A Critical Review of “the” Millennium

According to Max King



Kurt Simmons


Preterists owe a debt of gratitude to Max King for his contribution to the field of fulfilled eschatology.  He has taught us many things.  Conscious of this debt, it is with reluctance that we subject King’s works to critical analysis lest we seem ungrateful or moved by lesser motives than love of the truth.  Thus, it is that the following is submitted for prayerful consideration, trusting it will be received in the same spirit of brotherly love and affection in which it is made.

 The Millennium According to King

I. The Millennial Reign

 According to King, “the” millennium[1] of Revelation twenty speaks to the roughly forty-year period beginning at Pentecost through the parousia in A.D. 70. It corresponds with the last days of the Mosaic age and marks the “first part” of Christ’s Lordship, during which he accomplishes the restitution of all things.  Christ’s millennial reign was not merely circumstantial; it had a specific objective in sacred history: “The millennium is a reign of Christ (shared by His saints) for the purpose of subjugating His enemies and accomplishing the restoration of all things spoken of by the prophets…The restoration is the purpose of His millennial reign…Christ’s millennial reign puts things in order for Him to reign in the restored kingdom of God forever” (Heb. 1:8).[2] 

According to King, John’s vision of the millennium did not look into futurity, but was retrospective; it surveyed the preceding decades of Christ’s millennial rule:  “John was standing at the end time of his millennium.  Therefore, the end events that were ready to occur do not point to a future millennium, but serve instead to unveil and illuminate the hidden realities of a millennium that was ready to be culminated then...The basic purpose of the Millennium Episode was to reveal the hidden realities of Christ’s pre-parousia reign (and of His saints) up to the climatic event of Satan’s final revolt and defeat.”[3] 

John calls the reign of the saints and martyrs with Christ the “first resurrection.” (Rev. 20:5)   King has it that the first resurrection answers to and consists of the “firstfruits” or “firstborn ones;” viz., the “‘pre-end-of-the-age’ saints who came to life in advance of the end of history (the Jewish age).”[4]  “Coming to life” means their redemption from sin-death.  Thus, the first resurrection is a symbolic description of the saints’ regeneration in Christ.  “They came to life through death and resurrection ‘with Christ.’”[5]  According to King, “‘Their coming to life’ with Christ was the first resurrection in relation to that which was to follow – the harvest, or ‘the rest of the dead’ (Rev. 20:5).”[6]  Thus, the “first resurrection” is not first in terms of a subsequent resurrection they themselves would afterward experience, but first in terms of receiving redemption prior to all others who were to be saved.    In Rev. 20:5, John states that the “rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years was fulfilled.”  According to King, the “rest of the dead” speaks to members of the Old Covenant community.  “The dead would logically answer to members of the Old Covenant community, dating from its inception in the Exodus/Sinai events.”[7] 

II. The Millennial Binding of the Dragon

Revelation 20:3, states that the dragon is bound that “he might deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”  The question thus becomes, what are the historical referents for the binding and loosing of the dragon?  King believes that the millennium begins at the cross of Christ:  “But how was Satan bound?...If our time frame of the millennium is correct, the focal point for the decisive binding of Satan is the death of Christ.  This is a logical place for the beginning of the millennium…”[8]  According to King, the Old Covenant aeon “had become a stronghold of Satan,” and only through removal of the Mosaic law and national Israel was the power of sin and death destroyed.  “But how was death swallowed up in victory?  The answer is quite obvious.  Where was death resident?  Did it not reign in the mortal or natural body of Judaism?  Paul calls it the ‘ministration of death.’  But when that body died, and from it arose a spiritual body clothed with incorruption and immortality, death was defeated.”[9]  King’s belief that Judaism and national Israel were the seat of Satan’s power figures prominently in his view of the resurrection, which he believes primarily consisted in the “resurrection” of the spiritual body of the church upon the death of the natural body of Judaism.  It is not necessary for present purposes to enter into a discussion of this view; it is sufficient merely to note King’s tendency to identify Satan, sin, and death with national Israel and the old law.  This identification, when applied to the millennium and the binding of Satan, translates into Israel’s becoming “Satan’s instrument for deceiving the nations (as brought out clearly in the millennium)…”[10]   

