The essence of the premillennialist position is that there will be an intermediate kingdom on earth before the full establishment of the eternal state. We are currently in the church age, which will be followed by the millennium/intermediate kingdom, followed by the full defeat of Satan, the beast, and his prophet, and then the eternal state will be ushered in. In sum, Jesus returns in Revelation 19:11, and all that follows is a sequence of events.
One of the most common critiques of this position is that premillennialists are focusing too much on one short passage of Scripture, basically missing the forest for the trees. The implication is that the millennium is an idea foreign to or not reinforced anywhere else in the rest of Scripture. Revelation 20 is extrapolated into a whole schema that then forces you to read the rest of the Bible a certain way, disregarding all other contexts.
But what if there were Old Testament passages that taught the future existence of an intermediate kingdom? Wouldn’t that then make Revelation 20 simply another example of progressive revelation, expanding on previous prophesies?
There are a few passages of Old Testament prophecy that seem to fit neither in the past, the present, or the eternal state. They speak to a future span of time when the Lord will reign on earth, in bodily form, for a limited period of time. But the way these (admittedly few) passages speak about that time still include sin and death. So we have the current reality of sin and death still having a presence while the Lord reigns on the earth. Those things mixed together don’t fit in the present (when Christ reigns from heaven), and they don’t fit in the eternal state (when there is no sin or death).
First, let’s look at Isaiah 24-27, which we’ve mentioned in previous posts (if you’re really into this, go ahead and take 10 minutes and read those chapters to get some context). Many people know that Daniel is partly an apocalypse, much like Revelation. But Isaiah also has passages that are considered an apocalypse, as well: chapters 24-25. It even has a label, “Isaiah’s Little Apocalypse.”
Verses 1-20 describe a judgment on the people of earth and the earth itself. The judgment is because people have “transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.” Verses 21-20 state that evil spirits will also be punished and “gathered together like prisoners in the dungeon, and will be confined in prison; and after many days they will be punished.” But chapter 25 says that God will provide a banquet for his people and “swallow up death for the last time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces."
Take notice of a pattern of tribulation, judgment, and kingdom, in sequential order.
Let’s take a step back to get even more context. Every year at Christmas we read Isaiah 9:6, which prophecies a son will be born and the government will rest on his shoulders. Isaiah 13-23 is all about God’s judgment on the nations. Isaiah 24-27 is God’s plan for restoring the nations, now with his Son to rule them. Chapter 26 even speaks of a resurrection that takes place during this time.
Isaiah 24-27 is even alluded to quite regularly in Revelation 19-21.
Isaiah 25 speaks of a lavish banquet; Revelation 19 speaks the marriage supper.
Isaiah 25 speaks of God swallowing death forever; Revelation 21 speaks of death being defeated.
Isaiah 25 speaks of God wiping tears from all faces; Revelation 21 speaks of God wiping away every tear.
Isaiah 26 speaks of the dead rising to life; Revelation 20 speaks of God’s people coming to life.
Isaiah 27 speaks of the serpent and dragon being punished; Revelation 20 speaks of the dragon and serpent being sent to the pit.
Whether or not we agree that both Isaiah and John are speaking of an intermediate kingdom, we must see that they are speaking about the same period of time. While we must say that Revelation 20 expands on what is prophesied in Isaiah’s little apocalypse, it seemingly harmonizes quite well without a lot of explanation. And the belief in an intermediate kingdom has a lot of explanatory power for how well the sequence of events lines up in both Isaiah’s apocalypse and John’s.
Isaiah 65 is another chapter that a period of time that is neither the present nor the age to come. Isaiah speaks of 100 years being a short life, and dying that young because of sin is considered a curse. There is an as-of-yet period of time when lifespans will increase dramatically, but sin and death still have a presence.
In the current age, a long life is 80 years, and sin and death are still present. Something happens that dramatically changes something that seems so natural, but it’s still distinct from the age to come. So in the present age, people can reasonably expect to live between 70 and 80 years. In the intermediate kingdom, that’s still considered infancy. In the age to come, death is eradicated.
Next week, we’ll look at a few shorter passages that speak to the future reality of an intermediate kingdom: Daniel 12 and Zechariah 8 & 14.
For now, are there other interpretations of Isaiah’s little apocalypse that reinforce either amillennialism or postmillennialism?
If so, what are they? Comment below!
While the millennium is only mentioned by name in Revelation 20, there are other passages that deal specifically with the end of the age, of which the millennium is a part. So today we’ll outline a couple of them to see if we can place the millennium correctly.
