The following is a biblical outline of postmillennial eschatology derived from a lecture series by Dr. Kenneth Gentry, Th.D. Please note that I have made my own additions in the conclusion. Though the outline is in bullet-format, it has readable flow that is meant to draw out scripture passages concerning this subject in a systematic way. Thus, the best way to read it is with an open Bible and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In other words, don’t try to rush through it in one sitting. Read the passages and prayerfully consider what they are saying with regards to the larger subject of biblical eschatology outlined in this article. Let’s begin.
Eschatology derives from the Greek word “ἔσχατος” (“eschatos”). We find this word in Scripture: Isaiah 2:2 & Micah 4:1 – “it shall come to pass in the latter days”, 1 Peter 1:20 – “made manifest in the last times”, 1 John 2:18 – “the last hour”. Thus “eschatology” means “the study of last things”. The primary focus of eschatology concerns the 2nd advent of Christ, the Resurrection, Judgment Day, and the Eternal state.
There are three philosophies of history to keep in mind when studying eschatology:
- Pagan: History is an endless series of recurring cycles with no progress.
- Secular: History has no meaning or direction. The foundation of the rational world is the irrational world of chance.
- Christian: History has meaning and is linear: Creation, Fall, Prophecy, Redemption, and Consummation.
A Christian philosophy of history looks something like this:
- God exists and is wholly self-sufficient (Psalm 90, Psalm 93:1-2, Isaiah 40:28, Isaiah 57:15).
- God created the universe with meaning & purpose (Exodus 20:11, Nehemiah 1:6, John 1:4, Colossians 1:16-17, Romans 11:36, Psalm 24:1, Proverbs 16:4, Isaiah 46:11, Psalm 33:11, Proverbs 16:1-4, Daniel 4:35, Matthew 10:29-30, Ephesians 1:11).
- Mankind fell into sin (Romans 8:7-8). Note: Sin is not due to our finite nature but is rather ethical & nomian in nature.
- Mankind is being redeemed. The Gospel is more powerful than sin (Genesis 3:15, Colossians 1:19-23).
- God is revealing Himself to mankind (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Isaiah 53:11).
- History will end in a consummational return of Christ (Isaiah 46:10, 1 Corinthians 15:58).
Why is millennialism so prevalent in eschatology?
- milli = 1000 anum = year
- Revelation 20 is the only occurrence of “millennium” in Scripture.
- The Millennium is simply a reference to the Kingdom of Christ, which elsewhere in Scripture is spoken of as eternal.
There are four views on the millennium of Revelation 20 in the church today:
- Amillennialism says that there is no wide-ranging manifestation of Kingdom power in history. The transformational effects of the Kingdom do not become widespread and prominent until Christ returns and eternity begins. Kingdom power in pre-consummational history is only felt in individual salvation. Hence, none of pre-consummational history will experience millennial conditions. There will be a great tribulation before the end. The end entails one general resurrection and then the final judgment. Notable adherents to this viewpoint were and are: Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Lewis Burkhov, William E. Cox, Herman Hanko, William Hendrickson, Philip Hughes, George Murray, and Albertus Peters.
- Dispensationalism adheres to a literalistic and futuristic interpretation of the rapture, the tribulation, the 2nd advent, the 1000-year reign of Christ, etc. Essentially, a “dispensation” is a “distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.” Each dispensation is a separate era of history in which God acts differently towards mankind. Each dispensation experiences a revelation, testing, failure, and judgment. Church history is purported to be an entirely unforeseen mystery to the prophets. Thus, God has one plan for Israel and a separate plan for the church. The church is merely parenthetical in God’s overall plan for history. Ultimately, the church will fail. The church will then be raptured, the seven-year tribulation will begin, Christ will return, and the temple system will be reinstituted during a literal 1000-year reign of Christ. After the 1000-year reign comes the battle of Armageddon, which ends in Judgment Day and Eternity. No one in ancient church history held this view. This view began with the teachings of John Nelson Darby in 1830. The most notable expounders of this system are: Lewis Schaeffer, Hal Lindsay, Charles Wyry, and C.U. Scofield.
- Historic Premillennialism: The church is the initial phase of Christ’s Kingdom but it will ultimately fail as evil marks the course of history. The church will be raptured and saints will be resurrected with an immediate return of Christ to the earth. Armageddon will be fought, Satan will be bound, and a literal 1000-year reign of Christ will begin on the earth. Unlike dispensationalism, the temple will not be rebuilt. After the 1000-years, Satan will be loosed, Judgment Day comes, and Eternity begins. Notable adherents were and are: Justin Martyr, Iraneus, Tertullian, E.B. Elliot, Robert H. Gundry, George Elden Ladd, J. Barden Pane, and George Peters.
- Postmillennialism: The messianic “millennial” Kingdom was founded during the earthly ministry of Christ in fulfillment of Old Testament expectations. The essence of the Kingdom is redemptive and spiritual. The redeemed of the Lord act in the world to transform human culture. It anticipates a time in history where the gospel will have a worldwide influence and effect. The Kingdom begins small but grows to become very large with a long era of righteousness, peace, and gospel dominance. Satan was bound at the cross and cannot prevent the spread of the gospel as a result. The Great Tribulation was the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Christ will return physically at the end of history to initiate Judgment Day and Eternity. Notable adherents were and are: Eusibius, Athanasius, Augustine, J.A. Alexander, O.T. Alice, John Calvin, Greg Bahnsen, Robert L. Dabny, John Jefferson Davis, Charles Hodge, Ian Murray, Gary North, John Owen, James Thornwell, B.B. Warfield, Kenneth Gentry, and the Puritans.
Explication of Biblical, Postmillennial Eschatology
The Edenic Expectation
- Creation and consummation are intricately related (Revelation 4:11, Romans 11:36).
- Man is to act as ruler over the created order (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 4:17-22).
- Despite fallen nature, men have exercised dominion (Genesis 9, Psalm 8:4-6, Hebrews 2:5-8).
- Genesis 3:15 depicts the victory of the redeemer over the deceiver.
- 1 John 3:8 says that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil.
- Hebrews 2:14 and Colossians 2:14-15 indicate that Christ has conquered and is destroying Satan.
The Patriarchal & Mosaic Expectations
- Genesis 12:2-3, Genesis 13:14-16, Genesis 15:5, Genesis 16:10, Genesis 22:17-18, Genesis 26:4 all indicate that through Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.
