Outline on the “Millennium”
PRYP Convention, 1999
A. Revelation 20 mentions a period of 1,000 years six times (vv. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7); the Latin-based term for 1,000 years is “millennium.” (This is the only passage of Scripture to mention the millennium.)
B. There are three main explanations of the millennium.
a. Denies that the millennium of Revelation 20 is a literal period of time in the future before the end of the world. (“A” in “amillennialism” means ‘not.’)
b. Holds that the 1,000-year period is a symbolical, or figurative, description of the entire New Testament age from Jesus’ ascension to shortly before Jesus’ return, when Satan is loosed for a little season.
c. This is the position of most Reformed and Presbyterian churches, including the PRC.
a. Takes the 1,000-year period literally.
b. Holds that in the future the entire world will be converted to Christ and will become Christian, so that the church will enjoy earthly peace, power, and prosperity: a “golden age” in history before the end.
c. Christ’s coming will follow this millennium. (“Post” in “postmillennialism” means ‘after’—Christ will come after the millennium.)
d. This is the position of some Reformed and Presbyterian churches; in the past, it was the view of some Puritans.
a. Takes the 1,000-year period literally.
b. Holds that in the future, but before the end of the world, Jesus will return to earth in His body, to establish an earthly kingdom for 1,000 years: a “golden age.”
c. Christ’s coming will precede this millennium. (“Pre” in “premillennialism” means ‘before’—Christ will come before the millennium.)
d. The main form of this doctrine today is known as “premillennial dispensationalism.
1) The church of believers will be taken up into the air at any moment in a “secret rapture.”
2) While the church is in the air for seven years, Antichrist will persecute the Jews in Palestine.
3) After seven years, Jesus will return to earth in the body, publicly, to make the Jews His kingdom again as they were during the Old Testament.
4) The Jews will reign over the world for 1,000 years with Jesus as their king in Jerusalem.
e. This is the position of most Baptists, fundamentalists, and evangelicals, e.g., Billy Graham, John MacArthur, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ed Dobson.
C. Important issues at stake.
1. Does the church face persecution in the future, before the end, or earthly peace? (Both postmillennialism and premillennialism deny that the church in the future will suffer the great tribulation.)
2. Is the kingdom of Jesus Christ earthly or spiritual? (Both postmillennialism and premillennialism present the Messianic kingdom as earthly.)
3. Is the New Testament church the fulfilment and reality of Old Testament Israel, or are the Jews and the church two different peoples? (Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that the Jews are the kingdom, whereas New Testament believers are the church.)
Questions for Discussion.
- What evidence is there in the book of Revelation as a whole that the number, 1,000, in chapter 20 is figurative, not literal? (Is the book of Rev. largely a symbolical book?)
- What evidence is there in Revelation 20 itself that the number, 1,000, is figurative? (Is Rev. 20 obviously figurative? See vv. 1-3, concerning the binding of Satan with a chain.)
- What is the meaning of the figurative use of the number, 1,000 (10 x 10 x 10)?
- According to Revelation 20:1-10, what events occur during the 1,000 years?
- In what respect is the devil bound during the millennium (v. 3)? What does the devil do when he is loosed (vv. 7-9)? To what event in the future does this refer? (See II Thess. 2.)
- Who live and reign with Christ during the millennium (vv. 4-6)?
- How does verse 4 indicate that the reign with Christ takes place in heaven, not on the earth?
- How does Revelation 20:1 -10 teach that the church must expect persecution in the future, before the end?
- What encouragement does Revelation 20:1-10 give to the saints, to endure persecution patiently?
- What does Revelation 20:1-10 teach about the “intermediate state”? (The “intermediate state” is the state of the believer after death and before the resurrection of the body.)
- What does the rest of Scripture teach about the increase of wickedness before the end? (See Matt. 24:4-14; II Thess. 2:3; II Tim. 3.) about the church’s suffering persecution? (See Matt. 24:21,22; II Tim. 3:12; Rev. 2:8-11.) about the rise of Antichrist? (See II Thess. 2; Rev. 13.)
- How do the Reformed confessions teach the essential identity of Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church, against premillennial dispensationalism? (See the Heid. Cat., Q. 54; Q. 74; Q. 123; Bel. Conf., Art. 27.)
- How are the church and the elect believer victorious in the world? ♦