What is Amillennialism?

Some folk are wondering what in the world is amillennialism, in view of recent comments by John MacArthur consigning all amillennialists to hell.

Amillennialism is the belief that the 1,000 year reign mentioned in Revelation 20 is a true reign of Christ, but that the 1,000 years is symbolic of the entire period in-between Christ’s first and second coming.Many people misunderstand this belief when they say that amillennialists don’t believe in a literal reign. The reign is literal, though the 1,000 years are not. The exegetical question revolves around whether Satan is already bound (Revelation 20:2) or not. Amillennialists point to Revelation 12:7-11, where the blood of the Lamb is what conquers Satan. Furthermore, Matthew 12:29 is an exceedingly strong passage in favor of amillennialism, since the verse describes Christ’s mission while on earth. John 12:31 describes something that happens “now” in reference to the time of Jesus’ statement. Colossians 2:15 makes a similar point. 2 Thessalonians 1 plays havoc with the detailed timelines of premillennialism, not allowing years in-between events, but stating that all happens on one day.

Some objections levelled against amillennialism include the following: 1. The interpretation is not literal. Answer: symbolism is all over the book of Revelation. Numbers in particular are symbolic. Just look at 666, for instance. Debate still rages over what that number really means. Furthermore, in the Bible 1,000 is a symbol of completeness (cattle on a 1,000 hills; 1,000 years is as a day, etc.). We must distinguish between the Bible being literally true versus being true literally. The former means that we interpret each genre of Scripture according to the way in which it should be interpreted. There is much symbolic imagery in Revelation which should therefore be interpreted symbolically. The latter runs one into insuperable difficulties. If every statement in the Bible has to be true in a literal fashion, then Christ is a piece of wood (“I am the door”), or a space of road (“I am the way”), or a piece of bread (“This is my body”). These statements of Christ (as is everything in scripture) are all true. But not all statements in Scripture are true in a literal fashion. “Your eyes are doves” does not mean that one’s oculi consist of a couple of aviary critters from the family Columbidae. That won’t fly in any hermeneutics class in any seminary worth its salt. One would get a failing, dropping, mournful, cooing grade in the class.

Second objection: the events in Revelation 20 seem to follow a certain timeline. This is a much more defensible position exegetically. However, there are several points to note: firstly, Revelation 20 is the only place in Scripture where a 1,000 year reign is mentioned. Secondly, there is evidence of literary recapitulation (rehashing the same events from several different angles in order to come up with a more complete picture) in Revelation (see Beale’s magnificent commentary on Revelation), such that making timelines is quite risky exegetically. In fact, it is quite tenuous. Making doctrinal orthodoxy stand or fall with premillennialism is certainly out of court.

Third objection: Satan really does not seem to be bound right now. He seems to be alive and well in the world. Answer: Satan is bound in the sense that the Gospel has free reign to cover the earth with its message, and try as he might, Satan cannot hinder its progress. Furthermore, Satan, death, and sin were dealt their death blow at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are still thrashing around. But they are thrashing around in their death throws, knowing that they are defeated already.

There are a couple of really good books to read if one wants to delve further: Kim Riddlebarger’s book is certainly the most thorough modern treatment in defense of amillennialism, and is well worth picking up. Second, for those who love debate, the counterpoints book is a must. All the positions receive their due weight from proponents of those views. On a more popular level (but still with a great deal of research behind the work) is Poythress’s great book, as well as Dennis Johnson’s book.

About these ads

79 Comments

  1. Kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Lane,

    Great clarification. MacArthur states that Amillennialists do not believe in any kingdom. Nor does the restoration of Israel support or subtract from Amillennial doctrine. Different Amillers have both supported and denied a national restoration. Riddlebarger is one that affirms a place for Israel. I think Israels future is a red herring in the debate.

    Here is MacArthurs direct statement and url for it:

    “And the amillenialist, those are people who don’t believe in any kingdom or any restoration of Israel, comes along and says, “Well, when the Jews executed Christ, they forfeited everything.” Not so, friend. God said, “I will make a new covenant with Israel and Judah.” That’s both sections of Israel. Right? You say, “I thought the northern tribes got lost.” They may have gotten lost, but God knows where they are. They may be lost to some people, and there may be a lot of weird explanations about who they are, but they’re not lost to God. And God has made His covenant with His people. ”

    http://www.gty.org/resources.php?section=transcripts&aid=232043

  2. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2007 at 10:22 am

    You’re absolutely right, Josh. Amils differ in their estimation of the place of Israel, and it is a red herring. Personally, I do not believe in a separate-from-the-church future of Israel, but that there is only one olive tree in Romans 11, such that Jews will come to faith in Christ. Their future blessedness cannot be found outside of belief in Christ. Will many Jews come to faith? I earnestly hope and pray that it will be so.

  3. Lee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I really do not think this whole hubbabaloo is about premil verses amil, but rather ties into MacArthur’s ‘leaky dispensationalism’. Most of his objections revolve around his rejection of covenant theology rather than his rejection of Revelation exegesis or actual amil beliefs. That is why I am not very surprised at this from MacArthur. He needs premil theology to be the only way because it is the only one that helps out his dispensationalism.

  4. kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I think its Amill vs Premill, especially with his comment tying Amill and Arminianism together. In essence claiming Calvinism with Dispensationalism. Which is funny, since the vast majority of Dispensationalists I know are unlimited atonement. And that both Arminians and Calvinists can be Pre or Amill.

    I think he was using Calvinism as support for Premillennialism, and Premilleniallism to support Dispensationalism.

  5. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 11:49 am

    I find it interesting that many people can’t fathom 1,000 being a symbolic number. We still use numbers ending in zeros (10,100,1000,1000000) to symbolize a large amount without being literal.

