A Plea for Christian Parents to not be Idiots

frescojesusRecently on Facebook, I read this screaming head line,

Mom’s Angry Note to Teacher About Islam Assignment Goes Viral

It links to a story about a hysterical mother in Bakersfield, CA, (about a 90 min. drive north from where I live) who believes creeping sharia is overtaking the schools.

Troubled that her son had to do an assignment that appeared to be gratuitously too friendly toward the religion of Islam, she wrote a nasty missive across the homework page explaining in no uncertain terms – some of it in all CAPS – that her son was no longer going to continue with the assignment. She even included a smattering of Bible verses like Ephesians 6:10 and 1 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Oh boy.

Lookit. I sympathize with the mother. I understand completely her thinking that believes Christianity is being marginalized in America. It is also frustrating to witness the popular culture succumb to the Zeitgeist of dhimminitude that wants us all to pretend that the mass slaughter, butchery, rape, and destruction that has spread across the Middle East and into Europe has nothing to do with Islam. So that when the local school begins sending home assignments that favor Islam over all the other world religions and especially to the exclusion of Christianity, I know this mother’s rage.

But let’s take a step back, breathe in a deep breath, and think about this for a moment.

Lady, while I feel the heat of your passion regarding this matter, is the most productive, wiser course of action to stigmatize your son by writing an angry note across his homework page and posting it on Facebook so it can become viral and the Onion can write up a parody article mocking all Christians for reacting that way?  You seriously want to toss your son headlong through a gauntlet of ridicule and mockery by the hands of the media, his peers, and bloggers like me?

As of the writing of this post, my kids have spent the last couple of weeks or so preparing written assignments on Islam. We homeschool; so our kids aren’t just another brick in the wall for the postmodern leftist in charge of the American educational system to brainwash. You read that right: At least a couple of weeks.

In fact, the past weekend before my post here, I was helping one of them write a paragraph on the person of Mohammed and his flight to Mecca; because you know, he was a real, historical figure who founded a religion. Yet I honestly have no worries about any of them becoming ISIS soldiers, because you know what? I’M ACTUALLY INVOLVED WITH THEIR EDUCATION REGARDING ISLAM! Go figure.

Rather than scrawling an angry note across their homework assignment denouncing the teacher and thus subjecting my kids to embarrassment and the possibility of life crippling scorn, we discussed Islam. We discussed it’s founder, Mohammed, what Islam teaches, and the actions of Muslims in today’s world, framing it altogether in a biblical, Christian worldview.

Additionally, if I perceived a gross imbalance in the way my kids were being taught about Islam as compared to the other world religions, why I would take the initiative to contact the teacher, express my concerns, and address the need for them to modify the curriculum to have the kids read from the London Baptist Confession, or recite the Lord’s Prayer, or whatever.

The last thing you want to become is one of those Red State Evangelical activist types who take their marching orders from Todd Starnes imbalanced handwringing opinion pieces supposedly reporting how Christians are suffering persecution in America. You are doing Christianity a disfavor if that’s the case.

I number of years ago, when my wife still taught elementary school, the kids in her grade where given an assignment to read a biography on a famous, historical person, build a doll of the individual, and prepare a brief presentation to give in class.  So for example, a kid might did Benjamin Franklin and he builds a little figure out of popsicle sticks with a head that had cotton balls for hair and a tiny kite. Another one may dress up a Ken doll like FDR and have him sitting in a doll-sized wheel chair. You get the picture.

One kid, a girl if I recall, wanted to read the Bible as her biography and talk on Jesus. Her teacher, not knowing how to respond, (because honestly, the Bible is not technically a biography in the sense that these kids were learning), goes to my wife and asks if the Bible could be considered a biography. My wife is like, well, not in the way the assignment is asking the kids to read a biography. So the girl’s proposal was turned down. It was suggested she do one on a famous preacher or missionary.

Guess what? How do you think the parents reacted? Do you think they were like, maybe we can follow the teacher’s advice and do a biography on a famous preacher? Because what you are doing is beyond the parameters of the assignment and she is giving you an opportunity to write on a famous Christian.

Well of course not! They take this as godless persecution from the liberal communists at the state ran school. The parents demanded that she be allowed to exercise her first amendment rights, so the teacher relented and let her do her report.

When the kid submits the project, what she brought in was a hideous homemade doll nailed through the hands and feet to two boards fashioned into a cross. She had used her own hair to make the hair and beard of Jesus. It was like some freakish, Fundamentalist voodoo doll. If camera phones had been available at the time, I would have taken a picture and would post it in this article, but alas.

Come on now. That is the kind of crazy stuff the apostate anti-homeschoolers recount on their Patheos blog accounts. The worst thing about the whole ordeal is that a couple of teachers who were unbelievers could not believe Christians were such wackos. In the end, the Christian’s rights were “upheld” and “persecution” protected by free-speech, but the unintended consequences had a negative effect for the Gospel. Hopefully you will think of your reaction and future reactions with that in mind, because you aren’t helping Jesus out, but making His followers look like idiots.

Studies in Eschatology [14]

revelationRevelation 20: Recapitulation or Sequential?

With this post I come specifically to the text of Revelation 20:1-10, the source of the main disagreement between the various millennial positions. Even more to the point is whether this passage is referring to a future millennium or is it describing the conditions present now during the age of the Church. If we can determine how in which way we are to understand Revelation 20, we can then narrow our focus down to determine which eschatological position best explains the exegetical data.

Just as a brief reminder, both amillennialism and postmillennialism approach Revelation 20 with an Augustinian hermeneutic, though the system may be redefined as historic redemptive or typological. Whatever the case, amillennialists and postmillennialists, though they may draw different conclusions as to how the events of the millennium play out, believe Revelation 20 is basically describing conditions now during the Church age.

Both groups would argue that the book of Revelation is prophetic-apocalyptic literature filled with much symbolism. The exegete should not expect to take anything in the book with a wooden literalism. That is especially true of the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation 20. Additionally, the concept of the 1,000 years is only found here in this portion of Scripture, indicating even more that Revelation 20 should not be taken literally in the sense of real, calendar years. The exegesis of Revelation 20 is then interpreted to accommodate those presuppositions.

Contrasted with the idea that Revelation 20 is describing conditions now during the Church age is the futurist position of premillennialism. That system understands the chapter as describing a future time during which Christ will return to destroy the enemies of God and His people and establish a millennial kingdom where righteousness dwells over all the earth. The premillennialists draw that conclusion because they interpret the prophecy of Revelation with the historical-grammatical exegesis recovered by the reformers during the age of the Reformation that reads prophetic passages more literally.

