Confused preterismPMT 2015-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

From time to time I receive a question regarding the difference between preterism and postmillennialism. Some folks are confused as to whether they contradict each other or whether they are speaking of the same thing. Let me briefly distinguish the two theological concepts.

The word “preterist” is the transliteration of a Latin word that means “passed by.” The orthodox preterist sees certain passages as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70, though many evangelicals understand these to be speaking of the second coming of Christ at the end of history.

The second coming and the AD 70 judgment of Christ on Jerusalem are often spoken of with similar language. This is because they are theologically related concepts. The AD 70 holocaust is a microcosmic picture of the final day of history when Christ returns in judgment. That is, AD 70 is small, historical picture or advanced sample of what the final judgment will be like.The Olivet Discourse Made Easy

Olivet Discourse Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)

Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Show the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70.

See more study materials at:

Preterism has nothing necessarily to do with postmillennialism. There are preterist postmillennialists and there are historicist postmillennialists. Both are true forms of postmillennialism. There are also preterist amillennialists. Thus preterism does not commit one to any particular eschatological system.

Preterism is more of a hermeneutic tool than a theology. That is, it helps us understand certain passages without committing us to theological position.

Postmillennialism is a theological position on “the last things” that are to occur toward the end of history, an eschatological school of thought. Postmillennialism is an optimistic eschatological system that believes that Christ’s kingdom is currently present in history and will gradually win a dominant sway over men and nations as the gospel makes fuller progress in the world.

Postmillennialism holds to a single final coming of Christ (no separate rapture), a general resurrection of the saved and the lost simultaneously, and a general judgment of the saved and the lost in one setting.Postmillennialism Made Easy

Postmillennialism Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)

Basic introduction to postmillennialism. Presents the essence of the postmillennial argument and answers the leading objections. And all in a succinct, introductory fashion.

See more study materials at:

Thus, postmillennialism looks for the growing influence of the gospel in history before the end comes. After a long time of dominance, Christ will return to resurrect and judge all men and end history while establishing the eternal, consummate order.

Thus, preterism and postmillennialism are altogether different concepts. Preterism is basically a hermeneutic, whereas postmillennialism is a theological system. They may occur simultaneously in one’s worldview, or they may be found in differing systems of thought.

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  1. Ray May 31, 2016 at 10:37 am

    This is a very good and informative article. However I must say that, as a partial preterist postmillennialist I have never know any preterist who believed that the AD 70 holocaust was a microcosmic picture of the final day of history when Christ returns in judgment. Most that I know of also believe in an optimistic future for the Church. The other seems to be a contradiction that would make preterism little different than futurism. I’m wondering where this definition of preterism originated if you believe the final judgment part is central to it or a minority position.

  2. Kenneth Gentry May 31, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for reading. But your second sentence is mistaken: you apparently read my writings. So you do know of at least one postmill preterist who holds this view! 😉 But I am not alone; there are many (e.g., Greg Bahnsen; J. M. Kik; etc.)

    Actually most posmillennialists (whether preterist or not) hold that there will be a brief rebellion after a long era of righteousness. This will occur just before the end as Satan is released in anticipation of the final judgment (Rev. 20:7). Very few postmillennialists believe that each and every person in the world will be converted. Consequently, the return of Christ will be attended with flaming fire as the unrighteous unite against the long era of the saints’ rule (2 Thess. 1:7).

    See these previous articles:

  3. Curtis March 6, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Hey Dr. Gentry. Why do you think 2 Thessalonians 1:7 is referring to the final return while denying the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ? That is, if 2 Thessalonians 1:7 is not the AD 70 coming but the final return, then didn’t Paul believe the final return could happen in his day since he wrote to the believers in his day, “and to grant relief to you.” Just wondering how you deal with that?

  4. Kenneth Gentry March 10, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for writing. I will post an answer in a brief article on March 31, 2020.

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