Reigning with Christ III

Three Views: Post-millennial, A-millennial, and Pre-millennial: 

The word millennium simply refers to a thousand years. When will Jesus reign and how will Jesus reign? These views seek to answer those questions. Not everyone agrees over the nature or time of the millennium. Not all are convinced of a future millennial reign at all. Since the Ascension of Christ various views have emerged. This vacillation will no doubt continue as the landscape of time and history changes. Certain climactic views on earth might cause one to reconsider his or her views. 

Postmillenialism is comparatively recent in origin.[7] Daniel Whitby and A.A. Hodge are some of the most notable men who hold this view. This view would suggest that we are fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and that a kingdom of heaven, on earth, is flowering and coming to fruition today. They would point to the Parable of the Mustard Seed (See Matthew 24) and certain other parables; the successes of the Church in history are evidence as well. For the postmillennialist Christ will come after the millennium. Dr. Ed Hindson notes that “those who hold to this perspective believe that the world will continue to get better and better until the entire world is Christianized”[8] 

The postmillennial view would see Revelation 20:6 as looking back on history. The binding of Satan did not render him in active but only operating in a limited capacity. The millennium is at the end of history that sees the Reign of Christ. Some see the Reign of Christ as literal and yet others see it as spiritual. Amillennialism, meaning no millennium, would suggest a spiritual or allegorical interpretation of the relevant texts. The millennium then is spiritual. St. Augustine is the popular founder of this view in his book, The City of God. In this work he reframed Christian understanding to believe that the church age was indeed the thousand year reign. William Hendriksen is another notable scholar who holds to this view. Adherents to this view also sees the spiritual kingdom being fulfilled now in a spiritual sense—on earth or in heaven. 

Post-millennialists are highly optimisitic and maybe for good reason. That is yet to be decided. This view interprets the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33) to support this understanding. This parable does not inform us as to the extent to which the Kingdom would grow analogous to the seed. Some parts of the world are experiencing a revival of the Gospel. Yet the world is also increasingly becoming evil. Passages such as Matthew 7:13-14, 24:21-30; Luke 18:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12-13; 4:3-4 are used to reject this view.

This view would also use Matthew 24 to support their view. Mainly interpreting verses from this chapter as being fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Roman armies led by Titus. While this even can be called a coming of the Lord in judgment at the same time it is clear that the predictions of a still future and personal return of the Lord. Appealing to imagery or symbolisms found in Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; Amos 8:9; Isaiah 13:10, 34:4. In Matthew 24:29 the sun is darkened, the moon reflects no light, stars fall from heaven and the heavens are shaken. The first three prophets refer to judgments which include darkness. The magnitude of phenomena and power demanded by Matthew 24:29 are not found in those prophets. The Isaiah texts can be understood to refer to seeming cosmic events having fulfillment in a final judgment scenario.

During the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 Christ is addressing His disciples and warning them of persecution and tribulation to come. The Disciples then could also be representative of the church. Perhaps the most explicit denial of the post-millenial view here is Matthew 24:30, “…They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (NIV) Interpreting Mattthew 24 in light of Jews in tribulation or a future Jewish kingdom seems more difficult than understanding it in light of the Church.

To the amillenialist heaven follows the Second Coming of Christ, not a literal millennial kingdom. For the amillennialist Satan was bound during the earthly ministry of Jesus (See Matthew 12:29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31). During this church age Christ is reigning from heaven and Satan is actually limited in that he cannot completely stop the spread of the Gospel. This view does not seem to do complete justice to passages such as the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:6.

The Duration of the Millennium: 

The actual duration is perhaps the most debated aspect of this passage. Does 1,000 mean 1,000 in this passage or is it referring to a symbolic or long period of time? Revelation 20:6 is the only verse which actually highlights the length of the Reign of Christ. This is not the only verse however that refers to His Messianic Kingdom. Perhaps that presupposition should be held suspect until ruled out further. Should the Scriptures have to say something more than once to be true? In Genesis 11 the Tower of Babel is only referred to once but its existence and what happened there is considered to be true. In a recent tome Mark Hitchcock lists the following ten verses as being “ten of the most important Old Testament passages on the coming kingdom.” They are as follows: Isaiah 2:1-5, 11:1-16, 32:1-20, 35:1-20, 60:1-22; Jeremiah 31:1-40, 33:1-26; Ezekiel 37:14-28; Amos 9:11-15; Zechariah 14:6-21.

The premillennial view would attempt to take Revelations 20:6 as literal as the context allows and demands. The words for a thousand years appear six times in Revelations 20 verses 1-7. In this instance it would refer to a period of time in which Christ reigns and Satan is not only limited but unable to deceive or influence the nations. Passages such as Luke 22:3; John 16:11; Acts 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:14; Ephesians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Timothy 2:26 and 1 Peter 5:8 seem to support the New Testament belief that Satan is active on earth during the present time. In John 16:11 he is the ruler of this world; in Ephesians 2:2 the prince of the power of the air; in 2 Corinthians 4:4 the god of this age and in 1 Peter 5:8 a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

It is obvious from the preceding Scriptures that Satan is not bound in our present time. As the world exhibits goodness and some virtue it is also increasingly becoming evil. If the millennium is here and now then what of the present evil or dark spiritual influence today? Some opponents of a future millennium suggest that Satan is literally bound and sealed away yet to explain the presence of evil today it is explained that his demons are still active. For example, if a leader of organized crime was sealed away from society his followers, still persuaded of the same objectives, could still inflict crimes or evil against humanity. Yet, even the demons know of an impending doom. In Matthew 8:29 we read, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

Church History: 

“It is generally agreed that the view of the church for the centuries immediately following the Apostolic era was the premillennial view of the return of Christ.”[9] In his Systematic TheologyRobert Culver states: “It is not surprising therefore that chiliasm (belief in the thousand-year reign) was widely spread, if not universal, in the first three centuries.”[10] Phillip Schaff, in his voluminous History of the Christian Church writes:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it.”[11]

Here Schaff, who was not a proponent of premillenialism, cites men such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin, and Irenaeus as early teachers of that very view. Not long after Romish doctrines began to take root in the primitive church amillenarianism became popular. It seemed the hope of Christ’s return where man rule and reigned with Christ was misplaced. At this point amilleniarianism began to ascend and eclipse premillenialism. In the post-Reformation era however postmillennialism began its rise. Postmillennialism would lose its luster during WWII.

