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The Argument Before Which Amillennialists Cringe Helplessly

February 14, 2007

I trust you all know I’m being silly with my inflammatory rhetoric.  I’m the guy who wants to remove the word “premillennial” from the EFCA Statement of Faith.  But I am serious when I say that I have never heard nor read in any commentary a rebuttal to the argument I’m about to present.  It is an undefeated champion and I trot it out again here in defiance of the armies of amillennialism.    

Here it is:  Revelation 19 describes the second coming of Christ.  Revelation 20 describes the millennium.  19 comes before 20.  Therefore, the second coming of Christ comes before the millennium. 

Pretty simple, huh?  Now the amillennialist will reply, rightly, that Revelation is not all in chronological order.  All sides acknowledge that there is “recapitulation” in the book of Revelation.  So it is certainly possible that a new section of the book is begun at Revelation 20:1 and presents a brand new vision of the time before the second coming. 

But I will now show you why making a division between chapters 19 and 20 shreds the literary unity of the second half of the book. 

If you were to divide this book in half, you would cut it between chapters 11 and 12.  On this there is substantial consensus.  The second half of the book then begins in chapter 12 by introducing us to three characters.  The dragon (12:1), the beast (13:1), and the false prophet (13:11, cf. 16:13).  It’s the unholy trinity. 

Then at the end of chapter 19 we read this “And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.”  So at the second coming Christ destroys the beast and the false prophet.  But wait, you ask, what about the dragon?  Keep reading… 

Revelation 20:1-2  Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit1 and a great chain.  2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

Revelation 19-20 together are a matching bookend to Revelation 12-13.  Making a new section out of Revelation 20 obscures this connection and leaves the story of Revelation 19 unfinished. 

So if there is a very good reason not to begin a new section at 20:1, then the simple argument above is rock solid.  19 comes before 20.  Therefore the second coming is before the millennium.   The second coming is pre-millennial. 

9 Comments leave one →
  1. mullyboy82 permalink
    February 14, 2007 10:27 pm

    What if someone split up Revelation in a different manner? It seems if someone disagreed with you, they would start with how you divide up the book. For instance, I just found some dude who divides Revelation into seven sections instead of two.

  2. February 14, 2007 10:44 pm

    Yeah, I’ve read the sevenfold recapitulation dude. And there are subsections w/i the second half of the book. But the whole point is that you can’t put a division b/w 19 and 20 because you are breaking up the beast, false prophet, dragon structure. Divide the book into 2, 7, or 13 sections if you want to, but you can’t divide it b/w 19 and 20.

  3. February 15, 2007 11:58 pm

    If according to this argument the second coming must be pre-millenial, wouldn’t this be an argument against postmillenialism as well as amillenialism?

    Or am I just not understanding the eschatological positions correctly?

  4. February 16, 2007 8:20 am

    Yup. They’re wrong too. :-)

  5. February 16, 2007 2:41 pm

    Yes, there is a division between 11 & 12. That does not necessitate there not being a division between 19 & 20, or a recapitulation.

    I don’t have all the answers for Rev. 20 but I have some ‘bumps’ for premillenialism.

    Like, how many great battles are in Rev? 1 told 3 times, or 3?

    How many times does Jesus have to defeat Satan? Does premillenialism under-realize the defeat of Satan as Paul talks about it in Colossians?

    Just off the top of my head… and I’m quaking… from that cold north wind.

  6. February 16, 2007 3:50 pm

    It’s not the division b/w 11 and 12 that excludes the possibility of dividing b/w 19 and 20. It’s the beast, false prophet, dragon parallels b/w 12 and 13 and 19 and 20 that does that. You can’t divide 20 from 19 without clipping off the end of the story. Do you see what I mean?

    As for the 3 battles, I’m not sure what you mean. I see 2. Armageddon and Gog and Magog.

    Satan is already defeated on the cross, but as the well worn illustration goes, that was D-day and we await V-day. Whether you see V-day in one or two stages seems to matter little. We all affirm an already and a not yet aspect to the victory over Satan. And as my seminary professor quipped, “If Satan is bound now, he’s on an awfully long chain.”

  7. February 17, 2007 1:41 pm

    One of the aspects we see in the section beginning w/chapter 12 is the characters are introduced in different visions forming a chiasm.
    The vision in chapter 12 introduces the dragon (Satan), for counterfeit Father.

    The vision in chapter 13 introduces the 2 beasts, representing the counterfeit Son & Spirit. (signifying the tactics of persecution and deception). Armaggeddon is introduced in 16.

    17 introduces the Harlot, who represents as counterfeit church. This is the seduction (which America is particularly suseptible at this time).

    18 is the destruction of the Harlot
    19 is the destruction of the 2 beasts, ending with another reference to the great battle.
    20 is the destruction of Satan, who deceives the nations (again????) and prompts a(nother????) great battle.
    The Battle against Gog & Magog takes place in Armaggeddon in Ezekiel if I remember correctly (all I’ve got w/me now is my NT interlinear).

    Are there 3 separate judgments on these 3 groups, or are the visions protraying 3 aspects of the same judgement?

    Yeah, he’s on a big chain. But, the Strong Man has been bound and Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven. Part of that already/not yet thing. We both agree on that, but just aren’t sure how it plays out in terms of eschatology.

    Makes for a good discussion over a pint. But not something to separate the Body!

  8. February 17, 2007 2:34 pm

    That’s good, I like the chiasm.

    So my point is that the chiastic structure is obscured if you say that the judgment on the two beasts in 19 takes place at the second coming, but the judgment on the dragon in 20 looks back to the first coming. I’m not saying there’s 3 separate judgments on these groups. I’m saying that all three are judged at the second coming in 19-20.

    And of course I agree that all this is far too obscure to be grounds for dividing the Body.

  9. Oddball permalink
    February 20, 2007 9:57 pm

    Rather than a hard break between ch. 19 & 20, could 20:1-6 be a parenthesis?

    It’s very difficult for me to fathom the notion of all hell literally breaking loose on Earth after Christ returns.

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