This post is the full text of my Hope Defined: A Postmillennial Primer. I wanted a free version accessible for those who are cash strapped or unable to get kindle books due to their country’s laws.
If you like ebooks, feel free to snag a copy.
Hope Defined: A Postmillennial Primer gets right to the point of what every believer can hope to happen — a certain and sure fulfillment of the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew Belleville’s treatment of the often mischaracterized worldview called postmillennialism should be a welcome work to Christians across denominations who seek to accept the Bible’s plain meaning in relation to the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ!
- Brian Mann, Pastor, MTS Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
It is a fast read, imminently Biblical, intensely practical, and warmly pastoral.
- George Grant, Pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church; Director of King’s Meadow Study Center.
Why this book?
This primer came to life in the middle of a peculiar situation. I was asked to be an elder of a small, local gathering. Although my views differed from those of the original church planter, the calling was still on the table. I accepted. You’re probably saying, “That’s not crazy at all.” Well, here it comes.
A vegetable medley?
Four people were selected as elders. Let me list a few of each elder’s views to explain the spread.
- Elder #1: Anabaptist, Charismatic, leaned Amillennial, undecided on Arminianism or Reformed Soteriology
- Elder #2: Baptist, Charismatic, Premillennial Dispensational, Arminian
- Elder #3: Baptist, Charismatic, Premillennial, Reformed in Soteriology
- Myself: Presbyterian, “Reserved” Continuationist, Postmillennial, Reformed in Soteriology
Sounds crazy? However, we were up for the challenge of making it work. But…uh… there’s another thing. The original planter’s Statement of Faith required all elders to hold the views therein. By that standard, all of the planter’s prospective elders were disqualified.
We were able to work together with the church planter to revise the Statement of Faith. Except for one point. Eschatology. And that’s how this book came into being – as a means of explaining postmillennialism. How’s that for a backstory? I’ll tell you how the position paper was received at the end of the book.
A Postmillennial Primer
That the Kingdom of God will be victorious in history, through the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the Gospel and the Spirit-empowered obedience of the global Church, Jesus will put all His enemies under His feet.
The Authority and Will of Christ
After Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, He met with the Apostles at various times “…appearing to them for forty days, and speaking concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) This verse informs us that everything said between the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus relates to the Kingdom of God.
The primary example of this is the Great Commission in Matthew 28:17-21. It reads,
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
First, Jesus says that all authority is now His. Any authority found in heaven and earth has been given to Him for His purposes in history. Why? A reward for His obedience to the Father. This statement tells us that everything that happens is towards fulfilling His will.
Second, what is Jesus’ will for the Apostles? To, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Sadly, many of our English translations have not done great with the Greek here. Most make it sound like “disciples” is the noun, and “nations” is the location of potential disciples. However, that is not the case at all. The Greek word for “disciples” is the Greek verb “to teach,” and the word “make” in our English Bibles is not present in the Greek. The object of the Greek verb “to teach” is the Greek noun “nations.” The proper English rendering of the Greek would be, “Go therefore and teach all nations.” The Great Commission is the will of the risen and exalted Jesus for the future—the discipling of the nations.
Third, how does Jesus, who has all authority in Heaven and on Earth, desire His will for the nations to be accomplished? “…Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” If we are faithful to the Greek, then the object of the previous statement, “nations,” is also the “them” in verses 19b & 20a. Baptizing individuals and their families and teaching them all that Jesus commands is the foundation of the Great Commission. The goal is Jesus’ will for His followers – to train, teach, and baptize nations.
The Ascension of Christ
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
- Acts 1:8-9
Post-resurrection, Jesus had already received all authority in Heaven and on Earth. After 40 days of teaching on the Kingdom of God, He went up into the sky to sit at the “right hand” of the Father. What does Jesus going up to His Father mean for the Apostles, us, nations, history, and the Kingdom of God?
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
- Daniel 7:13-14
Sadly, this verse, which is so helpful for teaching us about the future, has been mangled by premillennialists. They explain that this verse is about the second physical coming of Jesus when He will set His physical Kingdom in Jerusalem and reign for 1000 years until Satan is released from his chains. Then, there is a final rebellion before the battle Gog & Magog, Great White Throne Judgment, and the New Heavens & New Earth.
Regarding the view above, there is a critical point missed. When found, the approach falls apart. What? There is no “coming to the earth” in the text. The “Son of Man” (Jesus) is not going down. He is on the clouds and “came to the Ancient of Days.” Where do we have Jesus coming to the Ancient of Days on the clouds? In Acts! “…He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)
Now that we have established that the coming of Jesus in Daniel 7:13 is fulfilled in the ascension of Jesus, we should ask what the result of His ascension is.
And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
- Daniel 7:14
This matches precisely the goal in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus has already received His Kingdom. He is in the process of bringing all peoples, nations, and languages into His service.
What is Christ doing now as the King of Kings seated at the right hand of God?
