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” This letter was delivered to the saints around AD 65, so it was still future to them.

The point in bringing up these five passages is this: How could the 1000 years end before AD 70 if that was the time when Jesus came with His angels and sat on the throne of His glory? On the other hand, these passages show the coming of Christ and the resurrection taking place first, and then the saints inheriting the kingdom and sitting with Christ on thrones with judgment committed to them. Sitting on thrones marked the beginning of the 1000 years, according to Revelation 20:4. This fits an AD 70 timeline but not an AD 30 timeline.

  1. The Identity of Those Who Reigned with Christ

In Revelation 20:4 we see the identity of the saints who reigned with Christ for 1000 years. There’s a bit of a difficulty at first because it says “they sat on them” (thrones) without first saying who “they” is. However, after this initial statement, special (even exclusive) attention is given to those who “had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.” This description is taken directly from Revelation 13:11-17, where the second beast works closely with the first beast to make war on the saints for 42 months (AD 66-70).

This is probably the biggest reason why I cordially disagree with a number of other preterists who teach that the 1000 years began around AD 30. I feel they would need to demonstrate that the 42-month reign of the beast took place prior to AD 30 (and I’m not aware of anyone holding this position). I believe Revelation 20:4 clearly shows the 1000 years beginning after the beast’s reign, since the participants of the 1000 year reign are those who refused to worship him and take his mark.

This verse tells us that the way those saints were martyred was by being beheaded. On this site I’ve been developing a series explaining why I believe the beast was Israel, especially under the leadership of the Zealots. Josephus wrote quite a bit about the Zealots cutting the throats of those who wouldn’t follow their war agenda. Since they used swords, this very well could mean that they beheaded their enemies. The Zealots had the upper hand until the siege began in April AD 70. After this, they were hunted down and killed until the war ended in AD 73.

And I saw the souls of those… And they lived and reigned with Christ for 1000 years.”
AD 66-70 AD 70 – 132
Revelation 13 Revelation 20
he who kills with the sword” (Rev. 13:10); “He was granted power to…cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev. 13:15) who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God” (Rev. 20:4)

 

and they worshiped the beast” (Rev. 13:4); “and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast” (Rev. 13:12; see also verse 15) who had not worshiped the beast or his image” (Rev. 20:4)
And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads…” (Rev. 13:16-17). and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands” (Rev. 20:4)

A few months ago, Doug Wilkinson gave what I thought was a good explanation for why Rev. 20:4 shows that the 1000 years couldn’t have begun before AD 70. He referenced “the common Full Preterist paradigm where the millennium is in the first century between the cross and the destruction of the temple” and added:

“In the Transmillennial FP position, the millennium ends before the mark of the beast is issued. And, since the martyrs of 20:4 were killed for not taking the mark, that means those martyrs aren’t killed until after the millennium. That means the only people who are explicitly said to be in the millennium are actually excluded from it” (Doug Wilkinson, Rethinking Eschatology Facebook group, November 22, 2017).

In summary, those who reigned with Christ for 1000 years were beheaded during the Jewish-Roman War of AD 66-73, having overcome the beast by refusing to worship him and take his mark. They were rewarded by reigning with Christ. This does not fit the idea of the 1000 years beginning in AD 30, but it does fit the idea of the 1000 years beginning around AD 70.

  1. Persecution of the Jerusalem Saints

Rev. 20:7-10 describes what happens after the 1000 years are over. In verse 9 we see that the deceived nations “surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” This language suggests a targeted persecution against Christians living in Jerusalem, and indeed that’s what happened during the Second Great Revolt led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Before looking at a quote about that, though, let’s look at the background of that war.

Following the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73), there was a period of relative peace in the region for about 60 years. Although Jerusalem lay in ruins, this period was marked by a Christian presence in the area. This relates to the well-known story about the followers of Christ who fled from Judea to Pella just before the Jewish-Roman War began in AD 66. The story of their flight was told by early church leaders including Eusebius (AD 263-339), Epiphanius (AD 315-403), and Remigius (AD 437-533) – and perhaps also by Josephus (Wars 2.14.2, 2.20.1). They obeyed the words of Jesus (Matthew 24:15-21, Mark 13:14-19, Luke 21:20-23) and were protected in the wilderness for 3.5 years (Revelation 12:14). See this post for more details on that story.

In the book, “The Secret Legacy of Jesus” (2009), Jeffrey Butz writes that a number of Christians returned from Pella and rebuilt a Christian meeting place where the Upper Room (Acts 1:12-14) had been (p. 146). According to Eusebius and Hegesippus (AD 110-180), the person who led them to Pella and then back to Jerusalem was Symeon the son of Clopas. Who was Symeon? He was the first cousin of Jesus (John 19:25). He was also the second bishop of Jerusalem, who was appointed to that position when the first bishop, James (Acts 15:13), was martyred in AD 62 (Antiquities 20:9.1). [In the video, I mistakenly said that his martyrdom was recorded in Acts 12, but I had the wrong James in mind when I said that.]

