Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stirring Up the Amillennial Beehive

The debate between Premills and Amills is not whether the 1,000 years is literal. Both camps agree that at least it denotes a period of time. How long is not the issue.

The debate hinges on the terminus a quo of the binding of Satan depicted in Revelation 20:2-3
(2) And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:2–3 ESV)
Did the binding occur at Christ's first coming or will it occur at his second coming?

All other arguments aside, there is one particular argument that strongly demonstrates that the binding occurs at the second coming, hence premillennial. Revelation 12:9 reads:
 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:9 ESV)
Amillennialists agree that this is a problematic passage. The salient question is: How can Satan be bound in any meaningful sense of the term when he is shown in Revelation 12:9 being thrown down to earth as the deceiver of the whole world?

And yet Revelation 20:3 gives the purpose for his binding: "so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended."

So is he bound at this time "so not to deceive the nations"? Or is he unbound at this time as "the deceiver of the whole world"? Ammillennialists cannot have it both ways, which would reveal a weakness in their eschatology.

I have yet to come across a reasonable response to this argument by an Amillennial.  Maybe there is one out there that I have not heard. But I put this out there for any responses. It's an honest objection by premillennialists.


  1. Alan, I am curious what sort of suggestions you have received so far?

  2. I'm not an expert, but it would seem to me that he is bound at this time so as not to deceive the nations. I'm not sure I understood the objection. When do amillennialists think the events surrounding 12:9 occurred?

  3. I would think that most amills view this context as the church age:

    “(12) Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has come down to you! He is filled with terrible anger, for he knows that he only has a little time!” (13) Now when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (14) But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time. (15) Then the serpent spouted water like a river out of his mouth after the woman in an attempt to sweep her away by a flood, (16) but the earth came to her rescue; the ground opened up and swallowed the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. (17) So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus.” (Rev 12:12–17 NET)

  4. When I was a dogmatic futuristic premillennialist, I found the following argument convincing. Now that I lean more toward preteristic Amillennialism (or possibly postmillennialism), it still puzzles me.

    The premillennial argument points out the following two "facts".

    1. According to Matthew 25, at the 2nd Coming of Christ the nations are judged BEFORE the devil and his angels are judged. That's because hell is "prepared for" them (implying that their judgement is yet future).

    2. Yet in chapter 20 of the book of Revelation people are judged at The Great White Throne judgement AFTER the Devil is judged and sent to hell. Therefore, there must be an interval of time in between these two judgements that happen right after the 2nd Advent (Matt. 25) *but* right before the commencement of the Eternal State (Rev. 20). It seems like a good inference to conclude that the "Millennium" is that period of time in between those two judgements. Especially since it's right there in the context of Revelation chapter 20.

    Here are the passages for your comparison:

    "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;- Matt. 25:41 (NASB)

    compare with:

    And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
    12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. - Rev. 20:10-12 (NASB)

    Notice also that Rev. 20:10 says that the "beast" and "false prophet" were *STILL* in the lake of fire. Implying that they were judged previously before the millennium (cf. Rev. 19:20). Thus implying there's no recapitulation involved in Rev. 19 and 20.

    And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.
    - Rev. 19:20 (NASB)

  5. Oh, it goes without saying that many forms of Amillennialism require the judgement of Matt. 25:41 and Rev. 20:11 to be the same event. But since the order of the individuals who are judged are reversed (people then devil versus devil then people), it's most likely not the same judgement described but two different judgements at different times.

  6. Alan, you seem to see this as a slam dunk. But it's only so on the underlying assumptions, and there seem to be two important ones which you haven't made explicit:

    1) A prophetic book can't deploy differing images which portray the same reality at the same time.

    2) The various visions of the book of Revelation are intended to be combined to give us a time sequence of eschatological events.

    Without both of those two assumptions, your slam-dunk doesn't seem to work at all.

    God bless,

  7. Pinoy, I think you've got a wrong grammatical assumption there.

    "Place X was prepared for person Y" does not imply that person Y has not yet gone there.

    "Son, go to the wood-shed - the one I made for our servants to chop up logs in" does not mean no servants have yet chopped up any logs there.

    The reference is "future-past"; it is future *at the point to which reference is made* (the moment of preparation), not future at the point at which the speaker is speaking.

  8. David Anderson, that's why I said it "implied" it, not that it stated it explicitly. I took this argument from other writers who do know Koine Greek. I assume that they made that statement in light of the underlying Greek. But maybe they didn't.