PMW 2020-024 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is the second in a two-part series explaining how postmillennialism can be true even though Jesus warns of “the days of Noah” that lay in our future. A reader asked me about postmillennialism in light of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:37–39, which reads:
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matt. 24:37–39)
This is a good question, which is frequently brought up in eschatological discussions. It needs answering. And as I am showing, it can be answered by the postmillennialist — even more easily than many expect.
In my last article I pointed out two important points: (1) Postmillennialism recognizes that sinful tares will always exist in the righteous wheat field, which we expect to come to pass in earth history. Yet (2) postmillennial eschatology teaches that there will be a final, brief rebellion at the end, just before the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. Thus, postmillennialism could place these “days of Noah” in this final, brief stage of history. This would quickly and easily solve the “problem.”
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
(ed. by Darrell Bock)
Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Ken Gentry provides the postmillennial contribution.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
However, I noted that this is not our actual answer. Though the final, evil rebellion is most definitely a part of the final days of earth history, that is not what Jesus is talking about here in Matthew 24:37–39. That is not what he is referring to by mentioning “the days of Noah.” Now I must explain what this reference actually means. So at this point in my answer to my reader, I will make two additional observations. These will wholly remove the supposed problem from the discussion of postmillennialism. What do I mean? I move now to my second argument:
Second, the objector must understand Jesus’ point
We must note that the stated point of Jesus’ comment has nothing to do with the evil character of Noah’s day. Rather, his statement is referring to the unexpected nature of Jesus’ Second Coming and Final Judgment.
Notice that the Lord carefully explains why he mentions Noah’s days. Not for moral categorization, but for temporal expectation. He mentions the days of Noah as an illustration of the unexpected nature of “the coming of the Son of Man.” Notice that he twice uses the conjunction “for” in our text: once for introducing and then for explaining his thought:
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark.” (Matt. 24:37–38)
The first “for” associates the coming of the Son of Man somehow with the days of Noah. The second “for” explains what he means by this association. We must notice that he clearly references common, mundane life-activities that were engaged in Noah’s day. None of these activities in-and-of themselves is a reason for judgment. Each of these is a God-ordained normal, human activity: eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage.
Jesus does not say, the world situation will be morally like that which prevailed in Noah’s day. That is, he does not say anything regarding the evil that characterized Noah’s day.
Rather, this mention of normal, daily activities shows that the people in Noah’s days simply went about their daily routines — without realizing (“they did not understand,” v. 39) that disaster was coming. Thus, his second “for” emphasizes the unexpectedness of his coming, not the evil characterization of those days. That is, he is telling his disciples that his coming will be sudden, right in the midst of normal life — like when Noah’s flood “came and took them all away” (Matt. 24:39).
Then he confirms this focus. For he immediately declares: “so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:39b). That is, the coming of the Son of Man will be like the coming of the flood, altogether unexpected (cp. 2 Pet. 3:3–5).
Postmilllennialism and Preterism
Four lectures by Ken Gentry (downloadable 4 mp3s).
(1) Postmillennialism: Wishful Thinking or Certain Hope?
(2) The Identity of the Beast of Revelation.
(3) The Resurrection of the Dead.
(4) The Great Tribulation is Past.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Third, the objector must understand Jesus’ context
Even though the structure of Jesus’ isolated reference to the days of Noah in Matthew 24:37–39 sufficiently discounts the use of this passage against postmillennialism, there is more. The very context itself demands this interpretation and further supports the postmillennial understanding.
The whole context is clearly focusing on the unexpected nature of the Second Coming. In fact, this passage opens with a clear statement about the unpredictable time of his coming: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).
Then this declaration is illustrated in several ways — in order to discourage Christians from forgetting that judgment will come. And that they must always be ready for it. Notice the following illustrations of the truth of v. 36:
“They did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (24:39).
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42)
“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into” (Matt. 24:43).
“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt. 24:44).
“The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know” (Matt. 24:50).
“Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13).
These three observations on Matthew 24:37–39 (in this and my preceding article) should discount any objection that might be brought against postmillennialism by means of this Noah text. The postmillennial hope of a future, long era of righteousness, peace, and prosperity can stand alongside of Jesus’ statement about “the days of Noah.”
JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!
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