"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.II Pg.2-3
September 1943

The Essential Point In Premillennialism -- No. 7

For the proof of such a theory, the twentieth chapter of Revelation is certainly an inadequate proof-text. Yet it is the only text that makes mention of a thousand years reign. No apostle in any epistle to any church or to any Christian ever taught such a thing in writing to them on Christian life and hope and duty. And Rev. 20 is wholly lacking in the material with which to construct an earthly millennium. Upon examination, any observant reader can see that the passage does not mention (1) the second coming of Christ, or (2) a reign on the earth, or (3) a literal throne, of David's or any other, or (4) Jerusalem of Palestine or any other earthly capital, or (5) a bodily resurrection, or (6) a conquest of all nations on earth for a reign over the whole word, or (7) there is no mention of us, but specifically the souls of them that were beheaded, or (8) no reference to Christ on earth, and (9) no mention of anything the theory obligates the theorizers to prove.

It is a common saying that the Bible means "exactly" what it says, and theorists boast of "taking Revelation 20 as it stands." But they do not take Revelation 20 "as it stands," and it would not support their theory if they did. The saying that "the Bible means exactly what it says" is never true when things are spoken of in figurative language. Take for instance the figurative language in the 19th and 20th chapters alone. (1) The white horse (2) war and armies (3) rod of iron (4) birds flying to the supper of God (5) eating the flesh of kings (6) beasts, dragons, with tail that reached to the sky (7) the angel coming down (8) key and chain (9) dragon bound, body filled earth, tail reached the sky, bound with a literal chain (10) bottomless pit--literally without a bottom? (11) shut, sealed; air tight? (12) thrones--like the Pope's and king of England? (13) beheaded--if literal, it cuts us out, if figurative, it cuts the millennium out (14) image and mark (15) prison and camp (16) fire and brimstone (17) binding and loosing (18) the thousand years.

Shall we literalize all of these? Oh no, neither do they--with them it is all figurative, except the thousand years, and that is absolutely literal!

The obvious and fundamental principles of exegesis forbid that the thousand years be given a literal meaning. It is not so understood in other places where the expression is used. David said that God remembered his covenant, or word, to "a thousand generations." Does that mean that at the end of a literal thousand generations God will not remember his word? Or, rather does it not indicate that God's memory of his word is infinite, complete, and perfect.

If the thousand years of Rev. 20 is literal, then the reign of Christ will be for one thousand years only.

If that be true, then since they "lived" and "reigned" a thousand years--since lived and reigned, are both limited by the thousand years, it follows that both the living and the reigning will cease--and they therefore cease to live at the end of the thousand years. That is not a very comforting millennium after all, is it?

The only ones who participated in this living and reigning were the "souls of them that were beheaded"--a limited number--and "the rest of the dead live d not." Then there could be no preaching to or judgment of sinners during the millennium--yet "judgment was given" to those who reigned. Whom did they judge, and how? The wicked nations are supposed to have been destroyed, and the wicked dead were not living, yet the reigning saints are said to judge somebody--who and how?

If the expression "lived and reigned" means that the souls were given literal bodies for the millennium, then when it says that the "rest of the dead lived not" until the thousand years was finished, it would have to mean that the "rest of the dead" would be given literal bodies at end of the thousand years, which will force the resurrection of the wicked too soon, before the time of the general resurrection, which comes after the little season, according to their theory.

The truth is the passage does not describe a period of blessings to be enjoyed at the close of this dispensation. This can be seen from the following considerations:

(1) The word resurrection is used in a figurative sense. Let us make some comparisons. In the twenty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, verses 13 to 19, we have a similar use of both the word and the idea in resurrection. In reference to the wicked lords who had dominion over Israel, the prophet said: "O, Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise." Does that mean that the wicked shall not rise from the dead at all? No. It refers to the dominion of the wicked lords--they would not exercise their dominion again--it is a figurative use of the word. But again, the prophet continues: "Thy dead men shall live"--that is, God's people, who were dead while in the dominion of the wicked lords, should live when the dominion of those wicked lords over them was destroyed. Hence, "Therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made their memory to perish." But the prophet called it a resurrection, when it was not a literal resurrection at all.

