Sylvester Hassell On The 1000 Year Reign

The following is from History Of The Church Of God, From The Creation To A.D. 1885, by Cushing Biggs and Sylvester Hassell, pages 258-261.

Hassell presents three historic viewpoints of the 1000 year reign, as mentioned only in Revelation chapter 20. Primitive Baptists, as with most predestinarians and historic theologians, are basically a-millennialists.

This writing examines the basic principles of each of the three main opinions, pre-millenialism, a-millenialisism, and post-millenialism.

(Note: words in quotations are just that, quotations of other writers whom Hassell quotes)

“The destruction of Satan’s representatives, the beast and the false-prophet, to whom he gave his power, throne and authority, is followed by the binding of Satan himself a thousand years. Re 20:1-7 The Jewish rabbis thought that, as the world was created in six days, and on the seventh God rested, so there would be six millenaries (or six thousand years), followed by a Sabbatical Millennium” (one thousand years). If there were exactly 4,000 years before the birth of Christ, this opinion, if true, would make the dawn of the Millennium about 2000 A.D.; but, as we have stated before, there are 200 different opinions of the exact interval between the creation of Adam and the birth of Christ, so that the matter is, as to its date, quite uncertain. Whether the thousand years of Satan’s confinement in the bottomless pit, mentioned six times in the twentieth chapter of Revelation, are to be before or after the second advent of Christ, does not very plainly appear from the Scriptures, and is still a warmly contested point with the ablest Bible scholars. As the Old Testament Scriptures predicted the first coming of Christ -not only spiritually, in mercy or judgment, but also literally, personally and visibly; so, in the most unmistakable language, do the New Testament Scriptures foretell His second coming -not only spiritually, in mercy or judgment, but also literally, personally and visibly. Ac 1:11; 3:20-21; Mt 16:27; 25:31; 26:64; Mr 8:38; 1Co 4:5; 11:26; 15:23; Php 3:20; 1Th 4:14-18; Heb 9:28; Re 1:7 By many ancient Jewish Christians, and by the church generally from 150 to 250 A.D., during a period of great persecution, and by some learned individuals and some transient parties since, it was and has been believed that there would be two future personal advents of Christ, one before and another after the Millennium, or thousand years’ confinement of Satan. John Gill (A.D. 1697-1771), perhaps the most learned, able, sound, upright and humble Baptist minister since the days of Paul, was thoroughly persuaded that Christ would come personally upon the earth again just before the Millennium, and destroy His enemies, and reign personally with His saints on earth a thousand years; and, in the second volume of his Body of Divinity, he advances a large number of powerful Scripture arguments in support of this position. And, in the present age, such distinguished Bible scholars as Alford, Ebrard, Auberlen, Birks, Elliot, Fausset, Lange and others, advocate the same opinion. This belief is based chiefly on “these two classes of passages: 1st, Those which seem to connect the future advent with the restoration of Israel, the destruction of Antichrist, or the establishment of a universal kingdom of righteousness on earth, such as Isa 11:1-16; 12:1-6; 59:1-21 (compared with Ro 11:25-27); Jer 23:5-8; Eze 43:1-27; Da 7:9-27; Joe 3:16-21; Zec 14:1-21; Ro 11:1-27; 2Th 2:1-17; Ac 3:19-21. 2d, Those passages which speak of the coming of the Lord as imminent (in connection with those which declare that there is to be a period of generally diffused peace and righteousness preceding the first consummation), such as Mt 24:42-44; Mr 13:32-37; Lu 12:35-40; 1Th 5:2-3; Tit 2:11-13; Jas 5:7-8.” Mr. E. R. Craven, American Editor of Lange’s Commentary on the Book of Revelation, believes that, as in the earlier Old Testament prophecies, only one advent of Christ seems to have been contemplated, but in the later (compare Da 9:25-26 with Da 7:13-14) there was a prediction of two such advents, separated, as we now know, by millennia; so, while in the earlier portions of the New Testament, only one future advent of Christ seems predicted, in the later portions (compare Re 19:11-16 with Re 20:11-15) there are indications of two -one to establish a universal kingdom of righteousness on earth, and the other to terminate the present order of things in a general judgment.

