The millennium is a subject of fascinating interest. So little,
however, is said about it in the Bible that almost boundless room is left to
the imagination in respect to the details thereof; and it must be admitted
that expositors have taken fun advantage of the opportunities thus afforded.
All that is written on the subject is found in the first ten verses of
Revelation, Chapter XX. As literally translated (following the text of The
Englishman's Greek N. T. (Bagster) those verses read:
"And I saw an angel descending out of heaven having the key of the abyss
and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the ancient
serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and
cast him into the abyss and shut him up and sealed over him, that he should
not longer mislead the nations until the thousand years were completed; and
after these things he must be loosed a little time.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to
them; and the souls of those that had been beheaded for the testimony of
Jesus and on account of the word of God, and those that did not do homage to
the beast, or his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead
and upon their hand; and they lived and reigned with Christ the thousand
years, but the rest of the dead lived not again (the critical texts all omit
again) until the thousand years should have been completed. This is the
first resurrection. Blessed and holy he who has part in the first
resurrection. Over these the second death has no authority; but they shall
be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years may have been completed, Satan will be loosed
out of his prison and will go out to mislead the nations which are in the
four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog to gather them unto war, of whom
the number is as the sand of the sea. And they went up upon the breadth of
the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And
there came down fire from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil
who Misleads them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where are the
beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for
the ages of the ages."
In the interpretation of the above passage, the principal question to
be decided is: in what realm do the described events take place? Are they in
the realm of the natural, or in that of the spiritual? They who locate them in
the realm of the natural, in other words who make them a part of this earth's
history, must of necessity postpone them to a future era, regardless of
whether they place Christ's second coming before the millennium or after; for
certainly no such events as are here described have as yet transpired on
earth. But, for those who locate the scenes and events of the millennium in
the realm of the unseen things, there is no such necessity. According to their
understanding of the passage those scenes and events may be already past, or
they may be going on now.
This preliminary question must be decided by the testimony of the
passage itself; and to my mind its terms clearly indicate that the seer of
Patmos is here describing events of the spiritual realm. For to begin with,
the two actors in the first scene are spiritual beings; and since it must be
that the "key" and the "great chain" are spiritual - not material - objects,
and also that the place of Satan's confinement, called in the A. V. "the
bottomless pit," but designated in the original text by the single and very
expressive word, abussos (abyss), is a spiritual locality. Hence also the
binding and the sealing of Satan are spiritual actions, corresponding to what
those words describe in the realm of the natural.
Furthermore, in the second scene John saw the souls of
those who had been (pluperfect tense) beheaded for the testimony of Jesus,
together with those who did not receive the mark of the beast; and these all
lived and reigned with Christ during the thousand years; from which it is
evident that the passage has to do with things in the spiritual realm, where
"the souls" of departed believers are now awaiting their resurrection bodies.
It also indicates what is meant by "the first resurrection," as will be shown
HELP FROM THE RELATIVITY THEORY
The Einsteinian Relativity Theory posits a relationship between space
and time of such nature as makes time to be a fourth dimension of space. In
the current philosophical jarjon this idea is expressed by the clumsy phrase,
"space-time continuum." According to this idea, one, should never speak of a
here, or of a now, in his experience; for his here is never detached from his
now. Hence, in the interest of accuracy, the proper expression is here-now.
As an illustration of what is involved in this view of space-time, we
are reminded that a man's infancy and his old age are just as truly parts of
himself as his head and his heels. In other words, it takes the full measurer
of the time he occupies as well as the full measure of the space he occupies,
to make the complete individual.
That there is indeed some such relation between space and time seems
evident when we reflect, in the light of the Scriptures upon the Being of God;
for in that light we perceive that, just as God is everywhere present in
space, even so He is everywhere present in time; that with Him there is no
past and no future. God speaks habitually of things future as if they were
present before Him; and so they undoubtedly are. We get this conception of
God's Being and Nature from statements such as that He "inhabits eternity,"
and that with Him "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one
Applying this idea to the case of a prophecy whereof we
know of no fulfilment, it is evident that we may do with it either of two
things: (1) we may locate the fulfilment in another realm of space, or (2) we
may locate it in another era of time. And specifically, we may either (1)
assume its fulfillment to be in this realm of the natural and visible at a
future era of time, or we may (2) assume its fulfilment to be at this present
time (or in a time already past) in another region of space. The first of
these alternatives is that which is usually chosen; the reason being that it
is far eater f or us to conceive of a future era of time where the same state
of things with which we are familiar is still going on, Gan to conceive of a
realm co-existent with this where a state of things of a spiritual kind
subsists. Yet the latter explanation is obviously as satisfactory and
sufficient as the former. And what we claim for it is that it has solid
support in the Scripture; whereas the postponement of the prophecies
concerning Israel, Zion and Jerusalem to a yet future era is contrary to clear
statements of the word of God.