Systematic theologian Henry C. Thiessen suggested that “From the 4th Century on, the belief in the millennium declined.”[12] New Testament scholar Ben Witherington suggests, "The vast majority of early Christian writers who commented on the matter did indeed understand Revelation 20 and texts like 1 Corinthians 15 to refer to a reign of Christ on the earth prior to the end, prior to the final judgment and the new heaven and the new earth. We may thank figures like Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 263–339) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430) many centuries after the time of the New Testament writers for changing the way such texts were read."(13)

Thiessen goes on to say there are several reasons for this decline but lists three. They are summarized as the following: 1) the persecutions against the church drew to an end after the conversion of Constantine. 2) A change in Biblical interpretation from literal hermeneutic to the allegorical method. Biblical predictions became spiritualized. 3) Many began to interpret the binding of Satan and the resurrection and reign of the saints as the personal victory of believers over Satan. 


Using a literal method of interpretation one cannot deny that the Second Coming of Christ is both literal and accompanied by a millennial reign. It is the place, nature, and timing of these events that believers have debated for some time. At the moment, this writer holds to the historic premillennial view which sees believers continuing until a future or perhaps present tribulation until Satan is bound and Christ returns to earth to establish the millennial kingdom.

A literal reading of Revelations 20 should produce a premillenial view. Other views will have to spiritualize this unit of text in order for it to make sense otherwise. Unlike the present condition of earth, which is full of confusion and mounting evil, Christ will usher in a “golden era of peace and prosperity”[14] This Reign of Christ will be marked by allegiance and devotion to Him alone. As a result of Christ’s reign joy, peace, healing, protection, and justice will flourish. In his work The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgement, Glory Bloesch rightly warns premillennialist. He suggests:

“In addition an egocentric strand runs through premillennialism. The Christian goal sometimes appears to be experiencing the pleasures of the millennium rather than glorifying God in lowly service. Our service to the world should be fueled by hope in the second advent of Christ, but this hope should turn us ever more to the world in its poverty and misery rather than away from the world toward an idyllic kingdom that lies on the other side of history.”[15]

Christians must not just sit by idle and complacent as though we must wait to experience pleasure and life in Christ only in the Millennium. The Kingdom of God has come and is coming. Jesus Christ does reign in our hearts and has come and will come again but this does not mean believers must simply wait and do nothing. We should fuel and not stifle our "service to the world" by this "hope"(Titus 2:13). It is all the more reason to do something for the Kingdom now or as Bloesch says, “on this side of history.”


7 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

8 Hindson, Ed. Et al. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (p. 234). © 2004 by Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson

9 Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come (p. 373). © 1958 by Dunham Publishing Co. Zondervan

10 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

11 Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997). History of the Christian church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

12 Thiessen, Henry C. (1949) Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, Mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (366)

13 Witherington, Ben Revelation and the End Times : Unraveling God’s Message of Hope (Kindle Locations 1273-1275). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

14 Hindson, Ed. The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future (p. 200). Twenty-First Century Commentary Series © 2002 by Tyndale Theological Seminary

15 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 89.

Reigning with Christ II

General Characteristics and Events of the Millennium: 

After much time of great tribulation and sorrow Christ will return to earth to establish a Kingdom on earth. It is during this time that Christ will literally be present upon the earth ruling and reigning. This rule and reign is not only in the hearts of believers simultaneously (spiritual) but on the earth also (physical) and also fulfilling many Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 11:6-9; 33:24; 65:25). It does not logically follow from the premise that since some prophecies are fulfilled therefore all prophecies to Israel were fulfilled at Calvary or on the day of Pentecost. Besides being a non-sequitur it also begs the question. No Scripture seems to suggest that because some or a few prophecies about Israel have been fulfilled that all of them are.

Even biblical scholar Donald G. Bloeshe, who is critical of this view, suggests that many passages foretell of a future, in space and time, which "embodies millennial expectations":

"When we turn to the Old Testament, we find many passages that depict a future within history that embodies millennial expectations. The prophecies of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the return of the Jews to the holy land all have a distinctly millennial ring (cf. Is 2:1–4; 11:6–16; 49:7–26; 51:4–6; 52:10; Jer 16:16–21; 23:1–8; 32:36–44; Ezek 34:11–16; 36:24; Micah 4:1–5; 7:11–20; Joel 2:28–32; Zech 8:1–8; 14:16–21; Amos 9:14–15)."([2])

Physical Characteristics: 

As mentioned prior, the millennium involves a physical reign of Christ on the earth. During this time certain prophecies could be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophecies of a removal of a curse on the earth; his prophecy also includes an elimination of sickness neither of which has occurred historically (Isaiah 11:6-9; 33:24). Nor has harmony in the animal kingdom occurred (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25).

The topography also seems to be changed in some way (Ezekiel 47:1-12, 48:8-20; Zechariah 14:4, 8, 10). Isaiah also records that “in the last days” the mountain of God’s house will be established as the highest mountain and so great that “all nations” shall flow or stream into it (Isaiah 2:2). Swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Nation does not lift up sword against another and man ceases learning war. The magnitude of these expressions should not be lost. This same hope was also revealed to the prophet Micah (Micah 4:1-3) to describe the nature of this time. In Hebrew thinking “mountain” can be symbolic for kingdom as in Daniel 2:35 where “mountain” represents the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar (See also Revelation 13:1, 17:9-11). 

