Millennium (Forty Years)

Some falsely claim that Christ did not truly reign during the forty-year period.  Paul, commenting on Christ’s status during that forty-year period, wrote, “He must reign until His enemies are put under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:24).

However, if Christ did not begin to rule until AD 70, then the putting down of His enemies, and ruling in the midst of His enemies, did not begin until AD 70.  Yet Paul wrote “He must reign until His enemies are put under Him.”  His reign and the putting down of His enemies are synchronous events.  The Psalmist wrote, “Rule thou, in the midst of your enemies” (Psa 110:2)  The “ruling until the enemies were put under Him” and the “ruling in the midst of His enemies” are parallel statements.  Paul makes it indisputably clear that Christ had begun the work of putting His enemies under Him: “He has put all things under Him, but we do not yet see all things put under Him” (1 Cor. 15:27; cf. Col. 2:14-17).

The time of the end (1 Cor. 15:24) is when Messiah finalized His triumph over His enemies-not the time when he would begin to put down His enemies.  Revelation depicts that final victory, “when the thousand years are finished” (20:7).  So, in Revelation, the beginning of the Millennium is the beginning of Messiah’s conquering work.  The Millennium reign is the consolidation of Messiah’s rule.  The end of the Millennium is when that work was perfected.

John says the martyrs were priests who reigned with Christ for the Millennium.  Zechariah foretold that in the Messianic Temple, Messiah would be both priest and king on His throne (Zech. 6:13).  Hebrews 8:1-3 tells us that Christ was serving as High Priest over the True Tabernacle, as He sat at “the right hand of the throne of majesty” – exactly where the Psalmist said he would rule in the midst of His enemies (Psalm 110:1-2).  In Revelation 20, just as their Lord sat on the throne as King and Priest, so also the martyred saints sat on thrones and reigned and judged with Him.

Satan was bound for the Millennium.  Here too we find common ground with the ministry of Christ and the forty years between His ascension and coming (ca. AD 26-66).  When Christ cast a demon out of a man, the disciples marveled.  Christ said that this was not possible unless the strong man was being bound (Matt.12:29). After Christ sent His disciples out on the “limited commission,” they returned incredulous at their success.  Christ told them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18; cf. Rev 12).

Notice also that while Paul wrote that the last enemy, death, would be put down at Christ’s Parousia (1 Cor. 15:19-25), John wrote that death would be destroyed at the end of the
(Rev 20:10-15).  Therefore, Christ’s Parousia would be at the end of the Millennium.  Thus, Christ’s statement “Behold, I come quickly!” meant that the end of the Millennium was near when John wrote.

When the Thousand Years Are Over

Another way to determine whether or not the forty-year period was the Millennium is to compare what was to happen at the end of the Millennium with the language of imminence found in the New Testament.  If the events in Revelation posited at the end of the Millennium were considered imminent in other books of the New Testament, this constitutes prima facie evidence that the end of the Millennium was near.

–> At the end of the Millennium we see: Satan released; his making war with the saints; his final judgment (Rev. 20:7-10). 

–> In the New Testament we see: Satan released (“The Devil walks around seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8); his making war with the saints (the saints had to suffer “a little while” 1 Peter 1:4-7, 5:10; cf. Rev 12:10); the final judgment of Satan (“the God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly” Rom 16:20).

Simply stated:

–> The final judgment of Satan would be at the end of the Millennium.

–> The final judgment of Satan was near when Paul wrote Romans.

–> Therefore, the end of the Millennium was near when Paul wrote Romans in circa AD 58.

The end of the Millennium is also the time of The Resurrection (i.e. “the rest of the dead,” who came to life after the thousand years; Rev. 20:7-12), yet Peter wrote that Christ was “ready (Greek: hetoimos) to judge the living and the dead” in the first century (1 Peter 4:5).  We also see the opening of the books to judge who would or would not enter the Kingdom, while Christ told His disciples that “there are some standing here that shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:27-28).

Characteristics of the Millennium & the Period Afterwards

  • Began with Christ and His work of casting out Satan characterized by the binding of Satan (Matt. 12:29).
  • Resurrection & Enthronement during Millennium reign (Acts 2:30-34; cf. Psa. 110:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:25-26; Rev. 20).
  • Enthronement had already begun in the past (Eph. 2:5-6).
  • Rev. 1:19 – John is writing of things that were past, present, and soon to take place, and since “resurrection and enthronement” were already in progress, the millennium is already underway John refers to the “little while” several times, implying that the end and consummation was near, to occur in a little while.
  • John was standing in the middle of a process that had already begun and were nearing completion.
  • Therefore, John is standing in the millennium, with the end of the millennium drawing near. 
  • The release of Satan for a “little while” was already underway or about to occur – since John says he was fellow partaker of the tribulation (Rev. 1:9 written circa AD 62-63).
  • Satan was already “like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8 already underway circa AD 63)
  • Notice in 2 Peter 3:12-13, they were hastening and looking forward not to the Millennium, but to the “new heavens and new earth.”  This ASSUMES that they were already in the Millennium, if John’s ORDER of Revelation is followed.  (Jay Adams made the same observation in his book “The Time Is At Hand.”)

Sitting on thrones and ruling during the millennium

  • Eph. 2:5-6 – made us alive and positionally raised us up and seated us with Him.
  • Eph. 2:1-6 – (soteriological “positional” reign).
  • Rev. 1:6 – made us to be a kingdom of priests.
  • John 5:24-25 – has eternal life and has passed from death to life, and an hour was coming when the rest of the dead would be raised (32 years later John tells his believers he is writing to in 1 John 2:18 that they were then in the last hour).

