You are hereA 40-Year Millennium?

A 40-Year Millennium?

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By Virgil - Posted on 30 January 2004

by Ed Stevens

In this show essay, Ed Stevens arguest against point ten raised by Kenneth Gentry in his analysis of the Full Preterist view saying: "The prophetical expressions of the kingdom tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity. Does Christ's kingdom parallel David's so that it only lasts for the same time frame?"A 40-Year Millennium?

[Response To Gentry's Analysis of the Full Preterist View...]

[GENTRY] Tenth, if A.D. 70 ends the Messianic reign of Christ (cf. hyper-preterist view of 1 Cor. 15:24, 28), then the glorious Messianic era prophesied throughout the Old Testament is reduced to a forty year inter-regnum. Whereas by all accounts it is a lengthy, glorious era. A problem with premillennialism is that it reduces Christ's reign to 1000 literal years; hyper-preterism reduces it further to forty years! The prophetical expressions of the kingdom tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity. Does Christ's kingdom parallel David's so that it only lasts for the same time frame?

Tenth – Gentry is confusing the millennial period (a transitional building and establishing phase) with the finished eternal kingdom period. And, he again shows he misunderstands the full preterist view of 1 Cor. 15:24-28 when he alleges we believe “A.D. 70 ends the Messianic reign of Christ” and that “the glorious Messianic era prophesied throughout the Old Testament” is nothing more than a mere “forty year inter-regnum.” He says the full preterist view “reduces [Christ's glorious Messianic reign] to forty years.” He admits too much when he says that the “prophetical expressions of the kingdom [in the OT] tend to speak of an enormous period of time, even employing terms that are frequently used of eternity.” Gentry has given the farm away by that admission. That is exactly what we believe. The reason the full preterist view is so confusing to Gentry and many others on this point is because they have not taken the “already, but not yet” idea fully into account. The NT speaks of an earnest, pledge and seal of their full inheritance. They did not have the fullness yet. That 40-year period between Pentecost and Holocaust was just a transition phase between “this age” and “the age about to come.” It is “the age about to come” that was to be the eternal one. We have several examples of 40-year transitional periods in the OT (wilderness wandering, David’s reign, etc.). According to Moses and the prophets the transition between the two ages was not supposed to be eternal, nor even a long protracted period. Gentry has missed the significance of the transition period, and confused the passages about the transition period with those about the eternal kingdom.

It is this transition period that the rabbis discussed frequently in their Messianic debates. They labeled that period “the days of the Messiah.” It was a period of travail and difficulty in which the Messiah would have enemies to defeat before His reign was established and His kingdom consolidated. The rabbis differed as to how long that period would last. Some spoke of it as a thousand or more years. Most agreed it would probably be about 40 years, like the transitional period of wandering in the wilderness and the 40-year preparatory reign of David before his son Solomon (the prince of peace) built the Temple. This transition period would see the consummation of all redemptive things and the bringing in of the victorious and full eternal kingdom reign of Christ (not the ending of that reign).

Jesus told the parable about a nobleman who went to a far country to receive a kingdom, then returned to begin His rule (Lk. 19:12-27). His citizens hated him and sent a delegation asking that he not be allowed to reign over them. What did he do to those folks when he came back to his country to rule? He put the rebels to the sword. The point of the parable is that this Nobleman (Christ) did not begin ruling over His people until He returned from the far country (heaven). Was He reigning in the mean time? He had “received the kingdom” (Lk. 19:15), but His right to rule was being challenged by the citizens of His country. He had to put the enemies down first before His kingdom was fully established. There was an “already, but not yet” aspect to His rule. When He returned and crushed His enemies, He began His eternal reign at the right hand of His Father. The Messiah’s enemies had to be put down, and His eternal reign at His Father’s side was then permanently established. And this implies that if Christ’s eternal reign has begun, He must have already “returned from the far country.”

Notice 1 Cor. 15:24-28 doesn’t shut out the idea of Christ reigning eternally with the Father. If we took Gentry’s approach, however, we would have to say this text denies an eternal reign of Christ after His parousia. If Gentry believes the parousia mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:23 is still future, then he would have to believe that when Christ returns He will quit reigning. Is that what Gentry believes this passage is saying? Of course not, and neither do full preterists. We both believe Christ continues to reign eternally after His parousia (regardless of whether we put the parousia in the past, as preterists do, or in the future, as futurists do). If Gentry puts the parousia mentioned in vs. 23 at AD 70, then he has established full preterism, simply because the resurrection and end occur in conjunction with it. And if the parousia, resurrection and judgment all occurred at AD 70, full preterism is true.