The magnitudes of Isaiah’s prophecies do not stop there. During this time also the wolf will dwell with the lamb, leopard with the young goat, calf and the fattened calf with the lion and a child will lead them (Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:9; Ezekiel 34:25). Crops are abundant (Isaiah 27:6, 35:1-2, 6-7; Amos 9:13; Zechariah 14:8) and even human life appears to be increased (Isaiah 65:20-23).

Spiritual or Religious Characteristics: 

As will be discussed further below Satan is bound, sealed away and unable to deceive (Revelation 20:1-3). Nations will worship in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-2, 7:12). Knowledge of God will fill the whole earth (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) and righteousness and justice will prevail (Isaiah 9:7, 11:4; 42:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5). 

The fact that a number of years is not mentioned in the prophetic writings is not needed because a reign will occur in which the explanation of a millennium is coherent. It is consistent from Old Testament to New Testament. While only one verse is needed to establish a truth the Scriptures are not void of other passages that seem to fit neither our present nor future eternal state (Isa. 65:20; 11:6-11; Zech 14:5-17). The people enjoying the millennium or the thousand year period will be comprised of Old Testament saints and the saved Jews and Gentiles alike. 

Israel and the Church: 

Throughout Scripture we see that the Bible distinguishes true Israel from the Church. Israelites can be saved here, and now. However, there are distinctions that must be made. Most of the Old Testament prophecies foretell of an earthly rule of righteousness and peace. This is satisfied soteriologically and universally but not all the promises and prophecies have been fulfilled.

Notice the words of 17th Century theologians John Owen and Nehemiah Cox, "The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and is the clearest and final fulfillment of the historical Covenant of Grace."[3] Some would understand the Church and Israel in this way. This suggests, in some way, that the Church and Israel are not distinguishable entities but the same in their prophetic unfolding of Scripture. While there are overlaps and similarities the distinction between the church and Israel is apparent and should be acknowledged. In this discussion it is important to understand that they are not identical nor are the terms interchangeable. 1 Corinthians 10:32 reflects just such a division when it says, "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God," (ESV). In Galatians 6:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:18 Paul contrasts believing Jews with unbelieving Jews.

This view is also referred to as Replacement theology, and/or is a component of post or a-millennial views. This view also understands the Gentile believers described as "seed of Abraham" (Galatians 3:29) to mean that they are indeed Israel. This is a non-sequitur. Paul's description of Gentile believers in Galatians 3:29 means that they participate in the spiritual blessings that come through Israel (See Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11, 14). It does not mean they are Israel.

In the books of Acts both the Church and Israel co-exist but they are also shown as continuing to be distinct in some way. Robert L. Saucy has noted, "Both the church and Israel are therefore Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise. But this does not therefore equate the church and Israel."[4] To equate Israel with the Church hermeneutically is a failure to adequately acknowledge the ethnicity principle of Scripture.

This view seems to confuse God's promise of individual salvation with God's promises to national Israel. The Church has not replaced, is in lieu of or instead of Israel. Israel has never left the program of God. Romans chapter 11 is a very important chapter concerning Israel and there we can see that Israel, the olive tree, never ceases to be the olive tree. The sovereignty of God helps us understand this better. In fact, the Gentiles or the engrafted wild olive tree can be taken out for its arrogance if God, in His sovereignty, chooses it to be so (Romans 11:21). Paul also records that it is the Jewish root itself which is supporting the Gentile believers (Romans 11:18).

Messianic Jewish scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum has rightly noted, “Israel will indeed be saved in the same way the Church is, by grace through faith…but if the Old Testament is allowed to mean what it says, there is also much more in store for Israel.” Fruchtenbaum’s comprehensive work goes on to conclude, “the term Israel is used a total of 73 times in the New Testament... the vast majority of the times it refers to national ethnic Israel.”[5]

Political Characteristics or Events: 

The timing of this righteousness and peace comes on the heels of bloodshed and tribulation. The righteousness comes when it seems unrighteousness has had the final say. It is during this millennial reign that Christ will rule over the affairs of men, from the throne of David (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32). 

During this much longed for peace those who have lived by faith, including Old Testament saints and believers who died during persecution—the redeemed—will reign with Christ. Verse four is quite clear that those who are with Christ will reign with Christ. The ability to judge is even committed to believers. This suggests that “they participated with Christ in the judicial rule of the nations during the Millennium.”[6] 

The Psalmist declared, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalms 108:5 ESV) The nature of this millennial reign will be one characteristic of peace and righteousness. The glory of God shall literally be “over all the earth!” This time of peace will be a demonstration of man’s failure and yet God’s ability to triumph. The Reign of Christ is and will be a political and spiritual rule. It will be “over all the earth” meaning it will be universal. It will be in authority and power. Notice the rendering by the New Living Translation here, “May your glory shine over all the earth. (Psalm 108:5 NLT)

Israel will be at peace in the land (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Isaiah 32:18; Hosea 14:5, 7; Amos 9:15; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10, 14:11). The Abrahamic covenant land boundaries are established (Genesis 15:18:-21; Ezekiel 47:13-48:8, 23-27). While in Jerusalem Christ rules over the nations (Isaiah 11:3-5; Micah 4:2-3; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 19:15) and Israel (Isaiah 40:11; Micah 4:7, 5:2) thus fulfilling the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:11-16; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 33:17-26). 


2 Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 89.

3 Owen, John and Coxe, Nehemiah. Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ (Palmsdale: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005), 181.

4 Saucy, L. Robert. The Church in God's Program. Copyright (c) 1972 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Pg. 75

5 Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. (1989) Israeology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology. (846) Ariel Ministries.

