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The Bible does not teach that the Millennium is a literal one thousand years


1. Introduction

The Millennium is not a word found in the original Hebrew or Greek Translations. However, Judaism and Christianity both refer to one thousand years. If you believe that Christianity is victorious, then you will accept the Kingdom now. If you are a Futurist, you will think that Jesus will return and set up a dominion from Jerusalem. You will reign with Him for one thousand years. Let us now see if a future Millennium holds up to the scriptural challenge.

Why do I teach on this? Because if you believe in the future Millennium, you think that the kingdom reign is in the future. If you believe the Kingdom is here now, then you will be able to move effectively in the power of God today.

Like the early church Fathers, Awakening Impact Ministries is post-tribulation millennialist. We will explain why that it at the end of the message.


2. Dispensational View

Until the 1830s, the predominant view was not about a future millennial reign. Neither the early church fathers, Augustine, Luther, or Spurgeon, to name a few, believed in a coming millennium as described in the Dispensational View. These generals of faith thought that the kingdom reign started when Jesus ascended – i.e. the Kingdom is here now.

John Nelson Darby, the founder of Dispensationalism and Futurism, was from the Plymouth Brethren and founded the Exclusive Brethren. His influential upbringing due to his family position (nephew of Lord Nelson) allowed him some credence. He believed that there were 4000 years from Adam to Jesus and 6000 years from Adam to the return of Christ. He taught that because Peter teaches that one day is a thousand years, and God worked for six days, then He rested, that there will be 6000 years then the millennial rest.


A. Charles Spurgeon on Dispensationalism

John Nelson Darby taught that righteousness is neither imputed nor given. Instead, Jesus kept the law for us! (which He did not do, instead He fulfilled the law through the New Covenant)

Talking about these serious heresies, Charles Spurgeon continues to criticise Darby’s teaching on Dispensationalism, Futurism and a future rapture:

“With the deadly heresies entertained and taught by the Plymouth Brethren, in relation to some of the most momentous of all the doctrines of the Gospel and to which I have adverted at some length, I feel assured that my readers will not be surprised at any other views, however unscriptural and pernicious they may be, which the Darbyites have embraced and zealously seek to propagate.

Grant, James (1875). The Plymouth Brethren: Their History and Heresies.

 

Interestingly, Spurgeon saw many thousand healed, yet there is no evidence that John Darby saw anyone healed.

Unfortunately for the Dispensational view, we now know that we have a further 229 years to go before the 6000 years is complete! We are currently in year 5781 in the Jewish calendar.

I think Spurgeon would say the same about much of today’s “preaching” on rapture, futurism and dispensationalism. So let’s look into the Millennium.

In Victorious Eschatology, we look into how Darby fell into his numerous deceptions.


3. One Day is AS a Thousand Years

The scripture that Dispensational View theology uses is:

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

2 Peter 3:8

Now let’s look more closely at this verse. Firstly, it does not say that with the Lord, one day is a thousand years. It says that it is AS one thousand years. The included word AS is a specific Greek word.

ὡς hōs; probably adverb of comparative, i.e. in that manner (very variously used, as follows): — about, after (that), (according) as (it had been, it were), as soon (as), even as (like), for, how (greatly), like (as, unto), since, so (that), that, to wit, unto, when(-soever), while, x with all speed.

It’s saying one day is LIKE one thousand years. And if we look further into this verse, we find that Peter declares that one thousand years is LIKE one day. If Peter said the dispensational view is accurate, he would not have added the second part.


4. Context of One Day is As a Thousand Years


A. Peter is referring to the Last Days, not the End of the Age

In this passage, the context is about the last days, not the end of the age,

that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,

2 Peter 3:2-3

B. Jesus’ Teaching on the Last Days

Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy teaches in-depth that Jesus differentiated between the Last Days and the End of the Age. When Jesus talked about the last days, He said it would be within one generation; He knew when it would finish – in one generation.

Assuredly, I say to you; this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Matthew 24:34

Matthew 24:3 to Matthew 24:34 is the teaching about the ‘last days’. Everything within these verses will occur within one generation.


C. Jesus Teaching on the End of the Age

However, regarding the End of the Age, He taught us that only the Father knew when it would be. The rest of Matthew 24 and Matthew 25 relates to the time before the heavens and earth will pass away – the current age:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

Matthew 24:35-36

We looked into this in more detail in Jesus’ Comings, where we find that there are six comings of Jesus in the New Testament. The fifth coming in 66CE marks the impending finish to the last days three and a half years later, on August 10th, 70CE. The sixth is still to come and will mark the end of the age.


D. Kingdom Returns to the Father

So in v34, Jesus specifies when it will happen – the last days finishing with the destruction of the Temple. Nevertheless, when He talks about that day, only the Father knows. He refers to the End of the Age when the Kingdom returns to the Father.

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

1 Corinthians 15:24


5. Peter’s Pentecost Sermon


A. Peter Declares the Last Days Commenced on the Day of Pentecost

In his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, he declares there will be judgment for the Jews during the last days. Peter was there for Jesus’ Last Days Prophecy. a few months before. He understood there was only one generation before Jesus would return in the judgment of Israel and the destruction of the temple/sacrificial system.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the gre
at and awesome day of the LORD.

