The Assault On The 1000 Year
Reign Of Christ

Rock of Offence Commentary




The following commentary is a response to one of our readers asking the following question:

The bible says that saints will reign with christ for 1000 years. Is this reign in heaven or on earth? Do you know of any theologians or churches that teach that it is in heaven?

Hope to hear from you.





Hello, and thank you for your interest in the Rock of Offence website.

I believe the question you asked and our answer might be helpful to all our readers. For that reason, I intend to post this response (with your name deleted) on the website so that other readers can benefit from the information.


Note: Any copyrighted work on this website is provided under the “fair use” provision without profit or payment for non-profit research, educational and discussion purposes only.


Your question involves a very complex area of Bible study involving the many different beliefs concerning the millennial reign of Christ. There are three major theological belief “systems” within the world-wide church involving this controversial period of time. These belief systems are: Premillennial, Postmillennial and Amillennial. Since I don’t personally know you, it’s difficult to know how to respond due to the size of the topic. We believe that only one of these three positions is correct, while the other two remain popular, yet false. Understand that it is not my intention to offend you in any way. But, I will attempt to answer your question from the position we believe to be true. Using the New Testament teachings of the apostle Paul as our guide, we hold to a Pretribulational rapture (departure) of the Church -- and approximately 7 years later at the end of the Tribulation -- a Premillennial physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth that officially begins His 1000 year reign.

Below is a very brief and general synopsis of the way things unfold according to Paul, along with additional prophetic support from the words of Christ, the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation. This commentary is not meant to be an exhaustive defense of end time events. Countless books have been written on this topic. Paul’s teaching about the rapture (or the departure of the Church to meet Christ in the air) to the Thessalonian and Corinthian churches -- and the Millennial Reign of Christ that follows some seven years later at Christ's Second Coming -- is described by many as one of the most incredible (and unbelievable) events in the Bible. It’s so extraordinary that many of the more “intellectually minded” Christians consider it foolishness and avoid any discussion like the plague. The worldly intellectuals, especially the professionals in the media and educational institutions, commonly use “the rapture” as a way to discredit Christians by labeling them as “a bunch of religious doomsday nuts”. However, those that mocked “crazy Noah” for building an ark in the middle of the desert before the flood had the exact same attitude -- and we all know how that turned out. Noah preached and warned his sinful generation for more than 70 years about the coming judgment, with no record that anyone believed his report. Our Lord Jesus Christ warned, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the day of His coming” (Luke 17:26).

A Brief Synopsis of Coming Events
From Paul’s Epistles


At the rapture (or departure), believers who have died are reunited with their bodies (now in the grave) and are resurrected, much the same way Jesus was resurrected following His death on the cross (Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28). Then shortly thereafter, those believers who are alive and remain on earth are changed from their corruptible “mortal” state to an incorruptible “immortal” state." (See 1 Corinthians 15:20-57 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Below) According to Paul, both these two groups (later combined as one group in heaven known as “The Bride of Christ”) are “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 below). They all return with Christ to His Father’s house (See John 14:1-3 below) for the wedding celebration in heaven and remain there for a period of approximately 7 earthly years as the Tribulation on the earth plays out. At the conclusion of the Tribulation, Jesus, along with His new bride (which was originally known as “The Church” on earth), return with Him to the earth (Read Jude 1:14-19).

Here are the quotes from some of Paul’s teachings to the early church concerning this event:

"Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:51-57 NKJV)


"NOW, BRETHREN, CONCERNING THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word OR BY LETTER, AS IF FROM US, AS THOUGH THE DAY OF CHRIST HAD COME. Let no one deceive you by any means; FOR THAT DAY WILL NOT COME UNLESS THE FALLING AWAY (DEPARTURE) COMES FIRST, AND THE MAN OF SIN (THE ANTI-CHRIST) IS REVEALED, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. DO YOU NOT REMEMBER THAT WHEN I WAS STILL WITH YOU I TOLD YOU THESE THINGS? And now you know what is restraining, that he (the anti-christ) may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so UNTIL HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY. AND THEN THE LAWLESS ONE (THE ANTI-CHRIST) WILL BE REVEALED, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NKJV -- emphasis mine)




[Important Insight from the Amplified Bible]

We can also see the same understanding in a special footnote from the Amplified Bible about 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which reads:

“A possible rendering of apostasia is departure [of the church].” IN ITS FULL MEANING, THIS VERSE READS:


“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the day of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a departing [of the church] first, and that man of sin [the Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition…” (Emphasis is mine)




"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. THEREFORE COMFORT ONE ANOTHER WITH THESE WORDS." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV)


"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO." (The words of Christ from John 14:1-3 NKJV)



Brother, to answer your question -- Christ’s Millennial Kingdom takes place on earth, not in heaven (Read Revelations 11:15). The whole premise for Christ’s Second Coming is to return to the earth as was promised at His ascension.

"Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? THIS SAME JESUS, WHO WAS TAKEN UP FROM YOU INTO HEAVEN, WILL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YOU SAW HIM GO INTO HEAVEN." " (Acts 1:9-11)


While both Christ and His Bride (that reigns with Him) have access to both heaven and earth, Christ’s Millennial Kingdom takes place on earth. Those that believe that Christ’s Millennial Kingdom is happening right now and takes place only in heaven, usually hold to an Amillennial theological position.

Here is a list of Christian denominations and churches that are thought to adhere to the doctrine of Amillennialism:


Important Note: This list is not exhaustive and its accuracy is not known or guaranteed. Some congregations independently moved toward an “Evangelical Theology” (Premillennial) and resisted the Amillennial teaching of their denomination, yet continued to retain the same name. For that reason each congregation and its leadership must be evaluated individually.

THIS MEANS THAT MOST, BUT NOT ALL CHURCHES AND
CONGREGATIONS UNDER A PARTICULAR DENOMINATIONAL
HEADING TEACHES AMILLENNIALISM.


The Roman Catholic Church
The Greek Orthodox Church
The Anglican Church
Seventh Day Adventist Church
Church of Christ
Disciples of Christ
The Episcopal Church
The Presbyterian Church
The Lutheran Church
Some Baptist Churches
Some Methodist Churches
Some Church of God congregations
Some Charismatic Churches
Some Community Churches
Some Non-denominational Churches

Most Reformed Churches teach Amillennialism.
This is A group of Protestant congregations
that teach Calvinism and various doctrines
of the Protestant Reformation commonly known as
"Reformed Theology" (it is also called by its
alternate name of "Covenant Theology"). At last
count there are over 700 various Reformed churches.



Taking A Closer Look


As we previously stated, there are at least 3 major theological positions concerning the millennial reign (millennial: meaning a period lasting 1000 years) of Christ. Most all Christian churches and denominations fall into one of these three categories.


1. Premillennial: Jesus physically returns to earth (at the Second Coming) and His literal 1000 year reign begins (on the earth) at that time.

2. Postmillennial: The belief that the millennial reign of Christ begins and continues through the earthly dominance of the Christian Church. However, the 1000 years are generally not thought to be “literal” years, since the time where it begins can’t clearly be known. To add to this confusion, there are also some postmillennialists that believe that this “1000 years” are literal -- and both of these groups wrongly believe we are in the millennial reign of Christ right now. Either way, this theology teaches that Christ returns (at His “Second Coming”) AT THE END of this 1000 year period -- whenever that is.

3. Amillennial: This theology shares similar beliefs to the postmillennial position with some different twists. Augustine (354-430 AD), a prominent theologian in the Roman Catholic Church, is said to be “The Father of Amillennial Theology”. Many of the leaders of the early Protestant Reformation left the Roman Catholic Church to “protest” it’s unscriptural teachings. However, most of these men brought Augustine’s doctrine of Amillennialism with them into the new Protestant movement where it remains dominant today.




IMPORTANT NOTE:

After the crucifixion of Christ and during the first two centuries, Premillennialism was the dominant belief of the leaders of the early Christian church. This original apostolic doctrine came under attack, somewhere around the third century. Most of these assaults came through the Roman Catholic influence of Aurelius Augustinus (commonly known as “St. Augustine of Hippo) along with the political power of the Roman Emperor Constantine (who had converted to Christianity). Both these men were instrumental in successfully replacing Premillennialism with the Theology of Amillennialism as the fundamental and foundational doctrine of the church. THE FLAWED METHODS OF BIBLE INTERPRETATION FOUND IN THE THEOLOGY THAT THESE MEN INTRODUCED AROUND THE THRID CENTURY DOES UNTOLD DAMAGE TO THE FAITH OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS, WHO ARE UNAWARE OF THE DANGER. This theology and its countless variants continue to dominate both the Catholic and Protestant sides of the Christian church today.