Here’s the question begged by this text: Can Gentry show any context in the NT where an inspired writer differentiates between two different parousia’s of Christ separated by thousands of years? Did Jesus speak of two different parousia’s of the Son of Man separated by thousands of years? (cf. Matt. 24:3,27,37,39 where the Greek word parousia is used four times in the Olivet Discourse) Where does the Bible tell of a parousia after the one in AD 70? Take a peek at Gentry’s own interpretation of Matthew 24 (BJF, pp. 123, 242, and HSHD, pp. 160-161, 343-349), where he applies two of the four “parousia” passages (Mt. 24:3,27) to the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem, and even indicates that the “coming” (Gr. ercomenon) mentioned in Mt. 24:30 is the same AD 70 “coming in clouds of judgment” (BJF, p. 123).

Now think about Gentry’s inconsistency here. He divides Matthew 24 into two sections, saying the first (vss. 4-34) was fulfilled at AD 70, and the second (vss. 36ff) is yet to be fulfilled at Christ’s “glorious Second Advent” (HSHD, p. 343). Please stop right here and go to Appendix I and study the Matthew 24 – Luke 17 chart. It shows clearly why Matthew 24 is not dealing with two different widely separated events. The main difficulty with Gentry’s idea of dividing Matthew 24 is that the second section of Matt. 24 contains “coming” passages (using both parousia and ercomai) that are worded exactly the same as the “coming” passages in the first section. We have listed them below for easy comparison to see if there is any clear indication that Jesus was talking about two totally different “comings of the Son of Man” separated by thousands of years. Please read them for yourself. Check the Greek.

1. First Section – (Matt. 24:4-34) – AD 70 Coming

• Gr. parousia, “parousia” – Mt. 24:3, 27

• Gr. ercomai, “erchomai” – Mt. 24:30

2. Second Section – (Matt. 24:36ff) – Alleged Future Coming (acc. to Gentry)

• Gr. parousia, “parousia”– Mt. 24:37,39

• Gr. ercomai, “erchomai” – Mt. 24:42,44,46,50

We have already noted that Gentry applies all three of the “coming” passages in the first section to AD 70, and that he is forced to assign the coming passages in the second section to a future “glorious Second Advent.” Do you see the problem here? Is there any indication in the text that Jesus (and the gospel writers) are even remotely aware of two different comings separated by thousands of years? Were they confused or mistaken? Gentry’s arbitrary distinction between two different comings gives critics (e.g. Bertrand Russell and Albert Schweitzer) license to charge Jesus with an even greater mistake than they already have. Taking the chapter as one unit, they would say Jesus failed in His prediction of His parousia in that generation. But if we divide the chapter into two different comings (as Gentry does), those same critics would howl not only about the failure of the first section’s parousia to come to pass in that generation, but charge Jesus with arbitrarily and ambiguously changing subjects without modifying His terminology. This would make Jesus not only a false prophet, but a deceiver. In other words, Gentry has Jesus speaking about two totally different parousia’s separated by thousands of years (compare Mt. 24:27 versus 24:37,39) using not just “similar,” but exactly the same language (“coming of the Son of Man”). Deliberate deception, as well as false prophecy, if it did not occur in that generation. The skeptics and liberal critics of Jesus would have a party over this. There is no room for a split interpretation of this chapter, since the word parousia is used in both sections, and the events mentioned in each section are connected inseparably with the parousia of the Son of Man. Either we have to say it is all future (and make Jesus a liar for saying any of it would occur in that generation), or make it all fulfilled at AD 70 (and preserve Jesus' integrity). Gentry is inconsistent on this. Full preterists are the only ones with a consistent solution to this dilemma which still preserves the integrity of Christ and the NT writers.

Gentry says he only feels comfortable assigning an AD 70 application to a text if it has clear time indicators in the context. Well, Matthew 24 has several “time indicators” in its context. But, I suppose he would say that there really are two completely different contexts in Matt. 24. The burden of proof rests on him to prove that, since the traditional position of the church was to take this whole chapter as a unit.