DR. STAFFORD'S STUDY OF THE KINGDOM
I have lately come upon an explanation of the passage we are now
examining, which, because it takes full account of the facts noted above, and
because also of its close adherence to the Scriptures and its rejection of all
human imaginings, is the most satisfactory explanation of the millennium that
has thus far come to my notice. It is found in A Study of the Kingdom, by Dr.
T. P. Stafford (published by the Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville,
In what follows I have made use of Dr. Stafford's explanation, at
least as to all its most prominent features; for I had already become
convinced from the evidence afforded by the passage itself that it pertains to
the spiritual realm.
Dr. Stafford, after presenting his interpretation of the passage,
makes the following statement, which to me is of much interest:
"Some years ago I thought out for myself this interpretation and the
proof just cited. I thought I could claim originality for it. But to my
chagrin I discovered the other day that Augustine made the same
interpretation supported by the same words of Jesus (City of God, 20, 7). I
cannot therefore, claim originality for the interpretation; but there is
more assurance that it is sound."
Dr. Stafford points out (and it is important to take note of this)
that the author of Revelation did not adopt or share in any degree whatever,
the then current Jewish expectation of a millennium of Jewish ascendency over
the Gentiles, and of world-wide peace and plenty And he quotes Adam Smith's
Life and Letters of St. Paul to the effect that the early Christian
imagination proceeded upon the Jewish notion that the history of the world was
to last for six ages, corresponding to the six days of Creation. And that
"just as the six days of creation were succeeded by a day of rest, so the six
ages will be followed by the Millennium, a thousand years of peace. By and by
the idea arose that each of the past ages had lasted a thousand years; and
hence it was reckoned that the year 1000 A. D., would terminate the current
age and witness the Lord's Advent, and the final Judgment."
As to this Dr. Stafford comments as follows:
"That there was a Jewish expectation of a millennium of some kind, and
that it has had some influence upon Christian eschatology, is freely
admitted. But that this Jewish notion is found in the New Testament is
denied. This false idea, like many other false ideas, has come into
Christian thought from Judaism, but does not belong there."
In proof of this Dr. Stafford points out that our Lord Himself was a
martyr to His outspoken "nonconformity to Jewish notions," and to the fact
that He was a complete contradiction to their ideas of the Messiah; "that
Paul's life-long fight was against Jewish notions"; and that he "saved
Christianity from the ruin which the Jewish party in the first churches would
have brought upon it." And rightly he says: "The idea of a civil government on
earth for a thousand years is not found in a single utterance of Jesus, Paul
or Peter; much less that Christ is going to 'set it up' when He returns."
It is very signficant indeed that, in the various passages that refer
to Christ's second advent, although a number of things He will do are
specified, not a word is said about the setting up of a civil government on
earth. Indeed, as will be shown later on, some of the things that are
definitely predicted to happen at that time, effectually exclude the
possibility of the millennium which many are now expecting.
THE SECOND DEATH AND THE FIRST RESURRECTION
Looking to the passage itself for indications to guide us to a right
understanding thereof, we note these antithetical statements: "This is the
first resurrections and "Over these the second death hath no authority" (vv.
5, 6). At verse 14, and again in verse 8 of the next chapter, it is explained
that the lake of fire is the second death.