- Genesis 22:17 says that the seed of Abraham will possess the gate of their enemies. Galatians 3:29 says that the church is the seed of Abraham.
- Romans 4:13 says we (as Abraham’s seed) are heirs of the world through faith.
- Genesis 49:8-10 says that the Messiah will gain the obedience of the people.
- Numbers 14:16-21 says that all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.
- Numbers 24:17-19 says that the Messiah will have dominion and conquer His enemies.
- Remember the power of God’s prophetic word in Isaiah 55:11 and Isaiah 46:10!
- Psalm 2 says that the nations may rage but that the Messiah will rule from heaven. The earth and all nations are thus given to the Messiah. Acts 13:32-34 confirms this.
- Psalm 72 is a psalm concerning the prosperity of the Kingdom of the Messiah. Because it says, “as long as the sun and moon endure”, it is not speaking of anything post-historical.
- Psalm 110 speaks of the victorious dominion of the Kingdom of the Messiah.
- Isaiah 2 speaks of the cessation of war “in (during) the last days”.
- According to Acts 2:16-17, the last days began in the 1st century.
- 1 Corinthians 10:11 says that the “ends of the age” came upon 1st century people.
- Hebrews 1:1-2 says that “in these last days” God speaks through His son Jesus. This was written in the 1st century.
- Hebrews 9:26 says that Christ appeared “once for all at the end of the ages” to put an end to sin through His sacrifice on the cross.
- Isaiah 2 says that the Lord’s house will be established on Zion. The Hebrew word order emphasizes “established” by saying, “Established shall be the house of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for established is “kun” and it implies permanent duration.
- Hebrews 12:22 says that we, as Christians, have already come to Mount Zion, the heavenly city. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:28 states that we have received an unshakable (established) Kingdom.
- Remember: Mount Zion = The Temple = The Body of Christ
- 1 Corinthians 3, 1 Corinthians 6, 2 Corinthians 6, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2
- Isaiah 2:21 says that all nations will flow into the Kingdom. “Come let us go” implies ongoing evangelism. “He shall teach us His ways” implies ongoing discipleship.
- Isaiah 2:3-4 says that the Law of God shall go out and govern and war will cease because of it. This gospel victory is not gained by the imposition of the sword but instead by the laying aside of the sword.
- Isaiah 9:6-7 states that the Messianic government of Christ began at His birth and it will forever increase in strength, resulting in everlasting peace.
- Jeremiah 3:16-17 states that the Ark of the Covenant will be forgotten and that all nations will be gathered together before the Throne.
- Jeremiah 31:33-34 states that the Law of God will be written upon the hearts of God’s people and all shall know the Lord in the New Covenant.
- Jeremiah 48:47, Jeremiah 49:6, Jeremiah 49:39 state that the enemies of God will become His servants.
- Daniel 2:34-45 states that the stone cut without hands is the indestructible Kingdom of God and it will smash the empires and gradually but surely grow into an everlasting mountain that fills the whole earth.
- Daniel 7:13-14 depicts the ascension of Christ to the throne of God, in which He is given an indestructible Kingdom and dominion over all peoples.
- Amos 9:11-15, Micah 4:1-3, Micah 5:2-4, Micah 7:16-17, Habakkuk 2:14-20, Haggai 2:7, Zechariah 9:9-10, Ezekiel, 47:1-12, Malachi 1:11, and Malachi 3:1 all indicate the ever-increasing dominion and rule of the Kingdom of the Messiah.
- These passages are not above and beyond history. They are inter-advental, pre-consummational events (they occur before the return of Christ). In some of these passages there is evidence of opposition, conversion, death, sin, and national distinctions. For instance, in Isaiah 65:17-20, it sounds like eternity until birth, aging, death, sinners, and the curse are mentioned.
New Covenantal Expectation
- Luke 1:32-33 speaks of the Messianic throne and the eternal Kingdom of Christ.
- Luke 1:47-48 says that all generations will pay homage. 1:51 says that the proud will be scattered. 1:52 says that rulers will be brought down. 1:53 says that the hungry will be fed. 1:54 says that all these things will be done through His people in keeping with the Abrahamic covenant (1:55).
- Luke 1:68-71 speaks of deliverance from enemies.
- Luke 1:78-79 speaks of a sunrise upon those in darkness.
- Romans 13:11-13 speaks of the light of Christ shining in the world through His people: the night is gone and the day has finally come.
- 1 John 2:8 says that the darkness is currently passing away.
- John the Baptist announced the advent of the Kingdom in Matthew 3:2.
- In Mark 1:14-15, right after His baptism, Jesus preached, “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom is here!”
- Matthew 12:28 reveals that the Kingdom comes in every situation that the enemy is conquered.
- Mark 9:1 states that the Kingdom came in power in the lifetime of Christ’s disciples.
- John 4:21-23 speaks of worship being extended everywhere outside the walls of Jerusalem.
- Matthew 21:33 and following, as well as Matthew 23:31 and following speak of the shaking of the Kingdom of Israel resulting in the saints possessing the Kingdom.
- Matthew 28:18-20 is the Great Commission in which Jesus says that all authority is given to Him and thus worldwide evangelism will become a result of it. Christ has all authority and that means every realm of authority that humans can think of and more. The Great Commission breathes Gospel victory.
- Matthew 12:26-29 states that Satan has been bound and Christ is plundering his kingdom.
- John 12:31 states that the god of this world (Satan) has been cast out.
- Colossians 2:15 states that Satan has been publicly disgraced and God has triumphed over him.
- Hebrews 2:14 and 1 John 3:8 state that Satan and his works are being destroyed by the power of the cross.
- 1 John 4:3-4 says that the presence of God in Christians is far more powerful than Satan.
- John 16:33 says that Christ has overcome the world.
- Ephesians 1:19-21, Philippians 2:10, and Romans 14:11 say that Christ has received a name that is above all names.
- Romans 1:3-4 says that Jesus is the Son of God with power as a result of His resurrection.
- Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus is the Ruler over the kings of the earth.
Coronation & Enthronement
- Psalm 110, Matthew 22:44, Matthew 26:64, Mark 12:36, Revelation 3:21 state that Christ is enthroned right now.
- Acts 2:30-33 states that David looked ahead to “the Resurrection” of Christ as the establishment of the eternal Messianic Kingdom.
- Ephesians 4:8-11 states that the ascension of Christ has bound captivity itself.
- Romans 8:34 states that Christ is currently interceding for us from the throne of God.
