Thine is the Kingdom

Studies in the Postmillennial Hope

Thine is the Kingdom
Studies in the Postmillennial Hope

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Vallecito, California

Copyright © 2003 by Chalcedon Foundation
All Rights Reserved.

Address all inquiries to:
P. O. Box 158
Vallecito, CA 95251
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gentry, Jr., Kenneth L., Editor
Thine is the Kingdom
Studies in the Postmillennial Hope
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Editor
Includes index
ISBN 1-891375-22-9

Printed in the United States of America
First Edition

In Memory of
Rousas John Rushdoony
Defender of the Faith
Promoter of the Truth

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Chapter 1
A Summary Case for Postmillennialism . . . . . . . . . . 1
Keith A. Mathison
Chapter 2
Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope . . . . . . . . . . 23
William O. Einwechter
Chapter 3
Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World . . . 67
Benjamin B. Warfield
Chapter 4
Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist . . . . . . . . . . 83
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Chapter 5
Victory Belongs to the Lord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Chapter 6
The End is Not Yet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
J. A. Alexander
Chapter 7
Practicing Postmillennialism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Jefferey A. Ventrella



the 1960s postmillennialism has been
enjoying a robust revival. In the last quarter of
the twentieth century a flood of books offering
positive presentations of this optimistic
eschatology inundated the evangelical landscape.
Among these are: R. J. Rushdoony’s Thy Kingdom
Come (1970) and God’s Plan for Victory (1977),
John J. Davis’ Christ’s Victorious Kingdom
(1986, 1997), David Chilton’s Paradise Restored
(1987), Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry’s
House Divided: The Break-up of Dispensational
Theology (1989), Kenneth Gentry’s Perilous
Times (1998) and He Shall Have Dominion
(1992), Gary North’s Millennialism and Social
T h e o ry ( 1 9 9 0 ) , G a r y D e M a r ’s L a s t D a y s
Madness (1991), Alexander McLeod’s Governor
of the Nations (reprinted 1993), Andrew
Sandlin’s Postmillennial Primer (1997), Darrell
L. Bock, ed., Three Views of the Millennium and
Beyond (1999; which included my distinctly
Reconstructionistic brand of postmillennialism),
Keith Mathison’s Postmillennialism (1999), and
Bahnsen’s Victory in Jesus (1999).


Thine is the Kingdom

As noted by Andrew Sandlin:
No one in the modern era has been more vocally
and visibly identified with postmillennialism than
Rousas John Rushdoony.... It has been Rushdoony
and his Chalcedon Foundation that have most
prominently flown the postmillennial flag. He profoundly influenced an entire class of younger scholars
and writers directly or indirectly associated with
Chalcedon, all of whom are indebted chiefly to
Rushdoony for their postmillennial eschatology (and
much else).1

The accuracy of this statement is evident when we
realize that several of the authors in the preceding paragraph are disciples of Rushdoony: Gary North, Greg
Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Andrew
Sandlin, and David Chilton.

As we release this new work perhaps we should
briefly justify our continuing concern regarding the
eschatological debate. On radio talk shows and at conferences I occasionally hear queries regarding the
legitimacy of eschatology studies. Yet this doctrine
does merit ongoing investigation and elaboration for
the following reasons, which I will briefly summarize.
First, eschatology is part of the Bible. Whatever else
we may say about eschatology, we must confess that
the Bible does speak about it. Indeed, the prophets of
the old covenant economy held significant roles in the
kingdom of God, whom God called “my anointed ones”
(I Chronicles 16:22; Psalm 105:5) and “my servants”
(II Kings 9:7; Jeremiah 7:25; Ezekiel 38:17; Zechariah
1:6). What is more, Paul clearly informs us that “all


Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable”
(II Timothy 3:16a). Are we to ignore the “servants”
of God and their inspired portions of God’s authoritative word?
Second, eschatology is a large part of the Bible.
Not only is prophecy found in God’s word, but it forms
a significant portion of that divine revelation. The Old
Testament contains an enormous amount of prophecy: in the three Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and
Ezekiel), the twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea through
Malachi), the prophecy of Daniel, many of the Psalms
(the worship book of Israel), as well as numerous scattered prophecies appearing in the Pentateuch and
elsewhere. In the New Testament many of Christ’s
parables are eschatological and two of his five major
discourses in Matthew are prophecies (the Kingdom
Parables in Chapter 13 and the Olivet Discourse in
Chapters 24 and 25). And we must not forget that two
of Paul’s letters are largely focused on eschatological
issues (I and II Thessalonians), that his famous Resurrection Chapter (I Corinthians 15) deals with
eschatology in great detail, and that the whole of John’s
Revelation is prophetic.
Third, eschatology embodies the Christian’s “blessed
hope” (Titus 2:13). As such, we must “eagerly await”
the Return of our Lord Jesus from heaven (Philippians
3:20). In fact, this eschatological hope distinguishes
us from the unbeliever when we face death
(I Thessalonians 4:13)—by providing us “hope in
Christ” (I Corinthians 15:18-19).
Fourth, eschatology is a major foundation stone
of the Christian worldview. Christianity presents a

Thine is the Kingdom

holistic outlook on life: from creational beginning
to consummational conclusion. Christ even calls
himself “the Alpha and the Omega,” the beginning
and the end (Revelation 21:6; 22:13). Indeed, in the
Old Testament God distinguishes himself from the
lifeless idols as a proper object of worship partly
because he can (and does!) “declare the end from
the beginning” (Isaiah 46:9-10; cp. vv. 1-9).
Eschatology is so significant to the Christian doctrinal system that the ecumenical creeds establish
key eschatological components as foundational doctrines. For instance, the Apostles’ Creed affirms
“from thence shall he come to judge the quick and
the dead” and “I believe in the resurrection of the
body.” The Nicene Creed declares that “he shall
come again with glory to judge both the living and
the dead” and that “we look for the resurrection of
the dead.”2
Fifth, Israel’s confusion regarding eschatology destroyed her. When Christ “came to his own” they “did
not receive him” (John 1:11). Why? Because despite
the Old Testament they did not recognize him as the
fulfillment of prophecy. Israel was judged because she
did not know the time of her eschatological “visitation” (Luke 19:44). She should have searched the
prophetic Scriptures, then would she have known that
“they testify of me,” declared Christ (John 5:39). Even
his own disciples were “foolish men and slow of heart
to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke
24:25), though eventually the Spirit opened their eyes
to see (Luke 24:31).
Sixth, eschatology is necessary for apologetics.
Albert Schweitzer taught that Jesus was “sadly misiv


taken” when he expected his Second Coming to occur
within a generation of his leaving this world. The famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell pointed to
Jesus’ eschatological statements as defects in his teaching, indicating he was not God. Russell thought that
Jesus taught that he would return to the world “in
clouds of glory before the death of all the people who
were living at that time.”3 If we are to defend the truth,
we must study and understand it. In this case, we must
study the eschatological pronouncements of Jesus so
that we might stand against charges that he was subject to error.
Seventh, eschatology is important for the integrity
of the faith. Many cultic aberrations are rooted in false
eschatological constructs. Seventh-day Adventism
grew up out of miscalculations of the Return of Christ
in 1844 and 1845. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are known
for their focus on the millennium, and even called their
Bible translation “The New World Translation.” The
Mormons are properly called: “The Church of Jesus
Christ, Latter-Day Saints.”
Furthermore, as Dwight Wilson has ably documented in his Armageddon Now! (1977), even
evangelical Christians have made embarrassing calls
for the end throughout the twentieth century. Hal
Lindsey, one of the largest selling authors of the twentieth century, has misconstrued biblical eschatology by
calling for the end in the 1980s and at 2000. See his:
The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon and Planet
Earth 2000: Will Mankind Survive? A proper understanding of eschatology is necessary both to
countering the heretical cultist as well as correcting
the naive evangelical.4

Thine is the Kingdom

Eighth, eschatology is helpful for confronting theological error within evangelicalism. In addition to the
two preceding points, we should be aware of the
eschatological errors inherent in Openness Theology. Clark Pinnock has written: “For God to be
omniscient means he knows everything any being
could know.... The content of his knowledge
changes as creatures in the world act in new ways....
God cannot know in advance always exactly what
will happen.... Future free acts, by definition, cannot be known in every detail and for certain even by
God.” 5 A major line of evidence he offers in this
regard is from the field of eschatology: “Despite the
Baptist, Jesus did not cast the wicked into the fire;
contrary to Paul, the second coming was not just
around the corner...; despite Jesus, in the destruction of the temple, some stones were left one on the
other.”6 We simply must understand the prophecies
that trip up Pinnock, if we are to respond adequately
to him, John Sanders, Gregory Boyd and others in
this theological movement.7
Ninth, eschatology is a factor in our Christian
growth. Jesus prays for our sanctification, a sanctification that requires a knowledge of the truth of God’s
word (which includes eschatology as a major feature):
“Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth”
(John 17:17). We must “long for the pure milk of the
word that we may grow in respect to salvation” (I Peter
2:2). In fact, Paul’s famous statement in his letter to
Timothy emphasizes that “all Scripture” (including its
eschatological portions) is “profitable” for making the
man of God “adequate, equipped for every good work”
(II Timothy 3:16-17).


Tenth, eschatology provides us an important motive to labor. We are creatures with a future orientation
and a vocational obligation to labor in the light of the
future. Our long range expectations are essential for
prioritizing our lives: Shall we bear children into this
world? Shall we invest in long term Christian education for our children? Shall we train them and ourselves
for impacting society and culture over the long term?
In short, shall we be motivated by the fact that “our
labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58)?
Our long range outlook will necessarily impact our
labors in this world, as Rushdoony (God’s Plan for
Victory) and North (Millennialism and Social Theory)
have so ably argued.

In this handy-sized book we provide a helpful introduction and defense of this eschatology of victory. This
work should be quite helpful to anyone even mildly
interested in understanding eschatological systems.
Though it will not provide the depth and breadth of
treatment of larger works (such as my He Shall Have
Dominion and Mathison’s Postmillennialism), it will
present sufficient material to sketch in the basic case for
postmillennialism and to fend off certain common objections (especially from within the reformed tradition).
In Chapter One Keith A. Mathison presents an accessible “Summary Case for Postmillennialism.”
Mathison condenses material found in his much larger
work (Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope),
surveying some of the key eschatological passages in
both the Old and New Testaments. He traces and explains the developing hope of temporal victory

Thine is the Kingdom

beginning at Creation, working its way through the
Abrahamic Covenant, on through the Psalms and the
Prophets, and into the New Testament. In the New
Testament he highlights such important passages as
Matthew 28:18-20 (the Great Commission), Romans
9-11 (the question of Israel’s future), I Corinthians 15
(the great Resurrection chapter), and ending in Revelation 20 (the millennium). This one chapter alone
should provide the reader with sufficient biblical data
to persuade him or her of the postmillennial hope.
Following upon this introductory survey, Chapter
Two furnishes the reader with William O.
Einwechter’s “Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial
Hope,” which provides a careful, in-depth exposition
of the New Testament’s most quoted Messianic psalm.
This important passage serves as a cornerstone for the
postmillennial hope. Einwechter not only presents a
contextual exegesis of the passage, but traces its influence elsewhere in the Scriptures. The New
Testament’s emphasis on Psalm 110 demonstrates the
hope-filled expectation of Christ’s victory in history.
Perhaps no other passage is as significant as Psalm
110 for understanding biblical eschatology and securing confidence in the postmillennial victory.
In Chapter Three we reprint one of the more important eschatological writings of the famed
Presbyterian theologian, Benjamin B. Warfield:
“Christ the Propitiation for the World.” This much
neglected article presents a valuable argument establishing not only the world-changing hope for the
progress of the gospel, but the corporate nature and
goal of salvation. In our day of individualism, psychological-needs oriented preaching, and seeker-sensitive


churches, Warfield’s powerful exposition of I John 2:2
pours a flood of light on the prophetic expectations of
Scripture. I have adopted and promoted Warfield’s
argument in my own works.8 (As a side benefit, this
brief chapter also explains a favorite text of
Arminianism in a thoroughly Calvinistic and remarkably insightful way—a much more satisfying exposition
than Owen’s famous approach.)
In Chapter Four Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.’s “Agony,
Irony, and the Postmillennialist” takes up the challenge
from amillennialists to give a postmillennial account
of the biblical call to suffering. This chapter originally
appeared in the Westminster Theological Journal. It
provides a response to an increasingly common objection to postmillennialism’s “triumphalism” by
contemporary reformed, amillennial theologians Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Fowler White, Robert B. Strimple,
Cornelis Venema, and others. In this chapter I demonstrate that postmillennialists can easily account for the
New Testament suffering passages—even on the
amillennialist interpretation. I point out that the
amillennialist too often looks at only one aspect of the
call to suffer, thereby offering an insufficient objection to
the postmillennial hope of world victory for the gospel.
In the following chapter (Chapter Five), “Victory
Belongs to the Lord,” also by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.,
responds particularly to objections to postmillennialism
by Westminster’s Theological Seminary’s Robert B.
Strimple. This chapter responds to his published objections to postmillennialism as found in the Zondervan
CounterPoints book: Three Views on the Millennium
and Beyond. I answer the additional amillennial objections to postmillennialism that arise from the

Thine is the Kingdom

redemptive-historical system of Geerhardus Vos.
Oftentimes the postmillennial system is misconstrued
in such a way as to suggest that postmillennialists deny
the eschatological nature of salvation, the two-age division of redemptive history, the actuality of the present
kingship of Christ, the reality of the present victory of
Christ, and the proper focus of Christian witness. I
show that these arguments represent nothing more than
misunderstandings of postmillennialism.
A common charge against postmillennialists results
from our denying the imminency of Christ’s Return.
In Chapter Six “The End is Not Yet” by nineteenth
century Presbyterian exegete J. A. Alexander explodes
the argument for the imminent Return of Christ in
his masterful analysis. This complaint against
postmillennialism has both an exegetical dimension as
well as a psychological one. Alexander disposes of
both forms of objection by turning the arguments on
the objector. The reader should carefully study
Alexander’s argument in anticipation of this all too
frequent emotional reflex to the long-term commitments of postmillennialism.
Our Chapter Seven is titled: “Practicing
Postmillennialism” by Jefferey A. Ventrella. It originally appeared in a slightly different form as a series in
the Penpoint newsletter of the Southern California
Center for Christian Studies. In this chapter he presses
home the necessity of living out the implications of
our eschatological expectations. In fact, Ventrella challenges postmillennialists themselves to commit anew
to evangelism, missionary endeavors, and other practical
applications of our hope. And he urges us to engage
the cultural influence of our hope with an appropriate,


God-honoring, Christ-glorifying humility. As an insider
committed to theonomic postmillennialism, Ventrella
calls upon fellow Reconstructionists to Christ-likeness
in their pursuits, noting that too often our heavy-duty
theology can lead to heavy-handed treatment of others.
I should note that the older articles by Warfield and
Alexander have been slightly edited for easier reading. I tweaked their style to more contemporary
standards. For instance, I divided a few unwieldy sentences into shorter ones, broke long paragraphs into
more manageable lengths, added section headings as
reader signposts along the way, and replaced Roman
numerals in biblical addresses. I also add just a few
footnotes for further elucidation and comment.

As the editor of this book, I would like to express
special thanks to three persons who greatly helped
bring this book to fruition. I am thankful for the invitation from Mark Rushdoony for me to take up this
project. Having recently lost his father, the indefatigable founder of Chalcedon and earnest champion of
postmillennialism, Mark has committed himself to furthering his father’s ministry. The release of this book
is just one more evidence of postmillennialism’s long
term commitment and R. J. Rushdoony’s continuing
eschatological influence. Though Dr. Rushdoony has
passed to his eternal reward, his work continues on
into the future to the glory of God.
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation
to Susan Burns of Chalcedon who diligently assisted
me by scanning into editable computer files the chapxi

Thine is the Kingdom

ters by Warfield and Alexander. I was determined to
see these important contributions to the debate back
in print, and Susan’s labor was immensely helpful to
this end. Not only so, but she assisted all along the
way with the production of this book with great skill
and competence.
I must also thank my son Stephen Gentry, too.
Though he was living at home for only about six weeks
between his graduating from the University of Tennessee graduate school and his taking an accounting
position with Ernst and Young in Atlanta, he nevertheless interrupted his well-deserved rest by keying in
many of my handwritten editorial notes for these articles. Stephen’s tedious labor (and keen eye for writing
style) was enormously beneficial to my completing this
project in a reasonable time.
Now it is my prayer that the Lord would use this
small book to encourage his children to faithfully engage their mundane vocations and ministerial labors
by adopting and promoting this optimistic eschatology,
knowing that their “labor is not in vain in the Lord”
(I Corinthians 15:58).
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D.
Research Professor in Theology
Christ College
Lynchburg, Virginia



Andrew Sandlin, A Postmillennial Primer
(Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon, 1997), 1.
Rousas John Rushdoony, The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the
Early Church (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn, 1968). For their
significance in eschatology, see my “The Historical
Problem of Hyper-Preterism” in Hyper-Preterism: A
Reformed Critique, a forthcoming book edited by Keith
A. Mathison (P & R Publishing, 2003).
For further information on this objection to the
faith, see: R. C. Sproul, The Last Days According to
Jesus: When Did Jesus Say He Would Return? (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1998).
A rather surprising example of eschatological
naievete was uncovered in the April of 2002 debate
between Thomas D. Ice and me. We were publicly debating the proper interpretation of Matthew 24. As I
cross examined him, he stated that after the Rapture
millions of angels will bodily transport Jews from all
over the world into Jerusalem. I asked him if the angels would carry the Jews’ suitcases. He responded:
“Yes.” See: Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. and Thomas D.
Ice, Matthew 24: Past or Future?, Van Til Apologetics
Conference debate (April, 2002). Video available from
Clark Pinnock, “There Is Room for Us: A Reply
to Bruce Ware,” in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45:2 (June 2002): 216.
Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology
of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 551.
For a helpful debate on Openness Theology see:
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45:2
(June 2002).


Thine is the Kingdom

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion:
A Postmillennial Eschatology (2nd. ed.: Tyler, TX:
Institute for Christian Economics, 1998), 272-277.
Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission: The
Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), 53-55, 103-04.


Chapter 1

A Summary Case
for Postmillennialism
by Keith A. Mathison 1


ITHOUT exaggeration postmillennialism is the

most often caricatured eschatological position
within professing evangelical circles. From the numerous premature reports of its death, to grossly distorted
definitions, the postmillennialism that one reads about
in popular works of theology is hardly recognizable
by those who consider themselves postmillennialists.

Much of the distortion and misinformation has come
from the pens of popular dispensationalist authors. John
F. Walvoord, for example, claims that postmillennialism
“has found it impossible to resist a trend toward
liberalism.”2 It “lends itself to liberalism with only minor adjustments.”3 Charles Ryrie alleges that according
to postmillennialism, “the idea of a world free from
evil is envisioned as a result of man’s efforts.”4 These
caricatures of postmillennialism seem to be little more
than attempts to bias readers against the position.5
Not only have dispensationalists made numerous
false statements about what postmillennialists actually
believe, but they have often been overly confident in
their challenges. In 1948, for example, Lewis Sperry
Chafer said of postmillennialism,

Thine is the Kingdom

It exists only in the limited literature which it created
and with no living voice to defend it. Doubtless the
stress upon Bible study of the present century has
served to uncover the unscriptural character of this
system. Its advocates have not been able to meet the
challenge made to them to produce one Scripture which
teaches a millennium before the advent of Christ, or
that teaches an advent of Christ after the millennium.6

This statement was not true when it was published in
1948, and it is certainly not true today. Postmillennialism
can produce not just one passage of Scripture, but
scores of passages from Genesis to Revelation. It can
be and has been shown to be thematically woven
through the Scriptures from beginning to end.
Before presenting an outline of the biblical case for
postmillennialism, it is necessary to correct some of
the popular misconceptions by providing a brief definition of this eschatological view.
Like amillennialism, postmillennialism teaches that the
“thousand years” of Revelation 20 occurs prior to the
Second Coming. Some postmillennialists teach that
the millennial age is the entire period of time between
Christ’s first and second advents, while others teach
that it is the last thousand years of the present age.
According to postmillennialism, in the present age the
Holy Spirit will draw unprecedented multitudes to
Christ through the faithful preaching of the gospel.
Among the multitudes who will be converted are the
ethnic Israelites who have thus far rejected their Messiah. At the end of the present age, Christ will return,
there will be a general resurrection of the just and the
unjust, and the final judgment will take place.7


Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

As Kenneth Gentry explains, postmillennialism is “the
view that Christ will return to the earth after the Spiritblessed gospel has had overwhelming success in
bringing the world to the adoption of Christianity.”8
Postmillennialism is not liberalism, the social gospel, universalism, perfectionism, or some form of
nationalism. Biblical postmillennialism teaches that the
kingdom of Christ has been inaugurated and is redemptive, that its supernatural growth is progressive and
will lead to worldwide conversion, and, finally, that it
will be perfectly consummated only at the Second
Coming of Christ.9 The purpose of this chapter is to
demonstrate that this teaching is biblical.

Too often discussions of the biblical evidence for
any millennial position begin and end with Revelation
19-20. Unfortunately, this approach fails to place those
chapters in their overall biblical context. In order to
gain a proper understanding of the goal towards which
God’s plan of redemption is working, we must begin
where his revelation begins—in the beginning. Space
does not permit an exhaustive discussion of everything
the Bible says touching on the evidence for
postmillennialism. For this reason, I shall simply offer
a brief examination of several of the most significant
texts.10 As we proceed, it will become clear that the
postmillennial hope has strong roots in the teaching of
the Old and New Testaments.

The Creation and Fall

The earliest chapters of Genesis establish the foundations for a postmillennial eschatology. We learn, for

Thine is the Kingdom

example, that God created man to exercise dominion over
the earth (Genesis 1:26-28) and to enjoy eternal union
and communion with him (2:15-17). Understanding the
reasons why God created man profoundly impacts our
understanding of eschatology. Postmillennialism expects
God to accomplish his original revealed purpose for
all of creation including man. And since God intended
this purpose for history, postmillennialists expect it to
be accomplished in history.11
Chapter 3 of Genesis reveals the tragic story of man’s
Fall from his original state into sin and corruption. As
a result of man’s sin, God curses the entire creation
(Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 8:20-22). But the Fall did
not permanently frustrate God’s original plan for creation and man. In Genesis 3:15 we discover the first
redemptive promise. God promises that the woman’s
Seed will crush the serpent’s head, and with this promise
a “holy war” is declared. Unlike other declarations of
war made by men and nations throughout history, however, God declares war with the final outcome absolutely
certain. There is no question that victory will be achieved.

The Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant is of paramount importance in any study of eschatology. In Genesis, there
are three covenantal encounters between God and
Abraham (Genesis 12, 15, 17). Each encounter highlights different aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant.
The command and promise God reveals to Abraham
in Genesis 12:1-3 are especially significant:
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your
country, and from your relatives and from your father’s
house, to the land which I will show you; and I will


Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and
make your name great; and so you shall be a great
blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the
one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the
families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Several important promises structure this passage, but
the one we must note is that Abraham would be a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3).
Genesis 10 records the history of all “the families of
the sons of Noah” (10:32). In Abraham God chose
one of Noah’s descendants as the bearer of divine blessing to all the families descending from Noah. Already
at this early point in redemptive history God clearly
announces his unbreakable covenant that will flow beyond the limits of the nation and families of Israel.
God reveals that his intention is to bring salvation to
all the families of the earth.12 Whatever else may be
involved in this promise, it is clear that all the families
of the earth does not mean a small minority of the
families of the earth, not a mere remnant of men.

The Psalms

A number of the Old Testament Psalms add to the
foundation of postmillennialism seen in the Abrahamic
Covenant. Psalm 2 is a coronation psalm frequently
alluded to and quoted in the New Testament in connection with the person and work of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Acts 13:33. These New Testament passages reveal that Jesus is the one to whom
this Psalm ultimately refers. He is given the nations as
his inheritance, the very ends of the earth as his possession (Psalm 2). We must note that the New
Testament ties the fulfillment of this Psalm to the res5

Thine is the Kingdom

urrection of Christ, not his second advent. Jesus Christ
already has received the nations as his inheritance at
his exaltation involving the resurrection, ascension, and
seating at the right hand of the throne.
Psalm 22 points to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic
Covenant promise to bless all the families of the earth.
In verses 27-28 we read: “All the ends of the earth will
remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the
nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the
LORD’S, and He rules over the nations.” Hebrews 2:12
connects the fulfillment of this Psalm to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, rather than his Second Coming.
Psalm 110 is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament text (e.g.,
Matthew 22:41-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44;
Acts 2:33-35; I Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13; 5:6;
7:17, 21; 10:13). It provides the Old Testament foundation for the apostolic doctrine of the ascension and
present reign of Christ as the great Priest-King. Jesus
Christ sits at the right hand of the Father beginning at
his ascension. As emphatically as man rejected Him,
God exalted him (Acts 5:36, 7:55-56; Philippians
2:9-11). He is now seated at the right hand of God
with all authority (Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:19-21).
He reigns as Savior and Intercessor (Romans 8:34;
Hebrews 4:14; I John 2:1). He is seated until the last
surrender of the last enemy; he is seated until he has
put all of his enemies under his feet (Hebrews 10:13;
cf. I Corinthians 15:25f.; I Peter 3:22).

The Prophets

The covenant relationship between God and his
people established in the Pentateuch, described in the

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

historical books and employed as the basis of prayer
in the Psalms is proclaimed by the prophets. When
Israel sinned against God and violated the terms of
the covenant, the prophets called the nation to repentance and to covenant renewal. The prophets explained
the reasons for God’s judgment, but when Israel hardened her heart, the prophets looked forward to a time
when the covenant would be established to the fullest
and the blessings of God would be poured out on all
nations. Even the enemies of the Cross will be swept
into the kingdom (Isaiah 19:25f.).
The prophetic books provide rich sources of material pointing to the temporal and historical fulfillment
of God’s promises of worldwide blessing under the
reign of the Messiah. One of the most incredible prophecies is found in Isaiah 9:6-7:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to
us; and the government will rest on His shoulders;
and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There
will be no end to the increase of His government or of
peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of
the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

This prophecy of the coming King builds on the
prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14, which tells of a child
who will be called Immanuel—“God with us.” The
titles “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” and “Prince of Peace” point out that this
coming child who will be King will also be God Himself. Of his reign Isaiah declares: “There will be no

Thine is the Kingdom

end to the increase of His government or of peace.”
Alec Motyer explains that this means “His kingdom
will increase and occupy progressively all space until
he rules over all.”13
We must observe two functions of this prophecy.
First, the nature of the King’s reign is one of “increase.” His reign unfolds progressively; it is not
imposed catastrophically. In the premillennial vision
no place exists for increase because Christ’s reign is
instituted catastrophically and suddenly. It is established
completely, once and for all at the Second Coming.
Second, the one who accomplishes this is the Lord of
Hosts. We can have firm assurance that this prophecy
will be fulfilled because “the zeal of the Lord of hosts
will accomplish this.” Contrary to popular caricatures,
postmillennialism does not assert that man “brings in”
the kingdom. Postmillennialism teaches that the kingdom of Christ has already been inaugurated at Christ’s
resurrection and ascension, that the increase of this
kingdom will continue until all of Christ’s enemies have
been placed under his feet, and will ultimately be consummated at the Second Coming. And God
accomplishes all of this just as he promised.
The book of Daniel includes some of the most important eschatological prophecies in Scripture. We shall
look briefly at two leading prophecies. Daniel 2 recounts the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s
interpretation of it. In the dream, Nebuchadnezzar sees
a giant statue made of different metals that is struck
on the feet by a stone cut without hands (Daniel 2:3135, 44). The stone is not a normal stone for “the stone
that struck the great statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth” (v. 35).

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

In 2:36-45, Daniel interprets the dream and informs
the king that the statue represents four kingdoms. Most
evangelical commentators understand that the statue’s
head of gold represents the Babylonian Empire, the
breast and arms of silver represent the Medo-Persian
Empire, the belly and thighs of bronze represent the
Greek Empire, and the legs of iron and feet of iron
and clay represent the Roman Empire. The stone cut
without hands represents the messianic kingdom of
God. That the stone strikes the feet of the statue means
that the messianic kingdom will be established during
the time of the last Empire.14
What are the characteristics of this messianic kingdom? First, it was established during the time of the fourth
kingdom, the Roman Empire, not thousands of years later.
Second, Daniel says of this kingdom that it “will never be
destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). Third, it will overcome all opposing kingdoms and grow until it fills the whole earth.
Fourth, this growth will be gradual and progressive. The
messianic kingdom starts as a stone, but it does not remain a stone, and it is not crushed into pebbles. The stone
grows into a mountain that fills the earth. Note the similarity of this growth to other images of the kingdom’s
progress in Ezekiel 17:47, Matthew 13, and Mark 4.
The book of Daniel includes another important prophecy for our understanding of Christian eschatology. In
Daniel 7:13-14 we read the following:
I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the
clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming,
and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion,
glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and


Thine is the Kingdom

men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is
an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and
His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

Premillennialists claim that this vision is a prophecy of
the Second Coming of Christ, but the context makes
such an interpretation impossible.
In this chapter Daniel sees in a vision a succession
of four beasts, which he interprets as four kingdoms
(7:17). These four kingdoms parallel the four kingdoms described in Daniel 2.15 After the vision of the
four beasts Daniel receives a glorious vision of the
throne room of God (vv. 9-12). He sees God seated
on his throne with books opened to pass judgment.
Two reasons oppose applying this vision to the final
judgment. In the first place verses 22 and 26 declare
this to be a judgment against human kingdoms during
the reign of the fourth beast. Second, the result of the
judgment is that dominion and rule is taken from the
fourth beast and given to the ascended Son of Man
(vv. 12-14, 18, 22, 27).
How does Daniel describe the events in the throne room
immediately following this judgment? In verses 13-14
Daniel sees one like the Son of Man coming up with
the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days. This is
not a scene of the Son of Man descending from the
right hand of God down to earth. Daniel is viewing
this from the perspective of the throne room of God,
and the movement of the Son of Man is upward. This
is a vision of the ascension of Christ, not his Second
Coming (cf. Acts 2:30-31, 34-35). At his ascension
Christ is given “dominion and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

Him” (Daniel 7:14). Daniel 7:13-14 explicitly contradicts the premillennial claim that his inheritance and
possession of these things awaits his Second Coming.

A strong foundation for postmillennial eschatology is
established in the Old Testament. But the postmillennial
argument is not confined to Old Testament revelation, as
some amillennial opponents contend. Apostles build upon
this Old Testament foundation in the New Testament writings, which begin with the words: “The book of the
genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son
of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). In these few words, we
see the first indication that the centuries old covenant
promises given to Abraham and David are to be fulfilled in their descendant, Jesus of Nazareth.

The Kingdom Parables

Two important parables from the Kingdom Parables
of Christ are especially significant for postmillennialism:
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a
man took and sowed in his field, which is indeed the
least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater
than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of
the air come and nest in its branches.” Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like
leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures
of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:31-33)

Each of these two parables reveals a different yet similar aspect of the kingdom, and both parables elucidate
one overarching theme.

Thine is the Kingdom

The main point of the Mustard Seed parable is that
despite unimpressive beginnings, the kingdom of the
Messiah will progressively grow until it becomes the
dominant feature on the historical landscape. The main
point of the Leaven parable is that the growth and influence of the messianic kingdom will be internally
pervasive, restructuring all that it contacts. R.T. France
has provided a helpful summary of the overarching
theme of both parables. He observes that both parables:
focus on the paradox of insignificant or hidden beginnings and a triumphant climax. To them [the disciples],
and to us today who may expect God to act dramatically and without delay, Jesus points out that the full
growth is assured from the moment the seed is sown,
however unpromising its appearance and whatever opposition it may meet in its development. The way of God
is not that of ostentation but of ultimate success.16

In these parables Jesus clearly reveals that the full manifestation of the messianic kingdom does not come
about catastrophically as premillennialism teaches. Just
as Daniel taught, Jesus teaches that the kingdom grows
gradually, progressively, and pervasively to dominance.

The Great Commission

After his death on the cross (Matthew 27:32-56),
burial (27:57-61), and glorious resurrection (28:1-10),
Jesus gathers his disciples at Galilee and commissions
them to fulfill the covenant promises designed to bless
all the families of the earth. In Matthew 28:18-20 we
read the following account:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All
authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.


Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that
I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even
to the end of the age.”

In this commission Jesus reveals the instrumental means
through which he will fulfill all the great covenantal promises of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ declares that he
has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth.” All
of this powerful authority stands behind the command to
disciple the nations and bring the covenant blessings to
all the families of the earth. Israel failed to mediate God’s
blessings to the nations of the earth. Christ has now
assumed this responsibility and delegated the means
by which it will be accomplished to his Church. Israel
failed, but the Messiah cannot and will not fail.

Romans 9-11

In any study of eschatology Romans 9-11 cannot be
overlooked. Despite numerous attempts to avoid the
implications of Paul’s teaching, this passage of Scripture
provides a very strong argument for postmillennialism.
When chapters 9-11 are viewed in light of the preceding chapters in Romans, it becomes clear that the
purpose of these chapters is to demonstrate that God’s
promises have not failed despite Israel’s rejection of
the gospel. In chapters 9-11 Paul gives a two-fold answer to the problem of Israel’s unbelief. He points out
in these chapters that God’s faithfulness is upheld
because Israel’s rejection is not total (e.g., 9:6-13;
11:5, 7). He also points out that God’s faithfulness
is upheld because Israel’s rejection is not final (e.g.,

Thine is the Kingdom

Paul explains that salvation is never a birthright, even
for the descendants of Abraham (9:6-29), and that ethnic Israel has been cast aside while Gentiles pour into
the kingdom (9:30-10:21). Then he begins chapter 11
with a vital question and an emphatic answer: “I say
then, God has not rejected his people, has He? May it
never be!” He explains again that a remnant of Israel
has been chosen by grace (vv. 2-6; cf. 9:6-13, 27).
This chosen remnant has obtained salvation while the
rest of ethnic Israel has been hardened (11:7-10). This
alone would demonstrate that God is faithful and that
his promises have not failed, but Paul continues by
explaining that the hardening of the greater part of
ethnic Israel has a purpose and is not permanent.
In verse 11 Paul turns his attention back to the Jews
who have rejected Christ and answers a second rhetorical question: “I say then, they did not stumble so as to
fall, did they? May it never be!” (11:11a; cf. 9:32-33).
For the remainder of this chapter the subject focuses
on hardened ethnic Israel who has stumbled over
Christ. Paul explains the purpose of her rejection and
looks forward to their future acceptance.
Several times in the remainder of chapter 11, Paul
explains the purpose and future of ethnic Israel in terms
of a threefold progression. In 11:11 he observes that
Israel’s hardening occurred in order that salvation
might come to the Gentiles and that the salvation of
the Gentiles will make ethnic Israel jealous. In verse
12, Paul outlines the three main steps in the outworking of God’s purpose: (1) Israel stumbles in her
transgression, (2) the Gentiles receive rich blessings of salvation, and (3) Israel returns to Christ in
fullness leading to greater salvific riches. Paul re14

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

peats this threefold plan in verses 15, 20-23, 25b26, and 31.
In 11:26 Paul says, “all Israel will be saved.” This
verse has been the center of the longstanding controversy over this chapter. But once we grasp the context
of these words, the interpretation becomes much
clearer. Three leading interpretations of the words “all
Israel” in verse 26 are that it refers to: (1) the entire
community of the elect—Jew and Gentile, (2) the elect
remnant within Israel throughout history, and (3) ethnic Israel. The last interpretation is the only
interpretation that does justice to the context and flow
of Paul’s argument in Romans.
To begin analyzing this text we must first note the
immediate context. Verse 26 is a continuation of a sentence that begins in verse 25. This sentence opens with:
“a partial hardening has happened to Israel.” All agree
that this cannot refer to the Church, and that the “Israel” in verse 25 must at least include a portion of
ethnic Israel. The word “Israel” in verse 25 is without
question a reference to hardened ethnic Israel, and
nothing in the immediate context suggests that the
word changes its meaning between the beginning of
the sentence in verse 25 and the end of the sentence in
verse 26. The word “Israel” in verse 26 continues the
same meaning established in verse 25.
The second major clue to the interpretation of verse
26 is the proximate context. In 11:11-32 Paul continually distinguishes between ethnic Israel and the
Gentiles. This militates against the first interpretation.
Contrary to the second interpretation, we must observe that the subject of 11:11-32 as a whole is the

Thine is the Kingdom

ethnic Israel that has stumbled. The antecedent of the
“they” in verse 11 is the hardened Israelites in verse 7,
who are explicitly distinguished from the remnant.
Over thirty times in these verses Paul refers specifically to hardened Israel. They, and not the remnant,
are the subject of these verses.
Finally, the time reference in these verses indicates
that the hardening of ethnic Israel is temporary. Her
rejection is not permanent: it continues until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, and then ethnic Israel
will be restored (cf. 11:12, 15, 24, 25). This is indicated in verse 26. The word “thus” has to do with the
manner of the salvation of “all Israel.” The manner
includes the three historical and temporal stages that
Paul has mentioned several times throughout this chapter. Furthermore, the acceptance of “all Israel” is
spoken of in contrast to the situation as it existed in
Paul’s day and as it exists in our day when ethnic Israel as a whole remains rejected. In addition, Paul states
that the hardening of Israel will continue until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.
When Romans 9-11 is read as a whole, it clearly
points to a future restoration of ethnic Israel to faith in
God, to an acceptance of her Messiah, to a regrafting
back into the Olive Tree. As her transgression resulted
in blessing for the entire world, her fullness will result
in unimaginable blessings.

I Corinthians 15

Another important eschatological passage in Paul
appears in his famous resurrection chapter, I
Corinthians 15. We find the crucial information in
verses 24 and 25: “Then comes the end, when He deliv16

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

ers up the kingdom to God the Father, when He has
abolished all rule and all authority and power. For
He must reign until He has put all His enemies under
His feet.”
The significance of this passage becomes clear when
we understand that Christ was given the kingdom when
he was exalted to the right hand of the Father at his
ascension (cf. Acts 2:29-36; Ephesians 1:19-21;
Philippians 2:9-10; I Peter 3:22; cf. Daniel 7:13-14).
Paul teaches that the course of Christ’s kingdom will
be exactly that which the prophets described (cf. Psalm
110; Isaiah 9; Daniel 2, 7; Zechariah 9). During the
course of his present reign Christ is gradually overcoming all opposition and is putting all of his enemies
under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be
death, and this will be brought about by the future
resurrection of our bodies at the Second Coming (cf.
I Corinthians 15:26, 51-56). Since the last enemy to
be destroyed is death, and since the destruction of death
will occur on the Last Day, all of the rest of Christ’s
enemies must be put under his feet before the Last
Day. The victory of Christ’s kingdom must occur before his Second Coming when he destroys death by
raising his people from the grave.

Revelation 20

Many discussions of eschatology in general and the
millennium in particular focus on Revelation 20 virtually to the exclusion of the remainder of Scripture.
This is unfortunate because the book of Revelation is
the culmination of God’s revelation; it cannot be properly understood without the teaching of the previous
sixty-five books of Scripture. When it is read in light

Thine is the Kingdom

of all that has come before it, Revelation 20 provides
the capstone—not a foundation stone—to the Bible’s
eschatological teaching concerning Christ’s reign.
Revelation 20 describes a vision of the Millennium
(vv. 1-10) and the Great White Throne Judgment (vv.
11-15). John describes three basic characteristics of
the Millennium: (1) He tells us that at its inception and
for most of its duration, Satan is “bound”; (2) Christ is
reigning with all Christians; (3) at its conclusion Satan
is briefly released. A comparison with the previous
Scriptures reveals that this Millennium is the present
age between the two advents of Christ.
The New Testament repeatedly declares that Satan
was decisively defeated and restrained at Christ’s first
advent (Matthew 12:29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31;
Colossians 2:15; I John 3:8). Hebrews 2:14 uses even
stronger language than Revelation 20, saying that
through his death on the cross, Christ rendered Satan
“powerless.” The binding of Satan does not mean that
his activity completely ceases (I Peter 5:8), but that he
can no longer prevent the spread of the gospel to the
nations (Revelation 20:3). The revelation that he will be
briefly released at the end of the age disallows any form
of perfectionist utopianism. Satan, sin, and death will not
be completely destroyed until the Second Coming.
Scripture also declares repeatedly that Christ was
given his kingdom at his first advent (Daniel 2, 7;
Matthew 2:2; Acts 2:30-31; 17:7; Colossians 1:13;
Revelation 1:5) and that Christians now reign with him
(Romans 5:17; Ephesians 2:6; Revelation 1:6). Those
who reign with Christ partake of the first resurrection,
which is Christ’s resurrection (cf. I Corinthians 15:2018

Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

23). Only those who are in Christ partake of this resurrection. Our participation in it is spoken of in the
past tense in terms of our regeneration, or spiritual
resurrection (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12), and
in the future tense in terms of our bodily resurrection
(Romans 6:5; I Corinthians 15:23, 52-56; I Thessalonians
4:16). All who have been raised spiritually will be raised
bodily. John tells us that the second death, the lake of
fire, has no power over those who have a part in the
first resurrection (Revelation 20:6, 14).
In Revelation 20:5 John describes a second resurrection of those who are not in Christ and who will be judged
at the Great White Throne. This judgment is graphically
described in verses 11-15. John elsewhere refers to this
second resurrection as a “resurrection of judgment” (John
5:28-29). This second resurrection is qualitatively distinct from the first resurrection because unbelievers never
partake in the resurrection of Christ. They remain in a
state of spiritual death and they will be raised to face the
second death (Revelation 20:6, 14).

Contrary to the assertions of Chafer, Walvoord,
Ryrie and a host of others, the covenant promises and
prophecies of Scripture reveal a clear and consistent
foundation for postmillennial eschatology. God’s original plans and purposes for his creation are now being
accomplished through his Son Jesus Christ. Through
him God is bringing and will continue bringing blessings to all the nations of the earth even as he subdues
every enemy. Jesus was given his kingdom at his ascension, and during his present reign he is putting all
of his enemies under his feet. He has commissioned his

Thine is the Kingdom

Church to be the instrument by which he accomplishes
these purposes of blessing and judgment. Through the
Church’s faithful preaching of the gospel, his purposes
will be done on earth as they are in heaven.