Now, with those basic things in mind, as we come to chapter 20 we want to consider the exegesis of the passage. When all things considered, does the passage affirm the hermeneutics employed by amillennialists and postmillennialists when they interpret the chapter, or does the exegesis favor the more literal approach of premillennialism that sees this passage as future?

It’s my position that the hermeneutic utilized by amillennialists and postmillennialists must be abandoned as it is fraught with much philosophical baggage that mishandles the biblical exegesis. Instead of using a typological style method, the biblical student should approach the Revelation with the historical-grammatical approach, recognizing the symbolism of the book, but interpreting it with a normal understanding of language.

Moreover, the book is heavily dependent upon previous prophecy like Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, and like Revelation, those books contain symbolic language, but a symbolism providing description of historical realities. Daniel for instance uses symbolic language to describe such historical events as the fall of Babylon, the coming of Alexander the Great, and the rise of the Roman empire. The language of Revelation describes similar historical realities, and should be interpreted as explaining something real, not just being symbolic for the sake of being symbolic and using colorful metaphors.

As we survey chapter 20, there are five important questions I believe divide the amillennial/postmillennial positions from the premillennial position, and these I will consider in turn.

1) Is the chronology of Revelation 19 to 20 recapitulative or sequential?
2) Is the binding of Satan present or future?
3) Is the first Resurrection spiritual or physical?
4) Is the duration of the 1,000 years symbolic or literal?
5) Is the locale of the 1,000 years in heaven or on earth?

It is my contention that when we consider those points in light of the exegetical data of Revelation, they will not sustain an amillennial nor postmillennial perspective.

Let me begin with the first, Is the chapters of Revelation 19 to 20 recapitulative or sequential?

Recapitulative may be a new word for some, so let me define it. Recapitulation is “to repeat in concise form,” so the idea with recapitulation is that the events described in Revelation 20 do not follow in sequence after Revelation 19. In fact, many amillennialists and postmillenialists believe the entire Revelation of John is a series of prophetic visions meant to provide details of the Church age. Most interpreters believe there are 7 visions (sticking with the number “7” symbolism of John) and each vision returns the reader to the beginning of the Church age to either provide new revelation or fill in the details of a previous visions.

In that outline, Revelation 19 describes how the Church age will end with Jesus returning with victory over God’s enemies who had been persecuting His people. Chapter 20, [and this is key], rather than describing events that follow immediately after those described in chapter 19, instead returns the reader back to the beginning of the Church age.

Chapter 20 is believed to be returning back to Christ’s victory over Satan at the cross and Resurrection (the concept of Satan being “bound”), and unfolds how the saints are resurrected spiritually to reign with Christ presently now as the Church triumphantly goes forth across the earth proclaiming the gospel and bringing nations to Christ. Only at the end of the Church age is Satan loosed for a little while to deceive the nations who attempt one final assault against God and His people, what is described with a bit more detail at the end of chapter 19.

Hence chapter 20 precedes chapter 19 in order of events, and chapter 19:11-21 runs concurrently with chapter 20:7-10. They are passages explaining parallel events, not passages describing sequential, chronological events following after each other.

However, when we consider the book of Revelation as a whole, is John meaning to convey the idea of recapitulation? Especially chapters 19 and 20?

There are many vigorous defenders of recapitulation. R. Fowler White and Cornelius Venema, for example, have both written capable defenses of recapitulation between chapters 19 and 20. Yet, in spite of their work, I agree with commentator Robert Thomas that when all things are considered, the concept of recapitulation does not rest upon the exegesis of the book, but rather is concluded because of philosophical pre-commitments utilized when interpreting Revelation [Thomas 404]. This in a way is the Achilles Heel of non-futuristic, non-premillennial systems. If it can be demonstrated clearly that Revelation 20 follows Revelation 19 sequentially, those systems really have no foundation upon which to rest their arguments.

So how is Revelation 20 sequential to Revelation 19? Let me consider three points.

First, we can say the context demands it. Revelation chapters 19 and 20 are part of a larger whole of the book that tracks with a series of important events which follow after one another. Matt Waymeyer explains it this way, “The context and flow of Revelation 12-20 point to a chronological relationship in which the events of chapter 20 follow those of chapter 19” [Waymeyer, 62]. He goes on to outline the chronological relationship as,

  • Satan being cast down to earth and beginning his work to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
  • Satan enlisting the beast and the false prophet to accomplish his task of deception (Rev. 13:1-18; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).
  • The unholy trinity is successful in their attempts to deceive and are defeated by Christ at His return who conquers them and casts them into the lake of fire in a series of visions. (Rev. 19:11-20:10).
  • By the end of chapter 19, only two of the three of the unholy trinity – the beast and false prophet – has been defeated. Chapter 20 then continues the thought of judgment of those three, by binding the head of the group, Satan, in the abyss [ibid, 62-63].

It is clear that there is no logical, grammatical break between the events ending chapter 19 and those continued into chapter 20. On the contrary, there is unity of thought, especially between the judgment upon the three members of the unholy trinity – Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. It disrupts the flow of thought to suggest the beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire, while leaving the doom of Satan unresolved by claiming chapter 20:1-4 is returning the reader back the beginning of the Church’s ministry after the great commission. The fate of the devil is answered, however, when chapters 19-20 are treated as sequential.

John’s use of “and I saw” (kai eidon) in 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11; 21:1 indicates a series of visions happening right after one another; a progression of chronological thought. D.E. Aune argues that the phrase “and I saw” does three things: It introduces a new vision, a major scene within a vision, and focuses on a new or significant figure or action that occurs within a continuing vision narrative [Aune, 338]. Some amillennialists will argue the phrase, while providing a visional chronicle, is not providing an historical chronicle. In other words, they believe the vision is in chronological order, but not necessarily the history of events [Sullivan, 5]. I would point out such an argument assumes a commitment to the Augustine/historical Reformed hermeneutic and is not derived from the exegesis itself.

The purpose clause of Revelation 20:3, “any longer” (eti) strongly brings one to the conclusion that the events of chapter 20 follow closely behind those of chapter 19. “Any longer” indicates an interruption of something already taking place. In this case, the deception of the nations by Satan as outlined in Revelation 12-19. I will go into more detail about this purpose clause in my next post to this series, but the binding of Satan is the very thing providing the use of “any longer.”

And then Revelation 20:10 states how Satan will be cast into the lake of fire where the beast and the false prophet are also. These two individuals were judged and thrown into the lake of fire at the end of chapter 19. The only way the words of 20:10 can make any exegetical sense is if chapter 20 follows sequentially after chapter 19.