    How many times have we heard, “if i’ve told you once i’ve told you 1,000 times)…or someone that has many jokes may say, “i’ve got a million of them.” I’ve even caught myself telling my kids, “i’ve told you 10 times not to do that!”

  6. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    As far as the 1,000 years being symbolic I just don’t buy this whatsoever…

    Directly before John speaks about 1,000 years he states that the Satan will be released for “a short time.”

    It would seem to me, since John just used this kind of venacular, that if John meant for the 1,000 years to simply mean “a long period of time” he would have just said that since He just used “a short time” when referring to Satan’s release.

    I have not heard MacArthur’s teaching yet from Shepherd’s, so I don’t want to make any comments about the teaching itself, but from what I have heard from MacArthur in the past he is usually very gentle in approach. And even if he was a little more “straightforward” here remember he is preaching in his own backyard and from what we know of MacArthur he preaches what HE is convicted of not who is coming to the conference.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Seth, being convicted that Amil is inherently Arminian, however, is not a conviction he should have. I have no problem with his being convinced of the premil position. There is not a whole lot of rock-solid absolutely certain pronouncements that can be made about what is going to happen then other than that Christ is coming again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead. Therefore, MacArthur was wrong to say what he did, since it borders on being certain about something of which we cannot really be certain.

  8. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Seth,

    you said: It would seem to me, since John just used this kind of venacular, that if John meant for the 1,000 years to simply mean “a long period of time” he would have just said that since He just used “a short time” when referring to Satan’s release.

    my reply: We still use that kind of vernacular today, there’s nothing inherenlty wrong with using general terms and specific terms in the same instance to symbolize something.
    “i’m going to earn ‘1,000,000’ dollars, then ‘just after’ that i will retire.”

  9. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Lane…I would agree with that sentiment…I don’t know where he gets that from…

    Most of you know that when we discussed over on Larry’s site that I don’t call myself reformed because of my eschatology…so I would agree with you guys on that point.

  10. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    WE might say a lot of things…but we are talking about the God-breathed text.

  11. Todd said,

    March 14, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Hey, Seth. Do you believe that there is any sense in which Satan is already bound now? Lane has already referenced Mt. 12:29, about the “binding of the strongman.” Isn’t Jesus describing there the accomplishment of his first coming?

  12. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Todd.

    I would have to contend that Satan being bound is not complete yet…He is still shown in 1 Cor as the “god of this world” and that he still “blinds the minds of the world.” But I also know that Gen 3:15 tells us that through the death of the cross that Christ would “crush Satan’s head” We then find in 1 Cor 15 that speaks of “oh death where is your sting”

    I would say that this is an “already, not yet” scenario in some sense.

    I interpret Matthew 12:29 in its context of Christ showing His power over Satan, but not as an interpretation of the binding of Satan that is spoken of in Revelation. Matthew 12 is speaking of the cleansing of demons and Christ shows His power OVER Satan to show that He is not a part of Satan, to the Pharisees…

  13. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Hey, Todd, it’s a novel experience to be on the same side of a debate, hey what? ;-)

    Seth, if Jesus’ death and resurrection is emphatically “already,” then do you believe that His death and resurrection in any way triumphed over the powers of darkness? If so, then is that not a binding of the strong man? Is that not the binding of Satan? Of course, “we do not yet see all things subject to him,” as Paul says in Hebrews. Amil are quite comfortable with the already/not yet schema in terms of Christ’s binding the strong man/Satan. Some passages emphasize the already aspect, and some passages emphasize the not yet. Obviously, the Hebrews passage emphasizes the not yet. I believe that Revelation emphasizes the already. Remember that John is writing to encourage his persecuted readers. If you were writing to believers who were wondering whether or not the Roman empire was going to crush them like bugs, would you emphasize the already or the not yet? To me the answer is clear: I would emphasize the already of Christ’s defeat of Satan as *guaranteeing* the future outcome. Therefore, in view of John’s aim in the book of Revelation, I think the “already” of Satan’s binding is much more likely intrinsically.

  14. kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Who is this Seth guy, that dares challenge us? Lane, where did you pick this guy up ? ? :-) ? ?

  15. Todd said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    John was also, of course, an “ear-witness” to Jesus’ Mathew 12:29 parable. He heard Jesus tell this parable and wrote Revelation for readers who were already familiar with the parables of Jesus. John would write Revelation 20, and the original audience would hear it, in a way that would be understood against the background of the strongman parable.

    Another question for the premil interpretation: Is the second coming described in the context of Rev. 20?

  16. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Is 2 Cor 4:4 speaking of Satan when it says, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”??

    Doesn’t Jn 12:40 speak of God, not Satan, as blinding eyes and hardening hearts?

  17. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Lane…what is funny is that I can agree with you on almost all your fronts except your view of Revelation. We obviously, and I know this, see the words, “he (Satan) would not deceive the nations any longer” very differently. I see this as an imperitive statement of the complete binding of Satan in the future where you, and all amills (from what I can gather) take it as Satan can no longer keep blinding the eyes of the Gentiles, as is seemingly the case in the OT (besides rare occurances).

    So, we see this already/not yet, the same in most instances but it really comes down to this passage, not surprisingly, in Rev 20 about the timing of this binding…

  18. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Larry.
    We also know that “evil spirits” do not come from God but we are told that they come from Him in 1 Samuel 16:14. We, or at least I, take this as the evil spirits and Satan himself having to always “ask permission” of God before they do anything to anyone (Job 1). So, unless you are willing to throw out 2 Cor 4:4 we must explain it in a way that lines up with John 12:40 and the usage of my first illustration with evil spirits is how these two line up in my head.