Keith A. Mathison, Ph.D., is Director of Curriculum
Development and Assistant Editor of Tabletalk magazine at Ligonier Ministries. He is the author of four books,
including two on eschatology: Dispensationalism:
Rightly Dividing the People of God? and
Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope.
John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 34.
Walvoord, Millennial Kingdom, 35.
Charles Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith
(Neptune, N. J.: Loizeaux, 1953), 13-14.
One has only to read the works of postmillennialists
such as the Puritans Thomas Brightman, Thomas
Goodwin, John Owen, and Jonathan Edwards as well
as the works of such modern postmillennialists as
Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, James Henley Thornwell,
and B. B. Warfield to realize the complete inaccuracy of
the dispensationalist descriptions of postmillennialism.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 4:281.
Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An
Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, N. J.: P&R,
1999), 10.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. He Shall Have Dominion:
A Postmillennial Eschatology, 2nd ed. (Tyler, Tex.:
Institute for Christian Economics, 1997), 79.


Chapter 1: A Summary Case for Postmillennialism

Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 187–94.
For a more thorough examination of the biblical
evidence for postmillennialism, see Gentry, He Shall
Have Dominion; John Jefferson Davis, The Victory of
Christ’s Kingdom (Moscow, Ida.: Canon, 1996); and
Mathison, Postmillennialism.
See Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 182.
The remainder of the Pentateuch and the historical books reveal the further outworking of God’s
covenantal work, his calling of Israel to be the chosen
means through which he would bring blessing to the
nations. God reveals his holy law to Israel and reveals
that obedience to the covenant would bring blessing
while disobedience would bring cursing (Leviticus 26;
Deuteronomy 28). Throughout the historical books,
we see the truth of these promises and warnings in the
history of Israel.
J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah (Downers
Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 103.
E. J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 78.
Young, Daniel, 143–50.
R. T. France, Matthew (Downers Grove, Ill:
InterVarsity Press, 1985), 228.



Thine is the Kingdom


Chapter 2

Psalm 110 and the
Postmillennial Hope
by William O. Einwechter 1



evangelicals agree that the kingdom of
God will ultimately triumph over the kingdom of darkness, but they do not agree on the time or
the circumstances of that victory. All orthodox Christians confess their faith in the blessed hope of Christ’s
return, but they differ in their views concerning the
present prospect (hope) of the kingdom of Christ during the inter-advent period. What does the Bible teach
in regard to the progress of Christ’s kingdom during
the present age that precedes his Second Coming in
power and glory? That question has been answered in
three basic ways: the premillennial view, the amillennial
view, and the postmillennial view.

Pessimism pervades both the premillennial and
amillennial views on the course of the kingdom of
Christ during the inter-advent era, or the “Church age.”
The premillennialist believes that the historical manifestation of Christ’s victory over his enemies will not
take place until after his return and the establishment
of his millennial kingdom. Thus, the premillennialist

Thine is the Kingdom

does not look for any outward, large-scale manifestation of Christ’s kingdom during this age. In fact, they
believe that evil will increase throughout history until
the end of this age when Satan will triumph through
the arising of the Antichrist imposing a worldwide geopolitical kingdom of darkness. H. Wayne House and
Thomas Ice express the dispensational premillennial
view by saying: “Common grace is on the decline, especially God’s restraint of evil. This accounts for the
rising apostasy and the decline of Christianity.... In fact,
one day God will remove the restrainer and hell on
earth will be the order during the tribulation. It’s going to get bad before it gets worse.”2 Premillennialists
believe that although the gospel is preached to all nations, relatively few will be saved, that evil grows as
the age progresses, and that there are no prospects of
a golden age on earth prior to the Second Coming and
the millennial reign of Christ on earth.3
The amillennial view differs in many important respects from the premillennial view; nevertheless, it is
also relatively pessimistic concerning the progress of
history prior to his glorious return. The amillennialist,
at best, sees good and evil growing together during
this age. They see no definitive triumph of the kingdom of Christ in history. William Cox compares and
contrasts amillennialism with premillennialism and
postmillennialism, and in so doing expresses the pessimism of amillennialism:
Is the world getting better or worse? Postmillenarians
say it is getting better, and that the preaching of the
gospel will eventually see most of the world converted,
thus ushering in an earthly millennium before the second coming. Premillenarians believe the world is


Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

growing increasingly worse, and that it will be at its
very worst when Jesus returns. Amillenarians agree
with premillenarians on this point. Although we believe the kingdom of God began as a small mustard
seed and grows steadily larger, we also believe that
evil grows proportionately faster. Good and evil will
exist side by side until the very harvest, which Jesus
said will be the end of the world (Matthew 13:39).
We believe this growth will culminate with the appearance of the antichrist, which Paul called the man of sin,
and which John referred to as Satan being loosed for a
little season. This loosing will take place in the very
endtime of the present historical church age.4

The only truly optimistic view on the prospects of
Christ’s kingdom prior to his return is the postmillennial
view. Gentry, a postmillennialist, defines this view
as follows:
Postmillennialism is that system of eschatology which
understands the Messianic kingdom to have been
founded upon the earth during the earthly ministry and
through the redemptive labors of the Lord Jesus Christ
in fulfillment of Old Testament prophetic expectation.
The nature of that kingdom is essentially redemptive
and spiritual and will exercise a transformational
socio-cultural influence in history, as more and more
people are converted to Christ. Postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history in which
the gospel will have won the victory throughout the
earth in fulfillment of the Great Commission. After
an extended period of gospel prosperity, earth history
will be drawn to a close by the personal, visible, bodily
return of Jesus Christ (accompanied by a literal resurrection and a general judgment). 5


Thine is the Kingdom

The postmillennial view of the triumph of Christ’s
kingdom prior to his return often is criticized as being
without proper biblical support. For example, John
Walvoord charges that “reborn postmillennialism attacks any view that differs with it, but the contenders
for postmillennialism never set up their own view in a
solid way. After all, the issue is whether postmillennialism
is taught in the Bible.”6 He correctly notes that the issue
must be resolved in Scripture. So then, we must ask: Is
postmillennialism taught in the Bible and thus the correct
view on the course of Christ’s kingdom in this age?
This chapter aims to provide an answer to that question by a study of Psalm 110 and its usage in the New
Testament. Psalm 110 is a significant passage in the
debate between the three millennial positions. It is recognized by all as one of the most important of the
messianic psalms. Certainly, the New Testament writers considered it so, for they quote and refer to it more
than any other single Old Testament text. Thus, a
proper interpretation of Psalm 110 and its New Testament usage is imperative for understanding the work
of the Messiah and the course of his kingdom.

The proper method for a Christian approach to the
message of the Old Testament is to begin with the Old
Testament text itself, seeking to understand it in its
original historical and theological contexts. As John
Bright notes: “Interpretation of the Old Testament must
begin, as all interpretation must, with a grammatico-historical exegesis of the text (with all that that entails) aimed
at arriving at its precise verbal meaning.... But, again as
elsewhere, exegesis must proceed in theological depth

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope discern behind the words of the text those theological concerns, those facets of the Old Testament’s
structure of faith, that express themselves in it.”7

Introduction to Psalm 110

The heading in the Hebrew Bible to Psalm 110 states
that it is “A Psalm of David,” thus indicating that David
was the author of the Psalm.8 The content of the psalm
also points to David as the writer. But in spite of
this, some have disputed its authorship. However,
for those who accept the authority of the New Testament the question of authorship is not in doubt, for both
Jesus (Matthew 22:43) and Peter (Acts 2:34-35) testify
that David was indeed the inspired writer of Psalm 110.
The heading to the psalm also indicates the nature
of David’s composition. The Hebrew word for “Psalm”
used in the heading refers to a song or poem of praise
to God. The praise that David offers to God in Psalm
110 pertains to David’s Lord, i.e., the messianic King
who will one day reign in power and glory at the right
hand of the LORD.9 David, speaking “in the Spirit” (Matthew 22:43), praises God for the Messiah who will
come in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, rule the
nations, and defeat all of the enemies of God (II Samuel
7:12-17; Psalm 89:3-4, 20-21, 34-37). David rejoices
before God and his people as he prophesies of the future victorious reign of the Messiah.
Regarding the time of composition or the historical
setting of the psalm, neither the heading nor contents
provide any definite clues. Nevertheless, it seems evident that David wrote Psalm 110 some time after he
had received the promises of the Davidic Covenant
through the prophet Nathan (I Chronicles 17:1-15).

Thine is the Kingdom

As France observes, “The prophecy of Nathan to David
(II Samuel 7:5-16), with its promise of a descendent
who shall be called God’s son, and of an everlasting
kingdom, and David’s own reflections on that prophecy (II Samuel 23:2-5), may encourage us to see in
Psalm 110 David’s own description of the glory and
triumph of the Messiah.”10
The prophetic revelation contained in Psalm 110 is
not based on typology, but stands as a direct messianic prophecy. From beginning to end, David states
the prophetic word that he had received concerning
the Messiah. The prophecy is cast in poetic form and
draws upon the images of David’s kingship, but, assuredly, it is a verbal prediction of the Messiah’s
reign. Calvin, who argues that this psalm is a direct
prophecy and not typology, says, “It is acknowledged that the kingdom of Christ is typified in the
person of David, but it cannot be asserted of him,
or any of his successors, that he should be a king
whose dominion should be widely extended, and who,
at the same time, was to be a priest, not according to
the law, but according to the order of Melchizedek,
and that for ever.”11 Concurring in this estimation,
Franz Delitzsch states: “According to the New Testament Scriptures, David speaks in Psalm 110 not merely
of Christ in so far as the Spirit of God has directed him
to speak of the Anointed of Jahve in a typical form,
but directly and objectively in a prophetical representation of the Future One.”12
The theme of Psalm 110 is the victorious reign of
the Messiah at the right hand of God. Here the Messiah (the Christ) is “depicted as a conqueror, king, and
priest, reigning in glory on the right hand of God.”13

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

In this psalm David emphatically proclaims the victory of the Messiah over all of his enemies due to his
exaltation to the right hand of God. Having been enthroned as “Lord,” he confidently goes forth in the
conflict with the promise that all of his enemies will
become his footstool. Anderson, the translator of
Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms, comments in a
footnote to Psalm 110: “[T]he psalm is thus, beyond
all controversy, a very clear prediction of the divinity,
priesthood, victories, and triumph of the Messiah.”14
Psalm 110 is a majestic psalm that reveals the exaltation of the Christ and the comprehensive victory that
will be his by divine decree.
The structure of Psalm 110 is discerned by noting
that David addresses himself first in a general manner
to all (v. 1), then to the Messiah (vv. 2-4), and finally
to the LORD (vv. 5-7). Each section of the psalm emphasizes the fact of the Messiah’s position of authority
and his victorious warfare against his enemies. In verse
1 David repeats the word of the LORD, which enthrones
the Messiah at God’s right hand and promises him victory over all his adversaries. The truth that is revealed
in this verse forms the basis for the entire psalm. In
verses 2-4 David speaks to the Messiah and prophesies
of the Messiah’s authority over his enemies, his willing
army of followers, and his priesthood. In verses 5-7 David
addresses the LORD and declares that the “Lord at thy
right hand” will go forth in victory, destroying the kings
who stand against him and judging among the heathen.

Exposition of Psalm 110

We must now carefully analyze the passage to determine its significance for the eschatological debate.

Thine is the Kingdom

The Messiah’s Exaltation and Reign (v. 1)

The psalm begins with: “The LORD said.” In the
Hebrew text, “said” (Hebrew: na’ am) is the first word
of the psalm. Na’ am is not the common word for
speaking, but it is a special term that refers to a prophetic oracle. It is only used of prophetic
communication, i.e., when a prophet is citing the divine word given to him (cf. I Samuel 2:30; Isaiah
1:24; 55:8). It is “used exclusively of divine speaking.... Hence its appearance calls special attention
to the origin and authority of what is said.”15 Therefore, David, as a prophet (Acts 2:30), is giving the
word of the LORD as it was revealed to him. By opening with the word “said” David emphasizes the
divine origin and truth of what he writes.
The oracle that David records concerns one whom
he calls “my Lord.” David hears the LORD speak to his
Lord (“The LORD said unto my Lord”). But who is
David’s Lord? The Hebrew term that is here translated “Lord” means a master, owner, governor, or ruler.
In the context, this can only refer to the Messiah.16
Who else would David address as his Lord? David
understood from the promises given to him in the
Davidic Covenant (II Samuel 7:12-17; I Chronicles
17:1-15) that God would establish his kingdom forever through one of his descendants. From such passages
as Psalm 2 and II Samuel 23:1-7, evidently David knew
that this descendent (the LORD’s Anointed, Psalm 2:2)
would be so great and glorious that he would be David’s
superior. David understood that even he must bow before the coming Messiah as his master and Lord.
Therefore, from David’s own perspective Psalm 110 is a
prophetic oracle concerning the coming messianic King.

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

Having established the origin and authority for the
psalm, David now gives the divine word concerning
the Messiah. These are prophetic words, and, from
David’s perspective, refer to a time in the future after
the Messiah has come in fulfillment of the ancient promises. In that day, the LORD will say to the Messiah, “Sit
thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy
footstool.” Both parts of this oracle are extremely
important, and careful attention must be given to each.
In the phrase “sit thou at my right hand,” the verb
“sit” (Hebrew: yashab) is in the imperative mode, and
expresses in no uncertain terms the will of the LORD
for the Messiah. It is not a mere invitation but a divine, unalterable decree—the Messiah will one day sit
at the right hand of God. The right hand is a place of
honor and privilege, but in this context it means more
than that. To understand the full import of what it
means to sit at the right hand of God, we must consider the scriptural teaching on where God himself is
seated. According to the Scriptures God is the “great
king over all the earth,” he “reigns over the nations,”
he “sits on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:2, 8), and his
throne is in heaven (Psalm 2:4; 11:4; 103:19; Isaiah 66:1).
God is sovereign over all, and he rules over all from his
holy throne in heaven. Thus, the LORD is giving to the
Messiah the privilege and honor of joining him as he sits
on the divine throne in heaven. By God’s appointment
David ruled over the nation of Israel from Jerusalem.
But David’s son, the Messiah, also by God’s appointment will rule over all the earth from the throne of God.17
Now we must ask: Could any mere man ever occupy such a position? Certainly not. Therefore, the
Messiah is no ordinary man. In fact, to rule with God

Thine is the Kingdom

from God’s throne in heaven implies that the Messiah
himself is divine. As H. C. Leupold has commented:
“No one less than the Lord God of Israel Himself
(‘Yahweh’) had designated for the Messiah a position
at His own right hand, making Him co-equal in rank
and authority with Himself and so virtually declaring
His divine character.”18 Also it should be noted that
the summons to sit at the LORD’s right hand indicates that
the Messiah will not occupy this position at first, but that
there will come a time in his career when he will be officially enthroned at God’s side. The text here does not
state the time or the circumstances of his exaltation.
When the LORD appoints the Messiah to rule at his
right hand, he states that this arrangement will continue “until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” The
word translated “until” is used here of a limit of time.
The Messiah’s reign will begin at his elevation to the
throne of God and will continue “until” his enemies
are his footstool. “Enemies” is a strong term that speaks
of those who hate another, and here refers to those
who despise the righteous kingdom of God and contest the Messiah’s reign. But the fate of these
adversaries is that they will become the Messiah’s
“footstool.” This “is a metaphor for the decisive defeat of enemies, originating in the custom of the victor
placing his foot upon the neck of the conquered”19 (cf.
Joshua 10:24; I Kings 5:3). Therefore, the distinct reign
of the Messiah that is in view in Psalm 110 has both a
beginning and an ending. It commences with his glorious
exaltation to the LORD’s right hand and continues until
the time when his enemies have been vanquished.
Does this mean that the Messiah’s reign is not everlasting? Not necessarily, for the word “until” sometimes

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

expresses “a limit which is not absolute (terminating
the preceding action), but only relative, beyond which
the action or state described in the principle clause
still continues” (cf. Genesis 26:13; 49:10; Psalm
112:8).20 “Until” in Psalm 110 does not mark the absolute close of the Messiah’s reign, but the end of an
epoch, a turning point.21 His reign will continue on
beyond the defeat of his enemies (his kingdom is forever and “his throne as the days of heaven,” Psalm
89:28-29, 34-37; Daniel 7:13-14; Isaiah 9:6-7). But it
will undergo a change for it will no longer be a reign
involving conflict with his enemies because they will
all have been totally defeated.22
In verse 1 David repeats the divine oracle that he
had received concerning his Lord the Messiah. This
revelation states that the Messiah will be exalted to
the right hand of God, and while seated on his heavenly throne, will achieve victory over his enemies. This
verse sets the theme for the Psalm: the victorious reign
of the Messiah. The place from which he will reign is
the throne of God. His reign (i.e., the portion of his
eternal reign that is in view in Psalm 110) will begin at
his enthronement and continue on until all his enemies
are vanquished. His kingdom will, therefore, triumph
over all the kingdoms of this world.

The Messiah’s Dominion, People,
and Priesthood (vv. 2-4)

Having delivered the divine oracle that he had received
concerning his Lord, David, speaking in the Spirit, addresses the Messiah and declares the word of the L ORD
to him. This is a prophetic word that reveals the means
whereby the Messiah shall reign victoriously.

Thine is the Kingdom

You will triumph, says David, because “the LORD
shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.” This
indicates that the LORD will commission and empower
the Messiah to crush those arrayed against him. The
word “rod” (Hebrew: matah) refers to the rod of a
king, i.e., his scepter (cf. Psalm 2:9). Thus, the “rod of
thy strength” speaks of the kingly power and dominion given to the Messiah to rule the nations. “Send”
(Hebrew: shalah) means to stretch out or to extend,
and here is used to refer to the extension of the
Messiah’s authority throughout all the earth. “Zion” is
the center of the Messiah’s kingdom, and, in context
(cf. verse 1 where the Messiah’s throne is at God’s
right hand), it is used in a figurative sense of the place
where God dwells (cf. Psalm 11:4; 103:19; 48:2; 99:1-3;
Hebrews 12:22). David ruled from the earthly Zion,
but his Lord will rule from the heavenly Zion. It is
“out of Zion,” or “from Zion” that his kingdom will
spread. It is from this center of power that the
Messiah’s kingdom will extend to “the ends of the
world” (Psalm 2:8; 22:27).
Continuing in his address to the Messiah, David says
“rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” The word
“rule” (Hebrew: radah) means, literally, to tread with
the feet (e.g., as in a winepress, Joel 4:13), and in a
figurative sense it means to subdue, rule over, take
possession of, or dominate. Significantly, “rule” is in
the imperative mode, and is used to indicate an emphatic prediction or promise of what will be fulfilled
in the future.23 The divine word promises the Messiah
that he will tread down his enemies and take dominion
over them. Therefore, verse 2 reveals that the Messiah will not be passive at the right hand of God in the

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

conflict to defeat those who are set against him. In
fact, he will be the active agent of the LORD in the
conquest of God’s enemies. Having been enthroned at
the right hand of God and given all power and authority, the Messiah will go forth from Zion to extend his
dominion over the rebellious nations, and they will
become his footstool.
Significantly, we find many parallels between Psalm 2
and Psalm 110:1-2:
Psalm 110:1:
Psalm 2:1-3:
and kings
are and“Enemies”
Psalm 2:1-3:
kings are inconfront
the and his
the LORD
LORD and his Anointed.
Psalm 110:1: “Enemies” confront the Lord.
Psalm 2:4-6:
Psalm 110:1-2:
is enthroned
The Anointed is enThe
throned on the “holy
L ORD ’s right goes
of Zion.”
110:1-2: The Messiahforth
at the“from
goes forth “from Zion” to defeat
defeat his
his enemies.
Psalm 2:7-9:
Psalm 110:1-2:
Psalm 2:7-9: The LORD empowers Messiah to
The L ORD empowThe Messiah is promput down the revolt and extend his dominion
ers Messiah to put
ised his enemies as a
“to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
down the revolt and
footstool over which
he shall
Psalm 110:1-2: The Messiah
is promised
the as
a footstool over which he shall rule.
parts of the earth.”
Psalm 110:3 indicates that the Messiah will not be
alone as he goes forth to conquer his enemies. Delitzsch
states: “In order that he may rule victoriously, it is
necessary that there should be a people and an army.”24

Thine is the Kingdom

“Thy people” refers to those who belong to the Messiah, to those who are the citizens of his kingdom. His
people shall be “willing,” i.e., they will freely offer
themselves to do service for their king. The word “willing” (Hebrew: nedabah) “connotes an uncompelled
and free movement of the will unto divine service or
sacrifice.”25 Thus, they present themselves as a “freewill offering” to their Lord (Exodus 35:29) “in the
day” of his “power.” “In the day” can specify either a
point in time or a period of time. The time in view
here is the time of the Messiah’s “power,” which in
context must refer to the power and authority conferred
upon him at his enthronement at the right hand of God
(v. 1). Therefore, “the day of thy power” is the era of the
Messiah’s reign from the right hand of God; it is the time
when he extends his dominion from Zion and treads down
all his enemies. Throughout this period of conflict and
kingdom expansion, he will be served by a host of willing
servants (soldiers) who follow him into battle.
David describes the army of the Messiah with two
highly poetic phrases. The first, “in the beauty of holiness” (Hebrew: hadar) is better translated as “in the
ornaments of holiness.” Delitzsch notes that this phrase
is used of “the vestment of the priest for performing
divine service: the Levite singers went forth before
the army in ‘holy attire’ in II Chronicles 20:21; here,
however, the people without distinction wear holy festive garments.... It is a priestly people which he leads
forth to holy battle.”26 The servants of the Lord are
pictured as an army of priests, suggesting that this is
no ordinary battle fought with spears and swords. The
second phrase, “from the womb of the morning: thou
hast the dew of thy youth,” is explained by Abraham

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

Cohen: “The dew falls at the dawn which is poetically
called its mother. It is a metaphor of freshness and is
beautifully applied to the young men of the kingdom
who fill the ranks of the army.”27 Leupold summarizes
the description of the Messiah’s followers:
Nor shall He be alone in this warfare (v. 3). When He
sets forth to give evidence of His power and control,
there will be a great army of men in the prime of their
youth who shall cheerfully volunteer their services and
shall come fittingly equipped for holy warfare in holy
garments, that is arrayed in true righteousness and
holiness. As dew in unnumbered globules is born at
each new dawn, so shall these warriors be, numberless and continually fresh.28

As a holy king the Messiah has a holy army, and as the
viceregent of the LORD he leads them to certain victory.
Psalm 110:4 reveals that the Messiah will hold a
second major office. Not only is he a king (vv.1-2),
he is also a “priest forever.” By a solemn and irrevocable oath “the LORD hath sworn, and will not repent”:
the Messiah is sovereignly appointed to serve as a
priest. In the Old Testament, a priest was God’s authorized minister and served as a mediator between
God and sinful man. The priest was appointed to
offer up prayers and sacrifices to God on behalf of
sinners (cf. Hebrews 5:1). Therefore, the Messiah
is a priest appointed to serve as the mediator for his
people. This aspect of the Messiah’s work is not
developed in this psalm (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
However, we must note the connection between the
Messiah and his people that is given in verses 3 and
4. The people he leads are an army of priests ar37

Thine is the Kingdom

rayed in “holy garments.” The king who leads them
is also a priest who acts as the mediator between
them and God. Hence, it is through the Messiah’s
priestly ministry that his followers have been clothed
in righteousness.
The LORD declares in his oath that the Messiah is a
“priest forever.” The Hebrew word “forever” (Hebrew:
olam) speaks of that which is hidden, specifically of
time that is hidden because the beginning or end thereof
is unknown or undefined; thus, it refers to a long period of time, eternity, or perpetuity.29 This suggests
that the Messiah’s priesthood will be on a level far
higher than any Levitical priest whose ministry to the
people was always cut short by death. The Messiah’s
priesthood is also “of the order of Melchizedek,” distinguishing it from the Levitical order. “Melchizedek”
means “king of righteousness.” Melchizedek was the
king of Salem and a priest of the “Most High God”
who blessed Abraham as Abraham was returning from
his victory over the kings who had defeated Sodom
and taken Lot captive (Genesis 14:13-24). As
Melchizedek held the offices of king and priest and
was so great that he blessed the patriarch Abraham,
so will the Messiah hold both offices and be so great
that Abraham and David—indeed, all of his people—
are blessed in him.
In Old Testament Israel the offices of priest and king
were kept distinct (cf. II Chronicles 26:16; I Samuel
13:8-13); priests were of the house of Levi, while kings
were of the house of David. But in the Messiah both
offices will be combined (cf. Zechariah 6:13). He will
be both king and priest forever. The context of Psalm
110 implies that both offices are essential if the Mes38

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

siah is to conquer his enemies. Delitzsch observes:
“David here hears that the king of the future exalted at
the right hand of God, and whom he calls his Lord, is
at the same time an eternal priest. And because he is
both of these his battle itself is a priestly royal work,
and just on this account his people fighting with him
also wear priestly garments.”30

The Messiah’s Warfare and Victory (vv. 5-7)

In this final section of the Psalm David addresses
the LORD and praises him for the victory that the Messiah surely will achieve. Speaking in the Spirit and
through the imagery of human warfare, David describes
the Messiah’s triumph over his enemies.
David begins praising God by setting forth the basis
for the Messiah’s conquests. He says, “The Lord at
thy right hand shall....” The word “Lord” refers to the
Messiah. It is the same title that David used in verse 1
when he called the Messiah his “Lord.” The reason
why the outcome of the conflict is not in doubt is because the Messiah sits at the right hand of God with
all power and authority committed to him. David states,
in effect: “LORD, I know that my Lord will triumph
because you have enthroned him at your side and made
him invincible.” The exaltation of the Messiah marks
the commencement of his victorious reign and signals
the beginning of the end for his foes.
After praising the LORD for enthroning the Messiah
at his right hand, David proceeds to depict the successful warfare of the Messiah in five statements. First,
he states that the messianic priest-king will “strike
through kings in the day of his wrath.” The word
“strike” (Hebrew: matas) means to smite through or

Thine is the Kingdom

to shatter. “Kings” are the objects of his wrath. These
kings are, therefore, earthly rulers who reject the authority of God and of his chosen king, the Messiah.
These must be the same kings who are spoken of in
Psalm 2:2-3 where they are described as being in revolt against the LORD and his Anointed. And as the
Messiah is commanded in Psalm 2:9 to break them
with a rod of iron, so here in Psalm 110:5-6 the Messiah is pictured as carrying out that command by
striking through these kings and filling the battlefield
with dead bodies.
David says that the Lord will strike these rebellious
kings “in the day of his wrath.” What “day” is this? Is
it the judgment that will come at the last day? No, the
context indicates that it is the judgment of the Lord
that will fall upon rebellious kings and nations while
the Messiah is enthroned at the right hand of God. It
describes the wrath of the Messiah that is visited upon
his enemies as he goes forth from Zion to make them
his footstool. It is the same “wrath” that is spoken of
in Psalm 2:10-12 where the kings and judges of the
earth are exhorted to serve the LORD and do homage
to his Son “lest he be angry, and ye perish from the
way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” In this
place “his wrath” speaks of the judgment of God that
falls upon rulers and nations during the course of history for refusing to repent of their wickedness and serve
the Lord (cf. Jeremiah 18:7-10; Psalm 9:15-17;
Deuteronomy 9:5). Hence, “the day of his wrath” is
any day that the Lord comes in judgment upon those
who despise his reign.
Psalm 110:6 contains three further statements about
the Messiah’s victorious warfare. In the phrase “he

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

shall judge among the heathen,” the word “judge”
^ according to Cohen, “does not imply
(Hebrew: dun)
the hearing of a suit but of passing judgment in a case
which is decided.”31 The nations have been found guilty
of sin and rebellion; therefore, the Messiah will carry
out God’s judgment upon them. In so doing, “he will
fill the places with dead bodies; he shall wound the
heads over many countries.” Both statements picture
the destruction of the enemies of God; both the armies
and leaders of the heathen nations fall before the invincible power of the Messiah and his army.
To depict the victory of the Messiah over his adversaries, Psalm 110:7 uses the image of a warrior who
pauses to drink from a brook, and then arises refreshed
to press the battle to a successful conclusion. As the
cool drink renews the warrior, so will the Messiah be
ever renewed and strengthened by the LORD as he goes
forth to conquer. In God’s mighty power he will
continue to fight until the victory is his. The heads
of his enemies are smashed (Psalm 110:5-6; 2:9), but
the Messiah’s head is lifted up as a victor and triumphant king.
In its Old Testament context Psalm 110 is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. The emphasis of this Psalm
is on the victorious reign of the Messiah from the right
hand of God. He will be exalted to the throne of God
and from that position he shall go forth with his people
to fulfill the divine commission to rule in the midst of
his enemies and extend his dominion to the four corners of the earth. The purpose of his reign will not be
achieved until all of his enemies are his footstool. He
must reign at the right hand of God until the victory is
his. Thus, according to Psalm 110 the Messiah’s throne

Thine is the Kingdom

is in heaven; his reign is mediatorial;32 and his reign
commences at his exaltation to his heavenly throne
and continues on until his enemies are all subdued.

Westminster Confession of Faith 1:9 states that “the
infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself.” The application of that fundamental
principle of hermeneutics leads us to consider the New
Testament’s use of Psalm 110. Christians are committed to the final authority of Jesus and his Apostles for
understanding and applying the Old Testament Scriptures. Therefore, if Christians are to know the full
meaning and true fulfillment of Psalm 110, they must
look to the New Testament and consider how the New
Testament interprets and applies this messianic psalm.
Bright correctly observes that the Christian “has received the Old Testament from the hands of Christ,
who is its fulfillment,” and therefore must bring the
Old Testament text to the New Testament for the “verdict” on its interpretation.33 The New Testament refers
to Psalm 110 either by direct quotation or verbal allusion more than any other single Old Testament text.34
This fact alone attests to the vital importance of Psalm
110 as a messianic prophecy. Psalm 110 is perhaps the
single most important Old Testament text for understanding the person of Christ and the essential
characteristics and sequence of his reign. The goal here
is to survey the quotations and allusions to Psalm 110
found in the New Testament. We conduct this survey
convinced that the New Testament indicates the precise
way in which the teaching of Psalm 110 on the victorious
reign of the Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

The Use of Psalm 110:1
in the New Testament

I will consider the use of Psalm 110:1 in the New
Testament under five headings, which will illustrate
its significance in the New Testament.

Its Use by Jesus Against the Jews

During Passion Week Jesus frequented the Temple
in order to teach the people. His enemies, the Jewish
leaders, were offended by him, and at various times
during the week they came to challenge his authority
and sought to entrap him with difficult questions (Matthew 21:23-22:46). However, all their attempts to
catch Jesus in his words failed miserably. Having dealt
with their trick questions, Jesus asked them a question of his own. But his purpose was not evil; he was
not seeking to “test” them. Rather he was challenging
their narrow concept of the Messiah. We find Jesus’
question to the Jewish leaders in each of the synoptic
gospels (Matthew 22:41-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke
20:41-44). I will focus on the text of Matthew.
Jesus begins by asking, “What think ye of Christ?
Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42). This question
would be so basic for a Jew that Jesus’ query suggests
there is more to this question than was commonly assumed by Jesus’ contemporaries. The Pharisees give
the expected answer: “The son of David.” This is a
true answer in so far as it goes, but Jesus demonstrates
that their answer is inadequate for a full understanding of the true nature and status of the Messiah. The
problem was that the Jews were only thinking in terms
of a political Messiah who would reestablish the throne
of David in Jerusalem and lead Israel to military vic43

Thine is the Kingdom

tory over her enemies (in particular, the Romans, cf.
John 6:15). Having received their answer, Jesus uses
Psalm 110:1 to show the Jews that their narrow view
of the Messiah does not agree with David’s own conception of the Messiah (Matthew 22:43-45).
Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1 is introduced by the words:
“How then doth David in the spirit call him Lord, saying....” Note how Jesus affirms David as the inspired
author of Psalm 110:1. In fact, Jesus’ use of Psalm
110 here is entirely dependent upon Davidic authorship. Jesus also indicates that he believed that David’s
“Lord” was the Messiah and the subject of David’s
prophecy in Psalm 110.
Jesus then proceeds to quote Psalm 110:1 to the
Jews (Matthew 22:44). Following the quotation Jesus
asks: “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”
(Matthew 24:45). By this final question Jesus challenges them to view the Messiah as much more than
David’s son. In truth, he is David’s Lord! Jesus’ point
is that in Psalm 110:1, “the Messiah is represented as
altogether superior, not merely to any other son of
David, but to David himself. There the Messiah is recognized as having a unique relationship, not to David,
but to God, whose sovereignty He shares.”35 Jesus’
use of Psalm 110:1 proves that the Jewish concept
of the Messiah as a national deliverer and political
king after the same manner as David is not compatible with Psalm 110. France insightfully summarizes
Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1 in this encounter with the
Jewish leaders:
His argument sets aside the political notions which
clustered around the title “Son of David” in favour of


Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

a superior conception. What that conception is he does
not explicitly state, but the content of Psalm 110 indicates that it involves a close relation to God himself,
and includes the office not only of king, but of priest
(verse 4). It is a position of victory and dominion, but
a victory and dominion conferred by the power of God.
Thus in place of a political rule received by earthly
heredity, Jesus sets a higher dominion at God’s right
hand, conferred by God himself.... We may endorse
the verdict of E. Lövestam: “Jesus’ question quite
plainly involves an attack on every national-political
interpretation of the promise to David.”36

Its Use by Jesus Before the High Priest

Jesus referred to Psalm 110:1 in his trial before the
Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke
22:69). At this trial the Sanhedrin were seeking testimony against Jesus so that they might condemn him
to death. But things did not progress satisfactorily, so
the High Priest took matters into his own hands and
demanded: “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou
tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God”
(Matthew 26:63). Jesus responded: “Thou hast said:
nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the
Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and
coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). In
this response Jesus did claim to be the Messiah. The
High Priest, clearly understanding this, condemned him
to die on the charge of blasphemy (Matthew 26:6566). In his reply to the High Priest, Jesus uses Psalm
110:1 and Daniel 7:13 in support of his messianic claim.
Jesus says, in effect, “Yes, I am the Messiah, and though
this may seem impossible to you because of your hard
hearts and faulty notions of the Messiah, my claim will

Thine is the Kingdom

soon be vindicated by God when I ascend to him in
the clouds of heaven and take my appointed place at
his right hand in fulfillment of the Scriptures.” Jesus is
announcing that Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 are about
to be fulfilled in him. This is the sense of the word
“hereafter” (ap arti; literally, “from now”) in Matthew
26:64. Now that he has been condemned to die, Jesus
enters that time of suffering which will ultimately lead
to his triumph over death and his exaltation to the right
hand of God.
It is important to recognize that Jesus brings together the messianic prophecies of Psalm 110:1 and
Daniel 7:13 in Matthew 26:64. In Psalm 110:1 the
LORD enthrones the Messiah at his right hand and
grants him authority to rule the nations and to extend his kingdom throughout the earth. In Daniel
7:13, the Son of Man (the Messiah) comes up to
the “Ancient of Days” and is given “dominion, glory,
and a kingdom.” According to Jesus, these two
prophecies refer to the same event and are fulfilled
by his ascension to the right hand of God. Therefore, Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1 at his trial reveals
that at the time of his ascension he received the
messianic kingdom in fulfillment of the Davidic
Covenant. Consequently, Jesus now rules the nations from his throne on high. The outcome of his
reign will be that his enemies will become his “footstool” (Psalm 110:1), and that “all peoples, nations,
and languages should serve him” (Daniel 7:14).
Jesus’ usage of Psalm 110:1 in his controversy with
the Jews and at his trial strikes against the false Jewish ideas of a political Messiah who rules over Israel
from the throne of David in Jerusalem. As Jesus di46

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

vulged, those conceptions contradict Psalm 110:1.
These same misguided notions are still held by Christians who believe that fulfilling the Davidic Covenant
demands that after Jesus returns he will rule as king
over all nations from the throne of national Israel in
Jerusalem. But according to Jesus’ interpretation
of Psalm 110:1, his messianic reign was inaugurated
at his ascension; his throne is not on earth but is at
the Father’s right hand; and his present authority
extends over all nations.

Its Use by Peter on the Day of Pentecost

Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 in full in his sermon on
the day of Pentecost. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit
came with power upon the disciples of Jesus, and
Peter’s sermon explains that coming in terms of Old
Testament prophecy (Acts 2:1-36). Peter begins with
the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit “in the last days,” and
announces its fulfillment in what those assembled
“see and hear.” The phrase “last days” is an Old
Testament designation of the days, the time or era,
of the Messiah and his reign.37 By appealing to Joel
2:28-32 Peter declares that the “last days” are now
here. Peter then proceeds to prove that Jesus is the
Messiah by pointing to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 2:22-36). Looking to Old Testament
prophecy, Peter says that Jesus has been raised from
the dead in fulfillment of Psalm 16:8-11, and has
been exalted to the right hand of God in fulfillment
of Psalm 110:1. Significantly, Peter states that the
resurrection of Jesus was based on the promise of
the Davidic Covenant that God “would raise up
Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:30), and that

Thine is the Kingdom

God fulfilled that promise when he raised Jesus from
the dead and exalted him to his right hand (Acts
2:31-33). Therefore, according to Peter, the throne
promised to the Messiah in the Davidic Covenant
(II Samuel 7:12-16) was the throne that David spoke
of in Psalm 110:1, and that this exalted throne has
been given to Jesus because he is “both Lord and
Christ” (Acts 2:36).
J. Marcellus Kik states the significance of Peter’s
interpretation of the messianic throne for the current eschatological debate:
The premillennialist, however, maintains as a cardinal and fundamental tenet of his system of eschatology
that the throne of glory is an earthly throne set up in
the material city of Jerusalem. The temporal throne of
David is to be reconstructed in Jerusalem. But
David’s throne was only a type of Christ’s heavenly throne even as David was but a type of Christ.
Surely the throne of David was of no more importance than David. The premillennialist by his
peculiar interpretation mistakes the type for the
antitype; he mistakes the shadow for the reality.
David himself, though living in the Old Dispensation, beheld the superior and exalted throne and
wrote of it in Psalm 110. The Apostle Peter refers
to this Psalm 110 in his sermon on the day of Pentecost.... (Acts 2:33-35). Thus David revealed a
better understanding of the significance of Christ’s
throne than do the premillennialists. As a matter of
fact there is not one passage in the New Testament
which gives definite information of a personal reign
of Christ upon a temporal throne in the material
city of Jerusalem.38


Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

Its Use in Referring to Christ’s Present Exaltation

Hebrews 1:13 contains a direct quotation of Psalm
110:1. The context of this quotation is the superiority
of the Son to angels. According to the writer of Hebrews the exaltation of the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 to
the right hand of God proves the preeminence of the
Son (the Messiah) to angels and raises him to a position of equality with God. An allusion to Psalm 110:1
appears in Hebrews 1:3. That verse states that after
Christ had purged our sins he “sat down on the right
hand of the Majesty on high.” Christ could assume
such a position because he is “the brightness of his
glory, and the express image of his person,” i.e., the
person of God. Thus the writer of Hebrews asserts
that the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God is
proof of his deity. No mere man, no mere son of David,
no angel could ever occupy such a high and glorious
position. Jesus Christ could because he is the Son of God.
The New Testament writers make many clear allusions to Psalm 110:1 in their repeated and emphatic
teaching that Jesus Christ is now seated at the right
hand of God. At least eleven New Testament references mention the present exaltation of Christ at God’s
right hand (Mark 16:19; Acts 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans
8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3;
8:1; 12:2; 10:12; I Peter 3:22). All of these texts combine to emphasize the truth that God’s invitation to
the Messiah to sit at his right hand has been fulfilled in
Jesus Christ. They confirm the fact that the ascension
of Christ marked the time of his enthronement, and
that he now rules over all as King and Lord of all (cf.
Mark 16:19; Ephesians 1:20; I Peter 3:22). These allusions to Psalm 110:1 also establish a definite

Thine is the Kingdom

connection between Christ’s atoning death and his
present exaltation (cf. Acts 5:31; Hebrews 1:3; 12:2;
also Philippians 2:6-11). Christ’s death is seen as an
essential step in his exaltation. Furthermore, these New
Testament texts teach that Christ not only sits as a
king at the Father’s right hand, but that it is from that
position that he also ministers as a priest on behalf of
his people (cf. Romans 8:34; Hebrews 8:1; 10:11-12).

