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© Rosemary Bardsley 2015

How Revelation 20 is understood has for many effectively determined how the book as a whole is understood. It is in this chapter, and only in this chapter in the whole Bible, that the ‘thousand years’ are mentioned. This is referred to as ‘the millennium’, which is used as a tag to define a person’s position in regard to the events of the ‘end’ of the world. Appendix #1 includes a brief description of the four main millennial views.

Considerations that determine how the ‘thousand years’ and associated events in Revelation 20 are understood include:

[1] Does Revelation teach us about a number of events that occur in a historical sequence one after the other, or does Revelation teach us about the one complex event multiple times from a range of different perspectives? The view expressed in these studies is the latter: that in Revelation we are presented with seven parallel sections. Each reveals ‘the end’ from its own perspective. Together they give the complete revelation that God wants the church to have. Not all the truth is revealed in any one section, but each section reveals aspects of truth about the same complex event. Some scholars term this ‘progressive parallelism’. On this basis, what Revelation 20 is depicting has already been depicted from other perspectives in previous sections of Revelation. The ‘complex event’ so described in these seven parallel sections is the period of time that commenced with the incarnation of Jesus Christ and will end with the events of his return - the final judgment and the new heaven and new earth.

[2] Does the concept of ‘the last days’ refer to a very limited period at the end, or is ‘the last days’ something that began with the first coming of Jesus Christ and ends with his second coming on ‘the last day’ in judgment? Again, these studies express the latter view.

[3] Are we to understand the terms ‘a thousand years’ and ‘the thousand years’ in a strict literal sense of exactly 1,000 calendar years, or are these terms intended to be a symbolic reference to a complete  [one thousand is 10x10x10 – and 10 symbolizes completion] period of time, the length of which is not specifically given? Again, these studies express the latter view.

[4] Does the Bible teach a gradual improvement of conditions on earth as the time of Christ’s return draws near, or does the Bible teach the on-going presence of evil, and an escalation of evil prior to his return? These studies express the latter view.

[5] Are there some Old Testament covenants and prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled in the political nation of Israel and the geographical land of Israel, or are all the covenants and prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ and the salvation he accomplished by his death? These studies express the latter view.

Some of these issues have been addressed in The Big Picture studies; others are addressed in one or more of the appendices; others in the studies on the text and in particular on this chapter.