v. 1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
v. 2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
v. 3) 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.
The Bible refers to a specific 1000-year period that we call the Millennium. This is a period of peace, tranquility and justice when Jesus Christ will rule and reign, when Satan will be bound and is no longer free to deceive the nations.
Present or Future?
There are a number of different views on the Millennium, but the purpose of this article is not to address each one of those views. We are only addressing the “amillenial” view. The word “amillenial” actually means “no millenium” (the Greek prefix “a” meaning “no” or “not”). Those people who hold this view do not actually say that there is no millenium, but rather that there is no future Millenium. These believe that we are living in the Millennium NOW. To them, the 1000 years is not literal, but only symbolic, and simply means “a long time,” or “an undetermined amount of time.” They also believe that Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne now through the church.
This “amillennial” view is accepted not only by Catholics and Orthodox, but even by some Protestant groups, as well. Nevertheless, we intend to demonstrate that it is an unbiblical and illogical view.
How Long is a Thousand Years?
First of all, is this 1000 years mentioned in Revelation literal? If not, why not? Catholics often tell us that this time frame is symbolic, and they will give other examples of “a thousand” in Scripture, like when it says that God owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). Well, we know that God owns all the cattle on every hill, so this is obviously symbolic. Or, they will point to 2 Peter 3:8, which says that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” Again, symbolism. But just because the term “thousand” is used figuratively in these places in the Bible, does not necessarily mean it has to be figurative in Revelation 20.
It is also quite interesting that Catholics emphasize the words of Jesus, “whoever eats My flesh” and “whoever drinks My blood” in John 6, in a literal sense. They believe that His words are to be taken literally because of the fact that He is repeating them several times. Yet, the term “thousand years” is mentioned six times in chapter 20 of Revelation, but they refuse to see this as literal. We are not saying that repetition makes something literal, we’re saying that Catholics are inconsistent with their logic.
Ok, so suppose that it doesn’t really mean exactly 1000 years? Suppose it is only symbolic of “a long time”? So what? That wouldn’t present a problem for the “Pre-millennial” crowd (those who believe that Jesus returns before the Millennium). If the Millennium is only approximately a thousand years, then that’s still ok. That doesn’t negate the “pre-millennial” view, nor does it necessarily support the amillennial view. But we don’t see any reason to doubt that it is an actual 1000 years.
But there is a more important issue in all this concerning the binding of Satan and his work on earth…
Imprisoned or Just “Limited”?
What does it mean for Satan to be “shut up” in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:3)? Amillennialists believe that this simply means that he is now limited in his ability to deceive the nations. They believe that before Jesus came, Satan had much more reign over the nations, but that now he is “bound” and therefore restricted in the sense that he cannot destroy the church, and he cannot stop the spread of the gospel. In other words, there won’t be as much deception as there used to be. But this is not what the passage says. The text says nothing about a lesser degree of deception, or that Satan will merely be limited in his deceiving of the nations. Revelation 20:3 specifically says “that he should deceive the nations NO MORE, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.”
But Satan is still “the deceiver” in our modern world. He didn’t just deceive the nations in the Old Testament, but he is also alive and well today. Satan’s activity in the world is obvious.
· Revelation 12:9 – “Satan… which deceiveth the whole world…”
· 2 Corinthians 11:14 – How can Satan disguise himself as an angel of light if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?
· Matthew 13:19 – How can Satan “catcheth away that which was sown in his heart” if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?
· 2 Timothy 2:26 – What “snare of the devil” is there if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?
· 1 Thessalonians 2:18 - “Satan hindered us” - How can Satan hinder someone if he is bound and locked up in the abyss?
Why Have Armor?
If Satan is bound, then why are we told to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17)? If he is bound, he should not be able to attack… therefore, why are we “wrestling” at all? And why is there a need for a shield to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”? Someone who is imprisoned, bound by a chain, and sealed away in the abyss should be no threat to us, should he? There seems to be a great contradiction here.
Alive and Well
If Satan is already bound, then why does the apostle Paul call Satan “the god of this world,” who is still blinding the minds of those who are not believing the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4)? Paul also said that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that NOW WORKETH in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
Furthermore, the apostle Peter tells us that Satan is free to roam about “as a roaring lion… seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And again, the same John who wrote Revelation, says in his epistle (1 John 5:19) that the whole world “lieth in wickedness” (KJV)… “lies in the power of the evil one” (NASV)… “is under the control of the evil one” (NIV). Why would these apostles, these trusted men of Jesus, say such things if Satan is indeed bound and we are living in the “golden age” today? Does anyone really think that the nations are not deceived today? Unfortunately, deception is everywhere. Amillenialists want us to deny the obvious.
