PERSECUTION AND POSTMILLENNIALISM

PMW 2021-030 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Critics of postmillennialism will often turn to negative sounding passages in the New Testament in order to discredit any postmillennialism optimism regarding the future.

For instance, Matthew 10:23 is a favorite in this regard:

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

Since postmillennialism expects a future in which Christianity reigns supreme, and in which righteousness and peace will prevail throughout the world, texts such as this one must be explained. Postmillennialism cannot be true if Christians will always be hated and the only hope we have is our bare endurance.

But does this passage teach such? I do not believe that it does. We must read the verse in its context to grasp what our Lord is actually declaring.


three views millennium

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


In Matt 10 Jesus appoints his disciples as apostles, investing them with great authority (Matt 10:1–2). And at this stage of his ministry he limits their outreach to Israel alone: “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’” (Matt 10:5–6). Of course, this is not the way it was always to be, for later at the end of his ministry he commissions his church to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28:19).

Furthermore, immediately after his limiting their mission to Israel, he teaches them what they are to preach: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt 10:7). This also shows the early phase of his ministry. The kingdom has not yet come, though it is close at hand.

He then directs them to go from city-to-city in Israel to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and so forth (Matt 10:8–15). He notes that he is sending them “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt 10:16). And in doing so he warns them: “But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Matt 10:17–18). This clearly speaks of their ministry to Israel, for it mentions the trouble they will experience from the synagogues.

He further warns that “brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death” (Matt 10:21). Then we read the verse that raised our question: “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matt 10:22).

Then following this warning he promises: “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes” (Matt 10:23). We must ask: “Whenever who persecutes you?” Contextually, it is speaking expressly of Jewish opposition.

What Matt 10:22 is declaring then is that as his twelve disciples (who are all dead by now!) engage the mission to Israel, they must hang tough, they must endure through the raging of Israel against Christ and his followers. Not only so, but he promises he will come in judgment against Israel before they have finished going through all the cities of Israel. This refers to the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the specific “end” in view.

A similar statement to Matt 10:22 is found in Matt 24:13: “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” And again, the context points to the time preceding the fall of Jerusalem, for he is answering a question about the coming destruction of the temple (Matt 24:2–3).

Thus, Matt 10:22 (and Matt 24:13) do not speak of relentless persecution to the end of history (are you persecuted to death?). Rather it is referring to Jewish persecution of the Christian faith that leads up to AD 70.


The Harrowing of Hell (by Jay Rogers)
This postmillennial book examines the power of the Gospel, not only to overcome all opposition, but to rise far above the powers of hell. The term “Harrowing of Hell” refers to idea that Christ descended into Hell, as stated in the Apostles’ Creed.

For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com


3 thoughts on “PERSECUTION AND POSTMILLENNIALISM

  1. Will Webster April 14, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Hello there, my name is Will Webster. Over the last year I have come to learn and to love the position of postmillennialism, and I have greatly enjoyed your works regarding the position as well as the preterist interpretation of Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation.
    I do have one question regarding postmillennialism that has stumped me for awhile now. It concerns the passages in the New Testament that use such phrases as “all nations” and “all creation”. The particular passages I have in mind are Romans 1:6, 10:18, 16:26; Colossians 1:6 and 1:23. I see in the Old Testament that there is a glorious hope that “NATIONS shall flow to it (mountain of the house of the Lord)” (Is. 2:2) and “ALL THE NATIONS that you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Ps. 86:9). When I read such passages as those in the Old Testament, I whole heartedly agree with the postmillennial position. But, when I see such passages as Romans 16:26 and Colossians 1:23, it almost seems to limit what the Old Testament said about “all nations”. It makes the conversion of the nations seem less grand than what we as postmillennialist believe it will be. Could you help me make sense of those passages in the New Testament that say the gospel message has already reached all of the world/nations?

  2. B Jay April 19, 2021 at 7:20 am

    The passages that you cite in Matthew 10 seem to be an occasion of equipping the apostles for ministry primarily for the period between Christ’s ascension and the 70 AD judgement on Jerusalem. This also is a logical interpretation from the Preterist standpoint. It shows the wise practicality of the Lord’s training methodology. The passage that grabbed my attention was verse 23: it must speak literally of Israel which then existed; this coupled with the point that he is addressing his disciples directly at that time and not some distant future audience. Otherwise Christ’ s teaching becomes a mere abstraction and it’s irrelevancy to His disciples an almost futile exercise, possibly invalidating His training methods.

  3. Kenneth Gentry April 25, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    Good question! I will devote an article to that as soon as I can stay tuned.

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