The next post will continue my exegetical examination by considering the “binding of Satan.”


D.E. Aune, Revelation 1-5. (Nelson: Nashville TN, 1997).

Craig Blaising, “Premillennialism,” in Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond. ed. Darrel Bock. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1999).

Charles Powell, Progression Versus Recapitulation in Revelation 20:1-6: Some Overlooked Arguments. On-line paper.

Steve Sullivan, Premillennialism and an Exegesis of Revelation 20. On-line paper.

Robert Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. (Moody: Chicago IL, 1995).

Matthew Waymeyer, Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate. (Kress Christian Publications: The Woodlands TX, 2004).

R. Fowler White, “Making Sense of Rev 20:1-10? Harold Hoehner Versus Recapitulation,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37 (December 1994).

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [6]

Editors Note: Beginning with this post I am announcing a change in strategy with my reviews. As I read ahead in the book, the chapters only continue to become a tedious hodge-podge of out of context citations from evangelical leaders that are accused of compromise with their views of Scripture. Examples of what I mean will be highlighted below. Furthermore, McElroy seems to be completely unaware (a self-inflicted myopia?) of the numerous rebuttals and other responses to his arguments he puts forth. His argumentation is increasingly becoming repetitive to where I am essentially covering the same point I had already covered in previous posts. What I plan to do from this point onward is rather than going chapter by chapter as I initially claimed I would, is to hit sections of the book that may be helpful with a response.

kjvonlyismChapter 5

Why the Lord can’t choose the King James Bible without looking foolish to scholars


McElroy starts this chapter by listing a series of quotes from conservative, Bible-believing, evangelical pastors, teachers, and seminary profs.  While on the one hand, they claim they love and appreciate the King James, in their heart of hearts, they really think it is a joke of a translation and would never truly recommend it to anyone.

After he outlines his quotations, he concludes,

Now these fellows aren’t against the King James Bible. They’re just not completely for it. The all recommend you use it in conjunction with the rest. They are politically correct. [91]

After a few more citations from other alleged orthodox men, McElroy lists out 16 verses that are omitted from the various modern translations. Such verses as Matthew 23:14, Luke 17:36, Acts 28:29, and Romans 16:24. He then takes a rabbit trail and explains how all the Roman Catholic editions also omit that same list of verses from their versions.

Returning to discussing the omission of those verses, McElroy explains that to remove them or to claim they are not originally a part of the Bible is essentially to call God a liar. Moreover, that conclusion ignores the fact that men would try to pervert, corrupt, and wrest from context God’s words. If then what the modern Bible proponents say is true, then we either have to dump the KJV or blame Jesus, because He is ultimately responsible for the failure to keep His own word.


Using the Gail Riplinger ellipses technique of cherry-picked, out-context citations, McElroy makes the individuals he quotes sound as though they are some of the most dishonest con-men in the world.

But he has essentially built another strawman for his detractors to topple over.

Let me show you what I mean.

I will write out the original paragraph where McElroy gets his citation and I will place his citation found in the book in bold blue so you can see the contrast.

He begins by citing from geo-centrist and KJVO apologist, Thomas Strouse, who expresses his disfavor with Dr. James B. Williams, the general editor of a splendid, must read book, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.  McElroy doesn’t give any indication he read the actual book, but he does cite Strouse’s complaint that it is unfairly critical of Williams to call KJVO proponents “misinformers” and their position a “cancerous sore.” Seeing that I have interacted with KJVO apologists for way over a decade now, I think the descriptions are appropriate; but let’s consider the context of Williams’s words.

After writing about Peter Ruckman, especially his abusive arrogance, and noting how his “writings are filled with misstatements about manuscripts and texts and with attacks upon some godly Bible scholars who do not hold his view point,” Williams goes on to write,

There are others who have joined in this parade of misinformers, including D.A. Waite, E.L. Bynum, Jack Chick, and Walter Beebe. The list increases with time as more unqualified proponents of the KJV Only view join in the confusion. In general these are devout, sincere, well-meaning men who in their efforts to uphold the testimony of an inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible have followed others who have been misguided in their positions. … The healing of this cancerous sore appears impossible. Nevertheless, informed Bible believers have an obligation to point out error and present the truthful facts as they apply in this issue. [Mind, 7].

As can be seen, there is certainly much more to Williams’s comment than just the name calling of KJVO advocates. He even charitably calls them devout, sincere, and well-meaning. I should also point out that the descriptions of “misinformers” and “cancerous sore,” are separated by nearly a page of text.

Moving along to another quote, McElroy also selectively cites from the introduction of James White’s book, The KJV Only Controversy,

The Christian who wishes to “give the reason for the hope” that is within him (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) will be quite alarmed at the logical conclusions derived from the KJV Only perspective. The body of this work will demonstrate that KJV Onlyism is forced to make statements about the Bible that undercut the foundation of the faith itself. [White, 17].

McElroy quotes James as writing, “undercutting the very foundation of the faith itself.” I suppose it’s close enough, but James provides a good reason why he states what he states.

He also cites from an article from a series about KJV Onlyism and hyper-Fudamentalism by Central Seminary professor, Kevin Bauder.

Here is the fuller context of what Bauder wrote,

Of course, the King James Only movement is only one species of hyper-fundamentalism. Hyper-fundamentalism may revolve around personal and institutional loyalties, idiosyncratic agendas, absurd ethical standards, or the elevation of incidental doctrines and practices. The thing that characterizes all versions of hyper-fundamentalism is the insistence upon draconian reactions for relatively pedestrian—or even imaginary—offenses.

Hyper-fundamentalism and the new evangelicalism are mirror images of each other. The old neoevangelicalism damaged the gospel, not by denying it, but by attacking its role as a demarcator between Christianity and apostasy. The hyper-fundamentalist does the same kind of damage by adding something else alongside the gospel. If anything, King James Onlyism is worse, for it shows contempt for the Word of God. It attacks the heart of Christianity by sitting in judgment over its source of authority.

Considering what Bauder is stating, I am inclined to agree with him at all points.

Then there is a quotation from a blog article by William Combs of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary who wrote an article showing how the preface of the original AV 1611 refutes the modern day claims made by KJVO apologists. He writes,

Some try to get around the statements in the Preface by asserting that they themselves are not arguing for the infallibility of the translators, but the product of their work—the KJV itself. They seek to draw a parallel between the translators and the authors of Scripture, arguing that just as the authors of Scripture were flawed men, yet produced an infallible product, so the translators of the KJV. But this will not do. The only way the KJV, or any edition of it, could be infallible and inerrant is if the persons who produced it were under the same superintending ministry of the Holy Spirit as the authors of Scripture. And anyone who makes such an assertion is not just wrong but spouting heresy.