Rather than “reinventing the wheel” and writing a commentary on these things, we choose to quote other teachers in the Body of Christ that believe the same things.


Note: Any copyrighted work on this website is provided under the “fair use” provision without profit or payment for non-profit research, educational and discussion purposes only.


To keep the discussion brief, we use the following partial quote from Don Koenig and the "Prophetic Years" Website. The full length article is found at:


http://www.thepropheticyears.com/comments/amillennial.HTM


IMPORTANT NOTE: We use Don's comments in this instance because we agree with his concise and excellent evaluation of Amillennialism, which is a complex subject that generates endless dialogue. Even though we are in general agreement with his end-time theology, this does not mean that we agree with all of the teachings and eschatology of Don Koenig, his sponsors, his website or his ministry staff. Many times, when visiting other Christian websites, we have to learn to discern the difference between Scriptural truth and opinion based on religious tradition. These positions look similar, but are usually miles apart. Teachings on Bible prophecy, which involve the end-times, can be a dangerous, complex and confusing area of study. For this reason the reader should always exercise a high level of discernment.


[Beginning of quote]

(Don Koenig’s comments about Amillennialism)

"The prevalent theology of the Church for over fifteen centuries is that the Church is in the millennium of God. Those that hold this position say the thousand-year kingdom in the book of Revelation is only figurative and it really does not mean a thousand-years but it means an undisclosed period of time. The teaching generally is that the Christian Church is true Israel or has replaced Israel at Pentecost and that we have been in the kingdom on earth since Pentecost. Most who hold this view say all kingdom passages in the Old and New Testament dealing with unfulfilled prophecy must be spiritualized or allegorized to pertain to the Church. This position that there is no literal thousand-year reign is called amillennialism and it is held by most of the main-line liberal Protestant denominations and the Catholics."

"The early fathers of the first two centuries of the Church were premillennial, meaning that they thought that Jesus would come back before the promised earthly kingdom actually started. They included Pothinus, Justin Martyr, Melito, Hegesippus, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Apollinaria."

"Amillennial theology actually began with a school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt in the beginning of the third century which proposed that scripture should be allegorized. Most of this theology was later rejected as heretical, but the allegorization of prophecy was retained by Augustine and incorporated into Catholic doctrine. THE LATER REFORMED THEOLOGY OF THE PROTESTANTS RETAINED THIS TEACHING." (Emphasis are mine)

"Augustine taught that the Church was living in the millennial period. For that reason many in the Church fully expected the second coming around 1000 AD. When this did not occur the assumption was made that the thousand-year period mentioned in Revelation was also figurative and it just meant an undisclosed period of time. This doctrine is still taught in most of Christianity today."

Koenig Continues...

"The real problem I have with the amillennial position is that IT CHANGES THE TRUE MEANING OF HUNDREDS OF UNFULFILLED PROPHETIC PASSAGES. MUCH OF THE PLAN OF GOD FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE IS DONE AWAY WITH AND IS NOT TAUGHT. Much of the amillennial Church appears to be sleeping instead of reaping the harvest with the catalyst of an imminent return of Christ." (Emphasis is mine)

[End of quote]


Dangerous and Misleading Systems of Theology


According to both Postmillennialism and Amillennialism, it is suggested that the 1000 year reign of Christ occurs through the Christian Church, which exists as a type of religious “theocracy” that draws its spiritual authority from the laws of the Bible (mainly the Old Testament). In order to accomplish this task, the Christian Church must increasingly influence or control all earthly governments. One dominant view is that Christ returns (at His “Second Coming”) at the end of this “millennium” where the so called “Christian Church” presents to Him -- “The Kingdom of God”, which they established in His name on earth.

As Don Koenig correctly warns, this popular foundational doctrine dominates MOST (but not all) of the worldwide Christian Church. IT IS ONE REASON VERY FEW CHURCHES AND THEIR LEADERS TEACH ABOUT THE DEPARTURE (OR RAPTURE) OF THE CHURCH AND THE SOON RETURN OF CHRIST. It is also one reason why some that preach a “pretribulational rapture of the Church” are commonly told they are “going to hell” for teaching heresy. When you understand that many Christians are wrongly taught the tenants of Amillennialism -- and believe that we’re already in “the Millennial Reign of Christ”, it’s easy to see why these hurtful and unscriptural accusations take place.