Its Use in Referring to Christ’s Victory over His Enemies

The apostle Paul makes an important allusion to
Psalm 110:1 in his great chapter on the resurrection,
I Corinthians 15. In this chapter Paul vigorously refutes the false teachers in Corinth who were denying
the future bodily resurrection of the saints. He begins
by asserting the certainty of Christ’s bodily resurrection, which is a cornerstone of the gospel and the
Christian faith (I Corinthians 15:1-19). Paul then
teaches that the bodily resurrection of Christ is the
surety that all who believe in Christ will be raised at
his return (vv. 20-28). In this section he explains the
significance of Christ’s return in regard to the consummation, noting the closing of the mediatorial
kingdom and the beginning of the eternal state. His
point is that the believer’s resurrection is part of that
grand event (i.e., the Second Coming) that consummates the victory of the messianic kingdom over the
world. Paul specifically states that when Christ returns
and raises his people from the dead, “then cometh the
end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to
God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all
rule and all authority and power” (I Corinthians 15:24).
The word “then” (Gk., eita) indicates what follows
the return of Christ. What follows is the “end” (Gk.,

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

telos) i.e., the close of history, the final events that
conclude God’s plan to overthrow sin and restore righteousness in creation through the work of Christ. It is
at the Second Coming that Christ gives back to the
Father what had been entrusted to him; and what had
been entrusted to him was the “kingdom.”
The word “kingdom” (Gk., basileia) can be used in
the concrete sense of a kingdom—the territory and
people over which a king rules; or it can be used in the
abstract sense of sovereignty, royal power, dominion—
the authority that a king possesses. The second sense
is the meaning here. Therefore, Paul says that at the
Second Coming Jesus Christ will deliver up to the
Father his delegated sovereignty because he will have
fulfilled the divine task entrusted to him. That is, he
will have “put down” (Gk., katargeses), made powerless, put an end to, “all rule and all authority and
power,” i.e., all those hostile powers—civil or religious, physical or intellectual—that are set against God
and his kingdom. The Father has commissioned Christ
to render powerless the enemies of God, and has
granted him royal power and authority to fulfill that
commission. Paul says that the Second Coming will
mark the fulfillment of that commission.39
To prove his teaching that Christ’s commission will
be fulfilled by the Second Coming, Paul refers to Psalm
110:1 (I Corinthians 15:25). According to Paul, Psalm
110:1 reveals that the exaltation of Christ to the right
hand of the Father gave him sovereign authority, and
that the purpose of that grant of authority was for the
defeat of all the enemies of truth and righteousness.
Furthermore, Paul teaches that Christ’s reign covers
the period between Jesus’ ascension and his glorious

Thine is the Kingdom

return at the end of the age. Finally, Paul saw in Psalm
110:1 the promise that the Messiah would triumph over
all of his enemies prior to his return—Paul believed
that the victorious reign of Christ predicted in Psalm
110 referred to this age.40 As John Davis explains:
According to [I Corinthians 15] verse 24, then, we
are to understand that the second coming occurs after
Christ has destroyed “every rule and authority and
power.” Christ is now reigning in heaven at the Father’s
right hand and now is in the process of subduing his
foes. This is the point of Paul’s quotation of Psalm
110:1 in verse 25: Christ rules from heaven until all
foes but death itself are subdued; then at the second
coming, the resurrection shows that even death itself
is overthrown (v. 26, “the last enemy”). Only then does
Christ hand over the kingdom to the Father.41

In Hebrews 10:12-13 appears another definite allusion to Psalm 110:1. The writer of Hebrews uses Psalm
110:1 in complete harmony with Jesus’, Peter’s, and
Paul’s understanding of the verse, while further clarifying the proper interpretation of David’s prophecy.
In Hebrews 10:12 Jesus takes his seat at the right hand
of God in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1 “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever.” This indicates that
Christ’s exaltation to the Father’s right hand is closely
connected to the crucifixion. It was through his death
on the cross that Christ struck the fatal blow against
sin and the kingdom of darkness. Because he was obedient unto death, the Father has exalted him to the
throne of God, given him the name “Lord,” and commanded all to bow before his authority (cf. Ephesians
1:19-21; Philippians 2:6-11; Psalm 2:10-12). In addition, this text in Hebrews establishes that the victorious

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

reign prophesied in Psalm 110 is the inter-advent period, for Christ was raised to the Father’s right hand
after the crucifixion, and he will remain there “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews
10:13). The word “expecting” (Gk., ekdechomenos)
means to await, and refers to the eschatological expectation of the consummation that will come at
Christ’s return. Thus, Jesus will not come to consummate his kingdom until his enemies lie prostrate at his
feet. “Christ remains in heaven while his foes are being subdued and until that process is complete.”42

The Use of Psalm 110:2-3
in the New Testament

Psalm 110:2 teaches that the LORD will commission
the Messiah to subdue his enemies and extend his dominion to the ends of the earth. This establishes a close
connection between Psalm 110:2-3 and the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. Christ
begins his commission to his disciples by asserting his
authority: “All power is given unto me in heaven and
in earth” (Matthew 28:18). This sovereign authority
is his because of his exaltation to the right hand of
God in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. Then, in accord with
Psalm 110:2 promising the extension of his kingdom
and calling him to “rule in the midst of thine enemies,”
Christ commands his disciples to go into all the world
and bring the nations to faith in him and obedience to
all his commands. Psalm 110:2 will be fulfilled and
Christ will “rule” (i.e., “tread down”) his enemies as
the nations are conquered by the gospel.
The Great Commission also alludes to Psalm 110:3
wherein the Messiah would have an army clothed in

Thine is the Kingdom

priestly garments that would go forth with him into
the battle to subdue his enemies and extend his kingdom. The Great Commission reveals that the Church
is that army. Having been redeemed by his blood
and filled with his Spirit, the Church goes into the
world to subdue the rebellious nations by preaching, baptizing, and teaching. Psalm 110:2-3 shows
that the church’s task is far more comprehensive
than merely “winning souls” for Jesus. The Church
is the agent of Christ in making his enemies his footstool, having a vital role in the fulfillment of Psalm
110. Davis states: “Christ’s heavenly reign is exercised and enlarged as the church on earth goes forth
in the power of the Spirit to fulfill the Great Commission.”43 The Church constitutes the Messiah’s
people. They are his volunteers in the day of his
power; and that day was announced by Jesus when
he said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me
in heaven and in earth.”
Revelation 19:14 contains another allusion to
Psalm 110:3. The text in Revelation states that “the
armies which were in heaven ... clothed in fine linen,
white and clean” follow the Lord Jesus as he goes
forth to conquer his enemies. Revelation 19:7-8
identifies this army as the church, and the clothing
of fine linen is said to be the righteous acts of the
saints. The description of the army as clothed in “fine
linen, white and clean” corresponds to Psalm 110:3
where the Messiah’s army is clothed in “garments
of holiness.” This New Testament picture of an army
of righteous people following Christ into battle
is precisely the prophetic description of Psalm

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

The Use of Psalm 110:4
in the New Testament

Psalm 110:4 reveals that the Messiah would be “a priest
forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110 did
not develop this aspect of the Messiah’s work, but the
New Testament does. Hebrews refers extensively to Psalm
110:4 as the writer explains the redemptive work of Christ
(Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:3, 11, 15, 17, 21). Hebrews presents the saving work of Christ as the fulfillment of the
Old Testament sacrificial system. The animal sacrifices,
the tabernacle, and the priesthood all pointed forward to
Christ’s death on the cross. But as Psalm 110:4 reveals,
Christ’s priesthood is not according to the order of Levi,
but according to the order of Melchizedek. The writer of
Hebrews interprets Psalm 110:4 and explains the nature
of Christ’s priesthood. For Christ to be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek means that he was directly
appointed by God (Hebrews 5:4-6, 10), and that his priesthood is superior to Aaron’s and the Levitical priests.
Because Christ was holy, he offered the perfect sacrifice,
and he has the power of an endless life (Hebrews 7:1-28).
Acts 5:31 also alludes to Psalm 110:4 where Peter
speaks of Christ: “Him hath God exalted with his right
hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to
Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” When Peter speaks of
Christ’s exaltation to God’s right hand to be a “Prince,”
he is alluding to Psalm 110:1; when he adds “and Saviour,”
he is referring to Psalm 110:4. Therefore, to be a priest in
accordance with Psalm 110:4 means that the Messiah is
a “Saviour” who grants the forgiveness of sins. Thus, in
Acts 5:31 Peter alludes to Psalm 110 and the messianic
offices of king and priest, and also affirms that Christ
fulfills both of these offices from the right hand of God.

Thine is the Kingdom

The New Testament declares that Jesus fulfills the
office of priest in Psalm 110:4 by his death and endless
life. It also affirms that Christ’s ministry as a priest is
just as essential as his service as a king in the ultimate
defeat of his enemies, for his death, resurrection, and
ascension defeats his foes.

The Use of Psalm 110:5-7
in the New Testament

Psalm 110:5-7 is a prophetic description of the
Messiah’s victorious warfare. The New Testament nowhere directly quotes these verses. It appears, however,
that Revelation 19:11-21 alludes to Psalm 110:5-7 because so many parallels link the two passages.
110:5: The Messiah Revelation
is in heaven19:11-16:
at God’s
is in heaven
right hand as king.
and declared to be the
heaven at God’s right
is inofheaven
hand as king.
declared to be the “King of kings.”
110:5-7: The Messiah
goes 19:11,
forth 15,
the nations.
Christ judges and
forth to judge the naRevelation 19:11, 15, 19: Christ judges and
strikes the nations.
strikes the nations.
Psalm 110:5: The Messiah judges and makes
Revelation 19:11, 15:
Psalm 110:5:
war in the day of his wrath.
Christ judges and
The Messiah judges
15: Christ
makes war
in the
the of
of the wrathofofthe
wrath of God.
his wrath.


Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

110:5-6: The kingsRevelation
of the earth
against the Messiah.
earth fight against
fight against Christ.
Messiah.19:18-19: The kings of the earth
fight against Christ.
110:6: The MessiahRevelation
fills the places
Christ fills the ground
bodies. fills the
with dead bodies.
places with dead
fills the ground
with dead bodies.
Psalm 110:5-7:
110:5-7: The Messiah
is completely
Christ is completely
completely victorious.
Revelation 19:11-21: Christ
is completely
Revelation 19:14, 19:
Psalm 110:3:
Psalm 110:3: Messiah’s army is clothed in garChrist’s army is
Messiah’s army is
ments of holiness and follow him into battle.
clothed in righteousclothed in garments
19: Christ’s
is clothed
holiness and
ness army
and follows
him into battle.
into battle.

Revelation 19:11-21 is describing the same messianic victory as Psalm 110:5-7. Therefore, as Psalm
110:5-7 is a symbolic description of the victorious
warfare of the Messiah that takes place during his
reign at the right hand of God, so does Revelation
19:11-21 depict the victorious warfare during this
present age. Commenting on Revelation 19:11-21,
B. B. Warfield states:

Thine is the Kingdom

It is a vivid picture of a complete victory, an entire
conquest that we have here; and all the imagery of
war and battle is employed to give it life. This is the
symbol. The thing symbolized is obviously the complete victory of the Son of God over all the hosts of
wickedness. Only a single hint of this signification is
afforded by the language, but that is enough. On two
occasions we are told that the sword by which the
victory is won proceeds out of the mouth of the conqueror (verses 15 and 21). We are not to think, as we
read, of any literal war or manual fighting, therefore;
the conquest is wrought by the spoken word—in short,
by the preaching of the gospel. In fine, we have before
us here a picture of the victorious career of the gospel
of Christ in the world. All the imagery of the dread
battle and its hideous details are but to give us the
impression of the completeness of the victory. Christ’s
gospel is to conquer the earth: He is to overcome all
His enemies.44

The New Testament usage of Psalm 110 indicates it is
a messianic psalm of David that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, all the details of Psalm 110 need to be applied
to the person and work of Christ. Each part of the psalm
speaks directly of Christ and his kingdom. The New
Testament’s use and interpretation of Psalm 110 provides
the following explanation of Christ and his kingdom:
• Christ is the messianic King who was raised to
that position at his ascension (Matthew 26:64; Acts
2:30-36; 5:31; I Peter 3:22).
• The messianic throne promised in the Davidic
Covenant is not a temporal throne located in
Jerusalem, but a heavenly throne located at the right
hand of God45 (Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:30-36).

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

• The exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God
the Father is proof of his deity, for no mere man or
angel could ever occupy such a high and glorious
position (Matthew 22:42-45; Hebrews 1:3, 13).
• The messianic kingdom promised in the Old
Testament began at Christ’s ascension and will
continue until Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew
26:64; Acts 2:17, 30-36; I Corinthians 15:23-28).
• The reign of Christ in this present dispensation
will eventuate in the defeat of all his enemies,
without his leaving his position at the right hand of
God (i.e., return at the end of the age) before this
victory is accomplished (I Corinthians 15:23-25;
Hebrews 10:12-13; Revelation 19:11-21).
• Christ is a priest according to the order of
Melchizedek and the Savior of his people (Hebrews
5:5-10; 6:20; 7:11-28; Acts 5:31).
• The Church is Christ’s army in the conflict with
his foes, whom he sends by the Great Commission
to subdue the nations to his lordship through the
preaching of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20;
Revelation 19:11-15).

The purpose of this chapter has been to furnish an
exposition of Psalm 110, and then to survey its use in
the New Testament. The results of this study provide
convincing biblical support for the postmillennial view
of Christ’s kingdom. This great messianic psalm declares the victorious reign of Christ from the right hand
of God. It instructs the Church to look for the triumph
of Christ and his kingdom in this age, and challenges
her to do her part in pressing forward the victory.

Thine is the Kingdom

According to its usage in the New Testament, Psalm
110 fixes the time of Christ’s return as taking place
after his enemies become his footstool. Christ and his
kingdom will, therefore, triumph in history and before
his return at the end of the age. This is the explicit
teaching of Psalm 110, and this is the postmillennial
view of Christ’s kingdom.
Postmillennial critic John Walvoord wonders how
postmillennialists can hold to this position and “read
the newspapers with their accounts of increased crime
and a decaying church ... and come up with the idea
that Christianity is triumphant in the world.”46 The first
answer to such wonderment is that postmillennialists
do not necessarily believe that Christianity is triumphant in the world today, but they do believe that it
will be triumphant in the world according to God’s
time. And the second answer is that postmillennialists
do not base their eschatology on the newspapers or
the current state of the church; they base their
eschatology on the word of God. The postmillennial
hope in an expanding kingdom of Christ that will conquer the nations and cause the earth to be filled “with
the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters
cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14) is based on Holy Scripture—especially such texts as Psalm 110.47
It is true that postmillennialism is not now the “majority report” among evangelicals. However, as R. J.
Rushdoony has said: “Postmillennialism will again
prevail ... because it is the truth of God and his
enscripturated word. As an eschatology of victory,
it will inspire men with the power of God, and, as
with great saints of old, and the Puritans of yesteryears, it will lead again and more enduringly to the

Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

triumph of Christ in every area, bringing every thought
and action into captivity to Christ.”48
The time has come for the Church to reject the pessimistic eschatologies that have weighed her down and
return to the eschatology of Scripture—the
postmillennial eschatology of victory. It is time for the
Church to hearken to the teaching of Psalm 110 and
be inspired for service to the King of kings by this
psalm’s proclamation of the victorious reign of Christ.

Reverend William O. Einwechter, Th.M., is an ordained minister and presently serves as a teaching elder
at Immanuel Free Reformed Church (Ephrata, Pennsylvania) and as the editor of The Christian Statesman.
He is the author of Ethics and God’s Law: An Introduction to Theonomy, and English Bible
Translations: By What Standard?, and the editor of
the book Explicitly Christian Politics. His essays
and articles have been published in the Chalcedon
Report, The Christian Statesman, Patriarch, and
The Journal of Christian Reconstruction.
H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, Ore.: Multnomah,
1988), 183.
John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 134.
William E. Cox, Amillennialism Today,
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: P & R, 1966), 5.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Greatness of the Great
Commission (Tyler, Tex.: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), 140.


Thine is the Kingdom

John F. Walvoord, “A Review of House Divided
by Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., in
Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990): 370.
John Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament
(Nashville: Abingdon, 1967), 211.
These headings, which appear at the beginning of
many of the Psalms, were not part of the original composition of the Psalms. However, all the available evidence
suggests that these headings are both early and reliable.
See Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament
Introduction (Rev. ed.: Chicago: Moody, 1974), 443-444.
This study will follow the custom of the KJV by
using “LORD” for the divine name “Yahweh.”
R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 168.
John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms,
trans. James Anderson (rep.: Grand Rapids: Baker,
1989), 296.
Franz Delitzsch, Psalms, trans. James Bolton, in
Commentary on the Old Testament, by C. F. Keil and
F. Delitzsch (rep.: Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson, [188691] 2001), 692.
Roland K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 1001.
Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 296.
Lenoard J. Coppes, “na’am” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris
(Chicago: Moody, 1980), 2:541. Hereinafter: TWOT.
Nearly all Christian interpreters of Psalm 110 agree
upon this identification. Furthermore, Jesus believed
that David’s Lord was the Messiah and so did his Jewish adversaries (Matthew 21:41-45).
David’s throne in Jerusalem was a mere type
of the heavenly throne of the Messiah. Thus, ac6


Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

cording to Psalm 110:1 the promise concerning the
Christ that “the Lord God shall give unto him the
throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32), is not fulfilled by placing the Christ on an earthly throne (the
type) but by seating him on a heavenly throne (the
H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1954), 771.
Abraham Cohen, The Psalms, in Soncino Books
of the Bible, ed. A. Cohen (London: Soncino,1945),
F. H. W. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar,
ed. E. Kautzch, rev. A. E. Cowley, 2nd ed. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1910), 503.
Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, Charles Briggs, The
New Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English
Lexicon of the Old Testament (Lafayette, Ind.: Associated Publishers and Authors, [1907] rep. 1981), 610.
See William Symington, Messiah the Prince, or
the Mediatorial Dominion of Jesus Christ (rep.
Edmonton, Alb: Still Waters Revival, [1884] 1999),
333-40 for an extensive discussion of the everlasting
nature of the Messiah’s reign.
Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, Ind:
Eisenbrauns, 1990), 572.
Delitzsch, Psalms, 695.
Coppes, “nadab,” in TWOT, 2:554.
Delitzsch, Psalms, 696.
Cohen, The Psalms, 372.
Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 772.
Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old
Testament, 612.
Delitzsch, Psalms, 698.

Thine is the Kingdom

Cohen, The Psalms, 373.
One of the most comprehensive studies on the mediatorial dominion of Christ is William Symington’s
Messiah the Prince, op. cit.
Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 211.
For a theological justification of this exegetical method,
see O. Palmer Robertson, “Hermeneutics of Continuity,” in John S. Feinberg, ed., Continuity and
Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Westchester, Ill.:
Crossway, 1988), ch. 4.
The “List of Old Testament Quotations and Allusions” in the Nestle-Aland 26th edition of the Greek New
Testament concludes that Psalm 110 is quoted in the New
Testament nine times and is alluded to in the New Testament eighteen times.
Alfred Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the
Gospel According to St. Matthew (rep.: Grand Rapids:
Baker, [1909] 1982), 310.
France, Jesus and the Old Testament, 102.
For a discussion of the “last days” and its significance for understanding the fulfillment of Old
Testament prophecy in the New Testament dispensation see, William O. Einwechter, “The Latter Day
Triumph of Christ and His Kingdom: A Biblical and
Theological Exposition of Isaiah 2:2-4” in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 15 (Winter, 1998):
115, 124-128.
J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: P & R, 1971), 171.
See also Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:20, and
Acts 3:21.
It would be hard to find any other single passage
in the New Testament that is more damaging to the



Chapter 2: Psalm 110 and the Postmillennial Hope

premillennial view of Christ’s kingdom than
I Corinthians 15:20-28. But this passage is also very
problematic for the amillennialist. How is he to explain the prediction that by the Second Coming Christ
will have “put down” all those who exercise their authority, powers, or rule in defiance of God’s truth and
John Jefferson Davis, The Victory of Christ’s Kingdom (Moscow, Ida.: Canon, 1996), 57-58.
Davis, The Victory of Christ’s Kingdom, 33.
Davis, The Victory of Christ’s Kingdom.
Benjamin B. Warfield, “The Millennium and the
Apocalypse,” in Biblical Doctrines (New York: Oxford University Press, 1929), 647.
Mathison rightly observes in regard to Psalm 110:
“Furthermore, this psalm emphatically demonstrates
that it is not necessary, as premillennialism asserts, for
Christ to be physically present on earth in order to
conquer his enemies. He is perfectly able to accomplish this from the right hand of God.” Keith A.
Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: P & R, 1999), 80.
Walvoord, “A Review of House Divided,” 372.
Some other crucial texts that support the postmillennial
view of Christ’s kingdom are Genesis 22:17; Psalm 2;
Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:1-7; Daniel 2:35, 44; 7:9-14, 26-27; Matthew 13:31-33; 28:18-20; Acts 3:21; Romans 11:11-36;
I Corinthians 15:20-28; Ephesians 1:10.
Rousas John Rushdoony, “Introduction” to Kik,
An Eschatology of Victory, ix.


Thine is the Kingdom


Chapter 3

Jesus Christ the Propitiation
for the Whole World
by Benjamin B. Warfield 1

“And he is the propitiation for our sins;
and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.”
I John 2:2


S a means of comforting Christians distressed

by their continued lapses into sin, John, in
the opening words of the second chapter of his first
Epistle, is led to assure them that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, a Righteous One”;
and by way of showing how prevailing his advocacy is, to add, “And he is himself a propitiation for
our sins.” There he might well have stopped. But,
without obvious necessity for his immediate purpose, he adds this great declaration: “And not for
ours only, but also for the whole world.” That by
these words the propitiation wrought by Christ, of
which we have continual need, and on which we
continually draw in our need, is exalted by ascribing to it, in some sense, a universal efficacy, is clear
enough. But the commentators, first and last, have
not found it easy to make plain to themselves the
precise nature of the universalism assigned therein
to our Lord’s propitiatory sacrifice.

Thine is the Kingdom




Readers of old John Cotton’s practical notes on First
John, for example, will not fail to observe that he moves
with a certain embarrassment in his exposition of this
universalism. He has a number of things, in themselves
of value, to say about it; but he appears to find most
satisfaction in the suggestion that although Christ by
his expiatory death has bought for his people some
things—and these the most important things—which
he has not bought for all men, yet there are some most
desirable things also which he has bought for all men.
This, however, is certainly not what John says. It admits of no doubt that John means to say that the
Christians whom he was addressing, and with whom
he identifies himself—they and he alike—enjoy no
privilege with reference to the propitiation of Christ,
which is not enjoyed by them in common with “the
whole world.” They—and he with them—are not to
be disheartened by their sins, he says, because these
sins have been expiated by the blood of Christ; by which
have been expiated indeed, not their sins only but also
those of “the whole world.” The “whole world” is not
made in some general and subsidiary sense a beneficiary of Christ’s atoning death, but in this specific and
highest sense — the expiation of its sins. Its sins have
been as really and fully expiated as those of the Christians John was addressing, and as his own.
The most “modern” of modern expositors are as
much at sea in the face of the universalism of this assertion as any of the older and presumably less instructed
ones could be.2 Thus Otto Baumgarten simply declines
to attempt its exposition. We do not know what John
means, he says; we lack the necessary information to en68

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

able us to understand him. It may sound very fine to say
that John teaches here that no shadow is cast on God’s
holiness by the exhibition of partiality on his part for individuals; that he rebukes those who, in egotistic and
sentimental religiosity, or in selfish anxiety for their own
salvation, would draw apart from their fellows.
But difficulties remain. Experience scarcely encourages us to think that all without exception are sharers
in Christ’s salvation; it rather bears out our Lord’s
declaration that the gate is narrow and the way straitened that leads to life and few there be that find it.
And John! Is not the whole world to him a massa
corrupta—a “darkness” which does not “apprehend”
“the light”? How we can harmonize the three passages—John 1:29, which speaks of taking away the
sin of the world; John 3:16, “God so loved the world”;
and this, declaring that Christ has made propitiation
for the sins of the world—with John’s sharp dualism
of Light and Darkness, does not appear.
Perhaps John is only repeating with thoughtless neglect of their inconsequence the elements of Paul’s
doctrine of propitiation. Perhaps, mystical-speculative
thinker that he is, he means to suggest that in Jesus’
purpose or general feeling his redemption was for the
whole sinful world, but only those found in him an
actual Redeemer or Intercessor to whom he has given
power to become Children of the Light. Perhaps it is,
on the other hand, the missionary instinct of the Church,
which declares here that no limits are to be set to the
spread of salvation over the whole world—in contrast
to the Gnostic confinement of it to certain gifted individuals. We can form many conjectures; we can reach
no assurance.

Thine is the Kingdom

The search for John’s meaning naturally begins with
an attempt to ascertain what he intends by “the world.”
He sets it in contrast with an “our” by which primarily
his readers and himself are designated: “And he is himself a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only
but for the whole world.” John’s readers apparently
are immediately certain Christian communities in Asia
Minor; and it is possible to confine the “our” strictly
to them. In that case it is not impossible to interpret
“the whole world,” which is brought into contrast with
the Christians specifically of Asia Minor, as referring
to the whole body of Christians extended throughout
the world.
A certain measure of support for such an interpretation may be derived from such a passage as
Colossians 1:6, where “the word of the truth of the
gospel” is spoken of as “in all the world,” or as
Colossians 1:23, where the gospel is said to have been
“preached in all creation under heaven.” In these passages the world-wide gospel seems to be contrasted
with the heresies which were troubling the Colossian
Christians and which are thus branded as a merely local phenomenon. In something of the same way, the
world-wide extension of the people of God may be
thought to be brought into contrast by John with the
local churches he is addressing; and his purpose may
be supposed to be to remind these local churches that
they have no monopoly of the gospel. The propitiatory efficiency of Christ’s blood is not confined to the
sins of the Asian Christians, but is broad enough to
meet the needs of all in like case with them throughout the whole world. Christ is no local Savior, and all,

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

everywhere, who confess their sins will find him their
righteous advocate, whose expiatory blood cleanses
them from every sin. On this interpretation we are
brought to much the same point of view as that of
Augustine and Bede, of Calvin and Beza, who understand by “the whole world” “the churches of the elect
dispersed through the whole world”; and by the declaration that Jesus Christ is “a propitiation for the whole
world,” that in his blood all the sins of all believers
throughout the world are expiated.
When the assumptions on which this view of the
passage is founded are scrutinized, however, they cannot be said particularly to commend themselves. John
is certainly addressing a specific body of readers, and
no doubt has them quite distinctively in mind when he
speaks to them in the tender words, “My little children, I am writing this to you, that ye sin not.” But the
affirmations he makes do not seem to be affirmations
applicable only to them, or to be intended to be understood as spoken only of them. This is already apparent
from his identifying himself with them in these
affirmations. “We have an Advocate,” he says; “he is a
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only.” If it is
not impossible that he means only “you and I,” “for
your and my,” with the strictest confinement of the “you”
and “your” to those he was immediately addressing, it
is nevertheless very unlikely that this is the case.
He appears, on the contrary, to be reminding them
of universal Christian privileges, in which they and he
shared precisely for the reason that they were universally Christian. In that case the “we” and “our” refer
to the whole Christian community—“we Christians”
have “our, namely Christians’” sins; and “the whole

Thine is the Kingdom

world” is brought in some way into contrast with the
Christian body as a whole. The strength of the assertion of universality in the contrasted phrase—“but also
for the whole world”—falls in with this appearance.
Why should the Apostle with such emphasis—why
should he at all— assure his readers that the privileges
they enjoyed as Christians—in common with him because they were both Christians—were also enjoyed
by all other Christians—by all other Christians throughout the whole world? Would it not be a matter of
course, scarcely calling for such explicit assertion, that
other Christians like themselves enjoyed the benefits
of the expiatory death of their Lord? That was precisely what it was to be a Christian.
It is not surprising accordingly that the greater number of the commentators agree that the “we” of our
passage is the whole body of believers, with which
“the whole world” is set in contrast. That carries with
it, of course, that in some sense our Lord is declared
to have made propitiation not only for the sins of believers, thought of by John as actually such, but also
for mankind at large. If we do not attempt the impossible feat of emptying the conception of “propitiation”
of its content, this means that in some sense what is
called a “universal atonement” is taught in this passage. The expiatory efficiency of Christ’s blood extends
to the entire race of mankind. It may seem, then, the
simplest thing just to recognize that John here represents Christ as by his atoning death expiating all the
sins of all mankind—all of them without exception.
This is the line of exposition which is taken, for instance, by Bernhard Weiss. “Precisely this passage
shows plainly,” he writes, “that the whole body of the

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

world’s sin is covered in the sight of God, that is to
say expiated, by the death of Christ.”
That this method of expounding the passage is not
so simple, however, as it might at first sight appear, is
already made clear enough by the remainder of the
sentence in which Weiss gives expression to it. It runs:
“What brings unbelievers to death is no longer their
sin (expiated in the death of Christ), but their rejection
of the divinely appointed mediator of salvation.” From
this it appears that the expiation of the sins of the world
does not save the world. There still remain those who
perish: and those who perish, as John contemplated
them looking out from the bosom of the little flock of
the Church, constituted the immensely greater part of
mankind spread out to his view, in one word just “the
world” of which he is in the act of declaring that its
sins are expiated in the blood of Christ. John speaks of
this expiation as a great benefit brought to the world
by Christ, or, to put it in its true light, as the great
benefit, in comparison with which no other benefit
deserves consideration.
Yet it would puzzle us to point out of what benefit
it is to the world. The world, to all appearance, remains precisely as it was before. It is very clear that
the world was not conceived by John as a redeemed
world. We are not to love it, nor the things in it. We
are rather to renounce it, as an inimical power. Nay,
John declares roundly that the whole world—this
whole world which we are invited to think of as having had all its sins expiated by the blood of
Christ—“lieth in the evil one.” It is difficult to understand how a world all whose sins have been, and are
continually as they emerge being—for that is the force

Thine is the Kingdom

of the representation—washed away in the blood of
Christ, can still be lying in the evil one; that is to say,
as A. Plummer expounds this declaration, still “remains
in the power” of the evil one, “has not passed over, as
Christians have done, out of death into life; but abides
in the evil one, who is its ruler, as the Christian abides
in Christ.” What we are asked to believe is nothing
less than that the John who places the world and Christian in directly contrary relations to Christ, nevertheless
in our present passage places them in precisely the same
relation in Christ.
Nor is it easy to understand what can be meant by
saying that men, all whose sins, as they occasionally
emerge (“and he is,” not was, “a propitiation”) are
covered from the sight of God by the death of Christ,
nevertheless perish; and that because of rejection of
the divinely appointed mediator of salvation. Is not
the rejection of Jesus as our propitiation a sin? And if
it is a sin, is it not like other sins, covered by the death
of Christ? If this great sin is excepted from the expiatory efficacy of Christ’s blood, why did not John tell
us so, instead of declaring without qualification that
Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not
for ours only but for the whole world? And surely it
would be very odd if the sin of rejection of the Redeemer
were the only condemning sin, in a world the vast majority of the dwellers in which have never heard of this
Redeemer, and nevertheless perish. On what ground
do they perish, all their sins having been expiated?




The expedient made use of by many commentators
in their endeavor to escape from this maze of con74

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

tradictions is to distinguish between Christ as our “Advocate” and Christ as our “Propitiation,” and to
connect actual salvation with him only in the former
function. Thus Richard Rothe tells us that “the propitiation in Christ concerns the whole world,” but “only
those in Christ have an advocate in Christ,” with the
intimation that it is Christ’s advocacy which “makes
the efficacy of his propitiation effective before God.”
In this view the propitiation is conceived as merely
laying a basis for actual forgiveness of sins, and is spoken of therefore rather as “sufficient” than
efficacious—becoming efficacious only through the act
of faith on the part of the believer by which he secures
Christ as his Advocate. This is the view presented by
B. F. Westcott also, according to whom Christ is advocate exclusively for Christians, while he is a
propitiation for the whole world. His propitiatory death
on earth was for all men; his advocacy in heaven is for
those only who believe in him. Here, there is a universal atonement taught, with a limited application,
contingent on actual faith: “the efficacy of his work
for the individual depends upon fellowship with him.”
It is obvious that such a view can be held only at the
cost of emptying the conception of propitiation of its
properly expiatory content, and shifting the really saving operation of Christ from his “atoning” death on
earth to his “intercession” in heaven. Westcott carries
out this whole program fully, and by a special doctrine
of “sacrifice,” of “blood” and its efficacy, and of “the
heavenly High Priesthood of Christ” systematizes this
point of view into a definite scheme of doctrine. No
support is given this elaborate construction by John;
and our present passage is enough to shatter the foun75

Thine is the Kingdom

dation on which it is built, in common with many other
constructions sharing with it the general notion that
the atonement is to be conceived as universal while its
application is particular, and that we may therefore
speak of the sins of the whole world as expiated while
believers only enjoy the benefits of this expiation.
The “advocacy” of our Lord is indeed based on his
propitiation. But it is based on it not as if it bore merely
an accidental relation to it, and might or might not, at
will, follow on it; but as its natural and indeed necessary issue. John introduces the declaration that Christ
is—not “was,” the propitiation is as continuous in its
effect as the advocacy—our propitiation, in order to
support his reference of sinning Christians to Christ as
their Advocate with the Father, and give them confidence in the efficacy of his advocacy. The efficacy of
the advocacy rests on that of the propitiation, not the
efficacy of the propitiation on that of the advocacy. It
was in the propitiatory death of Christ that John finds
Christ’s saving work: the advocacy is only its continuation—its unceasing presentation in heaven.
The propitiation accordingly not merely lays a foundation for a saving operation, to follow or not follow
as circumstances may determine. It itself saves. And
this saving work is common to Christians and “the
whole world.” By it the sins of the one as of the other
are expiated, that is to say, as Weiss wishes to express
it in Old Testament forms of speech, are “covered in
the sight of God.” They no longer exist for God—and
are not they blessed whose iniquities are forgiven, and
whose sins are covered, to whom the Lord will not reckon
sin? It is idle to talk of expounding this passage until we
are ready to recognize that according to its express as76

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

sertion the “whole world” is saved. Its fundamental assumption is that all those for whose sins he is—is, not
“was”—the propitiation have in him an Advocate with
the Father, prevailingly presenting his “righteousness”
to the Father and thereby securing their salvation.




This is, of course, universalism. And it is in determining the precise nature of the universalism that it is,
that we arrive at last at John’s real meaning. In declaring that Jesus Christ is a propitiation for the whole
world, John certainly does not mean to assert that
Christ has made expiation for all the sins of every individual man who has come or will come into being,
from the beginning of the race in Adam to its end at
the last day.
Baumgarten-Crusius seems to stand almost alone
in expressly emphasizing the protensive aspect of the
“world”; and he does it in order to avoid admitting
that John means to present Christ as the Savior of the
whole world extensively considered. John means only,
he says, that Christ is a Savior with abiding power for
the whole human era; all through the ages he is mighty
to save, though he saves only his own. It is much more
common silently to assume that by “the whole world”
John has in mind the whole race of mankind throughout the entire range of its existence in time: few have
the hardihood openly to assert it. It is ordinarily taken
for granted (Huther is one of the few who give it explicit expression) that “John was thinking directly of
the ‘world’ as it existed in his time.” Huther indeed
adds the words: “without however limiting the idea to
it,” and thus suggests that John was thinking of the

Thine is the Kingdom

“world” protensively as well as extensively, without
explicitly saying so. Clearly in any event it would be
impossible to attribute to John teaching to the effect
that Christ’s expiatory work concerned only those who
happened to be living in his own—or John’s—generation. This would yield a conception of the range of the
propitiatory efficacy of our Lord’s death which can be
looked upon only as grotesque.
Yet there is nothing in John’s language to justify the
attribution to him of a protensive conception of “the
whole world” in the sense of the universalists. It seems
quite clear that, by “the whole world,” he means primarily the world extensively conceived. It is equally
clear, however, that he means neither to confine the
efficacy of Christ’s blood to his own generation, nor
to maintain that the entirety of contemporary humanity was saved. He knew of those not of his own time
who were saved; he knew of children of the devil in
his own day. There is a protensive element in his conception of the world. It is however of its protension in
the future rather than in the past that he is thinking.
He sees the world not only lying on every side of him
in space, but very especially as stretching out before
him in time. The contrast between it and the little flock
of Christians includes thus a contrast of times.
The interpretation of our passage has suffered seriously from a mechanical treatment of its language. We
must permit to John the flexibility customary among
men in the handling of human speech. When he speaks
of Christ as a propitiation “for the whole world,” we
cannot either confine his language rigidly to the world
of his own day, or expand it with equal rigidity to the
extremest limit of the possible connotation of the

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

phrase. He is certainly intending to present Christ as a
world-wide Savior by whom nothing less than the
world is saved; but it does not follow that he means to
affirm that therefore no single man of all who ever live
in the world is omitted. He is obviously thinking in the
terms of the great phrase he is himself a little later to
use, when he declares that the Father has sent the Son
“as Savior of the world.” To him Jesus Christ is very
expressly the Savior of the whole world: he had come
into the world to save not individuals merely out of
the world, but the world itself. It belongs therefore
distinctly to his mission that he should take away the
sin of the world. It is this great conception which John
is reflecting in the phrase, “he is the propitiation for
our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world.”
This must not be diluted into the notion that he came
to offer salvation to the world, or to do his part toward the salvation of the world, or to lay such a basis
for salvation that it is the world’s fault if it is not saved.
John’s thinking does not run on such lines; and what
he actually says is something very different, namely
that Jesus Christ is a propitiation for the whole world,
that he has expiated the whole world’s sins. He came
into the world because of love of the world, in order
that he might save the world, and he actually saves the
world. Where the expositors have gone astray is in
not perceiving that this salvation of the world was not
conceived by John—any more than the salvation of
the individual—accomplishing itself all at once. Jesus
came to save the world, and the world will through
him be saved; at the end of the day he will have a
saved world to present to his father. John’s mind is
running forward to the completion of his saving work;

Thine is the Kingdom

and he is speaking of his Lord from the point of view
of this completed work. From that point of view he is
the Savior of the world.
Conceptions like those embodied in the Parables of
the Mustard Seed and the Leaven lay at the back of
John’s mind. He perfectly understood that the Church
as it was phenomenally present to his observation was
but “a little flock.” He as perfectly understood that it
was after a while to cover the whole world. And therefore he proclaims Jesus the Savior of the world and
declares him a propitiation for the whole world. He is
a universalist; he teaches the salvation of the whole
world. But he is not an “each and every” universalist;
he is an “eschatological” universalist. He teaches the
salvation of the world through a process; it may be—
it has proved to be—a long process; but it is a process
which shall reach its goal.3 It is not then “our” sins
only which Jesus has expiated—the sins of the “little
flock,” now living within the range almost of John’s
physical vision. He has expiated also the sins of “the
whole world”; and at the end, therefore we shall be
nothing less than a world saved by him. The contrast
between the “our” and “the world” in John’s mind,
therefore, is at bottom the contrast between the smallness of the beginnings and the greatness of the end of
the Christian development.
And what his declaration is, at its core, is thus only
another of those numerous —prophecies, shall we say?
or assertions?—which meet us throughout the apostolic teaching, of the ultimate conquest of the world
by Christ. Christ, he tells his “little flock,” is the “propitiation for our sins”; in him “we” have found a full
salvation. But he is not willing to stop there. His glad

Chapter 3: Jesus Christ the Propitiation for the Whole World

eyes look out on a saved world. “And not for ours
only,” he adds, “but also for the whole world.” We are
a “little flock” now: tomorrow we shall be the world.
We are but the beginnings: the salvation of the world
is the end. And it is not this only, but that, that Christ
has purchased with his precious blood. The light that
is perceptible now only within the narrow limits of the
“little flock” has in it a potency of illumination which
no bounds can confine: it, “the real light,” is “already
shining”—and before it John sees “the darkness” already “passing away.”
It is not merely a world-wide gospel with which he
knows himself entrusted: it is a world-wide salvation
which he is called to proclaim. For Jesus Christ is the
Savior not of a little flock merely, but of the world
itself: and the end to which all things are working together is nothing other than a saved world. At the end
of the day there will stand out in the sight of all a whole
world, for the sins of which Christ’s blood has made
effective expiation, and for which he stands as Advocate before the Father.4

Edited from The Expositor, 21 (1921): 241-253.
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) was Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at
Western Theological Seminary (1878-87), then Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology at Princeton
Theological Seminary (1887-1921). He authored
scores of articles and numerous books. J. E. Meeter,
ed., The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield contains ten
volumes of his selected writings.


Thine is the Kingdom

Editor’s note: We should note that the problems
inherent in this passage still plague evangelical commentators today. For instance, Colin G. Kruse
expresses his despair: “While we can say what Jesus
Christ being the atoning sacrifice ‘for the sins of the
whole world’ does not mean, it is more difficult to say
what it does mean, for the author gives us no clues.”
Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 2000), 75. If only commentators would
consult Warfield’s resolution to the problem!
Editor’s note: As a true postmillennialist, Warfield’s
system includes a lengthy period of incremental advance by the kingdom of God in history. Consequently,
he is opposed to the popular doctrine of the imminent
return of Christ. Elsewhere he cites favorably, various
authors who declare the modern Church as the Church
still in her infancy: “A truth much too often forgotten,
which has its application to our subject, too, is enunciated by William Temple, Foundations: A Statement
of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought (London: Macmillan, 1913), p. 340 note: ‘The earth will in
all probability be habitable for myriads of years yet. If
Christianity is the final religion, the church is still in its
infancy. Two thousand years are as two days. The appeal
to the “primitive church” is misleading; we are the “primitive church....”’ Cf. James Adderley, The Hibbert
Journal, July, 1914 (12:4): 765: ‘But we must remember
that Christianity is a very young religion and that we are
only at the beginning of Christian history even now.’”
Editor’s note: For further elucidation of this passage from a Warfieldian perspective, see my exposition
in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion:
A Postmillennial Eschatology (2d. ed.: Tyler, Tex.,:
Institute for Christian Economics, 1997), 272-77.


Chapter 4

Agony, Irony, and
the Postmillennialist
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. 1



HE eschatological debate between amillennialists

and postmillennialists in the reformed camp has
been taking a new turn of late. Whereas amillennialists
of the recent past (e.g., Hoekema and Berkouwer2 )
concentrated more on the formal eschatological (i.e.,
prophetic) statements of Scripture in rebutting
postmillennialism, contemporary amillennialists (e.g.
Gaffin, Strimple, and White3 ) are pressing the basic
soteriological revelation. Though both amillennialists
and postmillennialists (largely) agree with Geerhardus
Vos on the eschatological nature of salvation and the
redemptive-historical structure of history,4 the differences between our visions remain. Amillennialists still
maintain a decidedly pessimistic expectation for the
church’s historical experience before the second advent,
whereas postmillennialists urge a robust optimism.

As I indicate elsewhere5 the particular nature of this
pessimism must be understood as presented in the
debate. Obviously, all evangelical perspectives are
ultimately optimistic: the righteous will be eternally

Thine is the Kingdom

blessed and the wicked forever doomed on judgment
day. Nevertheless, historical pessimism characterizes
the amillennial outlook in holding that: Our Spirit-empowered gospel labors will never result in worldwide
revival,6 the forces of Satan will always claim the
majority of the human race,7 our promotion of God’s
word will not effect a cosmic cultural renewal,8 and
our future is destined to collapse into horror.9 Thus,
amillennialism is pessimistic when looking at historical results and when compared to postmillennialism.
The recent amillennial emphasis on Christian suffering in history underscores the postmillennialist’s
pessimism charge in this regard. For instance, R.
Fowler White’s important article in the Fall 2000 issue of The Westminster Theological Journal well
illustrates the matter for us. He opens with scholarly
citations highlighting the moral decline our culture is
enduring. And he does so in order to reflect upon the
perplexing question of “the victorious reign of Christ
and his church” in light of such conditions—which
conditions amillennialists deem a permanent and
“ironic” feature of pre-consummational history.
Before I engage the debate I must express my deep
appreciation for White’s clear, fair, and perceptive article. Over all, he presents an accurate portrayal of my
postmillennial writings and those of Bahnsen and
North.10 In the process he makes some important advances on Gaffin and Strimple’s suffering argument.
Their concern was to show that the church is called to
suffer as a matter of her union with Christ; and so
they explain and emphasize the reality of Christ’s
present victorious reign despite our suffering. White
suggests that the suffering argument needs to be “re84

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

focused and elaborated” upon (White, 167) because it
has been “insufficiently or inconsistently applied” (176),
therefore requiring “a fresh elucidation” (White, 168).
He urges considering more closely the victory of the
church in addition to that of Christ. He suggests that
the church victoriously reigns with Christ as she faithfully endures her earthly trials (White, 167, 168, 174).
Highlighting the differences, White summarizes
Strimple’s argument as teaching that “inaugurated
eschatology comes across as ‘victory now for the One
(Christ) and not yet for the many (the church)’” (White,
167). Over against Gaffin and Strimple, White insists
“the church’s present victorious reign is not merely in
principle” (White, 175). He does not discount Strimple
or Gaffin, but transforms the negative argument into a
positive one, while correcting some deficiencies in
Strimple (White, 167, 168).
Unfortunately, as this factor of the debate illustrates,
postmillennialism is the easiest eschatological option
to misconstrue.11 Too often faulty hidden presuppositions taint the arguments, even though the evangelical
and reformed critics are seldom aware of these. In this
regard I must note up front that postmillennialists do
not assert: (1) universalism (not all will be saved at
any point in history); (2) perfectionism (the saved are
never perfect on earth); or (3) satisfactionism (we do
not prefer earthly dominion over consummational
glory). If the critics would do a “virus check” for these
three latent errors, we could more accurately and fruitfully focus the debate.
In this article I will take up White’s admirable concern that “discussion should continue” (White, 175)
by briefly responding to the two-fold suffering argu85

Thine is the Kingdom

ment: both Gaffin and Strimple’s “Christ’s Present
Victory Despite Our Suffering” argument; and White’s
“The Church’s Ongoing Victory Through Her Suffering” argument. Of course, just as White confesses that
space constraints prohibit his fuller interaction and
explication (White, 168, 171-72, 175), so must I. This
is not only due to the broad theological implications
of the debate, but also my fighting a battle on two
fronts: the emphases of both Gaffin-Strimple and
White. 12 I hope, however, to show that the postmillennialist largely accepts such a redemptiveeschatological methodology while maintaining the
postmillennial outlook—when the issues are better
understood (i.e., both the expectations of postmillennialism and the broader nature of suffering).

