I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Revelation 20:1—6: A Theological and Exegetical Consideration

In this essay a brief overview of the three primary millennial perspectives—amillennialism, premillennialism,[1] and postmillennialism—will be followed by a succinct critique of the latter two, and a defense of the amillennialism[2] through the subsequent exegesis of the central points of contention in the text of  Revelation 20:1—6. 
A Brief Overview of the Three Primary Millennial Perspectives
            The three general views on Revelation 20 are premillennialism, which is subdivided into two views, the historical and the dispensational, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.
            Premillennialism, formerly called chiliasm,[3] boasts deep historical roots and prominent patristic defenders, such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian.[4]  As the prefix suggests, premillennialism looks for Christ’s second advent to precede the millennium.  This general perspective is shared by two otherwise differing schools of premillennialists, historical and dispensational.
Historic premillennialism  
            Historic premillennialists generally hold that Revelation 6 – 19 has been largely fulfilled in history.[5]  According to Ladd, historic premillennialism understands the vision of Revelation 20 as entirely eschatological; all that pertains to Revelation 20 is still future and will be inaugurated with Christ’s second coming.[6]  That is to say, Jesus’ second advent will result in the binding of Satan and the literal, physical resurrection of the saints, who join Christ in reigning over the whole earth during a temporal kingdom.[7]  This earthly kingdom will last a thousand years and terminate with a final rebellion and the judgment.[8] 
The crux of the entire exegetical problem, concerning Revelation 20, swings on the meaning of the term ezēsan (“came/come to life,” vv. 4, 5).[9]  Ladd explains, “If ezēsan in vs. 4 designates spiritual life at conversion, or life after death in the intermediate state, we are faced with the problem of the same word being used in the same context with two entirely different meanings, with no indication whatsoever as to the change of meaning.”[10]  From this, historical premillennialists conclude that 20:1—6 is presenting two literal physical resurrections, which are separated by the thousand year period.  Granting that the term ezēsan usually signifies physical resurrection, this is certainly a strength of the premillennial position.[11] 
Dispensational premillennialism
            One of the most prominent proponents of dispensational premillennialism is John Walvoord, who argues that dispensationalism is the most popular form of premillennialism.[12]  The hallmark of the dispensational premillennial view is that the millennium is “an aspect of God’s theocratic program [for national Israel].”[13]  This program is allegedly the fulfillment of YHWH’s promise to David that his kingdom and throne would last forever, as the Messiah ruled over the whole house of Israel.[14]  This, according to the dispensationalism, will lead to the literal fulfillment of many Old Testament promises to the theocratic, national Israel, wherein Christ will be the supreme political leader over the nations of the world for a literal thousand years.  Moreover, dispensationalists hold a futurist perspective; they understand all of the material from Revelation 4:1 through chapter 22 to be still future.[15]
            One of the stronger dispensational arguments against contrary views is an indirect one.  Walvoord offers several texts that would suggest that Satan is unbound throughout the church age and still fully and actively at work.[16]   In fact, Walvoord contends that “There are few theories of Scripture which are less warranted that the idea that Satan was bound at the first coming of Christ,” and that “There is no evidence whatever that Satan is bound today.”[17] 
            The postmillennial view is somewhat of a modern phenomenon, dating back to the seventeenth century controversialist Daniel Whitby.[18]  Since Whitby, the view has enjoyed the support of heavy hitters such as B. B. Warfield,[19] Charles Hodge, A. H. Strong, C. A. Briggs, and David Brown.[20]  One of the better known modern scholars within this tradition is Loraine Boettner, who describes postmillennialism 
as 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.' It should be added that on postmillennial principles the second coming of Christ will be followed immediately by the general resurrection, the general judgment, and the introduction of heaven and hell in their fullness.[21]

According to postmillennialism, the present age will gradually merge into the millennial age, as an increasingly larger proportion of the world’s inhabitants are converted to Christianity through the preaching of the gospel.[22]
            Boettner suggests that a correct understanding of Matthew 28:18ff, commonly called the Great Commission, justifies the postmillennial position.  Boettner argues,
We believe that the Great Commission includes not merely the formal and external announcement of the Gospel preached as a ‘witness’ to the nations, as the Premillennialists and Amillennialists hold, but the true and effectual evangelization of all the nations so that the hearts and lives of the people are transformed by it. That seems quite clear from the fact that all authority in heaven and on earth and an endless sweep of conquest has been given to Christ and through Him to His disciples specifically for that purpose.[23]