6 Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Re 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

Reigning with Christ I

Nearing the close of the prophetic and apocalyptic Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John a startling and exciting revelation takes place. In chapter 20 John records:

(1) I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. (2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (3) He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (4) I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand yearsRevelation 20:1-6 NIV [1] 

Revelation 20:4-6 

Verse Four: 

In verse 4 thrones are seen for “they” (third person plural pronoun) who have been given authority to judge. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 records that believers judge angels but here it could refer to them judging on earth in a new creation. This pronoun could refer to the church or believers (Revelation 6:9; 4:4); the apostles (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29-30) or the believers as a whole (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

Beheading by axes and swords were not unheard of in the first century and prior but the term “beheaded” does have a broader semantic range. It could mean something like “executed” because as Paul has already informed us (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) all believers will reign with Jesus. Revelation 2:26-28 and 3:12, 22 also support this understanding. The subjects of Revelation 20:4 are described differently than those of 5:10 or 6:9 but similarities also exist. While this passage may not explicitly distinguish two sets of tribulation groups if either existed the language could imply both. They came to life and reigned with Christ (Revelation 3:21) for a thousand years.

The words “came to life” at the end of this verse can refer to bodily resurrection. The same Greek verb used to translate “came to life” is used to speak of Christ’s physical resurrection in Acts 1:3 (“he shewed himself alive” KJV) and also in the aorist in Revelation 2:8 where we read “came to life again.” (NIV). It also occurs in Revelation 13:14 where the beast is “wounded by the sword and yet lived.” (NIV) This same verb is also used in the Greek of the LXX to render “and they lived” to describe dead men brought to life (Ezekiel 37:10). Throughout John’s Apocalyptic writing believers have lost their physical lives for the sake of Christ and are even give a crown of life and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:10; 5:10). These are seen by John to be real lives and not merely figurative ones. Therefore, John is not referring to coming to life from spiritual death since believers or martyrs were not spiritually dead.

Verse Five: 

The best interpreter of John is not one limited only to his presuppositions whether they are a covenant theologian or a premillenialist. John himself is his own best interpreter. Notice the movement from verse four to verse five from the NIV: “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.” This coming to life is the first resurrection. Some will contend that there is only one resurrection and therefore John here refers to that one resurrection. However, John clearly says “the first resurrection” here which could imply another. Daniel 12:2, Acts 24:15 and John 5:28-29 can also be understood to support this view. The operative term in verse five is “resurrection”. This coming to life refers to a physical resurrection since the noun is routinely referred to about 40 times as a physical resurrection from death to life (Matthew 22:23, 28, 30-31; Mark 12:18, 23; Luke 14:14, 20:27, 33, 35-36; John 5:29, 11:24-25; Acts 1:22, 2:31, 4:2, 4:33, 17:18, 32, 26:23; Romans 6:4-5; 1 Corinthians 15:12-13, 21, 42; Philippians 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:18; Hebrews 6:2, 11:35; 1 Peter 1:3, 3:21).

John also refers to the rest of the dead that did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. The translators add the parenthesis for clarity and to clearly express the intent of John here. Here in verse five the verb which translates “come to life” is also aorist as in verse four. Those who came to life reigned until the thousand years ended or were completed.

Verse Six: 

The prepositional phrase “in the first resurrection” modifies those who are blessed or fortunate and holy or dedicated. They belong entirely to the Lord. These “have part” (NIV) or are they “who shares” (ESV) in the first resurrection. In 20:14 the “second death” is defined by John clearly, “The lake of fire is the second death.” (NIV) The second death has no power over these rather they will be “priests of God and of Christ” (NIV). 

The term “thousand” here has caused much controversy. The option is either to suggest thousand here does not really mean thousand or go with a straight forward reading where thousand means thousand. Attention will be given to the duration of the millennium in the following posts.

This author does not think the text demands two sets of 1,000 years either (literal or symbolic). Both instances are separate clauses within the same sentence. It is interpreted that way though. Scholars like Bengel (two mill. periods) and Lange (one mill. period) worked this out and came to different conclusions. On my reading, it appears that the 1,000 years separates the two resurrections indicated in vs. 4.

John is seeing this in a vision and is reporting it to us as it unfolds. (32x John says then I saw) The chapter prior referred to the second coming (Rev. 19:11-21) and therefore this millennium would chronologically refer to a period after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. It does not seem to be incompatible with the text itself at least.

In verse four those who did not receive the mark came to life and reigned for 1,000 years. In verse five the others did not until after the 1,000 years were completed. In verse six John describes those in the first resurrection as “blessed” and “holy” and over them the second death has no power. And they will reign. Those who reign in vs. 6 reign, together, with others who are “blessed and holy” and apart of the first resurrection.

Zechariah 14:9 records, The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (NIV)

Zechariah makes this clear and without dispute, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth.” This kingdom will be set up, on earth, when Christ returns a second time, in the clouds of the sky, just as He departed (Revelations 1:7). Later the Apostle Paul refers to His coming as a blessed hope and glorious appearing (Titus 2:13).


[1] The New International Version will be used throughout unless noted otherwise.


The James Orr Collection (21 Vols) on Pre-Pub at Logos

Click here to bid on the highest price you'd pay. If the final price is lower, that's what you'll pay. Here's some excerpts from Logos.com


The James Orr Collection contains 21 volumes from one of Scotland’s most prominent nineteenth-century conservative theologians. A friend and peer of B. B. Warfield and R. A. Torrey, Orr, through his lectures and writings, criticized the modernist theology then gaining popularity. Orr’s articulate defense and authoritative view of the Bible gained him international prestige, and he lectured and preached all over the world.
The James Orr Collection contains his most influential works, including The Christian View of God and the World, Orr’s lectures on the incarnation of Christ, and Sidelights on Christian Doctrine, Orr’s popular handbook of Christian doctrine. Several works examine the problems associated with liberal theology, including two works on the Ritschlian school of thought, and numerous essays and lectures cover such issues as the Bible’s inspiration and infallibility, Christ’s virgin birth, the Gospels’ authenticity, and more.
In the Logos Bible Software edition, all Scripture passages in The James Orr Collection are tagged to appear on mouse-over. For scholarly work or personal Bible study, this makes these resources more powerful and easier to access than ever before. Perform powerful searches by topic or Scripture reference—finding, for example, every mention of “resurrection” or “Mark 9:2.”
Individual Titles



Does the Bible Affirm Slavery?