Here again we must face the question of interpreting the words of
Scripture "literally." When, for example, Christ said, "This is my body," did
He intend we should understand Him "literally?" Having dealt with this
question elsewhere in this volume (See Chapter 11) I will only remind the
reader that the prophets commonly employ figurative language, and that a
distinctive characteristic of the Apocalypse is that it is written in the
language of figures, signs and symbols. Dr. Stafford puts it thus (p. 229):
"In order that the symbol or figure of speech, that is, the saying of one
thing and the meaning of another may be seen to be most common Revelation;
and in order that the fact may be appreciated as essential to a proper
interpretation of the prophecy I cite a number of examples, moving rapidly
through the Book. In many cases the meaning is explained by John himself:
'The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven
candlesticks are the seven churches' (1:20). The Smyrna church is to have
tribulation 'ten days' (2:10), which can hardly be taken with mathematical
exactness. Satan's throne is said to be in Pergamum, that is, some great
evil was there (2:13). 'The sword of my mouth,' a figure that occurs several
times, means the truth of Christ (2:16. cf. 19:15, 21). 'Hidden manna' and
white stone' stands for salvation or spiritual fellowship with Christ
(2:17)......... Key of David' means the power of David; and 'David' here is
not David, but David's Son, that is, the Son of God (3:17). 'Pillar in the
temple of my God' means place of influence in the kingdom (3:12). Neither a
literal (or material) pillar or temple is to be thought of. 'Door' does not
mean door, but something spiritual analogous thereto. . . . . The robes of
the saints are said to be made 'white in the blood of the Lamb' (7:14) ; but
actual blood does not make garments white, and 'robes' here does not mean
robes but souls, hearts, lives. . . . Some are to be 'tormented five months'
(9:5, 10) ; but certainly 'five months' does not mean that measure of time."
And so on, giving several more pages of illustrations, without exhausting
the instances contained in the Book.
Applying what is to be learned from these examples of the figurative
use of words to the statement that the lake of fire is the second death, Dr.
"Of course he (John) does not mean that the lake of fire is itself the
second death, but that being cast into it is, or signifies, the second
death. We have here a valuable key, and we have the right to use it for all
it is worth. What now is the second death? It is the eternal punishment to
which the wicked and the unbelieving are doomed. John says so (20:10).
"If then eternal punishment is the second death, it follows that, in the
conception of John as well as according to Biblical history, the first death
is the banishment and punishment that came upon the race on account of the
first sin: 'In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die' (Gen.
2:17). John chose not to consider in this connection physical death, or else
he counted it a part of the curse of the first death, which it is."
Thus it is made evident that John is here speaking of death in the
spiritual sense; which is no new thing in the Bible, that being indeed the
true sense of the word and the sense in which it is first used in the Bible
(Gen. 2:17. See also John 5:24; 8:51; 11:25, 26; Rom. 5:4; 6:9; 8:6; Eph. 2:1,
and many other passages). If then eternal banishment from the presence of God
(2 Th. 2:9) is, in the terminology of the passage we are studying, "the second
death," that fact directs us to the meaning of the antithetical statement,
"This is the first resurrection"; for if the second death is not the death of
the body, neither is the first resurrection the resurrection of the body.
According to the passage itself the first resurrection is sitting upon
"thrones" and exercising "judgment"; it is living and reigning with Christ a
thousand years. They who thus lived and reigned were the souls of those that
had been beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and also those who did
not worship the beast or his image or receive his mark; and this includes, not
the martyrs only, but all the saved; for verse 6 says, "Blessed and holy is he
who has part in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no
authority; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign
with Him a thousand years." The antithesis in this passage between "the first
resurrection" and "the second death" makes it further evident that if the
latter does not mean bodily death the former does not mean bodily
It should be recalled in this connection that in the New Testament the
unconverted are regarded as existing in a state of death and of servitude to
sin. (Indeed the teaching of the Bible throughout is that death is not the
extinction of man's being, but is a state of being.) At conversion man's
natural condition is reversed; he lives and reigns. The first thing that
happens is that he passes from death into life. This much of the doctrine is
relatively easy to grasp; but more than that, instead of being, after
conversion, under the rule and authority of sin, he himself shares the
authority of Christ. He not only lives with Him, but also reigns with Him.
That the N. T. clearly teaches this two-fold truth as to a man's change of
condition at his conversion, will be clearly shown in what follows.
