by Pastor Bruce Naumann
The word “millennium” means “1,000," and is often used to express the false belief in an earthly reign of Christ for 1,000 years. This teaching is common among Reformed, and especially Pentecostal, churches. The teaching is based mostly on a false interpretation of Revelation chapter 20. See “Appendix 1" for an overview of the most common views concerning the order of events leading up to the end of the world. This presentation is divided into three parts: 1) The True Teaching of Scripture, 2) False Teachings Refuted, and 3) The Importance of this Subject to Us. May God bless our study!
Part One: The True Teaching of Scripture
A. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.
Luke 17:20-24 – “The kingdom of God is within you.”
John 18:33-37 – “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Acts 1:1-9 – “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
B. The Bible teaches that by Jesus’ work of redemption, Satan has already been defeated.
John 12:30-31 – “...now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
Colossians 1:12-14 – “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love...”
C. The Bible teaches that believers must expect only crosses and trials in this life just like Jesus Himself experienced.
John 16:28-33 – “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Matthew 10:17-25 – “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.”
2 Timothy 3:10-16 – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
D. The Bible teaches that the “first” resurrection happens when we become believers, and that there will be only ONE bodily resurrection of all people, on the Last Day.
John 5:24-29 – “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.”
Ephesians 2:1-10 – “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)...”
(This is the meaning of “first resurrection” in Revelation 20:6)
E. The Bible teaches that the day and hour of His final coming will remain unknown – therefore we need to be ready for the final Day of Judgment to arrive at any moment.
Matthew 24:35-44 – “But of that day and hour no one knows... Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
1 Peter 4:1-7 – “But the end of all things is at hand.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 – “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night... but let us watch and be sober.”
F. The Bible teaches that Jesus will come on the Last Day, in great glory, to judge all the living, as well as all the resurrected dead.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 – “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
Matthew 25:31-46 – “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.... And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
G. Our creeds and the Lutheran Confessions agree that there will be only one resurrection of all the dead, at Jesus’ second and final coming on the Last Day.
The Apostles’ Creed: “He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
The Nicene Creed: “He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.”
The Athanasian Creed: “Christ... suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, is seated on the right hand of the Father, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At His coming all men shall rise with their bodies and give an account of their own deeds.”
Article XVII of the Augsburg Confession states: “Also they teach that at the consummation of the world Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly and devils He will condemn to be tormented without end... They condemn also others, who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of the kingdom of the world, the ungodly being everywhere suppressed.”
Part Two: False Teaching Refuted
A. Old Testament prophecies of a glorious kingdom of peace do NOT refer to an earthly millennial kingdom. They are fulfilled NOW in our peace with God that comes through the Gospel.
Compare Isaiah chapter 11 with Romans 15:8-13 – The fulfillment of the prophecy is NOW!
Compare Amos 9:8-14 with Acts 15:12-17 – The fulfillment of the prophecy is NOW!
Compare Zechariah 6:12, Luke 1:32-33, and Jeremiah 22:24-30, which says “Write this man [Jehoiachin, last of David’s line of rulers] down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.” Though Jesus was descended from Jehoiachin, He was never meant to rule on David’s literal throne in Judah! His rule is in the hearts of believers now, and in the glory of heaven forever.
B. There will be NO mass conversion of the Jews.
Compare Romans 11:25-27 with Romans 2:28-29, and Galatians 3:26-29. Today’s “true Israel” are all those whose hearts rest on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation!
C. Revelation chapter 20 is NOT about an earthly kingdom.
Revelation is the account of John’s VISION given to him on the island of Patmos. Many of the things in Revelation are supposed to be interpreted as SYMBOLS. See Revelation chapter 20, and note carefully the many SYMBOLS that are used:
• A dragon
• A key
• An abyss or pit
• A “mark” on the forhead or hand (see Revelation 9:4)
It is certainly a strange interpretation which would say that a symbolic serpent was bound with a symbolic chain and thrown into a symbolic abyss which was locked with a symbolic key, to be confined for a literal thousand years!
