1. Searching for a literal 1000-year-long Kingdom
previous article on our
study regarding the 1000-year Reign, we indicated that at the
eschatological level, the 1000 years are symbolic, not actual, and
that the 1000-year Reign is already present.
And yet it is noteworthy, how certain Church Fathers of the first
centuries of the Church perceived the 1000 years as an actual period
of Time; in fact they proposed arguments to support it. These were
men who had met previous Christians of the first century A.D., who
had heard with their own ears those very Apostles preaching!
Could it be they were justified, when speaking of a tradition
from the time of the Apostles, regarding a period of literally
Before hastening to reject
their positions as “erroneous”- the way their contemporaries but
also certain later Fathers of the Church did - it is worth
investigating how that same prophecy (which we showed that in its
eschatological aspect it speaks of a SYMBOLIC period of 1000
years stretching across the Christian era and continuing to be
present to this day), has another level of fulfilment, in an
actual, Historical period of a 1000-year duration!
While during the Fathers’ time
in the first centuries A.D. this Historical aspect was still
unfulfilled, in our day (1800-1900 years later) and our advantageous
spot in History, we are able to discern that those earlier holy
Fathers WERE NOT MISTAKEN when they spoke of 1000 literal years!
They were obviously NOT LYING,
having ascribed this specific aspect of fulfilment of the 1000 years
to people who had personally heard the teachings of the very
Apostles. Their only
“mistake” was to confuse the two levels of fulfilment and
regard them as one single fulfilment – the reason being that both
those levels (at the time of the Fathers) BELONGED TO THE
FUTURE! They could not
have possibly imagined that the prophecy was to be fulfilled
literally, just a few years after their time (as they expected),
but that the very same prophecy also had a “broader”
fulfilment, with the symbolic 1000 years stretching
from their time, through to the Second Coming (as analyzed in our
Thus, some had imagined that
the 1000-year Reign would follow after the bodily resurrection of
all the deceased - and in no way the opposite - which however was
already taking place.
In this second article, we
shall prove that those holy Fathers who had spoken of 1000
literal years were also correct, as were the other holy
Fathers who supported the symbolic aspect of the 1000 years.
The fact is, each of the two sides had focused on different elements
of that same prophecy, and none of them could have imagined that the
same prophecy had two different kinds of fulfilment, with a
vast span of centuries between them!
2. Let’s recall the text of the prophecy
Before showing how the
literal 1000 years were fulfilled in History, let us take
a look again at the prophecy itself, and specifically focus on the
section of it that was historically fulfilled, in an era of the
Revelation Chapter 20
“1 And I saw an angel
descending from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a large
chain in his hand. 2 And he took hold of the dragon, the serpent of
old, who is the Devil and Satan, who deceived all the world, and
bound him for a thousand years, 3 And he cast him into the abyss,
and closed him in and sealed him on top, so that he could not
deceive the nations again, until the 1000 years are completed. After
that, he must be set loose for a short time.
4 And I saw thrones, and those
who seated themselves upon them, and judgment was given unto them; I
also saw the souls of those who were beheaded for their witness of
Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not venerated the beast
or his image, nor had received his mark upon their foreheads or upon
their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand
years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live, until the thousand
years were over. This is
the First Resurrection. 6 (Blessed and holy is the one who has a
part in the First Resurrection); over them, the second death has no
authority, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall
reign with him during the thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years
are completed, Satan shall be released from his prison, 8 and shall
come out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth -
Gog and Magog - to gather them together to the war, whose number is
as the sands of the sea. 9 And they rose upon the breadth of the
earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city,
and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”
3. The “binding” of the Devil and his "immobilization" regarding THE war
Some of the prophecy’s elements
seen below are exactly the same as those appearing in the article on
the Eschatological fulfilment;
the reader can visit that article for details. For the present
analysis, we shall only mention those elements briefly, in order to
discern the differences between the two kinds of its fulfilment.
