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1000 Year Reign

1000 Year Reign

text: Revelation 20:4-6

Revelation 20:4-6—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, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

What is so confusing about a Millennial Reign?

Our text tells us some will live and reign with Christ 1,000 years. Millennnial simply means relating to a a period of 1,000 years. It is a fairly universal Christian doctrine that this "Millenial Reign" will take place, but there is also much debate concerning the details of this doctrine.

Let us categorize and consider some of the points made in this debate. For brevity we will refer to the period of time of the Millenial Reign as "the Reign".


The Reign begins with the Second Coming of Christ and will last exactly 1,000 literal years. The Reign will be a physical one located on the earth. The Reign will be preceded by a literal 7 years of tribulation that concludes with the literal return of Christ on earth. There is great diversity of thought among Premillenialists concerning the timing of the Rapture. Premillenialism can present the timing of the Rapture in at least four ways:

  1. It takes place before the tribulation.
  2. It takes place mid-way through the tribulation.
  3. It takes place after the tribulation.
  4. It takes place before the Wrath of God is poured out on the earth.

Simply said, Premillennialists can be either Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribulation, Post Tribulation, Pre-Wrath or even "we don't know when" Rapturists. One thing is agreed upon, the Rapture will take place.

Many premillennialists believe that God will fulfill many unfilled promises to Israel during the Reign.

[Chuck Swindoll, John Walvoord, the Left Behind Series, Dallas Theological Seminary ]


Amillennism (Greek a- "no" + "millennialism) is the rejection of the belief that Christ will have a 1000 year long physical reign on the earth. The Reign began in Heaven with Christ's resurrection and will last an undetermined number of years, but does end at the Second Coming of Christ. The Reign is characterized as strictly spiritual and accomplished through conversion of the lost. The Tribulation will be a brief period of suffering at the end of the Reign and before Christ's Second Coming. The Tribulation does not last any definite number of years, but it is definitely brief in relation to the time-line of all history. The rapture takes place as part of Christ's Second Coming at the conclusion of the Tribulation period.

[Covenant theologians, Lutherans, a minority of Baptists, Catholics, most Presbyterian and Reformed churches, Hank Hanegraff, and R.C. Sproul. Even as early as Justin Martyr's time (138-165 A.D.) he said genuine Christians disagreed on the literal millennium. Even in the early church both groups accepted each other in Christ. ]


Postmillenialism views Second Coming of Christ as happening after a golden age of Christian prosperity. The Reign begins when a majority of the of the population is converted (reference: Matthew 24:14). The Reign lasts for an indefinite time until Christ's Second Coming and not a literal 1000 years (1000 years is interpreted simply as "a long period of time"). Like in Amillennialism the Reign is a spiritual and not physical one. The Tribulation will be a brief period that takes place before Jesus' Second Coming. The Rapture takes place as part of the Second Coming of Christ.

As similar as Amillennialism and Postmillenialism are, its difficult to tell them apart. Both emphasize a non-literal interpretation and deny the Reign taking place literally on earth. One major difference is that Postmillenialism holds that the Reign is happening right now and that the world will increasingly get better as we approach Christ's return. Christ will return after Christians and not Christ have well established God's Kingdom on the earth.

Who will take Part in this Administration? (vs. 4,5)

At least three groups of people are mentioned in our text or elsewhere in Scripture in connection with judging the world.

The Overcomers

"And I Saw Thrones"

These are seats of authority.

Revelation 3:21—To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 12:5—And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

"And They Sat Upon Them"

The seats are occupied.

"And Judgment was Given Unto Them"

These have been trusted with discretionary power to act.

Matthew 24:46-47—Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

We can compare this scene with that in Acts 26:6. In Acts 26, Paul is the one being judged, but in our text, it is the saints who are administrating the judgment.

1 Corinthians 6:2—2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? …

The Martyrs

"And I Saw the Souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus"

Why Were They Beheaded?

These martyrs had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and the Word of God. They had resisted worship of the beast and the receiving of his mark.

  1. Witness of Jesus
  2. Stood for Truth
  3. Refused False Worship
  4. Refused the mark of the Beast.

Their resistance meant an end to natural life, but they had eternal life.

How Do They Live Again?

Those Christian martyrs are to be resurrected and will LIVE and REIGN with Christ 1,000 years.

vs. 4…they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years

John clarifies that this resurrection is partial and that not all the dead are resurrected at this time. The remaining dead will not be resurrected until AFTER the 1,000 Year Reign.

What is the Meaning of this Special Blessing? (v. 6)

There are some who will enjoy the special blessing of taking part in the first resurrection, overcoming the second death, being priests of God and Christ and reigning with Jesus 1,000 years on the earth.

What do some of these terms mean?

  1. First Resurrection
  2. Second Death
  3. Priests of God and of Christ
  4. 1000 Year Reign