With his black magic marker use of ellipses note what McElroy left out of Combs’s comment. Combs wasn’t stating that he believes KJV onlyists are spouting heresy for only liking the KJV, but his words are aimed at those KJVO apologists who insist that the translators were under the same inspiration of the Holy Spirit as the original writers of Scripture. If you believe that about the translators, and McElroy has made a number of suspicious comments in his book that suggests the he does, a person is not just wrong about Bible translations, but has fallen headlong into heresy. That sounds rather reasonable to me.

standsAnd then one last one.

Turning to English Bible and Tyndale scholar at University College London, Dr. David Daniell, McElroy quotes this from his book, The Bible in English, “From 1769, effectively, there grew the notion that the KJV was peculiarly, divinely, inspired.” He then goes on to make this comment, “That’s quite a loft view of Scripture in English, but this would be among the common people. … Certainly, the intelligentsia would never have shared that opinion. [92].

The idea he wants to get across to his readers is that Daniell is claiming that in the 1700s, it was common that the normal, church-going folks who loved the Bible believed the KJV was divinely inspired. But that is not at all what Daniell wrote. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Rather, Daniell was describing what he calls “Avolatry,” or the folks who believed the translators and their work were divinely inspired. Take a look at a fuller citation from where McElroy took his quote,

By the end of the 1760s, another view was appearing, one that itself became a myth, supported by carefully manufactured other myths. This was the birth of “Avolatry,” the elevation of KJV to such heights of inspiration as to be virtually divine and untouchable. From 1769, effectively there grew the notion that KJV was peculiarly, divinely, inspired. To bolster the supposition it was announced that this translation had been especially venerated from the moment in 1611 that it appeared.

In 1762, however, a serious attempt had been made in Cambridge to correct the text of KJV by widespread revision: spelling and punctuation were changed, the use of italics was regularised and extended, printers’ errors were removed and marginal annotations were increased and greatly enlarged. It was in this much-altered form that the 1611 KJV went forward, but not before the work of Dr. F.S. Paris … had been itself revised by Dr. Benjamin Blayney …. with other corrections and increased marginalia, and repeating most of Dr. Paris’s errors. Thus the birth of “Avolatry,” in which King James’s scholars became almost sanctified in their work, and their Bible near divine, coincided with a general acceptance of two modern versions of that very work which were most strikingly changed from the original. [Daniells, 619-620]

Changes everything, right?

Honestly, it is that kind of sloppy, ham-fisted mishandling of source material that makes this book a chore to review. I am truly stunned that it was allowed to go into print; but I am assuming there wasn’t an editor who would have caught such problems and alerted the author to them. It gives me the impression that McElroy doesn’t seem to care if he is representing his opponents accurately. It’s bad enough that he doesn’t genuinely engage their arguments, but it is really bad that he makes them say something entirely different.

Archaic Words and Translational Precision

retroKing James Only apologists insist that the KJV is the most accurate and concise English translation in print. However, when confronted with the reality of archaic, out of use words that make no sense to today’s reader, the apologists will reluctantly admit archaic words do exist in the King James, but then claim there are no words so difficult or archaic that they are not easily understood.

Just Google “Are there archaic words in the KJV,” and a host of KJVO propaganda articles pop up defending the King James as a Bible easily read and understood in spite of the out of use vocabulary. They will defend such KJV translations as wimples (Isaiah 3:22), ouches (Exodus 28:11), rereward (Joshua 6:9), felloes (1 Kings 7:33), blains (Exodus 9:9), besom (Isaiah 14:23), stomacher (Isaiah 3:24), implead (Acts 19:38), meteyard (Leviticus 19:35), and sith (Ezekiel 35:6).

Sith!? Say wha…?







Robert Joyner provides a more comprehensive list in these two articles, Obsolete Words in the KJV, PART 1 and PART 2

Sam Gipp offers the typical KJVO response regarding archaic words from his classic Answer Book. Under question #4, when answering the question, “Aren’t there archaic words in the Bible and don’t we need a modern translation to eliminate them,” he writes, “Yes and No. Yes there are archaic words in the Bible but No, we do not need a modem translation to eliminate them.”

He goes on to explain how the word “shambles” in 1 Corinthians 10:25 means a “market place” in today vernacular.  Yet instead of revising the KJV text with an update that reads “market place” in place of “shambles,” Gipp appeals to the example of 1 Samuel 9:1-11 when the writer of Samuel explains in the text that a “prophet” used to be called a “seer.” Christians, Gipp argues, should do what the Bible does at 1 Samuel 9:1-11 and just explain to the congregation what a “shambles” is without changing the word in the text.

Of course, what does a person do who is by himself reading 1 Corinthians and doesn’t have a KJVO English dictionary taped to the back of his Bible? Oh well.

Larry Vance, another KJVO apologist who wrote an entire book addressing the archaic word problem for King James believers, writes that many of the new translations contain just as many, if not more, archaic and hard to read words as the KJV. In fact, he states that in many, many instances, the modern translation will make a word even more difficult than what the KJV translates.

Now, I acknowledge that the majority of English used in the KJV is still in use today. And I recognize that modern translations may use unfamiliar words that may require an unread person to look them up in a dictionary.  However, the concept of “archaic words” in the King James is much more than just vocabulary words that are hard to understand without consulting a dictionary.

Archaic in this instance has to do with words that are no longer in use and are absolutely foreign in modern times. In fact, the average modern dictionary may not even have many of them listed. Their archaic nature then makes the Bible inaccessible, preventing readers from truly understanding what it was God said. That’s a travesty. It makes William Tyndale’s martyrdom pointless.

I contend that while there may be some harder that average words found in modern versions, those words are not “archaic” in the sense of those found in the KJV as noted above, and in those many places where a so-called simple word in the KJV is changed to a more complex one in a modern translation, that difficult word is actually more precise and accurate than what is found in the KJV.

Let me explain what I mean.

I had a KJVO proponent send me a list of “archaic” words found in the NASB. He sent it in the form of a photo from what appears to be a page out of Vance’s book on the subject.

NASBKJVVance, I suppose, believes this list proves his contention that modern versions make the Bible more difficult to read; but do they? I suggest they are not making the Bible more difficult to read but are making it more precise with the translation.

Let’s consider a few examples,

According to the list, the NASB has “sullen” at 1 Kings 21:5 rather than “sad” as in the KJV. The word “sad” is implied to be an easier word, whereas “sullen” a more difficult one. The word “sad” may be easier to read, but is it precise in translating the Hebrew? Not at all.