As expounded in the
article, likewise here, the Devil has one objective:
To assemble the nations in a total war against the City of
God. And, just as in
the other fulfilment, God has likewise “bound” him – that is, He
has not allowed him any opportunities to achieve his purpose (to
make war against the City of God) for a long period of Time. He
has been rendered “immobile” (in the abyss), until that long
period of time has expired, where he cannot proceed with his
And - just as in the
Eschatological fulfilment - likewise here, as soon as Satan is
“released” - that is, as soon as God allows him to proceed with
his objective – his first move is to execute his plan of assembling
the deceived nations to strike against the beloved City of God and
4. The 1000-year-long Empire of Christians
In seeking a historical
fulfilment of the prophecy, however, about a 1000-year Reign, the
first thing that we need to ask ourselves is:
Was there ever in History a reign - an empire - that lasted
for at least 1000 years?
Because the prophecy specifies this detail very clearly:
“...and they lived and reigned
Christ for a thousand years...”
“...And when the thousand years are expired, Satan
shall be released...”
There certainly was such a Reign!
sole empire that had endured for more than 1000 years was the one
that we refer to in our day as “the Byzantine Empire”, or in
previous times as “the Christian Roman Empire”!
Notice carefully here! In the
entire History of the human race, this was the only Reign that
LITERALLY lasted more than 1000 years!
And it was not by coincidence that this unique Empire was a
lived and reigned
with Christ for a thousand years...”
Shortly after the passing of
1000 years, this Christian kingdom was dissolved, by the
antichristian powers of the political Ottoman “Beast”, which were
founded upon the dogmatic bases of the pseudo-prophet at the time.
So, when did the so-called
“Byzantine Empire” begin to exist, and when was it destroyed?
Every State centre
has a capitol city. So did that 1000-year-old Christian State.
When – after three centuries of persecutions - Constantine the Great
(later Saint Constantine) decided to give his Romaic empire a new
“orbit” and boost and lead it to Christ, he changed the capitol
On the 11th of
May, in 330 A.D. Constantine the Great inaugurated his new
capitol, and named it “Constantinou-polis”
(Greek: the city of Constantine).
Of course the empire was not a
Christian one from the beginning, given that Constantine himself was
still an idolater – up until before his death,
around 337 A.D., when he was baptized a Christian. Then, for the first time
in History, an actual Christian Empire had come into being!
For the first time in History, Christian Emperors reigned over that Empire,
from then, and for over 1000 years thereafter!
It was during this specific
period that Daniel’s ancient prophecy found its worldly-historic
fulfilment: that, pursuant to
the perennial persecutions of the faithful by the forerunners of the
Antichrist and the coming of Christ (“the Ancient One of the Days”),
saints would thereafter be “in charge”:
“I kept watching, and that horn
made war with the holy ones
and prevailed over them, until the Ancient One of Days came and gave
judgment to the holy ones of the Most High; and the time arrived,
and the holy ones took charge of the kingdom.”
(Daniel 7: 21-22).
With this new city as its
capitol, and with Emperors who confessed that they worshipped Jesus
Christ, this newly-founded Christian Empire spanned a course of
around 1100 years. But in the end, after an almost 2-month siege by
the Ottomans, it was finally destroyed, on the 29th of
May, in 1453 A.D..
“7 And when the thousand
years are fulfilled, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and
he will come out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the
earth – Gog and Magog – to gather them for the war, whose number is
as the sands of the sea. 9 and they rose upon the breadth of
the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved
city. And fire came down from the sky and devoured them.”
(Revelation 20: 7-9).
Quite interesting is the
description of the populous army which – after the 1000 years had
elapsed would encompass the “beloved city” – the Christian city.
Equally interesting is the reference to a “fire” that
would fall from “the sky” and “devour” them: it is strongly
reminiscent of the “liquid fire”, which only the Byzantine empire
had developed as a weapon to be launched from a high place – the
city walls in this case – in order to fend off the Ottoman hordes as
they strived to clamber up the walls, or dig tunnels beneath them.