This passage is also known as the Olivet Discourse. The disciples comment on the greatness of the temple. Jesus replies that the temple will be destroyed again one day (vv.1-2).
The disciples ask Jesus when that will take place and what will signify his return and the end of the age. Jesus replies that many will mislead them and try to say that they are Jesus. There will be horrific events people misinterpret to be a sign of the end of the age. However, these mark the beginning, not the end (vv.3-8).
Then, there will be tribulation and persecution that leads many professing believers to recant their faith. More false prophets will come in Christ’s name. However, true believers will endure to the end and be saved while the gospel is preached to all nations. That tribulation, Jesus says, marks the end of the age (vv.9-14). It seems as though Jesus answers their last question first.
Jesus them zooms in on the destruction of the temple. It will be quite clear what is going on, and people will flee. That will also cause tribulation, but out of God’s mercy for the elect, it will have a predetermined end time. More people will claim that Christ has returned, but again, this marks the beginning and not the end (vv.15-28).
All tribulation ends, and the sign of Christ’s return couldn’t be more obvious. He’ll appear in the sky for all the world to see. At this time, Christ will gather his people (vv.29-31).
Jesus then gives an illustration of what he’s just said. In the same way a fig tree blossoms and is the evidence that summer is near, the end of tribulation and God’s people being caught up with Christ is the sign of the end of this age (vv.32-35).
Jesus then reinforces the importance of not being mislead about any of this. People will misinterpret the sign of his coming, claiming that it has happened. The truth is that only God the Father knows when all of this will take place. Therefore, we must always be alert and ready for tribulation to begin (vv.36-51).
So, let’s simplify this timeline:
1. Great tribulation begins. It will not last forever.
2. Christ returns after the tribulation and receives his people.
Matthew 25 expands upon this material, but Jesus does so in parable (the ten virgins, which is all about being ready for an undisclosed moment, and the talents, which is about God’s judgment). Matthew 25 ends with more on the final judgment, which takes place after the tribulation and return of Christ. This also comes to us in parable form (the separation of the sheep and the goats).
You might be asking, so where exactly is the millennium? In the context of Matthew 24-25, it must take place after Christ’s return to receive the elect. This would be the essence of the premillennial position.
Now let’s outline 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where the Lord’s return is also described.
Paul is comforting those Christians who have lost loved ones who were also believers. When Christ returns, the dead will be raised (vv.13-15). At that same time, he will descend with the angels, and the dead believers will be resurrected. The living believers will be changed. Together, all believers will meet Christ in the air (vv.16-18).
This passage is often used to describe an event known as the rapture. While it does describe believers meeting Christ in the air at his return, the notion of a secret, rather quiet disappearance of believers was essentially unknown until John Nelson Darby in the early 1800s. The consequence of inserting a new component to the Lord’s imminent return is the addition of multiple stages and phases that are seemingly quite absent from Scripture.
What Paul is teaching in this passage is the imminent return of Christ, and at that time, all believers will be with him from that point on. Call it a rapture if you’d like (after all, the original Greek for “caught up” is “raptura”), but it does not seemingly add another phase to Christ’s return. Christ returns, the dead in Christ are raised, and it is after this resurrection that we can place the millennium if we read Revelation 20 as a sequence of events.
So, I generally hold to the historic premillennial, posttribulational position. The return of Christ is not a multi-phase return, but a single event in which multiple things take place. I believe that Christ returns in Revelation 19:11 and everything that comes after is a description of a sequence of events. At his return, the dead are raised and the living are changed into their glorified bodies.
There are still yet passages to consider, but we're at the point where we need to start arguing for a position. How we interpret passages about the future of Israel and temple worship will also have a direct impact on how we understand the millennium.
I’m open to correction on certain points, but I believe dispensationalism falters far more than the historic premillennial position.
Let’s look at some Old Testament! See you next week.
Today we turn our attention to what’s distinctive about the third view of the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation 20: premillennialism. As a reminder, I am hoping to present each of the three views (postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism) with charity. I’m going to withhold my perspectives on these until later. Next week, we’ll start diving into particular passages and how these three approaches interpret those passages.
The premillennialist position holds that the vision of Revelation 20 is entirely in the future and is born out of a literary, grammatical, and historical interpretation of Scripture. In short, Revelation 20 presents a sequence of events where Christ returns to the earth in bodily form to institute his kingdom, of which a 1,000-year-reign is a part.