At this point, if the reader is getting alarmed and sees a very real danger in these popular doctrines, they are absolutely right. This is why various churches and Christian movements that abuse spiritual authority and use the Bible to dominate and control their followers (mostly through fear of some kind of punishment, shunning or even excommunication), almost always anchors its foundational doctrine in either Postmillennialism or Amillennialism. Why? It gives the illusion that God supports these 'heavy-handed" practices and that any disagreement with a church leadership that holds these views can be judged as "rebelling" against Divine authority. This tactic involving fear and intimidation has been used on church congregations for centuries. On the surface, it all sounds like good fundamental Bible teaching, which is why few Christians notice the problems.

Although countless expressions exist, these popular systems of theology are commonly found in churches that adhere to Dominionism, Kingdom Now, Christian Reconstructionism, Holiness and Reformed Theology (especially variants of Calvinism and the more recent “Neo-Calvinism” movement). It was this same “foundational doctrine” that empowered the now discredited and oppressive “Discipleship and Shepherding Movement” (1977-1984) -- and, as Don Koenig reveals, most major (and liberal) Protestant and Catholic denominations as well.

The Situation Is Dire,
But Not Hopeless


These things send a sober warning to the Christian believer to exercise great discernment when listening to any kind of Christian teaching -- especially from what is commonly referred to as “fundamental Bible-believing churches”. Many of us fail to discern that a “Bible-believing church” carries a very vague definition. It can be teaching “from the Bible”, but either ignores or distorts the Bible’s context. . . and can still be called “Bible-believing”. Also, it can base its salvation doctrine on the conditional nature of the Old Covenant (Old Testament), rather than the unconditional nature of God’s Grace found in Christ’s New Covenant -- and can still carry the label, “Bible-believing”. Scripture is skillfully lifted from the context where God placed it -- and reinserted into a different context (designed by a teacher, preacher, denomination or movement) to defend or support a particular man-made religious teaching or doctrine. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were masters of this deceptive (and dangerous) practice, which, on more than one occasion, greatly angered the Lord Jesus Christ. Religious teachings designed in this way continue to sound like God’s Word because Scripture is used. However, this might actually be a dangerous illusion when context is ignored or distorted. Most of the time these things are not done deliberately, but in ignorance. The fact remains that good preachers and ministers with noble intentions can get things wrong. These are perilous and deceptive times, meaning that everything that carries the name “Christian” is not necessarily from Christ and our Heavenly Father, even if it comes from the pulpit of a trusted denomination.

At Rock of Offence, we interpret the Bible literally, unless a specific section of Scripture tells us that it is to be viewed figuratively (allegorically). When the Bible teaches something in a certain context, WE BELIEVE IT MEANS EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS WHEN INTERPRETED WITHIN THAT CONTEXT. That sounds like “common sense”, doesn’t it? However, when popular, yet skewed religious thinking begins to dominate, the plain teaching (literal meaning) of Scripture goes “out the window” and believers are led astray in their faith, while thinking they’re walking in truth. This is a common occurrence in the modern church.

When you “literally” interpret the Bible and keep it in the context where God placed it, the only theology that makes sense is the “Premillennial” position, WHICH IS THE SAME VIEW HELD BY THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH LEADERSHIP. You can’t have a kingdom without a king -- even if most of the worldwide Christian Church believes otherwise and is working feverishly to establish one. This means, contrary to popular teaching, “Christ’s Millennial Kingdom” has not started. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is The King of His Kingdom -- and He hasn’t returned to establish His rule. However, if the signs of the times are correct, this is about to change. THE RETURN Of JESUS FOR HIS CHURCH IS IMMINENT.

Conclusion: The Error of Allegorizing Scripture


Another major problem with Postmillennialism and Amillennialism is the practice of “spiritualizing” or allegorizing the Holy Scriptures (especially the prophetic Scriptures) in order to give their “theology” the illusion of being God’s truth. This is the method of interpretation that Augustine successfully injected into the church around 400 A.D. (long before the Protestant Reformation). Church history recognizes Augustine as “The Father of Amillennial Theology”, yet fails to expose the error in this major belief system. As a result, “spiritualizing the Holy Scriptures” is now, unfortunately, the most popular method used by most Christian believers and their leaders today. I can’t warn the reader enough about the danger in this deceptive practice. Anyone who is skilled at “spiritualizing” or allegorizing Scripture can generally make the Bible say anything they want, which is why this methodology is so popular in various debates and discussions. There’s almost no defense against such a tactic. When someone “spiritualizes” Scripture, they project certain unknown, secret or “self-designed” spiritual meanings into verses and Scriptures that can already be “literally” understood. Attempting to discuss certain Bible subjects with church-going people who handle the Scripture in this way is an exercise in futility and frustration. Allegorizing the Holy Scriptures does two very destructive things:


FIRST

It subtly changes God’s original intention of Christ’s New Covenant Gospel and corrupts Biblical truth.