Gaffin and Strimple vigorously assert that the suffering motif (which results because of our union with
Christ) contradicts the postmillennial outlook. And
in this the recent amillennial textbook by Cornelis
Venema concurs.13
Gaffin is fond of declaring: “the church ‘wins’ by
‘losing’” (Gaffin, 216). He argues that “over the
interadvental period in its entirety, from beginning to
end, a fundamental aspect of the church’s existence is
(to be) ‘suffering with Christ’; nothing, the NT teaches,
is more basic to its identity than that.”14 Strimple boldly
declares that Jesus “tells his disciples that in this present
age they cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution” (Strimple, 63).15 White speaks
of an “amillennial hermeneutic of persecution” (White,

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

176) noting that the church’s perseverance “despite
persecution is her present, indeed her perpetual, supracultural victory in history” (White 162, emphasis mine).
Thus, this suffering argument suggests to the
amillennialist the impossibility of the large scale elimination of suffering demanded in the postmillennial
scheme. In fact, Gaffin denies that our “frustration factor will be demonstrably reduced, and the church’s
suffering service noticeably alleviated” (Gaffin, 21415). Indeed, according to Strimple, the postmillennial
vision of ameliorated suffering “is out of harmony with
the New Testament revelation” (Strimple, 67).
How shall the postmillennialist respond? I would
urge the following for clarifying both our reformed
interpretation of Scripture and our accurate understanding of postmillennialism.
1. Scripture is occasional and historical. That is,
we must always recognize that it speaks to real people
in their original settings. For instance, may we argue
that revelation and prophecy continue today because
Paul strongly commands in Scripture: “Therefore, my
brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues” (I Corinthians 14:39)? Is that
a universal ecclesiastical expectation for all times, or an
occasional assertion for those times? Surely the latter.
Historically, the early church to whom the apostles
wrote found herself in the throes of a rapidly expanding and increasingly deepening persecution.
Consequently, warnings of persecutional suffering apply to the original recipients in a direct and relevant
way. We misconstrue them if we universalize them so
as to require the continued persecution of the church

Thine is the Kingdom

until the second advent. Of course, on those occasions in
which we are led by God through similar circumstances,
the directives and/or principles would certainly apply.
2. Persecution is serious external oppression. As
we reflect on this point in the debate we must bear in
mind a vitally important matter: The only kind of suffering that contradicts postmillennialism is suffering
rooted in dangerous external threats and oppression
(especially when designed to suppress or punish the
Christian faith).16 The New Testament era Christians
were indeed a suffering people seriously besieged by
“threats and murder” (Acts 9:1-2), capital punishment
(Acts 7:59; 12:1-2), and imprisonments and beatings
(II Corinthians 11:23-25) while being made a “public
spectacle” and having their “property seized” (Hebrews
10:32-34). And were these conditions to continue until
the end, postmillennialism could not be true.
If amillennialists claim the church is under
persecutional suffering here in America, then we effectively discount the grievous nature of our early
forefathers’ persecution, while exaggerating our own
trials.17 And since the end has not yet come, what if
our (imperfect but welcome) advantageous conditions
were to spread throughout all the world? We know
from our experience that Christianity can exist in a
large-scale, long-lasting external peace from
persecutional suffering.
3. Persecution does not always prevail. Remembering the form of persecution highlighted in point I. 2 above,
I am always surprised to hear amillennialists overstate
their case when arguing that we as disciples of Christ
“cannot expect anything other than oppression and perse88

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

cution” (Strimple, 63). H. C. G. Moule well noted
what we all know from history: “No attentive observer
can doubt that many and many a loving and humble
disciple, called to lead a quiet life before the Lord in
the ‘sequestered vale,’ ‘serves his generation’ with
faithful diligence, and passes at last to rest, encountering scarcely one perceptible collision on the way.”18
Strimple’s bold assertion is falsified by the facts of
the condition in which he himself lives. Is Strimple
suffering in a way proving his point? Are the publishers of The Westminster Theological Journal? If
persecutional suffering is the “fundamental aspect of
the church’s existence” of which nothing “is more basic to its identity” (Gaffin, 210-11), then those of us
living in America should not be identified with Christ
as members of his church!
4. Corporate personality may account for some
statements of persecutional suffering. The church is a
corporate personality; the “body of Christ” is not “one
member but many” (I Corinthians 12:14). The corpus
Christi extends through time, so that early believers are
our “fathers” (Romans 15:8; I Corinthians 10:1), the very
root of our existence (Romans 11:17). Their struggles
should be remembered (e.g., Hebrews 11:32-40).
Consequently, the early persecution of believers in
antiquity (and the contemporary trials of our brothers
in various foreign lands) in a real and important sense
is our suffering, for “if one member suffers, all the
members suffer with it” (I Corinthians 12:26). The
persecutional suffering in much of church history, then,
is a persecution of the body of Christ and a source of
sorrow even when the body finally comes to peace in

Thine is the Kingdom

temporal history. The Coliseum is, as it were, our
Wailing Wall.
5. Suffering is broader than external oppression
and compatible with postmillennialism. As I indicated in my introduction, postmillennialists can
affirm suffering-with-Christ as a basic element of
our Christian experience even up to the end—when
we carefully reflect on the biblical requirements of
the suffering argument.19
The error of the suffering argument as employed in
the debate is akin to the Baptist error regarding baptismal mode: Baptists focus on one implication of
baptism (death to sin in Romans 6) and then require
that that one aspect establish the mode. Whereas baptism is fuller than that, in that it represents union with
Christ in all that he does, not just his death and resurrection.20 Likewise persecutional suffering is only one
aspect of the church’s suffering-with-Christ. But there
are others:
(a) We suffer as fallen creatures enduring physical
weakness in this age. In Romans 8:17 Paul argues that
if we are his children, then we are “heirs also, heirs of
God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer
with Him in order that we may also be glorified with
Him.” He explains this suffering in the next few verses
when he reminds us that “the creation was subjected
to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who
subjected it, in hope” and that “the whole creation
groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (8:20, 22). Paul is explaining why believers,
though “free from the law of sin and of death” (8:2),
still suffer “the whole range of the weakness which

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

characterize us in this life,”21 “the whole gamut of suffering, including things such as illness, bereavement,
hunger, financial reverses, and death itself.”22 How can
this be? Our glory awaits the future “redemption” of
the body (8:23) by the Spirit of God (8:11). We are
even too weak to pray as we ought, so the Spirit (who
resurrects) intercedes for us (8:26-27).
Thus, Paul laments his being in a “mortal body”
(Romans 6:12; 8:11), a body subject to corruption
and decay (II Corinthians 4:16); he declares that
ultimately this “mortality” must put on “immortality”
(I Corinthians 15:53-57).23 We suffer in bodies that
are mere “earthen vessels” (II Corinthians 4:7), subject to “bodily illness” (Galatians 4:13), “frequent
infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23), “sickness to the point of
death” (Philippians 1:27). Elders in the church must
assist in prayers for healing (James 5:17) because sickness is painful and limiting (Galatians 4:13), “to the
point of death” (Philippians 1:27) and may even cause
death and its bereavement (John 11:33; Acts 9:36-37).
Gaffin and other amillennialists even recognize that
“Christian suffering ought not to be conceived of too
narrowly,” for it “includes but is more than persecution and martyrdom” (Gaffin, 213). Gaffin speaks of
the “breadth” of the Christian conception of suffering
which includes the “frustration/ futility” principle and
our “bondage to decay.” Indeed, “suffering is everything that pertains to creaturely experience of this
death-principle.” “It is the totality of existence ‘in the
mortal body’ and within ‘this world in its present form
[that] is passing away’” (Gaffin, 214). “Christian suffering is literally all the ways in which this
‘weakness-existence’ (v. 26) is borne, by faith, in the

Thine is the Kingdom

service of Christ—the mundane, ‘trivial’ but often so
easily exasperating and unsettling frustrations of daily
living, as well as monumental testing and glaring persecution” (Gaffin, 214).
White urges us to understand that “the relationship
between the church’s victory and suffering in Romans
8 reflects a theologically fundamental consideration”
(White, 167). But when we properly analyze the suffering argument, postmillennialists are not confronted
with an insurmountable wall. For postmillennialism
does not expect the elimination of mortality this side
of the resurrection. And so these sufferings due to
mortality will continue even at the height of the advance
of the gospel.24 These should be borne as Christians, not
as “the rest who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13;
cf. Ephesians 2:12; James 1:2-4; Titus 2:7).
(b) We suffer in a world with the principle of evil
present. As regenerate, spiritually (semi-eschatological)
resurrected believers, we abhor the sinful tendencies
present in ourselves and in others. Paul was torn as he
struggled to please God (Romans 7:21-23). He cried
out in misery: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set
me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
As Bruce puts it: “Paul himself knows what it means
to be torn this way and that by the law of his mind
which approves the will of God, and the law of sin and
death which pulls the other way. The Christian, in fact,
lives in two worlds simultaneously, and so long as this
is so he lives in a state of tension.”25
Even at the height of the kingdom’s (postmillennial)
advance in the world we will suffer temptation due to
“the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches”

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

(Matthew 13:22). We will always struggle against the
“sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1), the
“the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the
boastful pride of life” (I John 2:16). Due to our suffering the temptation to sin within, each Christian must
follow after Paul, declaring: “I buffet my body and
make it my slave” (I Corinthians 9:27; cp. Romans
8:13; Colossians 3:5).
6. Christ is an example of suffering for us. We discover further evidence of the broad nature of suffering
in Christ, our model of suffering. His suffering was
not limited to external oppression by rebellious man.
Rather, his entire state of humiliation was by definition a state of suffering in which he endured mundane,
creaturely pains and sorrows. “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise also
partook of the same” (Hebrews 2:14); he existed in
the “likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), in the “likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3). Because of his
incarnation he was “tempted in what he suffered” (Hebrews 2:18), even being “tempted in all things as we
are” (Hebrews 4:15). He wearied (John 4:6), hungered
(Matthew 21:18), and sorrowed (John 11:35)—apart
from persecution.
Our union with Christ in his suffering involves all
of these mundane things, not just matters of external
assault and trial. And these forms of suffering are compatible with the postmillennial hope.
7. Suffering is contrasted with eternal glory. Even
the very height of earthly, postmillennial glory pales in
comparison to the “weight of glory” that is ours, and
that stirs our deepest longings as sons of God (cf.

Thine is the Kingdom

Philippians 1:23). As recipients of the mysteries of the
kingdom of God, Christians experience “the heightened form which our desire for this future
[resurrection] state assumes. For it is not mere desire
to obtain a new body, but specifically to obtain it as
soon as possible” (cf. II Corinthians 5:1-10).26 What is
more, we who know God’s saving mercies deeply desire “the state of immediate vision of and perfect
communion with God and Christ” which “the future
life alone can bring” with its “perfected sonship.”27
Anything short of perfected sonship is a form of suffering “not worthy to be compared with the glory that
is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).28
Indeed, our very state of mortality is suffering when
compared to eternity, for the body is “sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown
in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is
raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is
also a spiritual body” (II Corinthians 15:42-44). As Christians “we know that if the earthly tent which is our house
is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not
made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in
this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. While we are in this tent, we groan,
being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal
may be swallowed up by life” (II Corinthians 5:1-2,
4). We are motivated by the fact that Christ “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity
with the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21).
Conclusion. Thus, the postmillennialist agrees that
we are to “suffer with Christ” until he returns, for we

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

grieve over the sufferings of our forefathers, endure
the pains and limitations consequent upon our fallen
experience, bemoan our own indwelling sin as well as
the sin of the unconverted, and earnestly long for the
eternal glory we will share in the presence of God.
Strimple even recognizes the suffering of Romans 8
involves “sin and all of its consequences,” “all the corrupting consequences of human sin,” not just persecution
(Strimple, 61, 106). Earthly suffering involves times of
prosperity as well as times of adversity. Even at the
height of the kingdom’s earthly development we will
always need to struggle in order to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), always
resisting the temptation to arrogantly declare: “my
power and the strength of my hand made me this
wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17).

I will now reflect briefly on White’s expansions on
and enhancements of the amillennial suffering argument. The reader should be aware that by now I have
dealt with much of the core concern in his suffering
theology, his “hermeneutic of persecution” (White,
176). Nevertheless, his enhancements deserve additional contemplation.
Before I begin I must quickly dispatch an erroneous
charge he brings against the postmillennialist. I would
not agree that postmillennialists “basically dismiss...
as irrelevant” the “church’s perseverance in persecution for understanding her victory” (White, 168), for:
(1) How could any evangelical deem the necessity of
“perseverance in persecution” as irrelevant? Much of

Thine is the Kingdom

the church’s history has been spent under the grueling
fire of persecution. This cannot possibly be dismissed
as an irrelevancy. This charge is a sample of an all too
frequent tendency to argumentative overstatement. (2)
Postmillennialists affirm that anytime the church is persecuted she must “endure to the end” (Matthew 24:13)
for “the testing of [our] faith produces endurance”
(James 1:3). We believe that the church must endure
persecution when it comes, as an important aspect of
“her victory,” as per White (168). But we do not believe that experiencing persecution in all times is a
necessary condition of her victory, or else she cannot
be victorious now in America nor will she be victorious in heaven. (3) Our apparent dismissal of the
suffering motif is due to the point of conflict in the
eschatological debate. Postmillennialists necessarily
highlight this distinctive difference between our view
and the other evangelical eschatological options: our
expectation that external persecution must gradually
fade away.29 Hence, our placing “at the center of recent interaction” the church’s “future cultural victory”
(White, 162). We no more dismiss suffering by not
emphasizing it in our writings than Paul dismisses the
resurrection of the unbeliever by never mentioning it
in his writings.30 Likewise Beale’s emphasis on Christ’s
death surely does not effectively “dismiss” his interest
in the resurrection (q. v., White, 172, 173).
But now I will consider White’s two specific enhancements to the suffering argument: irony in
redemption and perseverance as victory.
1. Redemptive Irony
White reminds us of the startling means by which God
effects his will and blesses his people: He does so by

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

the twin principles of redemptive and retributive irony
(White, 170). For instance, Genesis 3:15 serves as a
“biblical paradigm” which establishes for us that “the
eschatologically significant moral principles by which
[God’s] enemies would defeat him would end up being the very means by which he defeats them; in
addition, the actual results effected by God are the
opposite or a greater degree of the results intended by
his enemies” (White, 170). In the eschatological debate Genesis 3:15 becomes a “crucial consideration”
for demonstrating redemptive irony, i.e., ultimate victory through apparent defeat. In addition, Christ’s New
Testament suffering confirms this ironic pattern of victory: “When it comes to our conception of the victory
of the church, we see that it follows the ironic principles of Christ’s victory” (White, 175). Ultimately we
must recognize that “God is seeing to it that the means
by which Satan’s anti-kingdom intends to defeat
Christ’s kingdom-church end up being the very means
by which the latter defeats the former” (White, 176).
The postmillennialist would respond to White’s observations as follows:
a. Ironic victory is biblical. Postmillennialists recognize the redemptive irony principle: Satan’s rebellion
against God finally backfires. White has presented a
clear, concise, and helpful summary of the principle
which I as a postmillennialist appreciate. I agree with
his argument—until he draws wrong conclusions.
b. Ironic victory is postmillennial. In addition to
White’s samples of redemptive irony, the
postmillennialist urges an additional irony: the small,
persecuted church of the first century shall one day

Thine is the Kingdom

emerge as the universal, dominant church of the last
century. We must not “despise the day of small things”
(Zechariah 4:10). In fact, Matthew organizes the revelation of the kingdom in a surprising and ironic
context: In Matthew 12:28 Christ proclaimed the presence of the kingdom (the kingdom is present); in
13:53-58 Matthew records Christ’s rejection (the kingdom appears to fail). Yet between these two kingdom
data, the kingdom parables explain the irony of the
kingdom’s method: it grows from a small seed to a
great plant (13:31-32); it acts like a little yeast leavening the whole (13:33).
The Jewish Messianic fervor expected a conquering Messiah to overthrow the pagan world (e.g., John
6:15; Luke 24:2131 ); the Messiah instead was slain by
the pagan world—with a view to his transforming it
(Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17; 12:31-32). Thus, Christ’s
victory in the first century was “now and not yet,” an
unfolding, developmental reality rather than a fullblown imposition; since then he is “waiting from that
time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for
His feet” (Hebrews 10:13) though (ironically) they are
already subjugated (Ephesians 1:19-22; Colossians
2:15; I Peter 3:22). Though Christ is already the conqueror, “we do not yet see all things subjected to him”
(Hebrews 2:8). Whereas in history Satan employs the
sword against the church in history, the sword of the
Spirit will win the victory—also in history.
c. Ironic victory is historical. Each of the irony
samples in the “biblical paradigm” from Genesis 3:1419 provided by White are historical—except the one
that marks the distinction between the postmillennial
and amillennial camps (White, 170). Note that: the ser98

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

pent sought to be like the most high, but was brought
low—in history. The craftiest creature became the accursed creature—in history. The woman desired to rule
her husband, but was ruled by him—in history. Man
from the dust wanted to be like God, but was brought
back to the dust—in history. The serpent sought the
woman as his ally, but she became the mother of the
righteous conqueror—in history. The serpent subdued
man, but the man’s son, the Son of Man, subdued the
serpent—in history.
The one place this irony parallelism fails is seen in
White’s words: “The serpent makes all the woman’s
seed into children of the devil; but by the grace of redemptive judgment, God determines to make a division
among the woman’s fallen seed, promising to convert
a remnant into children of God” (White, 170-71). It
appears that the serpent sought the destruction of the
human race—and won! God only saves out a “remnant.” This startling failure is actually predicted in the
application of White’s form of the irony argument: “the
actual results effected by God are the opposite or a
greater degree of the results intended by the serpent”
(White, 171). Thus, we observe, Satan destroys the great
mass of mankind, and God saves “the opposite”: a small
remnant. Surely this is not the irony God intends.
In addition, White argues that the culture impacting
victory of God promised in the protoevangelium will
not come about in this temporal realm, but awaits the
consummational new earth: “[T]he earth will yet be
ruled and filled by a righteous immortal seed of man
to the glory of God” (White, 171).32 Over against this
interpretation the postmillennialist asserts that God
does not give up on history.

Thine is the Kingdom

d. Ironic victory is admitted. But ironically(!) all of
this redemptive irony argumentation is admitted by
White as irrelevant to resolving his debate with the
postmillennialist. “This study makes clear that the
church’s present victorious reign is not merely in principle. We can and must talk about the church’s victory
in history, whether she ever emerges as the organon
of world culture or not” (White, 175, emphasis mine).
So then, White’s own analysis of the victory principle—
which involves perseverance—may be maintained
“whether...or not” the postmillennial scheme is true.
And after all, the postmillennialist asks why should we
not expect Christian dominion since we possess “the
eschatological, Pentecostal presence and power of the
Holy Spirit in the church” (White, 165, citing Gaffin)?
2. Victorious Perseverance
Fleshing out the implications of the amillennial “hermeneutic of persecution,” White argues in the final
analysis: “through these principles of redemptive irony,
then, it becomes clear that and how Christ’s church
can be said to be perpetually victorious in history: following the example of Christ, she perseveres in
faithfulness despite persecution” (White, 176). He
agrees with Beale in urging “that John’s Apocalypse
reveals the nature of the church’s present reign. Like
Jesus’ initial kingship, the church’s kingship consists
now in conquering by maintaining her faithful witness”
through trials, overcoming evil powers, subduing sin
in the church, and ruling “over death and Satan by
identification with Jesus” so that the “church’s endurance, then, is part of the process of conquering” (White
175). Therefore, faithfully enduring in the world is the
exercise of our present victory in Christ.

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

In response I would note:
a. Endurance is obvious in the trials of oppression.
The postmillennialist wholeheartedly concurs with
White that “a fully biblical inaugurated eschatology
must recognize that perseverance in faith despite persecution is victory for the church in history” (White,
168). Those Christians who faithfully endured the persecutions of the first (and later) centuries were indeed
victorious. For instance, Paul urged the Philippians to
understand the inscrutable plan of God, for to them it
was “granted” (Gk., echaristhe), “graciously given as
a favor for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him,
but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). Paul
taught this so that they would “in no way [be] alarmed
by your [real, historical, contemporary] opponents”
(v. 28) while they experienced “the same conflict” they
saw in Paul (v. 30). Paul was quite aware “of his readers’ present, very real, situation.”33 Truly may we assert
that “just as Christ ruled in a veiled way through suffering, so do Christians” (White, 174). But, as I will show,
this is not the only way in which we exercise victory.
b. Endurance is historical in the Book of Revelation. White establishes much of his argument (three
full pages) on an analysis of Revelation, “the NT
book in which the vocabulary and images of victory
are the most prominent” (White, 172). And his presentation is almost totally based on G. K. Beale’s
commentary. This is unfortunate in that it brings the
whole thorny question of Revelation’s proper interpretation into the debate.
I would argue that we must understand Revelation
as an occasional epistle, a letter to historical churches

Thine is the Kingdom

already “in tribulation” with John (Revelation 1:9). He
is alerting them to the very important truth that Christian victory is not one-dimensional, that Christian
victory can and often does—and in their case will—
require victory through enduring fearsome
persecution. Revelation is not a moving picture of all
of Christian history, but a snapshot of its beginning; it
does not prophesy a state of perpetual persecution,
but ministers in a circumstance of particular tribulation (hence Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10).
The early beleaguered, confused, and tempted Christians had to understand that though the kingdom of
Almighty God was indeed present (e.g., Revelation
1:9) and Christ was already “the ruler of the kings of
the earth” (Revelation 1:5), the kingdom nevertheless
required time for growth and expansion (Matthew
13:30-33; Mark 4:26-29), while Jesus was “waiting”
for his enemies to be subdued in time and on earth
(Hebrews 10:13). An important point of the Lord’s
Parable of the Soils was to warn that trials will come
to kingdom citizens, possibly leading to their discouragement and apostasy (Matthew 13:19-22). Revelation
is steeling first century Christians for their very real
trials, encouraging them to endurance as a form of
earthly victory which leads to heavenly glory.
c. Endurance is constant in the experiences of life.
As I noted above (I. 5) we suffer many trials other
than external persecution. Thus, perseverance is a
constant obligation for the Christian in all of life’s vicissitudes. Just as it is true that “a fully biblical
inaugurated eschatology must recognize that perseverance in faith despite persecution is victory for the
church in history” (White, 162), so is it equally true

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

that “a fully biblical inaugurated eschatology must recognize that perseverance in faith” despite the
temptations of mundane life is victory for the church.
Persecution is not the only arena for victory. The church
must “persevere in faith and good works” (White, 175)
always and in every circumstance. Certainly her victorious perseverance is more obvious in the crucible
of oppression, but it is not the more remarkable, for
defeat lurks in every corner of life.
White himself notes our struggle for victory even
through the yawning visage of “temptations to compromise, and complacency” in addition to the scowling
“face of persecution” (White, 174). He summarizes
Beale’s observations noting that even Revelation
speaks of overcomers outside the context of persecution, as when the church is “subduing sin in her
members’ lives” (White, 175). Perhaps White is indicating an admission of broader victory than persecution
when he speaks of persecutional suffering as involving “the church’s endurance” as “part [not the whole]
of the process of conquering” (White, 175)?
Such an understanding of victory-through-sufferingapart-from-persecution leaves the door open for
postmillennialism, when the fires of persecution (cf.
II. 1, 2) are extinguished and the choking smoke of
oppression is dissipated. In fact, do we not enjoy victory through “successful preaching of the gospel to
the nations,” as Strimple argues (see: White, 167)?
d. Endurance is overstated in the discussion of
eschatology. As glorious and necessary a factor of victory as is perseverance through persecution, the
troubling fact is: amillennialists are prone to overstate

Thine is the Kingdom

their case in the context of the eschatological debate.
White approvingly cites Beale: “[T]he exercise of rule in
this kingdom begins and continues only as one faithfully
endures tribulation” (White, 174). “Only”? Do we not
have victory when safely beyond the raging fires of persecution? Are any American church communities living
victoriously, though free from the lash of the persecutor?
Alternatively, was it not a “defeat” (Gk., ettema)
rather than a “victory” for the Corinthians when they
went to court against each other (I Corinthians 6:7)?
Was it not a shameful failure for them to fall into sin,
irrespective of the crush of oppression (I Corinthians
15:34)? Were not the Hebrews failing not only under
persecutional trials but also in other more mundane
struggles: failing to grow in their knowledge of Scripture (Hebrews 5:11), defiling the marriage bed
(13:4-5), entertaining heresy (13:9)—indeed “every encumbrance” (12:1)?

Perhaps it is true that postmillennialists have not
fully engaged the discussion regarding suffering and
perseverance (White, 162). But it certainly is not true
that the biblical message of suffering and perseverance contradicts the postmillennial hope.
Postmillennialists gladly affirm the redemptive irony
of God’s victory over Satan. Postmillennialists wholeheartedly agree that the faithful church weathering the
storms of persecution is victorious. Postmillennialists
unashamedly confess the reality that our state prior to
the resurrection is one of suffering. We do humbly affirm
the “theology of the cross” (Gaffin, 216); but we also
heartily rejoice in the “theology of the resurrection.”

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

Reprinted by permission and with slight emendation from Westminster Theological Journal 63:2 (Fall,
2001): 421-34. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D., is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and is
Research Professor in Theology at Christ College,
Lynchburg, VA. He has authored fourteen books (including Before Jerusalem Fell, He Shall Have Dominion,
and God Gave Wine) and contributed to six others (from
publishers such as Zondervan, Greenhaven, and P & R).
G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) and Anthony A. Hoekema, The
Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979).
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “Theonomy and Eschatology:
Reflections on Postmillennialism,” in Will S. Barker
and W. Robert Godfrey, eds., Theonomy: A Reformed
Critique (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 197-226.
Robert B. Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in Darrell L.
Bock, ed., Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 81-129 (see
also: 58-71). R. Fowler White, “Agony, Irony, and
Victory in Inaugurated Eschatology: Reflections on
the Current Amillennial-Postmillennial Debate,”
Westminster Theological Journal 62 (Fall, 2000): 16176. Hereinafter I will simply cite their last names with
page references for documentation.
Postmillennialists do not “de-eschatologize” the
present (Gaffin , “Theonomy and Eschatology,” 202)
nor assume “three ages” (Strimple, 63n). See my chapter elsewhere in the present book. I was relieved to
see that R. Fowler White does not bring such charges
against postmillennialists (see note 5 in his article).
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Greatness of the Great
Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen


Thine is the Kingdom

World (Tyler, Tex.: Institute for Christian Economics,
1993), ch. 12.
“The church will endure persecution, apostasy, and
the Antichrist” (White, 167). “The universal sway of
the kingdom of God cannot be expected from missionary effort alone; it requires the eschatological
interposition of God” (Strimple, 65).
God’s people will perpetually be a “remnant”
(White 166, 169, 171).
“Prosperity and blessing for the church are reserved until Christ returns” (Gaffin as cited approvingly
by White, 167). “Jesus nowhere predicts a glorious
future on earth before the end of the world”
(Strimple, 63.)
“The forces of evil [will] gather strength, especially toward the end” (White, 167). We should look
for “persecution, apostasy, Antichrist...[as] essential
elements in the New Testament picture of the last days”
(Strimple, 64).
The article does suffer from some slight imperfections which I will note below.
My chapter title (“Agony, Irony, and the
Postmillennialist”) is designed as a double entente. As
a postmillennialist I frequently find myself in agony
over the widespread misinterpretations of my
eschatological system.
Dr. Gaffin and I recently engaged in a public,
formal debate in Elkton, Maryland (April 26, 2001).
The video of the debate is available from me at
Cornelis P. Venema, The Promise of the Future
(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000).
Gaffin, 211. See my fuller response to Gaffin’s
article: Gentry, “Whose Victory in History?,” in Gary

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

North, Theonomy: An Informed Response (Tyler, Tex.:
Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), ch. 8. There
I show that Gaffin’s argument was built on statements
of Paul’s personal suffering, rather than on the prophetic outlook regarding the church.
Though in the original context Jesus is addressing his first century disciples, Strimple must be applying
this to us today for: (1) It would be pointless for him
to limit the Lord’s statement to the first century in that
he is debating me as a postmillennialist regarding the
long-range outlook for the church. (2) We today still
exist in “this age,” according to Strimple’s (and my)
two age eschatological structure.
The postmillennialist would not limit such external dangers to a religious pogrom, for we also believe
in the eventual cessation of war and the large scale
reduction of criminal behavior. But in employing the
suffering argument as they do, amillennialists are referring to persecutional suffering.
My statement must not be construed to mean that
the American condition illustrates the height of the
postmillennial glory, as if our condition were all that
marvelous. Nor should it suggest my blindness to the
genuine suffering of Christians in many places in the
world still today. I urge participants to the debate to
bear in mind the postmillennial definition: Nowhere
does postmillennialism claim that by the year 2003
the full gospel glory shall have been won. Until history ends, postmillennialism cannot be disproved on
an analysis of world conditions. In fact, most
postmillennialists would agree with Warfield that “the
church of the twentieth century [is] still the primitive
church,” a church in its infancy. Benjamin B. Warfield,
“Are They Few That be Saved?, in Biblical and Theo107

Thine is the Kingdom

logical Studies (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, rep. 1952), 347. See footnote 3 in Chapter 3.
H. C. G. Moule, Studies in II Timothy (Grand
Rapids: Kregel, rep. 1977 [n.d.]), 117.
White is familiar with the basics of my response
in this direction (White 168 ¶ 1) but does not interact
with it except to express his disappointment in my lack
of emphasis on the church’s persevering through persecution. Thus, his concern becomes a matter of
emphasis while the essence of my remarks remains
John Murray, Christian Baptism (Phillipsburg, N.
J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1972), 31 (cf. 29-33).
John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT)
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 1:311.
Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans
(NICNT) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 511.
See also: Romans 8:10, 11, 13, 23; 12:1; I
Corinthians 6:13, 15, 16, 20; II Corinthians 4:10;
Philippians 1:20; 3:21; Colossians 2:11; and I
Thessalonians 5:23. Murray, Romans, 1:220.
Although many of these will be lessened by the
advances in science and medicine. As Gary North
once commented: “If anyone ever speaks longingly
to you of ‘the good old days,’ just respond with two
words: ‘dentistry.’”
F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans
(TNTC) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963), 151.
Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, ed. by Richard B. Gaffin,
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: P & R, 1980), 46.
Vos, Redemptive History, 55.
The pros in the oukaxis/pros construction signifies comparison.

Chapter 4: Agony, Irony, and the Postmillennialist

White is aware that I and other postmillennialists
are engaging the debate at the point of conflict, for he
cites my statement referring to: “the distinctive
postmillennial view of Christianity’s progressive victory, in time and in history [sic], into all of human life
and culture” (White, 162). I actually state: “in time
and on earth.”
Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology
(Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 1930 [rep. 1991]), 216-217.
See the Jewish writings Pss Sol 17; 1QSa 2:14,
20; CD 12:23–13:1; 14:19; 4QMessApoc 1:1. See also:
W. J. Heard, “Revolutionary Movements,” in Michael
B. Green, Scott McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall,
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove,
Ill: InterVarsity, 1992), 689-91.
Postmillennialists do not, of course, deny the final, irrevocable, and absolute dominion associated
with the eternal order of the new heavens and the new
earth. Rather I would point out that on the amillennial
analysis Satan wins the victory in history by destroying the human race, Christ in eternity by redeeming a
small portion of it.
Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians
(NICNT) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 170.


Thine is the Kingdom


Chapter 5

Victory Belongs
to the Lord
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. 1



I noted in the May 2001 edition of the
Chalcedon Report, postmillennialism is enjoying a remarkable resurgence that has gained the attention of noteworthy evangelical theologians and major
Christian publishers.2 Not even dispensationalists can
discount its presence in the eschatological debate anymore.3 A sure sign of postmillennialism’s renewed vigor
is the increasing number of rebuttals it is enduring
(multi-view debate books and single author responses 4 ). Evidence of its remarkable resilience
appears from the shifting debate focus from formal
eschatological texts to general soteriological ones.5
This change in strategy by postmillennialism’s detractors amounts to an unspoken concession to its strength.

In this chapter I will be defending my presentation
of postmillennialism which was published in the
Zondervan debate book edited by Darrell L. Bock:
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (1999).
Particularly, I will be responding to Dr. Robert B.
Strimple’s amillennial rebuttal in that book. In this

Thine is the Kingdom

CounterPoints book each contributor is allowed a
lengthy positive presentation of his position and a brief
critique of each of the other contributors’ presentations. Thus, the rebuttals remain unanswered. Of
course, the debate must eventually end and the book
must be constrained within manageable proportions.
But as it turns out, I believe that my arguments have
been misunderstood in part and ineffectively responded to in whole by my friend Bob Strimple,
Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster
Theological Seminary, Escondido, California. (To
economize space I will be documenting citations
from Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
by merely putting the page numbers in parentheses
after the quotations.)
Before I begin my response to Strimple, I must
present two introductory issues essential to the debate. Their significance to my concerns should
become obvious when I actually begin my surrejoinder to Strimple.

The Proper Understanding
of Postmillennialism

Unfortunately, as the heat of the eschatological debate intensifies, too often the light from it diminishes.
As I suggest in Chapter 4 of this book, postmillennialism
is the easiest eschatological position to misunderstand in our era and therefore inadvertently to
misrepresent.6 Consequently, we must remind our
brothers in the debate of postmillennialism’s actual
claims. In Chapter 4, I caution non-postmillennialists
regarding three faulty assumptions that they must
avoid when responding to our eschatological system.

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

And though few competent theologians would intentionally apply these conditions to postmillennialism,
I fear that these sometimes lurk unrecognized in
the subconscious.
First, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies
universalism. Postmillennialists do not argue that at
some point in temporal history each and every individual then living will be saved. Consequently, even at
the very height of the postmillennial advance, unbelievers will remain among us, though in a minority
status—some as false converts to the faith, others as
openly unrepentant resisters. Jesus clearly teaches this
in his Parable of the Tares among the Wheat (Matthew 13:30), just before declaring the enormous victory
of the faith in all the world (Matthew 13:31-33). This
is a part of the “mysteries of the kingdom” (Matthew
13:11): the glorious kingdom of God does not overwhelm the world catastrophically (but grows gradually
like a mustard plant and penetrates little-by-little as
does leaven) and it will not conquer the world absolutely (but grows to a majoritarian dominance like
wheat in the field).
Second, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies perfectionism. Postmillennialists do not argue that
at some point in temporal history Christians then living will be perfected. Despite the worldwide victory
of the Christian faith, Christians will remain sinners—
sanctified sinners, of course, but redeemed vessels of
mercy suffering the complications of indwelling sin.
Just as no current evangelical church is perfect, neither will an evangelical world be perfect. But if the
majority of the human race were conducting themselves as the average church-going, born-again

Thine is the Kingdom

Christian of today, the world would certainly be a
different and much better place—despite this lack
of perfection.
Third, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies
satisfactionism. Postmillennialists do not argue that
Christ’s people should prefer temporal, earthly conquest through gospel dominion over eternal, heavenly
victory in consummational glory. Any believer with
even a modicum of spiritual sanctification and biblical
understanding must recognize the surpassing glory that
awaits him in the resurrected estate. Then—and only
then—will we see God face-to-face, experience the
transformation of our bodies from mortality to immortality, enjoy freedom from temptation and sin, live
forever in blessed circumstances, and be reunited with
our saved loved ones. The glory of Christian dominion in the earth pales in comparison to the glory of
resurrection majesty in the new earth.
In addition to these three clarifications,
postmillennialists endure dissenters reminding us of
present world conditions as evidence against our expectations. Consequently, we must insist that our
eschatological system be properly defined: nowhere
in the definition of postmillennialism do we declare
that by the year 2003 we will witness the glorious blessings of worldwide gospel conquest. Until the moment
the Lord returns postmillennialism cannot be disproved
by evidences from cultural decline and social chaos in
the world. Who knows how long God will take to effect the glorious transformation? Just as Christians
should not doubt the second coming of Christ because
it has not occurred yet (II Peter 3:4), neither should
evangelicals discount the cultural dominion of Christ

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

because it is not full now. All our system requires is
that the world be Christianized before the Lord returns—and we do not know when that will be
(Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7).

The Discursive Nature
of Theological Argument

Almost invariably in theological debate we must build
our doctrinal case piece-by-piece from the scattered
data of Scripture. We must argue from the pieces to
the system, from foundational premises to superstructural conclusions, line upon line, precept upon precept.
For instance, anyone who has ever attempted to prove
the case for paedo-baptism or the doctrine of the Trinity
understands the necessity of discursive argumentation.
In a bumper sticker world of sound-bite theology this
can be frustrating. (Perhaps in the day of the fuller
advance of gospel victory, postmillennial prosperity
will allow us to drive larger cars with more adequate
bumper space.)
This method of dogmatic argumentation is so common that I was surprised at the manner in which
Strimple rebutted the first two points beginning my
postmillennial argument in our CounterPoints book.
In my first point I establish the “Theological Foundations of Postmillennialism,” by noting God’s “creational
purpose,” “sovereign power,” and “blessed provision”
(pp. 22-25). I am urging the reader to keep in mind
God’s creational purpose for the world, his sovereign
power in administering world affairs, and his bestowal
of redemptive gifts upon the church in promoting his
divine purpose. In my second step I briefly note “The
Redemptive-Historical Flow of Postmillennialism” by

Thine is the Kingdom

surveying the “Creation and Edenic Covenants,” the
“Abrahamic Covenant,” and the “New Covenant” (pp.
25-31). In that section I “trace [postmillennialism’s]
redemptive-historical flow in broad strokes” (p. 25)
to show the covenantal nature of redemption and
eschatology, as well as their inter-relationship. Strimple
sweeps away my introductory notations by complaining that the first section “contributes nothing to the
defense of postmillennialism’s fundamental specific
contention” (p. 68) and that the second section “at no
point establish[es] the specifics of the postmillennial
vision” and is “irrelevant as an argument against
amillennialism or premillennialism” (p. 69). This cavalier dismissal is both disappointing and surprising for
several reasons.
First, in the chapter in which I make these brief observations I am not engaged in “an argument against
amillennialism or premillennialism,” as Strimple complains. Rather I am building the positive case for
postmillennialism—regardless of the other views. In
so doing, I am heeding the original directive of the
editor, who informs the reader in his Introduction that
“each contributor presents an essay surveying the rationale for his particular view” (p. 8). The editor
continues explaining the structure of the book: “Each
essay is followed by short responses to raise questions
and issues the main essay raised. It is here that the
reader will see the differences in readings and views
articulated most directly” (p. 8, emphasis mine).
Strimple mistakes the purpose of the book’s structure
in general, and the flow of my essay in particular.
Second, as Strimple admits (pp. 68, 69), I specifically observe in the presentation that “all of this does

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

not prove God wills to win the world through gospel
victory” (p. 25)—which is, as Strimple puts it,
“postmillennialism’s fundamental specific contention”
(p. 68). Why, then, do I bother to provide this material
that (allegedly) “contributes nothing” to my argument?
As I specifically observe in the next sentence: “But it
should dispel any premature, casual dismissals of
postmillennialism as a viable evangelical option,
thereby paving the way for reconsidering the case for
our evangelistic hope” (p. 25). In other words, my first
two points forbid any hasty dismissal of postmillennialism
as theoretically impossible. And it simultaneously discourages the evangelical from arguing that postmillennialism
is latently liberal in its tendencies.
This is an important tactic on my part. My conference and radio interview experience repeatedly
confirms the wisdom of my approach, in that I often
hear such dismissals. In fact, Strimple is aware of my
desire in this direction when he writes in the second
sentence of his response to me: “Surely he has laid to
rest the charge (too often heard in the past) that the
kind of evangelical postmillennialism he advocates rests
on liberal, humanist, evolutionist presuppositions” (p.
58). I consider this an important concession in the
debate. Therefore, my opening argument does not
contribute “nothing” to the discussion.
Third, by focusing on issues that neither he nor I
deem fundamental, Strimple’s response is distracted
from my main argument—and therefore wasted. I urge
you, the reader, to note the irony of all of this. In both
of these two opening arguments in my positive presentation (covering ten pages) I specifically note that
this material is designed merely to “suggest the prima

Thine is the Kingdom

facie plausibility of postmillennialism” (p. 22). I comment in this same paragraph that I provide all of this
“before actually providing positive exegetical evidence
for the postmillennial position” (p. 22). By this statement I am preparing the reader for my fundamental
exegetical argument in the later section—the section
specifically titled “Exegetical Evidence for
Postmillennialism,” which consumes twenty-six
pages (pp. 31-57) or 250% more space than the first
two points.
But what is the “irony” in all of this? Just this:
Strimple does not get to my main argument until page
67 of the book where he finally asks: “On what basis
does Gentry put forward his postmillennial
eschatology?” (p. 67). And his next sentence highlights
the irony (and my disappointment): “Because there are
so few pages left of the maximum number allotted for
this response, my comments can only be sketchy pointers in certain directions” (p. 67). He has consumed
almost all of his allotted space before he even gets to
my main argument! Actually, here on page 67 he only
begins considering my first two introductory points
and does not engage my primary “exegetical argument”
until page 69—just two pages before the conclusion
of his “Response” on page 71. And to make matters
worse, half of that material (pp. 70-71) is directed
against my view of Revelation 20 of which Strimple
himself admits: “Gentry says that he ‘would prefer to
leave Revelation 20 out of [his] presentation,’ and he
addresses this text only ‘reluctantly’” (p. 70). So then:
he effectively deals with my primary, twenty-six page
exegetical argument in only one-half page of material
(p. 69). My guess is, though, that very few readers

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

will be aware of this problem—such is the attention
span of the modern evangelical.
Thus, I urge the reader to consider a proper understanding of my position and the discursive nature of
theological argumentation. But before I can engage
the fundamental issues, I must also briefly respond to
some secondary matters embedded in Strimple’s rebuttal of my postmillennialism—the “rebuttal” in which
he expends most of his argument (pp. 58-68) on issues other than my positive exegetical argument (which
he treats on pp. 69-71). I do not consider the following to be significant issues in Strimple’s presentation,
but neither can I simply pass them by since some readers might think they are significant.

