Rev. 20: 1,000 Year Reign - Catholic Interpretation?


Hello. This morning’s first reading is from Revelation 20. In it the 1,000 reign of Christ is described. What is a Catholic interpretation of the 1,000 year reign?



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Which aspect? The 1,000 year period, the reign of Christ, the first resurrection?


The 1000 year reign is now.

It is the present age when Satan is kept in chains by the ministry of the Church - Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, the sacraments which take away sins, the Church’s prayers, etc. Christ reigns over his Church.

1000 years means a really, really, really long time.



The Church is very loathe to lay down end-times policy. I’d say off the cuff there is no interpretation of Apoc Shakur:cool: with the exception of the Woman of chapter 12 being steadfastly interpreted as the Church. Zat right, fellow bloviators? :slight_smile: My personal policy is to avail myself of Christ’s mercy as He has emphatically counseled through Saint Gertrude the Great onward before He must return as Lord of Judgment; and be found at work when the Master returns. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, look on us with Your eyes of love and have mercy on us. AMEN


One ancient way of interpreting that passage as Catholics is to see the 1000 years as referring to the time between the first and second coming.

St. Augustine interpreted the Bible this way and strongly argued for that interpretation. So many theologians have been convinced by his analysis that, if I understand history correctly, most Catholics since his time have agreed with him. I don’t think the Church has ever declared that his interpretation is definitely correct, but it has rejected some competing interpretations that do not line up with Catholic tradition.

Sometimes I’ve heard that St. Augustine invented this interpretation. I don’t think that’s true, I think it can be defended on the basis of the Fathers before him as well.

Two objections to his interpretation are: (1) it has been more than 1000 years since the first coming of Christ in ~1 A.D., and (2) the world for the past 2000 years doesn’t seem to match the description of Revelation 20. For example: St. John seems to describe Jesus as reigning, the devil as unable to deceive the nations, and the Church as triumphant. But most people don’t believe Jesus is Lord and the Church is persecuted all over the world. So how does that match the description St. John spoke of?

In response to the first objection, Catholic theologians often see the 1000 year reign as a metaphor for a long period of time. In my opinion, it is also possible that the 1000 years is literal, but is also a fulfilled prophecy: as soon as 1000 years passed, the prophesy that Christ would reign for 1000 years was fulfilled. But I don’t think that necessarily means He would only reign for 1000 years.

In response to the second objection, it is my understanding that St. Augustine said that the devil’s power over the world would merely be reduced, not eliminated, during the reign of Christ. Christianity is a major world religion, therefore Christ is reigning in it.

There is more to say to support this interpretation from Scripture and Tradition and defend it from objections, but I am not familiar enough with the means of defense to summarize it all in a blog post. If you’d like more information about it, one resource you can read St. Augustine’s book City of God Book 20 Chapters 7-17. He is a better explainer than I am, and perhaps you could learn from his analysis.

I hope that helps.


In one of Peter’s letters he says that in the eyes of God a 1000 years are as one day.
Of course this was a letter.

In Revelations, a 1000 years may mean a long time will lapse. A different meaning from St. Peter’s 1000 years since it is a different type of writing. The church has never said.


Thanks for the replies. Much to think about!



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