Monday, May 31, 2010

The Millennium – Revelation Chapter 20

Happy Memorial Day weekend to everyone. This past Saturday, we went to a wonderful wedding ceremony of my niece Allie and her beau David. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a special reception, because we were able to see so many family members that we've missed. Congratulations to Allie and David.

I have recently read a great book on the Millennium by M Waymeyer called 'Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate', and I wanted to write a little bit about it. Professor Waymeyer is a graduate of the Masters Seminary in California, and he has provided a clear summary of the three main positions in understanding the Millennium. The opening chapters are written in the form of a class syllabus. This makes it a quick and easy read that provides a good deal of depth of understanding on the various Millennial positions. Another good thing about this book is that it doesn't try and present something new on this topic, instead it is a very good summary of existing thought. Prof. Waymeyer writes from a Pre-Trib / Pre-Millennium position, where Jesus first comes in a Rapture of the Saints, followed by 7 years of Tribulation, concluding in the literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on Earth with the Saints.

He provides a guide to some crucial questions in trying to understand Revelation Chapter 20. The various interpretations of Revelation 20:1–6 seek to answer these five crucial questions:

A.     Is the binding of Satan present or future?

B.     Is the "first resurrection" spiritual or physical?

C.     Is the duration of the thousand years symbolic or literal?

D.     Is the locale of the millennial reign heaven or earth?

E.     Is the chronology of Revelation 19:21–20:1 recapitulatory or sequential?


A Summary of Key Interpretive Issues in Rev 20:1–6







Satan's Binding: 





First Resurrection: 





Thousand Years:





Locale of Reign:





Chronology of 19–20: 






From M Waymeyer, 'Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate'.


  1. Is the Binding of Satan happening today or sometime in the future?

    Here, with this initial question, Prof. Waymeyer does a very good job setting out the reasons for accepting the PreTrib view. Let's start by looking at Rev. 20:1-3


    1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (ESV)


    These verses show that an Angel comes from heaven (I believe this is Jesus, see Rev. 1:18, as He is the One with the keys to the Abyss and Hades). This Angel seizes Satan and throws him into the Abyss/pit, shut it and seals the door, so that Satan may not deceive the nations any longer. He is placed in this "jail" for 1,000 years, and then is released for a little while.

    So as shown on the chart (above), the PreTrib view believes this binding of Satan takes place in the future. While Amillennialists believe that Satan is currently bound, so that he cannot deceive the nations. And the Post-Trib view have some understand Satan to have been bound at the time of Christ's victory on the cross, while others see the binding of Satan to represent a future point in time when the successful proclamation of the gospel will have effectively reduced Satan's influence to nothing (Gregg 1997: 457). Because postmillennialists teach that the present age gradually merges into the millennium, the precise time of the binding is not always emphasized in their writings. (This is fn 3 in Waymeyer's book).

    Here are three author's quotes from Prof. Waymer's book that persuasively show that this passage does not mean that Satan is presently bound (as the Amillennialist's believe):

    a.    "The imagery of throwing Satan into a pit and shutting it and sealing it over him gives a picture of total removal from influence on earth" (Grudem 1994: 1117).

    b.     "The elaborate measures taken to insure his custody are most easily understood as implying the complete cessation of his influence on earth (rather than a curbing of his activities)" (Mounce 1977: 353).

    c.    "If a symbolic presentation of the binding of Satan were intended to teach that Satan was rendered completely inactive, what more dramatic picture could be provided than is here portrayed?" (Walvoord 1986: 231).


    These writer's are very persuasive to me in showing that we should not interpret Revelation 20:1-3 as saying that Satan is somehow bound today. Yet I have a difficult time embracing the PreTrib view for a number of reasons related to Revelation Chapter 20. But for now, let me raise perhaps this argument, perhaps the best argument for the PreTrib viewpoint, and I will try in my next post and summarize the reasons I still reject the PreTrib view of the Millennium. I think it's important to address the best arguments of a position, to make sure that I truly understand a topic.

Until next time, Praise Jesus our Redeemer and Savior. We can trust that because our God is not a God of confusion, and that His Spirit will lead us into all truth. Have a great week. /s/Tom

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the articles on Google is so shocking it would be better if I don't describe it. I will only say that the title is "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty." Arthur