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Home » Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

The Thousand Year Reign

Submitted by on Friday, 28 November 2008No Comment
  • Reading I: Revelation 20:1-4,11 — 21:2
  • Resp. Psalm: Psalm 84:3-6,8
  • Gospel Reading: Luke 21:29-33

eucharist_raffaello

Here is another controverted passage in John’s Apocalypse.  It is difficult chiefly because of the mention of a thousand year reign before the Last Judgment.  The literalist interpretation of these passages derive from the chiliasts of antiquity who thought of the passage in historical terms.  Their interpretation was later on revived in the middle ages by Giaochim of Fiore.  There are certain fundamentalist sects and cults which subscribe to their ideas.

Below is a sample list to articles that reflect the different ways by which today’s selection is handled:

It must be said that a highly symbolic book like the Apocalypse cannot suddenly become literal in chapter 20.  Anyone who interprets the book should be consistent with its symbolic nature.  What we are dealing with in Revelation 20:1-6 is

  • an anticipated resurrection
  • where the saints (specifically, the martyrs) are going to reign with Christ
  • where the Dragon will be bound (that is rendered unfruitfull and ineffective)
  • where Christ’s kingdom is effective

Augustine interprets this in a way that the binding of Satan coincides with the work of Christ’s redemption, and that His reign with the saints coincides with the age of the Church.  Thus, those interpreters that take the "first resurrection" to mean that of baptism is not far from what John is thinking.  In fact, the image that Raffaello has painted (see above) shows how the "thousand years reign" of Christ is being enacted today in His Church. 

Revelation 20:1-4,11
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand.
2And he laid hold on the dragon the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should no more seduce the nations, till the thousand years be finished. And after that, he must be loosed a little time.
4And I saw seats; and they sat upon them; and judgment was given unto them; and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
11And I saw a great white throne, and one sitting upon it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place found for them.
Psalm 84:3-6,8
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
3My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God.
4For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
5Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee for ever and ever.
6Blessed is the man whose help is from thee: in his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps,
8For the lawgiver shall give a blessing, they shall go from virtue to virtue: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.
Luke 21:29-33
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
29And he spoke to them in a similitude. See the fig tree, and all the trees:
30When they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh;
31So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand.
32Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled.
33Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Revelation 20:4-6
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
4And I saw seats; and they sat upon them; and judgment was given unto them; and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5The rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. In these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ; and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Revelation 20:1-6
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand.
2And he laid hold on the dragon the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should no more seduce the nations, till the thousand years be finished. And after that, he must be loosed a little time.
4And I saw seats; and they sat upon them; and judgment was given unto them; and the souls of them that were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not adored the beast nor his image, nor received his character on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5The rest of the dead lived not, till the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. In these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ; and shall reign with him a thousand years.

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