O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

     These last words of Christ in John 19:30 - "It is finished" - have been tossed back and forth on this site before in another post as to their exact import.  Traditionally, I too was taught that this was Christ's triumphant announcement from the cross that salvation's work was completed.  

     There's just one problem with that interpretation, which  some of you have also noted.  Paul declares most emphatically in I Cor. 15:16-17 that if Christ be not raised, our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins.  The legal provisions for our salvation were not wrapped up with Christ's death on the cross.  In real-time, they were finished when a bodily-resurrected Christ came near to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13-14) and did his high-priestly work by offering his own blood sacrifice on our behalf on a heavenly mercy seat in a heavenly temple (Hebrews 9:12).  To stop short of this complete process is to ignore the types laid out in the Mosaic law regarding the offering of sacrifices, and consequently renders them meaningless.  

     Now for the actual intent of this post.  I have come to the conclusion that this announcement with Christ's dying breath was intended to tell us that the literal-thousand-year millennium was closing down at that point in time.  Christ himself had given his disciples advance warning of this in John 12:31.  Speaking of his death which was a mere five days away, he said, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out."  If you go to Revelation 12:9, you can see the actual details of this "casting out".  After an angelic conflict between Michael and his angels versus the Dragon/Old Serpent/Devil/Satan (pick your label of choice - they're all there) and his angels, they are cast out of heaven, no longer to have access there, once the shed blood of the Lamb overcomes them (Rev. 12:11).  "Now is come salvation", it says, once Christ's power to "take up his life again" had been manifested (Rev. 12:10 and John 10:18).  Not before then (i.e. at the crucifixion).  

     The "judgment of this world" Christ warned of in this John 12:31 verse comes to pass with the Rev. 12:12 judgment of those who inhabit the earth (land of Israel) and the sea (Gentile nations as well).  This judgment is defined as the devil (and his angels who were cast out of heaven with him) coming down to the earth for a  short time (33 AD - 70 AD) to persecute the church in great wrath (Rev. 12:13), and to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:8) - which is both the inhabiters of the earth and the sea being afflicted.  

     Jesus gives his disciples another warning on the night of the last supper, reminding them once more that "...the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me." (John 14:30).  Again, this refers to the very near post-millennium "coming" of the devil down to the earth for a "little season" (Rev. 20:3) which would last from 33 AD - 70 AD.  There is actually a symbolic reason for the darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour at which time Christ died.  The "power of darkness" (Luke 22:53) was about to be loosed on the world to wreak havoc.  

     I realize there are many whose concept of the millennium's time frame is a symbolic term only, and not a literal thousand years.  They have proposed, for one example, a 40-year period or less, closing with September 70 AD when the city finally falls.  After considering this proposal, I cannot reconcile this idea with how Rev. 20:3,7 presents it.  The thousand years are "fulfilled" and "expired" when Satan is loosed out of his prison. This has the strong connotation of an actual time clock, with the exact period of time ticking away until the alarm goes off - not a vague, figurative term which can be loosely applied to any symbolic amount of years whatever.  Is there anyone who would like to apply this same symbolic estimate principle to the expiration date on your package of hamburger?   Consider this also: if Satan is loosed for a short time after the millennium to incite the nations to battle, how can this happen if the millennium is wrapped up at the final 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and it's temple?

     So, if the claim is made that a literal thousand years is intended, and that it's culmination is announced when Christ declares "It is finished", one would have to back up a thousand years prior to 33 AD to arrive at a terminus a quo.  That year would match up with the date which many have connected to Solomon's temple foundation being laid down (968/967 BC).  I have seen other dates assigned to this event, but for the moment, follow my pattern of logic here.  Please note my emphasis on the word foundation, because scripture puts a particular stress on the day, month, and regnal year for laying the foundation of Solomon's and Zerubbabel's temples.  God is using his highlighter pen.  He uses these two temples as foreshadowing, leading to the revelation of Christ as the real foundation and cornerstone of his own house.  Just after Pentecost, Peter is claiming that Christ has already become that cornerstone (Acts 4:11-12).  

     Here is how I see scripture dividing up the millennium into the beginning, middle, and ending, in simple terms.