What makes premillennialism the more difficult perspective to grasp is the variety of perspectives within premillennialism, of which there are at least 4 to 5, depending on how one wants to break it down. But there are only 2 overarching categories of premillennialism. Some of the perspectives contradict aspects of the others, which adds to the complexity. I will try to give the general sense of premillennialism below.
Here are the main points of premillennialism:
First, Jesus will resurrect the dead physically in two stages. His initial return raises the justified who will reign with him for the millennium. At the end of that time, the reprobate will be raised for final judgment and consignment to eteral punishment.
Second, even if 1,000 years is understood as a symbolic span of time, it is still a future event and not to be interpreted as something in the past or present.
Third, Satan is bound in a new way throughout the entirety of the millennium.
Fourth, the millennial kingdom precedes the new creation and is therefore both a part of and yet distinct from the new creation.
The main dividing line between camps within premillennialism is the nature of the relationship between Israel and the church.
There are 2 main categories of premillennialism, under which the rest fall.
First is historic premillennialism. The term “historic” does not necessarily reflect the exact same perspective as the early church, but it is meant to distinguish this view from all the others. It genuinely affirms a literary, grammatical, and historical interpretive method of the Bible. Historic premillennialism interprets passages about Israel and the church as the church being a branch of Israel or the "true Israel" of God since the church is in Christ, who himself is the "true Israel" of God. Therefore, for many, what is said about the millennium and the eternal state is true for both regenerate Jews and Gentiles. It holds to all the main premillennialist convictions except those that are particular to the second main category, which is:
Dispensational premillennialism. This form is also known as “classical” dispensationalism even though it wasn’t formulated until the mid 1800s. If you’ve heard of John Nelson Darby, it’s because he formulated most of the particulars while the Scofield Reference Bible popularized it. It was dualist in nature, meaning that God has one plan of salvation for the Jews and another for the Gentiles. It also posited that in the new creation, the new earth would be for the Jews and the new heaven would be for the church. It interprets certain passages dealing with the relationship between Israel and the church to mean that there was hardly any relationship at all. Those who hold to this position also generally hold to a pre-tribulation rapture. So, during the millennium, the church reigns with Christ from heaven while the Jews and the nations are on earth. This is the real meaning of “dispensation” related to the millennium: one dispensation takes places on earth (Israel and the nations) while another takes place in heaven (the church). The rapture was first formulated in this way around this same time.
It is important to see that historic and dispensational premillennialism, while they share the same essentials listed above, diverge at several points. This adds to the notion that premillennialism is difficult to understand.
In general, premillennialism sees the millennium not as something clearly revealed before Revelation 20 but as something that aligns easily with Old Testament prophecy of a coming kingdom. Certain Old Testament passages, such as Isaiah 24-25 and 65 all refer to a new kingdom of God and a new creation. However, while Isaiah 24-25 speak of the perfection of that kingdom, Isaiah 65 notes that a person who dies at age 100 will be considered young. Premillennialism reconciles these seemingly disparate prophecies, which both teach about the future kingdom in some way, as looking to two different spans of time: one refers to the millennium, and the other refers to the new creation. Simply put, one passage points to the time before sin and death are finally squashed, and one passage points past it.
Postmillennialism says the millennium comes after Christ has won the nations to himself and the church fulfills the great commission. The millennium is a golden age of Christian influence and worship of God, after which Christ returns to hand the kingdom over to the Father. It can be understood as a literal 1,000 years or symbolic of a great span of time. Postmillennialists are divided over whether prophecies about the end of the age have already come to pass (known as full- or partial-preterism). The transition from this age to the next will be almost seamless.
Amillennialism says the millennium was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and will be consummated at his return. The present age is the millennium, so the number 1,000 is therefore completely symbolic. There may or may not be a series of catastrophic events that precede the second coming.
To summarize, the main distinctive of premillennialism, of all stripes, is its insistence on a sequential reading of Revelation 20. That sequence is what gives rise to a reading of the text that assumes two physical resurrections, an earthly millennial kingdom, and the binding of Satan.
Next week, we’ll start to look at specific passages and interpret them within their context, both the book they’re in and the Bible as a whole, to find some solid ground on which we can stand to better understand this seemingly difficult-to-interpret truth.
For discussion below, what might lead a person to choose one interpretation over another?