“1,000" is one of many symbolic numbers used in the Bible (for example 3, 7, 12, 40).
See Revelation 7:2-10, for numbers used as symbols in the book of Revelation.
The “1,000 years” in Revelation 20 means “a large number of years, known only to God, between the time of Jesus’ ascension and His coming in glory on the Last Day.” When God intends something in a Bible passage to be a symbol, it would be a false interpretation to force a “literal” meaning.
Notice also the PLACE where Revelation 20 takes place. It is in HEAVEN, not on earth.
Notice also the PEOPLE involved in Revelation 20. They are not earthly Christians; they are the SOULS of those who have died for their faith.
Notice also that the TIME of Jesus’ rule is NOT limited. It is souls in heaven who ruled WITH Christ for “1,000 years.” This does not limit JESUS’ rule to 1,000 years – His rule is forever!
To sum up: Revelation chapter 20 says nothing about an earthly reign of Christ in Jerusalem!
D. The Antichrist will NOT arise in the future; he has ALREADY been revealed.
Millennialists claim that some person in the future, who gains great political and religious power, will be revealed as the Antichrist. This is false. See “Appendix 2" at the end of this paper.
Part Three: The Importance of this Subject to Us
A. We must be prepared for the end NOW; there will be no second chance!
B. We should rejoice in Christ’s accomplished victory that promises heavenly, not earthly glory.
C. We should be content to suffer trial and persecution until the end, following the same path that our Savior walked.
See Colossians 3:1-4
Appendix 1: Chronology Charts of the End Times
Appendix 2: The Antichrist has Already been Revealed
Scripture uses the term “antichrist” in both a wide and a narrow sense. In 1 John 2:18 all false teachers are called “antichrists.” Insofar as anyone teaches something that is not in harmony with God’s Word, they are acting as an “antichrist.” But in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 a special “falling away” and a special “man of lawlessness” are described. The marks of this great Antichrist described in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are these:
• His rise is marked by a great “rebellion” (v.3). The context of the whole chapter indicates that this is a spiritual, not a political, falling away.
• The Antichrist has his seat “in the temple of God” (v.4). His attack will arise from within Christianity, not from without. That is why it can hide itself as a “secret power of lawlessness” (v.7).
• He acts as if he were God Himself (v.4), taking to himself honor and power that is due to God alone.
• He is not Satan himself, since he is described as being “in accordance with the work of Satan” (v.9). His kingdom is built and backed by all manner of lying powers and signs and wonders.
• He was already at work in Paul’s day, though held in check (v.6), and will be active until Judgment Day, when he will be destroyed by Christ (v.8). Therefore he cannot be a single individual.
There is only one historical development that fits this detailed description. It is the Roman Catholic Papacy. It is true that the Roman Catholic church confesses the Trinity and Jesus as the Son of God – it certainly is “in the temple of God,” that is, within visible Christianity. However, the institution of the pope officially condemns the real Gospel. It says that people who believe that they are made right with God only by the blood and merit of Jesus Christ are cursed (Council of Trent, Session VI, can. 11,12,20). Its teachings on penance, purgatory, and the “re-sacrifice” of Christ in the Mass reinforce this anti-Gospel message. The pope claims infallibility and absolute rule over Christendom, and portrays himself as the “vicar of Christ on earth,” that is, the one through whom we must approach God. It is also common knowledge that the Papacy, past and present, employs all manner of lying powers, signs, and wonders to bolster its rule. Its beginnings go back to the earliest times of the New Testament Church, and it will no doubt persist until Judgment Day.
Christ teaches that salvation is by grace alone. Since the great falling away and cursing of that Gospel comes from within Christianity, and since this falling away is led by a man who, sitting in the temple of God, places himself between God and all people, we rightly recognize the Roman Catholic Papacy as the Antichrist.
Note: This study was prepared by Pastor Bruce Naumann and presented to the Bible Class at Zion Lutheran Church,
Lawrenceville, GA by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew.
If you would like more information about this study,
please contact Pastor Mayhew