(We need to point out here, that the words “from the sky... BY
GOD” – as seen in contemporary texts of the Book of
Revelation – is not witnessed in the older extant texts, which is
why critical texts do NOT include them either.)
When we see such an amazing
fulfilment in practice, in History, taking place within a span of
literally 1000 years (and slightly more!), who can claim that
those holy Fathers were wrong to believe that the prophecy was to be
fulfilled literally? How could we persist ONLY in the Eschatological
fulfilment of the prophecy, and turn a blind eye to the one that had
so obviously been fulfilled - that is, the sole, 1000-year-long,
historically recorded empire in History?
This was a Christian Empire,
which, apart from its historical dimension also had it spiritual
dimension – as also seen in the prophecy:
And I saw thrones, and those who seated themselves upon them, and
judgment was given unto them; I also saw the souls of those who were
beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and who
had not venerated the beast or his image, nor had received his mark
upon their foreheads or upon their hands; and they lived and reigned
with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not
live, until the thousand years were over.
This is the First Resurrection. 6 (Blessed and holy is the
one who has a part in the First Resurrection); over them, the second
death has no authority, but they shall be priests of God and of
Christ, and shall reign with him during the thousand years.”
Of course, as indicated in our
other, related article on the
of the prophecy, here too we
can likewise see the inference to the SPIRITUAL resurrection and the
SPIRITUAL death – and not to a certain supposed terrestrial
resurrection or a certain supposed biological death. The same
therefore applies here: the “First Resurrection” and the “Second
Death” are characteristic terms which in no way signify a bodily
resurrection (analyzed in another study).
The only variation within in
this historical level of fulfilment is that - apart from the
heavenly Reign that the Christians (the adopted children of God
who have undergone a spiritual resurrection through Holy Baptism,
and who have attained illumination and theosis) enjoy together with
Christ, they also had a WORLDLY kingdom within those 1000+ years
of the so-called Byzantine Empire, as an autonomous State.
After three centuries of
persecutions by the idolaters of the Roman Empire, and after an
innumerable number of “axe-beheaded” martyrs in Roman arenas
and locked in prisons for refusing to venerate Caesar’s monstrous
state power as “god”, certain of those former victims of persecution
eventually sat on worldly thrones. And the prayers of those
enthroned kings of that Christian nation were offered up to the Lord
and God of the universe: Jesus Christ.
5. Why did they have to acquire worldly authority?
The Lord Jesus Christ had made
it absolutely clear to His interrogators: “My Reign is not of
this world. If My Reign
was of this world, my servants would have fought so that I wouldn’t
be surrendered to the Jews.
(John 18: 36). How
is it therefore possible for the Lord to support such a worldly
Christian Reign thereafter?
The first thing we should
stress regarding this point, is that we need to remember that
although God had also disagreed with the worldly reign that the
ancient Israelites had demanded from Samuel, He nevertheless
accepted their petition, and in fact had BLESSED IT – on the proviso
that they would obey His Law – given that not all faithful are in
the state of illumination and theosis, so as to feel that they don’t
need such a reign.
In the world of deterioration that we are living in, God
respects the right of the not-yet-illuminated people to live in
accordance with the laws of deterioration, for protection from their
After three centuries of
persecutions, God deemed it useful for those people to make
allowance for a SECULAR, 7-PERIOD LONG REPOSE (=respite) – as we
shall see further along – so that the Church could regain Her
strength after all those persecutions that She had suffered, and
blossom across the width and the breadth of the world – with Her
bearer that same (Roman) empire which used to be Her worst
Indeed, during that millennium
the Church had achieved great things in every sector of civilization
In complete contrast to the indescribable Protestant and Pagan slander,
this blessed period produced the greatest Christian masterpieces of
Patristic Theology and psychotherapy. Throughout the vast
geographic expanse of the Byzantine Empire, people could now, for
the first time, freely worship the Lord Jesus Christ, without their
life and their families being in danger of persecution. Furthermore,
that Christian Empire not only did not attempt to expand by
overthrowing other peoples; in fact it had become the spiritual
mother to many other peoples, by having introduced them to Christ as
well as to the civilized way of life.