We return to our look at the millennium of Revelation 20 and the various interpretive methods. Last week, we looked at the most optimistic view of the millennium, which is postmillennialism. The church eventually conquers culture worldwide, bringing in a golden era of faithfulness from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people. This golden era is the millennium of which Revelation 20 speaks, and it does not need to be taken as a literal one-thousand years. At the end of that span of time, Christ returns to reign forever. The transition from this age to the next is a relatively smooth transition.
Today we turn to another view, that of amillennialism. This literally means "no millennium," which is a bit of a misnomer. Amillennialists definitely believe in a millennium, but it is not a literal 1,000 years. In short, amillennialists define the millennium as the time between Christ's ascension and his second coming.
Amillennialism reads the various Old Testament prophecies about the reinstitution of temple worship and all that accompanies it as fulfilled within the time frame of the old covenant, or before Christ. These concepts are the Israelites, the promised land, Jerusalem, the temple, the sacrificial system, and the Davidic lineage. Amillennialism relies heavily on biblical typology, or shadow and fulfillment (cf. Colossians 2:17). What in the world does that mean? The Old Testament foreshadowed the reality that Christ would inaugurate.
Amillennialism also reads that Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, thus implying that when the fullness comes, the shadow passes away. Prophecies seeming to be about the Israelite people are more accurately speaking about Christ, the true Israelite. We'll divide this post into these concepts.
Keep in mind that books and books and books (and books) have been written arguing for and against each of these theologies of the last days. What follows is an introductory summary to get your feet on the ground so you can look into them further.
First, the true Israel.
The Servant Songs of Isaiah speak of a servant born out of Israel on whom God will put his Spirit. He will be a light to the Gentiles, and he himself will be a covenant for his people (Isa. 42). Israel the nation failed in her covenant keeping, so God sent his servant to fulfill that role.
New Testament authors interpret Old Testament prophecies about Israel as if they were about Christ. Matthew 2:15 quotes Hosea 11:1 ("Out of Egypt I called my son.") to speak directly about Christ, even though in the context of Hosea it spoke directly about Israel's freedom from slavery in Egypt. New Testament authors consistently reinterpret, under the inspiration of the Spirit, the nation of Israel as the person of Jesus Christ.
The author of Hebrews in chapter 8 re-emphasizes the shadow that was the old covenant and the reality of the new covenant now in effect. The old covenant is obsolete and is going to vanish away because of the new covenant instituted in Christ's blood.
Hebrews 8 also quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, noting that the new covenant will be made with the house of Israel (v.10). But remember, amillennialists hold that Christ is the true Israel, as are those who are in Christ. So, the covenant is made with the house of Israel, as understood as those who are in Christ.
Second, the promised land.
Canaan was a type that was to be fulfilled in a richer way once Christ inaugurated his kingdom. The fulfillment would be that the whole world would be Christ's kingdom, of which the promised land was a type or a shadow (or a recapitulation for those who took The Christian's Story. Use those $1 words you worked hard for!).
Romans 4:13 says, "For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith." The word for world is kosmos, which has to do with all creation, not just people. If you read Paul's words as an apostolic interpretation of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 17:8, which says, "And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God", then you necessarily will read the promises about the promised land as being fulfilled in Abraham's seed, singular, Jesus Christ.
In terms of prophecies made about the restoration of the whole earth, amillennialism reads these prophecies as being fulfilled in the new heaven and new earth. It's no small matter that the new creation will be heavenly and earthly, which accords nicely with the author of Hebrews saying that Abraham was searching for a city made by God (Heb. 11:10ff).
It's important to remember that Jerusalem was a temple that just so happened to have a city. Hebrews 12 is a critical passage for understanding the relationship of the land to the new covenant promises for amillennials. There the author speaks of Mt. Zion/Jerusalem being where the people of God worship. The Israelites, fresh out of slavery in Egypt, were not permitted to ascend the mountain for fear of death. But Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, has drawn us near.
For those in the new covenant, our temple to which we draw near is not a piece of the earth. Our city is Christ himself. Type and fulfillment. Shadow and light. Copy and true.
Revelation 14 speaks of the lamb standing on Mt. Zion with the 144,000. In the background of this passage is Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, which speak of the nations flooding the great city in the last days. The New Testament authors consistently witness to the the last days being inaugurated by Christ's resurrection and ascension.
When Jesus speaks to the woman at the well in John 4, he tells her that there is coming a time, which he says has now arrived in v.23, when people will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, not in any one specific place, nonetheless Jerusalem. That's because Jesus is our Jerusalem and our temple.
Fourth, Davidic lineage.
