Amil, What is Literal and what is Symbolic
hr.1 – News Commentary Current Events
hr.2 – Amil, What is Literal and what is Symbolic
What is Literal and what is Symbolic.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God… 2Timothy 3:16
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2Peter1:20
Scripture interprets scripture:
1st. If a word is to be understood symbolically, the interpretation of the symbol will be found explicitly in the same or like text.
A major apocalyptic symbol of importance in the Revelation is the word beast. “Here we have learned the interpretation of the things: That the beast symbol represents kingdom and dominion, and that the symbolic sea represents a certain locality from which they [the several beast powers] shall arise out of the earth …”
So, we understand that the symbolic word means something other than its ordinary sense, and this other meaning will be interpreted explicitly somewhere in prophetic text. The Bible itself provides the definitions for words that are used apocalyptically. When this happens, I call the occurrence a Divine Interpretation. We see this in Daniel 2:36, 7:16; Rev. 1:20, 17:12, 15, 18. These are just a few examples of what we are looking for.
2nd. Words used in scripture must be defined by the scripture.
For the definition of any particular word, we can also use the Bible as its own dictionary. Because the meanings of words change over time, it is necessary that we use Scripture to interpret the words used in Scripture. Studying how a particular word and its original Greek counterpart is used throughout the NT in the different contexts should be very insightful, and necessary for a correct interpretation.
In the exposition of chapter 20 the following words and phrases are of primary importance. Are these Apocalyptic Symbols? Do they mean something other than would be taken in their ordinary sense? How do we determine the definition of a particular word or phrase in the context given? Let us apply the principles just reviewed:
bottomless pit, (abyss) – This phrase only appears in the Revelation itself. When surveyed, we find that it definitely refers to a place where evil spirits are bound or loosed by God for the fulfillment of His purpose, either of judgment upon the earth when loosed, or confinement of evil when bound and sealed.
chain, (a fetter or manacle, bonds, chain.) – Everywhere used in the NT, chain is to be understood by the plain meaning of the text, so in this chapter should also be understood by the plain reading, that it is a means of binding.
the nations, (ethnos) – Wherever this phrase is used in the NT it invariably refers to the nations other than Israel or other than the church, depending upon the context.
thousand, – It is a gross overstatement to say that the word thousand, here chilioi in the Greek, is always used symbolically. To the contrary, it is used more in the literal sense than otherwise everywhere in the NT. There is however, a different Greek word that is used, murioi, ie. “…than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue,” meaning innumerably many, myriad. But, even in the English, the context leaves no doubt as to what sense the term ten thousand is to be taken.
So, to answer to what some suggest, saying that the thousand years is meant to be taken only as figurative for an undetermined period of time, for instance, 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 said, without requiring the “a thousand” to be figurative for anything other than what is meant in the literal sense. As with all of the OT poetic references, the comparison is specious – you cannot use the poetic to convert the normal into the symbolic.
Let us also consider that the word thousand, is used in this chapter six times in the original text preceded with the definite article a or the.
Wherever χίλιοι (chilioi) appears with a prefix of certain affinity, such as “seven-thousand”, the prefix being ἑπτά (hep-tah’ or seven), indicates how many thousands. A numerical prefix appears accordingly wherever the number of thousands is two or more, imagine that!
Another peculiarity to be noted is that never do we see the primary numeral, εἷς (hice or one) in the Greek, 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 or a 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 one thousand years. This word is not symbolic, nor is it poetic in this context.
soul, (life) – From the Greek psuchē referring to the life of man. “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat” and “for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.” Or, “my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased:” and “ye shall find rest unto your souls.” These four examples may exhibit a difference between body and soul, even as did Jesus, “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Everywhere the word is used it refers to a person in a body. We do however see the reference to a disembodied person as a spirit, ie. “they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.”
For the word to be taken as disembodied, it would have to be explicitly stated or inferred in the context given, which in chapter 20, is not the case. Many amillennial expositors brazenly add the word disembodied before soul when referring to the verse 4 text.
resurrection, – A simple search of the word reveals that resurrection, when used everywhere in the NT, only refers to an in kind bodily resurrection that is preceded by a bodily death. Even the original Greek, ἀνάστασις (anastasis) never refers to anything other than an in-kind event. Also note that the word is never used for the born-again regeneration gospel event anywhere in the NT. The word is not symbolic for something else.
Get the New Book – The Beast Apocalyptic
An Exposition of the Apocalyptic Beast Powers and
Related Symbols of Daniel and the Revelation