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Philip Mauro on the thousand year reign

December 28, 2011

Philip Mauro, in his book “Of things which soon must come to pass,” [1] said that the thousand years of Revelation 20 refers to a future millennium. He connected the thousand year reign of the saints with Ephesians 2, which he said also refers to future rewards. He wrote: [2]

And so at last an era of life and blessing comes to the world, over which sin and death have held sway for six thousand years; and the first guaranty of this (and the first condition necessary to secure it) is that the earthly enemies of God are destroyed, that the Devil is cast into the pit, and that its mouth is absolutely stopped for a thousand years.

“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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (vv. 4-6)

Thrones are set up, and persons are seated upon them. These are the victors over the beast; and prominent among them are those who had suffered martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The description of these reigning ones tallies with that of the company of Chapter 15:2-4, who stand upon the sea of glass and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Furthermore, we have in this vision the fulfilment of the song of the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders, those whom Christ had redeemed by His bleed, and had made kings and priests unto God (5:9, 10). Particularly does this vision answer to the last words of that redemption song, “And we shall reign on (or over) the earth.”

The 24 elders, and the four living creatures, who are said to reign on the earth were not described as martyrs, but they were redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” [Revelation 5:9-10] This suggests that the ones who reign with Christ in chapter 20 are saints living on the earth in the present age, and they are not deceased saints in heaven. They are kings and priests, because the Spirit of the King of kings and the great High Priest who is the mediator of the New Covenant dwells in them. How could they not be kings and priests?

Mauro continued: [3]

For here it is expressly declared that these are they who have part “in the first resurrection, over whom the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (v. 6). Therefore I see no reason to doubt that these throned ones of v. 4 are those whom Christ has redeemed to God by His blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (5:9, 10). Moreover, verse 6 of Chapter 20 says of all who have part in the first resurrection, that they shall be priests of God, and shall reign with Christ during the thousand years. The description of verse 4 is not to be taken as limited to a particular and select company of the redeemed (martyrs, and such as have gained the victory in some special way over the beast); for all who are Christ’s participate in the victory. The victory is His; but He gives it to us. This was said with particular reference to overcoming the powers of death and hell (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Furthermore, it is plainly taught that the exultation of the redeemed of the Lord to the rank and dignity of kings is just as much a matter of grace, as is the forgiveness of their sins. For the very same passage which declares that in Christ Jesus we have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”, goes on to say that God “hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”; that is to say, has exalted us together and enthroned us together, in Christ Jesus; for “raised up” here means exalted to high dignity; and to “sit”, is to sit on a throne (Eph. 1:7; 2:5-8). And this exaltation to the throne, be it noted, is as much comprehended in the twice-repeated statement, “by grace are ye saved”, as is the forgiveness of sins. It should also be noted that the words of Revelation 20:4, “they lived and reigned with Christ”, agree with the words, “quickened us together, and made us sit together…in Christ Jesus”. I deem it clear, therefore, that the passage in Ephesians which views “the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus” (3:11) as if it were already accomplished, looks forward to this vision of Revelation XX. And we must remember that the things John saw, and which he describes as already past–(“they lived and reigned“)– were in fact many centuries in the future at the time he saw and described them. Likewise in the passage in Ephesians, past tenses are used in speaking of things not yet accomplished.

This is an example where the author wrote too much; Mauro would have seemed more wise, had he quit before writing the last three sentences, because Paul clearly says that the saints are already “raised up” and they “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” He specifies when this occurs. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” [Ephesians 2:5-6]

Mauro obviously misconstrued what Paul wrote, by declaring that Paul was speaking here of things not yet accomplished. The time that Paul specified, when believers are raised up together, is “when we were dead in sins.” Certainly this is a profound demonstration of God’s amazing grace because all this happened when we were “dead in sins.” God made us sit upon thrones, and quickened us, which is a kind of resurrection, the first resurrection that John spoke of, not because of our merits, but to demonstrate His grace. It is not a resurrection from the grave, but the new creation formed in us by the Spirit of God. Thus, the thousand years is not something far off in the distant future, but it is the time that every believer who is figuratively beheaded reigns with Christ, during the remainder of his life, after becoming enlightened by the Gospel. This interpretation is called discrete millennialism. It is not amillennialism, because the thousand years signifies specific discrete periods of time, during the lives of individual saints living on the earth. The thousand years applies to their individual lives, not to the duration of Christ’s reign, which endures forever and ever; His reign is eternal. The saints, however, reign with him for a limited time in this age, and they strive to attain an incorruptible crown, [1 Corinthians 9:25] “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” [1 Peter 5:4]

References

1. Philip Mauro. Of things which soon must come to pass. Wm. B. Eerdmans. Grand Rapids, MI. 1933.

2. Ibid., pp. 517-518.

3. Ibid., p. 518.

 

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