1Peter 2:18  
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. ESV 

This post is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of slavery and the Bible. In our society this verse and  others seem to pose a problem for some people and is even the reason some have given in rejecting God or the Bible. Does the Bible affirm slavery? Should this verse be cancelled out? No, and no. Notice the various renderings given above. The KJV and ESV have "servants". The LEB has "domestic slaves".

The Bible does not condone slavery here but instructs all believers on how to work and conduct themselves in certain cultural situations which included slavery. Old Testament ideas of slavery and those seen in the New Testament are different from that seen in the Greco-Roman world or even the slave trading in the South where persons were bought and sold as property. 

Ironically, those who suspend their faith in the Bible or God as a result of this issue are simultaneously saddled with a perplexing dilemma or radical skepticism. In the Genesis account it is clear that Egypt also imposed slavery as it was imposed upon Joseph. Later, Moses would lead the family and descendants of Joseph out of Egypt and to freedom. Note these comments from the Encyclopedia Britannica where it is indicated that even white slaves have been used:
It is probable that the Ottoman Empire, and especially its centre in Turkey, should be termed a slave society. Slaves from both the white Slavic north and the black African south flowed into Turkish cities for half a millennium after the Turks seized control of much of the Balkans in the 14th century. The proportion of the population that was slave ranged from about one-fifth in Istanbul, the capital, to much less in remoter provincial areas. Perhaps only people such as the slave owners of the circum-Caribbean sugar islands and the American South were as preoccupied with slaves as were the Ottomans.(1)
The ancient Code of Hammurabi also discusses slavery occurring just after Babel. China, Korea, India, black Africa where most slave owners were black and where "Africans were captured by other Africans in raids and then transported to the coast"(2) for sale or trade,  most of Europe, even some North American tribes (Klamath, Pawnee, Yurok, Creek, Comanche) and other countries around the globe have participated in slavery in some form throughout their respective histories. Islamic societies have also participated in slavery and today, slavery and genocide takes place in Sudan and Darfur which is primarily Islamic. Does this mean we should suspend our faith that the Code of Hammurabi exists? Should I buy "made in China" items when they have contributed to slavery?

The Greek word used for “Servants” in 1 Peter 2:18 is not the typical Greek word for “slave” either. The Greeks and Romans, who often used white slaves, involved themselves with slavery wherein the slave had no rights at all. The Biblical word for “servant” used here though refers to one who lives in the same house as another as a servant or slave (See Colossians 3:22-25). For a more comprehensive review of this topic from a Christian perspective click here.

A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown suggest something similar, “Masters were not commonly Christians: he therefore mentions only the duties of the servants. These were then often persecuted by their unbelieving masters. Peter’s special object seems to be to teach them submission, whatever the character of the masters might be.”(3) The message of Peter here unfolds more clearly as Peter H. Davids suggests:

"The slaves, the second example Peter gives, was not viewed as a moral person, but rather as one who was simply to obey unquestioningly. Thus even in addressing them Peter is raising their status. The slaves had few rights and could be treated by their masters arbitrarily...Thus it was quite possible that a slave would “suffer for doing good. ” Furthermore, the slave, unlike the Roman citizen, could be crucified. Thus Peter urges them to identify with Jesus, who also suffered the extreme penalty, which was so shameful that Roman writers would rarely mention it."(4)

Notice Exodus 21:16, “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.” KJV Kidnapping is expressly against sound doctrine in 1 Timothy 1:10. The full testimony of Scripture ultimately militates against slavery and slave trading. Passages such as Philemon 16, Galatians 3:28, 1 Peter 2:21-25 do seem to offer the death blow to slavery. Gordon D. Fee notes, "The New Testament writers also do not denounce slavery as an evil—although they undercut it by urging that the householder and his slaves were brother and sister in Christ (see Phlm 16; cf. Eph 6:9)."(5) This is why historically Christian opposition to slavery is what has largely contributed to its abolition

As Westerner’s slavery is not directly applicable to us today. But the relationship a believing employee has with their employer still applies. Peter nor Paul may have expressly condemned slavery because they expected believers to accept the will of God in whatever job or social position they found themselves.


1) "slavery." (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica.
2) "slavery." (2012). Encyclopedia Britannica
3) Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments,. Hartford: S.S. Scranton, 1877
4) Arnold, Clinton E. "1 Peter." Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002
5) Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003


Book Review: Honor and Shame by Roland Muller

The text Honor and Shame by Roland Muller was an eye-opener for this writer. Muller has over 30 years of missionary experience and this experience is evident in the text. Here he gives an basic introduction to cultures that are honor, shame or fear based and how this can pose difficulties for a traditional Gospel presentation. Muller then looks closer at Islam and how its culture base is dominated by shame and honor. 

The reality of sin results in the sending of missionaries to enter other cultures. If there were no sin then even the Christian attending church in padded pews would not feel the need to present the good news about Jesus Christ. Why would he if there is no sin?

The influence of sin brings about one of three emotional responses: guilt, shame and fear. Adam and Eve once confronted with the knowledge of their sin knew the pull of guilt upon their conscience. This is typified today in much of western culture which is a guilt-based culture. Our focus in the West is upon guilt and innocence.

Adam and Eve were capable of knowing right and wrong but they also exhibited shame. Genesis 3:8 records that when “they heard the sound of the LORD” Adam and Eve “hid themselves” from the LORD. The Roman accusers of Christ knew that crucifixion was a shameful death. Yet, Christ whose joy it was to disarm sin and death endured the cross despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2).