Beginning with Symeon, the cousin of Jesus, there were 14 bishops of the church in Jerusalem between the two Great Revolts. They were (1) Symeon, AD 62-107; martyred during the time of emperor Trajan (2) Justus (3) Zacchaeus (4) Tobias (5) Benjamin (6) John (7) Matthias (8) Philip (9) Seneca (10) Justus (11) Levi (12) Ephre (13) Joseph (14) Judas.

Symeon is mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as one of Christ’s brothers (and also referred to in I Corinthians 9:5). However, The Pulpit Commentary gives a good explanation for why he was believed to be Jesus’ cousin rather than His brother. See this recent post for more details about Symeon and this period of church history. Since it was Symeon who led most of the Christians from Jerusalem to Pella in AD 66, it makes sense that he continued as the bishop of the church in Jerusalem when many of them returned after the war.

The Jewish historian, Gedaliah Alon, wrote that the Roman emperor, Hadrian (AD 117-138), took notice of this church when he visited Jerusalem in AD 130:

“Another early Christian chronicler, Alexander the Monk, writing probably around the middle of the ninth century, says: ‘When (Hadrian) went to the Holy City and saw it in ruins, except for one small Christian church, he gave orders that the whole city be rebuilt, save for the temple. When the Jews heard of this they streamed thither from every direction, and before long the whole city was rebuilt. But once again an evil spirit entered into them and agitated them, and they rebelled against Rome. They set over themselves a commander called Bar Kokhba’” (“The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age [AD 70-640], 1980, p. 446; quoting from Alexander Monachus, De Inventione Sanctae Crucis, p. 87, III, 4044-4045, published in 1620).

Notice the description of an evil spirit entering the Jews who crowded into the city. It was only two years after Hadrian’s visit and his order to rebuild Jerusalem that the Second Great Revolt began. The leader of the war, Simon Bar Kokhba, was a Zealot who claimed to be the Messiah. Robert Travers Herford (1860-1950), a British scholar of rabbinical literature, wrote:

“A century after the death of Jesus another man appeared, Simeon Bar Cocheba, who openly claimed to be the Messiah. He was a Zealot and most of the Pharisaic leaders did not admit his claim. But the greatest of them at the time, Rabbi Akiba, publicly hailed him as the Messiah” (Herford, Judaism in the New Testament Period [London: The Lindsey Press, 1928], p. 217).

The Jewish history site, Livius, says:

“According to the Christian church historian Eusebius (c.260-c.340), Simon claimed to be a luminary who had come down to the Jews from heaven (History of the church 4.6.2). On some of his coins and in his letters, he calls himself ‘Prince’ (Nasi), a word that had very strong messianic connotations (cf. Ezekiel 37.24-25 and several Qumran documents)… he was usually called Bar Kochba (son of the star), which again is a messianic claim. Some miracles were attributed to him: there were reports that he had been seen spewing out flames…

The revolt was clearly religious in nature. The rebels were convinced that this was the apocalyptic war that had been predicted by prophets like Daniel and Zechariah. Their coins show a star on top of and the Ark of the Covenant inside the Temple; the legend is written in archaic Hebrew letters. Some coins were struck with the legend ‘Eleazar the priest’, which strongly suggests that a new high priest was elected…

Simon was so successful, that the emperor Hadrian was obliged to dispatch his best generals to suppress the rebellion. Julius Severus, the governor of Britain, was one of them… Three legions were deployed… No less than seventeen auxiliary units are known to have fought in Palestine… New reinforcements were sent…. For the first time in more than a century, the Romans suffered from manpower shortage; two senators started to conscript Italian boys…

Very few Jews…survived. Fifty of their most important outposts and 985 better known villages were razed to the ground. 580,000 were killed in the various engagements or battles. As for the numbers who perished from starvation, disease or fire, that was impossible to establish… The Romans resorted to terrible atrocities to win the war. Bodies were left unburied for several years (text). There are three reports that children were wrapped in Torah scrolls and burned alive… When [the Romans] brought [Simon’s] head to the emperor Hadrian, he said: ‘If his God had not slain him, who could have overcome him?’”

Some of the coins that were minted under Simon’s rule depicted a Jewish temple and the words, “To the freedom of Jerusalem.” It was a repeat of the First Great Revolt. Simon “eventually mustered an army of almost 350,000. In the ancient world that was an enormous army, greater in number than the entire Roman army.” Even non-Jews joined him, hoping to overthrow the Roman Empire (source). This fact may be a fulfillment of Revelation 20:8, which says that the number of those who came to battle was “as the sand of the sea.”

