Ever since I started studying Catholic apologetics, I’ve been interested in Catholic versus Protestant interpretations of the Book of Revelation. Based on St. Augustine, it is my understanding that the 1000 year period mentioned in Revelation 20:2-3 is a time of freedom for the Gospel to be proclaimed throughout the world. The time of freedom is now. I understand this interpretation is called amillenialism because it interprets the 1000 years as a figurative reference to an indefinite period of time that we are living in today.
But I have a difficulty with this interpretation that I would like some input on, and my difficulty is this: the time we are living in now, along with the past 2000 years, do not seem to match up with how Revelation 20:2-3 describes the millenial period.
Rev. 20:2-3 says, “[Jesus] he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.”
It seems to me that Satan has had no problem deceiving the nations for any space of 1000 years from Jesus’ time up to today. I can’t seem to find even a 200 year period, let alone a 1000+ year period, of peace for the Church. In every age the great nations in which Christianity has gained a foothold have persecuted the Church due to the false beliefs held by their leaders and a desire to make the Church conform to them.
In the first century Ciaphus and the Herod kings persecuted both Jesus and His disciples. Then Nero and Domition did so as rulers of the Roman Empire. Over the next two hundred years the Church witnessed 8 more empire-wide persecutions, right up to the conversion of Constantine.
The legalization of Catholicism didn’t stop the persecution either. Constantine’s son Constantius II persecuted the Church for not adopting Arianism, and so did Emperor Valens in the second half of the fourth century.
In the fifth century the Vandals persecuted the Catholics in Africa, and in the heart of Christendom there was no peace either: Emperor Theodosius II persecuted some Eastern Catholic bishops for not adopting the monophysite heresy, and Emperor Zeno expanded the persecution by requiring all Eastern Catholic bishops to sign the heretical Henoticon or be exiled – all while the pope was trying to stop Attila the Hun from destroying Rome and its people.
Zeno’s successor Emerpor Anastasius I continued the Henoticon policy into the sixth century, around the same time that King Leovigild in Spain started imprisoning Catholics and requiring them to join the Arian “Church” or be killed.
The seventh century found us persecuted under the Monothelite emperors. Emperor Heraclius succeeded in having the pope himself exiled and eventually martyred. Meanwhile, Islam started persecuting Catholics in the Middle East, and by the end of the century they had taken over North Africa and martyred the Catholics in Egypt and Carthage. Plus, Emperor Justinian II sent an army to imprison the pope because he wouldn’t give the emperor the right to rule the Church, though the Italian militia stopped their approach.
[Cont’d next post]