Muller notes that the “guilt aspect of salvation is due in part to our preoccupation with guilt as a western culture…the shame-based cultures of the world span an area from Morocco to Korea, and cover much of what is known today in mission circles as the 10/40 window.” (Muller, pg. 18) Even Judas after betraying Christ felt guilt and shame and took back the money he had taken for betraying the Lord of Glory (See Matthew 27:1-5) Guilt and shame are not the only emotions experienced however because there is a third.

Adam and Eve came to understand and feel the presence of fear. They knew their guilt, felt shame and feared being exposed by God. So, they hid themselves. Adam and Eve no longer stood erect and walked with God in the Garden, perhaps as other times, but hid themselves from His face. Even Peter feared to be identified with Christ after his capture. Matthew 26 records his denying the Lord three times. In Matthew 26:75 after denying Jesus three times Peter “went out and wept bitterly”. Clearly Peter knew the guilt, the shame and the fear of sin.

One of the negatives of Muller’s text is the lack of footnoting. The book has an excellent bibliography and suggested reading section but footnoting would have helped this writer more. That said he does make some interesting conclusions.

Muller notes that “fear-based cultures are found in Africa, Central and South America, and some islands in the Far East.” (Muller, pg. 19) He also notes that the Church has done better in some areas than in others. “In the shame-based cultures of the 10/40 window, we have done much poorer. Where there has been a blend of shame and fear-based cultures, the church has done reasonably well, but in the Muslim cultures of the Middle East which are primarily shame-based, the church has struggled to communicate the gospel in an effective manner.” (Muller, pg. 20)

Muller points out that there are “three basic planes on which worldview, function.” (Muller, pg. 69). They are extremes or tensions. He lists them as 1) guilt and innocence 2) shame and honor 3) fear and power. He suggests that typically an individual or culture who exists under one of those extremes operates somewhere in between, e.g. guilt and innocence. Muller notes that it is also possible to find all three in most cultures but usually one or two are more dominate.

Muller also writes about the clash of cultures. The North American Indian chose to die rather than face the shame of living on a reservation. Muller attributes this to a clash of guilt/innocence with shame/honor cultures.

In chapter nine Muller more closely discusses Islam and shame. The Arab culture is made up of system of “rival relationships” (Muller, pg. 80). As in tribal situations the Arabs value and emphasize dominance over others. The tensions between these rivals is never quite suppressed but always surviving in order to maintain dominance.

Muller also indicates that there are many types of shame in Arab culture. In the West individualism is accepted and admired whereas in the East conformity to the group is predominant. He notes, “The very meaning of Islam is to conform to the point of submission. The very object of public prayers and universal fasting is to force conformity on all.” (Muller, pg. 81). Muller notes that the other side of shame is honor. Every Arab desires to be honorable. To the Muslim conforming to the group identity is a method to retain one’s honor.

Sin exists wherever man exists. Guilt, shame and fear then permeate every part of our globe. Is there a one size fits all presentation of the Gospel? Is there a one size fits all when it comes to communicating the Gospel effectively and comprehensibly? Muller suggests the answer is in the negative. A Gospel presentation should address all three areas: guilt, shame and fear. Muller suggests that with these in mind we should address five different areas regarding God’s plan of salvation:

1. Repentance.

Repentance is the act of turning from our way and accepting God’s way. It is to turn from pursuing human honor and accept the honorable sacrifice of God.

2. Sacrifice.

The sacrifice of Calvary answers guilt, shame and fear. It takes away our guilt, releases us from the shame of sin and teaches us that we can overcome fear and walk in victory. All because of His singular sacrifice.

3. Redemption.

Redemption here need not only reference sin or guilt but one who makes the payment when we cannot. It is a reference to the one who can redeem those who are unable to redeem themselves.

4. Propitiation.

Muller notes that “If propitiation is the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift, then propitiation can be explained in terms of God’s wrath being removed by Jesus’ work on the cross.” (Muller, pg. 103). The shame or fear can be removed because God’s wrath is quelled by the death of the Son of God.

5. Reconciliation.

Muller suggests that this step is restoring the relationship between man and God. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tell us “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” Reconciliation is the act of God bringing lost sons and daughters into a personal relationship with Himself.

1) Muller, Roland. (2000) Honor and Shame: Unlocking the Door. Xlibris Corporation.

2) All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless indicated otherwise.


Trinitarian Analogies: Cerberus and The Trinity Box?

Cerberus and Hades
I was scheduled to debate James White in October of this year concerning the Trinity but that debate will have to be rescheduled at a later time. In that debate I intended to ask White about his analogy of the Trinity. Recently, White and William (Bill) Craig, have been discussing the frightful nature of analogizing the Trinitarian doctrine. In an earlier post in April of 2011 I was discussing the eternal begotten Son doctrine where Trinitarians do not imagine "day" to be a period in temporal space but a timeless, incomprehensible process in atemporal space. I noted that Trinitarians "invoke a philosophical conclusion and then avoid explaining how that is so at all cost. In fact, every example or analogy of the Trinity will fail as has been repeatedly demonstrated (e.g. three headed dog Cerberus used by William Craig and J.P. Moreland in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview)." I have also discussed the Trinitarian argument using 1x1x1=1 here.

In a recent podcast responding to White's criticism of the Cerberus analogy (Greek mythological creature pictured above) Craig once again asserted the Cerberus analogy but rejects and denounces it as inadquate a few moments later. Craig indicates he is simply trying to explain his views in a comprehensible fashion. It is wise to admit that no analogy is perfect and is only good as far as it goes but a three-headed dog seems to be a non-starter. It seems that White and Craig both affirm and acknowledge this despite the analogy comparisons between them. Conversely, Unitarian philosopher Dale Tuggy contends God is analogous and has criticized White and Craig here.

