There are a number of reasons why a person should be amillennial when it comes to their eschatology. For me, a large part of being convinced of this view is the structure of the Book of Revelation itself. The idealist interpretation, based on a progressive-parallel reading, leads one to deny that the early part of Revelation 20 refers to a future millennium. Of course, due to the rich nature of the apocalyptic genre, a number of structural elements can be detected and followed. This does not mean, however, that every grid that has been offered is legitimate. Various options are listed in the “Structure” section of Vern Poythress’ The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation.
The progressive-parallel approach, also called progressive-recapitulation, was first brought to my attention through the reading of William Hendrickson’s More Than Conquerors. It is well expressed in G. K. Beale’s commentary The Book of Revelation in the NIGTC series. Beale explains that the pattern follows “repeated combined scenes of consummative judgment and salvation found at the conclusions of various sections throughout the book” (p. 121). He lists 6:12-17; 7:9-17; 11:18; 14:14-20; 15:2-4; 16:17-21; 17:1-18:24; 19:1-10; 20:7-15 and 21:1-8. In each of these scenes, Beale tells us, the pattern is always the same: a depiction of judgment is followed by a portrayal of salvation. Beale notes that this recapitulation formula is common in apocalyptic literature and provides a helpful chart demonstrating this from Daniel (p. 136).
Anthony Hoekema, in his now classic The Bible and the Future, pulls back into a broader structure of progressive parallelism breaking the Apocalypse down into seven larger sections. He says that the sections “run parallel to each other, each of which depicts the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second coming” (p. 223).
These sections are:
1) Chaps 1-3 – Letters to the churches
2) Chaps 4-7 – Seven seals
3) Chaps 8-11 – Seven trumpets
4) Chaps 12-14 – Woman giving birth while Dragon waits to devour
5) Chaps 15-16 – Seven bowls of wrath
6) Chaps 17-19 – Fall of Babylon and beasts
7) Chaps 20-22 – Doom of Dragon, final judgment, new heavens and new earth
While these seven sections run parallel to one another and recapitulate tellings of the interadventual period, there is also a degree of eschatalogical progress as more details are provided in each. Hoekema says, “Although the final judgment has already been briefly described in 6:12-17, it is not set forth in full detail until we come to 20:11-15. Though the final joy of the redeemed in the life to come has been hinted at in 7:15-17, it is not until we reach chapter 21 that we find a detailed and elaborate description of the blessedness of life on the new earth (21:1-22:5)” (p. 226). This is why the method is called “progressive.”
The twentieth chapter, typically understood to depict a future millennium, therefore fits into the scheme of recapitulation as a retelling of the time between the comings of Christ. All of the detail given in the previous sections of judgment and salvation are well-summarised in this chapter. This is why I don’t believe in a future, thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. The millennium is now.