Don Preston on the Millennia

(Both of Them)

Don is a great guy and good friend.  We come from the same church background and hold many of the same ideas.  Even so, there are several places where are views significantly differ.  Don recently published a piece on his view of the 1,000-years in Revelation twenty.  In the spirit of brotherly dialogue, I thought it would be useful to interact casually with a couple of Don’s points. 

The Millennial Reign of Christ (NOT!) 

Don entitled his piece “The Forty-Year Millennium.”  It is Don’s view that the forty-year period between Christ’s ministry and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 are what is symbolized by the 1000-years in of Revelation twenty.[1]  Don sees this period as beginning with Jesus’ earthly ministry (Matt. 12:29) and ending when he had put all enemies beneath his feet (I Cor. 15:24).  According to Don  

“The beginning of the Millennium is the beginning of Messiah’s conquering work.  The Millennium reign is the consolidation of Messiah’s rule. The end of the Millennium is when the work was perfected.” 

Thus, by Don’s view, the Millennium has specific reference to the reign of Christ.  We feel this is a mistake.  Indeed, we feel the idea of a “millennial reign of Christ is the fundamental mistake that runs throughout most millennial themes. 

The scriptures are silent about a millennial reign of the Messiah.  Not once does the concept appear anywhere in the Bible.  Not a single verse can be produced that mentions or even alludes to such a concept.  All notions about an “interim,” “transitional,” or “consolidating” reign are totally away from scripture.  Virtually every passage of scripture, Old or New, which describes Christ’s reign, places its beginning at his ascension, whence it continues without interruption…forever.  Don, on the other hand, makes the reign begin on earth and last for only 1,000 years, an approach I feel is at odds with scripture: 

Ps. 110-1 – “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” 

Isa. 9:7 - “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever.” 

Dan. 7:13 - "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." 

These are just a few of the more prominent passages describing Christ’s reign.  Notice that in each case the rule begins with Christ’s ascension, not on earth as supposed by Don.  Moreover, none of these delimits or otherwise qualifies Christ’s rule. There is no hint of a millennial reign. Jesus ascended to God’s right hand where he was proclaimed King of kings and Lord of lord; he rules the nations with a rod of iron.  The reign that began at Jesus’ ascension is forever.  Period. No qualification.   

Don cites Heb. 2:8 “But now we see not yet all things put under him.”  Don argues that, since at the end of the millennium all enemies would be put beneath Christ’s feet, therefore the millennium is defined by the period of Christ’s conquering. Says Don,  

“Christ was currently reigning, and would continue to reign until his enemies were put under Him.  The time of his rule is the time of the putting down of his enemies…The end of the Millennium is when that work was perfected.” 

But this is clearly wrong.  The 1000-year internment of the dragon ended when it was loosed to persecute the anew church.  Don agrees with this and correctly observes that the revelation of the “man of sin” in II Thess. 2:8 equals the loosing of the dragon in Rev. 20:7.  This loosing of the dragon/revelation of the man of sin began the persecution that is the subject of Revelation. Revelation was written to prepare the church for the coming persecution under Nero and the Jews.  The actors in this battle (persecution) include the dragon (Rome), beast (persecuting power of the empire), false prophet (Jewish religious leaders), harlot (political power of world-Judaism embodied in Jerusalem), and kings of the earth (political power of the provincial governments). Christ’s “coming” is to destroy these enemies and vindicate the saints and martyrs. Since putting these enemies beneath his feet comes after the 1000-year internment of the dragon is over, the millennium cannot be the consolidating of Christ’s rule, as Don alleges.  How can the millennium be defined by something that does not occur until it is past?  Moreover, since the dragon and beast are loosed at the persecution under Nero (A.D. 64), the idea of a “forty-year millennium” comes up six years short!  Thus, the idea that the millennium ended at A.D. 70 has enormous obstacles it must overcome to be viable. 