    This is also how Rahab could be saved. Not because of Satan not blinding her eyes, but because of the revelation from God and God not allowing Satan to cover her eyes.

  19. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Seth,

    Is “god” used of Satan anywhere else in the NT?

  20. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I meant is “god” used to describe Satan…sorry about that.

  21. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    you are asking me to defend what Paul wrote? Or defending the translators? either way, I plead ignorance and belief in the written word.

    (not saying you don’t believe in the word…)

  22. kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Its discussions like these, that I like to just sit back and watch. :-)

    Hey Larry! Hows things!
    Seth, don’t be so difficult to deal with!

    :-)

  23. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    being the only dispy that interacts on these blogs…I must be difficult…lol

  24. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    things are good…still busy. Thanks for asking.

    Seth,
    I’m not asking you to defend Paul or translators…they both put in the word for “god”…i am asking you to defend your belief that god=satan in that verse.

  25. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    If it is not Satan who is it? Because there is definitely a contrast between the “god of this world” and the “image of God.”

  26. Todd said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Seth, where in the vicinity of Rev. 20 do you see a description of the second coming?

  27. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Calvin’s Commentary:

    Whose minds the god of this world. He intimates, that no account should be made of their perverse obstinacy. “Theydo not see,” says he, “the sun at mid-day, because the devil has blinded their understandings.” No one that judges rightly can have any doubt, that it is of Satan that the Apostle speaks.

  28. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    So Larry…how do you see it? Cause Calvin would agree with this dispensationalist…

    ;)

  29. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Todd…end of Rev 19

  30. kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    And I suppose Calvin though Reformed Eschatology lead to Arminianism :-)

  31. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    How did you know???!!!

  32. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    New Bible Commentary (touted by Riddlebarger)

    The reference to those to whom Paul’s gospel is veiled was primarily to his Jewish contemporaries who did not understand that their own Scriptures pointed to Christ (cf. 3:14–15) and whose minds had been blinded by the god of this age. However, it is clear from other references in 2 Corinthians that Paul in no way saw the activity of the god of this age (Satan) as restricted to the Jews

  33. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Seth,

    I know that many commentaries take the “god” in this verse to refer to Satan. I was asking if there is biblical warrant for it. The Bible many times speaks of God blinding unbelievers (Jn 12:20; Rom 11:7-8).

    So my question to you is, is there anywhere else in the NT that you see Satan called “god?” Also, is there any reference in Scripture that Satan blinds anyone? (other than the verse in question)

  34. kymanika said,

    March 14, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Larry,

    Seth actually answered the objection by quoting Amillennialists. Thats pretty smart in my book. I won’t keep it a secret that Amil is my favorite position and the most consistent. But each system has its difficulties and if you ask my humble opinion (is it really being humble to say that :-)) the binding of Satan and the two resurrections will always remain the harder issues of Amill.

  35. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    actually he didn’t answer either question posted above. He quoted Calvin, who agrees with his interpretation, but Calvin’s quote did not answer my specific questions.

    I am asking for scriptural warrant to interpret “god” as “satan” and any scriptural support for Satan blinding others.

    I’m not saying that it’s not in the Scripture, if it is i just want to know where it is. If it’s not, then i don’t think the interpretation is that water tight…regardless of how many people agree with it.

  36. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Larry.
    Are you going to give any other interpretation for the verse? Are you really willing to go down a road where every major theologian would disagree with? You might just want to say that this is a tough one for Amill’s and move on…

    By the way you do the same with household baptism saying that there were babies in the household when none are mentioned…

    If Satan is not the god of this world, who is it? Please at least give an alternate. Cause everything I can see, read, study and look to in context of that passage seems to only make sense that it is the devil.

    To try and answer this…when we consider Christ’s temptation Satan did tell Christ that he would give him all the things of the world and their glory if Christ would worship him…

    I know this isn’t definitive…we also many times where “world” is mentioned and infers the evilness of it…such as 1 John 2 (do not be conformed to the world nor the things in it) We also have 1 John 5:19, John 12:31; Eph 6:12 that all mention the “ruler of this world” in one way or another

    All these speak of the “ruler of this world” and the such…would seem to connotate “god of this world”

  37. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Seth said:Are you going to give any other interpretation for the verse? Are you really willing to go down a road where every major theologian would disagree with? You might just want to say that this is a tough one for Amill’s and move on…

    My response: I just don’t see why “god” can’t be interpreted as “God” instead of “Satan”

    Seth said: By the way you do the same with household baptism saying that there were babies in the household when none are mentioned…

    My reply: I don’t see the parallel. I am suggesting that when the Bible says “god” it means “God”…nothing more.

    Seth said: If Satan is not the god of this world, who is it? Please at least give an alternate. Cause everything I can see, read, study and look to in context of that passage seems to only make sense that it is the devil.

    My reply: God is the God of this world. Looking at the Scripture as a whole and who it says blinds men’s eyes…God, not the devil.

    Seth said: To try and answer this…when we consider Christ’s temptation Satan did tell Christ that he would give him all the things of the world and their glory if Christ would worship him…

    My reply: Yes, Satan is a liar…the father of lies actually.

    Seth said: I know this isn’t definitive…we also many times where “world” is mentioned and infers the evilness of it…such as 1 John 2 (do not be conformed to the world nor the things in it) We also have 1 John 5:19, John 12:31; Eph 6:12 that all mention the “ruler of this world” in one way or another

    All these speak of the “ruler of this world” and the such…would seem to connotate “god of this world”

    My reply: I do not generally equate “ruler” with “god.” God may give Satan a certain sphere to rule in, but that certainly does not make him God. And does this mean that you think the context of the passage in question is speaking of “world” as the evilness of it?
    If i’m not mistaken, the “ruler of this world” spoken of in the Gospel of John (12:31, 16:11) is judged and cast out.

