It may be beneficial to read my two previous posts (here and here) on certain end-times views. This may help you understand the reference and terminology a little better. This post will be dedicated to the Postmillennial view of eschatology (fancy word for the study of the End).
This view, historically, has been the least popular of the three (Premil, Amil, and Postmil). In this view there are two views (go figure) and we will focus more on the second view. The Postmillennial view is also a preterist view, which means that those who hold to Postmillennialism believe that the majority of the prophecy in Revelation was fulfilled in the first couple centuries.
The Postmillennial view can be summarized like this:
(1) Christ will return after the “thousand years” during which the dragon will be bound. With the dragon bound the Gospel will triumph even more than it is now, societies and cultures will be reformed to a more godly representation of humanity.
(2) The second view sees the millennium as symbolic. This millennium is the time between Christ’s ascension and his return in which the world is progressively improving until a culmination in the second coming of Christ. And it is to this view we turn our attention to.
During this time Christ is reigning in heaven and through the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel he is exercising his reign. After all, Jesus did say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” Matthew 28:18.
This view also holds to a first and second resurrection. The first resurrection happens at regeneration, that is, when a person is made new by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 3, Ephesians 2:4-6). This first resurrection, therefore, is a much needed, necessary, spiritual one. This is why the Great Commission is so very important, because it is through the preaching of the Word that the power of the Holy Spirit renders new hearts to those bound in darkness. This Gospel growth will increase and flourish until the whole world is filled with the glories of God.
Because of the world is continually being filled with people-made-new, it will progressively get better. Legal systems and cultural persuasions will grow ever more into God’s will. Labor and leisure will be godly. The quality of life, and it’s length, will increase, and so on because of Christ’s current reign.
There will be mass rebellion in this view, however. Before the end of the “millennium” Satan will be released and those who are children of the devil will wage war upon the church (Genesis 3:15, Revelation 12:17). It is then that Jesus will return bodily from heaven to land the final blow of defeat over his enemies, exercise his judgment and make the heavens and the earth new.
This is an appealing view of the end times. And again, good Christians can disagree. I have a few friends who hold to this view, and some of the preachers and teachers I give high regard hold to this view. However, we must admit that the 20th Century is undoubtedly the bloodiest century in history. The reality of death in the past century cannot be ignored. My mind thinks of such men as Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and so on.
To push back against my own argument against the Postmillennial view that the world is getting better we must also recognize a couple factors that contributed to the “bloodiest century”. For example, the population of the world in the 20th century was exponentially larger than any other century before it. This means that the world might not be getting worse necessarily. If the world is filled with more sinners this means that there is more of a potential for evil, but not necessarily more evil. Also the cessation of such evil, or the curbing of evil, cannot be ignored either. The men listed above were stopped and this is undoubtedly a good thing. Also, with increased population there is also more potential for the Gospel to spread, which is good and glorious.
But we also have to ask, why are there so many people on the planet? The answer can only be that the quality of life and length of life is constantly increasing through technology, and medicine, and so on. Both of these reasons would give credence to the Postmillennial view.
I can see how one would believe the world is getting better, like the Postmils, because the continued, and increased, spread of the Gospel around the globe (read, The Next Christendom), and the continual improvement in quality of life. Europe and North America are quickly becoming the least populated Christian continents whereas the Global South (South America, South Africa, and certain part of Asia) are rapidly becoming Christian. In fact, the countries on these continents are sending missionaries to America!
However, we must also look at what Scripture says which may counter the notion of the Postmillennial view:
Matthew 24:6-14—“6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Luke 18:8—“8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
2 Timothy 3:1-13—“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambresopposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
The Postmillennial view, however, is an optimistic view, and we know that our God is good, and He is sovereign. The issue is not an easy one to tease apart in a blog post, so I will recommend some further studying to you:
- The Victory of Christ’s Kingdom: An Introduction to Postmillennialism is a short work that you may find beneficial.
- Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope is the “go-to” book on this topic for many.
- And a more academic look (don’t let that scare you away) on the Postmillennial view can be downloaded in audio from here.