The Revelation of Hope
Introduction – In this Session we come to perhaps the most controversial subject in Christianity today, which theologians call the Millennium Reign, or the 1000 Year Reign of Christ. It is important to note that the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus was been uniformly understood for most of Church history as the Mediatorial rule and reign of Jesus through the Church. It was not until the early 19th Century that the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ became a hotly debated topic.
Today there are 4 schools of interpretation regarding the Millennium. These views are Postmillennial, Amillennial, Ebionite/Historic Premillennial, and Dispensational Premillennial (Christian Zionism) which was birthed by John Nelson Darby and CI Scofiled in the 1840-1860’s and Scofield in the late 1880-1890’s. Dispensational Premillennialism today is uniquely American and is not a widespread view throughout the rest of Christendom.
The intellectually honest believer in Darby and Scofield’s brand of Premillennialism needs to recognize 2 facts from Church History.
1 – Dispensational Premillennialism is a new teaching and understanding of eschatology in Church history in regards to its interpretation of Revelation 20.It is not comparable to Early Church Ebionite/Historic Premillennialism. (George Eldon Ladd)
2 – All Premillennialism was rejected by the Early Church Fathers. The Apostle Paul rejected the precursor to the Ebionite movement as represented by the Judiazers in his Epistle to the Galatians. The Ebionite movement grew out of the Judiazer movements from the Church in Judea. They were Levites that accepted Jesus as Messiah, but did not leave the Old Covenant expression of faith. See Acts 6:7 for their origin. In fact the Council in Jerusalem addressed this directly in Acts 15.
Below are a few quotes from some Early Church fathers on the Ebionite Heresy which held a Premillennial position of eschatology or end-times view.
“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies
“The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this: that since the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as all the Jews have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy of Cerinthus and Ebion, who, though believing in Christ, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of Christ, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old.” Jerome, Epistle to Augustine
In this study and commentary on the book of Revelation, we are taking the historic postmillennial view or as some call today the victorious view of eschatology.
The main question we should ask ourselves before we interpret Revelation 20:1-6 is; WHEN DID THE RULE AND REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST BEGIN?
When we explore the answer to this question, we have an amazing thing called UNITY become manifest. All Christians in orthodoxy believe that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated from Pentecost and continues until all things are summed up in Jesus Christ. See Acts 2:30-36. Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 1:20-23, Colossians 1:15-17, Colossians 3:1-4, and Hebrews 8:1-2.
All professing believers agree that Jesus is ruling and reigning at the Right Hand of the Father until all things are under His feet and believe that the completed manifestation of the Kingdom of God is after His Mediatorial Reign called the Millennium in Revelation 20. So in this sense all believers are Postmillennial.
The diversity of interpretations today comes from this question; EXACTLY HOW IS JESUS RULING AND REIGNING TODAY?
Premillennialists would say Jesus is ruling and reigning in a limited manner now and will rule and reign in a full manner in the Millennial Kingdom.
Postmillennialists would say Jesus began to rule and reign in full authority at Pentecost and is extending and enforcing His rule and reign now through the Church until His return. Thus the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus is a figurative term that defines the Church age.
a) This angel comes down from heaven and has the authority or key to the abyss and a great chain. This angel is described in tremendous authority. We are not told who this angel is. However we see the example of the 5th angel in Revelation 9:1-3 having a key to the abyss. Perhaps this is the same angel. We also see in Revelation 12:7, the angel Michael fighting the dragon/satan and casting him out of heaven to earth.
a) The angel seizes the devil and places the MEGAS HALYISIS on him for 1000 years. It is interesting to point out that John uses the all of appropriate metaphors for the devil, such as serpent and dragon which accurately describes his mode of operation as a stealth deceiver, sly predator, and ancient foe.
b) When look at 1000 years we are faced with an interpretation opportunity. Is this a literal thousand years or a metaphor for long period of time? Let’s let Scripture interpret Scripture to define how 1000 is used.
c) Deuteronomy 32:30 – “How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the LORD had given them up?
d) Joshua 23:10 – “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.
e) Ecclesiastes 6:6 -“Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”
f) Psalm 50:10 – “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.
g) As we can see, when 1000 is used in Scripture it is used as symbolic prophetic hyperbole that communicates a “great measure” of something.
h) The next question we need to ask in our interpretation of verse 2 is; IS SATAN BOUND OR IS HE FREE TO BE COMPLETELY SELF- WILLED? OR IS SATAN UNDER ANY AUTHORITY IN REGARDS TO HIS ABILITY TO DO OR NOT TO DO? Let’s look at Scripture to interpret these questions.
i) Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
j) 1 John 3:8 – the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
k) Luke 11:20-22 – “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. “But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.
l) Colossians 2:15 – When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. m) As soon as Jesus began His ministry the Kingdom of God has been plundering and binding satan’s ability to move freely in complete self-will because his dominion of darkness is being assaulted by the Kingdom of God by the authority of Jesus through His Church.
a) The abyss – The Greek ABYSSOS – bottomless pit, depthless darkness – The mission of the angel was to keep the devil from having the ability to deceive the nations anymore.
b) Jesus is the Light of the world, and the Church are His light bearers. Satan not having the ability to deceive the nations – Greek – ETHNOS – or the whole of the human family, speaks of Jesus Christ taking back or redeeming humanity on a mass scale. If Jesus has the authority to redeem the nations than satan has no authority to prevent it. Before Jesus Christ came at the First Advent, the Kingdom of God was not operating at an authority level to displace darkness and take dominion.
c) Mathew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,”
d) David Chilton – “For all these reasons, it is generally suggested by both postmillennial and amillennial authors that the binding of Satan, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, refers to his inability to prevent the message of the Gospel from achieving success.”
e) When the 1000 years are ended the dragon is released for a MIKROS CHRONOS – Now at every point satan is being limited and challenged by the advance of Kingdom of God through the proclamation of the Kingdom by the Church as we win the nations. At some point in time God will decree that satan is freed for a short time for one last rebellious press until he meets a quick demise. We will discuss this in detail when we get to Revelation 20:7-10.
f) In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke about the parable of the tares and the wheat. He gave the disciples the interpretation of the parable that at His return there will be both wheat, those who believe and tares, those who do not believe. It is implied that the wheat outnumbers the tares. The postmillennial view point recognizes that although the Church Christianizes the nations, total conversion is not achieved, but Christianity is manifest as the norm. Satan being let out for a short time is the final showdown between himself and God, and those who have agreed to live in rebellion with him.
Questions and Answer Time:
Source Material: Harold Eberle – Father-Son Theology, a Systematic Theology Christian-History.org Don Walker – The Beast of Revelation White Paper Josephus.org David Chilton – Days of Vengeance The Apocalypse Code – Hank Hanegraaff G. Davis Dean – The Revelation of Jesus Christ Blue Letter Bible.com Preterist Archive.com Charles Taylor – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – Commentary on the Book of Revelation George Eldon Ladd – The Gospel of the Kingdom Loraine Boettner – The Millenium Harold Eberle – Victorious Eschatology Holman Bible Dictionary Strongs Concordance
NIV – Interlinear Greek New Testament NASB – Interlinear Greek New Testament Jonathan Welton – Raptureless George Peter Holford – The Destruction of Jerusalem Wikipedia Rapture Fever – Gary North The Prophets Dictionary – Price Vines Expository Bible Dictionary Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology