Apr 26, 2011

Who Enters the Millennial Kingdom?

Tony GarlandBy Dr. Tony Garland

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Q. I am listening to your audio teaching on Revelation. There are a few things I do not understand with respect to your views.

According to Revelation, at the second coming, all unbelievers will be killed (Rev. 19:17-21). This will be a massive slaughter. The blood will flow all over the world (Rev. 14:20).

At the same time all sleeping saints will be raised (first resurrection). This means to me that only saints will live during the millennium. Is that how you understand it? I know that you believe that people will sin and die during the millennium, and some may be lost. But is it your understanding that only saints are living at the beginning of the millennium?

A. Yes, my view is that the Bible teaches that only believers will enter the millennial kingdom.

People seem to have many questions concerning the Millennial Kingdom because not much is heard on the topic from many pulpits. Also, much of what we know about the Millennium is derived from putting together a multitude of passages both from the Old and New Testaments which, when taken together, provide insights into this time of blessing which separates this age from what most people think of as “heaven” (the eternal state). One of the less familiar aspects of the Millennium is that it will be initially populated by two types of believers: those who enter the Millennium after first having undergone resurrection and those who enter the Millennium without having been resurrected. The notion of such a combination may seem strange, but it really is no different than the way in which Jesus, after His resurrection, ministered among His flock. They held Him (John 20:17,27) and He even ate food (Luke 24:39-43; John 21:9-13), but unlike them He already had a glorified resurrection body (1Cor. 15:49).

As you mention, the majority of the believers who enter the millennial kingdom will be saints who are resurrected prior to the millennial period (e.g., Dan. 12:2; 1Cor. 15:23,51-52; 1Th. 4:13-18; Rev. 20:4). But there will also be believers who survive the tribulation and remain in their natural bodies at the return of Jesus. Jesus refers to these as “my brethren” (Jewish believers) and the “sheep” (Gentile believers from among the nations - cf. John 10:16) in His teaching concerning the sheep and goat judgment mentioned in the last half of Matthew 25. Thus, the millennial reign begins with only believers. However, with time, offspring of these believers become part of the population (Isa. 11:8; 65:20). Some number of those born will reject the personal rule of Christ in their midst (see Psalm 2 which I believe finds it's ultimate fulfillment during this time). It is these who cooperate with Satan in the final rebellion against the saints and Jerusalem (Rev. 12:7-9).

Related Links

Who will occupy the Millennial Kingdom? - GotQuestions.org
The Millennial Kingdom — Part I: The Prophetic Context of the Millennium - Bible.org (John F. Walvoord)
Millennial Kingdom - SpiritandTruth.org (Tony Garland)
Resurrections in Review - SpiritandTruth.org (Andy Woods)
Who Enters the Millennial Kingdom? - BPB (Tony Garland)