Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), by Watchman Nee


Recently, in the study of prophecies, many who have adopted the theory of equating a day to a year have caused a bad impression to be formed in the believers about this theory. Bible interpreters who use the year-day theory often try to interpret the various numbers in the Bible by equating a day to a year. They even predict the date when the Lord Jesus will return, which is contrary to our Lord’s announcement on earth that the date of His second coming is not known to anyone. Many interpreters of Revelation often apply the year-day principle and cause much distortion in meaning. Here we do not intend to debate about this matter. We are merely presenting the biblical teaching concerning dates.

The year-day principle is based on Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. Let us first look at the book of Numbers. "According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquities, forty years." Here it says that the children of Israel searched the land forty days, and because of their unbelief, God punished them for forty years. It does not speak of the days in any other place, much less Revelation. As to Ezekiel it says: "And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." Here God ordained Ezekiel to lie on his right side to bear the iniquity of the house of Judah. This portion is not concerned with anything else. Surely we cannot consider the days mentioned in all other Scriptures as years. Let us look at some other verses:

(1) Genesis 7:4: "For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights." What happened next? Did they wait seven years? Did it rain forty years? No. "And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth...And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (vv. 10, 12). One day is not one year.

(2) Genesis 40:12-13: "Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head." Was it three years later that the butler came out of prison? No, "It came to pass the third day...the chief butler" had his "butlership again" (vv. 20-21).

(3) Exodus 16:4-5: "Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day...that on the sixth shall be twice as much as they gather daily." Israel went out and gathered manna every day, not once a year.

(4) Numbers 11:19-20 says that the Lord gave Israel flesh to eat for one month. Afterwards, did they eat thirty years? No.

(5) Joshua 1:11: "Within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan." What happened then? Was it three years later when Israel passed over the Jordan? No, it was only three days.

(6) Matthew 12:40: "For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." Was the Lord Jesus in the earth three years? No, He was there only three days and three nights.

From these examples we can see that the theory of a day for a year is wrong. Furthermore, if a day in some verses in Revelation counts as a year, should not the day in all the other verses count as a year? If so, then the three and a half year great tribulation would count as 1,260 years. The millennium would change to 360,000 years. We know this cannot be right. May God cause us to read the Bible by His Spirit and not to make any strange interpretations. Although the Bible is truly marvelous, we should not interpret it in a peculiar way. We should be submissive to God in our thought instead of twisting His Word.


The author of Revelation was the apostle John. There are many evidences to prove this. We do not need to say too much here. However, there is one thing that we should know. We should know the characteristic of God’s writing through John and what distinguishes John’s writing from the writings of Paul and Peter. We all know that Peter and Paul were two men chosen by the Lord for the building up of the church. John did not mention much about the great truth regarding the church in his Gospel and Epistles. However, what the Lord commanded him to write in the first two sections of Revelation was concerning the church. Hence, if we want to understand the position, situation, and characteristics of the churches in the first three chapters in Revelation, we have to investigate carefully the differences and the relationships between his writings and those of the other two apostles, Paul and Peter.

We can prove from the Bible that Peter and Paul are the ministers respectively of the circumcision and of the uncircumcision. Peter and the eleven apostles remained at Jerusalem. They continued the work of the Lord, gathering into the church the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Paul was chosen and called by the Lord to unveil the principle of the church, which is to call out every creature under heaven through the gospel (Col. 1). He was the one to lay this foundation. Most of Peter’s work was limited to the Jews. He set us off as pilgrims on our heavenly journey to obtain the heavenly inheritance. Paul’s work was specifically focused on the Gentiles. He showed us that our position is in the heavens and that whatever inheritance belongs to Christ belongs also to us. These are the dispensational truths of the New Testament, meaning that God deals with men according to dispensations. In different dispensations God has different ways to deal with men and different important truths for them.

John’s work is very different. He does not talk about the doctrine of dispensation. In his Gospel he does not mention the ascension of Jesus. In his Epistles, he does not point out the position of the Lord’s saints in the heavens. He speaks only concerning the incarnation of the Lord Jesus and His descent from heaven to earth. To him, the Lord Jesus is the eternal life. In his Gospel he explains the birth through the eternal life. In his Epistles he explains the character of the eternal life.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 03, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)