The 1000 Year Reign of Christ
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by Richard Anthony
Did you know that the phrase "1000 Year Reign of Christ" does not appear anywhere in scripture? Nor the word "millenium"? Does this surprise you?
Notice in the above title, we did not spell out the word "thousand," but used "1000" instead. This is because numbers are fictions in numerical form and have no substance. And the "1000 year reign of Christ" is also a fiction according to Scripture, which has has no substance. It is born and bred from the doctrines of man, not from the Holy Scripture.
The "thousand year reign" appears nowhere in the sixty-six books, 1,189 chapters, 31,173 verses of the Bible except in this one passage where it occurs six times in six consecutive verses (Revelation 20:3-8). It is not solid study to build an entire system of beliefs about the end of the age and the status of the kingdom on such a highly symbolic passage. More especially when that interpretation conflicts with other plain passages of scripture.
Revelation 20:3-8 is the only passage in the entire scriptures that the so-called premillinialists have as the basis for the "1000 year reign." What endless variations of concocted fables have resulted! Clearly it does not contain the detail that they attribute to it.
First, it should be pointed out that scripture does not speak of "the thousand year reign of Christ." Revelation 20:4 says, "...and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,...and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." It's not Christ that reigns 1000 years, but those who were killed for God's sake that reign with Christ 1000 years.
To illustrate, consider the phrase, "John Doe reigned with the king for one year." Does this mean the king reigned for only one year? No, it does not. The king could reign for many years, but the point is not how long the king reigned but how long John reigned with the king. The king isn't the subject, it is speaking about how long John reigns with him. Likewise, Revelation 20:4 is not about how long Jesus will reign, but how long others will reign with Jesus. There's a big difference.
There are some things not mentioned in Revelation 20.
The passage also mentions the first resurrection, which is in contrast with the second death. The point is not that the righteous is raised a thousand years before the wicked, for a physical reign on earth, but that the cause of Christ for which the martyrs died is triumphant. Evil is not forever on the throne. God has overcome.
This passage says nothing about Jesus coming to this earth and establishing a worldly kingdom at Jerusalem -- those that so teach are duty-bound to prove their doctrines with scripture, not just their imaginations.
Revelation 20:4, "…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
This is where the phrase "1000 year reign" came from. Its proper use would be limited to exactly what John was describing at this point. The so-called "premillinialists" believe that they will be worldly conquerors with Christ when He comes to reign on this earth for 1000 years; but Paul says that "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" now! And this is the essence of what John the Revelator is communicating. There is no reason to differentiate between these reigns. There is no reason to believe (other than impatience or dissatisfaction with God's plan for us) that there is anything sweeter on this earth than reigning in His kingdom, now.
At Revelation 20:6, the first resurrection clearly applies to those dead in Christ who lived and reigned with Christ for the figurative "1000-year period" in wait for the final judgment and the general resurrection of the just and the unjust. The second death is explained further below. It is the ultimate death that those who are lost will experience at that judgment, the first death being physical death. While the saints and true believers who die physically experience this first death, the second death will have no power over them.
While the main thrust of Revelation 20:6 is that the righteous dead are reigning with Christ, there is no reason to believe that those of us on this earth do not share in this reign now. One of the major losses of the "premillinialists" is that, in their quest for a worldly kingdom in the future, they fail to recognize the blessings of Christ reigning in our lives now.
Let us now compare scripture with scripture to interpret the "thousand years." In scripture, the term "thousand," when in reference to time, is always used symbolically of a predetermined time that God chooses. In other cases, it is always used symbolically for a large number of people or things. Surely, nobody can honestly interpret the following "thousands" as literal:
Job 9:3, "If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand."
Psalms 50:10, "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills."
Ecclesiastes 7:28, "...one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found."
Song of Solomon 4:4, "…whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men."
Daniel 5:1, "Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand."
Daniel 7:10, "...thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him."
Deuteronomy 7:9, "…which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that…keep his commandments to a thousand generations;"
1 Chronicles 16:15, "Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;"
Psalms 84:10, "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand."
Psalms 90:4, "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past,"
Psalms 105:8, "He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."
Ecclesiastes 6:6, "Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?"
2 Peter 3:8, "...one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
It should be obvious from the above that every occurance of the word "thousand," by itself, throughout scripture, is not literal but symbolic for a large number or long period of time. Then, why is it when we go to the book of Revelation (the most symbolic book of them all), many interpret this thousand years as literal? Especially when there is no scriptural warrant for doing so?
Futurists make the same mistake that the Jews who crucified Christ made -- they were not satisfied with a spiritual kingdom; they had to have a literal, worldly, physical kingdom. The Truth of the matter is not that Christ will reign for a thousand years some time in the future, but that Christ is reigning now, and will continue to reign for eternity. We do not have to wait for His Kingdom to come sometime in the future before He starts reigning over our lives, for Christ's Kingdom is here now, and He desires that we reign with Him now, whether we choose to recognize it or not!