The gospel of Luke presents Jesus Christ as the one who will sit on the throne of David (Lk. 1:30-33). 2 Samuel 7 and Isaiah 9 speak of his kingdom as an eternal kingdom. When Peter preaches at Pentecost, he sees the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7:16 ("And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.") speaking distinctly of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:31).
At the Jerusalem council recorded in Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas give the evidence they've seen as to the reality that God is saving Gentiles. Peter also pipes up and says that he's seen God save Gentiles by faith. Then James speaks and quotes Amos 9:11-12, a prophecy of the nations coming to the rebuilt tent of David. James' point is that that prophecy is being fulfilled in their midst, not only in their future. It's precisely because God is at work among the Gentiles that the apostles should not burden them with anything beyond the essentials.
Fifth, the temple.
Again, it's important to understand that the Jews saw Jerusalem as a temple that also had a city, not a temple within a city. Life revolved around the temple and the sacrificial system.
In John 2, Jesus speaks of the temple being destroyed and him raising up another in 3 days. John, acting as a narrator, tells us that he was speaking directly about himself. Even before the temple was destroyed in AD 70, Jesus was the new temple for God's people upon his resurrection on the third day after his death.
God's presence, our sacrifices, and our worship were all central to the old temple. In Jesus, all of those things are manifested perfectly. And it changed from the old to the new immediately upon his resurrection. There is no other temple in the future, because the future temple is here now in the person of Christ. Even in Revelation 21, John sees no building functioning as a temple because Christ is there and is the temple in the flesh.
We are already beyond the bounds of a simple blog. There are many, many passages that the amillennial uses to build their theology of the last days, especially the millennium. But the power of amillennialism is its rootedness in biblical theology, typology, and recapitulation. Again, this is intended to be an introduction to the major components.
But let's summarize the amillennial's points so far. The millennium is the time between Christ's ascension and his second coming. The five
In the last several blog posts, we talked about revival and important ways of defining it. Revival happens to the church. Evangelism comes from the church.
One of the most notable pieces of the Great Awakening revivals was the hope that they would give rise to the millennium. That was mentioned a couple of times, but it wasn't give much substance. Today, I want to speak to that a little bit and give some background information on why that was an expectation or a hope.
First, the millennium refers to Revelation 20:1-3, which says, "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while."
The great hope of all believers in historic Christianity is the physical return of Jesus Christ at the end of this age to consummate his kingdom for all eternity. The debates among Christians is to the exact time period the thousand years is referring. Is it literal or metaphorical? Is it past, present, or future? What does this have to do with the Great Awakening?
Many of the Puritans, a group quite active during the Great Awakening, were postmillennial. Many of the early church fathers were a version of premillennial. Several denominations today hold to an amillennial position. What exactly do these words mean?
It's important to note a few things before discussing the millennium. First, it is mentioned only one time in the entirety of Scripture. This does not make it unimportant, but we should always see the weightier matters in a different light than those mentioned once in a highly apocalyptical book (cf. Matthew 23:23).
Second, the way we understand the authority of Scripture and the proper means of interpretation (i.e., Scripture interprets Scripture) will have a direct impact on how we understand Revelation 20.
Third, there was no creed or confession in the early church, even up until relatively recent times, that made any statement about the end of the age other than Christ will return in bodily form. This does not mean in any sense that any other components mentioned in Scripture about the end of the age are unimportant and can be neglected without any consequences, but neither it should not be a cause of extensive division among orthodox Christians.
The next several week's posts will deal with the three major positions on how to interpret the millennium. All three of them have merits, and all three have great explanatory power when it comes to a variety of other passages in Scripture that speak to the end of the age (or at least seem to at first blush).
Since we've mentioned the Puritans and that many of them held to postmillennialism, let's begin there.
The essence of postmillennialism is that because the church remains faithful to the great commission, there will come a time when Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth will have heard the gospel. The promise that Christ is with us to the end of the age is the assurance that all the world will hear the gospel. The nations will turn to worship God on his mountain in Jerusalem. That final period of time, it is believed, is what the millennium is referring to.
Kenneth Gentry is perhaps one of the most prolific writers on and adherents to postmillennialism, so much of the thought that follows comes from his writings.
Postmillennialism can be found as early as the 2nd through 4th centuries in the writings of Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, and Augustine. Some of the Puritans who were convinced by postmillennial thought were John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, William Perkins, and Matthew Henry. It's worth noting that John Calvin, the giant from Geneva, was also a postmillennial. Some more recent names with which you may be familiar would be Charles Hodge, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, and J. Ligon Duncan. This isn't to sway anyone by a litany of name drops, but it is to show that intelligent people throughout the history of the church have themselves been convinced of this interpretation of the millennium in Revelation 20.
