CONCERNING THE MILLENNIUM
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 below.
HELP FROM THE RELATIVITY THEORY
The Einsteinium 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 day."
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, Tenn.).
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 ascendancy 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 significant 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. Stafford says:
"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 resurrection.
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 Revelation XX.
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" (Rom. 6:13).
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, 15).
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 time.
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.
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