According to King, Israel’s “deceiving the nations” took the form a false Messianic expectation of a restored, national kingdom.  “Israel’s deep-seated belief in a future, earthly Messianic kingdom in which she would have dominion over the nation’s of the earth was of no small concern to the nations around her, and those who ruled over her.  King Herod’s unmerciful slaying of all the children in and around Bethlehem two years old and under, in an effort to destroy the Christ who was born King of the Jews, reveals how effectively Satan had ‘deceived the nations’ by means of Israel’s misconception of her true Messianic future.”[11]  “Israel, by misconstruing the purpose of her national existence in relation to the promise, became Satan’s stronghold in deceiving the nations.”[12]   Hope of a restored, Jewish kingdom that held dominion over the world is the source of the Jewish opposition to Christ and the gospel.  This false expectation is “bound” by the gospel’s true message of universal deliverance from the power of sin and death.  “The point here is that Satan was bound by the gospel of the crucified Christ, which took away the veil spread over the nations, abolishing death and bringing life and immortality to light (2 Tim. 1:10).  This piece of biblical history is the framework for John’s millennial ‘binding of Satan.”[13]   

King senses a connection between the binding of the dragon and the “restraining power” (“he who lets”) in II Thess. 2:6, 7, but never comprehends their identity, dissevering the two historical referents.  For King, the “man of sin” and “son of perdition” are references to a hardened and impenitent Israel which rejects Christ and persecutes the church.  King views the binding of the dragon as the cross of Christ whereas the restraining power is James and the Jerusalem church.  James is the restraining power inasmuch as the veneration he commanded among unbelieving Jews allowed the church to dwell in Palestine in a peaceful atmosphere. “However, in view of what followed upon the murder of James and other leading Christians at Jerusalem it seems possible that the Jerusalem church, and their revered leader in particular, was a ‘restraining power’ that held the Jewish assault against the church in check until the fullness of the Gentiles come in.”[14] 

 Upon loosing dragon and taking out of the way the restraining power, the battle of Gog and Magog ensues.  (Rev. 20:7-10)  Although King correctly sees the battle of Gog and Magog as the end-time assault upon the church, he downplays the persecution against Nero, choosing instead to see Gog and Magog more in terms of Jewish persecution of the church.  “We feel that Judea was the center of the antichristian movement, and of the parousia of the ‘man of sin.’  Therefore, the identity of the ‘restraining power’ should be sought here; the removal of which set in motion the final Jewish assault against the church throughout the world.”[15]  In his earlier work, The Spirit of Prophecy, King has it that the battle of Gog and Magog was the revolt of the Jews from Rome in an attempt to establish themselves as the preeminent world power, enabling them to thereby destroy the church.[16]  King maintains this view with some modification in his later work, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ:  “It seems reasonable that the revolt against Rome in Judea would encourage disorder in all Roman Provinces, providing non-Christian Jews an opportunity to vent their wrath against Christian Jews and Gentiles…Without question the political conflict opened the door for widespread religious persecution.”[17]   

Analysis and Response

 I. Single Millennium Model

The first objection to King’s approach is the single millennium model he succumbs to.    The single millennium model is the stuff of futurist eschatology and has no place in a Preterist schema.  It is unfortunate that King falls into this trap-for-the-unwary.   King recognizes that the battle of Gog and Magog comes after the thousand year binding of the dragon and that it is tied to the persecution of the church under Nero and the Jews.  He even acknowledges that Nero is identified with the beast.[18]  However, the fact that the martyrs who live and reign with Christ die under the beast is passed over in complete silence.  This is necessary to maintain King’s view that the millennium represents the whole period from the cross to the parousia of Christ.  Acknowledgment that the martyrs die under Nero would obviously be fatal to this hypothesis, since it means that their thousand-year reign has nothing to do with the binding of the dragon.  In fact, just the opposite, it is the loosing of the dragon that causes their deaths under Nero and the beast in the battle of Gog and Magog!  Hence, the death of the martyrs under the beast, obvious to all, it is quietly passed over without remark.  Of course, since the martyrs die under Nero in the battle of Gog and Magog, and since this battle (by King’s own admission) follows the loosing of the dragon, it is impossible that the thousand-year reign of the saints be identical with the thousand-year binding of dragon.  Two millennia are therefore clearly contemplated by the text.  The fact of two millennia is actually acknowledged by King himself in his book The Spirit of Prophecy:  “Satan is bound a thousand years and the saints lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…These two one thousand year terms are like the North and South Poles…”[19]  Thus, King recognizes the that literary and grammatical structure of the passage contemplates two millennia and expressly states as much.  However, confounded by the symbology and how to reconcile two millennia with his hypothesis, in the end glosses them over, tying them to the same historical referent, which for him is the cross and gospel of Christ.  But, this serves only to back King into a corner.  The notion that the dragon is bound by the cross and the gospel is a favorite of A- and Post- millennialism[20] whose sloppy exegesis and loose approximations may be suitable to futurist eschatology, but wither under close scrutiny.  In Rev. 9:1, the keys of the bottomless pit are possessed by the angel of the bottomless pit and king of the locust army (Nero Caesar).  The fact that the keys are possessed by the king of the locust army proves that the keys are not the cross and gospel (what would Nero be doing with the cross and gospel of Christ?).  Moreover, if the cross and gospel somehow bind the dragon, the cross and gospel must also somehow loose him.  This alone is fatal to the hypothesis since it means that the gospel must cease to be proclaimed for it to lose its power and efficacy.  Since this neither can nor will happen (I Pet. 1:23-25), it seems clear that the whole approach to the symbology must be jettisoned. 