Sometimes more or less apparent, through the evangelization of the nations, the world is becoming a better place, as the gospel triumphantly marches forward.  At some point in the future, this effectual preaching will issue in the millennial age with all the attending blessings, righteousness, and harmony. 
            Amillennialism, which might better be called inaugurated or realized millennialism, understands the millennium as spanning the entire church age, from Christ’s first advent to his second.  Amillennialists “believe that the millennium of Revelation 20 is not exclusively future but is now in process of realization.”[24]  Therefore, they believe that the binding of Satan (vv. 1—3) is in effect throughout the interadvental period, and that the second advent of Christ is a single rather than two-phased event at the close of the present age.[25]  Finally, amillennialists maintain that the “first resurrection” is not a physical one; rather it signifies either regeneration[26] or the translation of the souls of the faithful believers and martyrs to a life in the presence of Christ in the spiritual dimension of heaven.[27]  The present writer believes that a proper exegesis of Revelation 20:1—6 produces conclusions most consistent with the amillennial perspective. 
A Cursory Critique of Pre- and Postmillennialism
            There are three problems of significant proportion that vex both pre- and postmillennialism alike.  First, there is no sense in the New Testament that the kingdom is postponed, which is required by both alternatives above.  When the Pharisees questioned Jesus concerning the time of the kingdom’s coming, he responded, “The kingdom of God is in your midst” (Lk. 17:20—21 NET).[28]  In Matthew 12:28 the Pharisees charged Jesus with casting out demons by the power of the devil.  Jesus retorted, saying, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”  The conclusion follows thus: Jesus is casting out demons by the Spirit of God, therefore the kingdom of God is come!   Additionally, in Matthew 16:19, Jesus gives the “keys of the kingdom” to Peter, the representative of the apostolic church.  Christ, therefore, has “made us a kingdom,” both in this age (Rev. 1:6 RSV; cf. 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10; 20:6) and in the age to come, world without end (Rev. 22:5).  Therefore, Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God in his person, and continues it throughout the present age by his Word and Spirit. 
            Second, there is the fact that the millennium of Revelation 20 is not the earthly millennium of either pre- or postmillennialism.  Revelation 20, in and of itself, is utterly wanting for any references to ethnic Jews, Jerusalem, an earthy throne, Christ’s political supremacy, or a temple “made of human hands” (Is. 66:1; Acts 7:48; 17:24, etc.).  In fact, the view of the Jerusalem’s architectural temple in the New Testament is grim; neither do the New Testament authors offer a reason to look for another physical, man-made temple in the future.[29] 
            A third problem for the pre- and postmillennial views is one of hermeneutical principle.  That principle is scripturam ex scriptura explicandam esse or ‘scripture is to be explained by scripture.’  More than that, the clear portions of scripture are to serve as a guide into the more ambiguous passages.  This interpretive dictum is agreed on by all evangelical expositors.  As Neilson remarks, “The whole issue is one of interpretation.”[30]  The first ten verses of Revelation 20 are the only mention of a millennium period in the Bible.  These instances occur in the most symbol-laden book in the New Testament.  The symbolism and imagery is admitted as being difficult and ambiguous by all honest interpreters.  The amillenarian points out that, throughout the entire rest of the New Testament, Matthew through Jude, nothing would suggest a literal thousand year reign of Christ, a binary physical resurrection, or a two-fold second coming of Christ.  So, “those who espouse amillennialism assert that Matthew – Jude is to govern the interpretation of Revelation 20:1—10 and not Revelation 20:1—10 the interpretation of Matthew – Jude.”[31]  The rest of the New Testament provides plain passages that set forth the idea of a single (physical) resurrection for the just and unjust alike at the end of this age[32] and a single judgment,[33] both of which will be temporally connected with Christ’s one second advent.  Other millennial views, therefore, invert the principle that the clear is to interpret the unclear. 
            The following exegetical observations will deal further with the detailed distinctions of these views over against that of amillennialism. 
Revelation 20:1—3: The Binding of Satan and the Thousand Years

