R. C. Sproul gives an overview of the millennial views. He formerly was amillennial but more recently has changed to preterism.This video series is based on his book The Last Days according to Jesus. Walvoord defines amillennialism in his introduction to Revelation 20: “The amillennial interpretation is essentially a denial that there will be a millennial reign of Christ after His second advent. It is amillennial or nonmillennial because it denies such a literal reign of Christ on earth” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, page 284). Walvoord divides amillennialism into different subdivisions.
The Historic Augustinian form of Amillennialism
The impact of Augustine on eschatology is noted by Pentecost: “With the contribution of Augustine to theological thinking amillennialism came into prominence. While Origen laid the foundation in establishing the non-literal method of interpretation, it was Augustine who systematized the non-literal view of the millennium into what is now known as amillennialism” (Things To Come, page 381). Augustine’s false view of eschatology arose out of his false view of ecclesiology.
In Augustines’s The City of God, Augustine taught that the visible church was the Kingdom of God on earth. In addition to spiritualizing Israel into the church, Augustine spiritualized away the millennium into the inter-advent period between the two advents of Christ.
In reference to Revelation 20, Augustine believed that verses 1-6 were a recapitulation of the preceding chapters rather than a chronological sequence that follows the events of chapter 19. Augustine also interpreted the first resurrection of 20:4-6 as the new birth of believers in this age. He believed the 1000 year millennium would end around AD 650 (Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church, page 3).
Like Walvoord, Pentecost divides amillennialism into two camps. Augustinian amillennialism is held to by Roman Catholicism because they view the reign of Christ over the kingdom in His church on earth. This is the amillennialism of Berkhof.
The B. B. Warfield form of Amillennialism
B.B. Warfield believed the present reign of Christ is not over saints on earth as Augustine believed and later the Roman Catholic Church, but the present reign of Christ is over believers in heaven.
Amillennial problem with a literal 1000 years in Revelation 20
The number for the length of the millennium is stated six times in Revelation 20:1-7. Whether the amillennialists are in the Augustine or Warfield camp, they reject a literal interpretation of “a thousand years” (chilia ete) and allegorize the numbers to mean an undetermined, extended length of time between the two advents of Christ.
The first use of the definite time designation in Revelation 20 is used to describe the length of time Satan will be bound in the abyss. Robert Thomas answers the amillennialist’s interpretation of this 1000 year binding as not literal but a restriction of the influence of Satan today. “The account of 20:1-3 tells of a removal from the earth that keeps him from pursuing these activities any longer. The only way one could view Satan as bound before a time in the future would be to construe his binding as a restriction of his activity, not a cessation of it. Confinement to the abyss, however, requires a complete termination of his activity in the sphere of the earth. To date this has never happened. The uniform testimony of the NT is that Satan is not bound during the period between Christ’s two advents” (Revelation 8-22, page 404). Apparently Peter did not think the Devil was bound or restricted in his influence according to 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”
A typical argument for rejecting the 1000 years as literal is voiced by Vaughan: “I am not aware of any instance in which that particular duration (one thousand years) is used in Scripture literally. We are all familiar with the phrase, A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The application of the expressions is always vague, not strict: it denotes a period protracted, prolonged, but indefinite” (C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on the Revelation of John, page 215-216).
Thomas refutes this objection: “This view looks to 2 Pet. 3:8 for support, but 2 Pet. 3:8 along with Ps. 90:4 states the very opposite. ‘A thousand years’ in these two verses refers to a literal thousand years. To say that the period with man is only one day with God, does not deny that it is actually a thousand years with God too. The point is that time does not limit an eternal God, not that He is ignorant of what time means with man” (Revelation 8-22, page 407).
Had John wanted to describe the millennium as an indefinite period, he could have just done as he described the time of Satan’s release from the pit as an indefinite (micron chronon, “a little season”). But instead, John chose to a definite time designation.
Amillennialists say the numbers in Revelation are symbolic therefore the 1000 years in Revelation 20 must also be interpreted figuratively as a very long and indefinite period. Thomas makes this claim that “confirmation of a single number in Revelation as symbolic is impossible….If the writer wanted a very large symbolic number, why did he not use 144,000 (7:1 ff.; 14:1 ff.) 200,000 (9:16), “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of thousands” (5:11), or any incalculably large number (7:9)? The fact is that no number in Revelation is verifiably a symbolic number” (Revelation 8-22, page 408, 409).
Amillennial problem with this First Resurrection
The amillennialists interpret the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6 as a spiritual resurrection or the new birth experience. Dr. Bowman in his unpublished notes deals with two important words in Revelation 20 that disprove this view.
The first word is the verb “lived” (Gr. ezesan). In Revelation 20:4, the text says that tribulation believers were martyred for Christ at the first resurrection “lived” which is an ingressive aorist which means that they lived again. The verb is used of physical resurrection (Revelation 1:18; 2:8; 13:14; 20:5). These in Revelation 20:4 died for Jesus so they could not experience a spiritual resurrection because they were already saved before they came to life again.
The second important word is the noun “resurrection” (Gr. anastasis). The noun is used of both resurrections (cf. John 5:29). So, if one is physical the other must also be physical (cf. Revelation 20:4-6).
Amillennial problem with The Great White Throne
Dr. Bowman also in his unpublished notes for Advanced Eschatology refutes the amillennial belief in a general judgment. “Amillennialists believe the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) is the same judgment of sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. This judgment will be at the second advent (Floyd E. Hamilton—The Basis of Millennial Faith, pp. 70-85). It is very doubtful if ta ethne (the nations) in Matthew 25:31-46includes Jews. Hamiltion says the term is elastic enough to include Jews (Ibid, 80). But “my brethren” must be Jews as they are not in this judgment. Thus, “the nations” must be living Gentiles judged at the second advent (cf. ta ethne in Matthew 28:19; Romans 16:26; Revelation 14:8; 20:3). Ta ethne is never used of ‘the dead’ so the sheep and goat account cannot synchronize with the G.W.T. account (George N. H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom II, 372-84).