Acts 2:17a, 19-20

Peter then told the Jews they rejected the Messiah:

Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Acts 2:23

Therefore, the Jews needed to repent:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38

B. Peter’s Use of Joel’s Prophecy Confirms the Last Days will Finish in One Generation

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

Acts 2:17a, 19-20

Josephus writes this in 69CE, one year before Jerusalem’s destruction:

Evil omens occurred. A comet was seen, and the moon, contrary to precedent, appeared to suffer two eclipses, being obscured on the fourth and on the seventh day. Also people saw two suns at once, one in the west weak and pale, and one in the east brilliant and powerful.

Josephus

As Jerusalem burned in 70CE, the clouds of smoke were so thick that the sun turned into darkness.

But although they had this commiseration for such as were destroyed in that manner, yet had they [the Romans] not the same for those that were still alive, but they ran every one through whom they met with, and obstructed the very lanes with their dead bodies, and made the whole city run down with blood, to such a degree indeed that the fire of many of the houses was quenched with these men’s [the Jewish rebels] blood.

Josephus

C. Context is Evangelism Before His Coming Judgment

If you believe, as I do, that the Apostle Peter wrote the second epistle soon after 60CE, then the context of Peter’s warning is that Jesus’ judgment would happen quickly. It would happen within one decade of Peter writing these words.
Moreover, in the next verse, he talks about evangelism.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Peter was martyred some time between 64CE and 68CE. Writing the epistle a few years earlier, he had warned families that if they celebrated the feast of Passover in Jerusalem in 70CE they would soon die in Jerusalem. He was saying in their evangelism, do not give up.

In our witnessing, it may seem like it takes a long time for people in your family to come to know Jesus, but God can speed things up. They can come to Christ quickly, but when it takes a long time, He is faithful, and eventually, they will come into the family of God.

When Peter wrote this, he was speaking to those who were thinking Jesus was not coming soon as He had promised He would. Jesus had told them that the Temple destruction would be within one generation. Moreover, in their view, He was delayed.


D. One Day is Not a Literal Millennium

So when Peter said one day is as a thousand years, he was not saying there were seven dispensations! Peter meant that it might seem like a long time that nothing was happening. What Jesus promised would happen in one generation, will occur.


E. A Millennium is Not a Literal Day

When Peter said that one thousand years is as a day, he was saying that what Jesus prophesied would happen, and when it does, they are not to delay as it will happen suddenly:

Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.

Matthew 24:17-20

Precisely what Jesus prophesied, happened. When the believers saw the Roman army surround Jerusalem in 67CE, then leave, they left suddenly into the mountains because they recognised that “The abomination that causes desolation” was the Roman army.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

Luke 21:20


6. Book of Revelations: Thousand Years Millennium

Just as we learned in 2 Peter that one thousand years is not literal, we also need to be careful not to assume that one thousand years in the book of Revelation is literal.


A. Not a Literal Thousand

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison

Revelation 20:7

When we look at this verse, we see two pointers that one thousand years is not literal.

First is this word for a thousand, which in Greek has some uncertainty to it:

χίλιοι chilioi; plural of uncertain affinity; a thousand

So we cannot be definitive about it being the number one thousand.


B. A Literal Thousand is a Different Greek Word

When one thousand is a literal number, it is a different Greek word. For example:

Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;

1 Corinthians 10:8

Here another word is used:

ιλιάς chilias; one thousand (“chiliad” ): — thousand

Looking at the verse, which has a specific number, we see that the word in Greek is different. Unlike the word used for the Millennium, which is of uncertain affinity, this word is specific and not an estimate.


C. Whenever the Thousand Years are Finished.

We have found that the word for thousand is in itself indefinite. There is another word in this verse that also sheds doubt on the thousand years being literal. It is the word WHEN

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison.

Revelation 20:7

The Greek word for when is:

ὅταν hotan; whenever (implying hypothesis or more or less uncertainty); also causatively (conjunctionally) since — as long (soon) as, that, + till, when(-soever), while.

As you can see, one thousand years is only an estimated time. The word is of uncertain affinity, and there is a hypothesis to it. Whenever it is over is not a definite article.

If it were exactly one thousand years, we would have used the chilias word rather than chillioi.


7. Old Testament Millennium

Now that we have seen that the one thousand years is not necessarily literal, we need to look into the Old Testament to see if there are other examples of one thousand not being literal.


A. The Non-Literal One Thousand Hills

For every beast of the forest is Mine
And the cattle on a thousand hills.

Psalms 50:10

God is not talking about one thousand hills because there are many more than one thousand hills on this earth.


B. Forty Thousand or One Hundred Thousand Year Millennium Reign?

If we were to take the Millennium as literal, then we also need to take this scripture literally:

Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”

1 Chronicles 16:15-18

Here, if we take it literally, there are either 40,000 or 100,000 years before judgment day. Why is that? Biblically there are two Hebrew definitions of a generation. A generation is either 40 years or 100 years.