            The amillennial view argues that, since this vision refers to the entire interadvental period, the binding of Satan must have occurred during Jesus’ earthly ministry and is still on going.  In sharp contradistinction, Walvoord asserts, “There is no evidence whatever that Satan is bound today.”[34]  Walvoord’s assertion rests upon another presupposition, which is that, the action of the angel “is so designed as to render Satan inactive...completely inactive.”[35]  This assumption must be challenged.
The Purpose and Results of Satan’s Binding
            The purpose of Satan’s binding was so “that (hina) he should deceive the nations no more” until the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:3).  The hina clause of verse 3 signals the purpose or direct result of the binding.  This clause, argues Beale, “indicates the main point of vv 1-3.”[36]  That point is that Satan’s deception would not so rule the nations as to curtail God’s plan to call out the multitude of his elect “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9; cf. 7:9), and so make “them a kingdom and priests to our God” (5:10; cf. 1:6; 20:6).  The point, therefore, is that Satan’s binding would prevent him from thwarting the missional expansion of Christ’s priestly-kingdom, the church.  As Beale concludes, “Throughout the time between Christ’s first and second comings, Satan will not be able to deceive any of ‘the full number’ (6:11) of those purchased by Christ because they have been ‘sealed’ (7:1—8).”[37]  If this conclusion were not so, then Christ’s commission to his church to “Go...and make disciples of all nations, baptizing[38] them” would have been a moot point (Matt. 28:19). 
            Regarding the claim that there is no evidence whatever that Satan is bound today, if the words and deeds of Jesus as recorded in New Testament is counted as evidence, then Walvoord’s claim is of no account whatever.  Through his cross-work, Jesus destroyed the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), disarmed the satanic powers and principalities; triumphing over them, he made a public spectacle of them (Col. 2:15).  Having been lifted up on the cross, Jesus had begun to “draw all peoples to [himself]” (Jn. 12:32 NKJV).  Within just a few decades, the gospel of the kingdom had gone from Jerusalem to the “ends of the earth,” Rome, the heart of the beast; and, from there was continued by the Spirit, through Paul, “boldly and without hindrance” (Acts 1:8; 28:31)!   Indeed, within the first generation of the church, Paul could boast that the gospel had “been proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Col. 1:23).  Albeit circumstantial, this is strong evidence that Satan had been bound by Christ’s work during his first advent. 
Satan, Bound Up and Cast Out
            Additionally, there are linguistic evidences for the binding being accomplished during Jesus’ ministry.  The term for “bound” in in Revelation 20:2 is the aorist active indicative of deō.  This same word is used in the subjunctive mood in Matthew 12:29, the strong man parable.   The Pharisees had attributed Jesus’ exorcisms as being of satanic origin, Beelzebub, “the prince of devils” (Matt. 12:24).  Jesus exposed the internal incoherence and contradictory nature of their reasoning (vv. 25—27), and then stated that by the Spirit of God his despoiling the devils was certain evidence that God’s kingdom had come, and that he was triumphing over Satan’s kingdom (v. 28).  Pointing beyond the exorcisms to their necessary precondition, Jesus declared that his power over the demons proved that he did “first bind (deō) the strong man [i.e., Satan]” (v. 29).  Therefore, Jesus’ exorcisms marked the presence of God’s kingdom and the binding of Satan, and granted his disciples the power and authority for serpent-stomping missions (e.g., Lk. 10:17—18).     
            As noted above, Satan’s binding was for the purpose of unleashing the gospel through the church’s militant missional conquest, thus reaching all nations.  In part, this was accomplished by Satan being “cast...into the bottomless pit” (Rev. 20:3).  “Cast” here is ballō.  Panicking that all their collusions had come to naught, the Pharisees murmured, “Look, the world has gone after Him!” (Jn. 12:19 NKJV).  Indeed, they were.  John reports that one effect of the raising of Lazarus was that certain Greeks at the feast “wish[ed] to see Jesus” (v. 21).  This signaled that “The hour [had] come that the Son of Man should be glorified” (v. 23), the very purpose of his first advent, the cross (v. 27).  “Now,” said Jesus, “the ruler of the world [i.e., Satan] will be cast out (ekballō)” (v. 31).   Here, then, the same author is using terms from the same root, concerning the same results for the same subject.  The cross both “cast” Satan out of his sphere of power and drew the nations unto Jesus, freeing them from Satan’s deceptive grip. 
The Thousand Years
            In second temple Judaism speculation regarding the duration of the messianic reign abounded.  Some thought that there would be no intermediate messianic period at all, while other conjectures ranged anywhere from forty to 365,000 years.[39]  Although there is no simple formula for determining whether or not the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is meant literal or symbolic, there are a number of exegetical principles for guiding one’s interpretation.
Perhaps the most important of these is to take into account the genre of literature of the passage.  Poetry and apocalyptic use many different types of image.  If a text is highly figurative in general, and if other numbers are used figuratively in the text, then that would predispose the reader to treat a number as symbolic if it is a number that is known to be symbolic elsewhere.[40]