One draw to postmillennialism is its positive view of Scripture and revelation. It affirms that the Christian must evaluate current circumstances through the Scriptures and its prophecies, not vice-versa. This sort of free association that is common today, where we read about the American diplomats being embarrassed by Chinese officers and somehow squeeze that into one of the bowls or trumpets of Revelation, is vehemently opposed in postmillennialism, as it should be in all interpretations of Scripture. If God makes a promise, it is certain no matter what current events appear to be on the surface. If God was sovereign when he made the promise, he is sovereign to keep it. The only sign we need is that God said it.
Postmillennialists see in the covenants of Scripture an unfolding promise of eventual salvation, which they understand to be fulfilled in the present age. The covenant made at creation, mentioned in Jeremiah 33 and Hosea 6, is about the continued development of human culture throughout history. The fall did not end the creation covenant.
When sin and death entered, God promised to send the seed of a woman to atone for the sins of mankind. Christ would crush the serpent's head. That happened at the first coming of Christ, it is being worked out in subsequent history, and will culminate at Christ's return. The effects of redemption will be played out in history in the same way the effects of the fall played out in history.
The covenant with Abraham promises that all people will be blessed through Abraham. Paul calls Abraham the "heir" of the world in Romans 4. Postmillennialists read this as a gradual blessing, not something that takes place in an instant at the end of this age. The New Covenant made in Christ's blood promises greater adherence to God's law, a greater revelation from God, and greater knowledge of God.
So far, we don't see many prooftexts from Scripture, but a biblical theology, trying to see the story of the Bible in a certain way. But postmillennialists do have many passages they point to in order to justify their position.
Many Psalms speak of a "golden age" when the whole world will worship God (examples include Psalms 2, 22, 67, 72, 87, 102, 110 among others). For example, Psalm 2 speaks of the nations raging against God and his Anointed One, God breaking their chains, God setting his throne in Zion, God breaking the nations like dry pottery, and kings being called to worship. Postmillennialists see this as progress of the kingdom of God, inaugurated by Christ, throughout history.
Isaiah 2 speaks of the nations rushing to the mountain of God, Jerusalem, in the last days. That time will also be marked by peace between nations that history has never known.
In Matthew 13, we read a collection of parables about the kingdom of God. First, the parable of the sower teaches about those who receive the Word of God, compared to a seed. That seed spreads and increases thirty, sixty, and a hundred-fold.
Second, the parable of the weeds teaches that the growth of the kingdom will always include wheat and weeds, righteous and unrighteous. Only the second coming will purify the ever-increasing kingdom.
Third, the hidden treasure/pearl of great price are about the kingdom blessings.
Fourth, the mustard seed implies a development of the kingdom that exceeds expectations. This parable plays off of Ezekiel 17, where God says he will take a small branch and plant it on his mountain, and as it grows birds (representing nations) will nest in it.
Fifth, the parable of the yeast teaches that the kingdom of God works its way through in ways often unseen.
John 12 notes that the crucifixion, when Jesus is "lifted up", (yes, the comma goes on the outside when the quote itself does not include a comma) is the moment when victory over sin and death were won. Satan is cast out and men are drawn to Christ. Satan does not deceive the nations in the same way he did before the resurrection, ascension, and birth of the church.
Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission, speaks of both Christ's authority over every realm and the command to disciple everyone. This passage clearly has in mind Daniel 7:14, where the Son of Man is given unending dominion over every nation at that moment.
1 Corinthians 15 is probably Paul's clearest text on the expectation of the resurrection at the end of the age. Paul writes that Christ was resurrected, and when he returns, those who belong to him will be resurrected, as well. That time is considered "the end". The millennium does not follow, because it is over. At that time, Christ hands the kingdom over to his Father. Note that "every rule and every authority and power" are also already destroyed. In postmillennial thought, Christ overturns every opposing power before his second coming.
That's enough for now. Here's where we'll be headed in future weeks, should the Lord tarry and the postmillennialists turn out to be right:
We'll present each position in its own light. Then we'll talk about the interpretive issues with each. Then, we'll spend some time specifically with Revelation 20. Hopefully I present each interpretation with charity and fairness and you won't know which position I hold until the very end!
Until then, comment below:
What is good about the postmillennial position? What problems might you see with adopting it wholesale?