Further it will be shown that both the living with Christ and also the
reigning with Him are in another sphere; not in the realm of the natural, but
in that of the spiritual. Our life is not here; it is hid with Christ, in God
(Col. 3:3). So likewise, our reigning is not here; for manifestly we are not
seated on thrones in this life. But just as we live with and in our risen Lord
in the heavenlies, so likewise do we reign with Him there and now. The fact
that our true life is in the unseen world, while we continue here in the
flesh, makes it easier to Ay hold of the companion truth that our share in
Christ's royal authority, as well as our share in His resurrection life,
begins when we believe in Him. The moment one becomes a sharer of His life,
that moment he becomes also a sharer of His throne. The N. T. clearly teaches
this, as we shall see.
LIVING AND REIGNING WITH CHRIST
Two sayings of Christ Himself, both recorded by John in his Gospel,
will help us settle the meaning of this passage. In John 5:24 we find the
saying, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (judgment) ; but is
passed from (out of) death into life." Evidently the expressions "hath
everlasting life," and "is passed . . into life" are equivalent in meaning to
"they lived"; and "is passed out of death" is equivalent to "over these the
second death hath no authority." We conclude therefore, that those of whom
Christ speaks in John 5:24 are they who have part in the first resurrection.
In neither passage is bodily death or bodily resurrection in view at all.
Again, in John 11:25, 26 we find the saying of Jesus: "I am the
resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me though he were dead yet
shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die."
Here is a "resurrection" which is wholly apart from that of the body; and one
that comes before that of the body. Hence this is plainly "the first
resurrection"; and since Christ Himself is this resurrection, all His members,
that is, all who believe in Him, have part therein. And manifestly, the
statement, "He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die," declares
exactly the same truth as the words "They lived over these the second death
has no authority."
It is confirmatory of the view we are advocating that the
writer of the Apocalypse shows, by what he had written in his Gospel, that he
had learned from his Master of a "resurrection" which preceded the
resurrection of the body, and which hence was, with respect thereto, "the
first resurrection." Personally I feel, in the light of these Scriptures,
quite clear as to the meaning- of the phrase, "the first resurrection') in
THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL
Yet there is more, and equally strong, confirmation in the writings of
Paul; for that apostle refers time and again to a resurrection which is the
experience of those who have not yet experienced bodily death and
resurrection, and which therefore is, relatively to the latter, "the first
resurrection." We read that God "hath quickened us together with Christ . . .
and hath raised us up together" &c. (Eph. 2:5, 6) ; and again, "Buried with
Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through faith" (Col. 2:12)
; and again, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are
above, where Christ sitteth" (i. e. on a throne; Col. 3:1). Paul repeatedly
speaks of believers as those that are alive from the dead; and he teaches that
they should yield themselves unto God "as those that are alive from the dead"
The passage in Ephesians is specially pertinent and illuminating, and
it merits therefore, our closest attention. In chapter I, Paul expresses the
earnestness of his desire and prayer that the converts at Ephesus might come
to know the exceeding greatness of God's power toward us who believe
(reminding us of Christ's word to Martha, "lie that believeth in Me"), which
is "according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ
when lie raised Him from the dead and set Him (i. e. on a throne) at His own
right hand in the heavenlies" etc. (vv. 19-22). Then in Chapter 11 the apostle
plainly declares the truth he so intensely desired them to "know," saying that
God, "for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins
(spiritually dead), hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are
saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together (on thrones)
in the heavenlies" (vv. 4-6).
Here is a close parallel to what John saw, in the vision described in
the passage we are studying, beginning, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon
them," answering to which Paul tells us that we, who are saved by grace are
even now seated on thrones in the heavenly places. The words "hath quickened
us together with Christ . . and made us sit together," in the one passage, are
the equivalent in meaning of "they lived and reigned (together) with Christ,"
in the other; and the words, "hath raised us up together," are equivalent in
meaning to, "this is the first resurrection."
Paul uses the expression "the heavenly places" to designate what I
have referred to as "the realm of the spiritual." The expression occurs five
times in Ephesians. The last occurrence is rendered in our A. V. "high places"
(Eph. 6:12). That passage speaks definitely of the conflict we are now waging
with the hosts of "spiritual wickedness" in those heavenly places; which shows
that Satan's servants are there. Peter designates that same realm, "Zion" (I
P. 2:6; see also Heb. 12:22).
Again "Paul writes: "For though we walk in the flesh we do not war
after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but (they are)
mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:3, 4). We
often read these statements, but we fail to grasp their full meaning. The
things of the flesh seem real and substantial, while those of the spirit seem
unreal, remote and shadowy. Hence we fail to realize that in truth it is just
the other way.