- 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 states that Christ’s resurrection results in the Resurrection of all men right before “the end”.
- 1 Corinthians 15:24 states that the end comes only after God has put an end to all rule, authority, and power.
What about the Jews?
- Isaiah 19:19-25 says that Israel will be relegated to the level of their enemies resulting in equal favor for everyone.
- Zechariah 9:7 says that the Philistines will become equal with Israel.
- Matthew 8:11-12 says that many in Israel will be cast out of the Kingdom while the Gentiles are invited in.
- Matthew 21:43 states that the Kingdom was taken from Israel and given to the church.
- Matthew 23:38 and 24:34 state that the temple would be permanently desolated.
- Galatians 3:7,29 state that we, the Church, are the seed of Abraham.
- Philippians 3:3 states that Christians are the circumcision.
- 1 Peter 2:9 (from Exodus 19:6) states that Christians are the royal priesthood.
- Galatians 6:16 states that the church is the Israel of God.
- Ephesians 2:12 and following indicate that Jews and Gentiles are on equal footing with God.
- Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 indicate that the Jewish community by and large in the 1st century had become a “synagogue of Satan” (because of their rejection of the Messiah).
- Yet Romans 11 indicates that the Jews will eventually be converted unto Christ.
- Romans 11:12 says that the fullness of the Jews will be converted.
- Romans 11:15 says that the world will be reconciled to Christ.
- Romans 11:25 says that the mass conversion of the Gentiles is a mystery revealed.
- Romans 11:26 says that all of Israel will be saved.
- All these verses declare that racial/ethnocentric discrimination is gone.
- John 1:29 says that Christ is “taking away the sin of the world”.
- 1 John 4:14 says that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
- John 3:16-17 says that the world will be saved through Christ.
- 1 John 2:2 says that Jesus is the propitiation (literally: a deflecting shield) for the sins of the whole world.
- 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that Jesus is reconciling (bringing back) the world to God.
- 1 John 3:5 says that Jesus is bearing away the sins of His people.
- John 12:32 says that Christ is drawing all men to himself.
- 1 Timothy 2:6 says that Christ is a ransom for all.
The Greek word for “world” is “kosmos” which literally means “order”. The verbal form of “kosmos” means “to clean up, to put in order”. It appears in Matthew 12:44 in which God cleans up the inward spirit of a man after a demon has left. “Kosmos” is also a word for “adornment” and is used in Revelation 21:2, 1 Timothy 2:9, and 1 Peter 3:5. Essentially, “kosmos” is the opposite of “chaos”. Thus, the “kosmos” is a well-ordered, beautifully adorned universe (Acts 17:24). The word “world” is not speaking of the mass of all humanity; rather, it speaks of the orderly, beautiful system of men & things the way God intended it to be.
The Resurrection and Consummation
There is no ecumenical creed that says anything about the 1000-year reign of Christ, two resurrections, or two judgments. The Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Council of Constantinople, the Athanasian Creed, the Tetrapolitan Confession, the 1st & 2nd Confessions of Basil, the 2nd Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Orthodox Confession of 1642, the Westminster Standards, the 39 Articles of the Church of England, and the Augsburg Confession only speak of one resurrection. All assert that the Resurrection will take place (both of the righteous and unrighteous) at the end of history at the physical coming of Christ.
There are many comings of God in Scripture:
- John 14:16-18 speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
- Revelation 3:20 speaks of Christ coming in fellowship with believers.
- John 14:3 speaks of Christ coming to receive believers after death.
- Daniel 7:13 speaks of Christ coming to God’s throne through His ascension.
- Isaiah 19:1 speaks of God coming in judgment on the kingdoms of the earth.
- Matthew 26:64 speaks of Christ coming in judgment on Israel.
- Acts 1:9-11 speaks of Christ coming physically at the end of history.
- Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:39-43, Matthew 24:36-51, 1 Corinthians 11:26, 1 Corinthians 15:23-24, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Philippians 3:20-21, Colossians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Titus 2:13, Hebrew 9:28, and Revelation 20:9 also speak of the comings of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:23-24 says that the Resurrection will occur right before the end of history.
- This resurrection will be a physical resurrection of men.
- Angels have spiritual bodies (Psalm 104:4, Hebrews 1:7, Hebrews 1:13-14) while men have physical bodies (Genesis 2:7).
- Christ was resurrected in the same body in which He died (Matthew 28:6, John 20:4-11, John 30:15, Luke 24:39, John 20:27, Revelation 5:6, John 20:17, Matthew 28:9).
- Job 19:23-27, Isaiah 36:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Daniel 12:2, John 5:28, 1 Corinthians 15:23, Colossians 1:18, Philippians 3:10-11, Revelation 1:5, 1 Corinthians 15:28, and 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 all speak of the physical resurrection.
- 1 Corinthians 15:23 says that Christ is the first-fruits of the Resurrection. The first-fruits indicate the coming of a bountiful harvest.
- Luke 24:31 and following, John 20:13 and following, John 21:7, and Acts 1:9-11 all indicate that the resurrected body will have supernatural substance.
- Romans 8:11 says that life will be given to our mortal bodies by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Philippians 3:20-21 and John 14:19 both parallel by presenting the paradigm of Christ resurrecting our bodies into the likeness of His resurrected body. Resurrection does not imply recreation at all.
- John 6:39-40 says that this resurrection will occur on “the last day” (of history).
- Matthew 13:29-30 says that there will be a harvest of the wheat and tares (righteous and unrighteous) simultaneously at the end of history.
- Acts 24:15 says that there will be one resurrection of the just and unjust.
- John 5:28-29 says that all in the grave will hear and come forth.
- In 1 Corinthians 15, the Resurrection is the destruction of death (the final enemy of God).
The Eternal State
John 14:1-3, Job 19:27, Psalm 17:15, John 17:24, Ephesians 5:27, Romans 8:21, Hebrews 12:23, 1 John 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and Hebrews 4:9 all speak of heaven and its qualities.
Only a small number of church fathers deny the doctrine of hell. There are four basic views on hell:
- Universalism: All will be saved in the end without any suffering.
- Restorationism: All will be saved after a time of suffering for the unrighteous.
- Annihilationism: The damned will suffer and eventually cease to exist.
- Eternal Torment: The damned will suffer conscious tormet for eternity.
The New Earth
- Scripture speaks of the earth as being permanent (Psalm 78:69). But, the Scripture also speaks of the earth as being temporary (Isaiah 51:6, Psalm 102:26, Hebrews 1:11).