The word translated here is sar. It has the meaning of stubborn or resentful. The English word “sad” really just conveys the idea of sorrowful or mournful. Given the context of 1 Kings 21, Ahab is coveting Naboth’s vineyard and is prevented from acquiring it because he refuses to sell off his families inheritance. Ahab comes back to his house bitter and resentful, not grieved or mournful. The word “sullen,” which has the idea of bad-tempered or resentful, better conveys the meaning of sar in this verse.

Let’s move down the page to the word “torrent” as found in Judges 5:21 in the NASB. The KJV has the word “river.” We all know that a torrent is a sudden, violent outpouring; like a flash flood. A river, on the other hand, can be either slow or fast, meandering or swift depending on the circumstances. In the case of Judges 5:21, the Hebrew word translated “torrent” means just that, it was a torrent; an explosive, unexpected flash flood.

The story told in Judges 4 is of Deborah and Barak defeating Sisera and his army of chariots. The text isn’t entirely clear in Judges 4:15 of how Barak went about defeating Sisera except to say the Lord routed him and his chariots. Judges 5:21 is a part of the song of praise unto the Lord that Deborah sings after Israel’s victory. The song fills in some of the details as to what happened. It is suggested in Judges 5:21 that when Sisera and his army of iron chariots pursued Israel, they got bogged down while crossing a dry wadi, and God swept them away in a flash flood, which happened occasionally in the area. Torrent, then is a more precise translation.

Considering just one more. In the NASB, 2 Timothy 2:14 has “wrangle” instead of “strive” as in the KJV. The context is Paul exhorting Timothy to defend solid doctrine against those who would teach falsely. He warns Timothy to basically not dispute with them over worthless arguments.

In the instance of this verse, strive is not as precise as wrangle. The primary English definition of “strive” is to make a great effort to obtain or achieve something. A KJVO apologist may argue that the secondary definition of “strive” is in play here, which has the idea of fighting vigorously against something.  But “wrangle” more concisely conveys the meaning of what Paul is telling Timothy. “To wrangle” means specifically to dispute over complicated arguments, exactly what Paul is telling Timothy not to do.

If the reader has the time, he ought to look over each one of the references. It may not be that the NASB is more precise all the time, or that the particular KJV word is a terrible choice. What one will discover, however, is that as the English language has developed and changed over the centuries, the KJV’s originally ability to communicate God’s truth clearly has lessened, and the precise clarity of God’s Word is what we as Christians should desire for in our English translations.

Studies in Eschatology [13]

endofdaysApocalypticism and the Book of Revelation

One final area I need to discuss before moving into Revelation chapter 20 is the genre of the book of Revelation.The English title of the book, the Revelation, is translated from the Greek word apokalypsis and it simply means “to unveil,” “to disclose,” or “to reveal.”

There is a large group of evangelical interpreters who have poured new meaning into the word apokalypsis and equate the book of Revelation, along with the OT books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and even Zechariah, with a class of non-canonical books that flourished during the inter-testament period [Woods, 1]. Those non-canonical books are called apocalyptic literature and they began to circulate during the 2nd century B.C. as a response to persecution and oppression the Jews were experiencing, [Carson-Moo-Morris, 478], and they include books like Enoch, Jubilees, The Assumption of Moses, The Testament of the 12 Patriarchs, and The Sibylline Oracles.

They are called “apocalyptic” because they share many characteristics of a similar theme concerning the end of the world and the final judgment of all mankind. Such things as: The use of extensive symbolism, angelic guides, the activity of angels and demons, urgent expectations of the end of the earth in the immediate future, cosmic catastrophe, and the final showdown between good and evil, [Ladd, 621; Woods, 1].

Many modern evangelical interpreters claim the book of Revelation, along with Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, shares several of those characteristics with that collection of non-canonical apocalyptic literature. They make that claim particularly for the book of Revelation which was written roughly around the same time frame the apocalyptic books were composed. Because Revelation contains many of the thematic elements as apocalyptic literature, most notably the symbolic aspect, it is argued the book falls into an entirely different genre than most of the other books in the Bible. Hence, it must be interpreted according to a strict typological/symbolic hermeneutic, with a literal approach either being modified to favor typology/symbolism or laid aside almost completely.

The use of this symbolic principle of interpretation is especially true of the evangelical Reformed believers who employ a non-literal, typological hermeneutic to prophecy. In fact, when one surveys their writings addressing eschatology, a repeated mantra is that the Revelation is heavily symbolic and must be interpreted in a non-literal fashion.

Examples of this principle of a non-literal hermeneutic abound. Kim Riddlebarger attempts to make the case for a symbolic/typological interpretation of Revelation all throughout his main book defending amillennialism, as does Keith Mathison who also appeals to symbolism in his book advocating postmillennialism. Gary Demar of American Vision is one of the more strident non-literalists who insists in his various publications and on his radio program that a literal interpretation of Revelation only serves to ruin our understanding of the book. Popular Christian radio personality, Hank Hanegraaf and host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, outlines in his book The Apocalypse Code* how the Bible, specifically the book of Revelation, is filled with a lot of symbolism and should be interpreted with the proper use of “types” and “allegory.”

Those men represent just a smattering of biblical interpreters who insist the symbolism of Revelation defines its genre and over rides the basic historical-grammatical hermeneutic used to study Scripture.

Two points need to be considered in response to this view of Revelation:

1) Revelation is better understood as prophecy, not apocalyptic literature.

Though it is true the book of Revelation shares many eschatological characteristics as found in apocalyptic literature, the book is prophetic in nature, and does not belong with the non-canonical apocalyptic literature. The most noticeable proof Revelation is prophecy is the fact John calls his book a prophecy (Rev. 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18). Moreover, Dr. Robert Thomas argues that the number of dissimilarities with apocalyptic literature out weighs the similarities, so much so the book cannot right be called “apocalyptic,”[Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics, 338].

For instance, apocalyptic literature is pseudonymous, where as Revelation is not. Apocalyptic literature is never epistolary, where as the opening 3 chapters of Revelation are epistolary, addressing seven real churches. Apocalyptic literature tends to be extremely limited with its admonitions to the readers for their moral compliance to God’s commands. Revelation by contrast has repeated admonitions to John’s readers for moral compliance to God’s commands. Then lastly, Revelation is heavily dependent upon Ezekiel and Daniel, and to some extent, Zechariah. Those prophets wrote some 400 years before apocalyptic literature circulated among the Jewish people. There are several other dissimilarities as well [see Woods], which removes Revelation from the classification of “apocalyptic literature.”

