PMT 2014-041 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Eschatology is a fascinating study in systematic theology. However, it is an easily abused doctrine that is taken up by so-called “prophecy experts.” To reclaim eschatology as a legitimate field for evangelical study, it might be helpful to define a few key concepts. In this and the next two blogs, I will be offering “An Eschatology Glossary.”
Abomination of Desolation. A phrase deriving from Daniel (9:27; 11:31; 12:31) which is cited by Christ in his Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15). In Dispensationalism this refers to the desecration of a future rebuilt Jewish Temple. That event occurs during a seven year Great Tribulation which Dispensationalists believe precedes the Second Coming of Christ. The term actually refers to the physical and ritual desecration of the Temple in September, A.D. 70 when the Roman soldiers “brought their ensigns to the temple and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6:6:1). The phrase is found in the portion of the Olivet Discourse introduced by Jesus’ reference to the destruction of the first century Temple (Matt. 24:1-3) and ended by the declaration that “all these things” will occur in “this generation” (Matt. 24:34).
Amillennialism. An eschatological system which holds that the millennium was established in the first century by Christ and is John’s apocalyptic image of Christ’s kingdom rule. This kingdom has its source in Heaven and its effect in the hearts and lives of believers. The amillennialist teaches that no extensive period of divine peace and worldwide external blessings will prevail in earth history before the Second Coming of Christ. Rather, the kingdom’s presence operates within the lives of believers and through the ministry of the Church while the Church is under assault and despite the historical decline that worsens until the end.
Amillennialism may be summarized as follows: (1) The Church Age is the kingdom era prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. The people of God are expanded from Israel of the Old Testament to the universal Church of the New Testament, becoming the Israel of God. (2) Satan is bound during Christ’s earthly ministry at his first coming. His binding prevents him from totally hindering the proclamation of the gospel. This allows for the conversion of great numbers of sinners to Christ and insures some restraint upon evil. (3) Christ now rules spiritually in the hearts of believers. There will be but occasional, short-lived influences of Christianity on culture, where Christians live out the implications of their faith. (4) History will gradually worsen as the growth of evil accelerates toward the end. This will culminate in the Great Tribulation, with the arising of a personal Antichrist. (5) Christ will return to end history, resurrect and judge all men, and establish the eternal order. The eternal destiny of the redeemed may be either in heaven or in a totally renovated new earth.
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (ed. by Darrell Bock)
Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Antichrist. This term refers to one thing in Scripture and quite another in popular eschatology. In popular eschatology (especially Dispensationalism) the Antichrist will be an evil religious-political leader who arises during a yet future Great Tribulation. He becomes a worldwide tyrannical ruler imposing his evil will upon a deceived world while ruling from a rebuilt Jewish Temple. In Scripture the term only occurs in the epistles of John. In those passages we learn that John uses the word to describe not an individual person, but a movement (1 John 2:18) opposed to Christ (1 John 2:22; 4:3). We also discover that this movement exists in John’s own lifetime (1 John 4:3; 2 Jn 1:7), rather than in the distant future.
Apocalypse. The technical name of the Book of Revelation, which is based on the first Greek word appearing in that book. The Greek apokalypsis is a compound of apo (“from”) and kalypsis (“hidden”), meaning “uncover, reveal, open up.” See Apocalyptic.
Apocalyptic. This form of the word refers to the technical, scholarly designation of a literary style of prophetic discourse found in ancient Jewish literature. Apocalyptic literature particularly flourished from the period beginning 200 years before Christ’s birth and continuing to about 200 years after. Apocalyptic literature is dominated by elaborate visions filled with heavy symbolic meaning. It generally focuses on historical chaos and the struggle of evil against the divine will. In the Bible both Daniel and Revelation are samples of apocalyptic pieces, although apocalyptic imagery appears in various other places in Scripture. See Apocalypse.
