The expression "in the days of ... " applies to persons, referring to their lifetimes, as in the examples below. John could have meant something like "in the days of ..." when he selected the phrase "a thousand years" in his prophecy.
|the days of Herod the king||Matthew 2:1; Luke 1:5|
|the days of our fathers||Matthew 11:12|
|the days of Noah||Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26; 1 Peter 3:20|
|the days of Abiathar the high priest||Mark 2:26|
|the days of Elias||Luke 4:25|
|the days of the Son of man||Luke 17:22|
|the days of Lot||Luke 17:28|
|the days of David||Acts 7:45|
|in the days of Melchisedec||Hebrews 5:6-7|
|the days of the voice of the seventh angel||Revelation 10:7|
|the days of their prophecy||Revelation 11:6|
The last of these refers to the two witnesses. If John meant "day" in the sense of "in the days of ..." when he used "thousand years" in Revelation 20:1-7, then that phrase might be applied individually and personally to those saints who are figuratively "beheaded," and the time of their reign with Christ.
When a person believes the gospel, and is baptized, he or she is raised up, to newness of life. Paul said, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." [Romans 6:4] The saints who are "beheaded" and reign with Christ are those who "walk in newness of life."
Paul said believers have been blessed with spiritual blessings in heavenly places. [Ephesians 1:3] He said they sit together "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." [Ephesians 2:5-7] What else could this be, but reigning with Christ?
If the thousand years of Revelation 20 are understood in a spiritual sense, rather than by the letter, the "thousand years" could be symbolic of the duration of the lives of individual Christians. The thousand years would come to an end for an individual only if that person were to fall away, and abandon the faith, and return to the world from which he or she had escaped. For those who cease to walk in the way of Christ, the thousand years, and their reign with Christ, has ended.
On the other hand, those who endure to the end are promised a "crown of life." James wrote, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." [James 1:12; see also Revelation 2:10]
John said, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such 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 20:6]
The apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8, "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Suppose we replace the words "thousand years" in Revelation 20:1-7 with the phrase "day with the Lord." Would it make sense? Let's see:
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a day with the Lord,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the day with the Lord should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a day with the Lord.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the day with the Lord was finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a day with the Lord.
And when the day with the Lord is expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.
The number a thousand is used in Scripture to signify the idea of completeness or fullness, as in: "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." [Psalm 50:10]
For some, the thousand years or the day with the Lord
might end prematurely. This applies to those who fall away and abandon
their faith, and return to the world from which they were delivered and
had escaped. John's prophecy suggests they are in danger of being
deceived and turning against the "camp of the saints" and the "beloved
city." Enemies of the Church and of the Gospel are frequently former
Copyright © 2011 by Douglas E. Cox
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