If Satan is still the god of this world, and still blinding unbelievers, and is now working in those unsaved people, and this world lies in his power and people are in his control today, then it is utterly foolish to think that we are now living in the glorious Millennium. Just watch the evening news any day of the week. We are flooded with stories of war, terrorism, persecution of Christians, violence and death worldwide. We are also seeing the rise of atheism, false religions and apostasy within the church.
An honest person would conclude that this is proof that Satan is extremely busy and influential in the world today. His continual deception and activity is seen throughout the New Testament. Furthermore, 2 Timothy 3:1, 13 warns us that the world is getting worse and worse, not better. One has to ask, how can there be a falling away from the faith if Satan is “bound”? We clearly see him working throughout the church age. The truth is, Satan is far from “chained,” isolated, and “sealed” in the abyss today.
The Overall Picture
If the apostle John wanted to portray the absolute disabling of Satan and his influence, making him completely inactive, he could not have described it in a better way than in Revelation 20!
This passage, whether symbolic or not, is NOT a picture of Satan merely being “hindered” or “on probation,” but totally paralyzed and isolated. To say that he is merely “limited” in Revelation 20 is a gross (and unbiblical) understatement! Rather, this prophetic imprisonment will be a complete and abrupt ending of his influence (at least during the Millenium). All this points to the fact that we are NOT living in that special time of calm, peace and harmony today.
The Real Millennium
If the Millennium is happening today, then one is forced to ask, where is the worldwide peace and righteousness promised during this period (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Isaiah 9:6-7)? Where today can you find the wolf that dwells together with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6)? Or the bear and the cow happily feeding together (Isaiah 11:7)? Or has anyone casually allowed their children to play near the hole of the poisonous snake lately (Isaiah 11:8)? Do we see everyone in the Middle East beating their swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4)? Not hardly. These things will happen during the Millennium, the 1000 years of peace, tranquility and justice that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we know for a fact that we are not yet in the Millennium.
Scriptures Amillennialists Use
Catholics and other amillennialists will use certain Bible passages to try and prove that Satan is bound today. Many will try to say that Jesus has already bound Satan through His work on the cross, and they will try to apply verses like Matthew 12:29 (where Jesus is casting out demons by “binding the strong man”), or John 12:31-32 (where Jesus says that the devil is “cast out”), or 1 John 3:8 (where the works of the devil are destroyed), along with many other similar passages. They will try to equate these types of verses with Revelation 20:1-3 and its binding of Satan, saying that this is happening today, putting us in the Millennium now. But none of these passages clearly refer to the event in Revelation 20.
But a much greater problem arises here when you equate these passages with Revelation 20. If the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 is simply referring to Jesus’ work on the cross, then what does the release of Satan in that same passage point to? Does this mean that the work on the cross will be reversed or will somehow be incomplete at that time? God forbid!
If verses like Matthew 12:29 , John 12:31-32, and 1 John 3:8 (above) really do apply to the devil’s binding in Revelation 20, then they must also necessarily connect to his release, as well. In other words, whatever is accomplished in Satan’s imprisonment, must necessarily be UNDONE when he is released! If we are going to be true to the comparison, then you would have to say that Jesus’ finished work on the cross becomes unfinished after Satan is loosed (even if temporarily)! No real Christian would want to say that. So, we cannot equate these verses with Revelation 20:1-3. They are two different situations.
Yes, Satan was defeated and bound legally at the cross, but he is bound literally in this pit in Revelation 20:1-3. We must distinguish between the spiritual accomplishment at the cross and its outworking in the physical and spiritual realms. It will be in the future, but one day, we will see the full realization of Satan’s defeat. Although Satan legally still has access to mankind today, he will have access to no one during his imprisonment in the pit.
If it can be demonstrated that Satan is NOT BOUND today (and we believe that this is obviously the case), then this is proof that we are not now in the Millennium. Therefore, the amillennial position is false.
