1,260 days / 42 months / 3½ years – the Amillennial view

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
There was a recent thread looking at the Historicist understanding of these time periods (seeing the visions in Revelation portraying historical events in chronological order from the time of John to the present, a view greatly lacking, to my mind), and so, for the sake of edifying the saints considering the various eschatological (end time) positions, I present this brief look at the Amillennial understanding (aka, Realized or Present Millennialism).

Here are the places in Scripture these time periods occur:

42 months: Rev 11:2; 13:5-7 (in the ancient world a month was reckoned as having 30 days, and a year as 360; cf. Dennis E. Johnson, The Triumph of the Lamb, p 171ff)

1,260 days: Rev 11:3; 12:6

3½ years: Rev:12:14; Daniel 7:25; 12:7 (3½ years is also written in the OT as “a time and times and the dividing [or half] of time”)

These periods are all equal to one another, and the basic meaning is a period of intense tribulation and affliction, while the power of God’s word is simultaneously manifested.

What did the 1st century Jew (or Gentile Christian who knew the OT, and Jewish thought) think of when he heard the words, 3½ years?

The time period when Antiochus Epiphanes ravaged ancient Israel is discussed by Stuart Olyott, in his great little book, Dare to Stand Alone: Daniel Simply Explained, (p 107):

“[One angel asked] ‘How long will Antiochus Epiphanes be able to proceed with his transgressions, blasphemy and persecution?’

The answer that was given [by another angel] is recorded in verse 14 [of Dan 8]: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed’.

If we consider a year to be three hundred and sixty days – and most scholars agree that it is wise to do this when dealing with biblical numbers – we find that this figure comes to about six years and four months. This figure ties up with what transpired. From 171 to 165 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the Jews and continued with his abominations. During the last three and a half years of that period the temple was used for heathen sacrifices.” (see also E.J. Young, Daniel, p 174)​

So one thing that would stand out is the 3½ years of the most intense tribulation of Antiochus’ persecution. This was ended by the Maccabean revolt, and the prophecy that the sanctuary would be cleansed was fulfilled.

Another 3½ year event also would come to mind; William Hendriksen in his commentary on Revelation, More Than Conquerors, says,

“We immediately see that the three ways of designating this period which we find in chapters 11, 12 and 13 differ but slightly. In fact, forty-two months is equal to 1,260 days; both are equal to ‘a time, times, and half a time’, if the term ‘time’ be interpreted as meaning one year, and ‘times’ as indicating two years. In all cases we are dealing with a period which is designated as three years and a half.

It is in order to ask why the term ‘three years and a half’ is used to characterize this long period. To answer this question we must remember that during the old dispensation there was a period of three years and a half which God’s people could never forget. It was a period of affliction, yet also a period during which the power of God’s Word was exhibited (1 Ki. 17; Jas. 5:17). When you compare James 5:17 with Revelation 11:6, you immediately see that the apostle was thinking of the days of Ahab and Elijah. During that period of three and a half years God’s Church was persecuted (1 Ki. 18:10,13) yet not destroyed (1 Ki. 18:4,39; 19:18). God’s Word showed its great power (1 Ki. 17:1). Elijah and others were nourished by Jehovah in a miraculous manner (1Ki. 17:4,9 ff.). Similarly, throughout the present long period of gospel activity, beginning with Christ’s first coming and extending nearly to the second coming, the Church is persecuted but not destroyed, God’s Word exerts a powerful influence, and God’s people receive spiritual nourishment.

The expression ‘a time, and times, and half a time’ occurs first in the book of Daniel 7:25; 12:7. It is the period of the antichrist. John emphasizes the fact that the spirit of the antichrist is in the world already (1 Jn. 4:3). In the Apocalypse this period of three years and a half refers to the entire gospel age. It is followed by the ‘three days and a half’ during which ‘the beast that comes up out of the abyss’—the antichristian world in its final phase—will kill the witnesses and will silence the voice of the gospel (cf. Rev 11:7 ff.). (pp 143-144)​

G.K. Beale, in his, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation, on p 574 further elucidates concerning the time periods we are looking at. He also has an excellent lecture on understanding Rev 11 in this downloadable mp3: “Two Witnesses in Revelation”.

We might also consider the 3½ years of Jesus’ ministry; He suffered, was persecuted, hunted, caught, tortured, and executed, all the while the power of God’s word was manifested as it had never been before.

Keep in mind, however, the three and a half years in Daniel 7, and in Revelation, are not literal 3½ year periods, but symbolic. E.J. Young is emphatic on this point (Op cit., p 161) as regards Daniel 7, as he was refuting the Dispensationalist interpretation of Daniel.

To sum up:

* The witnessing church prophesies for 1,260 days (Rev 11:3). When it is finished its testimony “the beast that ascendeth our of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them” (Rev 11:7; see also Rev 20:1-3, 7-9; 13:7).

* The church (“the holy city” – in Rev this only pertains to the holy people/new Jerusalem) is “trodden under foot 42 months” (Rev 11:2).

* In Rev 12:5, after the Manchild was “caught up unto God and to his throne”, the woman (the true Israel, the church) “fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Rev 12:6).

* As the dragon continued to pursue her, “to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, [away] from the face of the serpent” (Rev 12:14).

What we have seen is the witnessing church of God in the guise of various images, the community / the holy city, the two witnesses, and the woman, all given to be both persecuted and protected for this exact same time period, the symbolic 3½ years. Note that the woman is given to abide in the wilderness in the place prepared for her by God for 1,260 days (Rev 12:6,14), starting when the Manchild (Christ) ascended to heaven – His resurrection – until He calls her to come up to Him – her resurrection – out of the very jaws of death (Rev 11:11,12).

The beauty of the Amillennial understanding is the perfect symmetry and rich harmony of all its parts – in Scripture.
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Puritan Board Senior
Lately I've been listening to a SS series my pastor did nearly 15 years ago on the book of Revelation. He brought these facts out, and he was greatly indebted to Hendriksen's book. 15 years later, the things brought out in Revelation are still just as relevant as they were then. And for the second time since I joined my church, we are going through it in our consecutive reading. It truly is a blessing to read the news in light of our Bibles and not the other way around!
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Jackie Kaulitz

Puritan Board Freshman
Steve, thanks for the info on Amillenialism. My friend was asking me about this just the other day, so I'll print this out and share it with her. And it's going in my binder! heehee... you're a wealth of knowledge! :D Thanks! Good stuff!
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