In this section I will focus on four issues presented by
Strimple. I actually planned on dealing with several others, but space constraints prohibited that. These should
well illustrate the type of problems I faced in the debate.

The Place of Theonomic Ethics

As the editor notes in his Introduction: “each [contributor] has also been asked to provide a brief history
of his view” (p. 8). And though Strimple dismisses
this editorial directive,7 I endeavor to give a brief history of postmillennialism from its nascent beginnings
in antiquity to its full-blown development in the
contemporary debate (pp. 14-22). I believe this is helpful in the modern context in which Christians have little
or no appreciation for historical theology and are so
enamored with contemporary fads (e.g., dispensational novelties).

Thine is the Kingdom

When I arrive at the contemporary status of
postmillennialism, I note the theonomically-inclined
character of current postmillennial argumentation in
Christian Reconstructionism.8 Embedded in footnote
24 I observe in passing that “the Westminster Standards endorse the theonomic outlook” (p. 20). Strimple
takes umbrage at this comment, disputing the
theonomic character of the Standards for three pages
(pp. 58-60). Although he and I both recognize that
this is a side issue in the eschatological debate,9 it is
an important disagreement among the contemporary
expressions of the eschatological schools. Consequently, I will make a few brief observations that the
reader may find helpful.
Strimple notes that WCF 19:4 speaks of the judicial
laws as “expired together with the State of that people
[Israel]” (p. 59). I would just quickly note: (1) We
must determine what “expired” means in the Confessional context, especially given the Confession’s
tendency to cite judicial case laws as proof-texts elsewhere. The theonomist believes that the divines were
noting that the specific, literal directives have “expired,” that is, we no longer are obliged to stone people
to death, provide cities of refuge, build fencing on our
roofs, and so forth. After all, the Confession goes on
to assert that “the general equity” continues (WCF
19:4). Therefore, the “general equity” of capital sanctions must continue to put murderers to death even
though their death is administered in a way different
from the old covenant administrative features. (2)
Strimple’s citations of contemporary authorities on the
matter include Sinclair Ferguson and Meredith Kline.
Interestingly, he quotes Ferguson’s statement begin120

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

ning with these rather hesitant words: The statement
in 19:4 “is not the natural way of expressing a
theonomic view” (p. 59). And he is correct. But it is,
nevertheless, one way of introducing a theonomic observation. In Strimple’s first footnote (p. 58) he approvingly
cites Meredith G. Kline’s infamous article rebutting
theonomy: “Comments on an Old/New Error.” In that
article Kline himself admits that theonomy “is in fact a
revival of certain teachings contained in the Westminster
Confession of Faith—at least in the Confession’s original
formulations.”10 (3) I urge the interested reader to consult my lengthy chapter “Theonomy and Confession”
in the festschrift honoring Greg L. Bahnsen. In that
chapter I provide abundant evidence for the theonomic
perspective of the Westminster Confession.11

The Goal of Christian Labors

On page 61 Strimple warns against the postmillennial
expectation of a future dominant influence for Christianity in all areas of human life and culture. He sees
this postmillennial hope as diminishing the present victory of Christ (to which I also will turn shortly). He is
concerned that all of this will “devalue the blessings
Christ is pouring out on his church now by his Spirit”
leading us to “fail to appreciate the eschatological nature of the kingdom already inaugurated by Christ’s
resurrection and exaltation, and by the Pentecostal
outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” But then he ends this
paragraph of concern with the following statement:
“And as we do, we may find ourselves insisting that
the consummation arrive before its time” (p. 61). Think
of the emotional impact of this statement, the danger
latent therein: postmillennialists are “insisting that the
consummation arrive before its time.”

Thine is the Kingdom

But what in the world does that mean? I have read
Strimple’s alarm in its context dozens of times. For
the life of me I cannot figure out what he is saying.
Yet, does it not sound dangerous? Are, then, points
being scored? Who knows? But with the emotional
nature of much eschatological argument, this sort of
alarm can seem damaging to postmillennialism. If only
I knew what it meant.

The Role of Revelation 20

I mentioned above Strimple’s highlighting my Revelation 20 argument in his response (p. 70), despite
my considering it a non-issue (pp. 50-51). I must
remind my reader as I broach this issue: I regard
this question as a secondary issue (hence the heading of the present section: “Secondary Issues”).
Consequently, I will be quite brief. But again, evangelical emotion exaggerates this “problem,” thereby
requiring my saying something about it. For instance,
see Blaising’s alarm at my (allegedly) “cavalier”
treatment (p. 79—but then see my comments on
page 240).
Complaining that “the reader searches in vain for
even one biblical text that explicitly sets forth the
postmillennial vision of a golden age,” Strimple then
is surprised that I “would prefer to leave Revelation
20 out” of the discussion, because, according to
Strimple, it “might have been assumed that Revelation that text” (p. 70).
In response, as I argue in the CounterPoints book
(pp. 50-51, 236-55): I simply do not believe Revelation 20 is helpful for establishing an eschatological
position. In fact, I believe it is the source of much

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

unnecessary confusion in the debate. Furthermore,
postmillennialists are not the ones who created the
notion of a “millennium,” so that we must refer to
Revelation 20. The discussion of the “millennium” is
as old as the church itself. If Strimple “assumed that
Revelation that text” which postmillennialism
requires, he is simply mistaken.
On page 71 Strimple continues highlighting the alleged problem for postmillennialism caused by
Revelation 20. He notes (correctly) that I argue that
the “millennium” encompasses the whole of the Christian era between the first and second advents. Then he
thinks he has found a contradiction:
If the “Millennium” in the Bible refers to the entire
era between Christ’s first and second comings, on what
biblical basis does Gentry use that word to refer to a
separate and distinct “time in history prior to Christ’s
return,” a time of unprecedented blessing and prosperity? If the “Millennium” in the Bible refers to the
entire Christian era, the ‘millennial conditions’ that
must prevail before Christ returns would seem to be
those conditions that prevail now. (p. 71)

By way of response, please note that nowhere do I
state that the millennium is a “separate and distinct
‘time in history prior to Christ’s return.’” Strimple picks
up this expression (“time in history prior to Christ’s
return”) from my definition of what the postmillennial
system teaches (p. 13). Read it carefully. I simply do
not speak of a separate and distinct millennium within
church history; I believe the “millennium” of Revelation is functionally equivalent to the “kingdom” of the
gospels and covers the whole Christian era.

Thine is the Kingdom

In my next sentence, however, I comment that Christ
returns “after an era of ‘millennial’ conditions” (p. 14).
This is where Strimple thinks I stumble. But please
note that I put the term “millennial” in quotation marks.
Why? Because I am using it in its commonly accepted
sense rather than in its formal meaning; I use it as a
figure of felicitous conditions, not as a measure of
time.12 My adjectival use of the word did not mean
“conditions composing a separate age lasting one thousand years,” but rather, the glorious conditions
commonly associated with the concept of the millennium, i.e., happiness, peace, prosperity.

The Lack of Exegetical Argument

Strimple complains that I do not provide an exegetical
argument for postmillennialism. Actually he criticizes
my choice of terms in introducing my exegetical argument. On page 69 he writes:
Gentry titles the final section of his essay “Exegetical
Evidence for Postmillennialism.” Even this section,
however, Gentry introduces as follows: “let me turn
to some specific passages undergirding and illustrating the glorious expectation” (emphasis added). The
reader is left looking in vain for the specific biblical
passages that teach it, that prove it!

In response I would note that as expressed this is a
semantic quibble. He does not like my use of
“undergirding” and “illustrating.” I would gladly
change the language by using words more acceptable
to Strimple. But I do not see that my expressions are
deficient. To “undergird” means “to form the basis or
foundation of” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). Thus, I am attempting to provide foundational

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

arguments for the glorious expectations of
postmillennialism. And by “illustrating” them I am using this term’s fourth meaning in Merriam-Webster’s
Collegiate Dictionary: Illustrate means “to show
clearly: demonstrate.” Obviously I could not present
the whole formal argument for postmillennialism13 ;
I was constrained by space limitations. So I chose
to lay the foundation for and clearly exhibit the position as best I could, given the editorially-imposed
constraints. But I must ask: For what purpose did I
labor? As I noted above, Strimple deals with my
exegetical argument in only one-half page, while
spending the rest of his thirteen page “rebuttal” on
other issues.

Moving on from “Secondary Issues” I will now consider matters regarding inaccuracies in Strimple’s
presentation. After this section I will concentrate on
“Substantial Issues.”

The Misreading of My Statements

First, my comments on Revelation. Returning again to
Revelation 20, Strimple argues that I suggest this passage portrays the postmillennial kingdom as
“gradually being established on this present earth,”
and that I do this “by simply inserting these thoughts,
even though they appear nowhere in the text.” He complains that I argue that “the binding [of Satan] will
‘increasingly’ constrict Satan, who ‘began losing his
dominion over the Gentiles’” (p. 70). In frustration he
ends his response: “I ask again: Where does this teaching appear in the text?” (p. 71).

Thine is the Kingdom

But this is a wholly inaccurate and exasperating representation of my position as I clearly state it on page
52. Strimple is arguing against a straw man (probably
through careless reading rather than intentional design).
He makes it sound as though I “simply insert” the idea
of an “increasing” constriction of Satan in Revelation
20, despite the fact John actually presents the binding
of Satan as a totally accomplished fact.
How can I read Revelation 20 as presenting an “increasing” constraint? To put it simply: I do not.
Strimple is mistaken. Note what I actually argue: (1)
“In Revelation 20:1-3 John portrays the negative implications of Christ’s triumph over Satan, when ‘the
dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan’ (v. 2) is spiritually bound [Gk., deo]. This binding
restricts him from successfully accomplishing his evil
design in history” (p. 52). Where do I say that Revelation 20 presents his binding as “increasing”? Rather, I
clearly state that Revelation 20:2 reports that Satan
“is spiritually bound.” Period.
(2) In the next paragraph I observe that “Christ
accomplishes Satan’s binding judicially in the first
century” (p. 52). Note that I clearly state that Satan’s
binding is accomplished judicially by Christ in the
first century.
(3) But I then go on to explain the consequences of
that judicial action (I am not exegeting Revelation
20:2): “the binding increasingly constricts Satan
throughout the Christian era (i.e., the ‘one thousand
years’)” (p. 52). I do believe that Satan’s power in the
world is being gradually thwarted by the spread of the
gospel and as an effect of his judicial binding. But I do

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

not state that Revelation 20 asserts that. This increasing constriction is a consequence of the gradual growth
of the kingdom of God throughout the world (e.g.,
Matthew 13:31-33). Were Satan not legally bound by
God (as per Revelation 20), this could not happen.
However, Revelation 20 does lay the groundwork for
this result by noting that Satan is bound for a particular purpose: “that he should not deceive the nations any
longer” (Revelation 20:3). Since he is fully bound so that
he cannot “deceive the nations,” the gospel gradually goes
forth and secures the nations, thereby increasingly constricting Satan in what he can accomplish.
Second, my comments on reduced evil. Strimple
seriously misreads the comments I offer on pages 43
and 44 and draws an unwarranted inference that makes
my statement appear laughable. He writes (pp. 61-62):
Gentry makes the startling statement that the “redeemed world system in the future”...will operate “on
the basis of righteousness as God originally intended
it.... Righteousness will prevail and evil will be reduced to negligible proportions” (emphasis added). Is
God’s original intention for his creation simply that
evil should be “reduced to negligible proportions”?!

Were this the postmillennial view and I the amillennial
debater, I would add a few dozen more question marks
and exclamation points. But Strimple totally misreads
me when he combines clips from my statements.
As I indicate above, postmillennialism is neither universalistic nor perfectionistic. Strimple is correct to
note that we look for a day in history in which evil will
be “reduced to negligible proportions” (p. 44). The
problem is that he misunderstands the meaning of my

Thine is the Kingdom

earlier statement where I comment that postmillennialism
expects “a world that operates on the basis of righteousness as God originally intended it” (p. 43). I
would respond by noting that Strimple reads my “as”
statement to mean “to the same degree,” which, if true,
would entail perfection. However, I did not mean “to
the same degree” (i.e., perfectly) but rather “in like
manner” (i.e., consulting the same “basis” of righteousness). That is, just as God created the world to operate
on righteous principle (his will), so Christianity will
eventually build up a Christian civilization employing
that righteous principle (revealed in his law-word). It
will be a day when the world system will gladly employ God’s word (the “basis of righteousness”) to all
of life, though obviously not to perfection. The ethical
basis on which the world operates right now is opposition to God’s will (i.e., on unrighteous principle);
the way it will eventually operate (on the postmillennial
expectation) will be on the basis of God’s will (i.e., on
righteous principle). In addition, I would ask Strimple:
“Would you say that Christians operate ‘on the basis
of righteousness’ when they attempt to live by God’s
word?” The basis of our walk is “righteousness” (the
absolute righteousness of God) even though the result
of our walk is tainted by sin.

The Overstatement of His Case

A more serious problem than Strimple’s misrepresenting my postmillennialism is his misrepresenting his own
amillennialism. He either overstates his case, or he
holds to an historically indefensible position.
On page 63 Strimple boldly declares that Jesus “tells
his disciples that in this present age they cannot ex128

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

pect anything other than oppression and persecution.”
Read this carefully: disciples of the Lord “cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution.”
Strimple is here speaking of Christians as such, not
just the first century disciples, the Apostles. This is
evident in that: (1) In the preceding paragraph (p. 62)
Strimple is rebutting my postmillennialism: “Gentry
writes that Christ ‘will be with [his people] through
the many days until the end to oversee the successful
completing of the task. This is the postmillennial
hope.’” His concern involves my expectation for “his
[Christ’s] people,” not just the Apostles. (2) His whole
paragraph is presenting insights for “us” today. Two
sentences before his overstatement he writes: “Think,
for example, of what the Lord Jesus himself has taught
us” (emphasis added). (3) In the very next sentence
(the one immediately preceding the overstatement) he
observes: “Our Lord knows of only two ages, the
present age and the age to come.” And Strimple clearly
states that Jesus “tells his disciples that in this present
age they cannot expect anything other than oppression and persecution.” Thus, Strimple is commenting
on “us,” i.e., we who are Christ’s disciples in “this
present age.”
But is it true that Christians during the entirety of
“this present age” cannot expect anything other than
persecution? Is Strimple being persecuted? Are you?
I know I am not. We must remember that persecution
is serious, life-and-death oppression by external forces,
not mere teasing, ridicule, and such (see argument
below). At least here in America Christians are not
under persecution. His theological expectation is falsified by our historical experience.

Thine is the Kingdom

The Misunderstanding
of Postmillennialism

Due to my own space limitations I must write even
more sparingly on these matters. But these are clearly
symptomatic of the problems besetting Strimple’s
amillennial rebuttal of postmillennialism.
First, Strimple complains that postmillennialism
pales in comparison to amillennialism. In the last full
paragraph on page 61 he provides a brief exposition
of our eternal hope in the new heavens and earth. Then
in the next paragraph he notes my postmillennial expectation of a “redeemed world system in the future”
before Christ’s second coming, wherein “evil should
be ‘reduced to negligible proportions.’” His very next
sentence states: “If this is ‘the postmillennial hope,’ it
contrasts poorly with the amillennial hope” (p. 62).
This is astounding! Strimple knows full well that
both amillennialists and postmillennialists agree on the
eternal glory that belongs to God’s people. He is comparing apples and oranges; he is contrasting the
historical hope of postmillennialists before Christ
comes with the eternal hope of amillennialists after
Christ comes. And once this problem is rectified, his
statement becomes absolutely false, for he argues that
in our temporal future we “cannot expect anything
other than oppression and persecution” (p. 63),
whereas postmillennialists expect a future wherein
“righteousness will prevail and evil will be reduced to
negligible proportions” (p. 62; see my historical expectations on pp. 22, 48, 49). Now which outlook
on our pre-consummational future “contrasts
poorly” with the other? Ask any Christian on the
street which he believes “contrasts poorly” with the

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

other: an earthly future of only oppression by the
unrighteous; or an earthly future of holy dominion
for the righteous.
Second, Strimple again misunderstands postmillennialism when he argues against it that we “have
no enduring city here but look for one to come”
(p. 64). What postmillennialist believes that this world
will endure forever and that there will be no everlasting glory to come? The very highest advance of
Christian culture over all the earth is temporal—it will
end with the second advent (see discussion below: “The
Dismissal of Christian Suffering.”)
Third, Strimple mocks one of my arguments with
this parenthetical observation: “So much for literalism!” (p. 65, n33). This, too, astounds me for two
reasons: (1) He decries my lack of literalism, but I
never claim to be a literalist—at least since I left
dispensationalism. (2) In this very book Strimple himself rebukes premillennialists for literalism, when he
writes: “Premillennialists insist that such passages are
to be taken ‘literally’” (p. 84). Which is it: Should we
avoid literalism or endorse it? Strimple’s argument
giveth and it taketh away.

The Contradiction in His Presentation

In places Strimple both misrepresents postmillennialism
and contradicts himself in the process. For instance,
on page 64 after citing II Timothy 3:12-13 he decries
postmillennialism: “Persecution, apostasy, Antichrist—
these find no place in the postmillennial vision, but
they are essential elements in the New Testament picture of the last days.” This simply is not true—as
Strimple admits in the very next sentence: “By means

Thine is the Kingdom

of his preterist reading...Gentry tries to assure Christians that the worst days of persecution, apostasy, and
the Antichrist are past (except for the brief Satan-led
rebellion just before Christ’s second coming, which
Revelation 20:7-9 seems to require as an undigested
surd in the postmillennial scheme).” Thus,
postmillennialists do find a place for these features;
but it happens to be at a different place than where
amillennialists assign them.
I believe all of the above issues seriously cripple
Strimple’s rebuttal of my postmillennialism. But
(though it may sound as if I have adopted
amillennialism!) the worst is yet to come.

Having discarded many of the errors in Strimple’s
analysis, I now will survey a few of the more substantial issues he brings up in the debate. Some of these
will receive fuller treatment, some lesser; this is partly
due to some having more weighty implications and
others being more easily disposed of.

The Silence of the New Testament

Amillennialists are fond of claiming the postmillennial
argument is falsified by the New Testament evidence.
After citing my definition of postmillennialism, Strimple
states: “The New Testament, however, presents a different picture” (p. 60). A couple of paragraphs later
he writes: “True, God has promised ‘a time of universal worship, peace, and prosperity’; but the consistent
witness of the New Testament is that that time will
come only when our Lord Jesus Christ himself has
come ‘a second bring salvation to those who

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

are waiting for him’ (Hebrews 9:28)” (p. 61). If the New
Testament were opposed to the postmillennial vision this
argument would certainly destroy it. But is it?
In response to Strimple I would urge the following:
First, except for my comments on Revelation 20, he
does not interact with my New Testament exegesis.
At one place he does mention my argument from the
Great Commission (p. 62), but he dismisses it by declaring—not rebutting or proving or counter-arguing—
that “Gentry has failed to establish that making disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them
require the fulfillment be in postmillennial terms”
(p. 62). (I will treat this dismissal under the next
heading below.) This is disappointing, for on pages
38 through 55 I argue at length from the New Testament material, analyzing Matthew 13 (pp. 38-40), John
12:31-32 (pp. 41-44), Matthew 28:18-20 (pp. 44-48),
I Corinthians 15:20-28 (pp. 48-50), and Revelation
20 (pp. 50-55). But though Strimple provides his
own analysis of other portions of the New Testament, he does not respond to my New Testament
exegetical argument.
This is disappointing, as I said. And especially in
that if you consult my Response to Strimple (pp.
130-142) you will note that I directly engage his
positive presentation:
(1) In my Response’s first section (“Commendations
and Appreciation”) I note that I agree with much of
Strimple’s theological understanding of eschatology,
which he presents in his essay on pages 84-100. I write:
“I was particularly impressed with his presentation of
Christ as the fulfillment of the typology of Israel, the

Thine is the Kingdom

land, Jerusalem, David, and the temple.” Consequently,
no rebuttal is called for on these matters of agreement.
(2) In my Response’s second section (“General Differences and Shortcomings”) I briefly note of several
of Strimple’s biblical arguments—his treatment of
Isaiah 2, Psalm 2, and I Corinthians 15—that he stops
short of the exegetical drift of these texts and that my
fuller exegesis demonstrates these passages support
postmillennialism (pp. 131-32). Therefore, I refer you
to my essay which deals more fully with several of the
texts he brings into the discussion. Notice the difference of our depth of discussion.
(3) In his opening essay he arrives at his final, most
important arguments, titling that section: “Two Passages Considered Crucial by Millennialists” (pp.
112-29). Those two passages are Romans 11 and Revelation 20. On pages 133-42 I provide an in-depth,
point-for-point rebuttal to his six page exegesis of
Romans 11 (which he gives on pages 112-18). And
for a proper understanding of Revelation 20 I refer
the reader to my own opening essay (pp. 50-55) and
to my detailed reply to Blaising (pp. 236-54). In our
theological battle, it seems, Strimple fires into the air
while I fire at his advancing arguments.
Second, Strimple’s Response offers New Testament
passages which he deems contra-indicative to my
postmillennialism, many of which deal with suffering.
But as I will show later, these passages fit easily within
the postmillennial framework— when properly interpreted. And if they fit well within our eschatological
framework, they obviously do not harm the
postmillennial argument. His method in countering the

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

postmillennial hope is somewhat like attempting to
disprove the deity of Christ by pointing out verses that
speak of his humanity, his mortal weaknesses, his death,
and so forth, while omitting a consideration of those
passages pointing positively to his deity. His argument
is partial and inconclusive. Consequently, it appears
largely to be wasted.

The Misuse of the Great Commission
On page 62 Strimple briefly alludes to my exposition
of Matthew 28:18-20, which I believe forms a positive proof for the postmillennial hope. Unfortunately,
he simply sweeps away my four page presentation by
declaring: “Gentry has failed to establish that making
disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching
them require the fulfillment be in postmillennial
terms” (p. 62). This sweeping assertion is remarkable both in that it so quickly dismisses one of my
major exegetical arguments without even offering a
contrary exegesis, and in that it does so in a self-destructive way. Let me explain.

Postmillennialism notes that the Great Commission
is given by the resurrected Lord on the basis of his
redemptive victory, declaring that he now has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” Thus, the Commission
is clothed with universal authority. The Commission
also employs kingly authority in commanding us actually to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them
and instructing them in all that Christ teaches. Then it
closes with a promise of the very presence of the authoritative Lord with us to see that we successfully
engage this commissioned program. Everything about
the Great Commission breathes the aromatic fragrance

Thine is the Kingdom

of universal victory and dominion: the authority for
victory, the command to victory, and the presence of
the Victor insure its accomplishment.
Now notice how quickly Strimple dismisses all of
this—and in a self-destructive way. Strimple writes
that Gentry:
...implies that only the postmillennialist believes that
the task given the church by her risen Lord will be
successfully completed. Not so. Amillennialists (and
premillennialists) certainly believe that this age will
not end until the Lord’s purposes are fulfilled. But
Gentry has failed to establish that making disciples of
all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them require
the fulfillment be in postmillennial terms. (p. 62)

Read his comments for yourself. He claims he believes “the task” of the Great Commission will be
“successfully completed” and that “this age will not
end until the Lord’s purposes are fulfilled.” If “the
task” is “successfully completed” and “the Lord’s
purposes are fulfilled,” we must ask what is “the
task” and what are the “purposes”? Strimple himself emphasizes our task as actually “making
disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them” (p. 62). If the church is to successfully
baptize and disciple all nations, why does this not prove
postmillennialism, which expects just these results
in distinction from amillennialism?
And when he complains that Gentry “has failed to
establish that making disciples of all nations, baptizing
them, and teaching them require the fulfillment be in
postmillennial terms,” we must ask what are the
amillennial terms for discipleship and baptism? If it is

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

anything less than the “successful” baptizing and
discipling of all nations, then it is less than what Jesus
commands. Does Strimple expect “all nations” to be
baptized? Strimple stumbles, I believe, when he effectively equates merely leaving a “witness” with being
baptized and discipled (as per the Great Commission).
For in this paragraph on page 62, immediately following remarks about “making disciples,” Strimple cites
Matthew 24:14. But this verse only calls for preaching the “testimony” to the world. “Testifying” and
“discipling” are two different activities: testifying is
the beginning point, discipling the conclusion; testifying is accomplished when men hear; discipling results
when men respond; a testimony is declared to those
outside the church; “making disciples” is administered to those inside the church (for the discipled
nations are “them” whom the church is “baptizing,”
Matthew 28:19).

The Misconstruction
of Biblical Eschatology

I come now to a set of major, inter-related issues
that reformed amillennialists employ to discredit the
postmillennial system and which add up to one thing:
Our alleged failure to understand the various features of biblical eschatology. This failure resulting
from ignorance of biblical eschatology is supposedly inherent in the postmillennial system, the system
held by such competent theologians as Jonathan
Edwards, Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, Albert
Barnes, David Brown, Patrick Fairbairn, J. A.
Alexander, J. H. Thornwell, Robert L. Dabney,
William G. T. Shedd, A. A. Hodge, Augustus H.
Strong, B. B. Warfield, O. T. Allis, and John Murray.

Thine is the Kingdom

The errors charged are serious, for they directly and
deeply impact the very nature of the New Testament’s
eschatological focus.
Strimple (and many amillennialists) charges that I
(and postmillennialists): (1) do not take account of
the eschatological nature of the New Testament revelation, (2) distort the two age structure of biblical
revelation, (3) overlook Christ’s present kingship, and
(4) discount his present victory in effect since the resurrection/ascension. These are effectively different
facets of the one over-arching matter, i.e., that the New
Testament brings in the victorious eschaton. If these
charges are true, postmillennialism is false. If.
Although these four items are really various ways
of looking at the same problem, I will deal with them
in a seriatim fashion, introducing each charge and immediately responding to it. By the nature of the case,
however, they really form one problem. As I interact
with Strimple on this problem, I will be correcting his
misperceptions of postmillennialism—misperceptions
I warn about in my Introduction above, when I write:
“postmillennialism is the easiest eschatological position to misunderstand in our era and therefore
inadvertently to misrepresent.”
First, postmillennialism allegedly does not take
account of the eschatological nature of the New Testament. In his Rebuttal, Strimple expresses his concern
that if postmillennialism speaks of victory in terms of
gradually developing, wide-ranging cultural conquest,
then “we may fail to appreciate the eschatological nature of the kingdom as already and fully inaugurated
by Christ’s resurrection and exaltation” (p. 61).

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

My response: I believe Strimple errs in raising this
issue in the present context of our debate book: (1) I
specifically and vigorously argue for the fundamental
point of the present reality of the eschatological kingdom and the arrival of the eschaton. Regarding I
Corinthians 15, I state on page 48: “Here Paul speaks
forthrightly of Christ’s present enthronement and insists he is confidently ruling.” Of I Corinthians 15:25 I
assert: “Here the present infinitive for ‘reign’ (Gk.,
basileuein) indicates he is presently reigning. Christ is
now actively ‘the ruler over the kings of the earth’ and
‘has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve his
God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever
and ever’ (Revelation 1:5-6).”
(2) In fact, postmillennialism requires the presence
of the eschatological kingdom, for with it comes the
Spirit and the gifts which guarantee the historical success of the unfolding victory—as I argue on pages
23–25 under the heading “God’s Blessed Provision.”
The whole point of the New Testament is to show
Christ has come in fulfillment of Old Testament expectation, that he has effected redemption, and that he
has established the kingdom—all of these being
eschatological realities. And just because this is true,
postmillennialism sees a brighter day developing in history. Indeed, the new creation has come in principle in
Christ (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), actually beginning the process of ethically transforming the old
creation, as I argue from Isaiah 65:17-20 in my Responses
to Strimple (p. 131) and Blaising (pp. 233–36).14
Second, postmillennialism allegedly distorts the two
age structure of biblical revelation. Strimple argues
against postmillennialism that “our Lord knows of only

Thine is the Kingdom

two ages, the present age and the age to come” (p.
63). In his footnote he explains how this contradicts
postmillennialism: “Postmillennialism seems to posit
three ages: the present evil age, a future ‘golden’ age
(see Gentry’s definition reference to ‘a time in history
prior to Christ’s return in which...’), and the ‘age to come,’
of which the New Testament speaks” (p. 63, n 8).
My response: (1) Actually, I wholeheartedly concur
with the two age structure of biblical eschatology, as
carefully outlined in Geerhardus Vos’ construction of
redemptive history along these lines.15 In fact, I vigorously urge this in my Response to Blaising’s
premillennial essay where I outline some problems with
the premillennial scheme, one of which is their expectation of a “future appearance of the fulness of Christ’s
kingdom in an age (dispensation) separate and distinct
from the present era, despite this present era being the
‘last days’ (Acts 2:16-17, 2416 ), the ‘fulness of times’
(Galatians 4:4). If these are the ‘last days,’ how can
more days follow in a whole new era?” (p. 255).
And Strimple should know this for I point it out in
my opening essay in my exegesis of I Corinthians 15:
“As Paul is then in the first century, so are we now in
our day awaiting the eschatological coming of Christ
and our resurrection.... At his second coming history
is over in that the resurrection occurs at ‘the end’;
there will be no millennial age on the present earth to
follow” (p. 48). I do this on more than one occasion:
“Isaiah indicates the ‘last days’ will be the era witnessing these things—not some era after the last days:
‘in the last days’ (v. 2) means ‘during.’ According to
the New Testament the ‘last days’ begin with the coming of Christ in the first century. They cover the

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

remaining days of temporal history until the Second
Coming of Christ, which will be ‘the end’ (I Corinthians
15:24; cp. Matthew 13:39-40, 49). Hence, they are
the last days—with none to follow.” (p. 36). Thus, I
vigorously argue that we are now in an age that continues until Christ returns; there is no separate age
wherein the millennial conditions await us.
(2) Furthermore and oddly enough, I could turn
Strimple’s argument upon him, were I to employ his
argumentative methodology (which prefers seeking
theological-implications from my presentation rather
responding to my express-affirmations). Let me explain. Strimple strongly urges a two age structure of
history. And only two ages. But he sees in the
postmillennial expectation of cultural victory an implied third age. Remember, he argues that
“Postmillennialism seems to posit three ages: the
present evil age, a future ‘golden’ age..., and the ‘age
to come’” (p. 63, n 8). I have already shown the charge
that postmillennialism suggests a separate age is mistaken. But what if we turn the tables on Strimple and
employ his methodology against him? I believe I can
as easily demonstrate that he holds a three age view
from his own express-affirmations, as he can by implication from my eschatology. How so? Recalling what I state
in the preceding paragraph, let us note what Strimple
himself believes.17 Strimple vigorously asserts: “our Lord
knows of only two ages, the present age and the age to
come” (p. 63). He continues in that same paragraph to
note that “this age” is “the present age, this evil age.”
Thus, all of history is “the present age,” whereas
Christ’s second coming establishes the second age, “the
age to come” (as Strimple agrees, p. 63). But now

Thine is the Kingdom

questions arise regarding this simple, two age structure. And when we raise them they can as easily imply
more than two ages as does postmillennialism (allegedly) on Strimple’s theological critique. Consider the
following theoretical charges against Strimple.
(a) Strimple’s system theoretically implies that
Christ’s first coming establishes another “age” distinct from that which prevails in the Old Testament
and from that which will be established at his second
coming. After all, does Christ’s coming to establish
the eschatological kingdom effect any difference in the
outworking of the historical order, as compared to the
time (age?) before the coming of the kingdom? Surely
it does. It establishes a remarkably different redemptivehistorical reality: Now the gospel is no longer confined to
one nation but goes into all the world; now Satan is cast
down and Christ enthroned in triumphant victory. Remember that Strimple argues that postmillennialism’s hope
of a remarkable betterment of the world because of the
progress of the gospel implies a third age. Why does not
Strimple recognize the same implication in his own system, with the vast redemptive-historical differences
between the old covenant era and the new covenant era?
(b) Strimple’s system theoretically implies that
Christ’s first coming initiates a distinct “age” known
as “the last days.” Does he not believe that since New
Testament days we are in a separate time period/age
that he designates “the last days”? Does he not believe
that these “last days” are distinguished from the former
days in the Old Testament? He writes: “the last days
began with the advent of Christ” (p. 64); and: “There
is every reason to think that the Bible views ‘this age’
as having begun with the very beginning of history,

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

while from the New Testament perspective the ‘last
days’ began with the advent of Christ” (p. 64). If he
can then argue (rightly, I believe) that “the last days
are the last lap of this present age” (p. 64), why cannot I as a postmillennialist argue that the full cultural
victory and dominion of the gospel in history prior to
the second advent is the “last lap of this present age,”
and not a wholly separate age?
(c) Strimple’s system theoretically implies that
Christ’s first coming establishes a unique “age”
blending “the present age” and “the age to come.”
Does not Strimple himself argue that at Christ’s first
coming“ the powers of the age to come have broken
in now for those who are united to the risen Christ
by faith” (p. 63)? Thus, the “age to come” is already
present in some sense now since the first advent.
Consequently, this creates an “age” unlike that in the
Old Testament. Consider that: in the Old Testament
we have “the present age”; in eternity we have “the
age to come”; but since Christ’s coming we are now
living in a mixed age. This is an age that Strimple,
Vos, and others (including me) deem a “now but not
yet” experience. Strimple would, I am sure, affirm
Vos’ chart illustrating this structure of history:18
Realized in principle

Future age fully realized

(in Heaven)

of Christ

(on earth)



Return of

Thine is the Kingdom

Why cannot I charge that this by implication suggests
another age in distinction from the pure “this age” experience in the Old Testament and the pure “age to
come” experience in eternity? Notice that the two ages
overlap in the present since Christ’s coming. In fact, Richard Gaffin19 writes of “the outlook basic not only to
Paul but the entire New Testament that the Messiah’s
coming is one (eschatological) coming which unfolds in
two episodes, one already and one still to come, that the
‘age-to-come’ is not only future but present.”20
(3) In the final analysis, the contemporary
postmillennialist does not urge a separate and distinct
“age” which comes with the cultural victory of the
gospel. Rather we see the present eschatological kingdom as surely and firmly established in the first century.
But according to Christ’s own description this kingdom is to grow to maturity as a “mystery” (Mark 4:11;
Matthew 13:11), imperceptibly by degrees. It grows
like a seed of grain cast into the ground which eventually produces a mature grain (Mark 4:26-29), like a
mustard seed in a garden that later becomes the tallest
plant in the garden (Mark 4:30-32; Matthew 13:31-32),
like leaven in three measures of meal that permeates
the whole three bushels of meal (Matthew 13:33). By
divine design it providentially blossoms in history
gradually over time—it does not establish a new redemptive-historical age, but matures the present
kingdom over time.
Third, postmillennialism allegedly overlooks
Christ’s present kingship. Strimple quotes my definition of postmillennialism which observes that
“increasing gospel success will gradually produce a
time in history prior to Christ’s return in which faith,

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

righteousness, peace, and prosperity will prevail in
the affairs of people and of nations.” He responds
by asserting: “Christ is King now! He is not waiting
to begin exercising his dominion at some future day”
(p. 60).
My response: (1) Where do I even vaguely imply
otherwise? I clearly assert Christ’s present kingship.
For instance, note the following statement from my
lead essay:
• “Since the resurrection/ascension Christ has been
installed as the King (Romans 1:4), ruling from God’s
right hand.... The Great Commission speaks of Christ’s
being ‘given’ all authority—apparently at his resurrection” (pp. 34-35).
• “He is formally enthroned as king following his resurrection/ascension (Acts 2:30ff.). From then on we
hear of his being in a royal position at ‘the right hand
of God.’ Because of this, first century Christians proclaim him king (Acts 5:31; 17:7; Revelation 1:5) with
regal dignity, authority, and power (Ephesians 1:22;
Philippians 2:9). Since that time Christ translates us
into his kingdom at our conversion (Colossians
1:12,13; 4:11; I Thessalonians 2:12), organizes us as
a kingdom (Revelation 1:6, 9; I Peter 2:9), and mystically seats us with Him in rulership (Ephesians 1:3;
2:6; Colossians 3:1; I Corinthians 3:21-22)” (p. 38).
• “The resurrection, then, followed shortly by the ascension, establishes Christ as the King possessing ‘all
authority.’ Acts 2:30-31 agrees that the resurrection
of Christ is to kingly authority” (p. 45).
• “Christ is now actively ‘the ruler over the kings of
the earth’ and ‘has made us to be a kingdom of priests
to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and


Thine is the Kingdom

power for ever and ever’ (Revelation 1:5-6). Here in
I Corinthians 15:25 we learn that he must continue to
reign, he must continue to put his enemies under his
feet” (p. 50).

(2) In fact, postmillennialism absolutely requires
Christ’s present kingship beginning with his resurrection/ascension. After all, his kingdom is destined to
enjoy growth over time because of his kingly rule.
And that is why I myself cite Ephesians 1:20ff. on two
occasions in my essay (pp. 25, 46).
(3) Strimple’s form of argument can be turned
against him by employing a reductio ad absurdum.
Consider the following: Strimple reflects on my definition of postmillennialism which calls for the growth
of gospel influence in the world. Then he responds
to that definition by claiming “Christ is king now”—
as if my mention of growing gospel conquest
suggested otherwise.
Now what if I were to employ Strimple’s interpretive method on Scripture itself? Note the following
reductio: On page 60 Strimple points out the teaching
of Paul in Ephesians 1:22. That text, which he cites,
reads as follows: God “put [past tense] all things in
subjection under His feet, and gave [past tense] Him
as head over all things” (Ephesians 1:22). Thus,
Strimple argues, “He is not waiting to begin exercising his dominion at some future day” (p. 60). Sounds
great. But now the reductio. Scripture also teaches
just as clearly that Christ is waiting for his enemies to
be subjected:
• “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies
under His feet” (I Corinthtians 15:25).


Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

• “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his
feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet
see all things subjected to him” (Hebrews 2:8).
• He is “waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet” (Hebrews 10:13).

Now which is it? Have Christ’s enemies already been
subjected so that Christ is now ruling as king over them?
Or is Christ waiting until all of his enemies are made
his footstool? Using Strimple’s argument based on a
partial reading of Scripture, we would be left with a
contradiction in Scripture itself. The answer to “Which
is it?” must be: “Both.” Legally Christ has already
subdued his enemies (as per Strimple—and
postmillennialism); historically, Christ is now putting
his enemies under his feet (as per postmillennialism).
This involves no contradiction, just differing perspectives—perspectives well exhibited in the
postmillennial scheme. Consequently, I write with
both perspectives in mind: “Christ is presently ruling until his rule subdues all of his enemies—in time
and on earth” (p. 50).
Fourth, postmillennialism allegedly discounts
Christ’s present victory which has been in effect since
the resurrection/ascension. Strimple’s complaint in this
direction follows closely upon the heels of the preceding and is directly related to it. In the next paragraph
he writes: “But what is the nature of Christ’s present
kingdom? Because Gentry has defined the victory
Christ seeks in the present age in terms of ‘the vast
majority of human beings’...he must view Christ’s
kingly reign as a failure so far—a failure for these now
two thousand years since his ascension” (p. 61).

Thine is the Kingdom

My response: (1) This is an absolutely erroneous
implication, exposing once again the methodological
problem in Strimple’s preferred line of argument. It is
an example of a grossly non sequitur form of argument. He has forgotten the postmillennial definition of
the kingdom: The kingdom is by divine design to enter the world “mysteriously” (Matthew 13:11) growing
from a “seed” to a “mature plant,” from imperceptible, fragile-appearing beginnings to obvious,
world-dominating fullness.
The literary context of the Matthew’s record of the
Kingdom Parables provides important insights that
dispel Strimple’s charge. In the preceding context
Matthew presents Christ as claiming his kingdom is
powerfully present (Matthew 12:28), but in the following material he shows the King rejected by his own
people (Matthew 13:53-58). How can this be? The
Kingdom Parables explain this surprising reality. They
show the divinely-ordained method of the kingdom: it
begins in a “mystery” (Matthew 13:11), even being
intentionally hidden at first (Matthew 13:13). Some of
its seed does not grow and prosper (Matthew 13:3-8); in
fact, the first century Jews—though the Old Testament people of God—have the kingdom intentionally
hidden from them (Matthew 13:14-17). But in the long
run the kingdom will gradually develop to a place of
dominance in history (Matthew 13:30-33). Since these
are Christ’s own explanations of his kingdom’s predestined expectations in history, how can its early
stages be a failure because they are unlike its final
stages? The kingdom rule of Christ is no more a “failure” than a seed is a “failure” because it is not a tree
with edible fruit. The kingdom is not failing of its pur148

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

pose any more than a baby is failing because he lacks
teeth, cannot walk, cannot talk, and so forth. Both the
seed and the baby are successes when they operate
according to their design, a design which promotes
gradually developing maturity. Of course, they become
“failures” (as it were) if they mutate and die. The kingdom will not mutate and die, though. Strimple is making
the same mistake the Emmaus Road disciples made when
they looked too narrowly at Christ’s crucifixion (Luke
24:17-21): “But we were hoping that it was He who was
going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21a). They failed to
see the divinely-ordained, developing big picture.
(2) Actually Strimple frames his critique wrongly.
He expresses his concerns about my view of “the nature of Christ’s present kingdom” (p. 61). The question,
though, is not about its nature (we both agree it is by
“nature” a spiritual, redemptive kingdom), but about
its expectation, that is, its historical goal. Strimple
forgets the context of my definition: I provide my definition in a debate book between three particular views
of the millennium (i.e., kingdom). Consequently, I
frame my definition in such a way as to highlight the
contrast between postmillennialism and both pre- and
amillennialism. For a fuller, more basic definition the
reader should consult my definition which covers three
full pages in He Shall Have Dominion.21 Therefore,
my definition is succinctly highlighting an important
distinction from the other views.
And once again, Strimple’s method here can be rebutted by reductio ad absurdum. Strimple focuses on
my definition presented in a debate book context, noting what he perceives as imperfections. What if we
were to apply this method to Paul’s teaching on the

Thine is the Kingdom

resurrection at the second advent? What if we were to
argue that the lost will not be resurrected because nowhere in Paul’s writings does he teach anything other
than a resurrection of the saved?22 That would be Scripture in contradiction to itself, for the Lord clearly teaches
the resurrection of the lost (John 5:25-29). As Paul narrowly focuses on the believer’s resurrection so I narrowly
focus on the debate definition of postmillennialism.
Furthermore, the postmillennialist would argue that
the kingdom has grown since the first century. It has
not attained its full maturity, but it has definitely grown
as predicted.23 After all, my definition highlights the
“increasing gospel success” and its “gradually” producing its effect (p. 60). I much prefer sitting before
my Gateway computer framing an eschatology debate
for a large Christian publisher than sitting behind the
gate in the Coliseum awaiting an agonizing death by a
large carnivorous panther. Progress has been made;
the kingdom is not failing.

