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Revelation 20 and the Thousand Years

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Gary discusses Revelation 20 and the enduring topic of the thousand years and the various millennial positions found among Christians. 

Nobody interprets the book of Revelation in a consistently literal way, as literal is normally understood. G. K. Beale comments:

Because the objects [John] sees and what he hears are seen and heard in a vision, they are not first to be understood literally but viewed as symbolically portrayed and communicated, which is the symbolic level of the vision. That this vision [in Revelation 20] is shot through with symbols is apparent merely from the obvious symbolic nature of such words as “chain,” “abyss,” “dragon,” “serpent,” “locked,” “sealed,” and “beast.”[1]

Revelation, of all the books of the Bible, is filled with symbols not always meant to be taken “literally,” that is, physically part of our world. The opening verse states that the events are said to be “signified” (esēmanen), that is, serve as “signs”: a throne large enough to accommodate millions of “overcomers” (Rev. 3:21), living creatures with wings (4:8), stars being cast down to the earth and the earth still intact after their impact (6:13), a giant woman large enough to stand on the moon and strong enough to hold a crown of 12 stars on her head (12:1–2), a “great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns” with a nasty tail (12:3–4), sea and land beasts (13:1, 11), fire-breathing men (11:5), a “great harlot who sits on many waters” (17:1), a lamb taking a bride (19:7), a man riding a white horse with a sword coming out of his mouth (19:15, 21), a physical chain designed to bind a spiritual being (20:2).

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation
The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

Since the national reestablishment of Israel in 1948, countless books and pamphlets have been written defending the doctrine assuring readers that it could happen at any moment. Some prophecy writers claimed the “rapture” would take place before 1988. We are far removed from that date. Where are we in God’s prophetic timetable?

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Gary discusses Revelation 20 and the enduring topic of the thousand years and the various millennial positions found among Christians. None of the positions base their view explicitly on the small amount of information found in Revelation 20, which means they look elsewhere in the Bible for support. 

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[1] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 974.

American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Visit for more information, content and resources


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  • jon

    the milinium will be after Jesus returns with His saints and sets up the 1000 year rule to be followed by finishing off satan then we move into eternity.

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