A Real Abyss
Some amillennialists maintain that the “abyss” in Revelation 20 is not literal, but only symbolic of the spiritual sphere or dimension in which Satan and his demons function. They don’t believe that it is an actual location. But if this is true, then why did the demons in Luke 8:31 beg not to be sent there? Why would they fear being “sent” to the spiritual realm in which they already live? Furthermore, how could Satan be captured and “cast into” the place where he normally functions anyway? This makes no sense at all. Thus, we see that this same abyss in Revelation 20:1-3 (although not physical) is a real and literal place.
But the fact is, amillennialists seem to overlook such verses as Luke 8:31 above. This is the case of the Gadarene demoniac, where the demons in the man begged Jesus not to send them into “the deep” (“bottomless pit” or “abyss” – the same Greek word used in Revelation 20). They were speaking of a specific place which terrified them. This abyss is not just a “symbol” or “metaphor.” It is an actual place. It is a prison for evil spirits, and it is the same place spoken of in Revelation 20:1-3. Demons are not physical, but they are real. The same can be said of the abyss.
A Strange Hermeneutic
A strange thing happens in the amillennial camp when dealing with prophecy. They seem to interpret all of the prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus literally. Yet, when interpreting the prophecies of His Second Coming, they are buried in allegory and symbolism. They will only interpret these in a figurative way. But why should anyone think that the prophecies about His Second Coming should be interpreted any differently than those of His First? This is a poor and inconsistent hermeneutic (principle of Bible interpretation). No wonder there are so many people that are confused on this topic. But such is the result when there is too much emphasis on allegorizing or “spiritualizing” God’s Word.
Israel in Prophecy
Amillenialism is also an attack on Israel, at least indirectly, although perhaps not intentionally. But this teaching has contributed to much of the anti-semitism (discrimination against Jews) existing today. The biblical role of Israel in these last days is often missed altogether by such groups. Many amillennialists say that the church is now the true Israel, and because of the Jews’ denial of Jesus Christ, their Messiah, the church is now receiving what was meant to be for the Jews. Many believe that Israel has been rejected and the Jews have actually been permanently replaced by the church. But this is not so (Romans chapters 9, 10, 11).
There are many unconditional promises to the nation of Israel and to its people. In other words, they are going to receive ALL that God promised, sooner or later. In many of the Old Testament prophets, major and minor, we see an abundance of promises concerning Israel in the Millennium. Here is just a sampling:
- Promises concerning a supernatural change in nature – Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1-2, 6-7; 62:4; 65:25
- Promises concerning the Jews returning to Israel – Isaiah 11:11-12; Amos 9:15; Zephaniah 3:19-20
- Promises with specific geographical references – Zechariah 14:4, 10
- Promises of righteousness – Isaiah 9:7; 11:4-5; 35:8; 60:21; 62:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5-6
- Promises of peace – Isaiah 2:4; 9:7; 60:18; Zechariah 14:11
- Promises of overall blessings – Isaiah 35:10; 62:8-9; 65:19, 22-23; Amos 9:13-15
- Promises of the rest of the world finally embracing Israel – Isaiah 2:2-3; 62:7, 12; Jeremiah 3:17; Zephaniah 3:19-20; Zechariah 14:16
Was God only trying to take up space in these Old Testament books? Are all these promises just meaningless verbiage to be spiritualized away? Not if God is faithful to His Word! These promises make sense because the physical and geographical land of Israel was NEVER promised to the church, but to the Jews. So these promises are indeed relevant for future Israel.
Why Does it Matter?
So what if a person believes in the amillennial view? Does that mean he is a bad person, or that he can’t be saved? No, that’s not what it means. So why then should it matter which end-time view a person holds?
Because truth matters.
If we think that this really is the Millennium we’re living in today, then we’re all living in a fantasy land… we’re living a lie. God specifically said that the nations would NO LONGER be deceived during the Millennium, yet we are seeing more deception than ever today, even in our “enlightened” society. If this is God’s Millennium, then this is a poor excuse of a “golden age,” and a terrible reflection on God’s idea of “peace, tranquility and justice.” The amillennialists are truly insulting God in this.
Attacking God’s character even further, amillennialism is a view that paints God as One who makes empty promises of land and blessings; promises that are meaningless. Worse yet, these promises were made to people who are called “His own” (John 1:10-11), even those He has called the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). What kind of God does this? After making such wonderful promises to His children, is He now admitting it all as a cruel hoax? No, but this is the result of too much allegorizing of the Scriptures.
Since there are no hard and fast rules when interpreting prophecy in the way they do, amillennialism is a deceptive teaching, and its illogical, subjective, and unbiblical nature opens the door to greater deception.
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