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Author Topic: The Millenium in Revelation 20  (Read 2702 times) Average Rating: 0
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Doubting Thomas
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« on: December 04, 2003, 12:51:38 PM »

In my readings on Orthodox eschatology, I've read that the position of the church is amillenialism--that the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation 20 is spiritual and figurative.  However, in reading the passage this morning I read this verse that caught my attention:

"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgement was committed to them.  Then I saw the souls of those who have been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Rev. 20:4

Now, grammatically, this verse indicates that it is those who refused to worship the beast and/or accept his mark--which is a future event--that reign with Christ in the "Millenium".  How then can it be said that the Millenium is already occuring in Heaven if this is the case?  I've read that "chialism" was rejected at Constantinople in 381, but have there been Fathers or more recent Orthodox theologians that have commented on this apparent discrepancy?
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2003, 01:22:26 PM »

Well, let's see if I can formulate my thoughts into something which makes sense:

My understanding from my catechumen classes (and other readings) is that Revelation was written for the purpose of supporting Christians who were under harsh persecution at that time, and may not have been meant to apply to a specific future period(s).

And that the "time" periods (i.e., "thousand years") were used to just show a long period of time and reflected a period in which persecutions were happening daily and Christians assumed would just get worse.

Revelation is very difficult. It was hotly debated when the New Testament was being assembled on whether or not it should even be included. That is why it is the only scripture never referenced/read in an Orthodox service.

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Linus7
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2003, 01:38:17 PM »

In my readings on Orthodox eschatology, I've read that the position of the church is amillenialism--that the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation 20 is spiritual and figurative.  However, in reading the passage this morning I read this verse that caught my attention:

"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgement was committed to them.  Then I saw the souls of those who have been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Rev. 20:4

Now, grammatically, this verse indicates that it is those who refused to worship the beast and/or accept his mark--which is a future event--that reign with Christ in the "Millenium".  How then can it be said that the Millenium is already occuring in Heaven if this is the case?  I've read that "chialism" was rejected at Constantinople in 381, but have there been Fathers or more recent Orthodox theologians that have commented on this apparent discrepancy?

DT -

Nowhere does Revelation call the Beast "the Antichrist."

It is very likely that the Beast was Nero and that those slain by him - including Sts. Peter and Paul - are the saints reigning right now with Christ.

That is part of what is called "the first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5-6), which is primarily baptism (see John 3:5; 5:24-25; Rom. 6:13;  Eph. 2:1, 4-6; Col. 2:11-13; 3:1).

The martyred saints reign not only in heaven but in the Calendar of the Church and in the communion of the saints (the "great cloud of witnesses" - Heb. 12:1).

Check out T.L. Frazier's book, A Second Look at the Second Coming.

There are also a number of pretty good books on this subject put out by some Protestant authors:

An Examination of Dispensationalism, by William E. Cox;
Amillenialism Today, also by Cox (a Baptist minister);
The Time is at Hand, by Jay Adams; and
End Times Fiction, by Gary DeMar.

The first three should be available from www.prpbooks.com.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2003, 01:41:06 PM by Linus7 » Logged

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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2003, 02:03:16 PM »

Thanks for the responses thus far.  I'll have to check out some of those books.  In fact, I have a book at home which I haven't read yet, which is a "counterpoints" book featuring a debate over the Millenium among three Protestanst defending pre-, post-, and a-millenialism respectively.

I guess a problem I have with the preterist view (ie that the "beast" is Nero) is the interpretation of Daniel's 70th week. (see Daniel 9).  Now many scholars have calculated that the first 69 "weeks" (periods of seven years) were literally fulfilled,  counting from Artaxerxes decree to Jesus' triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, AD 33 (or 32, depending on the dating and the scholar).  If the first 69 weeks were literally fulfilled then what of the 70th?  If not a yet future time period, when was it specifically fulfilled in history?  And if the beast of Revelation is not the future Antichrist, then where specifically in the Bible does the Church say he is mentioned?  Or is the beast an example of "dual fulfillment" of prophecy--representing both Nero and a future enemy of God?

Oh, well...I guess I need to check out some of those books...
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2003, 09:14:19 PM »

Revelation is very difficult. It was hotly debated when the New Testament was being assembled on whether or not it should even be included. That is why it is the only scripture never referenced/read in an Orthodox service.

In the Coptic Orthodox Church the book of Revelation is read on Bright Saturday, the last thing done before the Liturgy.
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2003, 09:40:02 PM »

Dear Jonathan,

In the Coptic Orthodox Church, is Bright Saturday the Saturday immediately before or after Easter?  I have heard conflicting answers.
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2003, 10:11:56 PM »

Hi.  Before.  It goes Good Friday first, which ends around 5:00 at my church, then you go home & sleep if possible, and then come back at midnight for Bright Saturday which goes until 7:00 am, then you sleep Saturday during the day & go Satruday night, around 7:00 pm at my church for the Ressurection Sunday Liturgy which ends around midnight... other churches have things up to twice as long as we do so I don't know how timing works then.
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2003, 11:08:24 PM »

Hardcore.  Awesome!
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2003, 11:13:36 PM »

Wow! Do you get coffee breaks? (A Liturgy lasting this long is incomprehensible to RCs!)
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2003, 11:17:47 PM »

Indian Orthodox liturgies can last almost as long during Holy Week.  Good Friday for us is seven to eight hours, and Easter is like five to six, as is Palm Sunday.  But I think the average Coptic Sunday liturgy is longer than the average Indian one.

