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1) Total Binding of Satan

Amillennialists scholars understand that the Millennium is a period between the first and second coming of Christ, so, for them, we are already living in the Millennium period. However, this view is very difficult to be reconciled with the biblical data. In Revelation 20, we read that, during the Millennium, Satan will not deceive the nations, because he will be imprisoned.

Amillennialists try to solve this problem talking about a partial imprisonment. William Hendriksen, for example, said that the binding of Satan is associated with the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[1] He says more specifically that this imprisonment began when Jesus triumphed over Satan in the temptation in the wilderness.[2] For him, the imprisonment is the reduction of the power of Satan to prevent the light of divine revelation and the Gospel of salvation reach the nations.[3]

However, as we will see from now, the biblical data point to a total imprisonment and not partial one.[4] John Macarthur says the text of Revelation states that the activity of Satan in the world will not be merely restricted or restrained, but totally curtailed; he will not be permitted to influence the world in any way.”[5] A natural reading Apcalipse 20 implies a literal prison, complete and total, exactly what is advocated by the pre-millennialism.[6] Grant Osborne observed very well:

“Is this a total or a partial cessation of demonic activity? This is at the heart of the premillennial-amillenial debate. Those who believe that 20:1–10 refers to the period of the church between the advents (e.g., Hendriksen, Hoekema, P. Hughes, Beale) say that the binding is the same as Mark 3:27 (cf. John 12:31; Col. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:18–19) and refers to the church age. Therefore, Satan is not inactive but rather restricted. He cannot stop the missionary enterprise of God’s people; he can deceive the unsaved but cannot keep them from turning to Jesus if drawn by the Spirit. When God “seals” him, it means God is in control, not Satan. Thus, the devil is curtailed but not powerless. While this view is viable, the language of the text and the theological position of it vis-à-vis the other “deception” passages make this position difficult to uphold. Satan is restricted in this aeon, but only with respect to believers (who are “kept by the power of God,” 1 Pet. 1:5; see my comments on 12:9), not unbelievers. The NT presents his power over this world strongly. He “blinds the minds” of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4) and is depicted as “a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He “traps” the unwary (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26) and is especially “at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:2). He is the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), the “prince of this world” (John 12:31), and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The demons are described as “the powers of this dark world” and “the spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12). It is hard to see how this could describe someone imprisoned so he could not “deceive the nations.” Satan in this age is primarily characterized as the “deceiver,” so 20:3b does not fit the current situation. Rather, it demands a later period after the parousia.”[7]

Tue use of the word abyss (Rev. 20:1) also corroborates for a total binding view. The word abyss refers to a prison for evil spirits; when evil spirits are confined in the abyss, the Bible indicates that they are prevented from roaming free on earth.[8] In Luke 8:31, the abyss is understood as a total imprisonment.[9] In Revelation 9, “John sees a swarm of locusts [which are demons] coming up out of the pit. The harm caused by these pit locusts occurs only after they are released. The necessary implication is that their influence is not experienced by anyone as long as they are locked up in the pit. The graphic language about the key, opening the pit, subsequent instructions about harming, and coming on the earth … all converges to make the point that these ‘locusts’ had no influence on earthly inhabitants prior to the time of their release” (Blaising 1999: 217–18).[10]

Therefore, Matthew Waymeyer correctly says that the text does not say that Satan will deceive the nations less than he did in the past—it says that he will deceive the nations no longer.[11]

 

2) Chronological Sequence Between Chapters 19 and 20 of Revelation

The premillennial theologian Rober Culver notes that there is a chronological relationship between Chapter 19 and 20 of Revelation. For this author, if there was no separation of editorial sections, something that was part of the original writing, this chronological continuity between these two chapters would be more evident.[12]

Culver says that in chapter 19 we see the elimination of two members of the evil trinity (the Beast and the False Prophet), while in chapter 20, we see the the elimination of the third member of this satanic trinity, the Satan himself.[13]

Dr. Robert L. Thomas wisely noted that the imprisonment of three members of the satanic trinity in the lake of fire does not occur at the same time as the Bible tells us: And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.(Rev. 20:10).[14] Note that the text says that Satan will be imprisoned in a place where already the beast and the false prophet were. This means that there should be a long period of time between the Second Coming (destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet) and the Last Judgment (Destruction of Satan). What period will be this? The Millennium.