                                                      Millennium beginning 

Solomon's temple foundation being laid (968/967 BC)  (II Chron. 3:1-2 and I Kings 6:1,37)  Solomon, meaning "peaceable", son of David, is a type of Christ, The Son Of David, the Prince of Peace.                                               

                                                      Millennium middle

 Zerubbabel's temple foundation being laid (536 BC)  (Habakkuk 3:2 "...revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.") (Ezra 3:8-11) ( Zech. 4:9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall finish it...")  Zerubbabel, in the genealogy of David, "chosen servant" of God, is ancestor to both Mary and Joseph.                                          

                                                       Millennium ending

 Christ, the true temple foundation being laid (33 AD) (I Cor. 3:11 "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.")  (I Peter 2:6 "...Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.")  (Acts 4:11-12)                                                      


 During this entire 1000 year period, from 968/967 BC - 33 AD, Satan's deception of the nations became limited (Rev. 20:3).  If "the entrance of thy words giveth light" (Psalms 119:130), and the prophets of the Old Testament all begin their messages with "The word of the LORD came to the prophet     X    ", I would say that the ministry of the prophets - both spoken and written - was a major means God used to dispel the darkness of ignorance among the world's nations.  Ever hear how far the wisdom of Solomon extended throughout the known world in his time?  All kings of the earth were said to have heard his wisdom which God had given him (I Kings 4:34, I Kings 10:24).  Ever hear of Mordecai's effect on the Persian empire in it's entirety once Haman's scheme to annihilate the Jews fell flat?  A mini revival of sorts.  (Esther 8:17, Esther 9:3-4)  Remember the decree by Darius after Daniel's deliverance from the lion's den: "Then King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth...I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God..." (Dan. 6:25-227).  Nebuchadnezzar's very public acknowledgement of his personal humiliation for seven years at the hands of God (when he was given the heart of a beast) is also a testament to God's power for everyone in his empire to see.

     All these examples give indication of a broad-spread knowledge of the God of Israel going out through the nations during this period of history.  A knowledge of God isn't necessarily the equivalent of a Godly response to this knowledge, but it does mean that ignorance of God is dispelled.  The deception of the nations is curtailed by this means.  Satan is put on a "chain" so that his deception of the nations is limited until he is allowed his "little season" after 33 AD to practice wholesale deceit in the world - his chief occupation as the "Father of Lies".      

     So, how does one explain how the martyred souls of Rev. 20:4 manage to "live and reign with Christ the thousand years" under this literal-thousand-year proposal?  I would borrow the language of Romans 5:17 for an explanation.  "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."  Same type of living and reigning as described in Rev. 20:4.  "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him" (II Tim. 2:12).

     Look at it this way: the millennium was like a drop-in party going on from 968/967 BC to 33 AD.  During this thousand years, newly-martyred attendees were continually arriving at the door to join the celebrating souls already there.  You don't have to automatically presume that every one of these Rev. 20:4 martyrs are reigning from start to finish during this time - although some coming from King Solomon's temple era would have done so - they just become participants in the thousand-year drop-in party sometime during that bracket of time.

     Some of these martyrs toward the last were beheaded (John the Baptist, for example).  All of them "loved not their lives to the death" and were willing to surrender their lives for the word of God or for the testimony  of Jesus.  Read Stephen's words of condemnation to those about to stone him (Acts 7:51-52).  "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?  and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One."  Again, in II Chron. 36:16 - a condemnation of the people of Israel before the exile - "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets..."  These slain and persecuted ones lived and reigned with Christ as souls in heaven during the millennium, but did not rise to live again in their resurrected bodies until the first resurrection, which followed the millennium's end at Christ's death.  

     And the timing of this first resurrection?  This, I believe, is the saints-only resurrection of Matthew 27:52-53 in 33 AD; those who were raised as flesh-and-bones bodies and were seen in Jerusalem by many. No unrighteous dead are included in this first resurrection, which is why there is a blanket statement that this "remnant (LOIPOS) of the dead" who have a  part in this  particular event are "blessed and holy" (Rev. 20:6).  I see no unrighteous exceptions being raised here to live again in this first 33 AD resurrection, but I do see it happening a little later on in a second resurrection event in 70 AD  of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15, and Daniel 12:2).  Both of these first and second events I see including physically transformed bodies arising out of the dust.  Yeah, I said it.