  38. theologian said,

    March 14, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Seth,

    Is Satan shown anywhere as blinding men in such a way?

  39. Seth McBee said,

    March 14, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Larry.
    From what I know every theologian and translator would agree with my interpretation including, from what I can gather, those whom you respect most…I know this is not a definite reason to believe my interpretation but it is a pretty strong reason…

    As far as is Satan shown anywhere as blinding men in such a way? I would agree that I don’t see that (that I can see) but if I take the interpretation that “god of this world” is Satan then I must take this as well, even though it is just mentioned once…

    As I take that Satan is the father of sinners…even if it is only mentioned once in John 8:44…

    I think you are taking a plain reading of a text and applying your eschatology to interpret the passage…guess what…your “heroes of the faith” would agree with me.

  40. Thomas Twitchell said,

    March 15, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Isn’t the term te theo, or something like that. It is never used in the NT except in reference to the One True God when it has the definite article. And, I think if you look you will find that a concordance will confirm that, except in this one instance. I have to agree. Every passage that speaks directly of the blinding of men speaks of the Lord as the instrumental cause. However, the world has many gods and when the Apostle says the god of this world, it may reflect not a theological consideration but projection of the attitudes of the hearts of men toward what would be considered their god, and in that case, “the god.”

    But, there is a place where Satan did blind the eyes of men. In the Garden. There it is said that Eve saw that the fruit was good for food and for gaining wisdom, which was in reality blind to what it really was. So, yes the Scripture does speak of Satan blinding the eyes of men. Then too, he is a deceiver and so are all his children. Deception, slight of hand, now you see it, now you don’t, is all a matter of blinding the minds (eyes) of the understanding of the observers.

    Amill, postmill, flour mill. Right now it is all in flux. I was premill but the passages in Zachariah just do not jive with what I now know as the single branch. Though the vision Zach has is of two trees, the two witnesses of the Lord who testify throughout the world, their testimony is of the One, He who has made the two one. They are therefore not two, but one. Though for now we do not see all things put under subjection to him, we can if we look though the eyes of the Word.

    I have to agree that Satan is bound. He was bound three times as a matter of fact. He was cast out heaven, cursed to crawl, and at the Cross the Lord made an open spectacle of him. By the way, he was no where around the cross, it was the last thing that he wanted, even if Mel Gibson thinks otherwise. He remains bound, and I believe that is what is being indicated in Thessalonians when it speaks of the the restaining one. This one, the HS, when he “steps aside” Satan will be loosed for a short time, and this will fulfill the “great tribulation” such as has never been, when he will exalt himself to the throne of Christ, the height from which he was thrown down. At the present time we do not see the world as evil as it will be, but when Satan is loosed there will only be that solitary place in the wilderness of faith where She will be protected. If I am not wrong, this short period is that final week, when the body of Christ will lie dead, or as good as dead, but will rise in three days. Maybe… but these two witness which carry the one testimony just as Christ did, are the One true Israel, the Son of the Father who was called out of Egypt, Israel my first born. It is the name of the Children of God after all. The name of adoption which Christ gave, for all those both near and far.

    There is simply too much in conflict with a premill view. I have opted for the idea that the 1000 is symbolic. I do not find the preterist arguments convincing, for there is too much that has in no way been fulfilled and it smacks of the same hipocracy claiming knowledge of speculation. If there is one thing that is evident, it is that the specifics and details of the eschatos are not given. We have very few things that we can agree upon, the rest is babel. We can look at simple things like the last trumpet. Here is a word combination that never means anything but the absolute final one. People like Mac have to explain it away, thought, to fit their preconceived notions. And why not, look how many friends he would lose. No time for truth and admitting he is wrong. Just another book to sell and megaministry to protect.

    We know this: The Lord is coming, one more time. It will be the third and final. I say the third because: there are His appearances in the OT as a man but not corpereal, at least we do not know anything more than he was said to be like the Angel of the Lord. Second in the incarnation, corporeal. The final advent will be in Glory, corporeal of a nature that we know not. I like trinities. But, you see, my spiritual view of these kinds of things is no better than any. We know that the cannon is closed on some things. They were for Daniel, Paul and John. And, Christ Himself told his closest associates that they were, that not all revelation was given for publication, which is what the word for to know can mean. So, this fight is just one of those vain ones.

    It is a nice discussion though.

    greenbaggins: I did research in the cult groups of Egypt but have not put it together for posting and the past month I have been without a computer thanks to Norton and some Microsoft junk. I did not mean to leave it hanging. If my files are still intact, I’ll post something back there. There are two schools of thought. The lesser known is that the Egyptian cults represented a monotheistic religion expressed in types.

    Pray for our church. We are SBC and thanks to the Lord we are coming out of our coma and awakening to the doctrines of grace.

  41. kymanika said,

    March 15, 2007 at 5:00 am

    Bravo, thats a wonderful post.

  42. greenbaggins said,

    March 15, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I agree with Seth that 2 Cor 4:4 is speaking about Satan. I don’t agree that this is unexplainable in an amil setting. Satan is bound such that he can no longer deceive the nations. That does not mean he cannot still deceive individuals. Otherwise, why do we still fight in spiritual warfare? Secondly, even a bound person can still thrash around, doing some damage. Here again, it is a question of already/not yet. Satan is bound. If we say that Satan is not bound, we are saying that John is writing something in Revelation 20 that is completely irrelevant to his readers. You still have not answered this argument, Seth. For your position to be correct, Rev 20 has nothing to do with his readers, and furthermore, his readers would be *dis*couraged by learning that Satan has his full powers; Jesus’ resurrection has accomplished nothing with regard to binding Satan, Satan can still oppress them in any way, shape, or form he desires. How is that an encouragement to the churches?

