The Reformers – every single one of them – believed that when the Lord returns at the close of this age, he will usher in the end of time and of the world. The earth will burn with a fervent heat (2 Peter), the Great Judgment will follow, and then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. This is the orthodox Amillenial view.
But in recent times this has been replaced in popular understanding by the idea that Christ will reign on earth for a literal period of 1,000 years after he returns. This is generally called “Premillenianism,” though it comes in different forms. Many teachers I respect teach Premillenianism (as did some early Church fathers, until the teaching lost ground). It has virtually consumed evangelical Christianity … to the point even that modern translators have changed the Bible to agree with it. One example only is at Revelation 10:6. Here Tyndale had:
Revelation 10:6 in the Matthew Bible, with context 5And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to heaven, 6and swore by him that liveth for evermore, which created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which therein are: that there should be no longer time, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to blow, even the mystery of God shall be finished as he preached by his servants the prophets.
Tyndale’s translation is consistent with Amillennialism. The meaning is, when the 7th angel begins to blow his trumpet, time will be no more. Creation and time will be swallowed up in eternity as the mystery of God is finished. This is based on the understanding that we are now in the millennium, during which Jesus reigns in the hearts and consciences of his people. For his kingdom is not of this world. The millennium is not a literal 1,000 year period, but in accordance with the common Hebrew usage of numbers, symbolizes a long, indefinite period of time.
Older Bibles, right through to the KJV, followed Tyndale. But then the RV sowed the seed of new doctrine in their marginal note. Moderns seized upon this in support of a future millennium, and changed the Scriptures:
Wycliffe 1380 time shall no more be
Cranmer 1539 there should be no longer time
Geneva 1560 & 1599 time should be no more
Rheims 1582 (Roman Catholic) there shall be time no more
KJV 1611 there should be time no longer
RV 1895 there shall be *time no longer … (*Marginal note: or ‘delay’.)
Now the change takes root in Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jehovah Witness Bibles:
RSV 1946 there should be no more delay
Jerusalem Bible 1968 (Roman Catholic) the time of waiting is over
NEB 1970 there shall be no more delay
Living Bible 1971 there should be no more delay
NIV 1984 & 2016 There will be no more delay!
New World Translation 1984 (Jehovah Witnesses) There will be no delay any longer
New King James 1988 there should be delay no longer
Of course, this verse has been restored in The October Testament, which is unique among the modern Bibles I have surveyed:
NMB 2016 (The October Testament) time shall be no more …
As I have been comparing Bible versions, I have noticed how often the RV introduced new doctrine and stirred up waves of changes, small and great, to the Scriptures.
Many changes that support Premillenialism have to do with moving New Covenant promises of grace, etc., to the future. The Old and New Testament perspective is changed so that we are looking to the future for many blessings that the Reformers understood us to enjoy here and now. This is a large topic, and too much to deal with presently, but it is important, and I will explore it more in The Story of the Matthew Bible.
Ruth Magnusson Davis
Founder, New Matthew Bible Project
Editor of The October Testament (Tyndale’s New Testament as annotated in the Matthew Bible)