     How else would Hymenaeus and Philetus get the idea that the resurrection was already past?  They were remembering the highly-visible 33 AD event, and they presumed that one was the sum total of all resurrection hopes that would occur.  They didn't realize it was only a small sample of another resurrection on an even larger scale that would occur in their near future.  As we can expect yet another third one in ours at history's end.  Yeah, I said that too.  

     One phase of the millennium I am certain I have never seen discussed elsewhere is the middle of it.  I stumbled onto this as I was poring over dates for the four decrees by the three Persian kings concerning the restoration of the Jerusalem temple and the revival of the people after the Babylonian exile.  It needs a separate blog post to do it justice, though, so I'll develop the idea in another post to follow. 

     Because I think it is not only the middle of the millennium, but the middle of history as well.



Views: 440

Comment by Doug Wilkinson on November 22, 2014 at 4:27pm


I think I see where you are going with this.  I think part of what I'm seeing is an attempt to find a way to fit two separate resurrections into history.  It would be much easier if the first resurrection of Revelation 20 was the same as the General Resurrection.  But, my real problem is how you are handling Rev. 20:4-6:

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Rev 20:5  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

In this passage, the saints who are raised in the first resurrection and who reign for thousands of years are those who die for not taking the mark of the Beast in the 42 months leading up to the Parousia.  In your paradigm, those who are reigning stop doing so 35 or so years before they die and are raised in order to reign.  In other words, the only martyrs who are left out of the resurrection and millennium according to your proposal are the only martyrs who are explicitly said to be raised and to reign in the millennium.  That doesn't make sense to me.


Comment by Patricia Watkins on November 22, 2014 at 10:08pm

Hi Doug W,

First of all, thank you for taking the time to go through this post.  I confess, I'm not even sure I understand your perceptions of what I wrote.  Everything after "In your paradigm..." is a bit fuzzy to me.  Must be that my clarity of expression is way off.  For one thing, I am reading straight from the Interlinear on all of Rev. 20, which does not read "They came to life and reigned..." in verse 4.  It simply says "and they lived and reigned..."   With verse 5, "The rest/remnant of the dead" I take to be the same group of "souls" discussed in verse 4 - not a separate category of individuals.  IOW, the way I understand it would be paraphrased to read, "But this same remnant of souls who were persecuted for their Lord and died, and who had been living and reigning in heaven with Christ for a thousand years didn't come to life again in a resurrected body until the thousand years had ended."  If the verse 5 reference of the homage to the beast is understood to be a participation in the emperor worship of Rome, (the corporate beast - not the individual beast Nero), would it not be possible for this to be true of these saints in the period of history before Christ's death?  This could have applied to anyone who lived under the Caesars from the time of Julius Caesar until Christ, since emperor worship was a feature of the empire throughout the time of this "beast".  In that case, it wouldn't be necessary for this to be referring to the particular 42 months period leading to the Parousia.

Comment by Doug Wilkinson on November 23, 2014 at 1:08am

I probably should have slowed down in the first paragraph and explained that I don't think that the version of Rev. 20:5 that you are using is correct.  There is a variant in that text, so that the two versions say something completely different from each other.  It's one of the only theologically meaningful textual variants in scripture.  The following is the ESV version with the text in question in bold:

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Rev 20:5  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

If you were to remove the bolded text, as is the case in a number of early Greek texts and the Aramaic NT, there would be no grounds for a second resurrection a thousand years after the first.  In fact, nowhere in scripture or any other Jewish or Christian writing before the variant started showing up was there talk of two resurrections.

As far as the 42 months goes, it is clear in Revelation 13 that the 42 months is a new program of persecution put on by the Beast in the time block leading up to the end.  There is no reason to take this as extending indefinitely into the past.  It is repeated as 1260 days and 3.5 years in my opinion to keep anyone from making it a symbolic amount of time.  Though I take this as a mark implemented by the Roman government, it doesn't matter too much whose mark it is to make this point.  It didn't exist before the 3.5 years/1260 days/42 months before the end.  And, those who were killed for not taking it didn't die until that period.  So, there is no way that they could have been raised before that period.  Rev. 20:4 quoted above is pretty clear:  Those who died from this persecution are raised to reign for thousands of years (it's plural in the text, and certainly symbolic).  This doesn't happen until the General Resurrection, which is the first resurrection of 20:4.  They are the same thing.  There is no resurrection 1,000 years after 20:4.  At the very least, you can't have the only people said to reign after being raised do so before they die.