- This tension is resolved in that the universe will be cleansed by fire and we will possess a renewed, physical world in eternity (2 Peter 3:10-13).
- What we do now on earth has eternal impact in that we will inherit responsibilities and things in the new earth to come (Matthew 25:21).
The Long-haul to the Consummation
- 2 Peter 3:3-9 speaks of the gradual but sure working of God over a long period of time before the Consummation takes place. Peter even compares it to the long period of time that has transpired since the creation of the world (2 Peter 3:5). He asserts that though scoffers will continue to scoff for all history until His coming, God will certainly bring all of history to a close at His return.
- 2 Peter 3:9 asserts the core reason of why Christ’s return will take so long: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” In essence, history tarries because of God’s sublime patience, and it will not be complete until the last of the lost sheep come into the Kingdom.
The Great Tribulation
- The Great Tribulation is mentioned in Matthew 24:21, Revelation 2:22, and Revelation 7:14.
- Matthew 24:34 says that the Great Tribulation would be fulfilled in the generation of Christ’s disciples. He says this with two, emphatic attention-getters: “verily” and “I say to you”.
- Matthew 23:29-37 says that the Scribes and Pharisees are filling up the measure of their guilt so that upon them may come “all the righteous blood shed in the land”. Christ says, “all these things will come on ‘this’ generation”. He then immediately launches into a lament over Jerusalem.
- John 1:11 and John 19:15 state that Christ was rejected by Israel and their guilt was upon them.
- Matthew 23:37-38 stated that the temple would be destroyed—which occurred in 70 AD.
- Matthew 24:15-18 and Luke 21:20-21 are parallel passages concerning the “abomination that causes desolations”. Luke interprets this Hebraic phrase for his Gentile audience by translating it as “Jerusalem surrounded by armies”. The “abomination that causes desolations” was the Roman Army that surrounded Jerusalem in AD 70 and destroyed it—including the temple.
- Matthew 24:16 states that Judea would be the location of the Great Tribulation.
- Matthew 24 and 1 John 2:18 speak of antichrists arising. “Anti” means “in the place of” in Greek. Thus, “antichrist” means “in the place of Christ” or “false messiah”. According to the Romans historian Josephus, numerous antichrists arose between the time of Christ’s ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
- Matthew 24:6 speaks of “wars and rumors or wars”. In the time of Christ, Rome was engulfed in peace under the reign of Caesar Augustus. Jesus was saying that in this time of peace, when you begin hearing of wars and rumors of wars, be warned that the Great Tribulation draws near.
- Acts 11:28 speaks of a massive famine in the region of Judea, confirming Matthew 24:7.
- In Acts 16:26 a massive earthquake occurs, confirming Matthew 24:7.
- In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 the persecution of the saints fills up the measure of God’s wrath.
- In 2 Timothy 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:16 there is an indication of Christians defecting and falling away, confirming Matthew 24:10.
- Matthews 24:14 speaks of the gospel being preached in all of the inhabited earth. The Greek word here for “inhabited earth” is “oikoumene” (ecumene). It is best conveyed in English as “the civilized world”. This word referred to the Roman Empire and not the entire world. For instance, in Luke 2:1 it says that Caesar taxed the “oikoumene”. In Acts 2:5 it says that every nation of the “oikoumene” were present at Pentecost. Romans 1:8 says that the faith was spoken of in the entire “oikoumene”. Colossians 1:6,23 says that the gospel was preached to the entire “oikoumene”.
- Matthew 24:21 speaks of a great tribulation, the likes of which has never been seen since the beginning of the world and never again shall be. “Never again shall be” is an emphatic, prophetic parlance present in the Old Testament (Exodus 11:6, Ezekiel 5:9). The Great Tribulation was the horrific destruction of Judea from 67-70 AD by civil war and the Roman army.
- Matthew 24:27 speaks of the destructive power of lightning and compares it to the coming of Christ in judgment upon Jerusalem.
- Matthew 24:29 parallels with the imagery of Isaiah 13:1,10-13,17,19 in which Babylon is judged. This imagery is another prophetic parlance concerning judgment.
- Matthew 24:31 consists of a loud trumpet blast announcing the year of Jubilee and the gathering together of the saints of God. It confirms Luke 4:17-21 in which the year of Jubilee (the Lord’s favor) is declared by Christ.
- For a deeper understanding of the prophecy of Matthew 24, read more here.
The Book of Revelation
There are four views of the book of Revelation:
- Futurist: Everything in it is related to the consummation of history.
- Historicist: It indicates eras of church history and presents a schematic for a cycle of events throughout history.
- Idealist: It speaks of the overarching theme of good overcoming evil.
- Preterist: The majority of it deals with past events, specifically God’s destructive judgment upon 1st-century Jerusalem.
Dating of the Book of Revelation: Two Views
- 95-96 AD during the reign of Domitian Caesar.
- 64-65 AD during the reign of Nero Caesar.
The evidence appears to indicate that it was written during the reign of Nero Caesar:
- Internal evidence in the book itself indicates that the temple was still standing when it was written (Revelation 11:1-2).
- The “holy city” spoken of in Revelation is Jerusalem (Isaiah 48:2, Isaiah 52:1, Daniel 9:24, Nehemiah 11, Matthew 4:5, Matthew 27:53). Revelation 11:8 indicates that the great city was Jerusalem, the city where our Lord was crucified (Luke 9:22, Luke 12:32, Luke 17:11, Luke 19:28). Jerusalem was still standing in the reign of Nero, not during the reign of Domitian.
- The name of Jerusalem is withheld in Revelation because it means “foundation of peace” and it was anything but peaceful during and after the earthly ministry of Christ.
- Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2 parallel exactly, indicating that the holy city is Jerusalem. The 42 months of its trampling by the Gentiles fits with the historical record of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Vespasian invaded Judea in Spring of AD 67 and the temple was finally destroyed in September AD 70 (42 months later).
- Revelation consistently presents a contrast between the Old Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem (the harlot and the bride).
- In Revelation 17:9, an angel interprets part of the vision to John indicating that the seven heads of the beast are seven hills, which the beast sits on. Scholars agree that this speaks of the Seven Hills of Rome.
- Revelation 17:10 speaks of seven kings: five have fallen, one is, and one will come for a short time. This can be interpreted as the seven emperors of Rome: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Galba. If the sixth king was in power at the writing of Revelation, then Nero Caesar was that king. Fulfilling this verse, Galba remained in power for only 6 months after the death of Nero.