2) The symbolism in Revelation does not nullify the use of a literal hermeneutic.

If Revelation is rightfully understood as a prophecy of further revelation from God and is not to be associated with non-canonical apocalyptic literature, then that will change entirely how one is to interpret the book. The symbolic aspects of the book will be understood in the normal way symbolism is used in the rest of the Bible, especially prophetic portions.

The idea of “literalism” when interpreting Revelation, as well as prophecy in general, is regrettably ridiculed by reformed believers. In some ways I can understand their reactive tone. There are bizarre instances of literalism being abused. Hal Lindsey’s understanding of the locust in Revelation 9 as Apache helicopters spraying chemical weapons, or perhaps my favorite: the scene out of one of those dreadful Thief in the Night films in which a gal hears a noise outside her front door, opens it to see what the racket is, and then a big, rubber foam scorpion tail appears and stings her. But examples of absurd symbolism also exist. The interpretation by various preterist commentators that the 100 pound hailstones mentioned in Revelation 16:21 were the stones catapulted by the Romans when they laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 AD, for instance.

Because Revelation is prophecy, it will be interpreted just like other prophetic sections of the Bible. Certainly there is attention to symbolic language, but there is no need to read into those symbols speculative interpretations that exist outside of the prophecy itself which is connected to a class of non-canonical writings. Again, Revelation is dependent upon Ezekiel and Daniel’s prophecies. The best rule of thumb is to consider those canonical books to help provide clarity for understanding Revelation.

Additionally, symbolism in prophecy always points to some real, historic referent. Consider Daniel 7, where Daniel sees four spectacular beasts in a night vision. Though the beasts are amazing symbolism, we learn later from the angel interpreting the vision that they represent real, historic kingdoms: the Babylonian empire, the Medo-Persian empire, the Greek empire, and finally the Roman empire. If the beasts symbolize four real kingdoms, then other symbols in the vision must also refer to real, historical objects and people. The same would also be with numbers. The number of years in Daniel’s 70 week vision in chapter 9 correspond to real, chronological years. In fact, the vision is so accurate we can date the Triumphal Entry of Christ to Jerusalem the very week He was crucified.

If symbolic images and numbers represent real things in OT prophecy, why would it be any different when we come to Revelation? This is not “wooden literalism” or an “overly active imagination,” but interpreting the biblical text in the manner in which it was meant to be understood. Appealing to non-canonical apocalyptic literature as a starting point merely muddies the whole process of Bible study.

* See a review of The Apocalypse Code HERE.


D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1992).

Martin Erdmann, The Millennial Controversy in the Early Church. (Wipf & Stock: Eugene OR, 2005).

George Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament. (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1974).

Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old. (Kregel: Grand Rapids MI, 2002).

__________, Revelation 1 – 7: An Exegetical Commentary. (Moody Press: Chicago IL, 1992).

Andy Woods, Apocalypticism, on-line paper.

Dispensationalism/Covenantalism Q and A

On a Facebook group, a fellow posted a list of questions he had for apologists Matt Slick of CARM and Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity ministries. The questions were primarily directed at those two men and specifically centered around the systems of Dispensationalism and Covenantalism.

I asked if I could take a shot at offering my answers and the guy who posted them said sure. I spent a couple of hours on AWANA night in the TMS library compiling my responses. Seeing that I am stalled at the moment on my KJVO book review, I thought I would create a PDF and post it here if anyone else is interested.

There were a few questions I skipped, because they were too specific with Presbyterian WCF ideas, and I’m not a Presbyterian. The subject is kind of geeky, but deals primarily how we are to interpret the Bible and the interplay between the OT and the NT.


Jerusalem’s King – A Review

jerusalemskingI recently had the privilege of watching the documentary Jerusalem’s King. I got word of the film through Andy Olson of Echo Zoe ministries, who helped with the production along with being featured in it as a traveling tour guide of the land of Israel. Correction: Andy tells me that was the actual film maker giving the tour, not himself. He was filming the scenes. Andy has an amazing doppelganger.

He was kind enough to send me a download for reviewing. Andy, that is, not the doppelganger.

The film is quite simple. It traces the prophetic theme of our savior, Jesus Christ, Jerusalem’s King, from the beginning of creation in Genesis to His Second Coming in Revelation. The viewer is led from creation, to the corruption by Adam’s fall, the promise made to Abraham and David of a coming King, through the remainder of Israel’s OT history, to Christ’s incarnation, His ministry and crucifixion, the Resurrection, and His Second coming and the restoration of His Kingdom.

All of those events are explained with the teaching of Scripture, especially the prophecies of the OT, as they pertain to each major point foretelling the coming of Christ.

Added to that are the excellent visuals of the land of Israel. As the prophecies of Christ are presented, the viewers see the land where the events of the OT took place. Seeing those places helps to frame the biblical story in a more solid context. For example, when Christ led His disciples north of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi as recounted in Matthew 16, we are shown just how ungodly that region was at the time by seeing the ruins of pagan temples. The connection is quite stunning in that Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples as the Messiah in a land where there was deep, spiritual darkness.

For a video that was put together on a small budget by a team of amateur film makers, it is a worthy production, though I did find the couple of shots of Andy Andy’s doppelganger  lip-syncing to the narrator  himself a tad humorous. The film would be an excellent tool that can be used in small Bible studies, especially for new Christians who have little or even wrongheaded views of the Bible. I can really see it being used for mission work either with missionaries ministering to people with no understanding of Christianity. Or maybe for those folks stateside who may have a heart for international students at their local college. Jerusalem’s King would be a fabulous introduction the what the Bible and Christianity is about.

DVDs or digital downloads can be obtained at the main site, Jerusalem’s King

A trailer is also available there that shows you what the film is about.

Studies in Eschatology [12]


The Millennium in Church History

Having briefly surveyed the three main eschatological systems, I want to turn my attention to a study of Revelation 20 where the disagreements between those systems are focused.

However, before I move to addressing Revelation 20 specifically, it is important to lay a little preliminary background.

Let me begin by providing a brief overview of millennalism within Church history.

I think many Christians are unaware of how the millennium has been a source of strife, curiosity, and sensationalism throughout the 2,000 years of the Church. Millennialism, or millennarianism, is the belief that there will be an earthly reign of the messiah before the end of time [Danielou, 377]. The reign of the messiah was understood by the Jews to be the Kingdom of God coming upon the earth in which all the nations opposed to YHWH were brought under the subjection of His messiah and the world witnessed the triumph of God’s chosen people.

