© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Biblical references

    A. There are no usages of the word "millennium" in the Bible.
    B. "Millennium" is a theological word derived from the Latin words mille, meaning "thousand,"
          and annus, meaning "year."
    C. The theological word "millennium" has been used to refer to the "thousand years"
         mentioned in Rev. 20:2-7.
            Rev. 20:2 - "Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years"
            Rev. 20:3 - "until the thousand years are fulfilled"
            Rev. 20:4 - "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years"
            Rev. 20:5 - "until the thousand years were ended"
            Rev. 20:6 - "reign with Him a thousand years"
            Rev. 20:7 - "whenever the thousand years are ended"
        1. The Greek words used in these verses
            a. chilia ete means "thousand years"
            b. Term "chiliasm" also sometimes used as theological term for "thousand years," but often                 carries pejorative sense.
        2. There are no other definite references to this period in the Bible.
        3. Some theological interpretations believe that other Biblical passages refer to the period of the             millennium.
            O.T. - Isa. 9:6; 11:1-12:6; 52:7-12; Jer. 33:17-22; Ezek. 37:25; Zech 9:9
            N.T. - Matt. 19:28; 25:31-46; Lk. 14:14; I Cor. 15:22; I Thess. 4:13-18
    D. Other Biblical references to "thousand years"
          Ps. 90:4 - "a thousand years in Thy sight are like yesterday..."
          II Pet. 3:8 -"one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day"
    E. Primary questions to be considered
        1. Is the number of "a thousand" to be interpreted in a strict physical and temporal sense, or
              in a symbolic, figurative manner (as almost all of the other numbers in Revelation)?
        2. Is the period of time designated "a thousand years" in Rev. 20 to be interpreted as prior to
             or subsequent to, the second advent of Jesus Christ?

II. Historical review of millennial thinking in Christian theology.

    A. Early church (c. 100-250) - millennium not emphasized. Variety of views.
    B. Early reaction to view of earthly millennium.
        1. Origen (c. 185-254) attributed such thinking to heretic, Cerinthus
        2. Montanist heresy (c.175) had excesses of earthly millennial views.
        3. Rampant speculation to calculate end time.
    C. Augustine (354-430) rejected his previous earthly millennial position and interpreted
           "1000 years" of Rev. 20 as symbolic of entire period from first coming of Christ to
            second coming of Christ.
        1. Council of Ephesus (431) condemned earthly millennium interpretation as heretical
        2. Became orthodox view of Church for centuries.
    D. Reformation (sixteenth century) - Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Anabaptists accepted symbolic
          interpretation of "1000 years." Regarded Catholic Pope as Antichrist.
    E. Seventeenth - nineteenth centuries - gradually revived earthly millennium view.
    F. Nineteenth & twentieth centuries.
        1. J.N. Darby (Plymouth Brethren), followed by D.L. Moody, C.I. Scofield, H.A. Ironside
            (Dallas Theological Sem.), developed theological system of Dispensationalism
             incorporating earthly millennium and pre-tribulation rapture of Church. Became a
             primarily American theological phenomenon.
        2. Majority of theological community (Post-millennial and Amillennial) has regarded
            Dispensationalism as a modernist aberrational interpretation.

III. Millennial interpretations


   A. All interpretations look forward to the "blessed hope and appearing of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)
     B. Most interpretations can trace their roots to early Christian interpretation.
     C. "...now I know in part; then I shall fully understand" (I Cor. 13:12)
     D. Must not make any interpretation a test of faith or fellowship.

IV. Conclusion

    A. Important to maintain Christocentric emphasis.
    B. New covenant teaching always maintains balance between the "already" and the "not yet"
         fulfilment of the work of Jesus Christ.





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