[What is postmillennialism?]
Postmillennialism is the belief that the second coming of Christ will occur after the millennium. The millennial reign described in Revelation 20:1-6 represents a long time period when, through the preaching of the gospel, most of the world will submit to Jesus Christ. During this time, Satan will have no power over the earth, and evil regimes will collapse (Revelation 19:19-20:3). A period of great tribulation may precede the millennium. Some charismatic Christians embrace dominion postmillennialism. This teaches that through the contemporary charismatic movement God has been binding Satan. When the church recognizes the fullness of its power through the Holy Spirit, the church will establish God’s kingdom on earth and usher in the millennium, a golden age.
[What do postmillennialists emphasize?]
Postmillennialists place great confidence in the preaching of the gospel; they contend that the gospel will eventually spread in such a way that nearly everyone in the world will turn to Jesus Christ. One Scripture cited in favor of this view is Mark 3:27. Augustine understood this verse to mean that before Jesus can claim his kingdom, those that are lost (the “possessions” of Satan, “the strong man”) must come under the control of Jesus. Postmillennialists believe that this golden age is described in such Scriptures as Psalm 2:8, Isaiah 2:2-4, Jeremiah 31:34, Daniel 2:35, and Micah 4:1-4. Postmillennialists tend to emphasize the power of the gospel to transform societies and individual lives.
[According to postmillennialists…]
- During the millennium, Christ will rule the earth through his Spirit and through his church. He will not, however, be physically present on the earth.
- The resurrection depicted in Revelation 20:4 represents the spiritual regeneration of people who trust Jesus Christ.
- The second coming of Christ, the final conflict between good and evil, the defeat of Satan, the physical resurrection of all people, and the final judgment will occur together, immediately after the millennium (Revelation 20:7-15).
Loraine Boettner described postmillennialism as “that view of the last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world is eventually to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the end of a long period of righteousness and peace, commonly called ‘the Millennium,'”
[Which Scriptures seem to support postmillennialism?]
- Every ethnic group will receive the gospel before the second coming (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).
- The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4) could refer to the spiritual resurrection (the regeneration or new birth) of persons who trust in Christ (Romans 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-4).
- The second coming of Christ and the resurrection of all people, saved and unsaved, will occur at the same time (Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).
[When has postmillennialism been popular?]
The earliest writer who was clearly postmillennialist was Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202), although many historians believe that earlier church leaders such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine of Hippo were also postmillennialists.
During the 1800s, postmillennialism increased in popularity. Some Christians even believed that the increased work of missionaries throughout the world represented the beginning of the millennium.
During the early 1900s, a world war and an economic depression raised questions about whether the world was actually becoming a better place, and postmillennialism diminished in popularity.
[Prominent postmillennialists include:]
Famous preacher Jonathan Edwards as well as theologians such as B.B. Warfield, Augustus H. Strong, Charles Hodge, R.L. Dabney, Loraine Boettner, and R.C. Sproul.
Excerpted from “Four Views of the End Times”