Saturday, January 23, 2010

Millennial Thoughts

I read the famous admonition of Henry Alford concerning the interpretation in Revelation 20 is worth repeating here:

As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatments of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain psychai ezesan ["souls came to life"] at the first, and the rest of the nekroi ezesan ["dead came to life"] only at the end of a specified period after the first, -- if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave; -- then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. - Henry Alford, "Apocalypse of John" in The Greek New Testament, 4.732

I think Alford's criticism is a valid one. It is evident that an interpreter who doesn't believe in a millennial reign after the Second Coming and prior to the eternal state in Revelation 20 approaches the passage with preconceived notions and leaves with the same; he gains from the text "neither the exact sense nor the value."


Mark said...

I like what Hoekema says: "Why should he after his return in glory still have to rule his enemies with a rod of iron, and still have to crush a final rebellion against him at the close of the millennium? Was not Christ’s battling against his enemies completed during his state of humiliation? Did he not during that time win the final, decisive victory over evil, sin, death, and Satan? Does not the Bible teach that Christ is coming back in the fullness of his glory to usher in, an interim period of qualified peace and blessing, but the final state of unqualified perfection."

Matthew said...

There are many respectable Bible teachers out there who hold different positions on the Millennium. I think George Eldon Ladd significantly answers Hoekema's questions in his books, "The Last Things - An Eschatology for Laymen", "The Gospel of the Kingdom - Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God", and in "Presence of the Future - The Eschatology of Biblical Realism". Basically, what it is boiled down to is that Hoekema has an over-realized eschatology. But to quote Ladd, from "The Gospel of the Kingdom",

"From the New Testament perspective, the eschatological act of God is usually viewed as a single day which will introduce The Age to Come. However, the Revelation of John, as well as I Corinthians 15: 20-28, indicates that there are yet to be two eschatological stages in the accomplishment of the divine purpose and the establishment of God's Kingdom. The transition from This Age to The Age to Come will not occur in a single great event at the Coming of Christ."