The Dismissal of Christian Suffering

As a major evidence against the postmillennial hope
the newer reformed amillennialists tend to highlight
the Christian’s call to suffering in the present age.
Gaffin, Strimple, Venema, and White concur in promoting this as evidence contradicting the postmillennialism
scheme.24 I have written elsewhere on the “suffering
problem,” and have publically debated Gaffin on the
matter.25 I believe that the biblical evidence on this
matter is misconstrued and that the “problem of suffering” actually fits nicely within postmillennialism.
Strimple observes over against my postmillennialism:
“When the apostle Paul thinks of this present time, he

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

thinks of suffering as its characteristic mark (Romans
8:18, see also John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:36;
II Corinthians 1:5-10; Philippians 1:29; 3:10; I Peter
4:12-19)” (p. 63). In fact, Christ himself “tells his disciples that in this present age they cannot expect
anything other than oppression and persecution and
must forsake all things for his sake” (p. 63). He cites
Venema’s anti-postmillennial statement that “the
church in this present age [is] continually participating in the sufferings of Christ” (p. 66). Gaffin agrees:
“Over the interadvental period in its entirety, from
beginning to end, a fundamental aspect of the church’s
existence is (to be) ‘suffering with Christ’; nothing,
the NT teaches, is more basic to its identity than that.”26
J. G. Child expresses the same concern, but in a
more appreciative context when he writes of the Christian Reconstruction movement: “Eschatologically, the
welcome emphasis on victory and dominion needs to
incorporate a greater appreciation of the church’s suffering and weakness to be fully biblical.”27 Below I
will provide a postmillennial understanding of the role
of suffering in the New Testament record. This should
both meet with the concern of Child and answer the
objections of Strimple and others.
First, Scripture is occasional and historical. We
must never forget that the New Testament epistles were
written to real people in their original settings. Consequently, many of the statements apply to them at that
time. For instance, consider the clear Pauline directive
“desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to
speak in tongues” (I Corinthians 14:39). This directly
applied to the situation in first century Corinth; it does
not imply that we today should promote tongues151

Thine is the Kingdom

speaking or prophetic utterances in the church today.
This pronouncement was given prior to the cessation
of such gifts. Neither should we expect the Lord’s own
promise to the apostles to prevail in our day: “These
signs will follow those who believe: they will pick up
serpents, drink poison” and so forth (Mark 16:16-17).
This must be understood in terms of its original redemptive-historical context.
Likewise, many of the suffering statements provided
apostolic counsel and encouragement for an historical
church under siege. The apostles had to explain the
dire circumstances of the kingdom community and call
her to endurance in those circumstances. Their statements were not necessarily asserting that all Christians
throughout all history “cannot expect anything other
than oppression and persecution” (p. 63). Of course,
when Christians enter similar situations at any time in
history, the principles of patience and encouragement
would certainly apply.
Second, persecutional suffering is serious external
oppression. We must also keep in mind that the kind
of suffering that would contradict the postmillennial
outlook is persecutional suffering. I fear that the
amillennial statements are carelessly cast about in the
debate, drawing forth more of an emotional response
than anything else. The kind of suffering that would
undermine postmillennialism is wide-scale external
opposition against the Christian faith.
If, for instance, American Christians claim we are
under persecution here in our country today (so that
we bear the “characteristic mark” of the church), then
we diminish the very grievous persecution of the New

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

Testament saints.28 The suffering of New Testament
Christians was often due to their being seriously besieged, as the following verses illustrate:
• “Saul was breathing threats and murder against the
disciples.... [He brought] both men and women bound
to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
• “And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon
the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”
(Acts 7:59).
• “I was in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I
received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three
times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned”
(II Corinthians 11:23-25).
• “Remember the former days, when, after being
enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle
through reproaches and tribulations.... [You] accepted joyfully the seizure of your property”
(Hebrews 10:32-34).

Third, persecution does not always prevail. As I
noted previously in this article, amillennialists frequently overstate their case: Strimple argues that Jesus
“tells his disciples that in this present age they cannot
expect anything other than oppression and persecution” (p. 63). Gaffin concurs: “Over the interadvental
period in its entirety, from beginning to end, a fundamental aspect of the church’s existence is to be
‘suffering with Christ’; nothing, the NT teaches is more
basic to its identity than that.”29
Once again I would ask the (American) reader: Are
you under persecution? Are those publishing this Chris153

Thine is the Kingdom

tian book? The owners of the Christian bookstores
where you shop? The announcers on the Christian radio talk shows to which you listen? I certainly do not
consider myself persecuted. I would ask Strimple,
Gaffin, and Venema if they are under persecution.
Yet, are we not disciples of Christ (as per Strimple)?
Are we not members of the Church of our Lord (as
per Gaffin)?30
Fourth, suffering is broader than persecution and
is compatible with postmillennialism. Suffering is one
aspect of the Christian’s resurrection experience, but
there are others. And when the others prevail and
persecutional suffering diminishes, no harm is done to
the resurrectional reality of the church’s existence.
Consider the following types of genuine suffering—
which are wholly compatible with postmillennialism.
(1) We suffer fallen, creature weakness in this age.
Even in quiet and peaceful circumstances Christians
today (as well as those who will live during the fullest
advance of the earthly manifestation of the kingdom)
endure physical limitations and debilitations, including sickness, exhaustion, pain, and death. We are, after
all, “earthen vessels” (II Corinthians 4:7).
• “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its
own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in
hope.... We know that the whole creation groans and
suffers the pains of childbirth together until now”
(Romans 8:20, 22).
• “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body
that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments
of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God


Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

as those alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans

Consequently, we read in Scripture of Timothy’s
“frequent infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23), Epaphroditus’
sickness nearly unto death, which brought sorrow upon
Paul (Philippians 2:27); righteous Tabitha’s untimely
death (Acts 9:36-37)—even Paul’s own physical infirmities that had nothing to do with persecution
(Galatians 4:13). James informs Christians how properly to handle sickness in the church (James 5:14). We
struggle and suffer due to our existence in “mortal
bodies” (Romans 8:10-11).
Gaffin admits (in his recorded Reformed Theological Seminary lectures on eschatology) that
Romans 8 involves “everything pertaining to our
creaturely experience. Suffering is a function of the
futility principle on all creation under the curse of
God. Suffering with Christ is the totality of our existence in the mortal body.... Christian suffering
involves all the ways our weakness-existence is
borne in service of Christ: the mundane and the
trivial.” On pages 213 and 214 in his “Theonomy”
chapter he admits: “Christian suffering ought not to
be conceived of too narrowly. Suffering includes but
is more than persecution and martyrdom.” He speaks
of the “breadth” of the Christian conception of suffering as involving “frustration/ futility” and “bondage to
decay.” He summarily states: “Suffering is everything
that pertains to creaturely experience of this deathprinciple.” And: “It is the totality of existence ‘in the
mortal body’ and within ‘this world in its present form
that is passing away.”

Thine is the Kingdom

In addition, Strimple himself recognizes this principle of suffering, as he discusses Romans 8: “The
creation has been subjected to the fruitlessness, deterioration, and decay involved in the curse pronounced
in Eden because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17-18)” (p.
104). But this suffering can as much co-exist in a
postmillennial world as it can in a given congregation of
God today. Yet if the vast majority of people in the world
today conducted themselves as the average evangelical
Christian, the world would be a much better place.31
(2) We suffer in that we live in a world with the
principle of evil present. This principle affects not only
the world round about us, but our own walk before
the Lord. We suffer the lust of the flesh and the pride
of life. These temptations will never be finally “cured”
until we enter glory.
• “I find then the principle that evil is present in me,
the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur
with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war
against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members (Romans
• In the Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13 the Lord
mentions the “cares of the world and the deceitfulness
of riches” (Matthew 13:22).
• Paul laments temptations to sin in “this body of
death” (Romans 7:24).
• We are subject to sin that “so easily entangles us”
(Hebrews 12:1).

The temptations are real and cause such deep suffering to those who love the Lord, that they require

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

constant vigilance. Paul had to buffet his body to keep
it in subjection (I Corinthians 9:27). He saw his “thorn
in the flesh” as a deterrent to his tendency to sinful
boasting (II Corinthians 12:7).
Fifth, suffering is contrasted with eternal glory. Our
present mortal condition is a state of suffering when
compared to eternity. We who read and understand
the glory that awaits us in heaven are very much aware
that our happiest times here on the earth pale when
compared to our eternal condition.
• The body is “sown a perishable body, it is raised an
imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised
in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body”
(I Corinthians 15:42-44).
• “We know that if the earthly tent which is our house
is torn down, we have a building from God, a house
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed
with our dwelling from heaven. While we are in this
tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not
want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that
what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (II
Corinthians 5:1-2, 4).
• We must focus on him “who will transform the body
of our humble state into conformity with the body of
His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has
even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).
• We must be encouraged appropriately: “Therefore
we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by
day” (II Corinthians 4:16).


Thine is the Kingdom

Ultimately, like Paul we must “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is
to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the
creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of
God” (Romans 8:18-19).
Our current service of God is frustrated due to our
inherent physical weakness, indwelling sin, and longing for glory.
Sixth, suffering involves mundane, daily complications. At the height of the postmillennial advance,
Christians will still endure trials of mundane things,
suffering flat tires, computer down-time, stove fires,
and the like. I wholeheartedly concur with Gaffin when
he makes the following observation in his RTS lectures:
“However we respond to the common experiences of
life in this present order of things is either a matter of
Christian suffering or not. How do we bear these burdens? As believers to the glory of God? Or as unbelievers
for selfish reasons?” On that tape a student asked him if
the way a Christian responds to the death of a child was
a good example of what he meant, Gaffin seized that and
affirmed it as an excellent example. The postmillennial
outlook grants this form of suffering.
Seventh, Christ is an example of suffering for us.
Certainly he suffered horribly under very real persecution and oppression. But he suffered even in his
mundane, daily sufferings. He existed in the “likeness
of men” (Philippians 2:7), in the “likeness of sinful
flesh” (Romans 8:3). Christ was “tempted in what he

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

suffered” (Hebrews 2:18), being tempted in all points
like we are (Hebrews 4:15) indicating the frailty of
life: he wearied, thirsted, hungered, and felt pain—
apart from persecutional oppression.

The Futility of
Methodological Preterism

Strimple notes that Gentry tries “by means of his
preterist reading” of several texts “to assure Christians that the worst days of persecution, apostasy, and
the Antichrist are past.” He laments that responding
to preterism “would require a response chapter of its
own” (which is a reasonable complaint), but then he
attempts a very brief rebuttal (p. 64). Recognizing the
editorial page constraints under which he labors, I
would nevertheless point out the inadequacy of his
three-fold rejoinder as given on pages 64-65.
First, Strimple notes that in the Olivet Discourse
“the destruction of the temple is viewed as a proleptic, typological fulfillment of that final judgment of God;
final deliverance of the elect will occur only at Christ’s
[second] coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3),
while tribulation, wars, famines, and earthquakes are
‘represented as characterizing the interadventual period as a whole’” (p. 64).
My response: I wholeheartedly concur that A.D. 70
and the destruction of the temple is a “proleptic, typological fulfillment of the final judgment.” In my chapter
in Four Views on the Book of Revelation, I write regarding Revelation 19: “Though the imagery of this
passage suggests to many the second advent (and there
certainly are many correspondences), it more likely
refers to A.D.70 which is a distant adumbration of the

Thine is the Kingdom

second advent.”32 In Perilous Times I comment similarly
on the relationship between A.D. 70 and the second
advent, noting that A.D. 70 is “a temporal betokening
of the other, being a distant adumbration of it.”33
But if the temple’s destruction is a “typological fulfillment of that final judgment,” then what is the
problem with Matthew 24:1-34 detailing A.D. 70? Are
not types historical actions that serve as precursors to
the antitype? “In typological interpretation history is
essential.”34 In Adam’s serving as a type of Christ
(Romans 5:14), did he not have to historically act as a
federal representative, be tempted to sin, and actually
fail in the temptation in order to typify Christ who successfully undergoes corresponding circumstances
though successfully passing the test? If the temple’s
destruction is to serve as a type of the second advent,
why not a full type with many historical implications?
This is especially important to understand for two
fundamental reasons: (1) Nowhere in Scripture are we
expressly informed that A.D. 70 is a type. This is a
(warranted) theological implication based (partly) on
prior imagery rooted in the Old Testament “day of the
Lord” episodes. It is also indicated by the several times
A.D. 70 prophecies occur in conjunction with second
advent material (e.g., Matthew 24:3-34/24:36ff.;
II Thessalonians 1:7-10/2:1-10). (2) Furthermore,
Matthew 24:1-34 is specifically and directly tied to
A.D. 70: (a) Jesus denounces first century Jerusalem
and its temple, then marches out of the temple in protest (Matthew 23:37-24:1a). The disciples respond by
pointing out the beauty of that very temple to the Lord
(Matthew 24:1b). (b) Jesus then prophesies that
temple’s destruction (24:2), leading the disciples to

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

ask when this will be (24:3). He responds with a survey of various signs, then warns them to flee Judea
when they see them coming to pass (24:16). (c) He
then concludes this survey of judgment signs expressly
declaring that “all these things” just spoken of will
occur in “this generation” (24:34). (d) Thereupon he
uses this concluding statement as a jumping off point
to deal with the distantly future second advent (which
will occur at an unknown time and without precursory signs, 24:36).35
I challenge the reader to consult any exposition
of the passage following Strimple’s (widely employed) approach. You will be bewildered trying to
sort out what belongs to A.D. 70 and what refers to
the second advent. Whereas, taking the preterist
approach of John Gill, Marcellus Kik, R. T. France
and others, the transition verses (24:34-36) make it
all very clear and understandable.36
Furthermore, Strimple merely asserts his view; he
does not prove it. And does he himself not complain
against my presentation of postmillennialism that “the
reader is left looking in vain for the specific biblical
passages that teach it, that prove it!” (p. 69)? Thus,
Strimple’s response to my approach to the Olivet Discourse fails on two accounts as a rebuttal: (1) I agree
with his typological approach, while maintaining my
preterism (which makes his complaint irrelevant); and
(2) he merely claims his conclusion, rather than proving it (which makes his complaint inadequate).
Second, Strimple declares that “Nero cannot be ‘the
lawless one,’ whom the Lord Jesus will ‘destroy by
the splendor of his coming’ (II Thessalonians 2:8).”

Thine is the Kingdom

In an attached footnote he interacts with my “suggestion that Nero is the man of lawlessness of II
Thessalonians 2 and the beast of Revelation” (p. 65).
He states my position that the reference to the Lord’s
“coming” in II Thessalonians 2:1 refers to “Jesus’
coming in destruction on Jerusalem,” then declares: “So
much for literalism!”
I confess that I am dumbfounded over such a response. He provides a two-fold rebuttal: (1) He states
on his own recognizance that my view “cannot” be
true. (2) He decries it as being contrary to “literalism.” If the evangelical readership were as careful as
they should be, he would have been better off altogether omitting a response. Unfortunately, I well imagine
many of our readers would wholeheartedly affirm
Strimple’s “argument”: it simply “cannot” be! Interestingly, the reformed theological giant, B. B. Warfield holds
that the man of lawlessness is the line of Roman emperors.37 I am not sure Warfield would have been cowed by
the fact Strimple simply declared it “cannot” be.
As I argue in my Perilous Times there are several
temporal indicators in the passage requiring that it find
fulfillment in first century events: (1) Most commentators agree with Carson that the Olivet Discourse “is
undoubtedly a source of the Thessalonian Epistles.”38
These tie II Thessalonians 2 to the same era of accomplishment: the late A.D. 60s up to A.D. 70 because
Matthew 24:34 demands a first century fulfillment. (2)
Paul relates a number of these actions to the Temple still
standing in his day. (3) The present restraint of the Man
of Lawlessness (2:6) indicates a contemporary relevance
to Paul’s original audience (e.g., II Thessalonians 2:2-3).
(4) The knowledge of the Thessalonians regarding the

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

restrainer (2:6) suggests that they understand what is
relatively obscure to us. (5) Paul speaks about the Man
of Lawlessness’s present operation in mystery form
during his day (2:7).
Third, Strimple claims that “neither can Nero be the
beast of Revelation, who will be destroyed only after his
defeat by the rider on the white horse in the final battle,
the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19)” (p. 65). In
his footnote he cites Charles E. Hill’s complaint that my
argument that Nero is the beast was not even mentioned
by Irenaeus 100 years after Revelation was written, and
that Revelation “is not essentially about Israel. It is about
Christ’s kingship and lordship over all.” Again, these are
not exegetical arguments. One is an interesting historical notation; the other an ex cathedra assertion. And
they run roughshod over John’s own claim that the events
are to occur soon (Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10).

The Distraction from
the Christian Focus

Strimple charges postmillennialism with misdirecting
the Christian hope by downplaying the second advent
and focusing upon the church’s temporal conquest:
“The New Testament everywhere makes clear that the
focus of the believer’s hope is to be the second coming of Christ” (p. 65, emphasis his). He enthusiastically
cites Venema who declares: “The golden age
postmillennialist has his sights fixed upon the coming
golden age rather than the return of Christ at the end
of the age” (p. 66). This hope of historical progress
for the church is (allegedly) spiritually dangerous, for
“how can that hope not take our eyes off the ‘blessed
hope’ of Christ’s appearing?” (p. 66).

Thine is the Kingdom

My response: (1) I most vigorously deny this charge!
It is simply not true! I have never read any
postmillennialist that discourages hope in the second
advent in deference to the historical conquest of the kingdom. In fact, we should note the following
postmillennialist statements regarding the second advent:
• Charles Hodge calls the second advent “the great
object of expectation and desire.”39
• R. L. Dabney: “it is, next to heaven, the dearest and
most glorious of the believer’s hopes: as bringing the
epoch of his full deliverance from death, and full introduction into the society of his adored Saviour.”40
• David Brown: “The Redeemer’s second appearing
is the very pole-star of the Church. That it is so held
forth in the New Testament, is beyond dispute.”41
• James Snowden: “His second coming is the sunrise
of hope in the New Testament. This blessed hope of
his return overarches the lengthening day in which we
live and work and is the golden link that binds his first
with his second coming.”42
• Iain Murray: “However bright, comparatively, the
world may become when the Church reaches her fullest development in history, the Advent of Christ will
ever remain the pole-star of faith and hope. For earth,
however blessed, will never begin to equal heaven.”43

In fact, on Strimple’s analysis we might wonder
if Jesus’ teaching that the kingdom will grow like a
mustard seed (thereby encouraging us to expect
such) itself detracts from his own second advent?
The fact that our CounterPoints debate book has
me bring up the issue of preterism may be explained
not on the assumption that this is the spiritual focus
of my life, but in that this is a matter of distinction

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

between the eschatological views that are being
debated. It is an aspect of New Testament theology
little understood today. Strimple has written numerous articles and several books: How many of them
focus on the second advent? Does the relatively
small place the return of Christ has in his published
material indicate its small place in his theological
outlook? Surely not.
(2) Strimple presents his readers with a false antithesis: charging that we may not hold simultaneously to
both the triumph of Christianity in the world and the
glory of Christ’s advent to the world. Does one’s ultimate hope necessarily preclude any proximate hopes?
Are ultimate and proximate hopes mutually exclusive?
Why must we view our eternal hope and our temporal
hopes as either/or? Why may we not hold both/and?
Does Strimple’s saving money for his family and planning for retirement take his eyes off the blessed hope?
Surely not. We can simultaneously look at our historical duty and expectations, while at the same time
contemplating the glorious conclusion to temporal history at the second coming. After all, does not Strimple
himself admit that the New Testament prophesies certain near-term events that serve as warnings for first
century Christians? Do these discourage their focus
on the second advent? Does the preterist’s recognition of these prophecies discourage our focus on the
second advent?
(3) Furthermore, Strimple’s false antithesis implies
that Christianity is one-dimensional, and even otherworldly. We should not deny our historical calling in
order to affirm our eternal destiny. For why then would
the New Testament provide such a vast sum of mate165

Thine is the Kingdom

rial unrelated to the second advent, if our “focus”
should be on the Lord’s return? In Matthew 25:1-13
was it not the “foolish” virgins who kept their eyes
exclusively on the expectation of an imminent second
advent, unlike the “prudent” virgins who kept the second advent in mind but also made practical
preparations for the historical long run? Should the
foolish virgins have initially rebuked the prudent for
their taking their focus off the second advent?
(4) Even on his own analysis I wonder what the
actual practical difference is between his amillennialism
and my postmillennialism in this regard—other than
engaging in this debate. What is it that Strimple does
that shows he focuses on the second advent in a practical way that I do not? Exactly how are Strimple and
Venema “eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord”
(p. 66)? Surely they do not sit and excitedly contemplate it day-by-day to the exclusion of various practical
obligations? And if they do from time-to-time reflect
upon our glory that comes when the Lord returns, well
then, so do I! The postmillennial view of suffering
which I outline above, obviously encourages us also
to look with anticipation to the second advent.

The Denial of the Imminent Return

Another matter relating to the hope of the second advent is its timing: Strimple complains that
postmillennialism denies its imminency. Although he
does not actually employ the word “imminent” in our
CounterPoints book, he definitely urges that we must
expect the return of Christ at any moment. He urges
imminency in two ways: He rebuts postmillennialism’s
long range historical expectations, which “looks forward

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

to...‘an extensive era’—in which faith, righteousness,
peace, and prosperity will prevail’” (p. 66). He also cites
WCF 33:3—apparently focusing on its urging our being “always watchful, because [we] do not know at
what hour the Lord will come”—over against
postmillennialist David Chilton’s statement that “perhaps hundreds of thousands of years of increasing
godliness” are ahead of us (p. 67). Imminency doctrine is widespread among amillennialists. Strimple’s
associate, Richard B. Gaffin, argues that
“postmillennialism deprives the church of the imminent expectation of Christ’s return and so
undermines the quality of watchfulness that is incumbent on the church.”44
My response: (1) I am guilty as charged—because I
believe this doctrine is unbiblical. I am, however, in
good company in this denial. John Murray, cited approvingly several times by Strimple,45 strongly
disavows this doctrine: “Insistence that the advent is
imminent is likewise without warrant and its falsity
should have been demonstrated by events.”46 Warfield
even muses: “is not this church of the twentieth century still the primitive church?”47 This implies many
years of maturity lie ahead of the church. Amillennialists
Berkhof observes that “several important events
must occur before the return of the Lord, and therefore it cannot be called imminent.” 48 In fact,
renowned reformed exegete and theologian O. T.
Allis declares imminency as “one of the great fundamentals of dispensationalism.”49 R. L. Dabney
sees the popularity of imminence doctrine among
“pre-Adventists” (sc. premillennialist) as due to “the
romance attaching to it.” 50

Thine is the Kingdom

(2) Imminency arguments misconstrue the warnings in the New Testament. Those warnings speak
of the unexpectedness of the Advent, not its nearness. It warns that he will come in “an hour you do
not expect” (Matthew 24:44), like “a thief in the
night” (I Thessalonians 5:2). The word “watch” is
gregoreo, which means “be awake, be alert”; it does
not mean “believe it could happen at any minute.” The
biblical exhortations entail that we should be working, be about our duties before God. In fact, I agree
with amillennialist Berkouwer who declares “after all,
watchfulness implies delay.”51
(3) Imminency doctrine collides with several clear
passages of Scripture. In Matthew 13:31-33 Jesus
urges his followers to expect long-term growth of the
kingdom. In his Olivet instruction he warns that “after
a long time the master of those slaves came and settled
accounts with them” (Matthew 25:19). In response to
the question of restoring the kingdom “now” to Israel, the Lord cautions his disciples that “it is not for
you to know times or epochs” (Acts 1:7). The “times
or epochs” refer to long periods of time. Peter even
instructs believers to expect the long delay to be used
by Christ’s enemies as evidence against the validity of
his return (II Peter 3:3-4, 8-9). The evidence is strong
enough that amillennialist Venema holds to both its
imminence and its delay.52 In such a position imminence has no meaning.
(4) Imminence assumptions are rebuked in the New
Testament as impatience. The foolish virgins expected
only a short wait before the Lord’s return (Matthew
25:1-10). The Parable of the Pounds dissuaded disciples from expecting the kingdom should “immedi168

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

ately appear” (Luke 19:11-27). The Thessalonians
wrongly expected the time of Christ’s return had come
(II Thessalonians 2:1-3).
(5) Imminency overlooks remaining prophecies and
biblical expectations. As I argue in detail against
Strimple, Paul’s prophecy in Romans 11 anticipates a
time of worldwide revival and the calling of the Jews
(pp. 133-42). Christ lays a task upon the Church that
requires an enormous amount of time: the discipling
of the nations (Matthew 28:19). In fact, the
Westminster Standards—despite urging readiness for
the Lord’s return—enumerate several long term prophecies that are yet unfulfilled: “In the second petition
(which is, Thy kingdom come)...we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel
propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the
fulness of the Gentiles brought in...and that Christ
would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of
his second coming, and our reigning with him forever:
and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce
to these ends” (Larger Catechism, 191). Of course, all
the other postmillennial indicators in Scripture also
require the passing of much time.
(6) Imminence belief actually could discourage believers, rather than encourage them. As Allis
perceptively noted: “If the any moment doctrine was
needed by the Early Church to keep it from coldness
and despair in view of the centuries of waiting still to
come, of which it was ignorant, is not this doctrine
likely to discourage rather than encourage the Church
of today in view of the many centuries of waiting already past of which it does know?”53

Thine is the Kingdom

Interestingly, Strimple argues that “in a blessed sense
the powers of the age to come have broken in now”
(p. 63). The postmillennialist wholeheartedly concurs,
then asks: “Why may we not then expect the visible,
historical success of these new and divine powers”? If
“the powers of the age to come have broken in,” and
if the Lord has “put all things in subjection under His
feet” (Ephesians 1:22), and if Christ commissions us
on this basis to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them” in the name of the Triune God (Matthew 28:19),
what prevents Christ’s duly commissioned church from
applying this new covenantal power to historical victory
over the forces of evil—a victory which Christ awaits
from the right of God on high (Hebrews 10:12–13)?

I would like to thank my good friends Blake Davis
and Steve Turley for their invaluable suggestions as I
prepared this chapter.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. “Recent Developments in
the Eschatological Debate,” Chalcedon Report 430
(May 2001): 7-10.
See a history of this problem of hasty dismissal in
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A
Postmillennial Eschatology (2d. ed.: Tyler, Tex.,: Institute for Christian Economics, 1997), 32-37. See also:
Greg L. Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope
of Postmillennialism (Texarkana, Ark.: Covenant
Media, 1999), ch. 4.
See for example: H. Wayne House and Thomas
D. Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Port1


Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

land, Ore.: Multnomah, 1988); Darrell L. Bock, ed.,
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999); Cornelis P. Venema, The Promise
of the Future (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000).
Richard Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology:
Reflections on Postmillennialism,” in Will S. Barker
and W. Robert Godfrey, eds., Theonomy: An Informed
Critique (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990); R. Fowler
White, “Agony, Irony and Victory in Inaugurated
Eschatology: Reflections on the Current AmillennialPostmillennial Debate,” in Westminster Theological
Journal 62 (Fall, 2000): 161-76; Cornelis P. Venema,
“Evaluating Post-millennialism (II),” The Outlook
(January 1998), 22ff.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., “Agony, Irony, and the
Postmillennialist: A Response to Gaffin, Strimple, and
White,” Westminster Theological Journal (the
Westminster Theological Journal article was in the editorial review stage as I was writing this Chalcedon
Symposium Series chapter).
Strimple writes on page 83: “[I]n this chapter we
will concentrate not on church history but on the biblical considerations.” He reiterates this on page 257 in his
response to Blaising: “In presenting the case for
amillennialism, I chose not to survey the history of
theology, but rather to concentrate on the biblical revelation.” Of course, with such a move Strimple
effectively declares he prefers his own personal theological labors rather than those of the many saints who
lived before him.
I do not suggest that Christian Reconstructionism
is the only contemporary source of postmillennial advocacy. In fact, I list representatives from
non-theonomic and other types of postmillennialism.

Thine is the Kingdom

“But since the distinctives of theonomic
postmillennialism are not emphasized in Gentry’s essay,
they will not be addressed in this response” (p. 58).
Meredith G. Kline, “Comments on an Old-New
Error: A Review Article,” Westminster Theological
Journal 41:1 (Fall, 1978): 173.
Steve Schlissel, ed., The Standard Bearer: A
Festschrift to Greg Bahnsen (Texarkana, Ark: Covenant Media, 2001).
See: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
(10th ed.): “Millennium,” definition 1b: “a period of
great happiness or human perfection.” This is a derivative of 1a: “the thousand years mentioned in
Revelation 20 during which holiness is to prevail and
Christ is to reign on earth.” The “thousand years” is a
literal period; the “happiness” is a condition associated in the common mind with millennial thinking. In
Webster’s Twentieth-Century New Unabridged Dictionary (2nd ed.) we read again of two definitions, one
of a literal period, the other— by extension—of a happy
condition. “Millennial” is defined: “1. pertaining to a
millennium, or to a thousand years; as, a millennial
period. 2. of, characteristic of, suggestive of, or fit for
the millennium.” The Oxford English Dictionary follows suit, distinguishing between a literal period and
a happy condition. The third definition of “millennium”
reads: “fig. and in a figurative context: A period of
happiness and benign government.”
My formal presentation of postmillennialism appears in my 560 page argument titled He Shall Have
Dominion. And even that does not cover everything
that could be said.
See also He Shall Have Dominion, 373-78; Gentry in C. Marvin Pate, ed., Four Views on the Book of


Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

Revelation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 88–89.
See also John Calvin’s exposition of Isaiah 65:17-20.
Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology
(Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 1930 [rep. 1991]) and
Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical
Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus
Vos, ed. by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., (Phillipsburg, NJ:
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980).
Cf. also: I Corinthians 10:11; II Timothy 3:1;
Hebrews 1:1-2; 9:26; I John 2:18; I Peter 1:20.
By the way, I also believe like Strimple regarding
the construction of the ages which I am highlighting. I
am only presenting this scenario to illustrate the error
in Strimple’s theological method of analysis.
Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, 38.
Gaffin is Strimple’s friend and colleague, and a
fellow amillennialist who originally was contracted to
co-write with Strimple the amillennial portions of the
Three Views book.
Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology (2d ed: Phillipsburg,
N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1978), 91.
Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 72-74.
This familiar “problem” is dealt with by
Geerhardus Vos in The Pauline Eschatology, ch. 9:
“The Extent of the Resurrection.”
See my discussion in He Shall Have Dominion,
Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology,” 197-226;
Strimple, 63ff; White, “The Current AmillennialPostmillennial Debate,” 161-76; Venema, The
Promise of the Future, 351-55.
Gentry, “Agony, Irony and the Postmillennialist,”
WTJ, Fall: 2002. Reprinted as Chapter 4 in this book.

Thine is the Kingdom

A video of the almost three hour Gentry-Gaffin debate is available from me at
Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology: Reflections
on Postmillennialism,” 211.
Child, “Christian Reconstruction Movement,” in
David J. Atkinson, David F. Field, et al. New Dictionary of Christian Ethics & Pastoral Theology
(Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity, 1995), 227.
This does not imply that America is an example
of the dominant gospel victory which postmillennialism
seeks. The church has much to do here before the
earthly victory attains a level commensurate with the
postmillennial hope.
Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology,” 210-11.
This, of course, does not in any way diminish
the very real persecutional suffering of many Christians in China, the Sudan, Muslim-controlled nations,
and other such places. But then, postmillennialism
does not claim that the world has yet been won to
the gospel.
I am not arguing here that the average Christian
today is the quintessential example of postmillennial
advance. I believe that levels of sanctification will
grow as society becomes more Christianized, for
our environment will be fundamentally Christian,
which more greatly encourages righteous living
(Matthew 5:16; Galatians 6:1; I Thessalonians 1:7;
Hebrews 10:25).
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. in C. Marvin Pate, ed.,
Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1998), 81.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Perilous Times: A Study
in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, Ark.: Covenant
Media, 1999), 100.

Chapter 5: Victory Belongs to the Lord

C. A. Evans, “Typology,” in Michael B. Green,
Scot McKnight, I. Howard Marshall, eds., Dictionary
of Jesus and the Gospels: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (Downers Grove, Ill:
InterVarsity, 1992), 862.
For a detailed proof of this, see: Gentry, Perilous
Times, 90-91.
For an easy to follow exposition of the passage,
see Thomas Ice and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Great
Tribulation: Past or Future? (Grand Rapids: Kregel,
1999), chs. 1 and 2.
Benjamin B. Warfield, Biblical and Theological
Studies (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, rep.
1952), 472. Originally published in 1886.
D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in Frank E. Gaebelein,
ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols.
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:489.
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols.
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rep. 1973), 3:795.
Robert L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rep. 1972), 839.
David Brown, Christ’s Second Coming: Will It
Be Premillennial? (Edmonston, Alb.: Still Waters Revival, rep. 1990 [1882]), 15.
James H. Snowden, The Coming of the Lord:
Will It Be Premillennial? (New York: Macmillan,
1919), 1.
Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope: Revival and the
Interpretation of Prophecy (Edinburgh: Banner of
Truth, 1971), 217-18. The reader should consult chapter 10 of this marvelous book (“Christ’s Second Coming:
The Best Hope”) as a fuller rebuttal to Strimple.
Gaffin, “Theonomy and Eschatology,” 218-19.
See pages 64, 67, 101, 104, 113, 118, 268.


Thine is the Kingdom

John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray,
vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), 407. A
very similar comment is made by Dabney: “stubborn
facts have proved that [the second advent] was not
less than 1800 years distant”(Lectures in Systematic
Theology, 841).
Warfield, Biblical and Theological Studies, 347.
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941), 696.
O. T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945), 169.
Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 841.
G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 91.
Venema, The Promise of the Future, 97-109.
Maybe this could be a clever way I could escape from
the charge of denying imminence. I perhaps could begin holding that I believe Christ is returning at any
moment while at the same time believing it may be
thousands of years distant.
Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 172.


Chapter 6

The End Is Not Yet
by J. A. Alexander 1


he prophetical discourse of which Matthew 24:6
forms a part has been the subject of conflicting
explanation ever since it was originally uttered. The
verse reads: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of
wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things
must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

The grand difficulty lies in the appropriateness of its
terms to two distinct and distant events: the end of the
world and the destruction of Jerusalem. Some interpreters hold that the one catastrophe was meant to
typify the other. Others that the discourse may be mechanically divided by assuming a transition, at a certain
point, from one of these great subjects to the other.
Still others, that it describes a sequence of events to
be repeated more than once, a prediction to be verified, not once for all, nor yet by a continuous
progressive series of events, but in stages and at intervals, like repeated flashes of lightning.
But on either of these various suppositions it is still
true that the primary fulfilment of the prophecy was in

Thine is the Kingdom

the downfall of the Jewish state, with the previous or
accompanying change of dispensations; and yet that it
was so framed as to leave it doubtful, until the event,
whether a still more terrible catastrophe was not intended. However clear the contrary may now seem to
us, there was nothing absurd in the opinion which so
many entertained that the end of the world and of the
old economy might be coincident. This ambiguity is
not accidental, but designed, as in many other prophecies of Scripture.
Another striking feature in the form of this discourse
is the precision with which several stages or degrees
of the fulfilment are distinguished from each other, each
affording the occasion and the premonition of the next,
until the close of the whole series. Of these successive
periods or scenes of the great drama, each might, considered in itself have seemed to be the last. And no
doubt each as it occurred was so regarded even by
some who had been forewarned by Christ himself. To
correct this error and prepare the minds of true believers for the whole that was to come upon them, he
says at the close of the first scene, “See that ye be not
troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but
the end is not yet;” or, as Luke expresses it, “the end is
not by-and-by”—that is, immediately.

The need of this caution has not ceased. Men have
ever since been and are still too much disposed to precipitate the fulfilment of God’s purposes and to
confound “the beginning of sorrow” with “the end.”
They are slow to learn the lesson that “the believer
will not make haste,” that an important element of

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

faith in the divine engagements is a disposition to leave
time and every other circumstance to God himself; a
disposition perfectly consistent with intense desire and
urgent importunity.
There is something curious in the difference of men’s
feelings and opinions with respect to the life of individuals, and to that of the race or the continued
existence of this present world. The great majority of
men live as if they were to live for ever. The effect of
this upon their character and lives affords a constant
theme to moralists and preachers of the gospel. In all
this there is only a misapplication or undue restriction
of a principle inherent in our very constitution. Man is
immortal, and was made for immortality. He cannot, if
he would, look only at the present and the past. He
must feel and act for the future also. And that not only
for a definite or proximate futurity, but also for one
more remote and undefined, the boundless field of what
is yet to be. The practical error lies in confounding
endless existence with an endless prolongation of the
present life. The more profoundly men reflect the more
they are brought off from this illusion. But so long as
they are heedless and controlled by natural feeling, they
expect to live for ever.
But the most surprising fact of all is, that these views
may co-exist with a strong disposition to expect a
speedy termination of the whole system under which
we live. The certainty of this fact is clear from the
effect of those fanatical predictions which at different
times have agitated Christendom. In all such cases the
panic has had reference to the end of the world. Let
this be quelled, and all fear is extinguished. It does not
occur to the alarmist that however probable the near

Thine is the Kingdom

approach of the event may be made by calculation or
by reasoning, it never can be rendered half so certain
as his own death in the course of nature at no distant
period. Nay, the probability of this inevitable change
occurring even speedily must always transcend that of
a speedy occurrence of the final consummation. Yet
the oldest and the least prepared to die remain unmoved
by this appalling certainty, although they would be terrified by any intimation that the world was to continue but
a twelvemonth longer. It matters not that they may die
tomorrow or today, if they can only be assured that
the end of the world is not immediately at hand.
In some cases it is easy to refer these very different
effects to one and the same cause. The self-love which
forbids some men to look upon themselves as mortal,
makes them equally unwilling, when this truth is forced
upon them, to allow a longer term to others. If they
must die, let humanity die with them. Something of
this selfish feeling no doubt enters into the strong disposition of some good men in all ages, to regard their
own times as the last, and to fix the winding up of the
great drama as near as may be to their own disappearance from the stage. As Herod the Great is said to
have ordered a large number of distinguished persons
to be massacred as soon as he was dead, in order that
his death might not be wholly unaccompanied by
mourning, so the class in question seem to look upon
the end of the world as a necessary part of their own
obsequies. The impression of approaching change and
dissolution, which is perfectly appropriate to their own
case, is transferred by a natural association to the scene
which they are leaving, as if it were out of the question that the world can get along without them.

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

This pardonable vanity, if such it may be called,
seeks, of course, to justify itself by the authority of
Scripture. Hence the prophecies are tortured into confirmation of the fact assumed, and every art of
calculation and construction is employed to bring the
end of the world as near as may be into coincidence
with that of the interpreter. Nor have these been barren and inoperative speculations. Their effect has been
immense and sometimes long continued, both on individuals and whole communities. The most remarkable
exemplification of the general statement, is afforded
by the memorable panic which diffused itself through
Christendom at the approach of the year 1000. The belief had been gradually gaining ground that the close of
this millennium, or first period of a thousand years, was
to be the final close of human history. As the fatal term
drew near, the superstitious dread associated with it grew
continually more intense and powerful in its effects.

However improbable the actual recurrence of such
scenes may now appear, the principle from which they
sprung has been too often manifested to be looked
upon as temporary or accidental. It continues to exist
and to exert its power, not always with the same effect
or to the same extent, but so far constantly and uniformly, as to make it an interesting subject of inquiry
what we ought to think, and how we ought to feel and
act in reference to it, as connected with our own times
and circumstances. What I believe to be the true solution of this question may be reduced to these two

Thine is the Kingdom

1. So far as we have any means of judging, the end
is not yet.
2. So far as it remains a matter of doubt, it is better
to assume that the end is not yet, than to assume
the contrary.
So far as we have any means of judging, the end is
not yet. This may be argued negatively and positively.
The negative argument is this, that there are no conclusive indications of a speedy end afforded either by
the Word of God or the condition of the world. Such
indications are indeed alleged, and that with confidence,
but they have no conclusive force; because, in the first
place, they rest upon gratuitous assumptions. It is assumed, for instance, that a certain form or pitch of
moral depravation is incompatible with the continued
existence of society. That there is or may be a degree
of wickedness irreconcilable with any social organization, is too clear to be disputed. But it does not follow
that the present condition of the world is such. Such a
conclusion is not warranted by the mere degree of actual
corruption, however great, because we do not know how
much is necessary to the end in question, and any attempt to determine it must rest on a gratuitous assumption.
The same thing is true as to the real or supposed
predictions of the final consummation in the Word of
God. That these were meant, not merely to assert the
general fact, and in some cases to describe the attendant circumstances, but to afford specific indications
of the very time of its occurrence, so that it may be
distinctly known beforehand: all this is assumed in the
usual reasoning on the subject, but assumed without
proof. It is not more easy to affirm than to deny it.

