Is Amillennialism Scripture Twisting and Heresy?


Do you think amillennialism a heresy that comes as the result of Scripture twisting?

The timing of the tribulation or the meaning of the millennium is not something that we want to affix the word “heresy.” This is something that we can debate vigorously as Christians but we simply do not have to divide over. Therefore, I would not affix the word “heresy” to this.

There are Christians who believe that the millennium is a period of time between the first and second comings of Christ, so they still associate an indiscriminate amount of time, perhaps two thousand or more years, to this time frame (i.e. amillennialism). We do not at this point or an amillennial cannot tell you exactly how much time will lapse because the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has not yet taken place.

Some Christians take the millennium to be a kind of semi-golden age that comes about either before (postmillennialism) or after (premillennialism) the return of Jesus Christ.

The premillennial position is a position which says that after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ people will be saved, and there will be a one-thousand-year semi-golden age with a rebuilt temple and reinstituted temple sacrifices, and some even say that those temple sacrifices will atone for sin. Then there will be a great apostasy at the end of this millennial age and then the eternal state.

I personally do not agree with the millennium being a period of time. What Revelation is communicating is not quantity of time, but a quality of vindication for the martyrs. In other words, they will suffer for a short-time their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The most well known use of the symbolic number “thousand” in Scripture is found in John’s encouraging promise to the persecuted first-century church that the saints who would be martyred for resisting the mark of the Beast would reign in glory with Christ for “a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-7). Failing to read Revelation in its appropriate historical and literary context, many have misconstrued John’s words in Revelation 20 as a literal prophetic chronology according to which Satan will literally be bound for one thousand years while the resurrected martyrs reign with Christ until the end of the “millennium” at which time the rest of the dead will be raised and Satan will be released to wage war against Christ and the resurrected saints. Rather than allowing one metaphorically rich passage in the apocalyptic letter of Revelation to override the rest of the clear passages in Scripture that teach a single, general resurrection of the dead (e.g. John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17), we must be willing to interpret this markedly symbolic passage in light of the rest of Scripture. When we do so, it becomes clear that in keeping with the traditional use of “a thousand” as a numeric symbol of ultimate completion, John is simply here promising his readers that though God would allow the Beast to execute his reign of terror for “ten days”—a relatively short time—God would vindicate the martyred believers by allowing them to reign with Christ for “a thousand years”—a comparatively limitless time. By suggesting that Satan would be bound during this period and that the rest of the dead would not be resurrected until after the thousand years had ended (vv. 2-3, 5, 7), John was simply using symbolic chronological bookends to highlight the qualitatively (as opposed to quantitatively) unique vindication that the martyrs of this great persecution will experience at the general resurrection of the dead. John’s vision of the vindication of “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God” (20:4) is thus the climactic answer to the prayer for vindication—“How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”—that was called out in chapter six by “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” (6:9-10). (Hank Hanegraaff, Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times…and Why It Matters Today [Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007], 256-257)

Now I think ultimately to settle this in your mind requires something that I think few people spend enough time with, and that is an understanding of the art and science of biblical interpretation. To understand the Book of Revelation —this includes Revelation 20 where this idea of thousand years is repeated six times—you have to have a good understanding or good grasp of the Old Testament Scriptures. If you do not, you might get caught going off on a fantastic fantasy journey as opposed to grounding yourself in the well-spring of the Old Testament.

—Hank Hanegraaff

Learn more about understanding end time passages in the Bible in Hank Hanegraaff’s books The Apocalypse Code and Has God Spoken.

This blog adapted from “What’s your view on Amillennialism, is it heretical?