II. The First Resurrection

King holds to the chiliast doctrine of a millennial reign of Christ. But this is merely assumed, never proved.  King and other millenarians will be disappointed to learn that the scriptures never speak of Christ’s millennial reign, but instead speak of the saints and martyrs reigning a thousand years.  (Rev. 20:4)  True, they reign “with Christ,” but the thousand-year limitation upon this reign applies only to them, not Christ.  Christ reigns forever:  “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  (Lk. 1:32, 33; cf. Isa. 9:6, 7)  The martyrs live and reign with Christ in the first resurrection; it is the first resurrection that lasts a thousand years, not Christ’s reign.  The first resurrection is set over against the second death.  (Rev. 20:6, 14)  The second death is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14); the lake of fire speaks to the final destiny of the lost.  Prior to this, the lost were confined in Tartarus awaiting execution of judgment and sentence.  (II Pet. 2:4; cf. Lk. 16:19-31)  Tartarus is portrayed by the bottomless pit in Revelation; it is here that the dragon is symbolically confined for a thousand years.  Like confinement in Tartarus for the lost, the first resurrection is not the final destiny of the saved.  Pending their eternal inheritance in heaven, the saved were in Paradise.  It is here that the souls of those that were martyred under the beast lived and reigned a thousand years with Christ. Jesus said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life…He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”  (Rev.  2:10, 11)  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am sit down with my Father in his throne.”  (Rev. 3:21; emphasis added.)  The martyrs have overcome; they have been faithful unto death and have given their lives in testimony under the beast.  Hence, they live and reign in Paradise a “thousand years” with Christ pending their eternal inheritance in heaven.  As the thousand-year internment of the dragon in the bottomless pit does not teach a millennial reign of Christ, so the thousand-year reign of the martyrs in Paradise does not teach or prove a millennial reign of Christ.  The thousand year periods are used in reference to the dragon and martyrs, never of Christ.  The longest any man ever lived was 969 years. (Gen. 5:27)  A thousand years thus exceeds the life of any man upon earth and shows that their reign is “other worldly” and speaks to the timeless quality of the Hadean realm. 

The reign of the martyrs has previously been alluded to.  In Rev. 14:9-13, the blessed state of the martyrs is mentioned, saying, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture…Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandment of God, and the faith of Jesus.  And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”  (Cf. Rev. 6:9-11)  Those mentioned here are the same individuals portrayed in Rev. 20:4-6 as having won the martyr’s crown.  Their deaths under the dragon, beast, and false prophet are not a defeat, but a victory.  They have overcome and are sit down with Christ in his throne.  (Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:20, 21)  Their appearance in Rev. 20 is merely parenthetical and shows that, while God is preparing the destruction of the dragon, the martyrs are safely and tenderly gathered to rest.  The purpose of the passage is to instill courage in those that will suffer torture and death for Christ.  It is similar to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians:  “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others with have no hope.”  (I Thess. 4:13)   Hence, Rev. 20:4-6 is a window into the blessed estate of the martyrs in Hades alluded to in Rev. 14:9-13, and nothing more. 