In reality, the 1000-years have no reference to Christ at all. Instead, they refer to the internment of dragon on the one hand (Rev. 20:1-3), and to the martyrs and righteous dead on the other (v. 4-6).  Christ reigns forever.  The righteous dead and martyrs share for a time in that reign (“1000 years”) from Hades Paradise.  However, Don transfers the 1000-year periods from the dragon and righteous dead, and applies them to Christ. This not only creates an “interim reign” of which the scripture are silent, but also negates the “other-worldly” nature of the millennial periods and makes them descriptive of earthly time (“forty-years”) and events.  Peter is very clear that in the spiritual realm, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). Thus, use of a 1000-years speaks directly to the other-worldly nature of time in the spiritual realm.  This is equally true of the dragon, beast and martyrs in Revelation twenty: the dragon and beast having received a mortal wound to the head went down to Hades Tartarus for a symbolic period of 1000-years. The martyrs having been beheaded for the testimony of Christ went to Hades Paradise for 1000-years where they waited the general resurrection. Don is mistaken to apply the symbolism of 1000-years to earth and to Christ. 

Describes Two Millennia, but Supposes only One 

Throughout his article, Don supposes but a single millennium, framed by the ministry of Christ (Matt. 12:29) on the one hand, and the general resurrection on the other (Rev. 20:11-15).  Says Don, 

“The Millennium terminated forty years later at the resurrection...the end of the Millennium is also the time of the Resurrection.”   

We agree with Don that the reign of the righteous dead and martyrs ended at (by) the general, Hadean resurrection in A.D. 70.  However, Don’s supposition that a single millennium is contemplated by the text is belied by the fact Don says (correctly) that the persecution of the man of sin (Nero) begins when the dragon is loosed.  

“At the end of the Millennium we see: Satan released; his making war with the saints; his final destruction.  In the New Testament we see: Satan released (‘The Devil walks around seeking whom he may devour’ I Pet. 5:8); his making war with the saints (the saints had to suffer ‘a little while’ I Pet. 1:4f; cf. Rev. 12:10).” 

Thus, according to Don, the millennium is over when the dragon is loosed. The dragon is loose when the eschatological persecution under Nero begins.[2]  The persecution under Nero began in A.D. 64. Don places the general resurrection at A.D. 70, a six-year difference.  How can the text contemplate a single millennium when the binding of the dragon does not extend unto the Hadean resurrection? 



Both are defined as extending 1000 years, yet one ends 6 years before the other. Clearly, it is impossible that the same 1000-year period apply to both! 

Let us consider the case still more closely.  Revelation was written to address the coming eschatological persecution under Nero and the Jews. John said the beast (the persecuting power of the Empire) was “about to” (Gk. mello) ascend out of the bottomless pit and begin its war against the saints (Rev. 11:7; 17:8).  Don says this war/persecution is the point where the dragon is loosed, which history shows began in A.D. 64.  The actors in this persecution are the dragon, beast, harlot, etc.  Where in Revelation do we first encounter these actors, where does the persecution under Nero begin?  Answer: In Revelation 13. Thus, the binding of the dragon ends where Rev. 13 begins, and the beast’s rising from the sea thus answers (in point of time) its emergence from the bottomless pit.  This being so, the millennial binding of the dragon/beast was about to end when John composed the Apocalypse just before the persecution under Nero began. 

Now, that the millennial reign of the martyrs is not confined within the same time or events as the binding of the dragon is clearly seen from the fact that they are described as those who died under the beast for not receiving his mark or the number of his name or worshipping his image (Rev. 20:4). The mark of the beast refers to Nero, as every Preterist agrees (Rev. 13:14-18; cf. 17:10).  Thus, the martyrs are those who die under Nero.  Since the binding and loosing of the dragon necessarily end before the martyrs die and begin their 1000-year reign, it is impossible that the same 1000-year period be contemplated by both.  

The six-year discrepancy in Don’s chronology stands in testimony that the “forty-year millennium” model is hopelessly flawed (sorry Don, no offense intended). How can there be one millennium that ends twice, once in A.D. 64 when the dragon is loosed and the persecution begins, and a second time when the reign of the martyrs ends in A.D. 70?  This is sloppy exegesis folks; Preterism can and must do better! 

Living Saints Involved in First Resurrection? 

Here is the text of Rev. 20:4: 

“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 thousand years.” 

