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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [1]

"a thousand years;" generally employed to denote the thousand years, during which, according to an ancient tradition in the church, grounded on some doubtful texts in the Apocalypse and other scriptures, our blessed Saviour shall reign with the faithful upon earth after the first resurrection, before the final completion of beatitude. Though there have been no age of the church in which the millennium was not admitted by individual divines of the first eminence, it is yet evident, from the writings of Eusebius, Irenxus, Origen, and others, among the ancients, as well as from the histories of Dupin, Mosheim, and all the moderns, that it was never adopted by the whole church or made an article of the established creed in any nation. About the middle of the fourth century the Millenarians held the following tenets: 1st, That the city of Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and that the land of Judea should be the habitation of those who were to reign on the earth a thousand years. 2dly, That the first resurrection was not to be confined to the martyrs, but that, after the fall of Antichrist, all the just were to rise, and all that were on the earth were to continue for that space of time. 3dly, That Christ shall then come down from heaven, and be seen on earth, and reign there with his servants. 4thly, That the saints, during this period, shall enjoy all the delights of a terrestrial paradise. These opinions were founded upon several passages in Scripture, which the Millenarians, among the fathers, understood in no other than a literal sense; but which the moderns, who hold that opinion, consider as partly literal and partly metaphorical. Of these passages, that upon which the greatest stress has been laid we believe to be the following:

"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and, after that, he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, nor in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."  Revelation 20:1-6 . This passage all the ancient Millenarians took in a sense grossly literal, and taught, that, during the Millennium, the saints on earth were to enjoy every bodily delight.

The moderns, on the other hand, consider the power and pleasures of this kingdom as wholly spiritual; and they represent them as not to commence till after the conflagration, or the present earth. But that this last supposition is a mistake, the very next verse but one assures us; for we are there told, that, "when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth;" and we have no reason to believe that he will have such power or such liberty in "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." We may observe, however, the following things respecting it:

1. That the Scriptures afford us ground to believe that the church will arrive to a state of prosperity which it never has yet enjoyed,  Revelation 20:4;  Revelation 20:7 .  Psalms 72:11 . Is. 2: 2, 4. 11: 9. 49: 23. 60: Can. 7: 27.

2. That this will continue at least a thousand years, or a considerable space of time, in which the work of salvation may be fully accomplished in the utmost extent and glory of it. In this time, in which the world will soon be filled with real Christians, and continue full by constant propagation to supply the place of those who leave the world, there will be many thousands born and live on the earth, to each one that has been born and lived in the preceeding six thousand years; so that, if they who shall be born in that thousand years shall be all, or most of them saved (as they will be, ) there will, on the whole, be many thousands of mankind saved to one that shall be lost.

3. This will be a state of great happiness and glory. Some think that Christ will reign personally on earth, and that there will be a literal resurrection of the saints,  Revelation 20:4;  Revelation 20:7; but I rather suppose that the reign of Christ and resurrection of saints alluded to in that passage, is only figurative; and that nothing more is meant than that, before the general judgment, the Jews shall be converted, genuine Christianity be diffused through all nations, and that Christ shall reign, by his spiritual presence, in a glorious manner. It will, however, be a time of eminent holiness, clear light and knowledge, love, peace, and friendship, agreement in doctrine and worship. Human life, perhaps, will rarely be endangered by the poisons of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. Beasts of prey, perhaps will be extirpated, or tamed by the power of man. The inhabitants of every place will rest secure from fear of robbery and murder. War shall be entirely ended. Capital crimes and punishments be heard of no more. Governments placed on fair, just, and humane foundations.

The torch of civil discord will be extinguished. Perhaps Pagans, Turks, Deists, and Jews, will be as few in number as Christians are now. Kings, nobles, magistrates, and rulers in churches shall act with principle, and be forward to promote the best interests of men: tyranny, oppression, persecution, bigotry, and cruelty, shall cease. Business will be attended to without contention, dishonesty, and covetousness. Trades and manufactories will be carried on with a design to promote the general good of mankind, and not with selfish interests, as now. Merchandise between distant countries will be conducted without fear of an enemy; and works of ornament and beauty, perhaps, shall not be wanting in those days. Learning, which has always flourished in proportion as religion has spread, shall then greatly increase, and be employed for the best of purposes. Astronomy, geography, natural history, metaphysics, and all the useful sciences, will be better understood, and consecrated to the service of God; and I cannot help thinking that by the improvements which have been made, and are making, in ship-building, navigation, electricity, medicine, &c. that "the tempest will lose half its force, the lightning lose half its terrors, : and the human frame not near so much exposed to danger. Above all, the Bible will be more highly appreciated, its harmony perceived, its superiority owned, and its energy felt by millions of human beings. In fact, the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