Jonathan, thanks for the clarification.  I think it's very fitting that Revelation is read on Bright Saturday.
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2003, 12:30:10 AM »

I went to Divine Liturgy at Pokrovsky Monastery in Moscow and it lasted for hours and hours. I did not keep track of the time, but it was definitely the longest liturgy I had ever attended.

It was awesome, however. The relics of St Matryona are there.

My wife and I experienced a whole set of miraculous answers to prayer through her intercession.

It was an amazing experience. Any Orthodox Christian visiting Moscow must visit Pokrovsky and pray at St. Matryona's relics.

She was a little blind saint who once faced down Stalin and told him to stop persecuting the Church.
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2003, 12:34:52 AM »

I've heard that it's not considered as rude to talk during Eastern Liturgy, and (IIRC) to get up and move around. Is this true?

I'm trying to imagine a Liturgy that lasts all night long, in which there are no pews, and everybody stands.

WOW!
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2003, 12:40:42 AM »

I've heard that it's not considered as rude to talk during Eastern Liturgy, and (IIRC) to get up and move around. Is this true?

I'm trying to imagine a Liturgy that lasts all night long, in which there are no pews, and everybody stands.

WOW!

Talking is not a good idea. It is frowned upon.

People do move around a lot, venerating the icons, lighting candles, praying, and coming and going as needed. Remember that little children and infants also receive the Holy Eucharist, so there is always a certain amount of noise and commotion!

My church has pews, but we stand most of the time anyway. The pews are there for those who are ill or tired or elderly.
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2003, 01:29:16 AM »

I've heard that it's not considered as rude to talk during Eastern Liturgy, and (IIRC) to get up and move around. Is this true?

I'm trying to imagine a Liturgy that lasts all night long, in which there are no pews, and everybody stands.

WOW!

I wouldn't say that - just that it is easier to get away with since there is almost constant chanting/singing.  And since there are no pews (in a more traditional church, or that they're just benches or chairs off to the side), it is less disturbing to move around.  The lack of pews also lets you be more physically active in church, with bows, prostrations, metanias (crossing yourself then touching the ground with that hand) and such.

The longest service I ever went to was our consecration - 6 hours.
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2003, 05:46:00 AM »

The bows, prostrations, metanias and such also make the standing for long periods easier as it stretches the muscles and keeps the blood circulating.

Apart from that, you get used to it. We are pretty soft in the West, but people growing up in this tradition think nothing of standing for seven or more hours if the liturgy lasts that long. There is also the grace of God at work in giving us the strength and patience to endure. My mother in-law, who cannot stand for long periods, stood in line for an hour and a half without difficulty to venerate the icon Ierosolemitissa when it was brought to Thessaloniki.

John.
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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2003, 09:02:11 AM »

The bows, prostrations, metanias and such also make the standing for long periods easier as it stretches the muscles and keeps the blood circulating.

Apart from that, you get used to it. We are pretty soft in the West, but people growing up in this tradition think nothing of standing for seven or more hours if the liturgy lasts that long. There is also the grace of God at work in giving us the strength and patience to endure. My mother in-law, who cannot stand for long periods, stood in line for an hour and a half without difficulty to venerate the icon Ierosolemitissa when it was brought to Thessaloniki.

John.

I agree.

When one is really caught up in the liturgy and realizes that the Holy Trinity is there along with all the saints and angels, the time flies by, and a brief service would not be enough.

I must confess, however, that my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. There are times when I just cannot focus and grow impatient; but the fault is with me, not with the liturgy.

Nevertheless, most of the time the Divine Liturgy only lasts about 1.5 hours.
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2003, 09:10:59 AM »

It is interesting that this discussion of the "millenium" of Revelation 20 has turned for a few posts to the Divine Liturgy.

Has anyone read Scott Hahn's book about Revelation? I have it on one of my bookshelves at home, but I may be off in remembering the title. It is something like The Lamb's Supper.

Anyway, I realize Hahn is an RC author, but the book is excellent. It shows how the imagery of Revelation is related to the Mass (Divine Liturgy) and how it is only possible to understand Revelation if one is familiar with the liturgy.
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2003, 10:53:55 AM »

I read that book, Linus, and plan on reading it again.  I agree with you, it is excellent!
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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2003, 11:08:28 AM »

To sorta' bring this back to topic, I started reading Three Views On The Millenium and Beyond last night, particularly the section by the gentleman defending Amillenialism, and so far it makes good sense.  He pointed out how the apostles interpreted the fulfillment of OT prophecy in Christ and the Church rather than preaching a literal fulfillment in a future national kingdom under OT laws.  It's pretty interesting.
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