Binding of Satan. The binding of Satan expressly appears in Matthew 12:28-29 and Revelation 20:1-3. In Dispensationalism this occurs at the beginning of a future millennium when an angel from Heaven literally shackles Satan and totally debilitates him. In the Bible the binding of Satan actually speaks of the constraint upon him which is effected by Christ’s first coming and results from the proclamation of the gospel. It is no more an absolute disabling of Satan than are the “bonds” applied to rebellious angels when they originally fell (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Rather, it is a metaphor for the redemptive constraint of his worldwide influence which existed prior to Christ’s coming. Parallel biblical expressions include Satan’s “casting out” (John 12:31-32), his “disarming” (Col. 2:14-15), and his being rendered “powerless” (Heb. 2:14-15; cp. 1 John 3:8).
Chiliasm. This term is derived from the Latin word for “1000” (chilioi) and is based on the Latin translation of the “1000 years” in Revelation 20. It is the functional equivalent of millennium. The term appears in older theological writings, having been supplanted today by the term “millennialism.”
Day of the Lord. A biblical phrase that speaks of a period of special divine judgment in history. Though it always appears in the singular, it refers to any period of prophetically-announced divine wrath against God’s enemies, including Old Testament judgments against Babylon (Isa. 13:1, 6) and Idumea (Isa. 34:5, 8), and against Jerusalem in the Old Testament (Joel 2:1) and in the first century (Acts 2:16, 20). Each “day of the Lord” is a prophetic prototype of the final, consummate Day of the Lord associated with the Second Coming of Christ to end history (2 Peter 3:10).
Dispensationalism. A whole theological system that emphasizes particularly its eschatological distinctives. Dispensationalism arose in the early 1800, either through the work of John Nelson Darby or perhaps earlier in the prophetic utterances of one Margaret MacDonald. It has been upgraded and refined over the years and is the most popular version of prophetic commitment in American evangelicalism. It is the most ornate and complex evangelical eschatological system.
Distinctive prophetic features include: (1) The Davidic Kingdom, an earthly, political kingdom, was offered by Christ in the first century. It was rejected by the Jews and thereby postponed until the future. (2) The Church Age is a wholly unforseen and distinct era in the plan of God. It was altogether unknown to and unexpected by the Old Testament prophets. It is called a “parenthesis.” (3) God has a separate and distinct program and plan for racial Israel, as distinguished from the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is a parenthetical aside in the original plan of God. (4) The Church may experience occasional small scale successes in history, but ultimately she will lose influence, fail in her mission, and become corrupted as worldwide evil intensifies toward the end of the Church Age. (5) Christ will return secretly in the sky to rapture living saints and resurrect the bodies of deceased saints (the first resurrection). These will be removed out of the world before the Great Tribulation. The judgment of the saints will be accomplished in heaven during the seven-year Great Tribulation period before Christ’s bodily return to the earth. (6) At the conclusion of the seven-year Great Tribulation, Christ will return to the earth in order to establish and personally administer a Jewish political kingdom headquartered at Jerusalem for 1,000 years. During this time, Satan will be bound, and the temple and sacrificial system will be re-established in Jerusalem as memorials. (7) Toward the end of the Millennium, Satan will be loosed and Christ surrounded and attacked at Jerusalem. (8) Christ will call down fire from heaven to destroy His enemies. The resurrection (the second resurrection) and judgment of the wicked will occur, initiating the eternal order.
Dispensation. A prominent feature of Dispensationalism’s prophetic program. A dispensation is a period of time during which God is working out a distinctive purpose in history. Generally dispensationalists hold to seven dispensations that are discrete, unmixed units of time with distinctive revelatory directives from God, peculiar tests associated with those directives for that time-frame, some catastrophic failure on the part of man in failing those tests, and a divine response in judgment to end that dispensation in preparation for the next one. We are supposedly living in the sixth dispensation, the Church Age, in anticipation of the final dispensation, the Millennium.
(To be continued. If the Rapture does not come first. Or the Antichrist. Or the Great Tribulation. In which cases I will be too busy to complete this series.)
Exclusive Psalmody (4 CDs by Ken Gentry)
One sermon defends reverent, biblical hymnody. Three sermon series critiquing the Exclusive Psalmody position. Defends reverent hymnody while affirming the glory of Psalm singing.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com