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
- Psalm 110:1
This is the most quoted Psalm in the NT. Here is one quotation from the NT that makes the postmillennial position unquestionable:
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
- 1 Corinthians 15:24-28
First, we are told that the end of history, when Jesus gives His Kingdom back to the Father, will not happen until every other rule, authority, and power is destroyed.
Second, since Jesus is currently reigning at the right hand of His Father, as we learned in Matthew 28, Acts 1, and Daniel 7, then at this moment, Jesus is putting, and must put, “all enemies under his feet.”
Third, the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Evil can still happen, terrible and devastating events may occur, but newspapers are not our source of eschatology. The Word of God is our standard for the future. When terrible things happen, we must remember with hope-filled hearts that God is destroying all these things now, and death will soon get its just desserts.
Fourth, only after His current reign and the destruction of all His enemies, including death, will Jesus give His Kingdom to His Father.
The Parables of the Kingdom
The three parables that Jesus tells His disciples perfectly fit with the postmillennial view and wholly align with its teaching.
- In the parable of the seed, it is only the good seed on the good ground that produces exponential growth (x100, x60, x30). If the only seeds with exponential growth are the good seeds in good soil, then obviously, the other seed-and-soil combos will not reproduce.
- The parable of the leaven teaches that God’s Kingdom will mature in history. The leaven is the Kingdom. Although small, it permeates the whole loaf. Baked in the fire of history, the Kingdom will be given to God as an offering (1 Corinthians 15:24).
- The parable of the mustard seed teaches that God’s Kingdom will grow in history and be a place of peace. Small beginnings can change the world.
Jesus’ other parables (wheat and tares, dragnet) are in sync with what we see in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. In the end, everything that opposes God is destroyed, and the Kingdom is given to the Father.
This was my brief defense for postmillennialism. The position paper passed with flying colors. Postmillennialism was integrated into the Statement of Faith. However, a few months later, all four elders unanimously decided to shut down the fledgling church…but that’s a story for another time.
Appendix A: Eschatologically Denying Atonement
And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
- Daniel 9:26
There are three groupings of weeks in Daniel 9. Seven, sixty-two, and one week. The ‘week’ most pertinent to our conversation is the sixty-second week after the first seven weeks (i.e., sixty-ninth week from here on out). This tiny real estate of Biblical revelation has been the field of battle for many eschatological schools.
A future end
The first issue is the terminus of the sixty-ninth week. Many will say that this week did not end in history but is ongoing—it is currently the sixty-ninth week. However, this can’t be the case.
The text says the “anointed one” will be “cut off.” This cutting off refers to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Isaiah also says that Jesus would be “cut off” from the land and that his generation wouldn’t protest His unjust treatment (53:8). When does this “cutting off” happen? When the sixty-ninth week ends.
Forcing an ever-present sixty-ninth week onto the text is a denial of redemption. There is no atonement for our sins if this week isn’t over. There is no New Creation in Christ Jesus. The implications of a never-ending sixty-ninth week are disastrous.
A Gap in Exegesis
Second, another view holds that there is a gap between the sixty-ninth and the seventieth week. The proponents of the view call it a parenthetical age, differing quite sharply with postmillennialists. This view has a problem. Not only does the “cutting off” of Jesus Christ occur after the sixty-ninth week, but it happens in the middle of the seventieth.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
- Daniel 9:27
Note: ‘seven’ refers to days, and some translations will substitute “week” instead.
This verse tells us that Jesus’ crucifixion happened after the sixty-ninth week, but “in the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” When was the sacrificial system put to rest? When Christ was crucified, buried, and rose again from the grave. If we are not in the seventieth week, we arrive at the same problem as above. No redemption, forgiveness, or atonement. In regards to the end of the seventieth week, Pierre Courthial writes,
Let us conclude these remarks on the Book of Daniel by noticing the addenda of sorts at the end of verse 26 and in verse 27, which speak of the destruction of the city, the end to sacrifice and offering, etc. These verses declare the tragic events of the year AD 70 (the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple) that will come shortly as a result of the confirmation of the renewed covenant.
- Pierre Courthial, A New Day of Small Beginnings, pp 58.
R.J. Rushdoony points out two reasons for this judgment. He writes,
By this destruction, judgment is pronounced not only on the moralisms of history as institutionalized in the Temple cult, but also on the legitimate function of the Temple as it sought to perpetuate itself as the sole vehicle of revelation. The exclusiveness of revelation cannot be arrogated by the historical instrument into an arrogance and pride wherein the vessel ascribes to itself the life of the potter. God, ever jealous of His honor, will not allow history to eternalize itself.
- R.J. Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, pp 66-67.
What fills up the remainder of time after completing the seventieth week? Refer to the section titled “The Authority and Will of Christ,” and read forward.
I will continue to upload the full text of all my published books. One of the next few will be the follow-up to this one, Hope Engaged: A Postmillennial Framework.
Matt is a husband, father, and an avid reader. He holds a bachelor’s degree from New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy in Applied Christian Studies.