PMW 2022-072 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Modern postmillennialism is largely, though not solely, committed to a particular interpretive tool known as “preterism.” This tool is helpful for explaining many of the catastrophic judgment passages as features of the founding of Christianity in the first century rather than evidence for the decline of Christianity in the final century.

However, postmillennialists do not adopt this interpretive approach in order to avoid a negative impact on their eschatological system. Rather, preterism arises naturally from a careful reading of the biblical text.

The evangelical, Reformed preterist strongly holds to the futurity of the Second Advent, the resurrection, and the great judgment. These are orthodox givens well exhibited in Scripture and long held by historic Christianity in creedal form.

Three factors generate preterism: (1) the importance of chronological indicators in biblical prophecy, (2) the impact of OT apocalyptic language on eschatological discourse, and (3) the significance of A.D. 70 for redemptive history. Let us see how these impact Revelation.

The Book of Revelation Made Easy
(by Ken Gentry)

Helpful introduction to Revelation presenting keys for interpreting. Also provides studies of basic issues in Revelation’s story-line.|

See more study materials at:

First, chronological indicators

Preterism relies heavily upon Revelation’s assertions of the nearness of certain prophetic events (1:1,3; 22:6,10), while non-preterists disingenuously re-interpret these. When the preterist comes upon didactically-seated temporal delimiters, he allows them their literal significance and seeks an historical fulfillment in antiquity. Where absent, then other issues must suggest the proper interpretation, which may or may not demand a past fulfillment.

Second, symbolic imagery

The preterist recognizes the hyperbolic-symbolic nature of the dramatic visual imagery in apocalyptically-framed prophecies. Although most evangelicals recognize the symbolic character of OT apocalyptic, its influence in NT passages is often overlooked. This symbolism comes to its most far-reaching effect in the book of Revelation, which opens with a notice about it:

Rev. 1:1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.”

The word translated “communicated” is the Greek verb semaino which means “to signify, symbolize.” It is used here in the context with deikenumi which is translated “to show.” Together they indicate the symbolic nature of “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1a). This fact is immediately, illustrated when the first vision therein is explained as symbolism. The vision of Christ walking among the lampstands with seven stars in his hand (Rev. 1:9–16) is interpreted by him to show that literal lampstands and stars are not the point. Rather they symbolize the seven churches and the “angels” (messengers) of those churches (Rev. 1:20).

Tongues-speaking: Meaning, Purpose, and Cessation

by Ken Gentry

The position presented within is that tongues-speaking allowed the gift person to speak in a known human language without previously knowing it; tongues brought inspired revelation from God; the gift was a sign confirming the apostolic witness and warning of the coming destruction of Jerusalem; and therefore the gift ceased in the first century.

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Third, new covenant Christianity

Preterists hold that the birth of new covenant Christianity at Pentecost (A.D. 30) necessarily leads to the death of old covenant Judaism in the holocaust (A.D. 70). According to Acts 2:16-21,40, tongues were a sign of the “blood and fire to envelop Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” For rejecting her prophesied Messiah (Lk 23:18-32; Mt 21:33-46; cp. 1Th 2:14-16), God judges Israel’s people, land, city, and temple (Mt 23:34-24:34). This judgment concludes for all times the typological-ceremonial era of the OT (Heb 8:13; cp. Jn 4:21; Heb 10:23-25; 12:18-29), which narrowly focused on one people (Dt 7:6; Ps 147:19-20; Am 3:2) in a confined land (Gen. 15:18; Psa. 135:10-12). This dramatically opens God’s redemption to all peoples in all the world (Mt 8: 10-11; 24:29-30; 28:18-20; Lk 24:44-49; Ac 1:8).

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  1. Noble Berean II September 23, 2022 at 8:05 am

    You could add the time indicators in the Matt 24 passage that clearly mark those prophesied events to the generation of Christ’s listeners.

  2. Kenneth Gentry September 23, 2022 at 8:14 am

    Yes. I did this in my one sample from Revelation (1:1, 3). There are a number of such passages, such as Matt. 24:34.

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