The foregoing figurative use of the words "dead" and "live" and "rise" is a perfect parallel with the use of the same words in Revelation 20. They are figurative resurrections. The fact that John had to specify the thing that he was talking about as a resurrection is the proof that it was being used in an unusual sense. "This is the first resurrection"--why did he have to tell them that it was a resurrection? Because it was not a literal use of the term, it was metaphorical, not physical, and therefore, had to be explained.

In Rev. 3:11 John told the ones addressed that to overcome their persecutions would exempt them from the second death. But in Rev. 20 to have part in the first resurrection would exempt them from the second death. "Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other." (1) Overcoming their persecutions equals exemption from the second death. (2) Part in the first resurrection equals exemption from the second death. They are equal to the same thing, they are therefore equal to each other, and the first resurrection of Rev. 20 was the same thing as victory over the persecutions of Rev. 3:11.

Just as the resurrection of Isaiah 26 meant victory over the wicked lords who once had dominion over the ones referred to by the prophet, so the resurrection of Rev. 20 refers to overcoming the persecutors and the triumph over defeat. Taking the souls out from under the altar (Rev. 6:9) and elevating them to thrones (Rev. 20), in John's vision, was represented as a resurrection.

The deliverance of God's people from oppression in Isa. 26 was described as a resurrection--"they shall rise." The destruction of the oppressors was referred to in like symbol -"they shall not rise (or be restored). So it is with Rev. 20. There is the alternate revival of wickedness and the triumph of the cause of the persecuted saints, martyrs but the victory belonged to the "souls of them that were beheaded" and "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years"--denoting that their victory was complete, and their reward infinite.

The passage will not bear the literal construction and any theory that is builded on such a construction becomes a mere glorified air castle, which is bound to collapse.

Finally, of the dead in verses 11-15, it is said that some were found in the book of life, and some were not found in the book of life. If this refers to the judgment of the wicked after the millennium, as claimed, there would be no use to "open books," when the millennium is over, to see if those resurrected at the end of the millennium were in the book of life, for all the righteous had been raised before the millennium in order to enter it and the wicked dead were the only ones that remained at the end of the millennium, hence, their names would not be expected to be found in the book of life! So that upsets that angle of their theory! There is no evidence that Christ is on earth between verses 4 and 11 of the chapter, as the millennialists contend.

The evidence points to the fact that the whole contents of the book of Revelation were fulfilled in the experiences of the churches to whom the message was addressed, and the historical events of the period in which these churches lived furnished the counterpart to all the symbols of the book.

Whatever application may be made to us today must be only in the spiritual sense. We enter that reign in the same sense that we share his throne and his kingdom, in a spiritual sense. Such is the portion of every true believer in any age. We share the life of our risen Lord, through obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:3-5); we reign with him through righteousness (Rom. 5:17); and through enduring the sufferings of the Christian life while we live here. (2 Tim. 2:12) All such passages refer to character in this present life. There are many ways of reigning with Christ. We are kings and priests now. (Rev. 1:6) We reign in life through righteousness (Rom. 5:17). We reign with the apostles in spiritual life apart from worldly pride. (1 Cor. 4:8) We reign by righteousness, as we execute Christ's laws and decisions in our own lives. (1 Cor. 6:2

3). We reign with him by enduring sufferings as we live with him. (2 Tim. 2:12) We reign with him by overcoming. (Rev. 3:21) That this reign is in process now is seen by a comparison of these various statements of scripture. Jesus said, "he that eateth shall live." (Jno. 5:57) Does that mean that the spiritual life referred to as "shall live" is future? Do we not have spiritual life now? Certainly. It means, then, that as we eat we live in this present state. So with the other passages. If we endure we "shall reign" in this present state. And "he that overcometh shall sit with me in my throne," only means that as we overcome, we do sit with him in his throne--in this present state.

There is not one passage of scripture in either the Old Testament or the New Testament by which any man can prove that Jesus Christ will ever set his foot on this earth again. This proposition has stood the test of five public discussions on the question.

The Bible does not teach the literalistic, materialistic, Judaistic, Palestinian, reign of Christ, or any other kind of a personal reign of Christ on earth. But it does teach that "there is a place reserved in heaven for us."