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

Whatever plausibility there may be in the sense thus
put upon the passage in question, there can be no certainty. It is not necessary to maintain that this cannot
be the meaning. It is enough to know that it may not
be. The position taken is not that the proofs alleged
are manifestly false, but that they are inconclusive; they
prove nothing, because they rest upon gratuitous assumptions. This, by itself, would be enough to justify
the negative position, that we have no sufficient reason to believe that the end is at hand.
But the same thing is still clearer from experience.
These signs have all been misapplied before. There is
perhaps not a single indication now made use of for
this purpose, that has not been so employed in former
ages. Every striking coincidence, every verbal allusion, has been weighed already in this balance and
found wanting. Nay, arithmetic itself, of which it has
been said the figures cannot lie, has here misled its
thousands. The most positive numerical specifications
may be varied indefinitely by the variation of the term
from which they are to be computed. The millennium
of the Book of Revelation has by turns been proved to
be present, past, and future. All this argues no defect
or error in the Scriptures, but only something wrong
in the interpretation. When anything can thus be made
to mean anything, we have reason to believe that it
was not intended to reveal so much as we imagine.
We may reason in the same way, from experience,
with respect to the condition of society and the degree
of actual corruption. The extraordinary abounding of
iniquity at any one time, in itself considered, might
well lead us to believe that such depravation must be
preparatory to the final dissolution of society. But when

Thine is the Kingdom

we find analogous appearances insisted on, from age
to age, with equal confidence, in proof of the same
thing, and the proof as constantly annulled by the event,
we may not unreasonably hesitate to rest upon such
evidence in this case, and conclude that tests which
have always led to false results before must be at least
defective, and their testimony inconclusive. Whether
we look, then, at the word of God or at the world
around us, or compare the condition of the one with
the predictions of the other, we have no satisfactory
or adequate ground for the conclusion that “the end
of all things is at hand” in this sense.
Let us now look for a moment at the positive argument in favour of the same position, which may be
conveniently reduced to this form, that the fulfilment
of the Scriptures is still incomplete, and will require a
long time for its completion.
In support of this, we may appeal in general to the
grand and comprehensive scale on which the divine
purposes are projected in the Scriptures. The natural
impression made, perhaps, on all unbiased readers is,
that in the Bible there are vast beginnings, which require proportionate conclusions even in the present
life. There are germs which were never meant to be
developed in the stunted shrub, but in the spreading
oak. There are springs, in tracing which we cannot
stop short at the brook or even at the river, but are
hurried on, as if against our will, to the lake, the estuary, and the ocean. Every such reader of the Bible feels
that it conducts him to the threshold of a mighty pile,
and opens many doors, through which he gets a distant glimpse of long-drawn aisles, vast halls, and endless
passages; and how can he believe that this glimpse is

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

the last that he shall see, and that the edifice itself is to
be razed before he steps across the threshold?
This impression made by the very structure of the
Scriptures is confirmed by their peculiar phraseology—
the constant use of language pointing not to sudden,
instantaneous revolutions, but to long-continued dilatory processes of change, decay, and restoration,
dissolution and relapse, which have as yet but had their
beginning, and the full course of which can only be
completed in a cycle of ages. And besides these general considerations, founded on the structure of the
dialect of Scripture, we can specify particular changes
which have scarcely yet become perceptible, but of
which the Bible leads us to anticipate the end and the
completion before “the end cometh.”
One of these is the universal spread of the gospel.
Without insisting on particular predictions of this great
event, we may appeal to the general impression made
upon all readers of the Bible, that it must and will take
place before the end of the existing dispensation.
Closely allied to this, as one of its conspicuous effects, is the regeneration of the race, the reconstruction
of society—the realization of those glowing pictures
of the earth and its inhabitants which can neither be
explained as day-dreams of an imaginary golden age,
nor as poetical anticipations of the joys of heaven. Nor
do the Scriptures lead us to expect a mere restoration,
but a continued exhibition of the race and of society in
its normal state, contrasted with its previous corruptions and distortions.
The sum of these considerations, negative and positive, appears to be, that there is no conclusive indication

Thine is the Kingdom

of a speedy end; that, on the contrary, there are strong
reasons for believing that it is remote; but that even
these are insufficient to decide the question absolutely;
so that, after all, it is a doubtful point. Regarding it as
such, we may naturally hesitate between two courses.
Shall we, on the one hand, follow the preponderating
evidence in favour of a distant consummation? or shall
we, on the other, take what seems to be the safer course
of looking for that soon which may be still far distant,
but which may be already at the very door? In other
words, considering the case as doubtful, is it better to
proceed upon the supposition that the end is near, or
upon the supposition that the end is not yet?
This is a question both of principle and practice,
and the way in which it is decided may exert no feeble
influence upon the character and life. The expectation
of a speedy end seems naturally suited to enervate,
nay, to paralyze exertion, while the opposite belief invigorates it. The other doctrine would seen to be safer
as respects the zeal of Christian enterprise. The only
practical advantage of the same kind which can well
be claimed for the opposite opinion is, that it leads
men to be always ready, as our Lord requires. This is,
in fact, the grand recommendation of the theory, and
that to which it owes its currency among some truly
devout Christians. Yet it rests upon a fallacy, for it
confounds the life of individuals with the existence of
the race on earth. The readiness which Christ requires
of us, is a personal readiness to leave the world and
meet our God. This has existed in the case of thousands who had no such expectation as the one in
question. The necessity of this individual preparation
cannot justify the sacrifice of higher interests, or dis186

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

pense with the discharge of duties which we owe, not
only to ourselves, but to our successors, to the Church,
to society, to human kind.
This preparation, too, for personal departure is not
secured by a belief in the approach of the great final
catastrophe. No such belief has ever wrought it. Where
it really exists, it is preceded by a due sense of the
shortness and uncertainty of life, and the importance
of the interests suspended on it, without any reference
whatever to the subsequent continuation or destruction of the world. The strongest possible persuasion,
that this world is yet to last for ages, may exist, because it has existed, in connection with the deepest
sense of men’s mortality and need of constant preparation for the great change which awaits them all
without exception. But if the two convictions are thus
perfectly compatible, we cannot, of course, argue from
the requisition of the one to the exclusion of the other.
The duty of constant preparation for the end of our
career may be truly and successfully performed by
those who honestly believe that the existing state of
things is to continue perhaps ages after they are
themselves forgotten.
It may still be urged, however, that this state of mind
exposes those who entertain it to be taken by surprise.
What, it is sometimes said, if, after all, the great event
should be at hand, how fearful the surprise of those
who fancy it to be still distant! Here, again, we may
see traces of that same confusion of ideas which has
been already mentioned. However great or sudden the
surprise, it cannot be to them a fearful one. And if
divested of this attribute, surprise is not an evil. Joy
involves surprise as well as horror. Some of the most

Thine is the Kingdom

exquisite sensations of delight which have ever been
experienced have taken those who felt them by surprise. Nay, exclude all thought of danger, doubt, or
fear from your conception of surprise, and most men
would deliberately choose it, in preference even to the
fullest opportunity of calculation, measurement, and
deliberate foresight. But whether this be so or not,
we know that the catastrophe in question will take
most men by surprise at last, and not only the unthinking and the reckless, but the sober, the considerate,
the wise.
If it be true, then, that the supposition of a distant
end diverts the thoughts of men from this great change,
it is only by transferring them to one still more momentous, because more closely connected with the loss
or gain of personal salvation, because perfectly inevitable in reference to every individual of every
generation but the last, and because, according to the
most indulgent computation, “not far from every one
of us.” Whether we look, then, at the absence of all
certain indications that the end of the world is at hand,
or at the existence of some striking proof that it is still
far distant, or at the practical effect of both opinions,
we may safely rest in the conclusion, that so far as
we can judge at all, the end is not yet, and that so
far as we are in doubt, it is better for ourselves and
others to suppose that the end is not yet than to
suppose the contrary.

The practical conclusion to which these theoretical
conclusions point is obvious enough. Let us first of all

Chapter 6: The End Is Not Yet

prepare to die, and thus in the most effectual way prepare to live. This preparation is of course not to be
made by needlessly anticipating cares which are appropriate only to the time of actual departure, but by
the doing of our present duty, in reliance upon that
grace which provides for all emergencies, but seldom
grants to one the aid appropriate to another. Having
made this indispensable provision for the future, let us
cease to look upon our own salvation as the final cause
of all that God is doing. Let us look away from our
minute concerns to that stupendous whole of which
they form an indispensable though humble part. Instead of feeling and acting as if all must die with us, let
us continue, until God shall teach us otherwise, to
cherish the belief and expectation of a glorious work
yet to be accomplished even here, of which the changes
which we now behold are not the end, but the beginning. Let us not shrink even from the thought that
unknown evils are yet to be experienced before the
good can be finally triumphant. Through the clouds of
such anticipations we may still discern the clear sky of
better days to come; nay, even in the meantime, we
may see the storm and sunshine striving for the mastery, and although we may be forced to say, as one
disaster treads upon the heels of its forerunner, “These
are but the beginning of sorrows,” we may still console ourselves by looking further off to still remoter
changes, saying, “The end is not yet.”
Let this not only solace but incite us. At every new
stage of our course, when we are tempted to imagine
our work done, let this word rouse us, “The end is not
yet.” Let the same conviction follow through life.
Whatever you may seem to have already suffered or

Thine is the Kingdom

accomplished, still remember that the end is not yet;
and from the midst of your trials, your perplexities,
your errors, your temptations, yes, your doubts of God
himself, still force yourselves to look even on the beginning of sorrows as prophetic of their end, and to
take refuge from the worst that can befall you, or the
cause for which you live, for which you die, in the
fixed persuasion that with reference both to labour and
reward, “the end is not by and by.” The time, indeed,
is coming when the same thing can no longer be said
equally of both. Yes, the time is coming when these
present light afflictions shall be past, forgotten, “as a
dream when one awaketh;” but at no point of your
history more truly than at that, will you be justified in
saying, as you look forward to the glory that awaits
you, “These are but the beginnings of an everlasting
life. The end is not yet.”

This chapter is edited from a nineteenth century
sermon on Matthew 24:6. Joseph Addison Alexander,
D.D. (1809-61) was a renowned Presbyterian linguist
who served as Adjunct Professor of Ancient Languages
and Literatures (1830-33) and then Professor of Oriental and Biblical Literature (1834-1850) at Princeton,
then Chair of Church History at Princeton Theological
Seminary (1851-60). He wrote several commentaries:
on the Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, and Acts. His
commentaries on the Psalms and Isaiah are classic
postmillennial expositions.


Chapter 7

by Jefferey A. Ventrella 1


this chapter, I will addresses a vital, yet often
overlooked topic: the ethics of eschatology.
Stated simply the pertinent question posed is: If
theonomic postmillennialism is true—and it certainly
is—then what differences here and now should this
conviction make in the lives of Christians and their
churches? What should be the character, and what
should be the conduct of a professing postmillennialist?

The answer to this question is multi-faceted. At least
five ethical implications flow from postmillennial convictions. Theonomic postmillennialism—rightly
conceived and practiced—demands our:
Promoting Gospel Primacy;
Demonstrating Evangelistic Zeal;
Cultivating Christendomic Consciousness;
Practicing Cultural Engagement; and
Habituating Christian Humility.

Paul addressed the church at Corinth with a singularly
focused purpose: “For I determined not to know

Thine is the Kingdom

anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him
crucified” (I Corinthians 2:22 ). The foundation for
Paul’s instruction, exhortation and admonition to these
believers was the Cross, the gospel of Christ. In this
context Paul presents a victorious eschatology to these
Christians: “For He must reign till He has put all
enemies under His feet” (I Corinthians 15:25). Does a
connection exist between these pronouncements
regarding the Cross and eschatological victory? The
postmillennialist believes it does.
Paul expressed eschatological confidence precisely because he held the gospel as primary. This is
because he rightly acknowledged that the gospel is
transformational in the very nature of the case: Indeed, the gospel of Christ “is the power of God to
salvation” (Romans 1:16). Therefore, according to
Scripture the cause of societal transformation is the
gospel—not political or familial reconstruction.
Unfortunately, theonomic postmillennialism has
been maligned and even slandered as promoting
either some form of social gospel or a “Jewish
dream.” Nevertheless, the expositors and defenders
of this optimistic eschatology have ardently
underscored the gospel’s predominance in advancing
God’s postmillennial victory. Indeed, the gospel’s
priority in postmillennial eschatology has been set
forth with utter and unmistakable clarity.3 Consider
the following contemporary proponents of
theonomic postmillennialism:
Rousas J. Rushdoony:
• “Evil men will not produce a good society. The key
to social renewal is individual regeneration.”4


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

• “Clearly there is no hope for man except in
regeneration.... The salvation of man includes his
restoration into the image of God and the calling implicit
in that image, to subdue the earth and to exercise
dominion. Hence, the proclamation of the gospel was
also the proclamation of the kingdom of God, according
to all the New Testament.”5
• “Without regenerating grace, man cannot keep God’s
law and discharge his duties.”6
• “The fall of man has not altered this calling, although
it has made its fulfilment impossible apart from
Christ’s regenerating work.”7
• “In terms of God’s law, true reform begins with regeneration and then the submission of the believer
to the whole law-word of God. The degenerate pretenders to reform want to reform the world by
beginning with their opponents, with any and everyone save themselves.”8
• “The source of peace is man’s regeneration in Christ;
it is more than the cessation of hostilities: it is the
growth of communion and it is personal fulfilment in
Christ as well.”9

Greg L. Bahnsen:
• “Postmillennialism maintains that the victorious
advance of Christ’s kingdom in this world will take
place in terms of the present peaceful and spiritual
power of the gospel.”10
• “Postmillennialism believes in the gradual growth
and success of the kingdom of God by the power of
the Holy Spirit working through the Church’s preaching of the gospel.”11
Kenneth L. Gentry. Jr.:
• “That theonomists speak of God’s kingdom as a civi-


Thine is the Kingdom

lization does not mean that they do not see this civilization as grounded in spiritual regeneration.”12
• “This era of dominion will produce the worldwide
transformation of society through the preaching of the
gospel and individuals’ widespread positive response to
the message of redemption—a continuity of dominion.”13
• “This is not accomplished by political imposition,
but spiritual transformation.”14
• “Postmillennialists believe that evangelism is the absolute precondition to worldwide, postmillennial,
theocratic success.... Thus, postmillennialism seeks the
Christianization of the world by the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelism has priority in

As these excerpts demonstrate, holding theonomic
postmillennial convictions necessitates that the gospel
occupy preeminence. And just as plainly these excerpts
illustrate that those who would malign postmillennialism
either are uninformed or willfully refuse to accurately
characterize the position.
Nevertheless, it is one thing to accurately profess
postmillennialism; it is quite another to practice it, that
is, to function in terms of its implications. To rightly
practice postmillennialism requires that one promote
the primacy of the gospel. The gospel is not to be
treated as a “spare tire,” simply annexed to the SUV’s
of our lives and then hastily grasped only during dire
emergencies.16 Changing the metaphor, the gospel is
not simply the “door” to a new home, something
quickly left behind as one proceeds into the living quarters of the house. Rather, the gospel is life itself and it
is something that needs to be preached to oneself, even
(especially) after one “gets saved.”17

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

Far too often, those holding theonomic and postmillennial convictions have expended time and effort on society’s transformation, but have neglected
the cause and foundation for that transformation:
the gospel. They have focused on the desired effect,
rather than cultivating the necessary cause.18 It is no
coincidence that John Owen, the craftsman of the
explicitly postmillennial Savoy Declaration, rightly
warned: “He who has small thoughts of sin never has
had great thoughts of God.” The gospel matters. Only
a great God can transform a fallen society, a society
overrun with sinful men. Yet the Lord has chosen to
do just that—by the gospel. The gospel must therefore be primary, not only in theory but in practice.
The Lord in this day has graciously rekindled the
vision and hope of optimistic eschatology. This generation’s postmillennialists must therefore grasp the
heart of that eschatology, the transformational gospel
of Christ. By the power of God, through means of
God’s grace is how the serious theonomic postmillennialist operates, therefore he must promote the
primacy of the gospel. Absent that emphasis, priority, and passion, one is not a true postmillennialist;
rather, he is simply a vain moralistic pretender.

Demonstrating Evangelistic Zeal
I have shown how true postmillennial zeal promotes the primacy of the gospel. The cross is foundational to God’s eschatological victory; in fact, the
cross guarantees eschatological victory. Correlatively,
theonomic postmillennialism also demands that one
demonstrate evangelistic and missiological zeal as

Thine is the Kingdom

well. I will now explore this latter ethical implication of optimistic eschatology.
God’s word confidently describes the Lord’s expanding reign:
His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in
Him; All nations shall call Him blessed. Blessed be
the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name
forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His
glory, Amen and Amen. (Psalm 72: 17-19)

Sadly, in reformed circles many confess evangelism’s
necessity, but few practice it. An ethical gap exists
between declaration and demonstration. James
condemns such hypocrisy: “[B]ut be doers of the
word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”
(James 1:22).
Reformed Christians must ponder just how the
whole earth will “be filled with [God’s] glory” and
just how “all nations shall call Him blessed.” Are
these phrases just nice sounding shibboleths? If not,
then what conduct—here and now—is the Lord
pleased to use in order to transform these proclamations into reality?
As Calvinists, reformed Christians certainly know
the academic answer to these questions: God uses “secondary causes” for effecting His Decree (see, e.g.,
WCF 3:1). But again, from an ethical standpoint demonstration must accompany declaration. It is humbling
to see just how impoverished reformed missiology—
indeed, evangelical missiology—is today.

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

On a global scale, consider the following sample
data: Surveying the missionary output of Singapore,
Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, The United
States, The United Kingdom, Germany, India, Japan,
Korea, and Brazil, we discover that only one of them,
Singapore, sends more than one missionary per Christian congregation. The cumulative average ratio of
missionaries per congregation for these twelve nations
is a deplorable 0.12.19 Thousands of congregations
exist within these twelve countries and yet a covenantal and tangible commitment by the local churches to
support personally-known missionaries is decidedly
lacking. Reformed congregations fare no better.
For example, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
includes scores of congregations, but supports only
fifteen foreign missionaries.20 Money follows ministry. If a congregation’s (or denomination’s) heart
promotes missiological zeal, then funding to effectuate that zeal will not be lacking. As someone once
quipped: “God’s work, done God’s way, will never
lack God’s funding.”
The reformed faith is “Christianity come into its
own,” according to B. B. Warfield. It alone provides
the potent doctrinal foundation that both motivates and
sustains missiological efforts. On paper, therefore, the
reformed churches should have the “market cornered” in
evangelism and missions. Sadly, they do not. Why?
One reason the gospel is not promiscuously and
zealously proclaimed stems from a heart problem: the
fear of man.21 “We don’t want to be Arminian.” “Door
to door knocking is outdated.” “God is sovereign; He
will bring people to our [dead, lifeless, rote, un197

Thine is the Kingdom

friendly, inhospitable, clannish] church in His time,
but in secret we hope He doesn’t.” 22 As the Scripture makes plain: “The fear of man lays a snare, but
whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25,
ESV). Are we more interested in “reformedness”
than being faithful?23
The reality is, however, as Calvinist Ernest Reisigner
declared: “The church that does not evangelize will
fossilize, that is, dry up and become useless to Christ
and the world.”24 Evangelism and missiological efforts
are not somehow antithetical to the robust Calvinism
of the reformed faith. Just the opposite is true. And
this is especially the case when Calvinism melds with
an optimistic eschatology, as was done by the father
of modern missions, William Carey and the Puritans
before him.25
The vitality of the reformed faith instills great confidence in missiological efforts. The doctrines of grace
ascribe to God the certainty of salvation, for the Calvinist believes that “as many as [are] were ordained to
eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48, ASV). Reformed
doctrine teaches—rightly—that evangelistic and
missiological efforts cannot not succeed. Enter
postmillennial eschatology.
The Bible teaches that not only does God eternally
elect, effectively call, sovereignly regenerate individuals whom he has appointed unto life, but also that he
has purposed and willed, according to his good pleasure, to call many multitudes into his kingdom. Indeed,
the prophet avers without hesitation or qualification:
“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Conse198

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

quently, the doctrines of grace also provide the certainty
of kingdom expansion. Appropriately then, Christ is
the “savior [soter] of the world” (I John 4:14).26
This eschatological certainty should fuel evangelistic and missiological zeal. Most self-conscious
postmillennialists would “amen” this conclusion, but
the ethical questions remain: Is this confession being
demonstrated in one’s life? Does one practice what
one professes?
Here are a few simple, but effective “fog-clearing”
diagnostic questions:
• Do your family devotions contain not only instruction regarding, but also a passion for the lost?
• Do your prayers beckon the Lord to open doors for
his word—among the unconverted, or is “evangelism”
directed predominantly to “converting” the non-reformed?27
• Does your mind automatically conceive of “missions”
as being an impersonal excursion to the African subcontinent while your own neighbors have never heard
the gospel from your own lips?
• Does your checkbook reflect not only commitment,
but sacrifice for the gospel’s spread?
• Do you routinely disparage the outreach efforts of
other members of Christ’s Body merely because their
theological acumen fails to meet your own private
convictions or preconceived preferences?
• Do your mission efforts embrace the antithesis or do
you spend your efforts seeking to convert fellow covenant keepers?

When taken to heart, postmillennial convictions
embrace evangelism and discipleship with gusto. If

Thine is the Kingdom

the gospel is not primary and if one does not burn with
a passion for converting and disciplining the nations,
then his optimistic eschatological confession is suspect. Frankly, such a confession would be nothing more
than sound and fury signifying nothing.
Eschatology matters, and it matters on a personal
ethical level. May God kindle a raging fire for evangelical and missiological zeal in his Church,
especially among those who embrace the Scripture’s
optimistic eschatology.

Theonomic postmillennialism also demands that one
cultivate Christendomic consciousness. God has
promised to redeem “a people” consecrated for his
purposes. This coming reality will progress in history (“living stones” fitted together to form a “New
Temple”) and will climax as an eschatological collective (the Bride, the New Jerusalem, etc.).
Accordingly therefore, to live consistently with these
coming eschatological realities requires Christians
intentionally to develop an awareness for God’s
present Christendomic work in, among, with, and
through his people.
While it is true that God elects particular sinners for
redemption, it is also true that the promise of the New
Covenant is explicitly couched in terms of God’s gathering of a collective people—loved by God and unified
in thought and deed. It is this redeemed collective
which grows intergenerationally under the Lord’s ruling hand:

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

They shall be My people, and I will be their God: then
I will give them one heart and one way, that they may
fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And, I will make an everlasting
covenant with them that I will not run away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts
so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly
plant them in the land, with all My heart and with all
My soul. (Jeremiah 32:38-41, NKJV)

As God in history gathers his eschatological people,
postmillennialism (and the Bible) teaches that this gathering will be incrementally yet unmistakably manifested
over time—just as Jesus taught parabolically in the leaven
and the mustard seed parables (Matthew 13:31-33). Critically, however, this manifestation occurs along the lines
of the Antithesis—that judicially instituted hostility and
enmity existing between the seed of the Woman and
the seed of the Serpent (Genesis 3:15). This concept
demarcates on the one hand the battle between God’s
people and His gathering them together, and on the
other hand, the “darkness,” the “tares,” the “goats,”
and the “dogs,” i.e., the covenant breakers.28
This enmity “plays out” in history and does so with
communal dimensions as recognized early by the
church fathers: Jerusalem versus Athens (Tertullian);
the City of God versus the City of Man (Augustine).29
And, this communal expression of antithesis recurs
throughout redemptive history as the Lord divides,
delivers, and even destroys—all for the sake of expanding his kingdom to his glory alone. The Garden;
Noah and the Flood, Lot and Sodom; the Tower of
Babel; the lives of the Patriarchs; the Exodus—in each

Thine is the Kingdom

case, the Lord divides along the line of the antithesis,
delivers His people, and then destroys the covenant
breakers. The Lord God is an active God whose work
continues eschatologically—but does so along antithetical Christendomic lines.
Sadly, however, much of the American church has
lost its Christendomic consciousness. That is, the modern church has lost the confident vision of God’s certain
eschatological purpose to save a people, dwell with
them, do good to them, and rejoice over them all for
his own glory. Instead, God’s people do not really engage the culture antithetically, but rather spawn
conflicts of Light v. Light; Wheat v. Wheat; and Sheep
v. Sheep. Christians, including many reformed Christians, endlessly debate the footnotes in the City of
God’s Zoning and Building Codes while the City of
Man is quickly and incessantly stealing and/or poisoning the Christians’ water, power, and homesteads.30
Christ’s living waters have been converted into a stagnant evangelical quagmire. This should not be, and
yet this occurs regularly because Christians fail to conduct their affairs in terms of Jeremiah’s eschatological
promise: God is gathering one people and he purposes
to rejoice in them and do good to them. Christians
must therefore recover a Christendomic Consciousness—that is, an eschatological understanding of God’s
purpose to sanctify his people—imperfect as they now
are. A postmillennial confession supplies the motive
and the mandate for doing so.
Recovering a Christendomic consciousness means
among other things keeping the main thing, the main
thing. The Scripture’s priorities must be recaptured—
in both word and deed, faith and works, doctrine and

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

duty. 31 Many obstacles or constraints impair
Christendomic Consciousness, even among those professing an optimistic eschatology.32 Here are some
suggestions for remedying this situation:
Being Long-Suffering with Our Brothers: Second
Timothy 2:22-25 requires servants of the Lord to be
gentle, patient, and humble. And the reality is that,
according to Christ, love is the mark of the visible
church (John 13:34, 35).33 While differences among
brothers are important and ought to be resolved, they
are differences among brothers, and should be considered accordingly.34
Negating the Cult of Personality: The reformed
often critique aspects of Rome’s Papacy, and yet splintered Protestantism, including the reformed, seems
nevertheless to function in terms of many Popes or
other Pied Pipers. “I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, or
Calvin, or Augustine, or Machen, or Clark, or Van Til,
or whomever”—with a bit of reflection, this list could
be greatly extended.35 The reality is, however, that neither Calvin (nor any other great or not-so-great leader)
died for anyone’s sins, and though Christians do and
ought to learn with gratitude from those whom God
has illumined, a divisive party-spirit has no place in
the kingdom. One solution to the party-spirit is to intentionally foster Christendomic Consciousness. After
all, loyalty is owed exclusively to Christ alone.
Pursuing Biblical Peacemaking: Where schism exists, reconciliation in the gospel should be actively
pursued. Jesus makes this point with utmost clarity
and urgency: worship itself is secondary where brothers
are estranged by personal offense (Matthew 5:23, 24).

Thine is the Kingdom

To be conscious of the covenant requires reality in
relationships, especially where conflict exists.
Postmillennialism provides a biblically tenable basis
for hope in God’s future grace. But we must not forget that God’s decree ordains both the end as well as
the means.36 Christians must “work out their own salvation,” and this means ethical living by God’s holy
standard, that is, theonomic living. But note: Paul’s
command to do so (Philippians 2:12) is a conclusion
he draws after admonishing Christians to embrace a
Christendomic Consciousness:
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility
count others more significant than yourselves. Let each
of you look not only to his own interests, but also to
the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (Philippians
2:3-5, ESV)

Theonomic postmillennialism demands no less.

Certainly God works “all things according to the
counsel of his will,” but the Lord also “works in
you, both to will and to do his good pleasure”
(Ephesians 1:11; Philippians 2:13, ESV). The Creator of the universe has ordained that men, and
especially redeemed men, should be agents for accomplishing his eschatological purpose. As morally
responsible agents, men choose and men make critical (and not-so-critical) decisions. A postmillennial
eschatology demands that, when choosing, men
consciously practice courageous, strategic, and
principled cultural engagement.

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

In the year 480 B.C. the Persian Army was advancing to war, one million troops strong. Xerexes purposed
next to invade Greece with his war machine. As the
foreign threat mounted, choices stood before the Grecians. On the one hand, they could simply acquiesce
to foreign rule like so many other nations had done in
the face of the overwhelming military odds. On the
other hand, they could resist—and perhaps provide
hope for future generations. The character of
tomorrow’s culture stood in the balance. The gateway
to the Hellenists was Sparta, via Thermopolis, the
“Gates of Fire.” Everyone knew it. The Grecian CityStates, after counseling together, resolved to resist
Xerxes’s Army and to do so at this point of entry.
Knowing that death was certain, 300 Spartans prepared for battle in order to defend their homeland from
the Persian juggernaut—a million man march. As anticipation grew, Sparta’s advance scouts reported that
when the Persian archers launched their volleys, the
multitude of their arrows darkened the sky by eclipsing the sun. Faced with this reality, the Spartan Captain,
Dienekes commented: “Good; today we shall battle in
the shade.”
As the initial battle line formed, the Persian emissaries exhorted the overwhelmingly out numbered
Spartans to surrender their weapons for resistance
would be futile. The emissaries demanded and yet
pleaded: “Lay down your weapons.” Sparta’s King
Leonidas responded laconically: Molon labe, “come
and get them.” And so, the battle raged—300 Spartans against Persian’s million man military machine.
The 300 Spartans fought fiercely for seven days;
each of them died as everyone expected; there would

Thine is the Kingdom

be no fairy tail ending, and certainly no rapture. Astonishingly, however, 20,000 Persians died. This battle,
and more importantly, Sparta’s decision to resist,
proved crucial to the development of Western Civilization because on the very day that the last Spartan
died, the Grecian navy soundly defeated the invading
Persian navy at the Straits of Salamis, thereby turning
back the advancing Byzantium tide.37 The Spartans
strategically counted the cost: enduring short term
suffering in order to gain long term cultural victory.
Christians know that all history serves God and his
sovereign purposes, and that therefore, much can be
gleaned from the past. The Battle of Thermopylae illustrates principles valuable to those engaged in the
necessarily antithetical (and spiritually bellicose) cultural battle. Exactly why would 300 obviously
outnumbered men leave family and home in order to
exert themselves unto a certain death? The Persian
army was large precisely because many of its foes simply were “absorbed” by surrendering into the larger
organization; these foes apparently received an offer
they could not refuse. Why did the Spartans choose otherwise; why did they choose sure death, instead of life as
a member of the world’s greatest military machine?
One answer lies in their eschatology: they understood very well that their culture, if it would survive,
could not be melded into another, particularly by force.
Accordingly, they rejected pragmatism—saving their
skin today only to thereby forfeit their children’s tomorrow. Instead, they knew—as a matter of
principle—what was ultimately at stake—the telos or
eschaton—of the historic moment facing them: the very
extinction of their culture. As a result, they confronted

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

the event strategically and courageously. As one man
quipped: “Courage is the flower of conviction.”38
The courage to stand and battle in the face of certain short-term failure derives from the conviction of
long-term success. For the Christian, however, especially the postmillennial Christian, this orientation
should be more than psychological: The victory contemplated is not simply probable or highly probable; it
is certain. A firm grasp and conviction of God’s certain triumph over all his enemies —progressively in
history—will spawn the necessary courage for Christians to resist pragmatic cultural compromise, and
instead will motivate Christians—from all callings—
to engage the culture strategically.
What does it mean to engage the culture strategically? Postmillennialism holds that God’s advancement
of the kingdom is principled, that is, according to his
standards (Matthew 6:33). And, it is incremental—
not revolutionary (Mark 4:26-29). One must be
intentional, and yet patient. Thus, to act strategically
is to embrace a willingness and intention to swing a
sharp well-placed sword for ten years rather than carelessly wield a dull blunt one for thirty. Action for
action’s sake can create more problems (notorious “unintended consequences”) than originally anticipated.
As a result, merely making the public square “more
conservative” or “pluralistic” does not necessarily promote the kingdom. Again we need confidence in the
future, as crafted and ordained by God Almighty, in
order to resist the temptation simply to be pragmatic,
or conversely, so idealistic so as to be devoid of meaningful cultural tactics.39 Here are two illustrations:

Thine is the Kingdom

School Vouchers: Many engaged in the cultural battle
hold convictions that the State lacks any justifiable
interest in funding education, the obvious exception
being the State’s discharge of legitimate military training
and related education.40 Does this conviction necessarily
mean, however, that a Christian should categorically oppose all efforts designed to promote the establishment of
a voucher system? To answer affirmatively betrays a
decontextualized idealism, devoid of strategic and tactical considerations. A more principled approach should
consider whether any tactical benefit can occur if
vouchers are established. A Christian can, consistent with
his convictions, still support a voucher system, if—and
this is key—he is also at liberty (and sufficiently disciplined) to refuse to use vouchers once the system is in
place. This approach fosters cultural renewal because
it (1) breaks the public education monopoly; and (2)
promotes parental authority over children. Gracious
strategic thinking advances the kingdom.
The Homosexual Legal Agenda in Corporate
America: No right thinking Christian can support “gay
rights” (as distinct from uniformly applicable civil
rights). But, the tactical question centers on how to
respond—in action—to corporate America’s rapidly
advancing adoption of sexual orientation-based nondiscrimination policies, domestic partnership benefits,
and “safe zones.”41 Often, for those Christians who are
no longer content with silence,42 “boycotts” are encouraged.43 While this may personally placate the
consciences of some, the effectiveness of this tactic
long term is dubious. In reality, a better strategic approach
may well be to infiltrate publicly held companies (by stock
purchases) and then tactically exercise voting rights and

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

other ownership privileges, in an effort to bring pressure
to bear upon corporate policy and practice.44
Many more examples of strategic choices—both
positive and negative—could be cited:
• How the failure to oppose in-vitro fertilization experimentation has spawned (no pun intended) today’s
stem cell controversy;
• How the uncritical acceptance of contraception as a
“privacy right” fostered the removal of reproduction,
and thus sexuality from the marital context, furthering the justification for abortion on demand;
• How principled progress, through strategic effort, is
occurring in the realm of First Amendment jurisprudence
for the public promotion of the gospel: Mergens,45 Lamb’s
Chapel,46 Rosenberger,47 Good News Club.48

As these decisions evidence, truly strategic choices
must reflect the intention to patiently build cultural
cathedrals—not “quick fix” tin shacks with stylized
fish pasted somewhere on the doorposts in lieu of
God’s law (Deuteronomy 6:9).
If the Spartans possessed eschatological clarity to
understand the long term significance of their present
actions, how much more should Christians ponder their
own courses of action. The ethics of optimistic
eschatology demand that Christians live and choose
actions that reflect courageous, strategic, and principled cultural engagement. What we do now indeed
will echo in eternity.49 We must choose today consistently with what God has purposed for tomorrow.
We must choose ethically, and therefore, we must
choose eschatologically. Any other result would be,
in a word, antinomian.

Thine is the Kingdom

Thus far I have explored the ethical implications that
should flow from consistently holding to theonomic
postmillennialism. In doing so the doctrine (orthodoxy)
of this eschatological position has been assumed in
order to focus on the conduct (orthopraxis) that the
teaching implies: Promoting the primacy of the
gospel; demonstrating evangelistic and missiological
zeal; cultivating Christendomic consciousness; and
practicing courageous, strategic, and principled
cultural engagement.
However, this entire study would be incomplete
without including a discussion of another perspective,
one that could be called orthopathos—the proper
motive and character of a consistent postmillennialist:
humility. Theonomic postmillennialism, properly conceived, should habituate humility. To live the Christian
life is to embrace change: personally and culturally
(Romans 12:1, 2). Postmillennialism—at its essence—
extols gracious positive change. Change is intrinsic to
postmillennial optimism—and so is humility.
Postmillennialism demands humility because the change
it promotes and advocates stems from God’s grace.
How does change occur? To be sure, doctrinal precision is certainly an agent of change, for the truth
sanctifies: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is
truth” (John 17:17, ESV). Correct doctrinal belief (orthodoxy), therefore, is foundational to change. Yet,
Scripture also makes it clear that mere mental assent
to a set of correct propositions is insufficient for leading a God-glorifying life.50 As James demands, doctrine
must be applied:

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is
dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I
have works.” Show me your faith apart from your
works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the
demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be
shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works
is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by
works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by his works. You see that a
person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the
messengers and sent them out by another way? For as
the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith
apart from works is dead. (James 2:17-26, ESV)

But, there is more. Because it is written on the hearts
of the regenerate (Jeremiah 31:34; Deuteronomy 6:1,
6-9), God’s law requires more. The Christian life must
be lived from the heart, that is, with the right motive
and affections. As Jesus noted with a penetrating comment: “And he said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy
of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors
me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”’”
(Mark 7:6 ESV).
Here Jesus rebukes those known for doctrinal precision (orthodoxy) and rigorous “works of righteousness”
(orthopraxis) (cf. Matthew 5:20). However, these religious persons lacked a heart for worship. In short, they
lacked orthopathos. This crucial perspective51 is frequently ignored—often in inverse proportion to one’s
doctrinal acumen and enthusiasm. Those greatly con211

Thine is the Kingdom

cerned for correct doctrinal formulation sometimes deem
heart issues to be irrelevant. And yet, this orthopathos is
critical to a full-orbed Christian ethic, including
postmillennial eschatology. Again, what is the essence of
postmillennialism? The essence is that the gospel of grace
defeats all God’s enemies in history. Postmillennialism’s
optimism, properly understood, rests solely on the grace
of the covenant Lord:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the
government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name
shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase
of his government and of peace there will be no end, on
the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it
and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the
LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7, ESV)

Note well: it is the Lord who accomplishes the unrelenting increase of the Son’s conquering righteous
rule. Similarly, it is Christ who builds his Church which
shall topple the gates of Hell (Matthew 16:18). It is
Christ who reigns until he destroys all his enemies and
puts them under his feet (I Corinthians 15:25). And he
does these things for his own glory, which he shares
with no one. This is why Paul could so emphatically
direct the Christian’s boasting to the Lord—not man,
not even a theonomic postmillennialist (e.g., I
Corinthians 1:31; 3:20; II Corinthians 10:17; 11:30;
12:5, et al.). Postmillennialism demands humility by
the nature of the case.
Put bluntly, God is not impressed that someone has
become an “epistemologically self-conscious

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theonomic postmillennialist.” One is not “doing God
a favor” by holding postmillennial convictions.
Rarely are such thoughts so crassly articulated, of
course. But in the heart, they do arise, even if they are
carefully camouflaged. To live consistently with this
eschatology, Christians must stop flattering themselves—they must reject ungodly pride. No Christian
possesses anything that he has not first received, by
grace, from God—including his optimistic eschatology:
“For who sees anything different in you? What do you
have that you did not receive? If then you received it,
why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (I
Corinthians 4:7, ESV). Humility is not optional; it is
inherent to a Spirit-filled life. Christians, especially
postmillennialists, must be humble.
As reformed and postmillennial believers, we reject
semi-Pelegianism, and instead cheer and affirm the
necessity of monergistic regeneration: “You must be
born again” (John 3:7, ESV). And as reformed and
postmillennial believers, we reject the feel good, simplistic worship experience so commonly practiced
today. Instead we guard our worship, understanding
that those who come to God “must worship in spirit
and truth” (John 4:24, ESV). But, we tend to ignore
another, yet critical, “must” from our Savior’s lips:
“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said
to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of
all and servant of all’” (Mark 9:35, ESV).
Scripture informs us that serving others is a function
of humility, as a Pauline directive exhorts: “Do nothing
from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more
significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, ESV).

Thine is the Kingdom

Pride is antithetical to a biblical life, but it is especially noxious to an optimistic eschatology. One cannot
with credibility proclaim the gospel’s gracious transformational power while simultaneously walking in
prideful arrogance and contempt. Postmillennialism’s
banner could rightly be the Reformation’s Soli Deo
Gloria—because the culture’s transformation is solely
attributable to the sovereign God and his profiting of
the gospel through his Son by his Spirit. Pride’s slogan, in contrast however, could be Soli ME-o Gloria.52
Man seeking to be appreciated, taking credit for events
and cultural changes. Ironically, it is the prideful
postmillennialist, absent repentance, who may be the
one “left behind.”
Truly embracing the orthodoxy of theonomic
postmillennialism means deeply understanding and
freshly marveling at the gracious sovereignty of God
whose zeal alone will accomplish these things. This
in turn necessarily means apprehending how pride
is an enemy and an offense to a Holy God—the antithesis to faithful postmillennial conviction. A
postmillennialist should be habituating humility if
he truly embraces optimistic eschatology—not congratulating himself for his having adopted brilliant
and unimpeachable eschatological formulations.
Here is why.
First, God hates pride:
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
(Proverbs 8:13, ESV)
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the
humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2, ESV)


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination
to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
(Proverbs 16:5, ESV)
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit
before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18, ESV)

Make no mistake: God is provoked by a man’s pride,
which leads to a second point:
Pride is serious: “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace
to the humble’” (James 4:6, ESV). “Likewise, you who
are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves,
all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God
opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’”
(I Peter 5:5, ESV). “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will
be exalted” (Luke 14:11, ESV).
Third, pride is deceptive: “The horror you inspire
has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you
who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height
of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the
eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the
LORD” (Jeremiah 49:16, ESV). “All the ways of a man
are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit”
(Proverbs 16:2, ESV).
In short, pride is serious, deceptive, and the object
of God’s hatred. But, unfortunately, it gets worse. Pride
is never static; it always produces fruit—very bad fruit.
And this fruit often ripens in those possessing a doctrinaire bent—those who seek to honor God by having
their lips eloquently articulate the most precise doctrinal formulations, but whose lives, relationships, and
hearts, are actually far from him.

Thine is the Kingdom

Where pride exists, God is not only distant, but he
becomes the prideful man’s opponent. The Scripture
does not teach dispensationalism, but God is not opposed to the humble dispensationalist (cf. II Timothy
2:24-25). On the other hand, Scripture does teach
postmillennialism, but God is opposed to the
postmillennialist who is arrogant and haughty. This
reality should be sobering and should cause us to flee
to the Cross of Grace.
The prideful reader would probably declare a hearty
“Amen!” to these conclusions, and that is exactly the
trap. Being orthodox—that is, assenting to truthful
propositions—is insufficient. Orthodoxy cannot stand
alone in the Christian life; real orthodoxy is a perspective on the truth and will be accompanied by right
conduct (ethics: orthopraxis) practiced with the proper
motivation and passion (heartfelt orthopathos). In some
cases, changes must be effected; and this must begin
in the heart as repentance from pride. God does not
want to hurt your pride; he wants to kill it.
The remaining portion of this chapter will seek to
provoke Cross-centered honest assessment of one’s
orthopathos, especially as it relates to pride. Again,
theonomic postmillennialism, properly conceived,
should draw its adherents to habituate humility. Humility is intrinsic to this eschatological position, and
therefore its proponents should increasingly manifest
this evidence of grace in their lives.
I call upon the reader to ponder the following descriptions; they are extended because the serious problem of
pride runs deep and it is deceptive. Consider whether the
root of pride may be producing ungodly fruit in your life.

