In this interview with Tom Schreiner on his forthcoming Revelation commentary in the Baker Exegetical series, he discusses his current view of the Millennium.
Schreiner has famously shifted between premillennial and amillennial views of Revelation 20. In his forthcoming commentary he argues that Revelation 20 is the first stage of the new creation. He agrees with premillennialists that Satan is entirely bound during this time and that the bodily resurrection of believers is the “first resurrection” mentioned in Revelation 20. He notes that if the “first resurrection” is not the bodily resurrection, Revelation would have no mention of the ultimate vindication of the saints. However, because he sees this period as part of the new creation, he does not see any non-glorified saints in Revelation 20. All the wicked are judged and all the saints are glorified. He also understands all of the “famous so-called millennial passages” in the OT are fulfilled in the new creation; he observes that they are copiously quoted in Revelation 21-22.
He notes that the big problem with his new creation view is the final battle in 20:7-10 . Who joins Satan in this final battle against the saints? His solution: these are those who were raised from the dead before the final judgment.
In many ways Schreiner’s view is similar to my own (and to that of Robert Duncan Culver in Daniel and the Latter Days). I too see the Revelation 20 as the first stage of the new creation. I too think that this helps make sense of OT millennial passages being referenced in Revelation 21-22. However, I would differ with Schreiner on a few points. (1) I don’t interpret the OT millennial passages symbolically the way that Schreiner does. I think those passages actually blend the millennial stage of the new creation with the consummate stage. That is why they can be alluded to in Revelation 21-22 while also containing material that cannot be true of the consummate new creation. (2) Because I hold to a pre-Day of the Lord rapture, my view doesn’t have a problem with non-glorified saints entering the Millennial period. Thus, I don’t have the difficulty with who joins with Satan in the final battle against the saints. (3) In the interview Schreiner does not elaborate on the purpose for a millennial first stage for the new creation. In my view this period is when Jesus Christ, the second Man, leads all mankind to fulfill the blessed mandate of subduing the earth.
In the interview Schreiner notes that his overall interpretation of Revelation is symbolic. If his ESV Expository Commentary is a guide, to the forthcoming BECNT volume, it will be consistent with Beale’s modified idealism. In the intreview Schriener notes his concern is with newspaper eschatology: Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, or those who were finding Iraq in Revelation during the early 2000s. I too am concerned with such eisegesis. I don’t think those views can rightly be called futurist. They are a kind of presentism, a historicist approach focused on the present, just as preterism is a historicist approach focused on the first century. A true futurist approach would see Revelation 6 and following taking place during the final Day of the Lord, the timing of which is completely unknown to us.
Schreiner also made some helpful comments about dispensationalism at the end of the interview. He notes that the trend today is away from dispensationalism. However, he warns against having a “superior, supercilious spirit” toward dispensationalists. I think this is precisely right. I find that dispensational positions, or even positions thought to be dispensational (even if they have been held by a wide variety of interpreters throughout church history), are often dismissed, without actual engagement with the arguments or perhaps with a passing reference to a proof text here (as though the interpretation of that text is beyond debate). Schreiner does not have that spirit and rightly warns against it.