But it is the opinion of the great majority of Bible scholars that there will be but one more personal advent of Christ, and that it will be after the Millennium. They maintain that the idea of a pre-millennial advent is Jewish in its origin, and Judaizing or materializing in its tendency; that it disparages the present, the dispensation of the Holy Ghost; that it is inconsistent with the Scriptures, which teach that Christ comes but twice, to atone and to judge; Heb 9:28 that the Heavens must receive Christ until the times of the restitution of all things; Ac 3:21 that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, but spiritual; Mt 13:11-44; Joh 18:36; Ro 14:17 that it was not to be confined to the Jews; Mt 8:11-12 that regeneration is the essential antecedent of admission to it; Joh 3:3-5 that the blessings of the kingdom are purely spiritual, as repentance, pardon, faith, etc.; (Mt 3:2,11; Ac 5:31; Ga 5:22-23, etc.) that the kingdom of Christ has already come, He having sat upon the throne of His Father David ever since His ascension, Ac 2:29-36; 3:13-15; 4:26-28; 5:29-31; Heb 10:12-13; Re 3:7-12 so that the Old Testament prophecies predicting this kingdom must refer to the present dispensation of grace, and not to a future reign of Christ on earth in person among men in the flesh; and that the church is to be complete at His next coming. 1Th 3:13; 2Th 1:10 These scholars believe that the very difficult passage in Re 20:1-10 has the following meaning: That “Christ has in reserve for His church a period of universal expansion and of pre-eminent spiritual prosperity, when the spirit and character of the noble army of martyrs shall be reproduced again in the great body of God’s people in an unprecedented measure (as Elias is said to have lived again in John the Baptist), and when these martyrs shall, in the general triumph of their case, and in the overthrow of that of their enemies, receive judgment over their foes, and reign in the earth; while the party of Satan, called ‘the rest of the dead,’ shall not flourish again until the thousand years be ended, when it shall prevail again for a little season. Three considerations favor this interpretation: It occurs in one of the most highly figurative books of the Bible; this explanation is perfectly consistent with all the other more explicit teachings of the Scriptures on the several points involved; the same figure, that of life again from the dead, is frequently used in Scripture to express the idea of the spiritual revival of the church. Isa 26:19; Eze 37:12-14; Ho 6:1-3; Ro 11:15; Re 11:11 And three considerations bear against the literal interpretation of Re 20:1-10: The doctrine of two literal resurrections, first of the righteous, and then, after an interval of a thousand years, of the wicked, is taught nowhere else in the Bible, and this passage is a very obscure one; it is inconsistent with what the Scriptures uniformly teach as to the nature of the resurrection-body, that it is to be spiritual, not natural, or ordinary flesh and blood, 1Co 15:44 whereas this interpretation represents the saints, or at least the martyrs, as rising and reigning a thousand years in the flesh, and in this world as at present constituted; and the literal interpretation of this passage contradicts the clear and uniform teaching of the Scriptures that all the dead are to rise and be judged together at the second coming of Christ, Joh 5:28-29; Re 20:11-15; Mt 25:31-46; Ac 17:31; 2Co 5:10; 2Th 1:6-10 which is to be immediately succeeded by the burning of the world, and the revelation of the new Heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (Ps 102:26-27; Isa 51:6; Ro 8:19-23; Heb 12:26-27; 2Pe 3:10-13; Re 20:1-15 and Re 21:1-27).”

“The Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, clearly reveal that the gospel is to exercise an influence over all branches of the human family, immeasurably more extensive and more thoroughly transforming than any it has ever realized in time past, which end is to be gradually brought about by the Spirit of Christ in the present dispensation. Mt 13:31; 28:19-20; Ps 2:7; 22:27; 72:8-11; Isa 2:2; 11:6-9; 60:12; 66:23; Da 2:35,44; Zec 9:10; 14:9; Re 11:15 The period of this general prevalency of the gospel will continue a thousand years, and is hence designated the Millennium. Re 20:2-7 The Jews are to be converted to Christianity (but not probably restored to Palestine) either at the commencement or during the continuance of the Millennium. Zec 12:10; 13:1; Ro 11:26-29; 2Co 3:15-16 At the end of these thousand years, and before the coming of Christ, there will be a comparatively short season of apostasy and violent conflict between the kingdoms of light and darkness. Lu 17:26-30; 2Pe 3:3-4; Re 20:7-9 Christ’s advent and the general resurrection and judgment will be simultaneous, and then will follow the conflagration of the earth, and the introduction of a new and higher order of things, adapted to the resurrection-bodies of the saints.” Da 12:1-3; Joh 5:28-29; 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:16; Re 20:11-15; Mt 7:21-23; 13:30-43; 16:24-27; 25:31-46; Ro 2:5,16; 1Co 3:12-15; 2Co 5:9-11; Ac 17:31; 2Th 1:6-10; 2Pe 3:7-13; Re 21:1 And Mt 25:1-46, – AA Hodge, in Outlines of Theology. Such has been the general belief of the Christian church from the close of Scripture canon to the present time. Mr. Charles Hodge (in his Systematic Theology), however, makes the wise remark: “Experience teaches that the interpretation of unfulfilled prophesy is exceedingly precarious. There is every reason to believe that the predictions concerning the second advent of Christ, and the events which are to attend and follow it, will disappoint the expectations of commentators, as the expectations of the Jews were disappointed in the manner in which the prophesies concerning the first advent were accomplished.”

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