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30 Reasons Why I am an Amillennialist (Part Two)

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As noted in the previous article, I conclude my book, Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, by describing what I call a cumulative case for amillennialism. This “cumulative case” entails 30 reasons why I find amillennialism to be the most cogent and convincing and biblical of all eschatological systems. In the previous article I set forth the first 15 of the 30. Here today I explain the remaining 15 reasons.

(16) A careful reading of Acts 15 also reinforces the truth of amillennialism. In this text we see that the rebuilding of the tent (or tabernacle) of David refers not to a restoration of ethnic or national Israel in a post-parousia millennial earth, but rather to the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus to the throne of David and the ingathering of souls, in this present church age, from among the Gentiles.

(17) Amillennialism makes the best sense of Hebrews 11. There Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are said to have persevered in faith, “having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13), all the while they looked forward to “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (11:10; cf. 11:16). That city, of course, is the New Jerusalem. They lived in expectation that the promise would be fulfilled in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one”, which must be a reference to the New Earth. Clearly, then, even Abraham and his fellow patriarchs understood that the OT promise of a land would not be fulfilled in a this-earthly-territory but in the New Earth, the “heavenly” country which God had prepared for them.

(18) Amillennialism also makes more sense of the structure of the book of Revelation. There we find the principle of recapitulation, or progressive parallelism, in which the same period of time (the church age, spanning the two advents of Christ) is described from different but complementary perspectives. If the principle of recapitulation is applicable here, as I believe it is, much of the rationale for reading Revelation in a strictly futurist manner is undermined. Indeed, if this principle is true, Revelation 20:1-10 should be interpreted as a recapitulation of the present church age rather than as following in historical sequence upon the second coming of Christ as described in Revelation 19.

(19) Amillennialism also makes most sense of the literary genre of Revelation and the highly symbolic nature of the language in chapter twenty. The premillennial attempt to read this passage in a woodenly literal way wreaks havoc on an obviously figurative portrayal of the binding of Satan.

(20) Amillennialism is better suited to explain the restriction placed on Satan in Revelation 20:1-3. Contrary to the claims of premillennialism, Satan’s binding is not universal, as if during the span of the “1,000 years” he is prevented from doing everything. Rather, he is prevented from perpetuating the spiritual blindness of the nations and keeping them in gospel darkness. He is also prevented from provoking a premature global assault on the church which we know to be the battle of Armageddon.

(21) Amillennialism alone can account for why Satan must be bound in the first place. According to premillennialism, Satan is allegedly prevented from deceiving the very nations who at the close of Revelation 19 have already been defeated and destroyed at Christ’s return. In other words, it makes no sense to speak of protecting the nations from deception by Satan in 20:1-3 after they have just been both deceived by Satan (16:13-16; cf. 19:19-20) and destroyed by Christ at his return (19:11-21; cf. 16:15a, 19).

(22) The amillennial reading of Revelation alone makes sense of the obvious parallel between the war of Revelation 16, 19, and 20. This parallel is reinforced when we note that the imagery in Ezekiel 39 related to Gog and Magog is used to describe both the battle in Revelation 19:17-21 and the battle in Revelation 20:7-10. Clearly, these are one and the same battle, known as Armageddon, that consummates the defeat of God’s enemies at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. They are just as clearly not two different battles separated by 1,000 years of millennial history. This is all confirmed by reference to “the war” (19:19; already noted in 16:14, 16; cf. 20:8). The same Greek phrase “the war” (ton polemon) is used in all three texts (Rev. 16:14; 19:19; 20:8). In fact, in 16:14 and 20:8 the same extended phrase “to gather them unto the war” (sunagagein autous eis ton polemon) is used.

(23) Amillennialism best explains Hebrews 12:26-28 where there is only one coming cosmic dissolution (associated with Christ’s second coming, the judgment of the nations, and the creation of a New Heavens and New Earth), not two (as is required by premillennialism; one at the time of the second coming and yet another at the close of a millennial kingdom).

(24) Amillennialism makes more sense of the symbolic nature of the number “1,000” in Revelation 20. In other texts “one thousand” rarely if ever is meant to be taken with arithmetical precision. This is true whether the context is non-temporal (Ps. 50:10; Song of Solomon 4:4; Josh. 23:10; Isa. 60:22; Deut. 1:11; Job 9:3; Eccles. 7:28), in which case the usage is always figurative, indeed hyperbolical, or temporal (Deut. 7:9; 1 Chron. 16:15; Pss. 84:10; 90:4; 105:8; 2 Pet. 3:8).