Period after the Millennium is clearly the Eternal Kingdom

  • Matt. 12:28 – the Kingdom is near, and would come when Satan is destroyed.  He was being bound at the present time during Christ’s and the Apostles ministry, and when the Kingdom came/was fully consummated, he would be cast into the Lake of Fire.
  • Luke 10:9-18 (cf. Rev. 12) – The Kingdom has come near, and Satan would be cast out of heaven.
  • Jn. 12:31 – the “ruler of this world” would be “cast out” soon, and “crushed shortly”(Rom. 16:20).

Texts which teach a Forty-Year Millennium

Daniel 7, Rev 20, Luke 19, and 1 Cor. 15

Daniel 7:13-28 shows two phases to Christ’s reign.  At His ascension He receives a Kingdom and reigns to put down all His enemies.  Then it says that the time arrived for the Ancient of Days to come and give the Kingdom over to the saints to take possession of it.  So, there are two phases to Christ’s reign.  He reigns to put down the enemies and consolidate the Kingdom (AD 30-70), then gathers the saints into it for its eternal phase.

Rev. 20 shows the same thing.  Christ raises some saints who “come to life and reign with Him for a thousand years.”  At the end of that millennium Christ gathers everyone else together for judgment and gives His saints a place in His throne room forever (see Rev. 21-22).  He and the Father co-reign eternally with the saints from that point onwards.

Jesus’ parable (Luke 19) about the Nobleman who went to a far country to receive a kingdom and then return to reign over it, is also teaching the same thing as Daniel 7 – Luke 19:12-27 – “A certain nobleman went into a far country to RECEIVE FOR HIMSELF A KINGDOM and to return.”  He goes and does his business and then returns.  Then it says, “And so it was that when he returned, HAVING RECEIVED THE KINGDOM…

Luke 19:15 – The implication is clear: He LEFT to receive the kingdom, NOT RETURN to receive it. He went to the far country (heaven) to receive a kingdom.  Jesus received His kingdom at His ascension when He went to the Father.  He did not receive it when He returned – He returned “with” it.

  • Notice in Luke 19 how Jesus spoke about the nobleman who went away to receive a kingdom and then to return to kill all of those who did not want him to rule over them.   This would have been absolutely stinging and fully understood by His Old Covenant Hebrew audience.  As they were well aware that when both Herod and Agrippa each went away to Rome to receive right to rule over their kingdoms, the Jews both times sent a delegation to Rome saying to Caesar that they did not want Herod nor Agrippa to rule over them.  Upon Herod’s return from receiving his kingdom he did the very thing Jesus was threatening here, and Herod killed his enemies.

1 Cor. 15:24-30 (“he must reign”) shows that Jesus was already reigning in some sense during the transition period, and would finish putting down all His enemies by the time He returned, at which time he would take the kingdom back from the Jews and hand it back to His Father to whom it belonged, then sit down beside Him to co-reign forever.  This has to be the millennial reign, since it is definitely NOT the eternal reign mentioned in Rev. 20. And since there are not three different reigns of Christ mentioned in Rev. 20, this one in 1 Cor. 15 must be His millennial reign.

Compare Revelation 20 to 1 Cor. 15:24-30 to see how Death (the final enemy) was defeated at the end of the millennium, which is also the Parousia, and how the Son sits down with the Father to co-rule eternally after that (also see Rev. 11:15 after the last/7th angel).

To summarize:

In Daniel 7 it states that Christ was brought “to” the Ancient of Days and given a Kingdom, and that easily harmonizes with the parable of the nobleman in Luke 19.  Then 1 Cor. 15:24-30 shows that Christ was already reigning in some sense during the transition period (AD 30-70), putting down all His enemies (the last of which was Death), and getting ready to hand that Kingdom back to the Father at the Parousia.  Then Rev. 20 talks about a reign of Christ with some of His saints during the millennium, and shows the same end of Death at the end of the millennial reign of Christ.  This cannot be another end of Death different from the end that Apostle Paul described in 1 Cor. 15:24-30.

Putting all these texts together, it is clear that Christ received His millennial Kingdom at the Ascension, and ruled over it during the interim between the ascension and the Parousia.

This is the time when He put down all of His enemies, the last of which was Death, which was conquered at the Parousia.  This was when He finished taking the Kingdom back from the Jews and giving it to the Father to whom it belonged.  Then He sat down next to the Father to co-reign eternally with the Father over His Eternal Kingdom (Rev. 11:15).

Paul is using the same imagery as Daniel 7, Rev. 20, and Luke 19 for his backdrop in 1 Cor. 15:24-28.  Christ was already in the midst of His millennial reign when Paul wrote (“for he must reign” (present infinitive verb)).  Christ was reigning, putting all His enemies down, consolidating the Kingdom for His saints and His Father.  The Jews had rejected God reigning over them and wanted an earthly king to rule over them in the kingdom from back in Samuel’s day when they wanted Saul (1 Sam. 8:7).  But God gave them David afterwards so that through his lineage a King would come who would bring the Kingdom back to God to whom it belonged.


See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:


Thousand Years

Binding of Satan (Bound)

Thief in the Night


Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):

[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 8 Rev. Chapter 20 (sub study on Millennium)”]