Comment by Patricia Watkins on November 24, 2014 at 11:41am

Hi Doug W,

After reviewing your comments, it sounds as if you regard the Matthew 27:52-53 saints-only resurrection as never really happening.  This has been touched on before in "The Bones of Joseph" post and comments were made that some consider this resurrection of a particular group of saints as not a literal event.  "A poetic device" was another way it was described on the post quoting Michael Licona's book on this subject.   I believe that since his book's publication, Mr. Licona has revised his opinion to allow that these verses (Matthew 27:52-53) may possibly be describing a literal event after all, and that he would be doing more research on the matter.   The content of these two verses may be brief, but to me they are undeniably literal, along with the other phenomena listed in the same context.  A physical resurrection for this group of saints did occur, with witnesses to the fact both in scripture and historical sources from that first century.  This "first" resurrection by tacit definition would indicate that at least a second one would be anticipated.  It is unfortunate the the term "General resurrection" has been coined, since this has cemented the idea in people's heads that there can be one, and only one resurrection for all of mankind at a single occasion.  The Matthew 27:52-53 resurrection denies this idea.   The significance of this preview of the 70 AD and our own future resurrection has been downplayed, I suppose because it disturbs the whole paradigm of a spiritual-resurrection only belief system.   One can't just shake their head about this brief passage and say "nope, never happened - let's move on - nothing going on here".  

The Interlinear version I am consistently referring to is by Zondervan, and in all instances in Rev. 20 it uses the singular term for "thousand" instead of the plural term in the text you have.  I am somewhat familiar with the "chilia" versus "chilioi" positions, but not enough to spar with anyone about it.

Comment by Doug Wilkinson on November 24, 2014 at 12:23pm

I'm not denying that Matthew 27:52-53 happened.  I'm saying that it's not what is seen in Rev. 20:4.  The resurrection in Matthew is an odd passage that no one can be dogmatic about, but it doesn't seem to fit into any part of the description of the first resurrection from Rev. 20.  As far as the label of that resurrection goes, "first" (prote) has a wide range of meaning that can include quality, not order.  In the KJV, it's translated as "first", "chief", "before", "former", "beginning", "best", and "chiefest".  Since v.6 makes it clear that this resurrection makes it impossible for the saints in it to suffer the second death I suggest that it's a better resurrection than what the others experience.  That doesn't require that it's a thousand years before everyone else's experience.  Keep in mind that in every single passage that describes resurrection and judgment (sheep and goats, etc.), everyone is raised and judged at the same time.  As long as Rev. 20:5a is recognized as a variant I don't see any reason to interpret the resurrection in Revelation 20 otherwise.


Comment by Stairway To Heaven on November 25, 2014 at 1:54am

So, Doug, what is your opinion about the millennium ?

Comment by Doug Wilkinson on November 25, 2014 at 9:48am

After thinking and writing a bit about the Millennium I have come to the conclusion that one of the first things that we need to do in order to see the issue clearly is the try to stick as closely as possible to the Biblical terminology.  So, there is no such thing as "The Millennium".  There is the thousand years that Satan is bound, and the thousand years that the saints reign.  After the thousand years that Satan is bound he is released to cause mayhem.  After the mayhem he is destroyed.  I think that standard Full Preterism probably has the binding, release, and post-release function of Satan correct.  But, since I think they have that correct there becomes a problem with the standard explanation for the thousand year reign of the saints.  That's because part of the function of Satan after he is released is to empower the Beast to force people to take the mark in the 42 months leading up to the Parousia.  Then, the saints who are killed for refusing to take the mark are resurrected to reign for a thousand years.  That pretty much demands that these two periods are sequential, not parallel.  I think that if you map the raising of the saints who'll be given judgment and a kingdom according to Matt. 11, 25, Daniel 7, 12, Revelation 22, etc., you find that their resurrection and reign began at the General Resurrection  during the Parousia, and that the reign continues today.  It will last indefinitely into the future because there is no predicted end of it.  I'll post the three most important verses for the question below, taking out Rev. 20:5a since I think it's a mistake to leave it in the text:

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Rev 20:5  This is the first resurrection.
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Doug W

Comment by Stairway To Heaven on November 25, 2014 at 10:29am


How about the post AD70 wars, such as Bar Kokhba revolt ?

