Category: Last Things, Word: MILLENNIUM
April 15, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over these, but they will be priests of God and the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:6)
DEFINITION: The millennium (Latin for 1,000 years) refers to the reign of God’s people—especially martyrs—either spiritually before Christ’s second coming or else literally after His return but before the last judgment and the new creation.
Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks about a 1,000-year period of saints ruling, yet this has been a matter of such great dispute that entire theological systems have been constructed based on particular interpretations of this chapter. Like “rapture,” “millennium” is not found in the Bible, but it is a good term for referring to the 1,000 years of Revelation 20. Also, as with the rapture, everyone who takes the Bible seriously believes that there is such a thing as the millennium. Further, everyone understands that this millennium experience is greatly to be desired and that Christian martyrs are special beneficiaries of the millennium. The point of dispute is whether the text is meant to describe something literal that will occur on earth after Jesus’ second coming or whether is already occurring spiritually now.
Literal millennium. The earliest Christian scholars (second and third centuries AD) believed that when Christ returned victoriously, He would overthrow Rome (the harlot city Babylon of Revelation 17). He would rule over all the earth from the bride city, New Jerusalem, along with the resurrected Christian martyrs who had died opposing Rome. The usual name for this view is “historical premillennialism.” This approach declined in the medieval period. It did not seriously come to prominence again until the 1800s with the rise of dispensationalism. (See the article on the rapture.) In its current form, the emphasis is usually on Jesus’ rule over the earth from a literal but renovated Jerusalem, with converted people from Israel at the forefront, fulfilling Scriptural prophecies about a glorious future for national Israel (Isaiah 60-66; Ezekiel 40-48). This recent form is called “dispensational premillennialism.”
Spiritual millennium. After the Roman emperors became supporters of Christianity rather than persecutors, it was no longer viable for Christians to interpret “harlot Babylon” as Rome. The great Bible scholar Augustine (early 400s) wrote his masterwork, The City of God, around the concept that the two cities “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem” have been in existence spiritually since the fall of mankind. Human history is the ongoing conflict between the two cities. Because of Christ’s first coming, Satan has been largely defeated and Christian believers are now already enjoying the first taste of victory (Col. 2:15). We are already “…seated with Him in the heavens” spiritually (Eph. 2:6). The common name for this view is “amillennialism.” Many from Augustine’s time until today have vigorously maintained it. A variation of this view is “postmillennialism,” which emphasizes that the Christian missionary endeavor will be so successful that the world’s peoples will generally turn to Christ before His second coming.
REFLECTION: What was the main point that John made in the “millennium passage”? How much difference should one’s view of the millennium make in the way life is to be lived now?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Your word promises blessing on those who share in the first resurrection. I long for the full experience of reigning with you not just for 1,000 years but forever. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.