Referring to some of the Scriptures quoted above, Dr. Stafford says:
"That the Christian life is a spiritual resurrection, and that unsaved
people are spiritually dead are common conceptions with Paul and John. (Cf.
Col. 3:1; Rom. 6:4; John 5:21, 24; 6:54; 10:10; 17:23; 1 Jno. 5:13; Rom.
6:23; Eph. 2:1).
"That Christians sit upon thrones as Christ does, (or that they reign as
Christ does) is a common conception in the N. T. Christ sits upon a
spiritual throne and so do they. Christ reigns by moral and spiritual
influence, and so do they. This is not something that is yet to be. This has
been going on since the death and the exaltation of Christ, which was His
enthronement. He Himself originated both the thought and also this use of
the imagery, it seems (Mat. 19:28). As Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have
prominence in the kingdom of God, so have the apostles. In that sense they
sit on thrones and reign. And in the same sense all Christians sit on
thrones and reign Paul the thirteenth apostle reigns as do the others. Jesus
said to His disciples: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' We all understand
that statement. Well, that is reigning morally and spiritually. That kind of
reigning will satisfy every Christian that is not ambitious and mean. Every
moral and spiritual blessing that has come to the world in nineteen
centuries has come from Christ and His people. That is reigning. Every
cleansing fire that has burned out the impurities of society has come from
Christ and His people. That is the dispensing of judgment. All
seriously-minded and thoughtful people know that the only hope of the world
is the gospel of Christ, which His real followers, and they only, proclaim.
That is world-dominion; the only sort that we, as Christians, should desire.
So Jesus says, 'He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me
in my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in His throne (Ren
3:21). It is in this book of Revelation that God's people are described as
'a kingdom and priests' (5:10). So also in the passage we are dealing with
it is written: 'They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign
with Him' (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9)."
Particularly it is to be noted in this connection that the special
business and responsibility of a King is to save. As God, speaking to Israel
through the prophet Hosea, says: "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself ; but
in me is thy help. I will be thy King. Where is any other that may save thee
in all thy cities?" (Hos. 13:9, 10). When therefore, any of Christ's people
take part in the salvation of sinners, they are engaged in what is
preeminently a kingly business; and in so doing they reign with Christ.
It is much easier to understand how Christians exercise the office of
priests than how they exercise that of kings. As says Dr. Stafford:
"How Christians are priests we understand quite well. It means that every
Christian has direct access to Christ and God. It means that they are
persons through whom God mediates to the world His salvation. When it is
said that Christians are priests, we do not think of robes, and bells, and
candles, and ceremonial ' formances. That is, evangelical Christians and
most Protestants do not. Why do we not apply the same good sense to the
Bible when it speaks of Christians as on thrones and reigning? But many
think immediately of literal thrones and golden crowns. The whole trouble is
with our thinking."
Surely, if Christ's people are "priests unto God," and if they
exercise the office of priests in a strictly spiritual sense, and without
anything in their appearance, their circumstances or their actions to indicate
it, we must needs conclude that they are kings also, and exercise the
functions of kings, in a strictly spiritual sense; it being understood that by
"spiritual" is not meant unreal, but just the reverse.
Dr. Stafford reminds us that a king, of the sort we are acquainted
with, was never God's plan for His people. He "gave them a king in His anger"
(Hos. 13: 11) ; and when they demanded of Him a king, He sent thunder and rain
in harvest season (when it never occurs in Palestine), in order, as Samuel
declared to them, "that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great
which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king" (1 Sam.
12:12-18). As says Dr. Stafford:
"The king business, like the priest business, belongs to the tutelage of
the race. It is a thing of the past, not of the future. And yet many
associate the golden age of the world with actual kings [such as we are
acquainted with] and thrones and all the accompanying regalia and
paraphernalia. . . . Imagine me, for example, sitting on a literal throne
somewhere, say on the Mount of Olives! But every other Christian is sitting
on a little throne too. There would not be room enough on the Mount of
Olives, or indeed in all Palestine, to plant our thrones. There we all sit,
with shining crowns, flourishing our golden sceptres, and not a subject to
black our boots. I abdicate my throne right now."