- At the writing of the book of Revelation, it is evident that Christianity was still woven together with Judaism. In the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, they remind the Jews that 70 AD was God’s judgment against Israel and the moment when Christianity became completely separate from Judaism.
- External evidence indicates the influence of Revelation upon several writings before the reign of Domitian Caesar. For instance, the Shepherd of Hermus was written in 85 AD and refers to several elements in Revelation.
Theme of Revelation
- Audience Relevance: It was written to seven churches (Revelation 1:4).
- John wrote to be understood (Revelation 1:3).
- They were already in the tribulation (Revelation 1:9).
- John speaks of all the events of Revelation as “at hand” (Revelation 1:3) and “shortly to take place” (Revelation 2:16, 3:11, 22:6-7,12,20).
- The theme of Revelation is found in Revelation 1:7 (the coming of Christ in judgment) and parallels exactly with Matthews 24:29-30 (which speaks of judgment on Jerusalem). Thus, the theme is God’s judgment upon Jerusalem. John adopts Old Testament prophetic imagery and parlance (judgment against Babylon) to describe God’s judgment upon Jerusalem.
- Psalm 18:7 and following, Psalm 104:3, and Isaiah 19:1 all speak of the “clouds of heaven”. This was a prophetic parlance concerning “judgment” in the Old Testament.
- Matthew 21:40 and following indicate that Christ will come in judgment upon Israel for rejecting Him.
- John 19:15, Acts 2:22-223, 2:36, 3:13-15, 5:30, 7:52, 1 Thessalonians 2:16 all speak of Israel being responsible for the crucifixion of Christ.
- The harlot in Revelation 17:3 is Jerusalem according to Revelation 14:8 in light of Revelation 11:8.
- It says that in Jerusalem was found all the “blood of the saints” (Revelation 18:24). This parallels with Matthew 23:33-35 in which Jesus accuses Israel of murdering the prophets and righteous men of old. Matthew 27:25 places the blood of the Messiah upon Israel as well.
Comparative & Contrasting Elements in Revelation (e.g. “Adulterous Harlot” vs. “Chaste Bride”)
- Written on the forehead: “Mother of Harlots” vs. “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36).
- Historic Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8) vs. Spiritual Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2)
- Jerusalem Below (Galatians 4:25) vs. Jerusalem Above (Hebrews 12:22)
- Judgment of the Harlot (Revelation 17:1) vs. Marriage of the Bride (Revelation 21:9)
- “Harlot” (Revelation 17:1) vs. “Holy” (Revelation 21:10)
- “Wilderness” (Revelation 17:3) vs. “Mountain” (Revelation 21:10)
- “Colorful” (Revelation 17:4) vs. Pure “White” (Revelation 19:8, 21:11)
- The Old Jerusalem was called “Sodom, Egypt” (Revelation 11:8) just as in Isaiah 1.
Drama of Revelation: Vivid and Covenantal
- Israel is the wife of God (Jeremiah 3:14, Ezekiel 16:8, Isaiah 50:1, Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:20, Jeremiah 31:32).
- Deuteronomy 31:28 addresses what to do when the covenant is breached: witnesses must be called.
- Israel had become an adulterer (Isaiah 1:20-21, Jeremiah 2:2, Ezekiel 6:9, Hosea 1:2).
- The Prophets came as God’s lawyers bringing the terms of the covenant to bear on Israel’s unfaithfulness (Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah 1:21, Hosea 4:1, Micah 6:2).
- Revelation presents the divorce of God from Israel and the just punishment thereof.
- The throne of God is mentioned 42 times in Revelation out of the 62 times “throne” is mentioned in the New Testament. The imagery of the throne is heavily judicial.
- Revelation 5 presents a seven-sealed scroll which parallels with the divorce decree in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:8. Its seven seals indicate the seven-fold judgment of God upon those who break the covenant (Leviticus 26:18).
- The scroll with writing on the front and back in Revelation 5 parallels with the scroll in Ezekiel 2 in which lamentation and destruction is declared.
- Revelation 18:9 states that Jerusalem had committed “fornication with the kings of the earth”. This is confirmed by John 19:15 in which Israel cries out, “We have no king but Caesar!”
- Leviticus 20:10 states that adultery is a capital crime and punishable by stoning. Revelation 16:21 indicates that Jerusalem would be stoned with talent-weight stones. Josephus in Wars of the Jews 5.6.3 states that the Roman legions launched white talent-weight stones from catapults into Jerusalem during its siege.
- Leviticus 21:19 requires that harlots be burned with fire. Revelation 17:16 indicates that the harlot Jerusalem was burned with fire. Josephus recounted how the Romans burned the city of Jerusalem and the temple to the ground.
The Millennium of Revelation 20
- Revelation 20:1-6 is the only mention of the millennium in all of Scripture. It should be our last stop in interpreting prophecy and not our first.
- 1000 years is a perfectly rounded number (10x10x10)
- 10 is the number of quantitative perfection (Base 10, 10 fingers, 10 toes, etc.)
- 10x10x10 is three-fold perfection (trinity, etc.)
- The 1000 years of Revelation 20 is no more literal than:
- Psalm 50:10 – God owns cattle on 1000 hills
- Deuteronomy 1:11 – Israel multiplied by 1000
- Deuteronomy 7 – God loves to 1000 generations
- Psalm 84:10 – David desires to have one day in God’s courts more than 1000 years elsewhere
- 1000 was pragmatically used in Hebrew to indicate a huge expanse of time (or size). [Postmillennialism views the millennium as an undetermined, large expanse of time between the advent of the Kingdom in the ministry of Christ and His return at the end of history when the Kingdom is consummated. Thus, Christ returns after the millennium (post-millennium).]
- Revelation 20:1 indicates that John was seeing a symbolic vision and not a literal physical event.
- Matthew 12:29 confirms that Satan is bound by Christ. Thus, the angel that binds Satan in Revelation 20 is Christ.
- Christ appearing in angelic form is not uncommon in Scripture. Jesus appears frequently as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.
- The Angel of Revelation 10:1 parallels with the description of Christ in Revelation 1:13-15.
- The Angel of Revelation 20 has keys in His hand just as Christ does in Revelation 1:18.
- Christians are ruling and reigning now with Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-22, Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:1-2).
- The binding of Satan was initiated during the ministry of Christ (Matthew 12), secured in Christ’s death & resurrection (Colossians 2:15), evidenced in the collapse of Jerusalem, and continues in the Christian era.
