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POSTMILLENNIALISM AND THE TARES

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  March 29, 2012 — 10 Comments

Opponents of postmillennialism often point to Jesus’ Parable of the Tares as biblical evidence against postmillennialism. But this serves as evidence that opponents of postmillennialism are often wrong. Let me explain.

Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.”

In his treatment of this Parable of the Tares, dispensationalist Walvoord states that “the parable does not support the postmillennial idea that the Gospel will be triumphant and bring in a golden age.”(1) He sees this as evidence that the Church’s growth will be matched by the growth of Satan’s kingdom, thus discounting the postmillennial hope of Christian dominance.

First, the basic definitional problem involved. Frequently, non-postmillennialists seem to imply that postmillennialism expects an “each-and-every” salvific universalism. With that false perception critics press this passage as evidence that Christianity will never gain the upper hand in the world, even until the very end brought about at the resurrection. But postmillennialism teaches that despite the enormous worldwide success of the gospel, we will always have a mixture of the unrighteous and the righteous. Gospel success will never totally root out either sin or sinners in history — not even during the kingdom’s highest development in the future. We never expect global universalism to prevail before Christ’s return.

Second, the basic interpretive problem involved. This parable portrays the entire world as God’s field, where he desires to plant wheat: he “sowed good seed in his field” (Matt 13:24) and “the field is the world” (Matt 13:38). God expends the effort in order to create a field of wheat (the righteous, Matt 13:38a) in all the world. An enemy (the devil, Matt 13:39) intervenes and sows tares (the wicked, Matt 13:38b) — surely not with equal success, particularly in light of the parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven (Matt 13:31–33). The parable’s point is that tares will be found among the predominant wheat: the tares are the intruders, not the wheat. The Son of Man returns to a wheat field, not a tare field. The tares must be left alone for the sake of the wheat.



Footnote

1. John F. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1990), 373.

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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.

10 responses to POSTMILLENNIALISM AND THE TARES

  1. Thanks for addressing the postmil view of this parable.

  2. A helpful clarification I heard a while back is that yes, there will be wheat and tares until the end, but Jesus doesn’t give the ratio. It’s just assumed by pre- and a- mills that it will be roughly equal. But in light of the other kingdom parables, as you point out, the ratio is actually assumed to be not equal at all.

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

      I deal with Dan 12 in my book He Shall Have Dominion. I will have to post an article on my understanding of that passage. Keep watching!

  3. Love the article my pastor throws that up to me time to time,that’s the answer I use . What is your interpretation of Dan 12 I have a hyper preterist across my street who thows that up to me?

  4. I will Ken I have that book but and older copy that is my second best book the first is the bible . May be you can tell what ch. it is in? I love your work brother.

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

      Alright, Darrel, you win: I am posting an article on Dan 12 today (March 30, 2012). The study on Dan 12 is in the newest edition of He Shall Have Dominion (2009).

      • Charles Miller, BA, Old Dominion University;MAR, Liberty University February 1, 2014 at 6:30

        Dear Dr. Gentry,
        I have a question for you, and I hope you are willing to respond. Are there any postmillennialist who accept today a chiliastic view of the millennium, i.e., a literal thousand years before the Second Coming of our Lord? Would that be Dr. Norman Shephard? He says Satan is still not bound, a position different from Dr. Warfield.

    • Again in the last day I asked some expert with the neuqolet charts etc, where does it say verbatum in the bible seven years of tribulation I ask him to copy-paste the specific verse Yet he like all the others I asked Can not because they are caught in a delusional lie and intellectual Pride binds them to it so rather then appolgize or Confess their err, they play avoidance and circumvent games. The story is Always the exact same outcome. We rest our case!!! Court ajourned

  5. Hey Dr. Gentry!

    I see he mentions end of the age. So age referring to end of the world or jewish age? It’s in this case the end of the world, but how can one tell when ‘age’ is mentioned?
    Thanks!

  6. Charles E. Miller, BA, MA December 31, 2013 at 6:30

    Dear Dr. Gentry,
    Are there any theologians who believe in chiliastic postmillennialism any more? It seems that most postmillennialist consider the entire church age as the millennium. They do not consider the possible of a literal 1000 year period.

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