SECOND

It removes our ability to know certain “absolutes” from the Bible, making ”saving faith” difficult to obtain because of the doubts that always remain.



When we understand that the influence of Amillennialism is “mainstream” in the modern Christian Church, it’s normal to be very concerned.


Some Helpful Links


Note: Any copyrighted work on this website is provided
under the “fair use” provision without profit or payment
for non-profit research, educational and discussion
purposes only.


Another helpful commentary on Amillennialism
can be found at:


http://www.gotquestions.org/amillennialism.html


This article carries a slightly different aspect and exposes the error that we are now in the Millennial reign of Christ, which operates from heaven. The reader needs to understand that there are countless “flavors” of this theology in the Christian Church, which causes massive confusion. For that reason, it is impossible to cover every point of view.

There is another popular doctrine (as if we need another one) that is commonly found along side of Amillennialism. It’s name is “Replacement Theology” or what is now called “Supersessionism”. It teaches that God has permanently rejected Israel for crucifying Jesus (their Messiah) and He has permanently “replaced” Israel with the Christian Church. Similar to the error of Amillennialism, the basic tenants of Replacement Theology is another false teaching injected into the Christian Church by Roman Emperor Constantine (between 300-400 A.D.) and is now almost universally considered foundational Bible doctrine. However, it’s a dangerous false teaching that legitimizes anti-Semitism (a hatred of the Jewish people), which is why most Christian denominations oppose the existence of national Israel and even go as far as publicly agreeing with the political forces (some are known terrorist organizations) that seek her total destruction. Both of these doctrines (Amillennialism and Supersessionism) seriously distort our understanding of, not only end-time events, but also our New Covenant salvation found in God’s gift of eternal life. If the reader is interested, you can obtain more information at the following links.



What is Replacement Theology/Supersessionism?

http://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology.html


Israel and the Church: the Differences

http://www.levitt.com/essays/israel-church.html


Avoiding the Error of Replacement Theology

http://www.rockofoffence.com/rtheology.html


What is Replacement Theology?

http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Ice-WhatisReplacementThe.pdf


Israel's Existence Is Our Endtime Sign
By Calvery Chapel Pastor J.D. Farag
(YouTube Video Presentation)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiOgBXMfuv8


Some of the commentaries of Matthew McGee contain a great deal of information about how to properly read and interpret the Bible. We find that he has some helpful insights on many New Testament topics. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that God’s Word is a “divided book” -- and if your goal is to teach truth, then you must “rightly (or correctly) divide” His Word, The Bible (2 Timothy 2:15). To further illustrate this point, Paul also taught that the Bible was divided into two major “covenants” -- and that Christ’s New Covenant, which couldn’t begin until after His crucifixion, now makes the previous one “obsolete” (Read Galatians 4:21-31 -- especially Hebrews 8:6-7 and Hebrews 8:13). This sends a serious warning that the Bible is “dispensational” in the way God designed it. However, a vast majority of the Christian Church combines these dispensations (or Divine administrations intended for different groups of people in different time periods) into one large “unified theology” (mixes things together that should not be mixed), which dangerously corrupts many doctrines of the Bible (including our eternal salvation) and distorts God’s original intentions (making God appear to say things that He does not say). It would be a big mistake to think that these popular Scriptural distortions found in the worldwide Christian Church are coming only from some “fringe” sect or movement. It is actually a very large MAINSTREAM effort and influence THAT DOMINATES most of the world-wide Christian Church and carries serious unintended spiritual consequences.



The Basics of Understanding the Bible

http://www.matthewmcgee.org/dispensa.html


The Millennial Kingdom Reign of Jesus Christ

http://www.matthewmcgee.org/millen.html


Four Views of End Times Prophecy

http://www.matthewmcgee.org/rapture.html


Once again, making these links available should not suggest, in any way, that these individuals or ministries agree with everything we teach. Nor does it suggest that we agree with everything they teach. It's only an attempt to avoid confusion by limiting our agreement to the subject discussed in this commentary.

I hope you find this information helpful.

Sincerely In Christ,


Rock of Offence Ministries













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Most recent revision January 2014