The early Jewish Christians developed this messianic concept further by building their millennarianism more precisely around John’s Book of Revelation and other non-canonical apocalyptic literature like 1 Enoch and the Ascension of Isaiah. They refined the details of their perspective with the rise of the Antichrist before the coming of Jesus, and the Kingdom to come would be a thousand years in length.

That primitive form of premillennialism was known as chiliasm, after the Greek word chilia meaning 1,000. The chiliasts held to a more literal understanding of biblical prophecy concerning the apocalypse, and their beliefs persisted among many groups of orthodox and unorthodox Christians for a least the first three centuries of the early Church.

However, it was Origen of Alexandria, along with Clement, who first employed an allegorical method of interpreting the Bible which eventually challenged the chiliasm of early Christians. Origen’s hermeneutic was developed from a mixture of Christianity and the popular neo-Platonism of his day.

His study of Scripture was a form of syncretism, combining elements of biblical Christianity, pagan mysticism, and Greek philosophy [Erdmann, 159]. Origen considered all prophecy to be mysterious and unintelligible, and he was the first to express a real aversion to the literalistic approach to reading prophecy utilized by the chiliasts because he thought an earthly Kingdom of God for a thousand years to be carnal. Origen’s allegorical hermeneutic was a means to condemn chiliastic teaching, spiritualizing instead the passages of Scripture that if read literally would support a millennium [Erdmann, 161].

But, it was the North African church father, Aurelius Augustine, who had a lasting influence against chiliastic interpretations of prophecy. In his magnum opus, De Civitate Dei (The City of God), Augustine took the allegorical hermeneutic of Origen, and others from the Alexandrian school, and laid the foundation for the two eschatologies of amillennialism and postmillennialism. He saw the thousand years of Revelation 20 as symbolic of the church age. The first resurrection, he believed, was the spiritual re-birth of Christians into the Church. The second resurrection he took as literal, however, when all the righteous and wicked will be raised and judged at the Great White Throne.

Augustine thought the thousand years could possible by understood in a couple of ways.

First is the idea of a “1,000” being symbolic of the fullness of time of some perfect era. He reasoned that the number 100 is sometimes used as being equivalent of totality. A thousand is 100 cubed, meaning perfect totality or completeness.

A second way Augustine said we could understand the thousand years was the whole period of time from Christ’s ascension to the end of time. Utilizing the creation week analogy in which the 6 days of creation in Genesis 1 equals 6 thousand years of human history, the church age would be the last day, as it were, of God’s calendar before the 7th day of eternal rest. Though Augustine favored the 6 days of world history view of the millennium, most of his supporters following in the centuries after he wrote who believed his scheme merely see the 1,000 years as symbolic of the indefinite time for the church age. Still, the build up to the turn of the millennium in the late 990s A.D. saw many groups of sensationalists basing their predictions upon Augustine’s work claiming the end of the world after the year 999 A.D.

Millennarianism as a concept has always had its sensational supporters. The Crusaders, for example, originally a reaction against encroaching Moslem armies pushing into Europe, saw their sworn duty to free Jerusalem, the city of Christ and the capitol of the Kingdom of God, from infidels who had overtaken it.

One of the most notorious incidents involving millennial fervor was the Munster rebellion. In Feburary 1534, a group of radical Anabaptist led by a baker named John Matthys, and a tailor named Jan Bockelson of Leiden, successfully took over Munster, Germany, and claimed the city was the “New Jerusalem.”

munsterFor 18 months the Anabaptist radicals held the city. They implemented polygamy among the citizens and enacted a form of communism in which everyone shared each others’ possessions. Matthys was killed during an attack led by the expelled bishop, Franz Waldeck. That left Jan Bockelson in charge and he installed himself as king and declared himself the successor to king David. In June of 1535, the city fell after being besieged and Bockelson and his more prominent followers were tortured and executed. Their bodies hung in cages for several centuries from the steeple of St. Lambert’s Church.

Date setters have also been a prominent feature of millenniarianism. William Miller, a Baptist preacher in the early 1800s of America, was convinced Christ would return on October 22, 1843. He based this conviction upon his reading of Daniel 8:14, but rather than seeing Daniel’s 2,300 days as just normal days of 24-hours, he believed they represented calendar years. Those “days” would be accomplished in the year 1843. Of course the year 1843 came and went with out anything happening, and Miller was exposed as a false teacher. His prophetic views, though, heavily influenced a young Ellen G. White, the founder of Seventh-Day Adventism, whose family had followed Miller and his predictions.

Along with the Millerites, there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have made at least three major predictions of Christ’s return, 1914, 1925, and 1975, and even Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, claimed he would live until his 85th birthday before Christ returned. Smith died at age 38 in a shoot out at a jail in Illinois.

The main feature with the good number of these millennial groups is their literal hermeneutic when interpreting Revelation 20. In fact, many who reject a literal understanding of Revelation 20 cite those examples of excessive sensationalism as one of the reasons a literal approach to interpreting the millennium should be rejected. Added to that is the fact many of the millennial groups who have sprung up during various points in Church history are wildly unorthodox and in many cases, heretical and pseudo-Christian in their theology.

But a literal interpretation of Revelation 20 must not be rejected because eccentric cults have utilized a literal hermeneutic to promote their eschatological heresies. What needs to be determined is whether prophecy itself should be understood with a literal hermeneutic and if that hermeneutic best handles the exegesis of Revelation 20 specifically. I say it does and will hope to demonstrate that in my posts to come.


Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. (Christian Focus: Great Britain, 2005).

Jean Danielou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity, ed. and trans. by John A. Baker. (Westminster Press, 1977).

Martin Erdmann, The Millennial Controversy in the Early Church. (Wipf & Stock: Eugene, OR, 2005).

Studies in Eschatology [11]


I wish to return to my continuing series on the study of eschatology. I have turned my attention toward reviewing the three major millennial systems: amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism.

The last two articles addressed amillennialism and postmillennialism, and with this post I will sketch out the basic tenets of premillennialism. Like the two previous articles, It is not my intention to provide a long, detailed analysis. I want merely to hit upon the important features.

The prefix “pre” provides the central conviction of premillennialism: Christ will return prior to the millennial kingdom. Additionally, rather than saying the “millennium” is a spiritual understanding of the present church age, premillennialists believe the 1,000 years that define the millennium are real, chronological years. In other words, when Jesus Christ returns, He will establish a Messianic kingdom in which He will rule for 10 consecutive centuries. Or, if we break it down further, 365,000 days.