Comment by Patricia Watkins on November 25, 2014 at 2:37pm

Hi again Doug W,

Taking the definition for the word  protos, is is perfectly understandable to take every adjective you have listed and apply them to the Matthew 27:52-53 resurrection, of which Christ himself was the leading participant. By his participation, that qualifies this group resurrection event to be not only the first in time (because 33 AD comes before 70 AD), but the first in importance - "chief, chiefest, best", etc.  Christ's own physical resurrection is the hub around which all others are centered.  

One of the main differences between your position and mine is that, to me, it appears that every use of the word "thousand" is referring to the exact same period of time in all of Rev. 20:2-7.  It is not a thousand years earlier in time mentioned in one place, and another different thousand years mentioned further on. The thousand years mentioned in verse 6 flows naturally into discussing the same thousand years in verse 7a, after which Satan is loosed.

And not all of this remnant group in Rev. 20:4 suffers in the same manner at their death.  Some prophets were put to death in Jezebel's day by whatever means she used.  Isaiah by some reports was sawn in half.  John the Baptist was literally beheaded.  Some toward the end of the thousand years refused to do homage to the Roman beast by participating in emperor worship in the days from Julius Caesar until Christ's death.  The mark mentioned in Rev 20:4 b is not a literal mark printed on them, any more than those in Rev. 9:4 have a literal mark of God in their foreheads.  I remember when Christ was being tempted by those who were trying to trip him up about paying the Roman tax.  He holds the coin up and asks, "Whose is this image and superscription ?" and they answered him "Caesar's".   He then told them to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's and to God the things that were God's.  In other words, the Jews were engaging in idolatry by depending on Caesar and his mood toward their nation to preserve themselves as a people.  This was an ongoing mindset for the Jews, even long before the "42 months" you mention.  Herod was a prime example of this by sucking up to the Romans in order to preserve his own position of power.   

As to the second death, (the lake of fire - however you want to interpret this), since no resurrected person ever dies again, it would not be possible for this remnant group from 33 AD to suffer physical death again at Jerusalem's fall (if Jerusalem's 70 AD judgment is the interpretation you have for the lake of fire). Neither would it be possible for this saints-only resurrected group of Matthew 27:52-53 to suffer your typical hell-fire-and-brimstone lake of fire judgment, if that is the way you interpret the second death.

 I believe any resurrected saints mentioned here in Rev. 20 are some of the ones Paul is directly referring to in I Thess. 4:17 who are alive and remain until the 70 AD coming of Christ.  They are the true "left behind" ones who are caught up together in the clouds with their newly-resurrected fellow believers in 70 AD.  

I do not buy the notion propounded by many that any resurrected persons depicted in scripture just simply die again physically at a later date.   God doesn't do half-baked resurrections.  Once saved, always saved.  Once resurrected, always resurrected is the pattern in Romans 6 among other references.

Comment by Doug on November 25, 2014 at 2:52pm

Either the 1,000 years is a literal span of time, or it is not. I do not believe it is a period of time. Here's why...

If you believe it is a period of time, then you have to grapple with the statement that the saints rule with Christ for this period of time. Rev. 20:4

If they rule for only 1,000 years (no matter how long that might be) then the kingdom of Christ has an ending to it and the saints have a limited time to rule. I can't believe that.

Additionally, you have to deal with the many statements that show this period of time as being a time of restoration ON THE EARTH. If it is a time statement, then you must identify the period in history when the earth was restored to God's way. Futurists get around this by saying that it is a future period of time. Preterists cannot make that statement, or else they would have to provide the evidence for it in history. Seeing as it hasn't happened, then either preterism is false, or this period of "time" must not be a real period of time, but something else.

The "something else" could be several things. But I think we have to drop the assumption that it is a statement about the passing of time here on earth. Either that, or become futurists.


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