In a video on March of 2012, criticizing Craig for his analogy, ironically White also produced his own. Surprisingly, Craig does not offer criticism of White's analogy which is called the Trinity Box. He does indicate that all analogies fall short but indicates that using them does help to make progress towards understanding the affirmations of the Trinity.

The Trinity Box? The name sounds like an upcoming video game by Sony but it is actually White's attempt at analogizing the "revelation" of the Trinity. White has rightly criticized Trinitarian philosophers and apologists for referring to Cerberus. But what of his Trinity Box which he posits in their place? As Craig points out there is nothing wrong with positing an analogy or using thought experiments to get a point across. If one realizes the limits of the analogy this is fine and well but I get the impression White feels the Trinity Box is a little better off than Cerberus. I must admit Cerberus is about as bad an analogy that I have ever heard but the Trinity Box is not any better or successful by any measure. 

White qualifies his analogy by saying that he believes God is the only being who exists as the Trinity. Therefore, there is nothing which is completely analogous to the Trinity. But as Craig does he also sees the limited benefit of analogies. The Trinity Box is a homemade illustration consisting of a little black box with an opening on one end and three on the other. Plug the cord into the electrical outlet and bingo--the revelation of the Trinity. 

Actually, one end shows one opening of white light and the other has been made as to only show the three primary colors (red, green and blue). See the graphic above. That seems a little arbitrary but he explains that the white light in the light spectrum is analogous to the divine nature of God. Yet, the one white light in the Trinity Box can also be seen as red, green and blue. Thus God (white light which must represent His being) is revealed as three colors (red, green, and blue) or three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). White contends in this analogy the revelation of the Trinity does not reveal something new but shows us something we simply have never seen before. White considers this analogy to be more fitting to the revelation of the Trinity as the three divine persons are believed to be eternally pre-existing and equally sharing in the divine nature.

In the graphics above we quickly see there is much more to be seen than red, green or blue. God's creation of light is not limited to three primary colors and a prism can be manipulated to produce more colors. One could ask then is there more revelation? Will we see more light in our glorified state? Perhaps, in the new heavens and new earth? For example, ultra-violet and infra-red are also colors in the light spectrum and with secondary instruments can easily be seen as well.

Which persons of the Trinity could these new colors represent? One must ask then is the revelation of God's divine nature (white light) really complete? After all, the three persons were not revealed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or even Moses who spoke with God and met Him face to face. Do we have a guarantee, in Scripture, that the Trinitarian revelation is complete?

Even the early and original Nicene Creed is not explicitly Trinitarian since its principle aim is Christological. This is not hopeful. Even in an embryonic creed a more explicit Trinitarianism is to be hoped for given the 1) divine inspiriation of Scripture gone before hand and 2) the conscious knowledge of the Trinity by the Bible writers (as Trinitarians must presuppose). Yet, after this original creed many more followed until a codified and articulate doctrine of the Trinity was hammered out by the Cappodocian bishops of AD 451.

Certainly this Trinity should be in later Church History literature where writers are supposedly building off New Testament concepts. Yet, many of these writers in the second century and after do not show an adequate appreciation to the Old Testament or Jewish heritage in which the Bible writers came from. The technical sense in which Trinitarians describe the Incarnation or the properties of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not found in Scripture but must come from later creeds and later formulations. Trinitarians argue from certain Bible passages and thus the Trinitarian must conclude that the Trinity is present in the consciousness of certain early Biblical writers and communities such as Phillippi or Corinth. These are necessary hermeneutical presuppositions for Trinitarianism in order for it to be an explicit teaching of Scripture. With such a knowledge repository and divine inspiration a more explicit Trinity should be found.

We should not have to appeal to frightening analogies of a dog with three heads that would scare the Pentecostal or Puritan school child. Nor to instantly contradictory arguments from nature such as the Trinity Box. As noted in prior posts and confirmed by many Biblical scholars, the Bible writers do not clearly and explicitly teach a doctrine of the Trinity. Instead, it must be pieced together, much like a quilt, from certain passages seen as applicable using the Trinitarian presupposition.


Interpreting and Using Matthew 28:19 - III

Threefold Reference: 

James D.G. Dunn: "...in Matt. 28:19, the title Son is used with the Father and the Holy Spirit in a triadic formulation which foreshadows, in at least some degree, the later trinitiarian understanding of God; though here too it should be noted that the idea of pre-existence is absent (we are still far from talk of the eternal being of God in its threefold inner relationships), and the authority Jesus claims and expresses in his commission is that of the risen one."(1)

Matthew 28:19, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)

Above Trinitarian scholar James D.G. Dunn believes this text "foreshadows" a Trinity but here even he does not see Matthew 28:19 as referring to the divine nature of God existing as three persons. Using later creedal language one might see a Trinity in these verses. However, those present in the times of Jesus knew of no such thing nor did they impress upon us that God had even revealed such a thing to them. It is obvious from the setting that Jesus spoke to His disciples who were Jews strictly upholding monotheism and had no prior knowledge of a Trinity.

To embrace such concepts would require clear and explicit teaching. Instead, in the first chapter of Matthew we learn that Jesus is Immanuel--God with us. In the 28th and last chapter we learn that Jesus will be with us for all time. In the third chapter Matthew quotes from the prophet Isaiah saying "prepare the way of the Lord" (3:3). In the Hebrew Old Testament Isaiah had said, "prepare the way of the LORD" or the way of Yahweh. (Isa. 40:3 ESV) Jesus has also taught them, around the same time, that to see Him was to see the Father and that the Holy Spirit would come in another form (See John 14). There are no distinctions between the Father and Jesus except those produced by His humanity. The context reveals the authority of Christ in the glory of His resurrection. It tells us of His commandments and His continual presence. Not the glory or presence or commands of three divine persons who each comprise a Triune being.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament notes, "We thus find triadic formulas embracing God, Christ, and Spirit in 1 Cor. 12:4ff.; 2 Cor. 13:13; Mt. 28:19. These formulas express the indissoluble threefold relationship but do not actually speak of triunity. The clear-cut statement of 1 Jn. 5 is brought into the text only in the sixth century."(2) Here we see that triadic formulas do not necessarily speak of a unity between three divine persons. The author of the TDNT also suggests 1 John 5:7 is a clear cut statement of the Trinity but further admits that text is an interpolation inserted in the "sixth century".(2) As Dunn noted earlier the Trinitarian understanding is "later" and of course any doctrine can be made to order "later".