    Josh, the resurrections refer to the resurrection of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. Ephesians 2 explicitly refers to soul-resurrection as a resurrection. When we are born again, that is the first resurrection. “Made alive” is the key word there.

    Seth, what about 2 Thessalonians 1? You have not answered this problem either. Everything happens at once in 2 Thess 1. There is no time for all the years of tribulation, etc. Boom, Christ comes back, judgment happens.

  43. Seth McBee said,

    March 15, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Lane and others…

    I mentioned that there is some sense of the “already/not yet” with Satan being bound in comment 12 of this post…but the difference in our rendering is that when Satan is bound in Revelation 20 he is thrown into the Abyss and “shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed”

    This is futuristic…at this time Satan is bound and shut into the Abyss; yet Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”

    This does not show in any sense that Satan is completely bound or shut into the Abyss.

    Because this is a future event.

    I do think I missed something…Larry and Lane…you guys mentioned “how is this an encouragement to the readers?” I am asking honestly…Why does this statement about Satan have to be an “encouragement?”

    I will hold comments about this part until you guys tell me this part…please note, I just don’t want to mis-speak if I am missing something…so this is not a loaded question…just trying to learn what you are asking…

  44. greenbaggins said,

    March 15, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Seth, the purpose clause of verse 3 “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer” controls the throwing of him into the pit, the shutting and the sealing. You are assuming much more in this binding than is warranted by the purpose clause. That is the only way in which he is bound. You seem to think that it is necessary (for this passage to be true) that Satan be bound in all respects. Hence, 1 Peter 5:8 is not relevant to this discussion.

    As Beale notes, most commentators agree that the 11:7 ascension out of the abyss corresponds to this ascension in 20:3b. In 11:7, the ascent is clearly before the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, it is further confirmed that 20:3 is not talking about Satan’s ascension after the Second Coming.

    The reason I say this bit about encouragement is that if Satan is in no way bound now, then Satan has free reign even with regard to the elect. This in no way would encourage the believers to whom John is writing. Comment 13 says this a bit better.

    One last thing in favor of amil: the resurrection spoken of in verse 5 is a spiritual resurrection, since the first death is bodily, second death spiritual; the resurrections are mirror image: first resurrection spiritual, second bodily. Verse 4b corresponds quite closely with Ephesians 2:6, where we reign *even now* with Christ. On your interpretation, the saints could not reign with Christ until He comes back. But Ephesians says that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms *now.* It should be noted that I view Rev 20:5a as a parenthesis, such that verse 5b refers back to vs 4b.

  45. Josh said,

    March 15, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    What moved me to change my mind a bit is asking myself, is it a real pit and a real seal? Is it a physical reality or spiritual reality?

  46. Josh said,

    March 15, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    What moved me to change my mind a bit is asking myself, is it a real pit and a real seal? Is it a physical reality or spiritual reality?

    As a former dispensationalist, I tended to think in the physucal all the time vice the spiritual realities. It was just they way my paradigm worked. Not that it disproves a dispensational interpetation in and of itself.

  47. March 17, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    You are all wrong!!! Long live postmillennialism.

  48. greenbaggins said,

    March 17, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Well, Daniel, I just cannot see WW1 and WW2, and more persecution of Christians now than there ever has been as evidence that things are getting better in this ol’ world of ours. So I find post-mil rather unlikely.

  49. Todd said,

    March 17, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    But who defines postmilism as “things are getting better”?

  50. Paul Tabinor said,

    March 18, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I’m afraid that I cannot let Green Baggins contradictory comments on a literal reading of the Bible pass. In his article “What is amillenianism”, he tries to reduce a literal interpretation of the Bible down to the ridiculous. He says regarding a literal intepretation:-
    “The latter runs one into insuperable difficulties. If every statement in the Bible has to be true in a literal fashion, then Christ is a piece of wood (”I am the door”), or a space of road (”I am the way”), or a piece of bread (”This is my body”).”
    Maybe he doesn’t understand that a literal interpretation of literature is the normal approach to understanding anything, and that the Bible is full of figures of speech just like any other literature, and that in order to understand it, then we have to know what those figures of speech really mean.
    If I said to you, using a modern figure of speech, “It’s raining cats and dogs”, do you really think that I really mean cats and dogs are falling out of the sky; No, of course not, because we all understand the meaning of that particular figure of speech. However the Bible was written from between 3600 and 2000 years ago, in a different culture to ours, and we need to get to grips with the figures of speech that it uses in order to understand its meaning.
    If we try to understand our tax returns or highway codes in anything other than literally we would soon be corrected. If we read any novel, then the only way in which we can follow the author’s intended meaning is to take their words literally.
    When it comes to understanding our Bibles, we would have no basis for our faith if all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the life of our Saviour were not fulfilled literally by our Lord. Likewise concerning His death and resurrection, we all understand that He literally died on the cross as a substitute for us and then was literally raised from the dead, and then literally appeared to His disciples, before He literally ascended into Heaven in front of their very eyes. So why when it comes to as yet unfulfilled prophecy do some of us not believe that they will be literally fulfilled. Sure, much of it is couched in symbolic language, which we have to try and understand, but God doesn’t leave us without explanation. Virtually all of the symbolism in the Bible is explained elsewhere, either within the context of the same passage, or in another place in Scripture. Our God is a logical God, He isn’t going to go to all the trouble of leaving us His message to us couched in terms that cannot be understood without leaving an explanation somewhere in the text for the diligent Bible student to find. Nearly all of the events in the Book of Revelation can be found elsewhere in the Bible; Revelation simply organises those events into some sort of chronological order, only the last two chapters containing new Revelation.
    When we study the Bible then it would be better to study it along the lines of “If a normal literal interpretation of the words can make any sense, then take not other sense”. We shouldn’t approach Bible study from our own preconceived standpoint and then try to make the Bible fit into it, trying to read our own meanings into the text (Eisegesis); instead we should study it according to the normal meaning of language; according to the rules of grammar, demanding an examination of the nouns, verbs, prepositons etc. The passage should also be understood in it’s historical context, particularly the political, social and the cultural circumstances surrounding it. (Exegesis)
    If we follow this approach then the system that best fits the entirety of Scripture with regard to unfulfilled prophecy, and with regard to the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants, which have not been replaced by the New Covenant and are still ongoing, then we have to come up with a return of our Lord for His saints, followed by the Tribulation, then a literal thousand year reign of Christ on the Earth, where Satan is bound for those same thousand years, followed by the final judgement of Satan, the Great White Throne Judgement of all unbelievers and then the Eternal State, where there will be a new Heaven and a New Earth.
    We shouldn’t try to accommodate unbiblical doctrines first generated by a first century anti-semitic church into our thinking. The Scriptures themselves are sufficient for understanding, as long as we believe that God can do with Israel what He promised to do. If we wrench the promises that God made to national Israel out of their obvious context, and force them to apply to Gentiles, then we are not only not taking God at his word, but making Him out to be a liar. Don’t forget the warning of the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:17-24 regarding the arrogance of Gentiles towards this issue.

