Gamma 16 – The Persevering Disciple (Study 17)

Study 17

Revelations 20


John Goh012 207
Dr Lee Fook Sin019 230
Moh Ee Lin019 273
Ng Cho Hoo012 878
Susanah Ng012



Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

The Millennium refers to the period of 1,000 year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20:3. The exact timing and nature of what is meant by the Millennium is debated between 4 viewpoints: Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Premillennialism ( historic and dispensational ). Each term is distinguished by a prefix attached to the word “millennium,” which is a compound of two Latin terms, mille (thousand), and annus (year). The reason for this nomenclature is because, over time, each view began to be known by its interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, particularly the timing of the return of Christ with reference to the period of 1,000 years mentioned therein. Therefore, amillennialists expect no millennium (The prefix –a means, “no”), postmillennialists believe Christ returns after the millennium (the prefix –post, means “after”), and premillennialists believe Christ returns before the millennium (the prefix –pre, means “before”).

Amillenialism Amillennialists interpret the millennium as describing the present reign of the souls of the deceased believers with Christ in heaven. They understand the binding of Satan as being in effect during the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ, though ending shortly before Christ’s return. They teach that Christ will return after this heavenly reign.

Amillennialists believe we are presently living in the millennial kingdom, which is characterized by the simultaneous experiences of gospel victory and suffering for the gospel. This obviously indicates amillennialists interpret “one thousand” figuratively. The gospel is victorious because Satan is bound, rendering him incapable of preventing the spread of the gospel; yet he is not utterly powerless from persecuting the Church. Just before the end, Satan will again be permitted to deceive the nations and persecution will increase dramatically. Christians are awaiting the visible, bodily return of Christ, which brings an end to all their suffering. The second coming occurs concurrently with the general resurrection and a public rapture of the Church, who immediately returns to earth with Christ. Christ then judges the world, and finally ushers in the eternal state.

Important to the amillennialist understanding is the tension of “already/not yet.” Christians presently live in the inaugurated kingdom, as Christ reigns from heaven; yet, they await the kingdom’s full realization, when Christ will reign on Earth eternally. The inaugurated kingdom endures tribulation and suffering, but also victory as the Gospel spreads; in the consummate kingdom, the new heavens and new earth, there will be eternal rest.

Amillennialists base their interpretation of Revelation 20 as recapitulating or that it represent the events described in Revelation 19, rather than following it in chronological succession.

Postmillennialism Postmillennialism holds to the view Christ will return after the millennium. As with amillennialism the terminology falls short. In a strictly chronological sense, the amillennialists and the postmillennialists agree that Christ returns after the millennium. In fact, amillennialists were known as postmillennialists until the twentieth century. Postmillennialists generally agree with the amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20.10 The two agree the millennium is figurative, not a literal one thousand year period, and that it “is a time in which the gospel is preached throughout the world” as Satan is currently bound. They also agree on the general course of events in the end times: When Jesus comes, then, the general physical resurrection of the righteous and the wicked occurs, followed by the final judgment, and culminating with the new heavens and new earth.

What distinguishes postmillennialism from amillennialism is not the timing of the second coming in relation to the millennium but the nature of the millennium. Whereas amillennialism expects the Church to experience both victory and suffering simultaneously until the second coming, postmillennialism maintains a gradual end to much of the Church’s suffering before Christ returns. They expect a golden age of righteousness on earth, the millennium, in which the church experiences increasing prosperity and great influence on the culture. This golden age is what the postmillennialist understands as the millennium.

Postmillennialism is that view of the last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the millennium.

Premillennialism There are two premillennial systems: historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. Historic premillennialism is labelled such because it more or less resembles the premillennialism held during ancient times known as chiliasm. Dispensational premillennialism derives its name from the theology developed by John Nelson Darby in the nineteenth century that divides biblical history into a series of ages or dispensations. Both forms of premillennialism follow a chronological and more literal reading of Revelation 20:1-6 as subsequent to the return of Christ and final battle in Revelation 19:11-21.

Premillennialism is, “the doctrine stating that after the Second Coming of Christ, [Christ] will reign for a thousand years over the earth before the final consummation of God’s redemptive purpose in the new heavens and the new earth of the Age to Come.”

According to historic Premillennialists, the present age will continue until a brief period of tribulation, after which “Christ will return to earth to establish a millennial kingdom.” At the second coming there will be a resurrection of believers and a public rapture. These resurrected believers reign with Christ, who will, “be physically present on the earth in his resurrected body, and will reign as King over the entire earth.” During this period, Satan is “bound and cast into the bottomless pit so that he will have no influence on the earth during the millennium.” After the millennium, Satan is released for a brief time, during which he leads astray a portion of the world’s population in rebellion to Christ. Christ destroys this rebellion, judges the world, then ushers in the eternal state. This interpretation assumes, in contrast to the amillennialist and postmillennialist, that the events described in Revelation 19 and 20 are chronologically successive.

The above answers is excreted from an article by Alan S. Bandy from the gospel coalition

In Revelations 12, Satan was cast out of heaven down to the earth which symbolised his defeat Revelations 12: 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

The result of this fall or defeat is that Satan persecutes the saints. Revelations 12: 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

So, there is ongoing conflict where Satan roams to attack the saints. His attacks consist of deception because he is described as “deceiver of the whole world.”