In biblical imagery, seven is put for qualitative completeness, whereas ten stands for quantitative fullness; it stands for “manyness.”[41]  A thousand therefore augments the intensity of the image, being ten cubed (i.e., 10 x 10 x 10; a trinity of tens, perhaps?).[42]  The number ‘a thousand’ is a favorite symbol for vastness and quantitative completeness in scripture.  Moses prayed that YHWH would make Israel “a thousand times as many” as they were (Deut. 1:11).  YHWH keeps covenant to “a thousand generations” (7:9) and owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10).  Does this mean that the cattle on the thousandth and one hill is owned by someone else, or that YHWH’s covenant faithfulness is void in the thousandth and one generation?  God forbid!  Thousand is highly figurative throughout scripture, and so too here in Revelation 20, where symbols abound, it stands for a long, provisional period of indefinite length.  This conclusion may be granted by historic premillenarians, postmillenarians, and amillenarians alike.  But how can the amillennialist suggest that these thousand years encompass the entire period between Christ’s first and second advent?
            Ladd recognizes that the key issue in this question is “whether chapter 20 involves recapitulation, looking back from the end to the whole history of the church.”[43] Although Ladd admits that recapitulation is present in Revelation, namely in chapter 12, where it is “unmistakably clear that the passage looks back to the birth of the Messiah,” he denies that in chapter 20, saying no such indication is present.[44]  However, as any decent cross-reference Bible demonstrates, the background of Ezekiel 36 – 48 is central in John’s mind, and thus should be also in our interpretation.[45]  Premillenarians see Revelation 20 following chronologically from chapter 19.[46]  In Ezekiel, however, the battle of Gog and Magog against the covenant people in chapter 38 is recapitulated in chapter 39; it is the same battle. 
This repeated allusion to Ezek. 38 – 39 points to the likelihood that [Rev.] 20:8—10 is a recapitulation of the same battle narrated in 19:17—21, where allusions are made to the same battle of Ezek. 38 – 39 together with the virtually identical expression “gather them together unto war”....Indeed, both [Revelation] 19:17—21 and 20:8—10 recount the same battle as 16:12—16, which is highlighted by the same phrase ‘gather them together unto the war’ (cf. 16:14; 19:19).  If 20:1—6 precedes the time of 20:7—10, and if 19:17—21 is temporally parallel to the battle of 20:7—10, then 20:1—6 is temporally prior to the battle of 19:17—21.[47]

