The Thousand Years – Literal or Not

Rev. 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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.

We have here, the binding of Satan for a thousand years, in which he should deceive the nations no more. The power of Satan was broken in part at the first century by setting up of the gospel kingdom in the world, the church that Jesus said that he would build; it has been further reduced at various epochs in various temporal kingdoms, tolerating or becoming Christian; it was yet further broken by the termination of the 1260 year reign of the Antichrist; “but still the serpent has several heads, and, when one is wounded, another has life remaining in it.

“Here we have a further limitation and diminution of his power. Observe, 1. To whom this work of binding Satan is committed – to an angel from heaven. It is very probable that this angel is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ; the description of him will hardly agree with any other. He is one who has power to bind the strong man armed, to cast him out, and to spoil his goods; and therefore must be stronger than he. 2. The means he makes use of in this work: he has a chain and a key, a great chain to bind Satan, and the key of the prison in which he was to be confined. Christ never wants proper powers and instruments to break the power of Satan, for he has the powers of heaven and the keys of hell. 3. The execution of this work, vs.2-3. (1.) He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan. Neither the strength of the dragon, nor the subtlety of the serpent, was sufficient to rescue him out of the hands of Christ; he caught hold, and kept his hold. And, (2.) He cast him into the bottomless pit, cast him down with force, and with a just vengeance, to his own place and prison, from which he had been permitted to break out, and disturb the churches, and deceive the nations; now he is brought back to that prison, and there laid in chains. (3.) He is shut up, and a seal set upon him. Christ shuts, and none can open; he shuts by his power, seals by his authority; and his lock and seal even the devils themselves cannot break open. (4.) We have the term of this confinement of Satan – a thousand years, after which he was to be loosed again for a little season.”

Before we move on we must answer to what some suggest, saying that the thousand years is meant to be taken only as figurative for an undetermined period of time, citing Psalm 50:10, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” I would ask the question: How many “a thousand hills” are there on the whole earth? Any group of a thousand hills with cattle on them is more a poetic way of saying that all of the cattle are the Lords, and that, without requiring the thousand to be figurative for anything other than what is meant in the literal sense. The comparison is specious.

Let us also consider the word thousand, pronounced khil’-ee-oy in the Greek. Χίλιοι is used in this chapter six times in the original text. Our Strong’s Concordance offers a brief interpretation, “Plural of uncertain affinity; a thousand: – thousand.” Wherever χίλιοι appears with a prefix of certain affinity, such as “seven thousand”, the prefix being ἑπτά (hep-tah’), indicates how many thousands. A numerical prefix appears accordingly wherever the number of thousands is two or more. Another peculiarity to be noted is that never do we see the primary numeral, (εἷς) hice in the Greek, or one, prefixed to χίλιοι in the original text anywhere in the New Testament. But when appearing alone without a prefix of any certain affinity, or with the definite article preceding, “the thousand” it is understood as singular everywhere, and should also be understood as such in this chapter – that is to say, that the thousand years in context, should be taken in no other way than a literal thousand years.

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2 thoughts on “The Thousand Years – Literal or Not”

    1. The rabbit hole of not accepting the thesis, conjecture, and future speculation of counter-reformation dispensational futurism and amillennialism, but instead allowing the bible to interpret the bible, and history to verify our interpretation? – If that’s not what you mean, then you need to constructively criticize using the scripture and history to correct our supposed error – ad hominin attack edifies no one.


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