What about the Millennium?


By George Desnoyers


Will There Be a Millennium?


Nearly all those who believe that Scripture foretells of a literal period of one thousand years - called "the millennium" - say the period will follow the resurrection and judgment of the righteous dead, but precede the resurrection and judgment of the wicked dead. Such a belief is grossly out of harmony with what is actually found in the Bible. Let’s look at what the Bible really says:


Understanding Clear Scripture

There are some very clear Scriptural texts which forcefully tell us that the idea of such a millennium is wrong. For example, John 6:39,40,44,54 tells us that the resurrection of the righteous will be on the "last day." And, in John 12:48, we are told that the wicked will be judged on the "last day." Same author, same book, same “last day!” Why not take these clear words at their face value? Do they not tell us that the righteous dead will be resurrected on the same day the wicked are judged, the "last day?" In all of these verses John purports to relate teachings of Jesus in very easy-to-understand language. It is not highly figurative language like that in Revelation 20, the only text to which millennialists can point in trying to justify their teaching of a "millennium."


A General Resurrection of All the Dead

John 5:28-29, Acts 24:14-15, and Daniel 12:1-3 indicate that all are to arise in a general resurrection. These texts all refer to the resurrection of both the righteous and wicked dead. NONE mention a millennium. Indeed, when one studies these verses, it is very hard to imagine one thousand years between the resurrection of the righteous dead and the wicked dead. John 5:28-29 says "…an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." Where do those verses leave room for a millennium? When scripture seems to say there will be two resurrections, it is merely pointing out the two classes of people who will be resurrected, the righteous and the wicked, and/or the two different fates which await them.

Daniel 12:2 may well be translated this way: "And many, those who are in the graves of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and contempt." Again, there is NO mention of a millennium. Daniel’s use of the word "many" merely alludes to the fact that others, those living at the time of the resurrection, will not need to rise from the grave because they will not be in the graves of the earth.

There is nothing anywhere to indicate that a period of one thousand years will separate the physical resurrection of the righteous dead from that of the wicked dead. Revelation 20, the only chapter to mention the thousand years, is highly figurative. Anyone taking that thousand years literally, rather than as a symbol, should logically also take literally the abyss, key, and great chain of Revelation 20:1, and should believe that Satan is really a dragon. How would a physical chain hold a spirit being?


General Resurrection To Be On the Last Day

As pointed out earlier, John 6:39,40,44,54 teaches us that the resurrection of the righteous is to be on the last day, not one thousand or more years before the last day. In John 11:23-26, Martha told Jesus that she knew Lazarus would rise on the last day, and Jesus did not rebuke or correct her. Jesus was not too shy to correct people who were wrong. Here He was undoubtedly very happy to learn that Martha, unlike many people today, paid attention to what He is recorded as having taught in John 6:39,40,44,54. How many times does Jesus have to repeat something for it to be believed? For additional evidence that the resurrection is to be on the last day, look at 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 together. The "last trump" signals the last day.


A General Judgment

Not only is there to be a general resurrection of all the dead, but there will also be a general judgment involving both the righteous and the wicked. Note the emphasis in Revelation 20:11-15 that ALL are being judged. Verse 12 says, "the dead, the great and the small." Verse 13 tells us that both the sea and the earth – "Hades" here refers to the graves in the earth - give up their dead. This is to emphasize the inclusiveness. Verse 13 says "they were judged, EVERY ONE OF THEM." Every one of whom? The dead! And verse 14 says, "if anyone's name was not found in the book of life," clearly implying that the names of some being judged WILL be found in the book of life. These verses are very similar to John 5:28-29. Both texts emphasize that ALL the dead are resurrected and judged.

That the judgments of the righteous and wicked will occur together is clearly seen from: Matthew 13:24-30,38-43, Matthew 13:47-50, Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, Revelation 11:18, Revelation 20:11-15 (see comments above), 2 Corinthians 5:10 (in light of Revelation 20:11-15 and Matthew 25:31-33), Matthew 16:27 (in light of Revelation 20:11-15 and Matthew 25:31-33), Matthew 12:36-37, and Acts 17:31.


General Judgment To Also Be On the Last Day

The general resurrection is far from the only important event of the last day. As pointed out above, John 12:48 places the judgment on the last day. Additional texts placing the judgment on the last day are: Matthew 13:24-30,36-43, esp. verses 30,39-43; Matthew 25:31-32 (in light of Matthew 24:29-31 and Luke 21:25-27); and Revelation 11:15-19 (in light of 1 Corinthians 15:52).


Second Coming of Jesus Also To Be On the Last Day

Finally, the second coming of Jesus is also to be on the last day. See Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, 2 Peter 3:10, Matthew 13:38-43 (in light of Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 24:29-31, and Mark 13:24-27), and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (in light of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and Revelation 11:15-19).


Conclusion

Don’t accept the claims of the [literal thousand-year] millennialists. When studying the relevant Scriptures, notice the number and clarity of the texts cited in support of the points above. Then look at the texts offered to support the notion of a thousand years separating the resurrections of the righteous and wicked dead. You will find the latter texts less clear, and often badly or dubiously interpreted. There is no excuse for being wrong on these issues. Scripture is clear. Even most Catholics have this right, and everyone knows they pay little attention to Biblical eschatology.


Last edited on August 4, 2005


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