- His binding does not mean he is totally inactive just as the binding of demons in Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 doesn’t make them inactive either. The binding is a binding to the will of God giving the gospel free reign and preventing the enemy from deceiving the ethnicities (“ethnos”) of the world.
- Revelation 20:7-9 indicates that right before the end Satan will be loosed and destroyed.
- 2 Kings 17:29, Psalm 96:3-5, Luke 4:6, Acts 14:6, Acts 17:30, Acts 26:17-18 indicate that all the nations of the earth were in bondage to idolatry before Christ came. Yet as Christianity spreads, we see clear evidence that idolatry diminishes.
- Revelation 20:4 indicates the presence of both martyred saints and persevering saints. The first resurrection is a spiritual resurrection of believers entering into salvation (Augustine taught this). 1 John 3:14 and John 5:24-29 both indicate a spiritual resurrection and a later physical resurrection.
- Revelation 1:6 states that Christians are a kingdom of priests right now. This parallels with Revelation 20’s declaration.
Critique of Dispensationalism
- Dispensationalism originated in 1830 by John Nelson Darby in England. The dispensational system of thought did not exist in any writings before 1830.
- The Scofield Reference Bible popularized the dispensational system.
- In short, dispensationalism expects an earthly, political Kingdom of Christ. As such, the church is viewed as an aside (a paranthesis) in God’s plan for history and will ultimately end in apostasy, chaos, and failure.
There are three primary errors in the dispensational system:
- It claims that the Kingdom is future. Yet it is evident in Scripture that the Kingdom is now (Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 12:28, Mark 9:1, Colossians 1:13).
- It claims that the Kingdom is a future political entity. Yet it is evident in Scripture that it is spiritual by nature (Luke 17:20-21, John 18:36, Romans 14:17).
- It claims that Christ was humiliated a 2nd time by being banished to heaven and robbed of His “earthly” glory. It claims He must return to gain that glory. Yet Scripture teaches that Christ’s ascension into heaven was His exaltation (Ephesians 1:20, Philippians 2:9, 1 Peter 3:22).
- It claims that Christ will sit on the literal, earthly throne of David in the millennial Kingdom. But this is a severe, retrogressive condescension for Christ to exchange the throne of God for a human throne. Furthermore, Acts 2:29-35 asserts that David foresaw the Resurrection and exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the throne of God as the fulfillment of God’s promise to him that someone would always sit on his throne (1 Chronicles 17:11-15, Psalm 89:3-4, Psalm 132:11). Thus, it cannot be interpreted literally that Christ will sit on the physical throne of David, but that Christ, being of the royal lineage of David (Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12, 2 Timothy 2:8, Luke 1:69-70, Luke 1:31-33) now sits upon the throne of God for all eternity (Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-36, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Luke 22:69). In fact, 1 Chronicles 17:11-15 says that it is the throne of the Messiah that will be established forever, not the literal throne of David. Thus, the royal line of David is established forever with Christ sitting on the eternal throne of God.
- Dispensationalism further claims that at the end of the literal 1000-year Kingdom, the world will turn and revolt against Christ in a third humiliation. It paints Christ as a dismal failure (unable to truly redeem sinful men) in one of the worst, most heretical portrayals of Christ taught today.
- Dispensationalism claims that the church is a parenthesis and wholly unknown in the Old Testament. It further claims that the church is an aside to God’s plan for Israel.
- Ephesians 3:2-6 states that the church was not known to the prophets “as” it is now known. This means that it wasn’t fully understood by the prophets as it now is after Christ’s first coming. Furthermore, 3:5 states that it was not made known to the “sons of men”—being the wicked men of old.
- Romans 16:25-25 states that the writings of the prophets reveal the mystery of the gospel.
- Luke 24:44-47 states that all things must be fulfilled in Scripture concerning Christ “so that” the gospel may be preached. Thus, Christ fulfills Old Testament Scripture in order to proclaim the gospel.
- Ephesians 2:11-6, Galatians 3:28, and Colossians 2:11 all state that Jew & Gentile is no longer a distinction.
- Dispensationalism claims that once the church is taken out of the world and the Holy Spirit removed, only then will the Jews become saved. How is this possible without the Holy Spirit?
- It claims that the sacrificial system will be reestablished in the earthly Kingdom of Christ.
- This is a severe retrogression in that Scripture clearly teaches that we, as Christians, are the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:20-22). Furthermore, we now offer sacrifices of faith, praise, and devotion and not of animals (Romans 12:1, Philippians 2:17, Philippians 4:18, Hebrews 13:15).
- Dispensationalism is entirely oriented around a Zionistic philosophy that the Jews are superior. This contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture (Acts 10, Romans 2:28, Philippians 3:3, Galatians 3:7,29, Galatians 4:24,29, Galatians 6:15-16).
- Dispensationalism claims that in the millennium there will be both glorified, resurrected saints and sinful, mortal men cohabitating earth.
- Dispensationalism asserts that the church will end in defeat.
- This contradicts the teaching of Christ in His parables. For instance, the Mustard Seed Parable in Matthew 13:31-32 says that the Kingdom of God will start out as the tiniest of seeds and grow into an enormous tree where the birds flock. This imagery of the birds alighting in its branches is from the Old Testament and depicts peace and serenity (Psalm 104:12,17, Daniel 4:12, Ezekiel 31:3,6, Ezekiel 17:22-24). Dispensationalists try to claim that the tree is an evil monstrosity but thus unwittingly assert, “The Kingdom of God is like an evil monstrosity”.
- Matthew 13:33 teaches of the Kingdom being like leaven that intensifies through an enormous amount (likely 50 lbs) of flour. Yet dispensationalism tries to claim that leaven is evil and thus unwittingly assert that the “Kingdom is like evil”. Leaven is not always associated with evil in Scripture. For instance, in Leviticus 7:13 and 23:17, God commands offerings to be given to the Lord with leaven in them.
- Matthew 7:21, 8:11, 13:44, 18:3, Mark 1:15, John 3:3-5 also teach of the Kingdom of God as being large and accessible.
Daniel’s 70 Weeks (Daniel 9:24-27)
- 70 weeks indicates a period of 490 years (70×7 years).
- Daniel had Jeremiah’s 70-year prophecy in mind when he wrote it (Daniel 9:2).
- Daniel also had passages like Genesis 29:27-28, Numbers 14:34, and Ezekiel 4:6 in mind concerning the notion of a day being as a year to God.