This same “parousia” is mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:23 in connection with Christ’s deliverance of the kingdom back to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28). To be consistent, Gentry has to apply this 1 Cor. 15:23-28 context to AD 70, or else give up his application of Matt. 24:4-34 to AD 70. They both use the Greek word parousia, and there is no indication in Paul’s or Jesus’ teaching that they knew of two different parousia’s separated by thousands of years.

1 Cor. 15:25 speaks of Christ reigning in some sense at that very time until He puts down His enemies and returns the kingdom to the Father at whose side He will co-reign eternally. Rev. 20 speaks of Christ reigning until the millennium is over. Then He comes in wrath upon Gog and Magog to crush His final enemies (Death and Hades) and usher in the New Heaven and Earth, the New Jerusalem and the New Temple where He reigns with the Father eternally. So, 1 Cor. 15:23-28 is speaking about Christ’s millennial reign during that 40-year transition period, followed by His eternal reign with the Father after AD 70. So, A.D. 70 does not “end the Messianic reign of Christ,” as Gentry has charged.

What is 1 Cor. 15:24ff talking about when it says that Christ “delivers up the kingdom to the Father,” if it is not talking about an end to Christ’s reign? Glad you asked! In 2 Samuel, the Psalms and the OT prophets, David is told that His descendants will enjoy living in an eternal kingdom under a Son of David. The Jews rejected God’s reign over them and insisted on having an earthly king. They picked Saul. He was not God’s choice. David was the man after God’s heart, and David (through his descendant) was prophesied to be the one who would bring the kingdom back to God. Jesus’ parables talk about taking the kingdom away from the Jews and renting it out to a new nation that would produce the fruit of it. (Matt. 21:33-46)

The 40-year transition period was a period of “already, but not yet.” When Christ returned at AD 70 He finished crushing the enemies of His Father’s reign, took the kingdom away from them, gave it back to the Father to whom it belonged, then sat down at His side to rule eternally with Him. I suspect Gentry believes the same, except for the timing of it. He might put some kind of “parousia” still in the future, while full preterists understand that Christ has already crushed His enemies and begun to reign at His Father’s side eternally.

http://www.preterist.org/articles/gentry/a_40-yr_millenium.asp

pretgirlinca's picture

Hi Virgil,
My first problem with Rev. 20 is that in verse 1 it is an “Angel” not Christ who has bound Satan and thrown him into the abyss.
Perhaps I’m just being stubborn at this point, I know that the angel has been translated to be Christ, but I’m not convinced.
My next problem is in verse 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.

That he should deceive the nations no more. If the 40-year transition period and the 1000 years are one in the same then this does not make sense to me.

If you meant that Satan’s power was limited in regard to the Christian I can understand and agree with that but I cannot (according to scripture) ignore the fact that during that 40 year period, Satan was very much around.

1Pe 5:8 be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

There is little mention of Satan in the OT but in the NT he’s mentioned over 47 times in the first 3 gospels alone. This is what is making me think that perhaps the 40-year period was the “little while” and this is what is holding me back from accepting the 1000 years and the 40 years as the same period of time.

On the other hand, how long had Satan been on the scene causing trouble? Certainly, a lot longer than 40 years.

If I could understand the first 3 verses of this chapter, then I could be a real preterist too! Just kidding, but this really is my last hurdle.

Thanks,
Julie

preteristdave's picture

Julie, thanks for your good questions! I believe the 1000 years stood for completion and that their length was from 26-66AD. I hope this doesn't confuse you but here is how I currently understand the 1000 years. The way in which I believe Satan could no longer deceive the nations is that the gospel was able to be proclaimed and accepted through the whole world (Romans 16:26).

Revelation 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down FROM HEAVEN, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Satan began to be locked up during Jesus' ministry (26-30AD) as the following verses show. I believe it was an actual angel that locked up Satan because Christ was on earth.

Mt 12:28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Luke 10:18 And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

John 12:31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

After Satan was cast out the events described in Revelation 20:4 and much of Daniel 7 took place (30-66AD). It is a good idea to compare all of Revelation 20 with all of Daniel 7. Notice no "thousand years" are mentioned in Daniel 7.

Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
(Revelation 6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.)