Therefore, recapitulation is apparently present in the context of Revelation 20 by means of crucial Old Testament allusion and grammatical features.  This being so, John is transporting the reader back to the dawn of the Christian era, thus re-reporting in succinct summary the events of the entire interadvental period.
Revelation 20:4—6: The First Resurrection
It is worth mentioning again that Ezekiel 37 – 48 serves as strong conceptual background for the latter chapters of Revelation.[48]  So, the interpreter must bear this fact in mind as he considers the “first resurrection” of 20:4—5. 
In Ezekiel 37 the prophet portrays the vision of the valley of dry bones.   In this passage the image of the dry bones represents exilic Israel as spiritually dead (v. 11f.).  YHWH promises that these bones, however, will live again.  Ezekiel is to prophesy to the bones, saying, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath/spirit (rûach) to enter you, and you shall live” (v. 5).  The prophet is then commanded to beckon the breath to come into the bones (v. 9).  The result was that “the breath came into them, and they lived...an exceedingly great host” (v. 10).  The imagery of resurrection in this passage is clearly figurative, looking forward to the restoration of Israel.  Three very intriguing points flow from this passage into the Johannine concept of resurrection.
First, there is the phrase in verse 10, “and they lived,” which was the first result of the pneumatic life entering.  In the Septuagint, this phrase is rendered καὶ ἔζησαν (kia ezēsan), which is the aorist active indicative of the verb zaō.  This is precisely the same phrase and form that John uses to express what is translated as “and they lived” in Revelation 20:4, describing the “souls” of the “blessed and holy” saints who enjoy the “first resurrection” (vv. 4, 6).  Therefore, in the strongest allusive background for this section of Revelation, there is in Ezekiel 37 a figurative, or better spiritual, resurrection presented in the terms of καὶ ἔζησαν, the very phrase that John uses to describe the event of the first resurrection of 20:4—6.  There is, then, good evidence to recognize John as intending the first resurrection to be understood as spiritual.  This conclusion is corroborated by two other Johannine passages.
Second, then, is John’s further allusive use of Ezekiel in the third chapter of his Gospel.  In his dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus presents the condition of being “born again/from above” (“born anew,” so RSV) as the precondition to seeing “the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).  This concept is explicated by the twofold effect of being “born of water and the Spirit” (v. 5).  The Old Testament background for the water/Spirit connection is, again, Ezekiel 36 and 37 (see, esp., 36:25—27; 37:1—10).[49]  In this, John is bringing forward the spiritual resurrection motif of Ezekiel as the redemptive-historical grid for understanding regeneration and Christian baptism, or what Paul refers to as “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5).  So, on two counts, John’s apparent use of Ezekiel 36 – 37 serves as the coloring for the image of figurative or spiritual resurrection both in his Gospel and the Revelation. 
A third Johannine passage of great import is John 5:24—29.  In this passage Jesus speaks of the believer passing “from death into life” (v. 24), which is what happens “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (v. 25).  This is the “the hour,” which “is coming, and now is”; that is, the spiritual resurrection of regeneration.[50]  The transmission from death into life is “eternal life” and is that which characterizes those who “shall not come into condemnation” (v. 24).  This parallels John’s conception of the “first resurrection,” and the fact that for those who partake of the first resurrection “over such the second death has no power” (Rev. 20:6).  If, as has been argued, the “first resurrection” is spiritual, regeneration, and the “second death” is condemnation to the lake of fire (20:14—15), then the clear teaching of John 5:24f. provides the paradigmatic parallel for understanding Revelation 20:4—6. 
It may be added that both of these Johannine passages go on to speak of the general physical resurrection of both the just and the unjust, which is at an hour still coming, at the completion of the millennium (Jn. 5:29 // Rev. 20:5).  Therefore, John 5 offers a clear and parallel passage for understanding Revelation 20:4—6 as presenting both a spiritual resurrection, which begins with the dawn of the Christian era and runs continuously throughout, and a general physical resurrection at the close of this age, the millennium.   
            So, pre- and postmillennialist alike look for an earthly millennial reign of Christ, which is utterly missing from tenor Revelation 20; and, they hold that the kingdom is postponed, which is contrary to the rest of the New Testament.  Furthermore, they turn a more basic hermeneutical principle on its head by reinterpreting Matthew through Jude in terms of the symbol-laden passage of Revelation 20:1—10.  These are three fundamental problems with the pre- and postmillennial views.  The forgoing has attempted to demonstrate that the provisional binding of Satan serves to prevent him from deceiving the nations, thus allowing the kingdom of God to conquer all nations by the Word and Spirit.  This millennium of kingdom expansion is a figurative use of the number thousand and spans the entire interadvental period.  The kingdom of priests, those who come to life and reign with the living Christ during the millennium are characterized as having experienced the first resurrection, which is symbolic for spiritual resurrection or regeneration/conversion.   Hence, a proper exegesis of Revelation 20:1—6 produces conclusions most that are most consistent with the amillennial perspective. 


Augustine of Hippo, City of God. Henry Bettenson trans. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Beale, G. K. and D. A. Carson eds. Commentary on the New Testaments Use of the Old Testaments. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

_________. The Book of the Revelation. In The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

_________. We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.

Boettner, Loraine. “Postmillennialism: A Statement of the Doctrine.” Grace Online Library, http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/eschatology/postmillennialism/postmillennialism-statement-of-the-doctrine-by-loraine-boettner/ (accessed December 05, 2012).

Chilton, David. The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, 2006.

Hoekema, Anthony A. The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.      

Ladd, George Eldon.  A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.