SATAN BOUND AND LOOSED
In verses 1-3 John describes the coming down from heaven of a mighty
angel, who lays hold upon the Devil, and binds him and casts him into the
bottomless pit, "till the thousand years should be fulfflled," after which "he
must be loosed a little season"; and verse 7 says: "And when the thousand
years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison."
As Dr. Stafford says: "We must regard this as either a complete or a
partial depriving of Satan of his power." And he goes on to say:
"It must for two reasons be the latter:
"The first reason is that the complete stripping of Satan of his power
follows in our text (Rev. XX) immediately after this limitation of his
power. The severer and the final judgment and punishment are described in
verse 10. The preceding binding of Satan was therefore something less than a
complete taking-away of his power.
"The second reason is that Christ Himself, when He was on earth, bound
Satan. He said so: 'How can one enter into the strong man's house, and seize
his goods,' He asked, 'except he first bind the strong man?' (Mat. 12:29).
The strong man is Satan. The stronger than he, who binds him, is Jesus.
"But Satan is not so bound as to have no power at all. It is a limiting of
his power, a circumscribing of his influence and activities that is meant."
A passage in Hebrews will help us at this point:
"For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also
Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy
him that had the power of death that is the Devil,; and deliver them who
through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14,
This clearly refers to the same truth as that declared by Christ in
Matthew 12:29; for the one whose power was destroyed by Jesus is expressly
said to be "the Devil," and those who are delivered from his power, "the
children," are "the goods" of which Jesus, by His death, has despoiled him. It
is evident too, that "destroy him" does not mean the complete deprivation of
his power, for he still exercises the power of death, and on a large scale;
but it means the crippling and limiting of that power, which Satan can now
exercise only on those who believe not.
The above is in full agreement with the words of Christ to the
seventy, when they returned to Him with joy, saying, "Lord, even the devils
are subject unto us through thy Name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as
lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and
scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy" (Lu. 10:19). Here was a
binding of Satan, in that his power was greatly restricted.
In John's vision the binding of Satan was done by the instrumentality
of an angel from heaven; and by the passage in Hebrews we learn that the
effective cause of the breaking of his power was the death of Jesus Christ. It
is pertinent therefore to recall that, on the morning of His resurrection,
"the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the
stone from the door" (Mat. 28:2). There is a suggestive correspondence between
the action of opening the door of the tomb of the Lord Jesus, rolling away the
great stone by means of which His body had been sealed therein, and the action
of shutting Satan up in the abyss and setting a seal upon him. It suggests
that both actions were performed by the same mighty angel and at the same
Again quoting from Dr. Stafford:
"That Satan's power is greatly limited in the Christian age but not
wholly destroyed is certainly the fact. Consider that Jesus said as He
approached His death on the cross, 'Now is the prince of this world cast
out' (Jno. 12:31. Cf. 16:11). But He did not cast him out in every sense;
for He said afterward, 'The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in
Me' (Jno. 14:30). Here are conceptions of the limiting of Satan, or the
casting out of Satan, that should guide us in interpreting Rev. 20:1-3.
There ought to be no doubt at all as to the soundness and safety of this
method of procedure.
"If now we have reasoned correctly up to this point, it is easy to say
what 'the thousand years' signifies. It is the Christian age, extending up
to I little time before Christ comes again. 'The thousand years, have become
nearly two thousand years. Or are we now in 'the little time' that follows
that period? I do not know [though the late war and its consequences make it
seem likely]. But this is certain: We are either in the millennium, or we
have passed through it and we have entered the 'little time,' when from all
quarters attacks are made on the very citadel of Christianity itself."
Whether or not Dr. Stafford's explanation of this very difficult
passage of Scripture is in all essential particulars correct, the present
writer feels constrained to say concerning it, that on the one hand, it has
more scriptural evidence in its favor than any other explanation of the
passage that has come to the writer's knowledge up to now; whereas, on the
other hand, he knows of nothing in the Scriptures that contradicts it.
And whatever be the true sense and meaning of the passage, it
certainly lends not the slightest support to the doctrine of the restoration
of the Jewish nation in a coming age and its exaltation to the position of
lordship over the nations of the world.