4. The time when the Millennium will commence cannot be fully ascertained; but the common idea is, that it will be in the seven thousandth year of the world. It will, most probably, come on by degrees, and be in a manner introduced years before that time. And who knows but the present convulsions among different nations; the overthrow which popery has had in places where it has been so dominant for hundreds of years; the fulfilment of prophecy respecting infidels, and the falling away of many in the last times; and yet in the midst of all, the number of missionaries sent into different parts of the world, together with the increase of Gospel ministers; the thousands of ignorant children that have been taught to read the Bible, and the vast number of different societies that have been lately instituted for the benevolent purpose of informing the minds and impressing the hearts of the ignorant; who knows, I say, but what these things are the forerunners of events of the most delightful nature, and which may usher in the happy morn of that bright and glorious day when the whole world shall be filled with his glory, and all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our God?

See Hopkins on the Millen.: Whitby's Treatise on it, at the end of the 2d Vol. of his Annotations on the New. Tes.; Robert Gray's Discourses, dis. 10; Bishop Newton's Twenty- fifth Diss. on the Proph.; Bellamy's Treat. on the Millennium. There are four admirable papers of Mr. Shrubsole's on the subject, in the 6th vol. of the Theol. Miscellany; Lardner's Cred. 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th vols.; Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. cent. 3, p. 11, ch. 12; Taylor's Sermons on the Millennium; Illustrations of Prophecy, ch. 31.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

The word ‘millennium’ means ‘a thousand years’. Though not found in the Bible, the word refers to the thousand years mentioned in one of the visions of the book of Revelation ( Revelation 20:4-6).

Symbolism in Revelation

Revelation belongs to a kind of literature known as apocalyptic, where teaching is given in the form of strange visions with symbolic meanings (see Apocalyptic Literature ). Readers of the first century, being familiar with that kind of literature, probably understood the visions without too much difficulty. Readers of later generations have had much greater difficulty, and this has resulted in a variety of interpretations of the details of the book (see REVELATION, BOOK OF).

Among the interpretations of  Revelation 20:4-6 there have been three main viewpoints, popularly called amillennial, premillennial and postmillennial. Because of the book’s apocalyptic characteristics, which involve angelic beings, strange beasts and mysterious numbers, many interpreters hesitate to measure off an exact period of one thousand years calculated to the year, month and day. There is considerable agreement, however, that the thousand years represent a long period, whether precisely measured or not.

The different viewpoints are largely concerned with determining what the thousand years reign of Christ refers to (v. 4), and this in turn is tied up with the meaning of the words ‘came to life’ (v. 4-5). Also, the different viewpoints usually consider these matters in relation to the return of Christ, even though Revelation 20 does not mention the return of Christ.

Thousand years reign with Christ

Those who believe that the thousand years reign of Christ refers to his present exaltation in glory are called amillennialists (a meaning ‘without’), because they do not believe that the vision refers to a literal reign of Christ on earth. They consider that the martyrs who ‘come to life’ and reign with Christ are believers of the present Christian era. Through their union with Christ in his death and resurrection, they have already been made alive and made to sit with him in the heavenly places ( Ephesians 2:1;  Ephesians 2:6). According to this view, the other ‘coming to life’, which takes place at the end of the thousand years, refers to a resurrection of all humankind that takes place at the return of Christ. This resurrection leads to final judgment ( Acts 24:15). God’s people then enter with him into the full enjoyment of the eternal age ( Revelation 21:1-4).

By contrast, other interpreters consider that the thousand years reign of Christ refers to a literal reign on earth. Since Christ must return to earth before (pre) this reign can begin, they are called premillennialists. They consider that the martyrs who ‘come to life’ and reign with Christ are believers who are raised to life at Christ’s return ( 1 Corinthians 15:51-52;  1 Thessalonians 4:16). According to this view, the other ‘coming to life’, which takes place at the end of the thousand years, refers to a second resurrection. This occurs at the end of the earthly millennium, when the wicked are raised to face final judgment ( John 5:28-29). After this comes the eternal age, where God and his redeemed people dwell together in unending joy ( Revelation 21:1-4).

The postmillennial view is that Christ will return after (post) the millennium. This view is not as widely held as the two previous views. It has similarities with the amillennial view in its interpretation of the two groups who ‘come to life’ and in its understanding that the thousand years reign of Christ does not refer to a literal reign on earth. However, it has a more optimistic view of life in the world prior to Christ’s return. Whereas the amillennial and premillennial views expect greater opposition from the forces of antichrist ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12), the postmillennial view expects an era of peace and contentment, brought about through the evangelization of the world. According to this view, the thousand years reign of Christ refers to the rule of the kingdom of God in the world ( Matthew 24:14;  Romans 11:11-15).

Thousand years binding of Satan

In the visions of Revelation Chapter 20 the thousand years reign of Christ seems to correspond with the thousand years of Satan’s imprisonment ( Revelation 20:1-3). At the end of this time Satan is released, then, after a brief but violent rebellion, destroyed ( Revelation 20:7-10).