Daniel 7:9 "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 "A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened. 11 "Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. (Rev 19:20 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.) 12 "As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. (Rev 12:12 "For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.")
Daniel 7:13 "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and A KINGDOM, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed

2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom

Revelation 20:5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. (around 66AD) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
(1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.)

Revelation 20:7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also (some versions say "were"); and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Notice the beast and false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire before the end of the thousand years (before the end of 66AD). Satan was thrown in the lake of fire after them in 70AD which was after his short time (Rev 12:12) (66-70AD (the destruction of Jerusalem)). The events of Revelation are obviously not in consecutive order so it can be confusing. One example of this is seeing the beast in Revelation 13 after Satan was released for his short time (Rev 12:12).

David

Praeterbro's picture

You probably know better than I do, but could it be possible that the word "nations" could be better translated as "tribes," or be referring to the tribes of Israel? Is it possible that the tribes of Israel were being given "a fair chance" at accepting the Gospel before their appointed destruction, and that's why Satan was bound?

After the thousand year reign, Satan was to be released to deceive the "nations" in the "four corners of the land." I can't remember where (perhaps I'll find it and write back), but the same epithet is used a few times in the OT referring to the land of Israel.

Reading the history of Josephus, it seems that the character of that land became absolutely evil, as if possessed, at the outset of that war. If the Jews had not acted in the completely guiltless way they did, I suspect that they probably would not have suffered absolute desolation.

What do you think?

Your brother,

Tim.

davo's picture

Tim IMO, not discounting a wider audience, I think what you raise is most valid and most likely.

davo

Virgil's picture

While "ethnos" or "ethnei" (pl) could be translated as tribe/tribes, I don't really see the benefit of such a translation. Satan did not deceive ONLY the tribes of Israel, but everyone in the world. I think such a translation would indicate a "preterist bias" to anyone familiar with the topic...we should stick to the actual obvious meaning. Translating it as "nations" actually supports the global implications of these events, although localized geographically.

Praeterbro's picture

Virgil,
The question is whether or not Rome was "deceived." Were they, or were they not performing God's will?

I mean,was it not God's will to put an end to that system which could not make one perfect?
It seems to me that Rome was God's instrument in the completion of His will. Don't you think that it would have been Satan's goal to stop Rome (not help them), so that the "system of death and sin" could endure?

Does that make sense?

Your brother,

Tim.

Virgil's picture

Tim,

This is an irellevant argument. In either case it doesn't really matter - God uses any circumstance to further his will, whatever that will may be, including deception. He used the deception of Adam and Eve to bring life to the world, and glory to his name, but he did not himself deceive Adam and Eve.

Rome didn't necessarily have to be deceived by Satan to destroy Jerusalem...the passage doesn't say that ALL nations are or are not affected by the deceiver - to me it sounds like a general statement: Satan no longer has to power to deceive the nations..although he may have been able to deceive all of them. Even if Rome was deceived by Satan, I see no theological problem with that...

blackpreterist's picture

It should also be pointed out that in going against Jerusalem the nations involved in the armies (the Roman Empire) were thereby judged. This is seen in Joel 3, Zech. 12-14, and Rev. 20, where the nations are all judged in their coming against the city. It appears then that they were indeed deceived in that their actions also led to their own destruction. While the seige fulfilled God's will against apostate national Israel, it condemned the nations to their downfall.

Kenneth P.

\

preteristdave's picture

"Is it possible that the tribes of Israel were being given "a fair chance" at accepting the Gospel before their appointed destruction, and that's why Satan was bound?"

I believe it might be possible. Even though the destruction was determined the Jews might have been given a fair chance through signs (tongues, healings, etc) and warnings for some to avoid it. I believe the comparison between the 40 years in the desert the 40 years between 30-70AD are important here.

Hebrews 3:8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, `THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS'; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, `THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.' "

Romans 11:14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them

The reason I'm leaning away from this view though is because the Old Covenant Jews were not able to believe without election (see Isaiah 6; Romans 11:5; Heb 9:15; etc) and this hardness would last until Jerusalem and thus the Old Covenant was destroyed (2 Pt 3; Isa 51:16).

"Isaiah 6:10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate"

That's why I lean towards the view that with Satan being unable to deceive the nations Paul could say "but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith" (Roman 16:26).

Your brother,

David

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