  51. Todd said,

    March 18, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    “If we wrench the promises that God made to national Israel out of their obvious context, and force them to apply to Gentiles, then we are not only not taking God at his word, but making Him out to be a liar.”

    But shouldn’t we follow the NT’s lead in applying God’s OT promises to Christ and then to those in union with him, whether Jew or Gentile?

  52. Todd said,

    March 18, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    “If a normal literal interpretation of the words can make any sense, then take not other sense”.

    Unless the we see the inspired NT writers doing something different than this with the promises of God to Israel. Right?

  53. March 18, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Postmillennialism does not teach that the world is evolving into a better place; I would not go as far as other postmills, and I believe the church will always face persecution; however, I do believe Christ’s kingdom will greatly advance and many nations will be Christian at some point in their history.

  54. pduggie said,

    March 18, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    “then we have to come up with a return of our Lord for His saints, followed by the Tribulation, then a literal thousand year reign of Christ on the Earth, where Satan is bound for those same thousand years, followed by the final judgment of Satan, the Great White Throne Judgement of all unbelievers and then the Eternal State, where there will be a new Heaven and a New Earth.”

    See that’s why I think preterism (not hyper) is the way to go. Jesus DID return for his saints, and there was a trib in 66-70ad, and we’re in the reign of Christ now (no, its much LONGER than 1000 years, just like God actually owns cattle on a great many more than 1000 hills)

  55. greenbaggins said,

    March 19, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Paul Tabinor, welcome to my blog (sorry about using the last name, but we have other Paul’s who read this blog).

    It seems that you did not catch the drift of this statement: “We must distinguish between the Bible being literally true versus being true literally. The former means that we interpret each genre of Scripture according to the way in which it should be interpreted. There is much symbolic imagery in Revelation which should therefore be interpreted symbolically.” This is precisely what you were saying when you said this: “Maybe he doesn’t understand that a literal interpretation of literature is the normal approach to understanding anything, and that the Bible is full of figures of speech just like any other literature, and that in order to understand it, then we have to know what those figures of speech really mean.”

    BOQ We shouldn’t approach Bible study from our own preconceived standpoint and then try to make the Bible fit into it, trying to read our own meanings into the text (Eisegesis); instead we should study it according to the normal meaning of language; according to the rules of grammar, demanding an examination of the nouns, verbs, prepositons etc. EOQ This is precisely what I am trying to do. You have not proved that my position, or amils in general have violated this principle.

    Daniel, I (though an Amil) don’t think that “many nations becoming Christian” is out of the realm. I would rejoice to see it. Call me an optimistic amil, I guess. But I don’t see the 1,000 years as a specific Golden Age. I see the number 1,000 as a symbol of completeness, as it is often used elsewhere in Scripture.

    pduggie, it doesn’t look as if our positions are all that different on this issue. I remain panmil. ;-)

  56. Todd said,

    March 19, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    “But I don’t see the 1,000 years as a specific Golden Age.”

    Right. But hardly any postmils today do.

  57. greenbaggins said,

    March 19, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Then what, in your view, is the substance of the 1,000 years? What is it like, according to today’s postmils?

  58. Todd said,

    March 19, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    The millennium is the church age, the time between the comings of Christ. It is a time marked by the increase, growth, and expansion of the kingdom, the success of the gospel among all the nations, and the victory of the church within history. The nations will actually be discipled, instead of only a remnant from with them. Some postmils today talk about a future “golden age,” but I can’t think of any who identify this with the Rev 20 millennium.

    Wilson often talks about the vast majority of humanity being saved, ultimately. This means, for him and for others, that we are still fairly early on in the history of the church. In one talk, he envisions a student from the distant future struggling with his church history timeline — “I get so confused with the ancient church. Who comes first? Van Til or Athanasius?” I love it.

