Will Jesus Reign for a Thousand Years?
Updated: Jul 7
Amillenialism- (Greek: a- "no" + millennialism), in Christian eschatology, involves the rejection of the belief that Jesus will have a literal, thousand-year-long, physical reign on the earth. This rejection contrasts with premillennial and some postmillennial interpretations of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.
Since the amillennialist view is, at its core, concerned about the rule and reign of Christ, it may be best to simply begin at the revealing of Christ in His coming and the context of His appearing, and then travel forward.
As we read Revelation 19, the following has taken place: The Anti-Christ has come, a great delusion has come upon the earth for the nations to believe him, God has unleashed his seals, bowls, and trumpets of judgment upon the Earth, two witness have come and unleashed plagues and fire upon the people until they were killed and resurrected, then ascending into heaven, and the 144,000 Jews were sealed by the Spirit to be untouched during this process. In this time and events great disasters occurred such as the sun being darkened, Jerusalem being split in a giant earthquake, strange locust type creatures rise from the abyss and torture men for 5 months and many will want to die from the pain, but cannot... not to mention giant hailstones of blood and fire (upwards of 8-lbs) falling upon the earth, a third of the vegetation dying and a third of the earth’s water becoming bitter. Whew. And that was just a few of the things.
All of this happens over a course of seven years. The first three and a half are referred to as the tribulation period, and the second three and a half as the great tribulation period (names given according to the intensity of judgment that God places upon the earth in those days). At the end of those days, Christ returns as the Anti-Christ rallies the armies of the world to fight against Him. This is where we will pick up (read Rev. 1-18 to check my summary).
The Appearing of Christ
Starting in Revelation 19:11, the appearing of Christ is as follows:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Breakdown: The heavens are opened. Christ comes down with His saints (armies of God in fine line, white and clean, see Rev. 19:7-8). He destroys the nations with the word of His mouth (see Rev. 14:20, Zech. 14). Here the scripture depicts Christ literally descending from the sky with His bride and destroying the nations. Zech. 14 relates the same information but in more detail. Such a judgment is awesome and real, physical, and has never before happened, pointing to a future fulfillment. Zech. 14 also describes a physical reign of Christ on earth.
The Beast and His Armies Defeated
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Breakdown: This section describes the judgment that was stated just before it, but adds that at this time the Beast and the false prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire, alive.
Satan Bound 1,000 Years
20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 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.
Breakdown: This section starts with “then,” meaning, “after the previous events.” After Christ appears with His saints, strikes the nations, and cast the beast and the false prophets into the lake of fire, then He binds Satan in a bottomless pit for a THOUSAND YEARS. This is where the term “millennial reign” comes from. A specific marking of that thousand-year reign is that Satan will deceive the nation NO MORE until he is released for a little while at the end of that thousand years.
The Saints Reign with Christ 1,000 Years
4 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, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Breakdown: Twice more the time frame of “a thousand years” is specifically mentioned. In this section, saints are resurrected (at the beginning of the thousand years, not after) who had died for their faith in the tribulation and who had not received the mark of the Beast (meaning there was indeed a mark to take). The purpose of their resurrection? To reign with Christ for one thousand years. The rest of the dead did not rise until after the thousand year, providing a separate resurrection to yet be had. As we will see, the final resurrection is one of eternal judgment, but it states one last time that those were raised at this point would reign with Jesus for A THOUSAND YEARS.
Satanic Rebellion Crushed
7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Breakdown: After this thousand-year reign where Jesus has come down with the Church and resurrected those who died in the tribulation for His name, Satan will be released one last time and stir up a rebellion. God will destroy them with fire, a different destruction then the one when Christ came, and the devil will finally be cast into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet ARE (meaning already were, and still are, being a statement of the timing of this event as well as a proof of eternal punishment versus annihilationism). And, in final proof against annihilationism, since it’s also a prominent teaching, it is stated that they are tormented day and night forever.
The Great White Throne Judgment
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Breakdown: This section again starts with the word “then.” So then we may know, that it is directly after the last series of events, that this “Great White Throne” judgment occurs. At this point heaven and earth flee from God, and all the dead are raised and present before the Father.
However, in Rev. 19, the Bride of Christ comes back with Him (meaning they were already gathered together with Him), and shortly after, those who died in the tribulation for their faith (apparently separate from the Bride of Christ) are raised from the dead as well. While I am not going to try and prove or disprove the rapture, the fact that the Bride and the saints of the tribulation period are separated in scripture may point to a rapture. Nonetheless, at this resurrection, the only people left to be resurrected are those who did not appear in the first two resurrections, being the unbelieving.
Therefore, the Sea, Death, and Hades give up their dead and they are judged according to their works… therefore, being judged by works and not by faith, they are all cast into the lake of fire along with Death and Hades. The sea that was mentioned, though not cast into Hades, also will disappear as we will see in Rev. 21.
All Things Made New
21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Breakdown: Following the White Throne Judgment, John is shown the new heaven and new earth that is ushered in after the thousand-year reign, in which there is also no more sea. In this place, God will dwell with His people. There will no longer be death (though there is in the millennial reign), and no more sorrow or crying, nor shall there be any pain. All the former things are God and God has made a new work. From there Christ affirms those who believe, and condemns those who do not believe and walk in unrighteousness stating once more that they will have their part in the lake of fire. We will now skip the next section of this chapter (describing the Holy city) and look at the final paragraph of Rev. 21 (and therefore the last paragraph of our Bible).
The Glory of the New Jerusalem
22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Breakdown: In this final and eternal Kingdom, built upon the new earth, all things that were, are no more; sin, death, and the unbelieving have been judged, and God’s people have been saved and glorified forevermore. Here there will be no need for sun nor moon, and nothing less than the perfection of God and His redeemed people will ever enter it. Amen.
The revealing of Christ comes after the seven-year tribulation period marked by intense and worldwide disaster and judgment; things the world has never seen. It is also after the Beast and False Prophet deceive and rule the nations; things that have not happened. When the revealing of Christ does occur, He will come from the sky, physically, with His bride; things which have not happened. He will then strike the nations with the word of His mouth and begin to rule on earth; things which have not happened.
After the tribulation and his initial coming, in which the bride of Christ has come with Him, He then resurrects those who did not take the mark of the beast (still future to us) and they reign with Him “for a thousand years.” If we are in the thousand-year reign now, then where are the resurrected saints of the tribulation? Where is the army of heaven clothed in fine lined, “which are the righteous acts of the saints?” Also, at the inception of the thousand-year reign, Satan is bound in a pit and unable to deceive for a thousand years. If we are in the thousand-year reign, how is Satan still active? How is he still able to deceive? Surely we cannot describe this world as one which is absent of Satan and his deception. Furthermore, if we are in the thousand-year reign, how is currently 2019, which is 1986 years after the crucifixion (33 AD), and 1949 years after the destruction of the temple in circa 70 AD? If we are truly in the thousand-year reign as the church, then it started with the apostles 1986 years ago. I’m not a math major, but that doesn’t add up.
No, the thousand-year reign, as told by scripture, is marked by the return of Christ with His saints, the destruction of the beast and prophet, the ending of a Great Tribulation unlike anything world has ever seen, the resurrection of the saints of the tribulation, and the binding of all deception and the work of Satan. That will be a time of peace and physical dwelling of Christ. It is time where Christ will “rule with a rod of iron” until Satan is released for one last rebellion ending in a destruction by fire, a white throne judgement, and a new heaven and new earth. This is not man made theology, nor is it open to much interpretation, but is the clear chronological-unfolding of the Rev. 19-21.He who has an ear, let Him hear, what the Spirit says to the Church. Amen.