Even though the emperor Hadrian did not permit the temple to be rebuilt along with the city of Jerusalem (AD 130-132), there’s evidence that a temple was rebuilt during the revolt (AD 132-135). Randall Price included seven pieces of evidence for this short-lived temple in his 1999 book, “The Coming Last Days Temple” (Source):

  1. A passage in the Sibylline Oracles (5:414-417, 420-422) may suggest this possibility.
  2. A Midrash (Exodus Rabbah 51:5) indicates that Hadrian entered the Holy of Holies which would not have been possible without a rebuilt temple.
  3. The seventh-century Byzantine historian known as Chronicum Paschale records that “Hadrian tore down the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem” in his History of the Jews.
  4. A fourth-century Roman emperor Julian in his Fragment of a Letter to a Priest, in A.D. 362 records: “What have they [the Jews] to say about their own temple, which was overthrown three times and even now is not being raised up again?” [emphasis added]
  5. Coins minted by Bar Kokhba bear an image of the Holy Temple—an unusual practice for Jews if the Temple had not existed.
  6. Evidence of the resumption of the sacrificial system (Sanhedrin 11b) following the Second Temple’s destruction.
  7. Archaeological measurements of the elevated platform upon which the Dome of the Rock are said to indicate dimensions commensurate with the Messianic Temple of Ezekiel rather than the dimensions of the second Temple. Since Bar Kokhba was proclaimed as Messiah and Messiah was expected to build Ezekiel’s Temple, then perhaps the platform is the remains of the Temple of Bar Kokhba.

According to JewishHistory.org, Simon had the support of most Jewish Rabbis, unlike in the First Great Revolt. The most influential rabbi was Akiva ben Joseph:

“It was Rabbi Akiva who ascribed to Shimon bar Kochba the famous messianic verse: “A star will shoot forth from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). That is how he got the name “Kochba,” which means “star.” In essence, Rabbi Akiva crowned him the Messiah. Rabbi Akiva was so widely respected among the people that if he saw in Shimon messianic qualities then the people immediately elevated him to the level of the Messiah. The helps us understand very well why the Christians would take no part in the war; it would have made one messiah too many.”

Justin Martyr (AD 100-165) gave the following account about the targeting of Christians in Jerusalem during the Second Great Revolt:

“During the recent Jewish War, Bar Cochba, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, had the order issued against Christians that, if they did not deny and defame Jesus Christ, they would be led away to suffer the most severe punishments” (Apol 1.31.6; Eusebius, HistEcc 4.8.4; quoted in Martin Hengel, The Zealots, p. 300).

There was apparently a new Sanhedrin court during the revolt, which had the authority to execute Christians who refused to blaspheme Christ, acknowledge Simon as king, and join his rebellion against Rome. A book titled, “Rabbi Akiva’s Messiah,” tells the stories of five Christian men who went on trial before this Sanhedrin and were executed for holding firm to their faith in Christ. Whatever the fire was that came down from God (Rev. 20:9), it seems clear that it devoured those who “surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” in order to prevent the Jerusalem church from being entirely devoured. It seems this was accomplished when the Romans prevailed over Simon’s great army.

So the Second Great Revolt involved a brief revival of several things that had been mostly or entirely absent from Jewish history since the First Great Revolt:

  • The temple
  • A Sanhedrin
  • The Zealot movement
  • Persecution against Christians
  1. Satan Joins the Beast and False Prophet in the Lake of Fire

In Rev. 20:10 we read, “And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are…” The language used in this verse suggests that, when Satan was cast into the lake of fire, the beast and the false prophet were already there.

The beast and false prophet were key characters in the Jewish-Roman War, and were cast into the lake of fire during that war (Rev. 19:20). We can notice that the end of Rev. 19 does not record Satan being cast into the lake of fire along with them. Instead, at that time he was cast into the bottomless pit for “1000 years.” Then he led another disastrous war, and only then did he join the beast who he previously empowered (Rev. 12:9, 13:2).

The progression of this story (Rev. 19:17 – 20:10) and the language used in Rev. 20:10 fit well if the beast and false prophet were destroyed in the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73), Satan was sealed in the bottomless pit at the time of the First Great Revolt. Then 65 years later Satan was cast into the lake of fire after his final brief reign of deception during the Second Great Revolt.

Beast and False Prophet Satan
AD 70-73 Defeated and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20) Bound in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3)
AD 132 Released from his prison (Rev. 20:7)
AD 135 cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are” (Rev. 20:10)

A Final Thought

There’s a short passage in Rev. 10:1-4 which has puzzled many of us. John heard “seven thunders utter their voices,” but when he was about to write what they said a voice told him, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” Did John hear details about the Second Great Revolt, but because that time was more than 65 years away, those details were sealed? I’m not sure, but it’s a thought. I’ll look forward to your feedback about this and anything else presented here.

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Here’s a 2-page PDF handout that I gave to those who attended the conference:

Why I Believe the 1000 Years Existed Between the Two Great Revolts