    You mentioned the two world wars as evidence against postmilism. But what if the twentieth century is still part of the early church and the world wars were indications of the very small progress of the kingdom up to that point? Thousands and thousands of years of the future progress of the gospel may put the wars into a different light.

    Disclaimer: Only a bit of the above, I think, reflects my own views.

  59. greenbaggins said,

    March 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    But this doesn’t sound like postmil to me. Oh well. New views pop up all the time.

  60. Todd said,

    March 19, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Sure. The terms we’ve inherited just aren’t all that perspicuous or helpful.

    Here’s a line from Ken Gentry: “The essence of postmillennialism (contrary to naive perceptions) is not its interpretation of Revelation 20. Rather, its optimism regarding the progress of the gospel in history before the end comes. Anyone who believes that the gospel of Jesus Christ will exercise a dominant influence in the affairs of men at some point in history is a postmillennialist — whether he likes it or not (optimistic amillennialism is an oxymoron).”

    On the other hand, here’s a really nice review of Venema’s eschatology book by a Gentry-type postmillennialist:

    http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_print.php?1022

  61. greenbaggins said,

    March 20, 2007 at 11:17 am

    That’s a very interesting quotation from Gentry. But isn’t there more to postmil than just optimism? I thought that they did interpret Rev 20 literally. Don’t they? Whereas amils certainly do not.

  62. Todd said,

    March 20, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t know whether any ever interpreted it as a literal 1000 years, sometime in the future. But the modern Reformed postmillers certainly do not. That’s why some would rather call it “optimistic amilism.” If were were going to call each position by a meaningful name, we’d have to invent a whole range of new terms and phrases.

  63. March 20, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Lane

    I don’t take the golden age view either, but I remain postmillennial as I believe that Christ’s kingdom will greatly advance and that Christ will come after the millennium. Interestingly, I believe the 1000 years represents an interlude between two periods of intense suffering for the church. BTW, I don’t have much of a problem with optimistic amillennialism.

  64. Todd said,

    March 20, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Mathison on Venema: “First, in his criticism of postmillennilaism, Venema only criticizes that version of postmillennialism that understands the millennium to be a specific period of time in our future within the present inter-advental age. There are, however, a growing number of postmillennialists who understand the millennium to be symbolic of the entire inter-advental era. Venema’s work raises the possibility of discussing how much difference actually exists between his “optimistic amillennialism” and those versions of postmillennialism (like my own) that see the millennium as spanning the entire period of time between Christ’s first and second advent.”

  65. Lee said,

    March 21, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Todd,
    I think by definition if you do not believe in a literal 1,000 year time, then you are an ‘Amillennialist’ since you believe in No Millennium. Every Amillennialist believes that Christ comes after the millennium if we take the millennium to mean the entire period between his first and second coming. If one does not believe in a literal 1,000 year period, no matter what you think about the path of history, you are an Amillennialist.

    My two cents.

  66. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    But this just doesn’t reflect the way people are using the terms recently. Beware of the etymological fallacy. But Mathison, for example, has been told by others that he isn’t really postmil, but rather an optimistic amil.

    Again, the terms just aren’t all that useful.

    And, did postmillers of earlier generations beleive in a literal 1000 year millennium? Warfield? Edwards? I don’t know the answer to this. I bet Gary would know it for Warfield. Anyone?

  67. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Lee, it also occurs to me that it would be just as easy to argue that everyone who believes that the millennium of Rev. is the church era, and that Christ returns *after* this era, is a *post*millennialist, no matter what you think of the path of history.

    Venema seems to see it like this, at least from a certain perspective. “In Part Five, Venema evaluates the various millennial views. He notes that broadly considered there are two basic positions regarding the temporal relationship between Christ’s Second Coming and the millennium: premillennialism and postmillennialism. He then points out that within each of these two positions there are two distinctive types. The two types of premillennialism are historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. The two types of postmillennialism are postmillennialism proper and amillennialism.”

    The terms we have inherited are just not all that useful.

  68. Lee said,

    March 21, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Todd,
    Venema does make that point that amil is a type of post-mil. But he also shows us the major distinguishing point between post and a-mil theology. It is the fact that amil theology treats the time from the first advent of Christ until the second advent of Christ as the millennium, and post mil theology traditionally views the millennium as a future and distinguishable time (pg. 233 and footnote 3 on pg.235). Mathison’s critique ignores this comment and the historical reality of the traditional post-mil theology.

    I agree that the terms are not all that useful. However, Mathison claiming to be post millennialist while holding the millennium to be now is not a confusion of terms, but a complete redefinition of both amillennialism and post millennialism.

  69. greenbaggins said,

    March 21, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I have to side with Lee on this one, though certainly agreeing that the boundaries between views have become considerably more fuzzy, and that the terms have become correspondingly less helpful. However, if amil and postmil still mean anything, then they must have the distinction that Lee has pointed out. But I am happy to see postmils coming to recognize that the inter-adventual period is the millenium.

  70. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    “Mathison claiming to be post millennialist while holding the millennium to be now is not a confusion of terms, but a complete redefinition of both amillennialism and post millennialism.”

    Nah. You just haven’t been keeping up with these things. Mathison is identifying himself with a group (Bahnsen, Gentry, etc.) that has been both calling themselves postmil and identifying the millennium with the whole church age. If it’s a “complete redefinition,” it’s one that happened about a generation ago.

    We’re too late to complain about the shift! P&R already published Mathison’s book, and they didn’t make him change the title.