For a dispensationalist, the natural reign of Israel is essential to their theology. The Millennium is one thousand years. They cannot have it both ways, saying that the Millennium is literal, but 1 Chronicles 16:15-18 is not literal. Therefore, the futurists looking at this scripture must teach that Jesus is returning in 40,000 or 100,000 years on earth.

Therefore one thousand years is not necessarily literal.


8. Prelude to the Millennium

Now that we have seen that one thousand years is figurative, not literal, let us look at what happens before the Millennium.


A. Jesus’ Ministry on Earth

For three and a half years, Jesus had his ministry on earth as the Son of Man and the Son of God.

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

Revelation 12:7-8

Jesus, the Bread of Life, nourished the Jews.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

B. Jesus Victory Means War in Heaven

Jesus’ ascension meant that the angels cast Satan out of heaven to earth.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought,

Revelation 12:7

C. Jesus Prophecy Means War Against Israel

In Matthew 24, Jesus predicted in His prophecy that there would be a great tribulation that occurs to the Jews within one generation. He then went on to say the Great Tribulation would never happen again:

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:21

We see this figuratively portrayed in Revelation:

When the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

Revelation 12:12-16

D. Start of Persecution

That which John saw his Revelation is precisely what happened; the new Jewish believers knew relative peace until the stoning of Stephen in 36CE, the same year Paul had his conversion.

Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Acts 8:1

It is of interest that the European churches celebrate Stephen’s martyrdom on December 26th, approximately three and a half years after Jesus’ death. Three and a half year’s of Jesus ministry, plus three and a half years of peace after His death, makes seven years of peace.


E. Seven Year Peace Treaty?

We will look at Daniel’s prophecy in more detail elsewhere: Jesus, the Messiah, made the New Covenant through His death. Halfway through the seven years of peace, He put an end to all sacrifice and offering by nailing the law to the cross:


Then [Messiah] shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering

Daniel 9:27

Futurists will try to tell you that it is the anti-Christ who will make a covenant of peace. Firstly anti-Christ is NEVER mentioned in Daniel, and secondly, the context of the previous two verses in Daniel is clear. ‘He’ is referring to the Messiah in both Daniel 9:25

“Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.

Daniel 9:25

and Daniel 9:26

“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel 9:26

It is Jesus who made a covenant of peace, and put an end to sacrifice and offerings (the law), after three and a half years of ministry, not a future anti-Christ


F. War Will then Break Out Against Gentile Believers

Returning to the Revelation seen by John, the next stage is that war will break out against the followers of Jesus.

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17

Believers in Jesus began being called Christians in Acts 11. They were, of course, persecuted by the Jews, who would not allow them to come into the synagogue. Persecution of the Christians in the Great Tribulation occurred through Nero for approximately three to three and a half years.

From then on, the influence of the Roman Empire became weaker and weaker. Christianity eventually became the predominant religion as it still is two thousand years later.


9. Post-Tribulation Millennium


A. After the Great Tribulation of 66-70CE

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image …

Revelation 20:4

The early church fathers believed in a post-tribulation millennium. Futurists are still looking for a future tribulation. To reiterate, Jesus prophesied the great tribulation would happen within one generation of 30CE.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:21

We will look at the Great Tribulation being within one generation of Jesus’ prophecy in more detail in another study.


B. After the Anti-Christ

We will see in a separate study that Nero was the anti-Christ.


C. After the Mark of the Beast

We will see what the mark of the beast was in another study.

… and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:4

D. The Saints Will Rule and Reign

Believing that ruling and reigning is in a future millennium will limit your faith. It may cause you to think that failure to get a breakthrough in healing is because it is not time for that level of miracle to occur yet.


E. It will be a Time When the Devil is Bound

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

Revelation 20:1-3

During the Great Tribulation, the devil had authority first over the Jews, then the Gentile believers. However, once the Great Tribulation finished, the church started to rule and reign.

Ruling and reigning is an important truth to understand. The devil is bound when we take our authority seriously.

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18-20

Notice the similarity of Revelation 20 to Matthew 16. The devil is only bound as much as the church binds it! The devil is bound, and the church h needs to enforce that.

In our study on sin, we find the following important truth.


F. Sin no Longer Reigns Over You.

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:14

G. Righteousness Now Reigns.

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Romans 5:17

H. Grace Now Reigns.

so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:21

Sin does not reign anymore, grace and righteousness reign NOW through Jesus Christ

Believers Victory Over Sin


10. Summary of Millennium

  • A future millennium was not the predominant view of the early church, until 1909 and the release of the Schofield Reference Bible.
  • Careful study of biblical text reveals that a thousand years is not necessarily literal.
  • Futurists teach Jesus will return at the end of 6000 years from the creation. If this is true (which it is not), then we have a further 270 years to wait. Indeed if we take 1000 generations literally that means there I 40,000 or 100,000 years to wait for Jesus final return!
  • The millennium started some time after the Great Tribulation which finished in 70CE, as Jesus prophesied.
  • We agree with the early church fathers in that we believe in the millennium starting after the tribulation in 66-70CE
  • If you believe that you rule and reign now, then you will have faith for the impossible.

 

© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries/ Dr Neville van Eerten 2021