(25) Amillennialism recognizes the obvious parallel between Revelation 20:1-6 and Revelation 6:9-11. The latter text unmistakably describes the experience of the martyrs who have been beheaded because of the word of their testimony on behalf of Christ. So, too, Revelation 20 portrays the experience of “souls” beheaded for the sake of their testimony concerning Christ. Simply put, the cogency of amillennialism is seen in its recognition that in both texts the intermediate state is being clearly portrayed.

(26) Amillennialism alone does justice to the obvious parallel between Revelation 20:1-6 and Revelation 2:10-11. The latter is an encouragement given to prospective martyrs. They are to be faithful unto death and Christ will give them the “crown of life.” Likewise, in Revelation 20 those who die for the sake of their witness are granted “life” with their Lord in the intermediate state. Reinforcement of this parallel is found in the fact that only here in chapter 2 and again in chapter 20 is reference made to “the second death,” from which the faithful martyrs are promised deliverance.

(27) Related to the above is the fact that in Revelation 3:21 those who persevere under persecution and “conquer” or “overcome” are said to sit and reign with Christ on this throne. This is precisely what is said of the martyrs in Revelation 20. They come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

(28) Amillennialism alone accounts for the use of the word “thrones” in Revelation 20:4. This word, both inside Revelation and elsewhere in the NT, consistently refers to heavenly thrones, not earthly ones. These are the thrones in the intermediate state on which the faithful martyrs sit and rule together with their Lord and Savior, King Jesus.

(29) Amillennialism alone explains the significance of the ordinal “first” as a modifier of “resurrection.” Closer study reveals that whatever is first or old pertains to the present world, that is to say, to the world that is transient, temporary, and incomplete. Conversely, whatever is second or new pertains to the future world, to the world that is permanent, complete, and is associated with the eternal consummation of all things. The term first is therefore not an ordinal in a process of counting objects that are identical in kind. Rather, whenever first is used in conjunction with second or new the idea is of a qualitative contrast (not a mere numerical sequence). To be first is to be associated with this present, temporary, transient world. Whatever is first does not participate in the quality of finality and permanence which is distinctive of the age to come. Thus the “first resurrection” is descriptive of life prior to the consummation, which is to say, life in the intermediate state.

(30) Finally, the hermeneutical principle known as the Analogy of Faith is best honored within an amillennial system. When asked for an explicit and unmistakable biblical affirmation of a post-parousia millennial kingdom, premillennialists typically point to Revelation 20, and only Revelation 20. But as we have seen, Revelation 20 is neither explicit nor unmistakable in teaching an earthly millennial kingdom. Furthermore, no single passage in an admittedly symbolic and comparatively difficult context should be allowed to overturn (or trump) the witness of a multiplicity of passages in admittedly didactic and comparatively straightforward contexts. To put this same point in the form of a question: Do the statements in other New Testament books concerning end-time chronology necessarily and logically preclude the notion of a post-parousia millennial age in Revelation 20? I am convinced that this must be answered affirmatively.

My contention is not that the passages in the Pauline, Johannine, and Petrine corpus simply omit reference to a post-Parousia millennial age. If that were the case it is conceivable that we might harmonize Revelation 20 with them, making room, as it were, for the former in the latter. But the texts are not such as may be conflated with the notion of a future millennial kingdom. These passages clearly appear logically to preclude the existence of such a kingdom. My argument throughout Kingdom Come has been that a premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20 actually contradicts the clear and unequivocal assertions in such texts as John 5, 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 8, 2 Thessalonians 1, Hebrews 11, and 2 Peter 3.

Rather than reading these texts through the grid of Revelation 20, the latter should be read in the clear light of the former. Sound hermeneutical procedure would call on us to interpret the singular and obscure in the light of the plural and explicit. To make the rest of the New Testament (not to mention the Old Testament) bend to the standard of one text in the most controversial, symbolic, and by scholarly consensus most difficult book in the Bible, is hardly commendable hermeneutical method. We simply must not allow a singular apocalyptic tail to wag the entire epistolary dog! We must not force the whole of Scripture to dance to the tune of Revelation 20.

2 Comments

dear storms: why don't you produce a kjv with a millennial notes drawn from your books defending a millennialism?
very persuasive. I'd love to see you do a similar article explaining why you reject pretribulation rapture and believe the catching up of the church occurs at the same time as Jesus Christ's second coming.

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