Mark Hitchcock also shows how the events described in these two chapters are chronologically sequential:

  • Second coming of Christ (19: 11-21);
  • Millennium / Satan bound (20: 1-6);
  • Satan released / final battle of Gog and Magog (20: 7-10);
  • Great White Throne Judgment (20: 11-15).[15]

Amillennialists like William Hendriksen and Anthony Hoekma divide the book into parallel sections that are not sequential or chronological, therefore, they do not see a chronological relationship between Chapters 19 and 20. Against this, the author Craig Blaising made a solid and excellent argument showing that all the text in Revelation 19: 11-21: 8 is compost of visions that concern the coming of Christ and its consequent effects, namely, the unfolding judgment on the wicked and the fulfillment of blessing on the people of God. The Millennium is one of these consequences; it is not a vision of circumstances that exist prior to the Parousia.[16]

 

3) The Unconditional Promises and Covenants made by God to Israel

God promised to give the land of Canaan to the nation of Israel as an everlasting possession (Gen. 12.7; 13:15, 17; 15.7-8; 17.7-8; 24.27; 26.3; 28: 13-14; 35:12; 50:24). This promise is clearly unconditional. Walter Kaiser notes:

“Thus He obligated Himself and only Himself to fulfill the terms of this oath. Abraham was not asked or required likewise to obligate himself. The total burden for the delivery of the gift of the land fell on the divine Provider but not on the devotion of the patriarch. As if to underscore the permanence of this arrangement, Genesis 17:7, 13, 19 stress that this was to be a בְּרִית עוֹלָם, “an everlasting covenant.”[17]

Thus, the responsibility to fulfill the promises and alliances was specifically and solely on God. The disobedience on the part of Abraham or his descendants would prevent them from temporally enjoy some benefits of promise, but would not nullify them. For example, Dr. Benware said that sin and disobedience would cause the loss of the some covenant’s benefits, but would not cancel the covenant itself.[18]

Indeed Abraham failed: he left the land of Canaan to live in Egypt. The seed of Abraham also failed, but the promise, despite all these failures, was ratified and reiterated several times in the Bible (Ex 3:24; Deut 9.5-6; Deuteronomy 4:31; 2 Kings 13:23; Luke 1.67-73, Acts 3.25-26 , Hebrews 6:13, 17-18).

Many amillennialists authors and post-millenianlist claim that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan, because Israel rejected the Messiah. For these authors, the promises made to Israel will not be fulfilled literally to this nation because they depended on the obedience of the Jewish people. However, Paul says that the rejection of the Jewish people, or its hardening, is not something permanent, but temporary (Rom 11.25-26). He also says that Israel’s restoration will occur because the election of Israel and the “patriarchs” is “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).[19]

 

 4) The Problem of the “Resurrections” in Revelation 20

a) The Problem of the First Resurrection

Augustine understood that the first resurrection was a spiritual resurrection, meaning regeneration. Another amillennialists, as Hoekma and Hendriksen, say that the first resurrection means the rise of Christians to heaven after death.

However, none of the above interpretation is consistent with the Bible data. The verb revive is not connected to conversion, as it appears after the reporting of a physical death (they were beheaded … and they lived, Rev. 20:4). Note that these people are reviving not because they were spiritually dead, but because they were beheaded. Saucy notes that they are “portrayed as physically dead just before the statement ‘They came to life and reigned’ (v. 4), which suggests that this new life is physical”.[20]

Matthew Waymeyer says that of the 42 times that it is used in the New Testament, the word “resurrection” is never used to refer to regeneration.[21] This author quotes Millard Erickson as follow:

“Because both the first and second resurrections are described in identical terminology, ezesan, and because no qualifying adjectives or adverbs or anything else indicate that the two resurrections are different in kind, the attempt to make them different appears to be purely arbitrary.”[22]

Against the Hoekma e Hendriksen view, that the first resurrection means the ascension to heaven, Matthew Waymeyer says that the word “resurrection” (anastasis) is never used in the New Testament to refer to the translation of the believer’s soul into heaven at the point of death.[23]

 

b) The Problem of the Second Resurrection.

To amillennialists, the second resurrection will be a physical resurrection to all men of all time. They point to some texts that apparently speak of a final resurrection to all people (John 5.28-29, Acts 24:15; Dn 12.2).

However, this interpretation also does not agree with the teaching of Scripture. The verse 4 of Revelation, as we have seen, speaks of the first resurrection. The verse 5 speaks of the second resurrection and clearly indicate who will participate in it, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20.5). It is undeniable that the text states that only those who did not participate in the first resurrection (“the rest of the dead”) will participate in the second resurrection.[24] Matthew Waymeyer observes very well:

“The first resurrection will restore believers to bodily life for their millennial reign,  whereas the second resurrection will bring “the rest of the dead” (i.e., all unbelievers) before the great white throne to be judged (Rev 20:11–13).”[25]

As for the texts that supposedly teach one general resurrection (Dan 12.2; John 5.28-29), we must understand that they teach only that there will be a resurrection to eternal life and other to eternal destruction. According to the principle of progressive revelation, we understand that the above texts talked about two resurrections, however, only in a subsequent revelation the Bible clearly specify that they do not occur together. This is a common fact in Bible prophecy, for example, the two comings of Christ to the Earth was presented together in the OT.