The amillennial and postmillennial view understands the binding of Satan to refer to his conquest by Christ at the cross, so that people might no longer be enslaved by him ( Hebrews 2:14-15; cf.  Luke 10:17-18;  Luke 11:20-22). On this view, the rebellion of Satan refers to the great outbreak of evil by the forces of Satan at the end of the present age. The destruction of Satan comes, therefore, at the return of Christ ( 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8;  Revelation 16:12-21).

The premillennial view understands the binding of Satan to refer to his inability to interfere during the coming earthly reign of Christ ( Matthew 25:31). On this view, the rebellion of Satan refers to a final attempt by Satan to overthrow Christ’s kingly rule. The destruction of Satan comes, therefore, at the end of Christ’s earthly reign ( 1 Corinthians 15:25-28).

The central truth

In spite of the different viewpoints concerning the thousand years reign of Christ, all are agreed that it speaks of the triumph of Christ that he shares with his people ( Matthew 19:28;  Romans 5:17;  Colossians 2:13-15;  2 Timothy 2:12). All are agreed also that the return of Christ is the hope of the church, and that it encourages Christians to greater devotion, increased holiness and more enthusiastic evangelism ( Matthew 24:42;  Luke 19:11-26;  Acts 1:7-11;  Titus 2:11-14;  1 John 3:2-3;  2 Peter 3:11-13). See also ANTICHRIST; DAY OF THE LORD; ESCHATOLOGY; HEAVEN; HELL; JUDGMENT; Kingdom OF GOD; RESURRECTION; SECOND COMING.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

This word signifies a thousand years, and usually refers to that period spoken of in  Revelation 20 . The first resurrection will have taken place before these years commence, the saints who have part in this resurrection will be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with Christ the thousand years. During that period Satan will be confined in the abyss, or bottomless pit.  Revelation 20:1-6 . These two facts prove that the millennium will not be brought about by any present or similar agency in connection with the gospel. Satan must be confined, and the first resurrection must have taken place. See RESURRECTION.Other important events will also have occurred previously, namely, the judgements that must fall upon Judah and Israel before they can under God occupy the first place of earthly blessing in their own land, the nations being blessed through them.  Jeremiah 30:4-9;  Matthew 24:21,22 . Blessing will follow the judgements. They will not speak then of having been brought out of Egypt, but from all countries whither God has driven them.   Jeremiah 23:5-8 . The reconciliation of Israel will be "life from the dead."  Romans 11:15 .

The man of sin also must first be manifested, and, with the resuscitated Roman empire, be crushed.  2 Thessalonians 2:7-12;  Revelation 13;  Revelation 14 . From these, and from other particulars mentioned in scripture, it is clear that there will be a great and marvellous change before the millennium is established, and that change will not be limited to a spiritual change in man, as many suppose. The change will bring about a dispensation entirely different in character from that which now exists during the gathering out from the nations of a people for heavenly blessing. It will be characterised by a universal knowledge of Jehovah in relation to Israel.  Jeremiah 31:34;  Zechariah 14:9 . "All flesh shall know that I Jehovah am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob."  Isaiah 49:26 . The Lord Himself will reign over the earth in righteousness, and all the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.  Psalm 72:8,17;  Isaiah 11:5;  Isaiah 26:9 .

The Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, and creation, now groaning and travailing in pain, will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.  Romans 8:19-22 . "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree."  Isaiah 55:13 : cf.  Isaiah 41:19 . Things and natures, most opposed and diverse, will dwell together in peace. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den."  Isaiah 11:6-8 .

There will be universal peace and blessing all over the earth: instead of the invention of weapons of slaughter, the swords will be beaten into ploughshares.  Isaiah 2:4 .

Thus the kingdom spoken of in  Daniel 2:44 will be established on earth by the God of heaven, and it will consume all other kingdoms. It will be the kingdom of God in power , and the Lord Jesus will be acknowledged King of kings and Lord of lords. He will first reign as son of David, the man of war, and then, when all enemies of His people have been subdued, as Solomon, the man of peace.

Death, though not destroyed, will be swallowed up in victory. If one should die at a hundred years of age he will be considered an 'infant.'  Isaiah 65:20 .

The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the new and heavenly Jerusalem, which descends from God out of heaven, and the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be the temple thereof. The glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The saved nations will walk in the light of it.  Revelation 21:22-24 .

As well as being the fulfilment of all God's promises to Israel, the millennium will be a trial of man under entirely new circumstances. And no sooner will Satan, released from his prison, go forth to deceive the nations, than he will be readily listened to. They will be gathered to attack Jerusalem, but only to meet with their own destruction.  Revelation 20:7-9 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Revelation 20:1-7

Evangelical Christians hold three main views: amillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, and historic premillennialism. A popular view of yesteryear was postmillennialism, but it is no lonhyger widely held, though a new form of it combined with reconstructionist theology has appeared.