“Rest of the dead” does not speak to the Old Covenant faithful in Paradise.  The martyrs are in Paradise.  The fate of all who were not partakers of the first resurrection was the second death.  (Rev. 20:5)  Since the “rest of the dead” are not joined with the saints in the first resurrection, it is clear their lot is with the condemned.  Hence, they do not come forth to the resurrection of life, but the resurrection of damnation and everlasting shame and contempt.  (Jno. 5:29; Dan. 12:2)  King’s notion that “the dead would logically answer to members of the Old Covenant community, dating from its inception in the Exodus/Sinai events” is baseless; it excludes the dead prior to inception of the Mosaic law, leaving them totally unaccounted for.  The notion that those who live and reign with Christ are the regenerated living on this side of eternity is completely at odds with the text, which clearly shows them to have been “beheaded.” (Rev. 20:4).  Like those depicted in Rev. 6:9, 10, they are souls that have been poured out in death upon the altar of Christ’s cause. 

Finally, King’s interpretation of the first resurrection bifurcates the redemptive work of Christ.  According to King, the first resurrection speaks to “‘pre-end-of-the-age’ saints who came to life in advance of the end of history (the Jewish age).”[21]  “Coming to life” speaks to the legal effects of Christ’s redemptive work.  “‘Their coming to life’ with Christ was the first resurrection in relation to that which was to follow – the harvest, or ‘the rest of the dead’ (Rev. 20:5).”[22] The “rest of the dead” is the Old Testament saints.  Thus, according to King, participants in the first resurrection enjoyed the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work prior to the Old Testament faithful, thus bifurcating the redemptive blood of Christ.  According to King, Christ’s blood was applied first to members of the first resurrection and only later to the Old Covenant community.  However, nothing could be clearer in the New Testament than the fact that there was to be no bifurcation.  “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”  (Eph. 1:10)  “Things in heaven” speaks to the saints in Hades Paradise; “things on earth” to the New Testament church.  The saints on earth were dead in contemplation of law.  (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:11, 12; 3:3; II Tim. 2:12)  In baptism, members of the church were “translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13); they were “raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places” with the saints in Paradise. (Eph. 2:6; Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:11, 12; cf. Matt. 8:11, 12; Heb. 12:22, 23) Both were gathered together in one, that they might be reconciled to God in one body, and brought (as a matter of law) into the presence of God within the veil together.  In fact, Paul expressly states that those who were alive and remained unto the coming of Christ would not precede them that were asleep.  (I Thess. 4:15)  Both would be caught up together (in contemplation of law; cf. Eph. 2:6), to meet the Lord in the air.  King’s view of the first resurrection is therefore without merit. 

III. The Binding and Loosing of the Dragon

For King, the dragon is a supernatural, omnipresent demonic-being called Satan.  The better view, however, is that the dragon is symbolic of the world civil power.  The terms “devil” and “Satan” are descriptive titles, not proper names.  “Satan” is Hebrew for an adversary; “devil” is from the Greek “diabolos,” meaning a slanderer, false accuser, or maligner.  Both terms have a broad range of usage in scripture, including both men and governments.[23]  In fact, the first occurrence of the term “Satan” is in reference to the angel of the Lord who stood in the way as an “adversary” to Balaam.  (Num. 22:22)  In the Old Testament, the serpent first appears in the garden where he causes the fall of the couple by beguiling the woman.  It thus becomes a symbol of man’s quintessential enemy, sin and death. Sin and death act and express themselves through the children of disobedience.  When men act collectively through governments to oppose God, the adversary assumes its most strident form.  Thus, Egypt is portrayed as Leviathan, a great writhing serpent that inhabits the Nile and its water ways, the world civil power that crushes and oppresses God’s people.  (Ps. 74:14; 104:26; Ezek. 29:3, 4; 32:2-6)  Next, the serpent assumes the form of Assyria.  (Isa. 14:29; 27:1, 13; cf. Jer. 51:44)  From Assyria’s root came forth next Babylon, “a cockatrice, a fiery, flying serpent.” (Isa. 14:29)  Babylon is also depicted in Bel, the dragon-like God of the Chaldeans.  (Jer. 51:44; see also the apocryphal book “Bel and the Dragon.”)  In each of these cases the dragon is the world civil power opposing and oppressing God’s people. So in Revelation, the dragon is not a demonic being, but the world civil embodied in Rome.  The dragon has seven heads and ten horns, which symbolize the organization of its political powers; viz., the first seven Caesars and the ten provinces of Rome.  (Rev. 17:16) Therefore, the binding of the dragon speaks, not to the binding of a supernatural being or demon, but to restraints laid upon the world political and persecuting power embodied in Imperial Rome. 

Rome, inclusive of the Jews, was the dragon, the adversary of Christ and the church.  The other leading character in the war against the Lamb is called the “beast.”  The defining characteristic of a beast is that it devours men (Dan. 7:5); the defining characteristic of the beast in Revelation is that it devours the saints. The beast is the alter ego (“other I”) of the dragon.  The dragon acts through the beast.  The dragon gives the beast its seat and great authority (Rev. 13:2); those who worship and obey the beast worship and obey the dragon (v. 4).  The beast acts at the behest of the dragon.  While the dragon is bound, the beast is bound.  When the dragon is loosed, the beast is loosed.  The beast ascends from the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7; 17:8); the dragon ascends from the bottomless Pit.  (Rev. 20:7)  John says the beast “was, and is not, and yet is and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit.” (Rev. 17:8; cf. 11:7) “Was and is not” refers to an earlier persecution; “shall ascend out of the bottomless pit” speaks to a renewed persecution.  The mortal wound to the beast’s head received in the collapse of the persecution that arose over Stephen would heal and the beast would rise to persecute anew the church.  In fact, it is the crisis represented by this persecution that Revelation was written in response to.  The ascension of the beast from the bottomless pit marks the beginning of the persecution under Nero; it also marks the loosing of the dragon.  The beast rises from the bottomless pit and gathers the kings of the earth together to battle against the Christ and the church in the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 11:7; 16:13, 14; 17:8); the dragon rises from the bottomless pit to gather Gog and Magog to battle against Christ and the church.  (Rev. 20:7-9)  As the battles are the same event under different names and symbols, the ascent of the beast and dragon from the bottomless pit are the same event under different names and symbols. 

Claudius is the angel that binds the dragon and protects the church, even banishing Jews from Rome for rioting against “Chrestus.”[24]  Claudius is given the keys to the bottomless pit; keys are a symbol of power and authority, here a figure for control of the destructive powers of hell embodied in Rome. In chapter nine, these keys are possessed by a fallen star (Nero) who is king of the locust army, the “abomination of desolation” (Roman legions) which were loosed in the invasion of Palestine. The fact that the keys are possessed by the king of the locust army proves that the keys are not the cross and gospel of Christ and that Christ is not the angel that binds the dragon. Claudius, not James, is the restraining power that enforces the religio licita and protects the church against Jewish calumny and persecution.[25]  The poisoning of Claudius by Nero and his mother Agrippina brings Nero to the throne, thus opening the way for revelation of the man of sin “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or worshipped.”  (II Thess. 2:4)  Nero looses the dragon, which acts through the beast and false prophet to persecute the church in the battle of Gog and Magog, resulting in the martyrs’ deaths.  (Rev. 11:7; 13:7, 15; 14:9-12; 17:8) King’s hypothesis that the loosing of the dragon was accomplished in the Jewish revolt from Rome by giving opportunity to Jews to undertake a world-wide persecution of Christians is completely untenable.  Upon their revolt from Rome, Jews lost the protection of law and the whole population of Jews in many cities was put to the sword. Fifty thousand were slain in Alexandria; twenty thousand were killed in Caesarea; ten thousand in Damascus.[26]  This sort of climate was hardly conducive for Jews to persecute, or procure persecution of Christians from Roman authorities as depicted by Revelation.   In Revelation, it is the dragon, the world civil power that gives authority to the beast and the false prophet to undertake persecution of Christians.  (Rev. 13:2, 4, 12)  In Asia, this persecution is driven by the Jews who are portrayed riding upon and driving the beast.  (Rev. 17:3, 7)  The Jewish revolt from Rome would have terminated this unholy alliance, making impossible Jewish accusation of Christians to Roman authorities.  Indeed, upon their revolt the ten horns (provincial governments) of Rome hate the whore (Jerusalem and Jewry), “and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.”  (Rev. 17:17)  Consequently, King’s hypothesis that the war with Rome gave Jews occasion to persecute Christians is completely implausible given the historical situation.   

IV. The Fruitfruits

This is where Catholic Purgatory meets Mormonism.  The “firstfruits” hold special place in King’s eschatology.  According to King, there is an “organic bond” between members of the first resurrection and the “rest of the dead” that serves to sanctify the latter, thereby vicariously conferring upon them the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work.  The “formation of the body of Christ from Pentecost till the end of the age (through dying and rising with Christ) answers to the first resurrection. This represented resurrection ‘out from among the dead,’ for the purpose of bringing about the covenantal change that would have the effect of bringing to life “the rest of the dead” (i.e., the faithful members of the Old Covenant community).”[27]  King states, “The destiny of historical Israel was bound up in the remnant and their response to the Christ-event…Were it not for the response of the baptized remnant or firstfruit Jews to the power of God through Christ, Israel would have been left to perish.”[28]

The average reader will recognize immediately that the notion of a vicarious salvation through the obedience of others represents the broadest, most serious sort of departure from the Christian faith.  Simple application of the analogia fidei condemns this notion at its very inception as totally alien to the scriptures and God’s plan of salvation. That this sort of teaching should originate in a gospel preacher is astonishing.  King’s departure from the common faith in this particular caused one man to observe “This firstfruits notion is too akin to proxy salvation as taught by the Mormon group.”[29]  The writer was speaking to the Mormon doctrine of “Baptism for the Dead” whereby one’s baptism confers redemption upon certain designated dead.  This is precisely what King teaches.  In fact, he has committed a whole chapter to it in his “magnum opus,” “The Cross and the Parousia of Christ.”  Hear him now:  “The salvific action of the firstfruits (the remnant Jews being in view here, Rom. 11:5) can not be restricted to themselves to the exclusion of historical Israel.  That which completes the firstfruits is applicable equally to the harvest.  In being baptized for themselves, they also were being baptized for the dead, in terms of the age-changing design of their baptism.  The solidarity of the firstfruits and the harvest is as inseparable as the solidarity of the promised seed (Christ) and the people of the promise (Israel).”[30]  And again: 

“It becomes clear in verse 19 that the future glory of the sons of God, to which they are brought by the eschatological Spirit, is also the destiny of the creation.  The manifestation of the sons of God was being awaited by the creation with ‘earnest expectation,’ which means ‘to look for with the head erect.’  There is to be seen here a solidarity of believers and the creation, to the degree that the completed redemption of believers who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, is also the redemption of the creation.  Then, and not before, ‘the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’  This is clearly a case of vicarious or representative redemption.  The creation is brought to redemption by the power and operation of God through the imparted Spirit in the Christ-centered lives of believers.  To whatever extent the baptism of believers was involved in their being brought to consummated redemption and manifestation in glory, it represented a baptism for (in behalf of) the creation.  From this there is no escape.  The hope of creation was its deliverance into that which was coming to completion and manifestation through the firstfruits.”[31]

The vicarious redemption of the Old Testament saints is not limited to baptism, vicarious suffering is also taught.  “The suffering of the first-fruits (New Testament saints) in overcoming that present world (age) led, not only to their own perfection, but also to the perfection of all true spiritual Israel.”[32]  Thus, according to King, Old Testament saints could approach Jesus only indirectly through the suffering and obedience of others!  According to King, in this manner “all Israel” (viz., living and dead) would be saved.[33] But this is terribly wrong.  Christ is the Firstfruit that sanctifies the whole, the Root that supports the tree, the Vine that gives life to the branches, not the first-generation church.  (Rom. 11:16, 18; I Cor. 15: 20, 23; Jno. 15:5; Rev. 5:5, 22:16)  Hebrews states that "by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. 10:14)  Christ's offering makes man perfect; there was nothing wanting to Christ's blood that it required the first generation Jews to make it complete.  If a single individual never obeyed the gospel, the blood of Christ would have saved the Old Testament saints just the same.  The scriptures are clear that there is “one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”  (I Tim. 2:5; cf. Heb. 9:15)  Christ is mankind's one and only mediator.  Christ’s sacrifice and it alone atones for the sins of mankind; the “firstfruits” have no vicarious redemption to offer, no mediatorial role to play in the salvation of anyone, not in baptism, not in suffering, not in anything.   

King is wholly mistaken in attaching legal significance to the term “firstfruits” as used in the New Testament vis-à-vis first generation Christians.  The term is in no way intended to be understood as if God gave first generation Christians a vicarious role to play in the redemption of the Old Testament saints.  James states that Jewish Christians were “a kind of firstfruits of God’s creatures.”  (Jm. 1:18; emphasis added.)  James’ use of the word “kind” shows that he is merely using a figure of speech; Jewish Christians were not true firstfruits in any sort of legal, ceremonial, or sacerdotal sense of the term.  All he is saying is that, because the word of the gospel came first to the Jews and they were the first to respond (Acts 3:26; Rom. 1:16; Eph. 1:12, 13), it was as if they were a type of firstfruits from God’s creatures (the nations). (Cf. Mk. 16:15, 16; Col. 2:23; Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-4) King’s unique meaning attached to “all Israel” is also plainly wrong. All Israel does not refer to the vicarious redemption of the Old Testament community through the firstfruits.  As used by Paul, all Israel simply refers to the whole spiritual seed of Abraham, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.  (Rom. 11:17-26) That is the scriptural and contextual usage of the term.  Any other usage is beyond the meaning intended by the Spirit and needs be rejected.   

Last, but by no means least, King’s notion of the firstfruits contradicts his interpretation of the first resurrection.  According to King, participants of the first resurrection receive the legal benefits of Christ’s redemptive work prior to the Old Testament saints.  They come to life with Christ through death and resurrection with him in baptism. (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:11, 12)  The rest of the dead - according to King, the Old Testament faithful - do not come to life until after the thousand year transition period between Pentecost and the A.D. 70 consummation.  “Their resurrection or passage from the old to the new did not occur at Pentecost, but rather in the end-of-the-age consummation (completion) of the body of Christ, or their perfection of the firstfruits.”[34]  Obviously, this contradicts King’s notion of a vicarious participation in the baptism of believers.  If first generation believers were participants in the first resurrection by baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ, then consistency would require that the vicarious participants in Christian baptism would share in the first resurrection also.  Is it not plain that in these particulars King has erred grievously from the faith?   


King’s Transmillenarianism is without merit and should be rejected.  It suffers from speculative theorizations and exegetical tangents that lead to a hopelessly confused and self contradictory interpretation of scripture.  From chiliast notions of a millennial reign of Christ to the unscriptural doctrine of vicarious redemption through the firstfruits, King's Transmillenarianism consistently misapprehends the scriptures and wanders into error.  Transmillenarianism's fundamental flaws render it a failed system of eschatology destined to a short and inglorious life.


[1]   We emphasize “the” because, as will be seen, the text actually contemplates two millennia, not one.

[2]   Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ (Warren OH, 1987), p. 213; cf. 213, 223.

[3]   Ibid, p. 216, 222.

[4]   Ibid, 248.

[5]   Ibid.

[6]   Ibid, 249.

[7]   Ibid, 253.

[8]   Ibid, p. 225.

[9]   Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 202; cf. The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 226.

[10]   Max. R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 227.

[11]   Ibid, p. 228.

[12]   Ibid, p. 231.

[13]   Ibid, p. 233.

[14]   Ibid, p. 241.

[15]   Ibid, p. 246.

[16]   Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 353.

[17]   Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 246.

[18]   Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 314-318.

[19]   Ibid, p. 347.

[20]   See generally, Kenneth L. Gentry Jr, Three views on the Millennium and Beyond (1999, Zondervon, Grand Rapids MI),  p. 52.  Cf. Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism - An eschatology of Hope (1999, P&R Publishing, Philipsburg, PA), p. 155; Chilton, David,  The Days of Vengeance (1987), Dominion Press, Tyler, TX ; Wallace, Foy E. Jr. The Book of Revelation (1966), Foy E. Wallace Publications, Nashville, TN.

[21]   Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 248.

[22]   Ibid, 249.

[23]   Satan: I Sam. 29:4 - David; I Kng. 11:14 - Hadad the Edomite; I Kng. 11:23, 25 - Rezon son of Eliadah; Ester 7:6 - Hamon; Matt. 16:23 - Peter.  (Cf. Ps. 38:20; 71:13; 109:4, 6, 20, 29)  Diobolos: Jno. 7;20; I Tim. 3:11; II Tim. 3:3; Tit. 2:3. 

[24]   Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, Claudius, XXV, 4. Cf. Acts 18:2.

[25]   Accord: Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (1906), p. lxxv; cf. J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia (1887), p. 183; Kenneth L. Gentry Jr, Perilous Times (1999), p. 106.

[26]  Josephus, Wars of the Jews, II, xiii, 1, 8; II, xx, 1.

[27]   Ibid, 252-254.

[28]  Ibid, 515, 516.

[29]   Jim McGuiggan, McGuiggan-King Debate (Warren, OH), p. 19.

[30]   Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 517.

[31]   Ibid, p. 519; emphasis in original. Cf. Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 57, 58.

[32]   Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 57.

[33]   Ibid,  pp. 254, cf. 528.

[34]   Ibid, pp, 253, 254.

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