- It states that from the command to restore Jerusalem by King Cyrus to the introduction of the Messiah at His baptism, there would be a period of 490 years. This time-span was perfectly fulfilled when Jesus began His ministry.
- Daniel 9:24 deals with events leading up to the 1st advent of the Messiah. Six infinitival phrases lead up to the advent of Christ:
- To finish transgression
- To seal up sin
- To make reconciliation for iniquity
- To bring in everlasting righteousness
- To seal up both vision and prophecy
- To anoint the most holy
- “To finish transgression,” indicates the filling up to the full of the transgression of Israel. This was accomplished when Israel rejected the Messiah.
- “To seal up sin,” indicates that the sin of Israel would be reserved for judgment. Notice that it occurs during the 70 weeks, between the 69th and 70th.
- “To make reconciliation for iniquity,” uses the Hebrew word “kathar” which means, “to atone”. This atonement was accomplished at the cross (Romans 3:21-22).
- “To seal up both vision and prophecy,” speaks of Christ fulfilling the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 18:31, 24:44, Acts 3:18).
- “To anoint the most holy,” speaks of Christ’s baptism and His anointing as “the Holy One” (Luke 1:35, 4:34,41, Mark 1:9-11).
- In Mark 1:14-15, Jesus comes declaring, “the time is fulfilled!” What time? The only reference to a time for the coming of the Messiah is Daniel’s 70 weeks. Thus, the six infinitival phrases leading up the Messiah were fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Christ.
- Seven weeks transpires in verse 35 after which 62 weeks transpires. It then says that after the 69th week, the Messiah is “cut off” (Dan 9:26). “After” the 69th week would be the 70th week and the phrase “cutting off” is a Hebrew word that indicates a violent death (Leviticus 7:20).
- In Daniel 9:27 the Messiah makes a covenant with many for a week, which indicates the three year ministry of Christ in which He instituted the New Covenant (Luke 1:72, Ephesians 2:12, Hebrews 7:22).
- It then states that the Messiah will bring an end to sacrifice, which was accomplished on the cross by Christ (Hebrews 10).
- Two events then occur after the 70th week: the Messiah is cut off and Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed as a consequence.
- Dispensationalists acknowledge that Daniel’s 70 weeks speaks of the coming of the Messiah, but they try to insert a gap between the 69th week and 70th week in order to place the 70th week entirely in the future. This results in dispensationalists using “Procrustean bed logic” in trying to stretch the timeframe to fit their system. They claim that the Messiah is cut off in the 69th week, but the Scripture clearly states that it is “after” the 69th week. The 70 weeks is a unified whole, especially considering that Daniel asserts: “it is decreed”.
- 1 Peter 1:10-12 indicates that when the prophets were inquiring into the timeframe of the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ (i.e., Daniel’s 70 Weeks), God revealed to them that they were ministering to the future church to come and the glorious gospel of Christ.
The Man of Sin (2 Thessalonians 2)
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1 speaks of the “coming” of our Lord in judgment upon a temporal, earthly system. The Greek word used is “parousia” which is the present participle of the Greek verb “to be near”. “Parousia” literally translates as “presence” and is used throughout Greek Scriptures to indicate the coming of God in judgment. This is different from the Greek word “elthi” used in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 which indicates a literal, physical “appearing”. Thus, Paul is speaking of a different kind of coming in chapter 2 than in chapter 1. In Chapter 1 it speaks of Christ’s coming resulting in eternal destruction, while Chapter 2 speaks of Christ’s “presence” resulting in temporal destruction.
- The “gathering together unto Him” parallels with Matthew 24:31. The verb used is “episinigogei” which derives from the Hebrew word “synagogue”. It literally means to gather together in fellowship. This “gathering together” was Christianity’s separation from Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
- Yet 2:3 says that the coming of Christ in judgment cannot happen until the man of sin (or of lawlessness) is revealed.
- The “great falling away” spoken of is the Greek word “apostasia” or “apostasy”. This word is used to speak of either political or spiritual apostasy. Josephus, in his War of the Jews, writing in the 1st century, spoke of the Jewish War against Rome as being an “apostasia”. Thus, this “great falling away” can indicate a political apostasy from Rome and not necessarily a spiritual apostasy in the church.
- According to the writings of Augustine and other church fathers, this man of sin was Nero Caesar. Paul likely concealed his name here so as not to appear seditious and risk further persecution from Rome.
- It says in 2:6 that God was “presently restraining the man of sin”. This indicates that the antichrist was alive when Paul was writing. In fact, 2 Thessalonians was written around 53 AD when Nero was a teenager. Interestingly, Claudius Caesar was in power at the time and “Claudius” means “the restrainer” in Latin. Essentially, while Claudius lived, Nero was restrained.
- 2:7 indicates that the “mystery of lawlessness” was “currently working”. Nero’s mother, Agrippina, was plotting at that time to murder Claudius (her husband and uncle) in order to enable her son Nero to ascend to the throne.
- 2:4 speaks of the man of sin exalting himself above every god, which is what Nero did during his reign. It then says, “so as to sit as God in the temple of God”. The Greek phrase here is “hostei” (“so as to”) plus the infinite verb “to sit”. This indicates a purpose intended and not a purpose accomplished. For instance, this grammatical structure is used in Luke 4:29 in which the people drove Jesus to the cliff “so as to cast Him down”. It was what they intended to do but it didn’t happen. Likewise, Nero intended to sit in the temple of God acting as though He were God but it didn’t happen because of the Jewish War against Rome.
- 2:9 speaks of the man of sin coming with false signs and miracles by the working of Satan. In fact, when emperors ascended to the throne in Rome, there were all sorts of false claims of miracles and signs associated with the advent of that emperor. Miracle worship was common in the Roman Empire at that time.
- Finally, it says that the Lord would kill the man of sin with His judgment coming (“parousia”). Nero inexplicably committed suicide during the middle of Rome’s war against the Jews.
Objections to Biblical, Postmillennial Eschatology Considered
Objection: World War I & World War II prove that the postmillennial hope of gospel triumph can’t be true.
Answer: Who won those wars? The allies won and the state of warfare has improved significantly since then. The international resolve since those wars has been: “Never again!”
Objection: Read the newspaper! It is evident the world is getting worse!
Answer: The newspaper is notoriously biased towards portraying only negative events. Good is rarely quantified in the media because good isn’t sensational and shocking.
