‘the thousand year realm’?05-09-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet
In the book of Revelation, chapter 20, the expression, “thousand years” is mentioned six times. We read how “the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the devil and Satan” is seized, bound, and thrown into the abyss, and that the abyss is closed and even sealed. All this for the purpose that Satan would not be able to deceive the nations, for a thousand years. Then we read that those, who perished during the Beast’s rule for their testimony, will be made alive again, and will sit on thrones to rule with Christ, as kings, for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection and the other dead will be raised a thousand years later. Whoever reads the text in Revelation 20, without theological prejudices, cannot avoid seeing that, here, a description is given of a future period (still future with respect to today). It will be a period after the reign of the Beast, and after the resurrection of many victims of that time. A period, in which Satan will have no freedom of movement and no grip on the nations of the world. The reign of the Beast will have made way for the reign of Christ and His followers. During the first centuries of church history, every reader of the Bible assumed that John described a future period of a thousand years. That follows from the literal reading of this passage. But through the action of the church father, Augustine, the idea arose that the thousand years would not begin in some future time, but had already arrived. That idea became popular and mainstream theology from the time that the church gained control in the world. Many expected that after the year 1000 AD, the end of the world would dawn, because the term of the thousand years was to expire. However, when this failed to materialize, the wrong theology was not thrown out, but it was adjusted, by thinking of the thousand years”, allegorically, from then on. The old mistake was kept afloat by inventing a new mistake. That this way, they could make the book of Revelation say anything they wanted it to say, speaks for itself. Also, the Reformation continued with the theology of Augustine. Calvin called the concept of millennialism(= the literal reading of Revelation 20), “fiction and childish, not necessary or worth to refute.” The Lutheran Church even cursed this “Jewish concept”. In addition, even the theological term ”the thousand year realm” is wrong. Not the (Kingdom) reign of Christ lasts a thousand years, for Christ will also be King after the thousand years, as we read in Revelation 22:5. And when Christ, ultimately, will have nullified death as the last enemy, and will have abdicated from the throne, even then the Kingdom will not end, but He will hand it over to God, the Father, in order “that God may be all in all” (1Cor.15:24-28). What in Revelation 20 will last a thousand years is the binding of Satan, not the Kingdom of Christ. Indeed, Christ prevails during that thousand years, but His rule or Kingdom is definitely not limited to that time. Even though Revelation 20 speaks, undoubtedly, of miraculous events, the text is not difficult to understand. It is the theology that makes this passage complex and, ultimately, meaningless. Let this be an incentive to read Scripture (apart from any theological ideas) and to believe it, allowing it to explain itself.