In Revelations 20: 2 “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.” The devil is thrown from earth where he roams into the confines of a pit whilst in Revelations 12, he falls from heaven to earth and roams the earth to persecute the saints. The language is tough and absolute because he is bound, the pit is shut and sealed which is completely different from the Revelations 12 scenario. The effect is not to be able to deceive the nations.

So looking at these two chapters there is a dramatic difference in both of these chapters. The main modus operandi of Satan is deception. In Rev 12, he is allowed to persecute and deceive and in Rev 20 he is not allowed to deceive. Hence it is unlikely for these two chapters to be about the same event cast in different angles.

The proponents of the Post Millennial view and the Amillennial view harmonise the binding in Revelations 20 and the fact that Satan still has significant activity and threat in Peter 5:8, 1 John 5: 19 and 2 Cor 4: 4 as the binding mentioned is a partial binding applying to the nations only not to the individuals.

However, our understanding is that there is a two-tier system where there is an initial inauguration of the kingdom of God by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which is symbolised by Revelations 12 in which the spiritual battle caused Satan to be cast down from heaven to earth. The Matt 12:28-29 binding as well as Luke 10:18 : And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” refers to that inaugural event of the cross where the power of the kingdom breaks into the world. The continuing persecution of the believers is symbolised by the dragon going after the offspring of the woman in Revelations 12 and is consistent with the continuing Satanic activity where the default mode of unbelievers is to fail to see the glory of God (2 Cor 4: 4). In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

In the same way in 1 John 5:19, we know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, shows the battle is not over.

The actual language in Revelations 20 is strong, absolute language: “bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him.”

This is very hard to harmonise with “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” in 1 John 5:19.

1 John and Revelations 20 are written by the same author hence how can “bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him” and “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” in 1 John 5:19 mean the same thing?

If one believes there will be a Millennium you would have to ask the question why there is no evidence of this in the rest of Scripture? This is the main drawback. However the language of Revelations 20 is very clear about the Millennium, if we say the Millennium is equal to the church age between the first and second coming of Christ, then the rest of the symbolism of the 3.5 years or 42 months all makes no sense as symbols and can just mean anything and everything just because they were trying to explain one part of the scripture.

These people are the saints who have been martyred as well as all believers because it includes those in whom there have no mark of the beast. Revelations structure is binary. One has either the mark of the beast or of the Lamb. Thus it will include all believers.

Let’s look at the passage. (ESV) For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. In verse 20, Isaiah says there will be no more tragedy of premature death or births. There will be no more cases of people not living up to a ripe old age for the expected life span would be 100 years old. So the clues about this idealistic period refers to the Millennium because there is still death. Hence it is not the perfect new heavens and new earth period which is eternal life. At the end of the Millennium, there is still death. However the argument against this is the context of the verse in Isaiah 65:17 which specifically states that “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” The context is the life during the new heavens and new earth which is the Revelations 21-22 period Isaiah had in mind. If that is the case, how would we reasonably account for the people still dying at 100 even though that is a ripe old age? Death is death even if it is at a ripe old age. We could probably harmonise verse 17 and verse 20 by suggesting that the language of long life in verse 20 is symbolic of eternal life as it is painted in idealistic terms, easily comprehensible to the average mind of Isaiah’s audience. A long life of 100 years which is almost 3 times the average age of the Hebrew man (which would be around 40 years at that time) would not unreasonably be suitable to indicate a long life which is eternal life.

The first resurrection is a physical resurrection simply because the Greek word used for it is “Anastasis” and this world in almost all instances in the New Testament refers to a physical resurrection and not a spiritual one. The only reason one would say that the first resurrection is a spiritual one would be to explain the Millennium.

The Amillennials would see Revelations 16, 19 and 20 battles as the same battle and is basically a recapitulation which is consistent with the rest of the structure of the book. The Pre-Millennialists however see Revelations 19 and 20 as two different sequential battles. The outcome of the battle in Revelations 19 is that the beast and false prophets were both thrown into the lake of fire. In Revelations 20, Satan is thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophets are. The language looks sequential. The Amillennials sees the language of the combatants to be quite inclusive. Revelations 20 : 17 Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great The outcome of the battle is that the beast and false prophet were thrown in to the lake of fire and the rest killed. Revelations 19: 20 These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. Hence it is not unreasonable to conclude that if all the combatants were killed there will be no more to fight in the Revelations 20 battle. This is not convincing because women and children normally do not engage in combat so even if all the eligible men were killed off in the battle of Revelations 19 the younger folk would grow up under the rule of the saints in the Millennium and form the bulk of the rebellion in Revelations 20.

It is important to note that the people will be judged on what they had done and this includes everyone. Christians will face judgement too but their faith in Jesus will result in righteous deeds. heir names would have been written in the book of life. Their foreheads would have borne the mark of the Lamb

Satan will be defeated either with or without the Millennium no matter what view we take. Sin is an ever present problem despite a Millennial rule of Christ himself which totally justifies the judgement of hell. What we do with our lives matter, works matter but they need to be as the result of whom we have faith in. There is no room for an intellectual faith that only comprises of mental assent with no change in the way we live. There are only two eternal outcomes and they are either we have our names in the book of life and have the mark of the Lamb or we don’t.