The Thousand-Year Reign

Revelation 20:4-6
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:1-3 ~ The Binding of the Dragon. In this post, we continue in Chapter 20 to examine The Thousand-Year Reign.

4 Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. ~ Revelation 20:4-6 (CJB)

Will Yeshua literally reign for one thousand years on the earth? Revelation 20:1-7 mentions the one thousand years six times. It is as if Yochanan wanted to make sure there was no dispute about this literal, earthly reign of Yeshua. Personally, I believe this is a literal, thousand-year period, when the Lord of Glory will be the King of the earth.

Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. The thrones mentioned are probably twelve in number, one for each of the Twelve Emissaries. Compare Matthew 19:28, where Yeshua speaking to the Twelve Emissaries says: “Yes. I tell you that in the regenerated world when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Isra’el.

The Twelve Emissaries are not the only ones who will reign with Yeshua, as the Redeemed will, also, be rulers and judges with Him during the millennial era. And they sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. 10 You made them into a kingdom for God to rule, cohanim to serve him, and they will rule over the earth.” ~ Revelation 5:9-10 (CJB). Also note the words of Sha’ul: Don’t you know that God’s people are going to judge the universe? If you are going to judge the universe, are you incompetent to judge these minor matters?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:2 (CJB). The last group mentioned to have part in the thousand year reign is those who lived and died during the Tribulation period. Revelation Chapter Seven, which is parenthetical, gave a picture of those coming to Yeshua in which there were 144,000 Jews, plus a huge crowd, too large for anyone to count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language.” Revelation 7:9 (CJB).

David Stern opines that we should also compare Daniel’s prophecy: “As I looked, thrones were placed,… and millions… sat in judgment… And the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.” (Daniel 7:9-10, 22)  According to G. E. Ladd: [1]

“[Revelation 20:4-6] is the only passage in the entire Bible which teaches a temporal millennial kingdom, and there is only one other passage in the New Testament which may envisage a temporal reign of Christ between his parousia [coming] and the telos [consummation, final goal]: I Cor. 15:23-24.” (Revelation, p. 267) 

“(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection.”  The rest of the dead are those who refused to accept Yeshua as Lord and Savior and they will be brought back to life at the close of the thousand years to face the Great White Throne Judgment. The sentence about these unredeemed ones is placed in the midst of the narrative about those who are of the first resurrection, and in some translations is placed in parentheses (as Stern does) to set it apart from those who have already experienced resurrection and are reigning with Yeshua.

The question as to the number of resurrections that will take place has divided Bible students down through the centuries. How many are there? Some believe there is only one and hold strong to their position, while others believe there are two resurrections. Read the words of Yeshua: “Don’t be surprised at this; because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice and come out — those who have done good to a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment. ~ John 5:28-29 (CJB)  It seems that Yeshua makes it very clear that there are two resurrections. The first he calls the resurrection of life, the second He calls the resurrection of judgment. Yeshua was never ambiguous in His teaching, and here He set forth the fact that there are two resurrections, without pointing out a time lapse between them. Remember also that our text in Revelation refers to the first resurrection. The fact that there is a first resurrection automatically implies that a second resurrection must follow.

Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him, the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. Now, we can easily understand this statement of clarity. For those who know the Lord, they shall have part in this first resurrection and will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. But for those who refuse to believe in Yeshua and experience salvation, there remains only judgment and confinement in hell, which is the second death for all of eternity.

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:4-6 [2]

 For Premillennialists, there is much dispute over the identity of the persons who were seated on the thornes. Most seem to prefer the view that all the saints of the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah are included citing a more inclusive view of Matthew 19:28. The right of authority to judge suggests that they participated with Yeshua in the judicial rule of the nations during the Millennium. Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection implies because they are the only ones living on earth during the Millennium will escape the second death to live in the New Jerusalem.

Two views prevail among Amillennialists concerning the venue of the saints in this vision.  The older view, proposed by Augustine, sees the spiritual reign of Believers on earth in the present age.  An alternate, more widely accepted today, describes the blessedness of the departed saints in heaven after death, but before the resurrection.  They argue that the expression “a thousand years,” although frequently found throughout Scripture, is never used for an actual number of years, but only to suggest the idea of a very long time.

Postmillennialists believe the “thousand years” refers to the progressive victory of the Besorah in the latter part of the present age. The meaning of the first resurrection is not a unanimously settled matter. One view sees the revival of the martyr spirit in these latter days; while the other view sees it referring to the martyrs in the early Kehilah. Yet a third view sees the phrase as a figurative way of referring to the regeneration of the Believer. Or, it may simply mean  Yeshua’s resurrection.

In my next post, we’ll examine HaSatan Again “At Large” in Revelation 20:7-10.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

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