Reexamining the Evidence for Recapitulation in Revelation 20:1-10
by Dr. R. Fowler White
Those who are familiar with the various evangelical formulations of biblical eschatology know well that a debate has long raged over the contribution that Rev 20:1–10 should make to those formulations. Of course, there have been several issues of significance in that debate, but one of the most critical has been how the visions of Rev 20:1–10 relate to those of Rev 19:11–21. Generally speaking, those who have given answers to this question have fallen into one of two groups. On the one hand are those who have seen the relationship as one of chronological progression. Within this group, a minority (most of whom are postmillennialists) have interpreted 19:11–20:10 as a description of events from the interadvent age (19:11–20:6 ) up through the second coming ( 20:7–10 ), but a large majority (all of whom are premillennialists) have viewed the visions as an account of events associated with the second coming (19:11–20:3 ), a subsequent interregnum ( 20:4–6), and a judgment of Satan and the nations following that interregnum (20:7–10). On the other side of the question are those who have seen the relationship between 19:11–21 and 20:1–10 as one of recapitulation. This group (all of whom are amillennialists) has understood the visions of 20:1–6 as a description of events associated with the first advent and the interadvent age, while treating the vision of 20:7–10 as a depiction of the second advent parallel to the account in 19:11–21. To date, scholarly exchange between these two groups has achieved little more than a delineation of their differences and, in fact, the most recent contributions amount to no more than hackneyed recitations of old arguments.