The Nature Of The Revelation 20 Millennium

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Much debate has arisen in the modern church as to the nature of the Revelation 20 millennium. Historically, great theologians such as Athanasius, Augustine and Edwards have maintained that this period of time is to be seen as symbolic; in effect, symbolizing the entire reign of Christ who is seated at the “right hand” of the Father. However, since the mid 1830‟s, a new Eschatological system has arisen to challenge this view. Dispensational Premillennialism asserts that the “thousand year” millennium is a literal, physical reign of Christ on earth. In doing so, the Dispensationalists depart from the sound tradition of theologians who have held the former and more historic view. It is the intention of this essay to affirm the historic and Reformational position in regards to the millennium, which shows the Revelation 20 account as a symbolic image of the entire reign of the Christ and His triumphant church.

Foundational Argument:

Internal evidence suggests that the Book of Revelation was written prior to the fall of Jerusalem, or rather, pre A.D. 70. Time-texts such as “soon” (Rev. 1:1, 22:6,
7, 12 and 20), “near” (Rev. 1:3, 22:10) and “quickly” (Rev. 22:20) all indicate an imminent return of Christ in judgment to the addressee of the book; the Seven Churches of Asia. Next, the self evidence of Revelation indicates that the Temple (Herod‟s Temple – Rev. 11:1-2) was still standing in the “holy city” (c.f. Isa. 48:2, Matt. 4:5, 27:53) at the time of Revelations penning.1 It is vital to note two lines of support that indicate that the Temple in question is in fact, “Herod‟s Temple.” First, there is no instance or indication of a future, rebuilt Temple within the pages of the New Testament. Point in fact, the word “Temple” is only cited within the pages of the New Testament in reference to Herod‟s Temple (Matt. 24:1, 26:55), Jesus‟ body (John 2:19-20), as the dwelling place of the Spirit within the believer (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19), as God Almighty and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22) and in reference to the church (Eph. 2:21). However, is never cited within the context of a future (rebuilt) Temple. In addition, Matthew 24:1-2 clearly indicates the identity of the Revelation 11 Temple in question where the Lord proclaims;
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.2

In these verses, the Lord Jesus clearly indicates “which” Temple would be trampled in the Revelation 11 account. First, in Matthew 23, the Lord pronounces the “seven woes” upon the Jewish leaders and Israel. This was the same Geo-political entity that “killed the prophets” (Matthew 23:34-35; c.f. Rev. 16:6), in the same land (“holy city” Rev. 11:2; c.f. Matt. 23:37) that was referred to as “Sodom” and “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8). Moreover, Jesus pronounces that the very “generation” to whom He is speaking to, would suffer the Matthew 24 judgment (Matt. 23:36,
24:34; c.f. Matt. 16:4, Matt. 16:28, Rev. 1:7) and would be “left desolate”3 (Matt.23:38; c.f. Rev. 1:7).4 Thus, the “literal” meaning of the text indicates that the Temple in question is in fact

“Herod‟s Temple;” the very same Temple that was known to the generation to whom Jesus


The last line of eternal evidence that will be used to establish an early dating of Revelation comes by way of Revelation 17. First, it is essential to note that the “great prostitute” spoken of in verse one is none other then corporate Israel herself. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as the “whore” (Isa. 1:21, Jer. 2:20, 3:1, Ezek. 16:15, Hos. 4:12), as a “prostitute”
(Ezek. 16:30-31, 33, 35, Hos. 9:1) and as one who commits “adultery” (Jer. 3:9, 23:14, Hos. 2:2). Being in Covenant with God, Israel was known as the Lord‟s “bride” (Jer. 2:2, 2 Sam. 17:3 by inference) and a