This series is primarily based upon the arguments found in The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema.
What Has Already Happened? The millennium of Rev. 20:1-6 is figurative. Why? We are currently in the MR and it’s been well over 1,000yrs since Christ’s first coming.
Satan has been bound since the cross (Rev. 20:1-3) and shortly before Christ’s return he will be released “for a little while.”
Where is Christ? He is reigning in heaven. The soul of every believer who has died is at present reigning with Christ. The souls of believers, at their death, “came to life” (v.4) and are now alive in the presence of God. The rest of the dead, who aren’t believers, will not “come to life” (v.5) and stand before the presence of God until the final judgment.
I like how Simon Kistemaker states the argument:
If the souls of the ones who were beheaded (v.4b) came to life and now reign with Christ in heaven (v.4d), then John conveys not the thought of physical resurrection but the passing from physical death to a glorified life in heaven. And those who died but did not come to life (v.5a) experience the exact opposite of the saints who are with Christ.1
“Already, Not Yet” Christ already reigning in victory, but a more glorious and perfect reign – for all eternity – awaits his return (NH & NE; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1-8).
Evil has not fully and finally been eradicated, even from the Church! Only upon Christ’s return, at the “end of the age,” will the wheat be separated from the tares (Mt. 13:37-43) and the good fish separated from the bad fish (Mt. 13:47-50).
“Signs of the times” are already present, but we believe they will climax just prior to Christ’s return.
What Occurs At Christ’s Second Coming? The bodily resurrection is immediately followed by the final judgment which is immediately followed by the establishing of the NH & NE.
- General resurrection of believers and unbelievers “on the last day” (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; Acts 24:15).
- Transformation and glorification of living believers. All believers (raised + transformed) caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17; Phil. 3:20-21).
- Christ completes his descent and begins Final Judgment (2 Thess. 1:5-10; John 5:27-29; Mt. 25:31-32; Rev. 20:11-15).
Definition: Christ’s second coming occurs after (post) his heavenly MR.
How do they read Rev. 20:1-6? 1-3 Some believe Satan is bound already (Warfield, Boettner, Kik) and others believe a future binding will occur (Shepherd). 4-6 Some believe the souls of deceased believers are presently reigning with Christ in heaven (Warfield, Boettner), while others believe it is a reference to living and regenerated believers reigning with Christ on earth (Kik, Shepherd).
What Has Already Happened?
- Tribulation (Mt. 24) occurred in Jerusalem in the first century AD.
- Antichrist (2 Thess. 2), Caesar Nero, appeared in the first century AD.
What Must Happen Before the Second Coming?
- Every nation will be evangelized (Mt. 13:31-33; 16:18; 28:18-20; various psalms and prophets speaking of Messiah’s universal reign – future, but prior to second coming).
- “All Israel” will be saved (Rom. 11).
The present age is gradually merging into the coming age. Christianity will gradually increase in size and influence so that there is a lengthy period of peace that precedes Christ’s second coming. Christian principles will be increasingly accepted and practiced. Sin will gradually reduce though never quite eliminated in this life. Physical and spiritual prosperity will increase. Boettner suggests the world will be “truly Christianized” and sin will be reduced to “negligible proportions.”
What Occurs At Christ’s Second Coming?
Same as Amillennialism. However, just prior to Christ’s return a brief increase of evil will occur (Rev. 20:7-10). This will disrupt, but not negate the millennial golden age.
- Prophecies picture final state (NH & NE), not a millennial golden age. The “age to come” is the NH & NE. Doug Wilson proposes that the present age and the age to come overlapped from Pentecost until 70 AD. But this lacks of scriptural support. Matt. 24:3 has already associated the second coming with the end of the age.
- Psalm 2:8 > Rev. 11:15.
- Isaiah 2:4 > Rev. 22:2.
- Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34; Isaiah 65:17 (not golden, but perfect age).
- Interpretation of the Great Tribulation is not justified.
- Matt. 24 deals with destruction of Jerusalem and end of world events (“signs of the times” Mt. 16:3). vv.29-30 Great Tribulation just prior to Christ’s return. “Immediately after” doesn’t suggest a 2,000yr gap.
- 2 Thess. 2:3 doesn’t suggest such a lengthy gap between a great apostasy (A.D. 70) and Christ’s return.
- The suggestion that Revelation anticipates the Tribulation that occurred under Nero’s reign would require an early date, no later than 69 A.D., which is not as likely given the historical evidence.
- Rev. 20:1-6 doesn’t support postmillennial position.
- This is the only millennial passage in Scripture. Those who take the Amillennial position (Warfield and Boettner) leave themselves with no biblical basis for a future golden age.
- If v.4 refers to regenerated believers, why does John refer to “the souls of those who had been beheaded”? And what do we make of v.5 “rest of the dead.” Living believers reign for a thousand years, while alive and regenerated, or until they die—whichever comes first?
- If Satan’s binding is still future, but reigning of regenerated believers is present – forced to view two millenniums (vv.2, 4). Article reinforces idea that this is the same period (vv.3, 5).
- Postmillennialism doesn’t fit with historical reality.
- Gen. 3:15 true throughout history until Christ’s return.
- Matt. 13:36-43 Tares will always grow alongside wheat, not gradual thinning out of the tares.
- Matt. 7:13-14 Only few believers enter through the narrow gate, whereas the gate to destruction is wide.
- 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 12-13; 4:3-4 The “last days” will be full of sin and rebellion.
- A future tribulation, apostasy, antichrist create undue tension for postmillennialists because it upsets the progression that has been achieved.
- Kistemaker, Simon, NTC: Revelation, 46. ↩︎