So far, we have treated only of the second group, the souls beheaded under the persecution of Nero.  Who are the first group, those to whom judgment was given?  I formerly was of the same opinion as Don that this group described the “church temporal,” or living saints/church upon earth, which I saw as participating in the 1st resurrection.  I learned this from Augustine via David Chilton, and from Max King who added the twist that the saints were not justified prior to A.D. 70. I have since, I think, learned better. 

The reader should know that King, who spiritualized the resurrection equating it with justification from sin, taught that the Mosaic law remained valid until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  King thus held that the saints continued under the debt and bondage of the law, dead in sin and the “grave of Judaism” until A.D. 70 when the dead were raised, the law was supposedly removed, and the saints justified.  King therefore needed to make the living participants in the 1st resurrection (which he defined as having died and risen with Christ in baptism) so that he could make them share in the general resurrection of A.D. 70 when the saints were purportedly finally justified.  But all this is perfect folly. Nothing could be clearer than that the saints (living and dead) were in a state of justification from and after the cross (death, burial, and resurrection) of Christ. I marvel that anyone would try to deny it:   

“But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).   

Don, who follows King, says that Eph. 2:1, 6 teaches that the living were partakers of Christ’s resurrection and therefore must be deemed part of those in Rev. 20:4 sharing in the 1st resurrection. But this is wrong. The saints in Rev. 20:4 are in Hades where they await the general resurrection (Rev. 20:11-15).  The saints in Ephesus are in Heaven (not Hades).  This should be obvious. Since Christ descended to Hades at death (Ps. 16:10; Act 2:27; Lk. 24:43) and was raised from there, Hades cannot be the place where the saints are “seated with” Christ following his ascension!   

In speaking of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, Paul says God “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Gk. epouranoij) (Eph. 1:20).  Then, speaking of the saints participation in Christ’s resurrection, Paul says that God “hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places (Gk. epouranoij) in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). Clearly, therefore, the living saints are characterized as being in Heaven where Christ ascended and sat down at the right hand of God, not Hades like the souls in Rev. 20:4.  Paul is not saying the saints on earth are actually in heaven (an obvious fact that should need no clarification). What he is saying is that Jesus’ humanity means that in his ascension to the right hand of God, all believers are represented there by him.  Jesus is our representative and forerunner.  We appear before the throne and are made acceptable to God by and through him.  Eph. 2:1, 6 has no reference to the 1000-years of Revelation twenty at all. 

Since Eph. 2:1, 6 does not place the living saints in Hades, there is no sound exegetical basis for treating them as partaking in the 1st resurrection.[3]  The better view is that the first group mentioned by John is the rest of the righteous dead from Abel onwards, who also were in Hades Paradise looking for their resurrection of eternal life.  At the burning bush God told Moses “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6).  Jesus quoted this passage as proof that the dead were alive in Sheol/Hades for “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).   Thus, it is these John depicts as “living and reigning” in Hades pending the general resurrection, not the saints on earth. 


The “forty-year millennium” as set out by Don is self contradictory. On the one hand he says the millennium (singular) ended when the dragon was loosed in A.D. 64, but he then turns around and says that it does not end until A.D. 70. Which is it? It cannot be both.  Two endings require two millennia. Don may therefore be cited as an unwitting proponent of Bimillennialism.  Dear reader, there is no such thing as a “millennial reign of Christ.”  Christ reigns forever. The millennial periods of Revelation refer to the dragon and martyrs, not Christ.

[1] 41 years, actually: Jesus was baptized in the fall of AD 29 and Jerusalem fell in the summer/fall of A.D. 70 41 years later.

[2]A few years ago, “loosing the dragon” was generally equated with the Jewish war (AD 66-70).  This was Max King’s view, but it makes no sense at all.  The only feasible view is that loosing the dragon marks the beginning of the persecution under Nero. We are glad to see that Don is on board with this view.

[3] The idea that the living and dead were raised together as urged by Don and assumed by his model is refuted by I Thess. 4:16, 17, which expressly states that the “dead in Christ shall rise first” and the living follow afterwards as one-by-one they put off the body in death

To receive Kurt Simmons’ e-mail newsletter, The Sword & The Plow, click the Subscribe link:



All rights reserved.