Premillennialism is the oldest eschatological system. That historical fact has been lost due in part to the dominance of Augustine’s amillennial scheme he outlined in his book, The City of God. In the few centuries prior to Augustine’s influence, however, the good number of Christian writers held to a primitive premillennialism, or what was called chiliasm, taken from the Greek phrase in Revelation 20 chilia ete, meaning “1,000 years.”

The chiliasts believed at least four fixed elements that defined their convictions:

1) The notion that a last, terrible battle with the enemies of God was pending.
2) The faith in a speedy return of Christ
3) The conviction that Christ will judge all men.
4) Upon His return, Christ will set up a kingdom of glory on the earth in which the risen saints will reign with Him for 1,000 years [Adolph Harnach, cited in Culver 2005, 1139].

Among the earliest writers advocating premillennial ideas were Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, Lactantius, and Hippolytus. A number of chiliast groups came to be known for their “sensual excesses” or what was perceived by Christians who were heavily influenced by the increasingly popular asceticism of platonic philosophy as “evil worldliness.” Those chiliasts taught about an earthly millennium in which there would be much sensual banqueting and many earthly delights to indulge our pleasures.

As Augustine’s eschatology became the dominant position of the Roman Catholic Church, the chiliastic beliefs began to wane among Christians for several centuries. It wasn’t until the time of the Reformation, when the Reformers returned the church to the authority of Scripture and the importance of exegetical preaching, that the premillennial perspective began once again to see popularity among Christians.

Though it is safe to say all the adherents of the three main eschatological system affirm the authority of Scripture, premillennialists approach the interpretation of the relevant passages with an entirely different perspective than their amillennial and postmillennial counterparts:

The first difference is a significant distinction: premillennialists handle the interpretation of biblical prophecy differently.

Rather than approaching prophecy with a hermeneutic that leans heavily toward a typological exegesis of eschatological passages, premillennialists interpret those passages in a more literal fashion. Yet, it is not an extreme wooden literalism in which symbolic and figurative language is discounted. Instead, premillennialists recognize the use of symbolic and figurative language to illustrate eschatological realities, but do not believe the presence of such language authorizes the wholesale spiritualization of prophectic literature.

Secondly, premillennialists will approach the interpretation of Revelation differently as well. That is particularly noticeable in how they understand Revelation 20 where the millennium is specifically taught. Premillennialists do not read Revelation as a series of recapitulated visions of the church age. They understand the book should be read more in a chronological fashion. So, when they come to Revelation 20, they do not take the amillennial perspective of seeing the chapter as a vision returning the reader back to the beginning of the church age. Instead, they believe the events of chapter 20 follow those in chapter 19 in sequence, thus implying Christ vanquishes his enemies and then establishes His kingdom for a 1,000 years.

This chronological approach to the whole book of Revelation, particularly chapter 20, provides foundational characteristics defining premillennialism (Those points are a summary of the first section from Robert Culver’s masterful work, Daniel and the Latter-days.):

Premillennialism is characterized by the following points,

The millennium begins with the visible return of Christ in glory to judge and rule the nations. Revelation 19 describes Christ’s return in which He judges the antichrist and false prophet by casting them immediately into the lake of fire. The events of Revelation 20, then, follow chronologically.

The millennium will be when Satan is imprisoned. Contrasted to non-premillennialists who believe Satan’s binding in Revelation 20:1-3 is a limitation of his activities, premillennialists believe his “imprisonment” means that Satan’s will be caused to cease entirely for 1,000 years from his rebellious activities on the earth.

The resurrection of the just happens at the beginning of the millennium. The righteous will experience the first resurrection during which they will reign with Christ on the earth. This resurrection is a physical resurrection, not a spiritual “rebirth” or “regeneration” as non-premillennialists argue.

The conversion of Israel to their rightful Messiah and the restoration to the land. The millennium is the fulfillment of the long awaited Messianic kingdom promised by God to Israel in the OT, for example Hosea 3:4,5 and Micah 4.

Premillennialism has also developed within two distinct varieties: Dispensational premillennialism and historic premillennialism.

Dispensational premillennialism is derived from the word “dispensation,” as found in the King James Bible in Ephesians 1:10, 3:2 and Colossians 1:25, translated from the Greek word oikinomos that can mean “stewardship” or “administration.”

Dispensationalists divide salvation history into a series of eras or epochs in which God tested humanity in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God [Grenz, 94]. Each epoch entails the revelation of what God requires of human beings as the stewards of that revelation. Humanity is supposed to live obediently to the terms of the dispensation, yet fails to do so. Thus, each epoch ends with the judgment of God.

Earlier dispensationalists identified up to seven dispensations with the premillennial kingdom being the final one. As the interpretative methodology has matured and developed, how one understands the number of dispensations and their purposes has been refined. Still, the one distinguishing factor of dispensational premillennialism is the distinction between national Israel and the NT Church, and a distinct future for national Israel. The millennium, then, is the fulfillment of the kingdom promises God made to OT Israel, with those promises being expanded to include the NT Church.

Historic premillennialism also holds to a future millennial kingdom; however, the system is different from dispensational premillennialism in that it sees the millennium being a golden age, not for a future regathered nation of Israel, but for the Church. Thus, the NT Church is considered to be the “true Israel” that has replaced, or fulfilled, the OT Israel. Those promises of restoration to Israel in the OT, then, are fulfilled in the Church reigning with Christ during the millennium.

Additionally, historic premillennialism also shares much in common with non-premillennial eschatology, especially with how they interpret the prophetic passages. Just like amillennialists, the historic premillennialist believes the coming of Jesus Christ allows for the employment of a “Christological hermeneutic” that reinterprets the OT prophetic literature in light of the NT. That makes their approach to eschatology not as strictly literal as dispensationalism. In fact some historic premillennialists would not believe the millennium is strictly 1,000 calendar years, but are symbolic for an undetermined amount of time.


Having provide a brief sketch of each of the major eschatological systems, I want to turn my attention to the text of Revelation 20 itself. What I would like to do in future posts is to engage the major talking points each eschatological system uses in defense of their position. Along with considering the exegetical data of the chapter, I want to show why I believe a proper understanding of the exegesis will yield a premillennial perspective.


Craig Blaising, “Premillennialism,” in Three Views of the Millennium and Beyond, ed. Darrel Bock. (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1999).

Robert Duncan Culver, Daniel and the Latter-Days. (Revell: New York NY, 1954)

, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical. (Christian Focus, Great Britain, 2005).

Stanly J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze: Sorting out Evangelical Options. (Inter Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1992).

George Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI, 1996).

Michael J. Vlach, What is Dispensationalism?. (On-line paper).