It was also when one of
Isaiah’s historic-level prophecies was fulfilled:
“2 For in the last days, the
mountain of the Lord shall be manifest, and the house of God shall
be on the edges of the mountains and shall be elevated above the
hills, and all the nations shall come to it. 3 And many nations
shall travel there and say, “Come along, let us go up to the
mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and He
shall announce to us His Way, and we shall follow in it.”
God had granted to His
Christian flocks a 1000-year period of freedom and prosperity, as
long as they remained within His blessing. It was a window of
freedom in which the Gospel could be extended to every corner of the
world, allowing for a deeper study and comprehension of it, in a
manner unprecedented in the history of mankind; something that –
despite their omissions and their falls – they had achieved to a
After that blessed period, the
Christian Church entered the modern age, equipped with an
inexhaustible wealth of Patristic wisdom, historical experience and
popular support, ready to confront the provocations of a more
civilized world, whose acculturation was decisively due to that same
Church, with Her noble principles that had been grafted into
Of course it would have been ideal if
the Church had expanded dynamically “in the Spirit” – without any
worldly crutches – from within the gifts of the Pentecost, which had
shaken the world of the first century after Christ. However, during
this sixth creative “day” that we are traversing, the world is
not perfect – just “very good” – and that “imperfect”
but nevertheless “very good” worldly Christian reign of around
1000 years was the best that Christians managed to achieve, in a
deteriorating world. And
it too was blessed by God!
6. Why then?
It is obvious, that it was the
best suited period for such a Kingdom to appear on the stage of
History: the Church
needed a PAUSE in the persecutions, after having commenced Her opus
in such a vast geographical zone that was to function as a refuge.
It would be a period in which the Church could deepen, expand,
preach and educate peoples, and prepare Herself for the eventual
challenges of the modern world.
The initial Coming of Christ
had to have preceded everything, and the Empire had to extend into
the nations. There had
to be an extended, vast empire that could function as a bridge
between nations: an empire that could provide an educative and
precise language (like the Hellenic one) - refined to a large degree
by the lamp light of the precedent Philosophers, and civilized to
the era’s highest possible degree - in order to “endow” the
newly-established Church with the best provisions for Her mission.
Having foreseen this important
era, the Omniscient God had prophesied and symbolized it from the
very beginning, by using as its “blueprint” the very 6 “days” of
Creation found in the Book of Genesis.
Pertinent to this prophecy,
Saint Irenaeus wrote the following in the 2nd century:
"In accordance with the cycle
and the progress of the days [...] should one meticulously try to
learn on what day Adam had died [...] it is clear that the Lord had
suffered death, in obedience to His Father, on that day during which
Adam had died while disobeying God. Now he died on the same day that
he had eaten [...] on the day that precedes the Sabbath, which is
the sixth day of Creation, in which Man was created.”
Book 5, 23:2)
synopsis of this entire apostasy, which had taken place in the span
of 6000 years; Given that it was in that number of days that this
world was made, in the same number of millennia it must be
completed. Also, this is the
reason the Bible says: “And the heavens and the earth and all
their adornments were completed. And God completed His works that He
had made, on the sixth day, and He rested on the seventh day, from
all the works that He had created.”
This is the summary
of the things that were created earlier, as well as a prophecy
about what was going to take place eventually.
Because the “day” of the Lord is one thousand years and in
six “days” He had created all things in full, it is therefore
obvious that they will end, after six thousand years”.
Book 5, 28:2,3).
“These things are (going to
take place) during the years of the Reign – that is, during the
seventh “day”, which has been blessed, on which God rested from
all His works which He created, which is the actual Sabbath of the
Book 5, 33:2).
