Popular preacher John Piper recently tackled an intriguing listener question on his podcast about “when the children of God will see Jesus — sooner or later” — a curiosity that surrounds Jesus’ so-called “second coming.”
Of course, the Bible tells readers no one really knows the “day or hour” this will all unfold. But, for eons, people have passionately debated the known biblical details, speculating over timelines, key players and the sequence of events; it’s a ceaseless discussion that has continued to forge on throughout the ages.
So, when a man named John from Denver, Colorado, recently wrote in and asked Piper about how Jesus’ return pertains to the mention of a “millennium” — a 1,000-year period discussed in Revelation 20 — Piper proceeded to offer a detailed response about the overarching debate that continues to persist in theological circles over that very concept.
But before getting into the finer details, Piper shared scripture from Revelation 20:1-6, a centerpiece of the eschatological book that has caused no shortage of controversy. It reads as follows:
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyssand holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Piper said the timeline placement of the mention of “resurrection” and the “souls who had been beheaded” who apparently will come to “reign with Christ … will make all the difference,” before explaining that there’s quite a stark divide over what, exactly, this millennium period looks like — and where it fits in the end-times paradigm.
In the end, there are essentially three views about Christ’s return as it pertains to this “millennium” period. First, there’s Amillennialism, which essentially means that humans are currently in the millennium period, with Jesus reigning from heaven until his return. This, according to Piper, means “there is no future millennium that we are waiting for, because we are in it now.”
Then, there’s the Postmillennial view, which embraces the idea that the millennium is a real period of time that humanity hasn’t yet entered. Those who embrace this view believe that the period “will come just before Christ comes so that the gospel triumphs in the world: the world is Christianized, by and large, peace and righteousness hold sway in the world, and then, after that…Christ returns.”
And last but not least is the belief in Premillennialism, which holds that the millennium will happen after Jesus’ return and will include a period of Christ’s rule on Earth.
As for Piper’s own view, he said “a millennium does not have to come first,” and added that he has friends who fall into all three of the camps. Read more about Piper’s views on the millennium and listen to him explain it all here. And if you’re looking for a deeper explanation of all of the views on the millennium, the rapture and other concepts, consider my book, “The Armageddon Code.”
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