Objection: History is declining.
Answer: Too narrow of a historical sample is used to assert this. Christianity has made great strides in history and we’re much better off today than so many past world systems. Remember, there is no specific time-frame for the consummation. History will progress and conditions will gradually improve until all things have been fulfilled.
Objection: Things today are worse than the first century!
Answer: So many places on earth know lasting peace. Generations of people born in America have never experienced war on their own soil. Medical technology and technological knowledge in general have improved the lives of the world’s population time and time again. Though things are far from perfect, we can see gradual and certain improvement in history since the 1st century. And though there are areas of the world in decline, no one can assert that they will only get worse from here. For all we know, they will get better.
Objection: The world is nowhere near close to such an optimistic hope.
Answer: The fact that Jesus hasn’t returned yet no more disproves the 2nd advent than the fact that because world conditions haven’t reached this optimistic hope yet means that it won’t occur in later history.
Objection: The imminent return of Christ is near!
Answer: Christ indicated in the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 that it would take a long time for Him to return. In fact, the wise virgins were the ones who prepared for the long haul and didn’t assume that He would return right away as the foolish virgins expected. For all we know, His return could be a thousand or more years to come.
Objection: The imminent coming of Christ spurs us to holiness.
Answer: The omnipresence of God should spur us to holiness. We should be holy at all times regardless of any sort of expectation about His return.
Objection: Postmillennialism rests on liberal foundations in the social gospel.
Answer: This is wrong by definition. What liberal do you know believes Jesus will return bodily and physically? Such an argument is historically wrong because the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Augustine, etc. all taught the postmillennial hope.
Objection: Total depravity undermines postmillennialism.
Answer: Are you saved? Then, which is more powerful: the fall of Adam or the Resurrection of Christ? Salvation by grace overcomes sin’s total depravity and not just for us individually, but for anyone in all of mankind who God wills to receive it. Who can honestly assert that large masses of humanity cannot be saved by this redeeming grace?
Objection: Matthew 7:13-14 indicates a narrow way to heaven.
Answer: Christ was speaking to His followers in conditions that prevailed in the world around Him. At that time, more people were headed to destruction than salvation. Christ’s purpose was to spur His disciples on to do the work to reverse the trend. This is an ethical prod, not a prophetic utterance. If it were indicating a permanent situation then it would contradict Scriptures that teach of masses of humanity being saved (Revelation 7:9, Isaiah 2, Matthew 8:11).
Objection: Matthew 13:36-39 speaks of the futility of Christ’s Kingdom with the imagery of the wheat and tares. Thus, evil people will always be around.
Answer: The parables of the mustard seed and leaven teach that the Kingdom begins small and ends gigantic. Postmillennialism does not teach universalism. It teaches that Christianity will dominate in world affairs, but it does not teach 100% conversion. There will be sinners to the end. This parable teaches that Christ will come back to a wheat field, not a field of tares.
Objection: Luke 18:8 asks, “Will the Son of Man find faith in the earth?”
Answer: The answer is yes! It’s a question! The original Greek anticipates ambiguity. Think of a mother prodding her child, “When I come back, will your room be clean!?” Remember that Luke 18:1 says to pray and not lose heart. Also, Luke 18:8 comes as a part of Jesus telling a story about a woman who persistently pesters a judge for justice. Thus, Luke 18:8 is prodding us to be like that woman in persistently seeking God in prayer.
Objection: 2 Timothy 3:1,13 teaches that evil will grow worse in time on earth.
Answer: This is talking of “some” bad times that will occur. It is not speaking of all of history. Paul is speaking to Timothy about what he is to expect in his day and age. It also says that “evil men” will go from bad to worse, not an increasing number of evil people. But in 2 Timothy 3:9 it states that these evil men will fall and make no further progress—their folly being evident to everyone.
Objection: Christianity is actually small because too few “so-called” Christians act like true Christians.
Answer: In 2012, there are over 2.1 billion Christians on earth who hail Jesus as their Lord. Since we are saved by grace and not by our works (actions), who is presumptuous enough to discount the faith of billions of Christians because they don’t “act” Christian? This would be asserting a gospel of works over and against a gospel of grace. Furthermore, if passionate Christians are to be distinguished from nominal Christians, who can logically assert that the number of passionate Christians isn’t growing?
Objections to postmillennial eschatology tend to be emotional and based in tradition. They take Scripture out of context or use wrong definitions of postmillennialism (e.g. utopianism, liberalism, etc.) Remember that from above, God sees all things as working together for the good of those who love Him. Yet from below, we tend to only see the negative like the mishmash on the opposite side of a cross-stitch.
In the end, pessimistic eschatological systems are rooted in:
- … the way we perceive the world around us: both from experience and secular media intake. We either experience evil in our own lives, becoming convinced that the rest of the world is evil, or we see evil taking place on the news and assume there is no good in the world.
- … the way in which we read and favor certain scriptures and force all other scriptures to fit in with our interpretation. Like a child assembling a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle without a picture guide, we tend to force certain pieces of prophecy together and thus never will see the whole picture of God’s plan as a result.
- … the way in which we interpret Scripture from books that we read. Much of pessimistic eschatology is transmitted and absorbed through books and tradition and not through in-depth scriptural study. Also, pop-culture, apocalyptic paranoia in much of the Western world tends to walk hand-in-hand with pessimistic eschatology creating a culture inclined towards its fanciful, futurist notions.
- … the way in which many people are completely unaware of historical events that fulfill much of the judgment prophecies of Scripture. If we don’t know history, we naturally apply such Scripture to imaginary future events.
Optimistic postmillennial eschatology is oriented around:
- … a holistic analysis of the entire Bible with focus on the overarching theme of redemption that permeates throughout.
- … the complete harmony of all Scripture (i.e. Scripture interprets Scripture).
- … a focus on 1st-century, historical events that make sense of many prophetic judgments in Scripture.
- … victorious Christian optimism over and against all forms of pessimism about the future.
Though optimistic postmillennial eschatology can never be proven absolutely true until Christ returns—just as in any system of eschatological interpretation—the overwhelming evidence of Christianity’s rapid expansion throughout history and even in our day and age (as church growth through missions and Bible translation expands rapidly throughout the world) appears to draw strong external evidence in its favor. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that a truly victorious Christian lifestyle plants its best roots in the rich and optimistic soil of the postmillennial hope. It is more than eschatology; it is a holistic worldview to live by. I pray you consider doing so as well.