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

Question whether your life belies your “theologically
correct” eschatological confessions. And remember: God
stands opposed to the proud, and there is no exemption
for the postmillennialist.
As Brent Detweiler notes, the fruits of pride may
take the following forms:53
1. I tend to be self-sufficient in the way I live. I do not
live in a constant awareness that my every breath is
dependent upon the will of God. I tend to think that I
possess sufficient strength, ability, and wisdom to live
and manage my life.
2. I am anxious about life and the future. My trust in
God vacillates and I rarely experience his abiding and
transcendent peace.
3. I am overly self-conscious. I tend to replay how
I did, what I did, what I said, how others perceive
me, etc. I am concerned about what people think
about me.
4. I fear man more than God. I am concerned about
how people will react to my words, my conduct and
me. I seek the approval of man and not of God.
5. I feel insecure. I tend not to try new things or participate in uncomfortable situations due to a fear of
failure or the possibility of looking foolish.
6. I regularly compare myself to others. I am performance oriented, and I feel “more accepted” by God
when I do well.
7. I am self-critical. I tend to be a perfectionist. Even
when little things go awry, it is difficult to forget them
because they reflect poorly on me.
8. I desire to receive credit and recognition for what I
do. I like people to see what I do and let me know that
they noticed—and I feel offended when they do not. I


Thine is the Kingdom

am overly concerned with my reputation and hate being misunderstood.
9. I want people to be impressed with me, and to make
my accomplishments known.
10. I tend to be deceptive regarding myself. I find myself lying to preserve or enhance my reputation.
11. I am selfishly ambitious. I want to get ahead, and
enjoy having a position or title of import and significance.
12. I am overly competitive. I always desire to win
and it bothers me when I do not.
13. I enjoy being the center of attention and will conduct myself to draw attention to me.
14. I like to talk, especially about myself. I would rather
speak than listen, and find it difficult to be succinct.
15. I am self-serving. When asked to participate or do
something, I find myself asking, “How will doing this
help me, or will I be inconvenienced?”
16. I am not excited about seeing others successful or
making others successful. I tend to be envious, and/
or critical towards those who are doing well or being honored.
17. I feel superior because of what I have or do: my
house, my job, my physical giftings, my intellectual
giftings, my education and intellect, my spiritual or
theological prowess.
18. I think highly of myself. In relation to others, I
view myself as more mature and more gifted. I have
more to offer others than they have to offer me.
19. I tend to give myself credit for who I am and what
I accomplish.
20. I tend to be self-righteous. I think that I have something to offer to God, that he needs me in order to fulfill
his plan. I regularly focus on the sins of others, and seldom credit God for any degree of holiness in my life.


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

21. I feel deserving. I think that I deserve what I have,
and often believe that I should have more because of
how I have lived and in light of what I have done.
22. I often express ingratitude. I tend to grumble about
God’s providence as applied to my life.
23. I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I often lament
and complain about how I am being treated by God and
others. I tend to feel mistreated and misunderstood.
24. I can be envious of others’ abilities, possessions, positions or accomplishments. I find it
difficult to rejoice with others when they are blessed
and I am not.
25. I am uncaring of others. I find difficulty in expressing compassion to others.
26. I have a know-it-all attitude. I am impressed with
my own knowledge. I believe that I cannot learn much
from others.
27. I find it difficult to listen to ordinary people. I
listen better to those I respect or people with whom I
want to leave a good impression
28. I like to reveal my own mind. I have an answer to
every conversation and feel that I must provide balance to every context.
29. I interrupt people regularly.
30. I feel compelled to stop people if they begin to
share something with me that I already know.
31. I find it hard to admit that I do not know something.
32. I rarely “get much” from public teaching. I tend
to evaluate the speaker rather than my own life. I
grumble in my heart about hearing something a second (or third) time.
33. I listen to exhortative or corrective teaching with
other people in mind. I constantly apply such teaching to others.


Thine is the Kingdom

34. I am not open to input, let alone correction, in
my life. I tend to be unteachable and slow to repent, and I certainly do not pursue correction in my
life. I view correction for my life negatively, and
tend to resent it when people probe hearts issues or
my motivations.
35. I find it difficult to admit error. I tend to cover or
excuse my sins, and it is hard for me to confess sin
and seek forgiveness.
36. I view correction as an intrusion into my privacy
rather than as an instrument of the sovereign God for
my welfare.
37. I resent people who try to correct me. I do not
respond with gratefulness and appreciation for their
concern. I tend to become bitter and withdraw.
38. When corrected, I become contentious and quarrelsome. I explain away their points or their method.
39. I am easily provoked, angered, or offended. I
am bothered when others disagree with me or disregard my thinking.
40. I have “personality conflicts” with others.
41. I am self-willed and stubborn. Cooperation is difficult and I prefer doing things my own way.
42. I am independent and uncommitted. I am really
not persuaded that I need other people and I regularly
view meetings as a waste of time.
43. I am unaccountable. I do not ask others to hold
me accountable, and I do not believe that I should be
accountable to others for my words and actions.
44. I am unsubmissive. I do not like being under authority, and I do not view submission as something
from God as a good and necessary provision for my
life. It is difficult for me to serve those in authority
over me; what is important is that my voice be heard.


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

45. I lack respect for other people. I do not view
others highly and I find it difficult to encourage and
honor others.
46. I am a slanderer. I find myself giving or receiving
evil reports of others.
47. I am divisive. I tend to resist or resent authority. I
tend to disregard and disavow people giving me orders or direction.
48. I tend to demean others. It is the “other guy” who
needs correction, humility and to be put in place.
49. I tend to be critical of others. I find it far easier to
evaluate, rather than encourage, some one else.
50. I view myself as being humble, a perfect mixture
of orthodoxy, orthopraxis, and orthopathos.

God’s word has been given to sanctify, that is, to
change the fallen creation. That change begins in the
heart of sinful man and then—and only then—does it
transform the culture. Certainly, what one believes
matters, as well as what one does. But without humility spawned by the gospel, all the right credenda and
all the right agenda will ultimately only serve the flesh.
To hold an optimistic eschatology, however, should
enervate fleshly pride because postmillennialism is not
simply about the future; it is about the present. The
certainty of God’s future transformation of fallen creation should precipitate a present ethic and a present
pathos comporting with that telos.
Theonomic postmillennialism demands, not merely
a declaration, but a heartfelt intentional demonstration of the gospel’s fruit: Promoting the primacy of
the gospel; demonstrating evangelistic and
missiological zeal; cultivating Christendomic con221

Thine is the Kingdom

sciousness; and practicing courageous, strategic, and
principled cultural engagement. And, habituating humility. Only by having pride be left behind will “the
earth be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the
waters cover the sea.” Postmillennialism and the gospel demand no less.

Jefferey J. Ventrella, J.D., serves as Vice President
for Blackstone Strategic Planning at the Alliance Defense
Fund, a legal ministry,
There he trains Christian attorneys and law students
nationwide to strategically engage the culture for Christ
via principled constitutional jurisprudence. He has
served as an ordained Ruling Elder, teaches ethics and
apologetics as an Adjunct Faculty member with
Bahnsen Theological Seminary, and regularly speaks
at theological and legal conferences across the country and internationally.
Unless otherwise noted, all cited Scripture is taken
from the NKJV translation.
Aside from the theological “drive by shootings”
of certain dispensational writers such as Hal Lindsey,
similar less than scholarly efforts have been directed
by reformed writers as well. One of the most egregiously confused analyses of Christian social theory
appears in the short booklet by Herman Hanko, The
Christian’s Social Calling and the Second Coming of
Christ (South Holland, Ill.: South Holland Protestant
Reformed Church, 1970). Professor Hanko’s colleague, Professor David J. Englesma, writing editorially
in The Standard Bearer, periodically presents an


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

equally fallacious and misleading treatment of optimistic eschatology. Englesma of the Protestant Reformed
Churches has characterized postmillennialism as “doctrinal error” bent on promoting “Jewish dreams” and
“false teachings.” See, e.g., The Standard Bearer, 77:20
(Sept. 1, 2001):461. Despite regularly displaying this
rhetorical bravado, Engelsma has refused to publicly
debate this author regarding theonomic ethics and/or
eschatology despite having received numerous invitations to do so over the years.
Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical
Law (Phillipsburg, N. J.: Craig, 1973), 122.
Rushdoony, Institutes, 449.
Rushdoony, Institutes, 147.
Rushdoony, Institutes, 163.
Rushdoony, Institutes, 627.
Rushdoony, Institutes, 780.
Greg L. Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope
of Postmillennialism (Texarkana, Ark.: CMF, 1999), 42.
Bahnsen, Victory in Jesus, 43.
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology (2d. ed.: Tyler, Tex.:
Institute for Christian Economics, 1997), 224, n.30
(emphasis added).
Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 232.
Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 245.
Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 259, 60 (emphasis added)
This metaphor derives from comments made by
Roger Wagner, of Bahnsen Theological Seminary, during a worldview conference conducted in August, 2000
with the author.
Nineteenth century revivalistic philosophy continues to influence American Christianity. This is

Thine is the Kingdom

especially noticeable in two areas: (1) the disregard or
even absence of ecclesiastical authority and (2) more
pertinent here, the reduction and limitation of “salvation” to personal conversion or “fire insurance,” rather
than conceiving of salvation biblically, as involving a
comprehensive way of life lived under Christ’s redeeming Kingship. For helpful insight concerning the notion
of “preaching the gospel to yourself,” see, Jerry
Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our
Role in the Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs:
NavPress, 1994).
Query whether the reformed have simply aped
evangelicalism’s “how to” mentality by issuing paperback
after paperback trumpeting the family, family government,
courtship, child rearing, particular educational paradigms,
“traditional” or “medieval” liturgical preferences, etc.
Certainly these issues comprise important topics, but when
does one’s infatuation and “band-wagoning” with them
transmogrify Christianity into nothing more than a form
of idolatrous monotheistic Mormonism? In short, where’s
the gospel in the Christian life? (cf. Galatians 3:3). The
gospel must receive primary.
John Piper, The Pleasures of God (2d. ed.: Portland, Ore.: Multnomah, 2000), 114.
To somewhat balance this equation, it should
also be noted that in the past decade the OPC’s efforts in supporting church planting “home
missionaries” has greatly increased resulting in the
establishment of many new congregations. Currently, the OPC supports thirty-four such “Home
mission” works, many of which involve my friends
and acquaintances. But the central point remains:
are these new congregations now expressing
missiological and evangelistic zeal?

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

For a trenchant analysis of the idolatry that fuels the fear of man, see, Edward T. Welch, When
People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer
Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian and Reformed,
Examples of similar, functional hyper-Calvinism
could be multiplied. In fact, one supposedly reformed
pastor actually expressed that he did not want the
congregation to grow numerically because he (and
his relatives) would lose control. The good news is
that God frequently removes the candlestick, or to
change the metaphor, the shepherd, from such authoritarian churches. (See, Ezekial 34:1-10.) For a
telling expose of churches that abuse authority, albeit from a non-reformed doctrinal perspective, see
Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Twisted Scriptures:A Path
to Freedom from Abusive Churches (2d. ed.: Chattanooga, Tenn.: Control Techniques, 2000) (revised
edition, 1998, 2000).
Certainly, the reformed faith is biblical faith, but sadly,
even good things can become idols for a Christian’s fallen
heart, and thus a delight for “being the most reformed”
can replace a zeal for delighting in Christ.
Today’s Evangelism: Its Message and Methods,
(Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1982),
p. xv.
Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope: Revival and the
Interpretation of Prophecy (Edinburgh: Banner of
Truth, 1971).
See Warfield’s important article contained as
Chapter 3 in this book.
This is not to deprecate the importance of “sheep
rescuing” as opposed to “sheep stealing.”


Thine is the Kingdom

There is perhaps no more enduring explication of
the Antithesis than Augustine’s The City of God.
Modern American evangelicalism, including
many in the reformed community, continue to be
negatively impacted by the individualistic semiPelegianism of nineteenth century revivalism and
Scofieldism and its progeny, and thus have lost the
robust Christendomic consciousness generated by
the Antithesis. Witness the remarkable publishing
success of The Late Great Planet Earth and the Left
Behind Series.
As Professor John Frame once lamented when
faced with the seemingly endless presbyterial energy
expended upon “perfecting minutes”: “I often wished
someone had asked seriously how high a priority God
would have us place on the perfection of minutes!”
John M. Frame, Evangelical Reunion: Denominations
and the One Body of Christ (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P &
R, 1991), 123, n. 11.
These dialectics describe what the Scriptures principally teach, as the Shorter Catechism summarizes in
Question 3.
Paraphrasing Steve Schlissel: “Isn’t it a shame
that the first thing two reformed people do when they
first meet is to find out where they disagree?”
Why the Reformers omitted “love” as being a
mark of the church is baffling. Bahnsen issued an insightful corrective to the traditional reformed position
by arguing that biblical fellowship (as well as evangelistic effort) should be recognized as necessary features
of a viable biblical church in addition to the three traditionally articulated marks. See, Ventrella, Ecclesiastic
Consequences of Theonomic Presuppositionalism


Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

As Bahnsen once quipped when reflecting upon
the often-deplorable state of Christian scholarly debate: “Isn’t it too bad that quarrels interfere with
good arguments.”
Consider the current evangelical appetite for “left
behind” dispensationalism, or the enthusiastic promotion, embracing (and heralding by the secular media)
of a self-conscious modalist as being “the next Billy
Graham.” Or, more close to home, consider the various band-wagons beginning to circle in reformed
communities, trumpeting educational, marriage or
parenting modalities. Indeed, entire congregations are
being founded on narrow trendy preferences relating
to one version of practical theology for the family, a
sort of monotheistic Mormonism, rather than biblical
Christendomic consciousness.
See, e.g., WCF 3:1 and also LC 18.
For an engaging, yet historically accurate fictionalization of this great battle, see, Steven Pressfield,
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of
Thermopylae (Thorndike, Me.: G. K. Hall,1998).
Thanks to my long time friend and co-laborer,
Pastor Alfred J. Poirier, for this aphorism.
While postmillennialists rightly note that cultural
retreatism often accompanies dispensational
eschatology, the sad truth is that some
postmillennialists, who glibly proclaim Christ’s historical victory from some rustic enclave often fail to
operationally understand that God’s victory only comes
through purposeful strategic means to the promised
eschatological telos. And thus, these men become the
functional equivalent of cultural retreatists themselves,
doing nothing more than “huckleberry picking for
Jesus” while waiting for the golden age to come—in


Thine is the Kingdom

spite of their rhetoric to the contrary. God ordains both
the means as well as the end.
See, Machen, Education, Christianity, and the
State (Jefferson, MD: Trinity Foundation, 1987).
Of the Fortune 500 companies, 297 have adopted
non-discrimination polices that include “sexual orientation.” And 158 have extended employee benefits to
“domestic partners.” See,
See, Tom Minnery, Why You Can’t Stay Silent : A
Biblical Mandate to Shape Our Culture (Wheaton, Ill.:
Tyndale, 2001) for a popular, yet instructive historical
account of strategic Christian cultural involvement
throughout several illustrative cultural periods.
Just how a Christian, in today’s secular society,
could consistently support every advocated boycott
and yet still live in this world seems never to be explained by the boycott advocates.
For an exploration of just this approach, consider Gary DeMar’s frank editorial regarding the
announced policies of Home Depot. See: Biblical
Worldview (July 2001).
Board of Education v. Mergens, 110 S.Ct. 2356
(1990) (equal access precedent).
Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free
School Dist., 113 S.Ct. 231 (1993) (equal access to
public school facilities by outside organizations).
Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 115 S. Ct. 2515 (1995) (public
forum precedent).
Good News Club v. Millford Central Sch., 121
S.Ct. 2093 (2001) (equal access principle extended to
elementary public schools).
Paraphrasing Maximus, as speaking in the film

Chapter 7: Practicing Postmillennialism

See generally, WCF 1:7 noting that salvation includes knowledge, belief and obedience.
In rehearsing these perspectives, one is reminded
of Frame’s perspectivalism: normative (orthodoxy),
situational (orthopraxis), and existential (orthopathos).
See generally, John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the
Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 1987),
perspectivally dealing with epistemological questions.
Compare, Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The
Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, Tex.: Institute
for Christian Economics, 1985), perspectivally dealing with ethical questions. Frame and Bahnsen are
effectively rehearsing the theology of the Westminster
Confession of Faith (see: WCF 15:7).
Credit is due to Alan E. Sears, President and
General Counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund for crafting this clever, but effective turn of phrase.
This entire list stems from a paper delivered by
Brent Detweiler, It
has been largely quoted and Detweiler’s text has only
been slightly altered from the original.


Thine is the Kingdom


Index compiled by Steve Turley who teaches theology and
hermeneutics at Tall Oaks Classical School in Hokessin,
Delaware, and classical guitar at Eastern University. He is a
graduate of Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University
and is an accomplished, award winning classical guitarist with
several CDs and music books to his credit. He is currently
working on an M.A.R. with Reformed Theological Seminary
in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Abraham, 4-5, 38
Christ and, 160
Alexander, Archibald, 137
Alexander, J. A., 137
Allis, O. T., 137, 167, 169
Suffering and, ix
Ancient of Days, 10
Christ’s superiority to, 49
Antichrist, 131-132, 159
Growth of evil and, 25
Premillennialism and, 24
Antithesis, 199, 201-202, 226
Armageddon, 163
Arminianism, ix
Asia Minor, 70
Augustine, 71


Babel, Tower of, 201
Babylonian Empire, 9
Bahnsen, Greg L., i, ii, 84, 121, 193
Baptism, 90, 115
Barnes, Albert, 137
Baumgarten, Otto, 68
Bede, The Venerable, 71
Berkhof, Louis, 167
Beza, 71
Bock, Darrell L., i
Book of Revelation
Beast of, 162, 163
Boyd, Gregory, vi
Bright, John, 26
Brown, David, 137, 164


Calvin, John, 28, 71
Evangelism and, 198
Chafer, Lewis Sperry, 1
Child, J. G., 151
Chilton, David, i, ii, 167
Advent (first), 18
Ascension, 6, 8, 10, 17, 47, 49, 58, 59, 138, 145,
Atonement, 50, 56, 73, 74, 75, 82
Authority, 13, 135, 145
Burial, 12
Crucifixion, 52, 55, 192
Death, 12
Dominion, 10, 45, 46, 114

Enemies defeated, 6, 8, 17, 19, 46, 50-52, 53,
54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 98, 146-147, 192, 212
Exaltation, 6, 17, 29, 46, 47-48, 49, 50, 52, 55,
121, 142
Example of suffering, 158-159
Fulfillment, 5, 6, 11, 25, 42, 45, 46, 47-48, 49,
55, 56, 58, 133
Imminency of return, x
Intercessor, 6
Israel and, 133, 168
Jewish leaders and, 43-45
Kingship, x, 18, 50, 55, 100, 138, 145, 146, 147
Present victory, x
Priest-King, 6
Priesthood, 56
Priestly office, 45, 50, 55, 59, 75
Propitiation, viii, 71-79
Reign, 18, 42, 51-53, 54, 59, 61, 84, 102, 139
Resurrection, 5-6, 8, 12, 47, 50, 121, 138, 145,
Right hand of God, 6
Rule, 19, 53
Earthly, 24
Salvation, 69
Savior, 6, 77, 79, 81
Second advent, 59, 60
Son of David, 43
Son of God, 49, 58
Son of Man, 9-10, 45, 46, 99
Suffering of, 93
Universal propitiation, 67-81
Victory, 57, 58, 84, 97, 135, 147
Christendomic consciousness, 200-204
Christian Reconstruction(ist, ism), xi, 120, 171

Christian civilization, 128
Triumph of, 165
Triumph of liberalism, 3
Authority of Christ and, 42
Benefits, 71-72
Rule with Christ, 18
Body of Christ, 89
Bride, 200
Endurance of, 96, 101, 102, 103, 152
Instrument of dominion, 20, 54
Israel and, 15
New Jerusalem, 200
Persecution of, 87-90, 96, 100, 102, 103, 129,
151, 152-154
Perseverance of, 95-96, 100, 103, 104
Suffering of, 84, 86-96, 101, 103, 104, 151, 155
Union with Christ, 86, 90
Victory of, 85, 96, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104
Visible, 203
Cohen, Abraham, 41
Final judgement, 18
Cotton, John, 68
Abrahamic, viii, 4-5, 6, 11, 116
Blessing, 5, 7, 12-13, 21n
Cursing, 21n
Davidic, 11, 27, 30, 46, 47-48, 58
Edenic, 116
New, 116, 142
Noahic, 5

Old, 120, 142
Creation, viii, 90
Eschatology and, 4
Mandate, 4
Apostles’, iv
Larger Catechism, 169, 227
Nicene, iv
Shorter Catechism, 226
Westminster Confession of Faith, 42, 120-121,
167, 169, 196, 227, 229
Jehovah’s Witnesses, v
Mormons (Latter-day Saints), v
Curse, 4


Dabney, Robert L., 137, 164, 167
David, 38
Person of, 48
Psalm 110 and, 27-40
Throne/kingdom, 48, 62-63n
Davis, John J., i, 52, 54
Day of the Lord, 160
Destruction of, 17
Spiritual, 19
Delitzsch, Franz, 28, 35, 36
DeMar, Gary, i, ii
Detweiler, Brent, 217ff
Disciple(s), 12, 53, 129
Dominion, 4, 100, 131, 136, 151, 193, 194



Edwards, Jonathan, 137
Apologetics and, iv-v
Bible and, iii
Biblical, 137
Christ and, iv
Christian worldview and, iii
Cultural engagement, 204, 207
Ethics and, 191-222
Evangelicalism and, vi
Hope and, iii
Importance of, ii-vii
Inaugurated, 85, 101, 102-103
Israel and, iv
Kingdom and, 139
Optimistic, xii, 198, 200, 213, 221
Sanctification and, vi
Two age structure, 140
Victory, 192, 195
Worldly labors and, vii
Eternal hope, 165
Growth, 24, 25
Presence of, 156
Exodus, 201


Faith, 211
Fairbairn, Patrick, 137
Fall of man, 4
Ferguson, Sinclair, 120
France, R. T., 161



Gaffin, Richard B. Jr., ix, 83ff, 151, 153, 154, 155,
158, 167
Garden, 201
Gentry, Kenneth L. Jr., i, ii, 193
Gill, John, 161
Creational purpose, 115, 128
Decree, 196, 204
Effectual calling, 198
Election, 198
Glory of, 60, 196
Grace, 204, 212
Power of, 195
Praise to, 27, 39
Provisions, 115
Reign of, 196
Right hand of, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34-35, 36, 39,
41, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 59,
65, 145
Righteousness, 128
Rule, 7-8
Sovereignty, 31, 51, 115, 197, 214
Spirit of, 28
Throne, 31, 33, 48
Trinity, 115
Cultural transformation, 185, 214
Cultural victory, 144
Power of God, 195
Reconciliation, 203
Social transformation, 192, 195
Victory of, 3, 58
Worldwide success, 150

Gradualism, 12
Great Commission, viii, 137
Church’s mission, 59
Fulfillment of, 12-13, 25, 54, 133
Postmillennialism and, 133, 135-137
Psalm 110 and, 53-54
Greek Empire, 9


Blessed conditions, 114
Hope of, 157
Eschatology and, 115
Literalism, 131, 162
New Testament, 42
Old Testament, 26-27, 42
“Of persecution”, 86, 95, 100
Temporal indicators, 162
Hill, Charles E., 163
Historical optimism
Postmillennialism and, 25-26, 83-84
Historical pessimism
Amillennialism and, 23-25, 83-84
Premillennialism and, 23-24
Redemptive (salvation), 5
Hodge, A. A., 137
Hodge, Charles, 137, 164
Holiness, 36
Holy Spirit
Church and, 100, 121
Intercession, 91
Outpouring, 47

Prophecy and, 28, 33, 39
Redemption of the body and, 91
Homosexual legal agenda, 208
Humility, 210


Ice, Thomas D., xiii
Election, 21n
Ethnic, 14-16
Failure of, 13
Future restoration of, 16
Gentiles and, 14-16
National, 47
Rejection of, 13-14, 16
Remnant of, 14, 16
Israel (people)
Prophets and, 7


City of, 31, 43, 46, 47, 48, 58
Destruction of, 177
Temple, 159, 162
Kingdom and, 148
Judgement, 19, 25


Kik, J. Marcellus, 48, 161
Kingdom of God/Christ
Authority, 51
Consummation, 8, 121
Established at first advent, 18, 25

Growth, 8, 9, 12, 17, 23, 82, 98, 102, 113, 127,
144, 146, 148, 150, 164, 199, 201
Inauguration, 8, 139
Inter-advent period, 23
Messianic, 9, 12, 25, 32, 33, 48, 59
Mystery of, 148
Prophecies, 28
Victory, 7-8, 9, 17, 23, 25, 28, 50, 59
Kline, Meredith G., 120, 121


Last days, 47, 64, 140-141, 142-143
Leupold, H. C., 32
Levitical priesthood, 38, 55
Lindsey, Hal, v
Lot, 201


Man of lawlessness, 162, 163
Mathison, Keith, i,
McLeod, Alexander, i
Medo-Persian Empire, 9
Melchizedek, 28, 38, 55
Messiah, 7
Church and, 54
David and, 62n
Divinity, 32
Dominion, 41, 53
Enemies defeated, 29, 32-35, 39-42, 52
Exaltation, 29, 30, 31, 32, 39, 41, 46, 49
Fulfillment, 27, 31
Holy army, 36-37, 41, 53-54
Jewish expectations, 98
Jewish leaders and, 43-45

Judgement during enthronement, 40
Priestly ministry, 37-39
Priestly office, 55
Prophecy and, 46
Prophetic expectation, 28
Reign, 28, 39, 47-48
Rule, 34
Son of David, 43-45
Throne, 41
Victory, 33, 39, 41
Messianic psalms, 27
Millennium, 183
Christ and, 123
Definition of, 172
“Millennial” conditions, 124
Postmillennialism and, 123
Revelation 20 and, 17-19
Missions, 197
Mormonism, 224, 227
Moule, H. C. G., 89
Murray, Iain, 164
Murray, John, 137, 167


Nationalism, 3
Nations, 5-6, 7, 10
Nebuchadnezzar, 8
Nero, 161, 163
Noah, 5, 201
North, Gary, i, ii, vii, 84


Olivet Discourse, iii, 159, 162, 168, 177
Openness Theology, vi

Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 197
Owen, John, 195


Kingdom, 148
Leaven, 12, 80, 113, 144, 201
Mustard seed, 11-12, 80, 98, 113, 144, 164, 201
Pounds, 168
Soils, 102, 156
Tares, 113
Virgins, 166, 168
Yeast, 98
Patriarchs, 201
Teaching on Israel, 13-16
Teaching on resurrection, 50
Teaching on suffering, 90-91, 158
Pentateuch, 21n
Pentecost, 47, 48
Perfectionism, 85, 113
Peter, 47, 48
Pinnock, Clark, vi
Plummer, A., 74
Definition of, 2, 25
Distortion of, 1-2, 8, 85, 112, 138, 222-223n
Evangelism and, x, 191, 195-200
Gospel and, 192-194
Hope, 121, 130
Humility and, 203, 210-222
Liberalism and, 117
Missions and, x
New Testment and, 11-19

Old Testament and, 3-11
Persecution and, 131-132
Prima facie plausibility, 117-118
Redemptive history, x, 115
Resurgence, i, 60, 111
Revelation 20 and, 122-124, 125-127
Salvation and, x
Suffering and, ix, 90, 150-159
Theonomic, xi, 191, 192, 195, 200, 204, 210, 212,
214, 216, 221
Three ages charge, 105, 140-144
Triumphalism, ix
Two-age division and, x
Preterism, 159, 161
Pride, 213, 214-221
Psalm 110 and, 30, 41, 44
Prophet(s), 7
Public education, 208
Puritans, 60


Matthew 24 and, xiii
Redemption (salvation), 5
Extent, 99
Worldwide, 81
Redemptive irony, 97-100, 104
Regeneration, 19
Reisigner, Ernest, 198
Remnant, 99
Blessed conditions, 114
General, 17, 19, 25, 50, 52, 150

Physical, 19, 94, 157
Spiritual, 18-19
Roman Empire, 9
Rothe, Richard, 75
Rushdoony, Rousas J., i, ii, vii, 60, 192-193
Russell, Bertrand, v
Ryrie, Charles, 1


Sanders, John, vi
Sandlin, Andrew, i, ii
Binding/fall, 18, 125-127
Cast down, 142
Defeat of, 100
Kingdom 24
Loosing of, 18, 25
Satisfactionism, 85, 114
Savoy Declaration, 195
School vouchers, 208
Schweitzer, Albert, iv
Final consummation and, 182
Occasional, 87, 101, 151
Unfulfilled prophecies, 184-186
Second advent, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 17, 18, 50-52
Consummation, 180
Destruction of temple and, 159-161
Glory of, 165
Hope of, 23, 163, 164, 165
Imminency, 166-169, 177-190
Postmillennial hope and, 130, 131
Postmillennialism and, 25
Satan-led rebellion, 132

Woman’s, 4
Serpent, 4
Shedd, William G. T., 137
Expiation, 68, 71, 73, 80
Presence of, 92-93, 95, 113, 128, 158
Resolution, 51-52
Snowden, James, 164
Social gospel, 3
Sodom, 201
Sproul, R. C., xiii
Strimple, Robert B., ix, 83ff, 111ff, 154
Strong, Augustus H., 137


Theonomic living, 204
Theonomy, 120-121
Gospel and, 192-194
Thermopylae, Battle of, 205-206
Thornwell, J. H., 137
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, 111
Tongues, 87, 151
Tribulation, 24


Universalism, 3, 85, 113


Venema, Cornelis, ix, 86, 154, 168
Vos, Geerhardus, x, 83


Walvoord, John, 26, 60

Warfield, B. B., 57, 137, 167, 197
Weiss, Bernhard, 72, 73
Westcott, B. F., 75
White, R. Fowler, ix, 83ff
Wilson, Dwight, v
John’s meaning of, 70
Worship, 203, 211, 213


Earthly, 34
Heavenly, 34, 40


Index of Scripture

1:26-28 — 4
2:15-17 — 4
3:14-19 — 98
3:15 — 4, 97, 201
3:17-18 — 4, 156
10 — 5
10:32 — 5
12 — 4
12:1-3 — 4-5
12:3 — 5
14:13-24 — 38
15 — 4
17 — 4
22:17 — 65
26:13 — 33
49:10 — 33


35:29 — 36

26 — 21

6:1 — 211
6:9 — 209
8:17 — 95
9:5 — 40
28 — 21



10:24 — 32

I Samuel

2:30 — 30
13:8-13 — 38

II Samuel

7:5-16 — 28
7:12-16 — 48
7:12-17 — 27, 30
23:1-7 — 30
23:2-5 — 28

I Kings
5:3 — 32

II Kings
9:7 — ii

I Chronicles

16:22 — ii
17:1-15 — 27, 30

II Chronicles
20:21 — 36
26:16 — 38


2 — 5, 30, 35, 65, 134
2:1-3 — 35
2:2 — 30
2:2-3 — 40
2:4 — 31

2:4-6 — 35
2:7-9 — 35
2:8 — 34
2:9 — 34, 40, 41
2:10-12 — 40, 52
9:15-17 — 40
11:4 — 31, 34
16:8-11 — 47
22 — 6
22:27 — 34
22:27-28 — 6
47:2, 8 — 31
48:2 — 34
72:17-19 — 196
89: 3-4 — 27
89:20-21 — 27
89:28-29 — 33
89:34-37 — 27, 33
99:1-3 — 34
103:19 — 31, 34
105:5 — ii
110 — viii, 6, 17, 26-61
110:1 — 29, 33-36, 39, 43-53, 63
110:1-2 — 35, 37
110:2 — 34, 53
110:2-3 — 53, 54
110:2-4 — 29, 33
110:3 — 35, 37, 53, 54, 57
110:4 — 37, 45, 55, 56
110:5 — 56
110:5-6 — 40, 41, 57
110:5-7 — 29, 39, 56, 57
110:6 — 40, 57
110:7 — 41

112:8 — 33


8:13 — 214
11:2 — 214
16:2 — 215
16:5 — 215
16:18 — 215
29:25 — 198


1:24 — 30
2 — 134
2:2 — 140
2:2-4 — 64, 65
7:14 — 7
9 — 17
9:1-7 — 65
9:6-7 — 7, 33, 212
11:9 — 198
19:25f — 7
46:1-9 — iv
46:9-10 — iv
52:13-53:12 — 37
55:8 — 30
65:17-20 — 173
66:1 — 31


7:25 — ii
18:7-10 — 40
31:34 — 211
32:38-41 — 201
49:16 — 215


17:47 — 9
38:17 — ii


2 — 8, 10
2, 7 — 17, 18
2:31-35 — 8
2:35, 44 — 65
2:36-45 — 9
2:44 — 8, 9
7:9-12 — 10
7:9-14 — 65
7:12-14 — 10
7:13 — 45, 46
7:13-14 — 9, 10, 11, 17, 33
7:14 — 11, 46
7:17 — 10
7:18 — 10
7:22 — 10
7:26 — 10
7:26-27 — 65
7:27 — 10


2:28-32 — 47
4:13 — 34

2:14 — 60

1:6 — ii
4:10 — 98


6:13 — 38
9 — 17


1:1 — 11
2:2 — 18
3:17 — 5
5:16 — 174
5:20 — 211
5:23-24 — 203
6:33 — 95, 207
12:28 — 98, 148
12:29 — 18
13 — iii, 9, 133
13:3-8 — 148
13:11 — 113, 144, 148
13:13 — 148
13:14-17 — 148
13:19-22 — 102
13:22 — 93, 156
13:30 — 113
13:30-33 — 102, 148
13:31-32 — 98, 144
13:31-33 — 11, 65, 113, 127, 168, 201
13:33 — 98, 144
13:39 — 25
13:39-40, 49 — 141
13:53-58 — 98, 148
16:18 — 212
17:5 — 5
21:18 — 93
21:23-22:46 — 43
21:41-45 — 62
22:41-45 — 6, 43

22:42 — 43
22:42-45 — 59
22:43 — 27
22:43-45 — 44
22:44 — 44
23:37-24:1a — 160
24-25 — iii
24:1b — 160
24:1-34 — 160
24:2 — 160
24:3 — 159, 161
24:3-34 — 160
24:6 — 177, 190
24:13 — 96
24:14 — 137
24:16 — 161
24:34 — 161, 162
24:34-36 — 161
24:36 — 115
24:36ff — 160
24:44 — 168
24:45 — 44
25:1-10 — 168
25:1-13 — 166
25:19 — 168
26:63 — 45
26:64 — 45, 46, 58, 59
26:65-66 — 45
27:32-56 — 12
27:57-61 — 12
28:1-10 — 12
28:18 — 53
28:18-20 — viii, 12, 53, 59, 65, 133, 135
28:19 — 137, 169, 170


4:11 — 144
4:26-29 — 102, 144, 207
4:30-32 — 144
7:6 — 211
9:35 — 213
12:35-37 — 6, 43
14:62 — 45
16:16-17 — 152
16:19 — 49


1:32 — 63
10:18 — 18
14:11 — 215
19:10 — 98
19:11-27 — 169
19:44 — iv
20:41-44 — 6, 43
22:69 — 45
24:17-21 — 149
24:21a — 149
24:21 — 98
24:25 — iv
24:31 — iv


1:11 — iv
1:29 — 69
3:7 — 213
3:16 — 69
3:16-17 — 98
4:6 — 93

4:24 — 213
5:25-29 — 150
5:28-29 — 19
5:39 — iv
6:15 — 44, 98
11:33 — 91
11:35 — 93
12:31 — 18
12:31-32 — 98, 133
13:34-35 — 203
16:33 — 151
17:17 — vi, 210


1:7 — 115, 168
2:1-36 — 47
2:16-17, 24 — 140
2:17, 30-36 — 59
2:22-36 — 47
2:29-36 — 17
2:30 — 30, 47
2:30ff — 145
2:30-31 — 10, 18, 145
2:30-36 — 58
2:31-33 — 48
2:33-35 — 6, 48
2:34-35 — 10, 27
2:34-36 — 6
2:36 — 48
3:21 — 64, 65
5:21 — 145
5:31 — 49, 50, 55, 58, 59
5:36 — 6
7:55-56 — 6, 49

7:59 — 88, 153
9:1-2 — 88, 153
9:36-37 — 91, 155
12:1-2 — 88
13:33 — 5
13:48 — 198
14:22 — 151
17:7 — 18, 145


1:4 — 145
1:16 — 192
5:14 — 160
5:17 — 18
6 — 90
6:5 — 19
6:12 — 91
6:12-13 — 155
7:21-23 — 92, 156
7:24 — 92, 156
8 — 92, 95, 155, 156
8:2 — 90
8:3 — 93, 159
8:10-11 — 108, 155
8:11 — 91
8:13 — 93
8:13, 23 — 108
8:17 — 90
8:18 — 94, 151
8:18-19 — 158
8:20, 22 — 90, 154
8:20-22 — 4
8:23 — 91
8:26-27 — 91

8:34 — 6, 49, 50
8:36 — 151
9-11 — viii, 13, 16
9:6-13 — 13, 14
9:27 — 14
9:6-29 — 14
9:30-10:21 — 14
9:32-33 — 14
11 — 134, 169
11:2-6 — 14
11:5, 7 — 13
11:7 — 16
11:7-10 — 14
11:11 — 14, 16
11:11-32 — 15
11:11-36 — 65
11:12 — 14, 16
11:15 — 15, 16
11:17 — 89
11:20-23 — 15
11:24-25 — 16
11:25 — 15
11:25b-26 — 15
11:26 — 15, 16
11:28-29 — 13
11:31 — 15
12:1 — 108
12:1-2 — 210
15:8 — 89

I Corinthians
1:31 — 212
2:2 — 192
3:20 — 212


3:21-22 — 145
4:7 — 213
6:7 — 104
6:13, 15 — 108
6:16, 20 — 108
9:27 — 93, 157
10:1 — 89
10:11 — 173
12:14 — 89
12:26 — 89
14:39 — 87, 151
15 — iii, viii, 16, 50, 134, 139, 140
15:1-19 — 50
15:18-19 — iii
15:20-23 — 18-19
15:20-28 — 50, 65, 133
15:23 — 19
15:23-25 — 59
15:23-28 — 59
15:24 — 50, 52, 141
15:24-25 — 16
15:25 — 6, 51, 52, 139, 146, 192, 212
15:26 — 17, 52
15:34 — 104
15:42-44— 157
15:51-56 — 17
15:52-56 — 19
15:53-57 — 91
15:58 — vii, xii

II Corinthians
1:5-10 — 151
4:7 — 91, 154
4:10 — 108


4:16 — 91, 157
5:1-2, 4 — 94, 157
5:1-10 — 94
5:17 — 139
10:17 — 212
11:23-25 — 88, 153
11:30 — 212
12:5 — 212
12:7 — 157
15:42-44 — 94


3:3 — 224
4:4 — 140
4:13 — 91, 155
6:1 — 174
6:15 — 139


1:2ff — 146
1:3 — 145
1:10 — 64, 65
1:11 — 204
1:19-21 — 6, 17, 52
1:19-22 — 98
1:20 — 49
1:22 — 145, 146, 170
2:5-6 — 19
2:6 — 18, 145
2:12 — 92

1:20 — 108
1:23 — 94


1:27 — 91
1:29 — 151
2:3 — 213
2:3-5 — 204
2:6-11 — 50, 52
2:7 — 93, 158
2:9 — 145
2:9-10 — 17
2:9-11 — 6
2:12 — 204
2:13 — 204
2:27 — 155
3:10 — 151
3:20 — iii
3:21 — 94, 108, 157


1:6 — 70
1:12-13 — 145
1:13 — 18
1:20 — 64
1:23 — 70
2:11 — 108
2:12 — 19
2:15 — 18, 98
3:1 — 49, 145
3:5 — 93
4:11 — 145

I Thessalonians — iii

1:7 — 174
2:12 — 145
4:13 — iii, 92
4:16 — 19


5:2 — 168
5:23 — 108

II Thessalonians — iii

1:7-10 — 160
2 — 162
2:1 — 162
2:1-3 — 169
2:1-10 — 160
2:2-3 — 162
2:6 — 163
2:7 — 163
2:8 — 161

I Timothy

5:23 — 91, 155

II Timothy

2:22-25 — 203
2:24-25 — 216
3:1 — 173
3:12-13 — 131
3:16 — iii
3:16-17 — vi


2:7 — 92
2:13 — iii


1:1-2 — 173
1:3 — 49, 50
1:3, 13 — 59
1:13 — 6, 49

2:8 — 98, 147
2:12 — 6
2:14 — 18, 93
2:18 — 93, 159
4:14 — 6
4:15 — 93, 159
5:1 — 37
5:4-6, 10 — 55
5:5-10 — 59
5:6 — 6
5:6, 10 — 55
5:11 — 104
6:20 — 55, 59
7:1-28 — 55
7:3 — 55
7:11 — 55
7:11-28 — 59
7:15 — 55
7:17 — 6, 55
7:21 — 6, 55
8:1 — 49, 50
9:26 — 173
9:28 — 133
10:11-12 — 50
10:12 — 49, 52
10:12-13 — 52, 59, 170
10:13 — 6, 53, 98, 102, 147
10:25 — 174
10:32-34 — 88, 153
11:32-40 — 89
12:1 — 93, 104, 156
12:2 — 49, 50
12:22 — 34
13:4-5 — 104

13:9 — 104


1:2-4 — 92
1:3 — 96
1:22 — 196
2:17-26 — 211
4:6 — 215
5:14 — 155
5:17 — 91

I Peter

1:20 — 173
2:2 — vi
2:9 — 145
3:22 — 6, 17, 49, 58, 98
4:12-19 — 151
5:5 — 215
5:8 — 18

II Peter

3:3-4 — 168
3:4 — 114
3:8-9 — 168

I John

2:1 — 6
2:2 — ix, 67
2:16 — 93
2:18 — 173
3:8 — 18
4:14 — 199



1:1, 3 — 102, 163
1:5 — 18, 102, 145
1:5-6 — 139, 146
1:6 — 18
1:6, 9 — 145
1:9 — 102
19 — 159, 163
19:7-8 — 54
19:11 — 56
19:11-15 — 59
19:11-16 — 56
19:11-21 — 56, 57, 59
19:14 — 54
19:14, 19 — 57
19:15 — 56
19:15, 21 — 58
19:17-21 — 57
19:18-19 — 57
19:19 — 56
19-20 — 3
20 — viii, 17, 18, 118, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 133, 134
20:1-3 — 126
20:1-10 — 18
20:2 — 126
20:3 — 18, 127
20:5 — 19
20:6, 14 — 19
20:7-9 — 132
20:11-15 — 18, 19
21:6 — iv
22:6, 10 — 102, 163
22:13 — iv


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