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Revelation 20

Revelation Revisited psot 57

The Book and the Books

Revelation 20

The book of Revelation starts with a depiction of God the Father, sitting on His throne with a book (scroll) in His hands, and it ends with Him opening a set of books.

We are drawing very near to the end of the Revelation Revisited series and so before I explain the significance of the books of Revelation 20:12, I once again need to present a glimpse of the big picture. Actually, the part of Revelation we are currently looking at, Chapter 20, provides an excellent basis for doing just that.

Revelation Revisited in Article ImageJohn provides a graphic portrayal of a mighty angel seizing Satan and binding him for 1,000 years. The thousand years stands as a symbol for the long period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The devil was effectively bound when Jesus died and rose again from the grave. From that moment onward Satan’s authority was stripped from him and he lost the right to control the lives of all who follow Jesus and are born again of His spirit.

‘You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; he cancelled the unfavourable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. And on that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession.’ TEV. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Revelation 20:4-6 presents those who become disciples of the Lord Jesus, die and go to be with Him in heaven where they reign with Him. As part of what he called ‘a trustworthy saying’, Paul wrote that ‘If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him…’ (2 Timothy 2:11-12). Revelation 20:5 describes this as ‘the first resurrection’. I have written about this in a previous post  but essentially the allusion is to the fact that when a believer dies physically ‘in Christ’ then he or she is then and there resurrected to spiritual life with Jesus in heaven. When Christ returns these believers will accompany Him and receive, along with all other people, transformed physical bodies (the second resurrection).
Shortly before Jesus returns to judge and reward, the devil is ‘set free for a short time’. He will deceive the world into thinking that he is The Christ and will mobilise against the true church of the Lord Jesus.
This is the period of great tribulation and great revival the book of Revelation points us to in passages such as 7:14 and 11:1-14.

When Jesus comes again it is to reward His disciples and to judge all others. This event is portrayed in Revelation as the opening of books, and another book which Revelation 20:12 describes as ‘the book of life’. God will judge all people, saved and unsaved alike, by what is in the record of our lives. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’.

Here is how I imagine it will be. You will stand before the great throne of God and He will open the record of your life. As He does so, you will see, in vivid holographic reality, everything you have ever done, spoken or even thought.

As you review your life in the awesome presence of Almighty God you will realise with clarity that there is nothing in the records that merit your acceptance by Him and your continuing existence with Him. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This is so hard for us to own now, but we will see it so clearly then. But then The Lord will open another record, the Book of Life, and search for your name. This ‘book’ is written in blood, the blood of the Saviour, and if your name is inscribed in it then, despite your lack of earned merit, you will be deemed acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. The entry in the book is made when you repent of self-serving rebellion against God, confess this to Him, cry out to Him for mercy, acknowledge that in Jesus Christ alone can you have eternal life, and then receive the rebirth of your spirit as a gift of grace received by faith.

This is the eternal Gospel, the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus.


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Meddlesome Millennium

That Meddlesome Millennium

Millennium matters

Millennium is a word that has caused more confusion than possibly any other word in the Bible, but it isn’t actually in the Bible.

Revelation 20:3 refers to a 1,000-year reign of Christ. The Greek word used for 1,000 is ‘chilia’ but in 405AD Jerome  compiled the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible and translated the word as ‘millennium’. So this became one of the several Latin words that have crept into some English translations of the Bible that never were in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

Millennium Matters

Over the last several hundred years, various scholars have built systems of interpreting biblical prophecy based on the books of Daniel and Revelation along with the meddlesome Millennium. But it’s not really the word itself that is the problem, it’s the insistence by its champions in interpreting Revelation as a literal calendar of events.

The basis of the various Millennium schemes is that Jesus will return physically to Earth to rule ‘with an iron sceptre’ (Revelation 2:27) for 1,000 years.

This idea is developed from just six verses of scripture, Revelation 20:1-6, and the outline of most schemes goes like this:

  • Jesus will return physically to Earth and set himself up in a rebuilt temple on The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
  • He will rule like an Old Testament king, re-institute the temple sacrificial system and the Law, and administer justice with iron resolve.
  • Salvation through Faith alone will no longer apply.
  • Any contact with God will only be possible through physical exposure to King Jesus.
  • In some schemes, 144,000 Jews will serve as the immortal soldiers of the King.

Now consider more carefully some of the problems caused by this belief system:

  • The presence of God would then be limited once again to one place in geography and time. One of the great benefits of the Holy Spirit coming into the world is that any saved person, anywhere and at any time can enter into the presence of Almighty God.
  • If the Lord returned to take up long-term residence on Earth, then where would he locate? In Jerusalem, of course; and a rebuilt Temple would probably be his headquarters. The problem is that 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 has this to say; “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” So, if the temple is ever to be rebuilt in Jerusalem it will be a sign of the antichrist, not of the return of Jesus.
  • During the 1 000 years, there would be many millions of people living on Earth. Would they remain alive all that time? Would babies be born? But more importantly, how would they be saved? If Jesus is ruling with a ‘rod of iron’ as the ultimate benign dictator, then what of free will and what of grace? Would salvation again be a matter of works?
    There is also a very serious theological problem with the doctrine of the Millennium that imputes the value of the Atonement. Revelation 20:1-3 reads; “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time”. In terms of a literalistic scheme of interpretation, this would mean that Satan is only “‘bound” when Jesus returns at the beginning of the 1,000 year period. So what was the crucifixion all about then? What did Jesus mean when He declared to His disciples two millennia ago that “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18)? And what did Paul mean when he wrote: ‘And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’’(Colossians 2:15)? Surely any teaching that claims that when Jesus died on the cross He did not decisively deal with Satan is seriously in error and effectively empties the cross of Christ of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17).

What do I believe concerning the 1,000 years referred to in Revelation Chapter 20? Well, I can’t really state it any better than I did in my book Revelation in the Stars, which is available as a free pdf, should you wish to read it, HERE:

I believe that the millennium is a present reality. Christ ushered it in with his first advent, and it will be succeeded by the final state at his second coming. I believe that Almighty God has only one plan of salvation, based on the finished work of Calvary. God saved specific Old Testament saints through their trust in his grace, and all other believers since have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. I believe that there are just two ages – this present age, and the age to come referred to as the new Heaven and Earth. I believe that at the cross Jesus Christ bound Satan from having authority over humankind, but that he will loose the devil on Earth near the end of time. Actually, I think that Satan will incarnate as the final anti-Christ. I believe that the church lives in a world of tribulation, but that this tribulation will grow progressively worse. At the very end, Jesus will come again, in a single cataclysmic event, to bring history to its close, and to usher in the final state. He will come with those believers who have previously died and have been with him in Heaven. As he comes again to Earth, the believers still on this planet will join him (be raptured) and accompany him to the planet’s surface, where he will judge all mankind. God will resurrect all humanity with immortal material bodies, both the saved and unsaved, and all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. He will banish forever from his presence those whom he does not know, the unsaved. Those who are his disciples will receive rewards in accordance with what they have done during their earthly lives. Then this present world will be purified by fire, destroyed, and remade without the limitations of space and time as we know them. Heaven and Earth will be one, and God will at last dwell within his creation with his beloved children.




That Meddlesome Millennium Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.