In Matthew 28:19 we have three titles that are used for representations of God's revelation, which all point to the one name of Jesus. The three subjects are called by the singular name of Jesus Christ. Well before the times of Christ's earthly, humble state kings and Pharaohs were given throne names. The prophet Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 9;6) early on that the child born and Son given was given throne names (wonderful, counselor (or wonderful counselor), mighty God, everlasting Father). Thus, according to Isaiah the Son would have many names expressing who He was--the mighty God, the everlasting father. The fulfillment of the command in Matthew 28:19 is to baptize into the one name by which we associate the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. All three subjects Father, Son and Holy Spirit are separated by "and" and are preceded by a definite article "the". This is no great wonder however since Matthew has in mind the Son of God and not just any Son of God.

Granville Sharp's sixth rule/exception

Matthew 28:19 does have a threefold reference to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although Sharp never cites or includes Matthew 28:19 in his study some Trinitarians have appealed to Granville Sharp’s sixth rule here, which says, in part, that when two or more nouns are listed and separated by “and” and each noun has the definite article “the” in front of it, then each noun refers to a different person, place, thing, or quality than the first noun. There are exceptions however and such is the case when distinct or different actions are intended to be given to the same person. It is the context that must point this out though and not simply three nouns preceded by definite articles. 

When applied to Matt. 28:19 this rule simply identities the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as distinct in some way. If the distinction is pressed to hard, as Trinitarians want to suggest, then they must show how these are not three separate beings when orthodox Trinitarians typically affirm one being consisting of three persons. Oneness believers have never ceased to acknowledge the distinctions made here. Oneness Pentecostals see that they are distinct manifestations or roles in our salvation, but all are fulfilled in, and revealed through Jesus. His is the one name mentioned. To say a grammatical rule forces three different nouns to be regarded as separate divine persons that are co-equal, co-eternal, and co-substantial is merely theological interpretation. No rule of grammar does such a thing.

In a Jewish way of thinking it is easy to use such a form stylistically. For example, the following verses uses such a threefold formula: 1 Tim. 5:21 speaks of God, Christ and elect angels (See also Luke 9:26). In 1 Thess. 3:13 Paul has God and Father, our Lord Jesus and all his saints. In Rev. 3:12 Johns uses this Hebraism for emphasis when he has the name of my God, the name of the city of my God and the new Jerusalem. Father, Son (John 1:1, 8:58; 20:28; Phil. 2:5-11) and Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-9) are God/Yahweh of Israel and are identified as such. The God of Israel is not vague or hidden but has a personal name as one unified personal spirit being. Yet, these distinctions do not necessitate that the inexhaustible and unlimited personality of the God of Israel be divided or separated. Such threefold repetitions are for emphasis and glorify the majesty of our God. They are not to distinguish multiple divine persons.

In 1 Thess. 5:23 Paul records, "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (ESV) In the Greek text the nouns "spirit", "soul" and "body" have the article before them are separated by "and" and refer to one person. The English translations leave out the articles. Yet, in spite of this verse some theologians still do not believe the soul and the spirit are distinct but the same.

Does anything in the context of Matthew 28:19 indicate an exception to Sharp's rule? Is there anything that indicates one person is in view rather than three persons? As we have already seen above we can safely answer, "Yes!" It's clear that the word "name" is a singular noun. Even Trinitarian scholar R. Kendall Soulen has argued that Matthew 28:19 does refer to one name but further adds "The name of the Holy Trinity is one name in three inflexions."(3)

This name refers to the One Who has been Resurrected and appeared before many. It is the name of the One whose empty tomb was covered up with money by the Jews as a night raid by the disciples. It is the name of the missing body in the empty tomb that the governor was never to know about. It is the name of the One who was worshiped while others doubted. It is the name of the One who has all power and for whom we are to make disciples. It is the name of the One who will be with us always. It is the name of the One who Matthew calls Immanuel "God with us" (Matt. 1:23).

The Great Commission:

Consider these other parallel Great Commission texts. In Mark 16 below we see something very similar to Matthew 28. Mark begins with the same participle.

Mark 16:15-16,
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (ESV)

Luke 24:44-49,
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (ESV)

In Acts 3:6, 16 Peter orally invokes the name of Jesus and commands the cripple to "rise up and walk". He further clarifies in verse 16 that it was Jesus' name, through faith in His name, that brought healing to the cripple. In Acts 4:10, 12 the name of Jesus is connected to healing and salvation. 

Greek New Testament scholar D.A. Wallace notes, ""In many ways, the books of Acts is a detailed account of how these apostles accomplished the command of Matt. 28:19-20".(4) Trinitarians mistakenly baptize converts by actually quoting the titles Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As noted earlier, the disciples are not being told something to say but rather something to do (Go, make disciples, teach). If quoting the words of Jesus was the intention of this Gospel writer or Christ Himself then we should expect to find it referenced in another parallel account or in passages relating to baptism. No such thing exists for good reason. In fact, as Wallace suggests the book of Acts records how the disciples carried out the commands of Matthew 28:19 and that was done by invoking the name of Jesus. 


1) Dunn, James D.G. (1989) Christology in the Making SCM Press (49)

2) Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (329). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

3) Soulen, Kendall R. "Who Shall I Say Sent Me? The Name of God in Trinitarian Perspective" Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D. C.http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/jsrforum/writings/SouWhos.html

4) Wallace, D.A. (1996) Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan (645)

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)