The use of the prefixes a- , pre- , and post- with the term millennial could be misleading. Much more is involved in these viewpoints than merely positioning the return of Christ in relation to a millennium. In spite of the danger of over-simplification these terms are so widely used that they furnish the working labels for a study of end time prophecy. The names given the views suggest the general drift of each one.

Postmillennialism The growth of the church and the power of the gospel will cause the world to get better and better until the present order blends into the millennium during which the righteous will be in charge on earth. Evil will be practically nonexistent. Christ will return at the end of the millennium at a time when Satan reasserts his power. The final victory of Christ will occur at that time with final judgment and the eternal order following.

Amillennialism The term suggests “no thousand years.” The idea is no literal thousand year period, but a symbolic expression related to the spiritual blessedness of present Christian experience in which Satan is a defeated enemy and believers reign in life by Christ Jesus. Therefore, this view does not look for a literal, future thousand year reign of Christ on the earth during which Satan is bound.

Premillennialism The idea is that of “before the millennium or thousand years.” Such a view positions the return of Christ prior to a millennial period. There are two broad types of premillennialism.

1. Dispensational premillennialism takes the thousand years to be literal both as to fact and number. The millennium is seen to follow a seven-year tribulation period. At the beginning of the tribulation, the church will be taken out of the world. This rapture of the church is seen as the first phase of the second coming of Christ. During the millennium, Christ will reign on the earth with His saints while Satan is bound in the bottomless pit. The Jews as a nation are seen to have a major place in the events of the millennial period. This view of future events also incorporates many other aspects of biblical prophecy, such as a second phase of Christ's return following the millennium.

2. Historic premillennialism holds to a literal, future reign of Christ on earth, during which Satan is bound a thousand years and the saints reign with Christ. Many who hold this view, however, allow for symbolism in the use of the number 1,000 . While the reign of Christ will be literal, the length of the reign may or may not be exactly 1,000 years. This type of premillennialism does not divide the second coming into two phases. There is a single return between the tribulation and millennium. See Eschatology; Rapture; Future Hope; Seventy Weeks; Tribulation .

Jerry W. Batson

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

MILLENNIUM. A period of a thousand years, during which, according to   Revelation 20:2-7 , the Dragon ( i.e . the devil) is to be confined in the abyss, while the martyrs, having been raised from the dead, are to reign with Christ. The period begins with this first resurrection, and at its end, Satan, prior to his destruction, is to be released for a time to deceive the nations.

This reference in Revelation is unique in the NT. The Millennium was, however, present in the Jewish apocalyptic literature. In Slavonic Enoch (chs. 32 and 33), time is described as a week of seven days, each of one thousand years in length. These six days ( i.e . 6000 years) are said to have elapsed from the time of the Creation to the Judgment. Then will come a ‘sabbath of rest’ of a thousand years, and then an eighth day which shall be timeless. A similar expectation is to be found in the Talmud ( Sanh . 97 a ), and it is not impossible that this conception can be traced back to Babylonia or Persia.

In the history of the Christian Church the doctrine of the Millennium has played a considerable rôle, but Chiliasm (wh. see) has been opposed by most of the great theologians from Augustine down. In the Epistle of Barnabas (ch. 15) we have a view very similar to that of the Slavonic Enoch, while Justin Martyr ( Dial . 80) regards a chiliastic view of the future as an essential part of Christian faith, although he knows that it is not held by all the orthodox. At the present time, in addition to the Second Adventists, millennial views are held strongly by a number of earnest Christians commonly called pre-millenarians because of their belief that Christ will return before the period of a thousand years begins and establish an earthly reign. In accordance with this theory (see Chiliasm, Parousia), the resurrection is to be limited not to martyrs but to all Christians. Such an interpretation obviously does violence to the connexion between the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of Revelation, and gives undue prominence to an expectation which was held by neither Jesus nor St. Paul, nor, in fact, by any writer of the NT except the author of Revelation. At the same time, there is little question that this pre-millennial view is germane to the literalistic Messianic hope which controlled the NT Church, and is not beyond a possible harmonization with   1 Corinthians 15:23 The fundamental difficulty in erecting it into a doctrine of essential Christianity is that it presupposes conditions and expectations, carried over from Judaism, which the course of history has shown to be without foundation.

Shailer Mathews.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(n.) A thousand years; especially, the thousand years mentioned in the twentieth chapter in the twentieth chapter of Revelation, during which holiness is to be triumphant throughout the world. Some believe that, during this period, Christ will reign on earth in person with his saints.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Revelation 20:1-7

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [8]

(See Thousand .)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]

See Eschatology, Parousia.