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POSTMILLENNIALISM: A SHORT DEFINITION

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  2 Comments

The postmillennial view is the only option among the four eschatological systems that maintains an optimistic hope for the current age before Christ returns. The term “postmillennial” arises from the compounding of three Latin terms: post (“after”), mille (“thousand”), and annum (“years”). The prefix post indicates that Christ will return after the millennium, that is, after “millennial” conditions prevail upon the earth. With amillennialism, postmillennialists understand the “thousand years” in Revelation as symbolizing an extended period of time, much like “the cattle on a thousand hills” symbolizes an enormous number of cattle (Psa 50:10) or like a thousand years of our time picturing one of God’s days (Psa 90:4).

Postmillennialists teach that Christ established his kingdom in the first century as a spiritual-redemptive reality which is embodied in his Church. Through the gospel’s Spirit-empowered proclamation Christianity will increasingly grow over time until it becomes the dominant influence in the world. The kingdom’s growth will produce increasing righteousness, peace, and prosperity, which will eventually prevail over the world for a long period of time. At the end of a long period of righteousness, Christ will return, resurrect all men, effect the great judgment, then establish the eternal order.

Contemporary presentations of postmillennialism include:

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (3d ed.: Draper, Vir.: ApologeticsGroup, 2009).

Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1999).

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

2 responses to POSTMILLENNIALISM: A SHORT DEFINITION

  1. You say this in the above: “The kingdom’s growth will produce increasing righteousness, peace, and prosperity, which will eventually prevail over the world for a long period of time. At the end of a long period of righteousness, Christ will return, resurrect all men, effect the great judgment, then establish the eternal order.”

    How does Satan’s release, which is mentioned in Rev 20:3, work into this picture? Satan is one day going to be released from his “chains” and is going to wreck havoc. Are postmillennialists truly optomistic with this in mind?
    Thanks

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. March 29, 2012 at 6:30

      The release of Satan is at the very end of history, is brief, and a failure. It allows him his final show of evil and desperation, then he is judged. This is preceded by an great number of years of peace, prosperity and righteousness — though not perfection.

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