 

5) Biblical Passages That Requires a Literal Millennium

Isaiah prophesies a time when the animals will be tame, the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat hay like the ox (Isaiah 65.25). Some say this prophecy refers only to eternity in heaven, but this interpretation can not be true, because we also read that there will be death and sin at this time (Isaiah 65.20). This shows the need for a Millennial Kingdom. Michael Vlach observes very well:

Now we must ask the question, “When will these conditions described in Isa 65:20 take place? Can it be during our present age? The answer is clearly, No. We live in a day where people live between 70–80 years on average (see Ps 90:10). If a person dies today at age 100 we say he lived a long life, not a short one. So will Isa 65:20 be fulfilled in the coming eternal state? The answer again must be, No. In the eternal state there is no longer any sin, death, or curse (Rev 21:4; 22:3), so no one will by dying. Therefore, Isa 65:20 must be fulfilled in an era that is different from our current period yet distinct from the eternal state. This means there must be an intermediate kingdom or what we call a millennium.[26]

Soon after the resurrection, Jesus remained on earth for 40 days teaching the disciples about the Kingdom of God (Acts 1.3). The theme of the teaching of Jesus is very important. These instructions gave a great certainty to his disciples that He would restore a literal kingdom to Israel. Precisely for this reason, the disciples asked Jesus before his Ascension: “Lord, is this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1.6). If premillennialism was false, this was the right time for Jesus correct his disciples. However, Jesus does not dispel the hope of a literal Kingdom to Israel, but tells them the time of the Kingdom restoration could not be revealed at that time (Acts 1.6). It is implied by the response of Jesus that the restoration was in the plan of God. This hope of a literal kingdom to Israel remained even after the Ascension of Jesus. Peter spoke of this hope clearly to his fellow Jews:

 But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets – that his Christ would suffer – he has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out,  so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus. This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:18-21)

John Macarthur observes that Peter made two important points. First, he emphasized that the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus’ first coming were literally fulfilled (v. 18); thus, the Jews ought also to expect prophecies about Christ’s second coming to be fulfilled in a literal way (vv. 20-21). Second, Peter used millennial language—indicating that he was speaking of the earthly kingdom expected by his Jewish audience. Phrases such as “times of refreshing” and “the period of restoration of all things” are millennial phrases, borrowing imagery from the Old Testament, with which Peter’s listeners would have been readily familiar.[27]


 

Notes:

[1] Robert Culver. Teologia Sistemática, Bíblica e Histórica. Pg 1501

[2] William Hendriksen. More Than Conquerors. Pg 222

[3] William Hendriksen. More Than Conquerors. Pg 222

[4] Robert. L. Thomas em As interpretações do Apocalipse. Pg 213

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (p. 236). Chicago: Moody Press.

[6]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 19.

[7]Osborne, G. R. (2002). Revelation. Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (702). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

[8] John Macarthur. Christ’s Prophetic Plans (Kindle Locations 2175-2176).

[9]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 19.

[10]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 20.

[11]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 24.

[12] Robert Culver. Teologia Sistemática, Bíblica e Histórica. Pg 1492

[13] Robert Culver. Teologia Sistemática, Bíblica e Histórica. Pg 1492

[14] C. Marwin Pate. As Interpretações de Apocalipse. Pg 213; Ver também o Comentário Exégetico do Dr. Robert L. Thomas.

[15] • Hitchcock, Mark (2012-11-01). 101 Answers to Questions About the Book of Revelation (p. 217).

[16] Bock, Darrell L. (2010-07-14). Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) (p. 212)

[17] Walter Kaiser. The Promesed Land: A Bíblical Historical View, em Bibliotheca Sacra: Volume 138.  Pg 303

[18] Benware, Paul. Understanding End Times Prophecy (Kindle Location 767).

[19] MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 1715). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

[20] Quoted by Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 41.

[21]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 37.

[22]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 37.

[23]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 39.

[24] Wayne Grudem. Teologia Sistemática. Pg 955

[25]Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2004), 40.

[26] Michael Vlach. Is Revelation 20 the Only Supporting Text For Premillenialism? Disponível em < http://theologicalstudies.org/ files/resources/Rev_20_an_d_OT.pdf> (26/02/2013)

[27] MacArthur, John F.; Mayhue, Richard. Christ’s Prophetic Plans (Kindle Location 2935). Ver também Norman Geisler. Teologia Sistemática: vol 2. Pg 939

 

Author: Leonardo Costa