Neilson, Lewis. Waiting for His Coming. Cherry Hill, NJ: Mack Publishing Company, 1975.

Orendorff, Aaron, “The Two Resurrections: John 5:19-29 and Revelation 20:4-6.”  Monergism.com, http://www.monergism.com/TheTwoResurrections.pdf (accessed August 26, 2010).

Roberts, Alexander and James Donaldson eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. (1994).

Roloff, Jürgen, Revelation. In A Continental Commentary. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993.

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery.  (IVP Academic: Downers Grove, Illinois, 1998)

Vos, Geerhardus, Redemptive Historical and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. ed. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1980.

Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989.

[1] Under the heading of premillennialism, both the historical and dispensational schools will be treated independently. 

[2] This designation is sometimes misleading and always unfortunate.  Hoekema’s comment is helpful to clarify the meaning.  “The three words just mentioned (amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism) are to be thought of as modifying the Second Coming of Christ.  Literally, therefore, the word amillennialism means that the Second Coming of Christ is to be without a millennium.”  Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979),173, fn. 3.  Amillennialism therefore does not mean that there is not millennium, rather that no millennium follows the second advent of Christ; the second advent ushers in, not a millennium, but the new heavens and new earth—the eternal state. 

[3] See, e.g., Augustine, City of God. Henry Bettenson trans. (London: Penguin Classics, 2003), XX:7, 907.

[4] John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 282.  It must be admitted, however, that while some statements of Papias (Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1:153—54) and Justin Martyr (ANF, 1:239—40) seem to be explicitly ‘premillennialistic,’ those of Tertullian are confusing at best (see ANF, 3:342, 483 where he patently equivocates the idea of the intermediate kingdom or millennium with that of the new creation, the new Jerusalem).  Similarly, Irenaeus’ comments so lack the subtlety and sophistication of the modern debate that he could be just as easily be read as an amillennialist as he could a premillennialist (ANF, 1:561—565).  Victorinus, bishop of Poetovio, Syria, describes the amillennialism of Augustine, well before Augustine (d. c. A.D. 304).  Nevertheless, any who wish to stake the claim of their perspective on the patristic doctrines runs the serious risk of anachronism.   
[5] Walvoord, 283.

[6] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.  1972), 260.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 261.

[9] Ibid., 165.

[10] Ibid. 166.  This argument is also presented by Wayne Grudem, a historic premillennialist, in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2000), 1130.

[11] See, e.g., Jn. 11:25; Rom. 14:9; Rev. 1:18; 2:8; 13:14.
[12] Walvoord, 283. However, in his publisher’s preface to David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance, Gary North offers this remark, regarding the popularity of dispensationalism, “Today, the traditional dispensational movement is being carried by the Left Behind novels.  A theological movement that is sustained by novels rather than by theological treaties is in its final stages.” David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Horn Lake, MS: Dominion Press, 2006), xxxii.

[13] Walvoord, 283.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 284.

[16] These include Lk 22:3, 31; Acts 5:3; 2 Cor 4:3—4; 2 Cor 11:14; Eph 2:2; 1 Thess 2:18; 2 Tim 2:26, and 1 Pet 5:8. Ibid., 292—293.

[17] Ibid. 292, 293 respectively.
[18] Walvoord, 289.

[19] Hoekema, 176.

[20] Walvoord, 289.

[21] Loraine Boettner, “Postmillennialism: A Statement of the Doctrine,” Grace Online Library, http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/eschatology/postmillennialism/postmillennialism-statement-of-the-doctrine-by-loraine-boettner/ (accessed December 05, 2012).

[22] Hoekema, 175.

[23] Boettner.
[24] Hoekema, 174.

[25] Ibid.

[26] See, e.g., Augustine, 905—906; similarly, Aaron Orendorff, “The Two Resurrections: John 5:19-29 and Revelation 20:4-6,” Monergism.com, http://www.monergism.com/TheTwoResurrections.pdf (accessed November 25, 2012).
[27]See, e.g., Hoekema, 233; similarly, Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive Historical and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. ed. (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1980), 422.

[28] Note the present active indicative “is (εστιν) in your midst.”  The hyperbatonic position of the verb, placed at the very end of the sentence in the Greek syntax, also accentuates the fact of the present activity of the kingdom of God in Christ’s person. 

