Church and ministry leadership resources to better equip, train and provide ideas for today's church and ministry leaders, like you. Revelation is perhaps one of the most contested passages in all of Scripture. It is certainly the most debated in the book of Revelation. Interpretations of Revelation can be categorized into three main positions: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. The debate between these positions focuses on three exegetical issues: 1 Recapitulation and the relative time frame of Revelation to what precedes it, 2 The nature of the binding of Satan, and 3 The nature of the first resurrection.
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Church and ministry leadership resources to better equip, train and provide ideas for today's church and ministry leaders, like you. Revelation is perhaps one of the most contested passages in all of Scripture. It is certainly the most debated in the book of Revelation.
Interpretations of Revelation can be categorized into three main positions: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. The debate between these positions focuses on three exegetical issues: 1 Recapitulation and the relative time frame of Revelation to what precedes it, 2 The nature of the binding of Satan, and 3 The nature of the first resurrection.
Because many strong arguments for amillennialism come from outside the book of Revelation  amillennialists can be perceived as not dealing with the locus classicus of the millennium in detail. Therefore, I will focus my attention almost exclusively on Revelation 20 and show how it supports amillennialism.
Simply put, the amillennial position is that Revelation recapitulates and describes the period between the comings of Christ, the church age. However, before we address these three issues, we must make some introductory comments on the genre of Revelation as a book, because this will play an integral role in helping us interpret Revelation Revelation is widely recognized among scholars as a combination of three different genres: prophetic , apocalyptic , and epistolary , As a prophetic-apocalyptic-epistle, we should expect Revelation do deal with future events including the second coming of Christ in a symbolic way, yet be heard and kept by its original audience , Vern Poythress has helpfully identified four levels of communication based on the genre of Revelation which bring much needed clarity to interpreters of the book.
The second level is the visionary level — what John saw in his various visions. Third is the referential level — the historical referents of the various particulars John sees in his visions. Fourth is the symbolic level — what the imagery John uses actually says about the historical referent. Because of its genre and levels of meaning, Revelation conveys meaning differently than historical narrative. Poythress notes that historical narratives speak directly of the events to which they refer and indirectly of the theology and significance of those events while symbolic literature does the opposite.
Therefore, when we come to a symbolic vision we must be careful not to jump straight from the linguistic meaning to referential meaning leaving out the visionary and symbolic levels.
Recapitulation is central to the structure of the book of Revelation. The easiest way to see recapitulation is to compare the language John uses to describe the judgment at the end of each section: , , , , , A close examination of these passages will show that they all refer to the same event: the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. The question then becomes, does Revelation recapitulate or progress from Revelation 19?
Two lines of evidence make us think it recapitulates. Therefore, the presence of the nations in Revelation indicates the presence of recapitulation. Second, the battle John describes in is the same battle he describes in ff.
We know this for two reasons, first, John draws upon Ezekiel to describe both battles. It would be unusual for John to draw on the same OT passage in such close proximity to describe two different events. This is significant because it indicates that John is referring to a specific battle, one he has introduced already.
Both these observations indicate that the battle of ff and are the same battle and therefore recapitulates and precedes ff temporally. If we are correct, and Revelation 20 begins a new section of recapitulation, the interpreter has warrant to search for another meaning to the binding of Satan that does not entail his complete cessation from every activity on earth. The clearest indication of this is from a comparison of Revelation and We can see the character of the binding of Satan by looking at what happens when that binding is removed.
Revelation 11 gives a strikingly similar picture to that of chapter In chapter 11 John sees a vision of the spiritual protection of the church in order that they may witness faithfully on earth. When they have finished their witness the beast arises to make war on them, kill them, and deceive the nations.
With this in view, the binding of Satan may not only to refer to his inability to gather the nations for war, but also to his inability to spiritually harm the saints during the church age so as to snuff out their light and prevent the gospel from going to all the nations. The arguments I will present could support either view and I will leave it up to the reader to decide which fits best. Revelation 20 is a series of visions, so while I fully agree that John saw visionary a physical, bodily resurrection and that the words he used speak of one linguistic , that does not imply that the historical reality to which the vision refers referential is a bodily resurrection but may convey truth through the use of imagery symbolic.
Furthermore, the presence of recapitulation in Revelation 20 gives warrant for seeking this symbolic interpretation. Four arguments converge to support the amillennial position. Yet even in these two exceptions the thrones are spiritual, not physical. Therefore, to begin this verse with the assumption that John is describing a physical, earthly reign of the saints runs counter to the first piece of evidence. Second, John has already described symbolic resurrections in Revelation and But in both cases what John saw was a bodily resurrection.
Broadly speaking, Revelation follows the outline of Ezekiel Ezekiel sees a vision of a resurrected Israel 37 , an eschatological battle with Gog and Magog , a , the defeat and judgment of Gog and Magog by Yahweh , b followed by a consummate recreated temple — the same order as Revelation I hope to have at least convinced you that amillennialism is not without exegetical support from Revelation I have left out many arguments as well as many critiques of the other views.
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A Brief Case for Amillennialism
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A Case For Amillennialism
What does the Bible really teach about the end times? Will there be a rapture with some people left behind? How has the church traditionally understood the millennial age? In a clear and accessible manner, Kim Riddlebarger In a clear and accessible manner, Kim Riddlebarger presents and defends amillennialism as the historic Protestant understanding of the millennial age. Amillennarians believe that the millennium is a present reality centered in Christ's heavenly reign, not a future hope of Christ's rule on earth after his return. Recognizing that eschatology-the study of future things-is a complicated and controversial subject, Riddlebarger begins with definitions of key terminology and an overview of various viewpoints and related biblical themes.
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A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times (Riddlebarger)
Although accurately titled as a case for amillennialism, this book is also written as a case against premillennialism. And to a lesser degree it is a case against postmillennialism, especially in its points of similarity to amillennialism. Classic postmillennialism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has been modified at present in light of the chaotic and war-ravaged state of the world since World War I. Actually belief in a millennial reign of Christ following His return to earth in effect, premillennialism was the belief of most church fathers from Papias A. The same point is also made on pages 11, 19, 82, 87, in spite of the fact that Revelation —7 refers six times to the thousand years as a future event, a declaration obviously meant to be taken seriously.
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A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times
What does the Bible actually tell us about the end times, and how has the church traditionally understood it? In a clear and accessible manner, Kim Riddlebarger presents and defends amillennialism--the belief that the millennium is a present reality centered in Christ's heavenly reign, not a future hope of Christ's rule on earth after his return--as the historic Protestant understanding of the millennial age. Recognizing that eschatology--the study of future things--is a complicated and controversial subject, Riddlebarger begins with definitions of key terminology and an overview of various viewpoints and related biblical themes. He then discusses key passages of Scripture that bear upon the millennial age, including Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Romans 11, and Revelation Finally, he evaluates the main problems facing each of the major millennial positions and cautions us to be aware of the consequences of each view. This expanded edition includes a new foreword from Michael Horton, a new chapter on the antichrist, a new chapter on signs of the end, and several helpful charts and indexes. Table of Contents:.