Saint Irenaeus writes the
following, regarding the necessity for the then persecuted
Christians to reign over the hostile world that had been tormenting
“Precisely within that same
Creation in which they had toiled or were wounded and tested with
every kind of torture, it was only fair that they receive recompense
for their pain. And
within that Creation in which they were killed because of their love
for God, it was only fair that they be brought back to life. And
within that Creation where they had been made vassals, it was
imperative that they should reign.”
Book 5, 32:1).
Having himself lived in the era
of the persecutions, the need for justice was “deeply embedded” in
Saint Irenaeus, as it was for the martyred saints of the Apocalypse:
"And when he broke the fifth
seal, I saw beneath the sacrificial altar the souls of those
slaughtered for the word of God, and for their witness that they had
for the Lamb; and they cried out in a loud voice, saying: “Until
when, o Master, You who are holy and true, will You not judge and
not demand our blood from those inhabiting the earth?”
And to each of them was given a
white robe, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until
they are supplemented by their co-servants and their brothers, who
are to be killed just like them.”
(Revelation 6: 9-11).
It was therefore a rendering of
justice by God, to give the persecuted Christians authority over
their persecutors! It
was His early response to the prayers of the holy Martyrs, and it
was a foretaste of events during His eternal Reign, during the Age
At the end of his terrestrial
life, Saint Irenaeus was included among the souls of those
slaughtered holy Martyrs, given that he was assassinated during the
persecution by Septimus Severus around 220 A.D..
He, along with other holy Martyrs of his time who had united
their voices with the slaughtered souls of the holy Martyrs of the
Apocalypse, considers it to be fair – at the end of the 6000 years
of human History – “that there be a vindication for the Lord’s
people, and that authority be given to them, over the ones who had
tortured them”, according to his words.
And indeed, God did judge their
sufferings, as mentioned in Revelation:
”Rejoice upon her
(Babylon), o heaven, and you, saints and apostles and prophets, for God has
judged your suffering out of her.” (Revelation 18: 20).
In a parallel (but now past,
historical) fulfilment of the eschatological events that we are
still anticipating, the then capitol of the Antichrist’s forerunners
– Rome (a Babylon twin) – had abruptly “in one day” (11th
May of 330 A.D.), ceased to be the capitol of the Empire, and
“judgment and the reign” were given – literally, on the terrestrial
political scene – to the Saints of the Most High. God had judged the
holy Martyrs’ suffering and had heard their prayers “after a short
while”, and gave His people a 1000-year respite from the
Saint Irenaeus had
perceived that, in the narration of the 6 Days of Creation there was
a PROPHECY. Having lived in
the second century A.D., just before the 6000 years after Adam were
completed, he had corresponded each Creative Day of Genesis to 1000
years of human history, and had concluded that after those 6000
years had elapsed, there would follow a 1000-year RESPITE for the
However, given that his place
in History did not allow him to see the fulfilled image of the
events in the prophecy (whereas we are able to look back and see
from our vantage point in our day), he thought that the
fulfilment of the 1000-year Reign was only one, and that
thereafter would follow the End of this world and the general
resurrection of the dead in the Age to come.
Just as the Apostles in
Christ’s time had imagined that the Coming of the Lord was only one
- and regarded the two Comings as one and the same - expecting the
End in their time, likewise Saint Irenaeus was expecting the End (a
seventh Day, of a millennium-long Respite) a short while after his
era, which was a little before the end of 6000 years of post-Adam
The 1000-year “Day of Respite”
indeed happened abruptly, just as Saint Irenaeus (and other
contemporaries of his) had thought.
Except that it wasn’t the final fulfilment!
It was only one of the fulfillments of the prophecy.
However, that which Saint
Irenaeus, the Holy Martyr Justin, or the author of the “Epistle of
Barnabas” and other Fathers of the first and second centuries A.D.
had anticipated about their immediate future is a theme that will
preoccupy another, future article...
Reproduction of Constantinople at the peak of the Byzantine era
Gold "Solidus" coin of Constantine - the standard currency of the