[29] “The word handmade (Acts 7:48) always refers to idols in the Greek Old Testament and is without exception a negative reference in the New Testament....The word cheirotoiētos (‘handmade’) occurs fourteen times in the Greek Old Testament and always refers to idols!  Outside Acts 7:48, the word in the New Testament occurs five times, once with respect to pagan temples (Acts 17:24), three times to the Jerusalem temple that was passing away (Mk. 14:58; Heb. 9:11, 24), and once with regard to physical circumcision that was not true circumcision (Eph. 2:11).  The wording ‘the works of men’s hands’ in the Greek Old Testament refers without exception to idols....Among the approximately fifty-four times the Hebrew phrase ‘work of the hands’...occurs, almost half refer to idolatrous works: Deut. 4:28; 27:15; 31:29; 2 Kg. 19:18; 22:17; 2 Ch. 32:19; 34:25; Ps. 115:4; 135:15; Is. 2:8; 17:8; 37:19; Jer. 1:16; 10:3; 25:6—7, 14; 32:30; Hos. 14:3; Mic. 5:13 (cf. Is. 44:9—10); so also Rev. 9:20.”  G. K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 192, fn. 19. 

[30] Lewis Neilson, Waiting for His Coming (Cherry Hill, NJ: Mack Publishing Company, 1975), 215.

[31] Ibid., 214.

[32] See, e.g., Matt. 13:36—43; Jn. 5:28; 6:39—40; Acts 24:14—15; 2 Thess. 1:7—10; cf. Is. 26:19—21; Dan. 12:1—3.  

[33] See, e.g., Matt. 13:36—43; 25:31—34, 41, 46; Acts 17:30—31; 1 Jn. 4:17.
[34] Walvoord, 293.

[35] Walvoord, 291.

[36] G. K. Beale, The Book of the Revelation, in The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 986.

[37] Ibid.
[38] Notice the relation between being “sealed” in Rev. 7:3 and “baptizing” in Matt. 28:19.  “It appears certain that [in Rev. 7:3] John is thinking specifically of baptism. According to 14:1, the sign of the seal that the 144,000 bear on their forehead is the name of the lamb and ‘his Father’s name.’ According to early Christian understanding, subordination to the power of the name of Jesus occurs in baptism (1 Cor. 1:13, 15; Acts 8:16; Matt. 28:19). In Paul ‘seal’ (sphragis) is already a technical term for baptism (2 Cor. 1:22; cf. Eph. 1:13; 4:30)....In [Rev.] 13:16 a satanic imitation of the mark of property is discussed that the ‘beast’ imprints on the forehead and hand of his follows. But characteristically, John avoids there the word ‘seal’ (sphragis)—an indication that for him it was not only an image but a fixed technical term.” Jürgen Roloff, Revelation, in A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 97; likewise Chilton, 205—206. .

[39] G. K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough, “Revelation,” in G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson eds. Commentary on the New Testaments Use of the Old Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 1148.
[40] Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (IVP Academic: Downers Grove, Illinois, 1998), 600.

[41] Chilton, 506.

[42] Ibid. See, e.g., Rev. 5:11; 7:4—8; 9:16; 11:3, 13; 12:6; 14:1, 3, 20.

[43] Ladd, 261.

[44] Ibid.

[45] “That John has in mind a specific prophecy-fulfillment connection with Ezek. 38 – 39 is borne out by the broader context of chapters 20 – 21, where a fourfold ending of the book reflects the ending of Ezek. 37 – 48: the resurrection of God’s people (Rev. 20:4a; Ezek. 37:1—14), the messianic kingdom (Rev. 20:4b—6; Ezek. 37:15—28), final battle against God and Magog (Rev. 20:7—10; Ezek. 38 – 39), and final vision of the new temple and new Jerusalem, described as a restored Eden and sitting on an exceedingly high mountain (Rev. 21:1—22:5; Ezek. 40 – 48).” Beale and McDonough, 1145.

[46] Ladd, 261.

[47] Beale and McDonough, 1144.
[48] See fns. 47—49 above. 
[49] Andreas J. Köstenberger, “John,” in G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson eds. Commentary on the New Testaments Use of the Old Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 434—436; Beale and McDonough, 1148.

[50] Hoekema, 232; Ladd, 265—266; Orendorff. 

No comments:

Post a Comment