  71. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Mathison wrote this on the Riddleblog last month: “I tend to see various versions of amillennialism and postmillennialism along a spectrum. Some versions of each are closer to the other than are other versions. I think my own view is somewhere where the two tend to blur. You might find it interesting that in discussions with Bob Strimple, he’s told me that my view is not really postmillennialist at all :-) He says I’m really an amillennialist.”

    http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2007/2/26/who-said-that.html

    “Various versions of both views” is the right way to say things. There really is such a thing as pessimistic amillennialism, although the amil view of Rev. 20 is not inherently pessmistic. Etc. How many terms would we need if we were going to name each version accurately?

  72. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    I don’t have quite enough resources to answer a question about Warfield? What was his view of the 1,000 years of Rev. 20? The present church era, or a future golden age? Gary, can you help?

  73. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    I think I’ve found my answer:

    http://www.lgmarshall.org/Warfield/warfield_millennium.html

    “What we have here, in effect, is a picture of the whole period between the first and second advents, seen from the point of view of heaven. It is the period of the advancing victory of the Son of God over the world, emphasizing, in harmony with its place at the end of the book, the completeness of the victory. It is the eleventh chapter of Romans and the fifteenth of I Corinthians in symbolical form: and there is nothing in it that was not already in them – except that, perhaps, the completeness of the triumph of the Gospel is possibly somewhat more emphasized here.”

    But he also writes (preaches!): “The Scriptures teach an eschatological universalism, not an each-and-every universalism. When the Scriptures say that Christ came to save the world, that He does save the world, and that the world shall be saved by Him, they do not mean that there is no human being whom He did not come to save, whom He does not save, who is not saved by Him. They mean that He came to save and does save the human race; and that the human race is being led by God into a racial salvation: that in the age-long development of the race of men, it will attain at last to a complete salvation, and our eyes will be greeted with the glorious spectacle of a saved world.”

    So, is Warfield amil or postmil? If the latter, then the “complete redefinition” that Lee has compalined about happened several generations ago.

    http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/princetonmill.html

  74. Todd said,

    March 21, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Riddlebarger on Warfield and “the shift”: “There is clear evidence of a moderating trend over the eighty-years from 1841-1921, so much so, that Gaffin’s reservations in calling Warfield “postmillennial” in an unqualified sense, might have some merit. Certainly Geerhardus Vos is a child of this moderation. And it is likely that Vos and Warfield saw absolutely no essential conflict among themselves over the issue. If however, Greg Bahnsen’s identification of “eschatological optimism” as the essential ingredient of postmillennialism is correct, Warfield must be seen as militantly postmillennial. And this, despite Warfield’s own exegesis of Revelation 20, his strong preterist tendencies as seen in his understanding of the eschatological men of evil (the Man of sin in II Thessalonians, and the Antichrist of John’s epistle) which in effect, cut away the Biblical support for belief in a future millennium at all. It is possible to argue, that since Warfield identifies the entire interadvental age with the millennium, he may be classified as an “optimistic” amillennialist.” I prefer to see this endeavor as futile, however. There is sufficient evidence that Warfield considered himself postmillennial in the nineteenth century understanding of that term, and that he saw salvific optimism as the essential nature of his own thorough going supernaturalistic eschatology. Warfield is perhaps better understood as a transitional figure. There is no doubt that he sees himself as postmillennial, and yet he is clearly hesitant to adopt standard postmillennial exegesis at several key points. Warfield, it may be said, does not leave behind a militant postmillennial tradition as do the Hodges. Vos, with the exception of a few die-hards, such as Kik, most definitely moves the tradition into amillennialism. Undoubtedly, World War One squelched much of the cultural optimism of the period, and eroded a great deal of popular postmillennial support. But nevertheless, it was Warfield who prepared the way for this shift in the Reformed tradition largely on exegetical grounds.”

  75. Lee said,

    March 22, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Todd,
    Judging by that lone quote of Warfield, I would say he is amillennial. However your assertion that the “redefinition” took place a century ago is not quite right. As Venema explains in his book, during that portion of the 19th century the term ‘amillennial’ did not exist. It was coined later, and all amillennial theology was lumped into postmil. I will freely confess that the amillennial term grew out of the need to separate it from believers in a real distinguishable millennium in the post mil camp.
    However, that is not what Mathison is doing. Mathison does not live in a time where amillennialism as a term does not exist. Mathison is taking a position defined as amillennial since at least the early 20th century and calling it postmillennial and trying to define amillennialism as something inherently pessimestic about the future.

  76. Todd said,

    March 22, 2007 at 6:09 am

    OK. But that last line is just not accurate. Mathison, unlike Bahnsen and Gentry, is cheerfully admitting the existence of a legitimate “optimistic amillennialism.”

  77. Lee said,

    March 22, 2007 at 11:15 am

    That is true. He did admit it, but he hints that he thinks it may be post millennialism. But since he does admit it, I retract the line in question.

  78. dean said,

    November 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    thx lane, fyi, i am referencing this article in my paper for my theology class.

  79. Charles E. Miller, Jr., BA in German, MA in Religion said,

    February 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I was a premillennialist;however, after along period of study I now believe in partial preterist amillennialism. I believe that all of the Book of Revelation has occurred except for chapters 20, 21 and 22. Chapter 20 represents the time between our Lord’s death and his Second Advent. He is ruling now over the saints in heaven. He is also ruling over the church on earth. Chapters 21 and 22 represent the new heaven and new earth, the eternal kingdom of God. Is the world getting better? I think there is some truth to this. The world has truly improved since the time of the Roman Empire. Dr. William Hendriksen even believed this;however, he did not believe that the world would become the way Postmillennialists believe. I lean in Dr. Hendriksen’s direction. The saved and the lost will live together until Jesus comes. Whether I walk the vail with Him or meet Him in the air, I will live one day in heaven with my parents. God bless all people who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 336 other followers

%d bloggers like this: