When it comes to academically and intellectually defending the doctrine known as premillennialism, or the future reign of Christ on earth, people frequently cite Revelation 20:1-10 for biblical support. This passage explains that Christ’s future earthly kingdom will last 1,000 years. On account of the frequent citation of this passage to defend the notion of a future earthly kingdom, opponents contend that premillennialism is merely a one-text theology. For example, according to Louis Berkhof:

The only scriptural basis for this theory [i.e., premillennialism] is Revelation 20:1-6, after an Old Testament content has been poured into it.1

However, this passage (Revelation 20:1-10) only represents the end of the matter. It merely states the duration of the kingdom age. The necessity of an earthly kingdom is actually mentioned as early as Genesis chapter 1, which is well known for depicting the divine creation account. In other words, the biblical story of the kingdom began as early as the Garden of Eden. Here, God placed Adam and Eve in a position of authority over His creation. In Genesis 1:26-28, we read,
God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Here, we should note that Adam and Eve were given dominion or authority over the physical realm (fish, birds, living things that move on the earth). Thus, God arranged for humanity’s first couple to govern His creation on His behalf. The technical term for this hierarchy is the office of theocratic administrator. This term simply refers to someone who governs for God. In other words, God ruled the world indirectly through the first Adam.

However, Satan soon took the form of a serpent (Revelation 12:9; 20:2) with the specific goal of perverting and reversing this divinely ordained hierarchy. Instead of governing the physical world for God, Adam and Eve were influenced by creation (the serpent) to rebel against God (Genesis 3). Such rebellion represented a top-to-bottom reversal of God’s original intention for the office of theocratic administrator. Satan’s success in inciting this rebellion effectively removed the office of theocratic administrator from the earth, as Satan then became the ruler of the world (Luke 4:5-8; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2).

What, then, is the storyline of the Bible? It is how this office of theocratic administrator is restored through the future messianic kingdom. Just as God the Father originally intended to indirectly govern the physical world through the first Adam, He will one day govern the world through the last Adam or God the Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, only when God the Father governs the last Adam, or Jesus Christ, who in turn will govern the entire world during the millennial kingdom, will the office of theocratic administrator that was lost in Eden ultimately be restored to the earth. Thus, God cannot allow the present heavens and earth to go out of existence until this very structure is restored. Otherwise, God would come out the permanent loser of history, since what He sought to establish in Eden would never be restored to earth. God simply cannot allow this possibility to happen, thereby making the future millennial kingdom an absolute necessity.

The restoration of the physical kingdom, or office of theocratic administrator, as the dominant theme of the Bible has been recognized by numerous theologians. Note Dr. Charles Ryrie’s explanation:

Why is an earthly kingdom necessary? Did He [Jesus] not receive His inheritance when He was raised and exalted in heaven? Is not His present rule His inheritance? Why does there need to be an earthly kingdom? Because He must be triumphant in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated. His rejection by the rulers of this world was on this earth (1 Cor. 2:8). His exaltation must also be on this earth. And so it shall be when He comes again to rule this world in righteousness. He has waited long for His inheritance; soon He shall receive it.2

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost concurs when he says:
Apart from the reign of Christ…here on earth…And apart from this rule, God’s purpose for man would never be brought to conclusion. God’s purpose for the earth would be unrealized and the problem generated by Satan’s rebellion would never be resolved. Thus, the physical, literal reign of Christ on the earth is a theological and biblical necessity—unless Satan is victorious over God.3

Note the following similar depiction by Dr. Mark Hitchcock:
Johann Sebastian Bach sometimes slept more than he should have. His children had a unique way of waking him up. They would go to the piano and begin to play a composition. When they would get to the last note, they would stop. They wouldn’t play the last note. It worked like a charm, and it would always wake him up. He would get up from his sleep, go to the piano, and play the final chord. He couldn’t stand to leave it hanging there incomplete—unfinished. In the same way today, we are all waiting for the last note on the final page of God’s song of victory. God will not leave His grand composition without striking the final note. That final note is the messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ.4

The late Dr. Harold Hoehner of Dallas Theological Seminary used to intimidate doctoral students during oral exams by asking them how they would defend the notion of a future earthly kingdom from the Scriptures. Nervous students would usually start with Revelation 20:1-10, which speaks of the future 1,000-year reign of Christ. Hoehner would then ask the student to find an earlier biblical reference to the coming kingdom. Students then typically went first to Paul, then Christ, then the prophets, and finally, the divine covenants with Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:18-21; Deuteronomy 29:1; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 31:31-34) to find scriptural support for the coming kingdom. When Hoehner again asked for something earlier, the student was then forced to go back to Genesis chapter 1. Through this process, the learned professor was simply trying to get his students to understand that the theme of a future, earthly kingdom began on the Bible’s very first page and chapter.

One day, God the Father will restore what was lost in Eden. He will again rule the world indirectly through a human intermediary. This human intermediary will not be the original Adam, but rather, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), or the unique God-man Jesus Christ, who is the eternally existent second member of the Trinity. Thus, there is obviously much more to defending the doctrine of premillennialism then simply citing a somewhat obscure prophetic passage found at the end of the Bible. Rather, the doctrine of the millennium begins at the earliest possible place in God’s revelation to mankind, and then from there quickly becomes one of Scripture’s most dominant themes.

Enigmas found at the end of the Bible are typically resolved at the very beginning.

Dr. Henry Morris well noted:

The Book of Revelation is the sequel to the Book of Genesis, the two books together bounding all history and bounding all of God’s revelations to mankind. They constitute the alpha and omega of God’s written Word, the Book of Beginnings, and the Book of Unveilings.5

Let us be counted among those who embrace the full counsel of God’s Word (Acts 20:26-27) with the understanding that Scripture itself is its own best interpreter.


Andy Woods earned his JD degree from Whittier Law School in California, where he practiced law and taught business and law-related courses. Andy later earned his ThM and PhD degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the senior pastor at Sugar Land Bible Church in Sugar Land, Texas. Andy and his wife, Anne, have one daughter.

1. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology: With a Complete Textual Index, 4th and rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1932; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996), 715.

2. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1999), 511.

3. J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom and Covenant Promises Throughout History (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 316.

4. Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2012), 421-22.

5. Henry Morris, The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1983), 14.