PMT-2015-013 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The Apostle Paul presents us with helpful insights into the postmillennial hope. We see some of his strongest material (which serves as a good foundation for the postmillennial hope) in Rom 11 and 1 Cor 15. And yet Paul makes some statements that cause us to wonder about his long-term view of history. Second Tim 3 is deemed by the adherents to pessimistic eschatologies to be destructive of postmillennialism.
What are postmillennialists to say in response?
This is my eighth article in a study of this famous “last days” passage. Basically I have been pointing out that Paul is speaking to Timothy about issues he is facing in the first century. As with all of the New Testament Scripture, we may apply his statements beyond the first century — when similar conditions prevail. Yet, I do not believe Paul is prophesying that history will always be filled with “difficult times” until the end. Continue reading
PMT 2015-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
2 Tim 3 seems to undermine the postmillennial hope with it’s warning of “difficult times” (v 1), “arrogant revilers” (v 2), and “men of depraved mind” (v 8). But it actually does not — when properly interpreted.
In my last article I argued that Paul was specifically warning Timothy about evil people he is facing. In addition, I noted that the evil he must expect was not from external persecution, but internal defection by false teachers in the Ephesian church (as was Titus’ situation in Crete). And I observed that this is precisely what Paul predicted to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29–31:
“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
In 2 Tim 3:2-5 Paul presents a vice list which, as we will see, applies to the “savage wolves” who are “speaking perverse things” in the Ephesian church “to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–31). Continue reading
PMT 2015-011 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I am continuing a defense of postmillennialism in response to those who bring 2 Tim 3 to bear against it. This text is almost universally brought up in rebuttals of postmillennialism. And we can easily see why. Paul appears to be presenting a future quite at odds with the optimism of postmillennialism. when he writes: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (2 Tim 3:1).
I would like to provide more contextual background to 2 Tim 3 by surveying all three Pastoral Epistles. But due to space limitations and the nature of blogs, I will have to suppress that desire. Nevertheless, I hope the running commentary that I will provide on 2 Tim 3 will be insightful — even though lacking the fuller treatment.
In my two immediately preceding articles (PMT 2015-009 and 010) I focused on the important phrase “last days” in 2 Tim 3:1. And I would point out that in an even earlier study of this verse (PMT 2014-153) I presented the meaning of the “difficult times” that Paul foresees. In that article I was responding to the amillennial apologist, Dr. James White. I recommend consulting that article to supplement this one: (Click Here).
Briefly though, I argued there that Paul is not prophesying a future dominated by unrelenting “difficult times.” Rather he is warning that during the period of the last days (beginning with Christ’s ministry in the first century and continuing to the last day at the end of history), the church must expect periods of difficulty. A world of difference separates these two understandings. And that difference distinguishes optimistic postmillennialism from the pessimistic eschatologies of amillennialism, premillennialism, and the various branches of dispensationalism. What do I mean? Continue reading
PMT 2015-010 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I am engaged in a running exposition on 2 Tim 3. This is one of the most widely used passages urged against the postmillennial position. It seems to present a negative view of the future flow of history. But a careful study of the passage wholly removes it as a stumbling block to postmillennialism. It certainly does not positively present postmillennialism, but neither may it be used against this optimistic eschatology.
So let us move on in our explanation of 2 Tim 3:1:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
PMT 2015-008 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The postmillennial hope is optimistic regarding the historical long-run. But it is frequently rejected on the basis of current world events. Yet current conditions should not undermine this hope. We must remember: postmillennialism is a theological construct that is built up from Scripture — not from the newspapers.
Postmillennialists clearly recognize and sadly accept the current dismal world conditions. But we respond by noting the actual definition of postmillennialism. Continue reading
PMT 2015-007 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
One of the key negative passages brought against postmillennial optimism in history is Paul’s third chapter in 2 Timothy. Probably second only to the election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States, these verses are deemed to present us with a dark and bleak outlook on history.
In 2 Tim 3 Paul speaks of “difficult times” and “evil men and imposters,” even warning that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Do these statements undermine the postmillennial hope? This is an important question to consider in the eschatological debate. Pessimistic eschatologies see these statements as normative for the flow of church history to the end. But do they declare the normative expectation for Christianity throughout the future?
I am continuing a reply to James White’s October 16, 2014 webcast, where he challenged my postmillennial understanding of 2 Timothy 3. You should consult my preceding articles for proper context and even check out my original article to which he is replying (“Postmillennialism and Perilous Times,” PMT 2014-029, March 7, 2014). But I am taking a new turn in my response, now engaging a careful presentation of the postmillennial understanding of 2 Timothy 3. Continue reading
PMT 2015-006 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Do Paul’s statements in 2 Tim 3 regarding “difficult times,” “evil men and imposters,” and “all who live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” undermine the postmillennial hope for history? These are important questions to consider in the eschatological debate.
Postmillennialism is an optimistic eschatology. But it is surrounded by the various pessimistic eschatologies: amillennialism, premillennialism, and dispensationalism (in all its varieties, including classic dispensationalism, revised dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism, pre-wrath rapture dispensationalism, mid-Acts dispensationalism, Acts 28 dispensationalism, hyper-dispensationalism, ultra-dispensationalism, and the several dozen other forms of this eschatology founded on the plain-and-simple hermeneutic of literalism).
The pessimistic eschatological systems see Paul’s statements in 2 Timothy 3 as prophetic and normative for all of church history. And as such, these verses would be counter-indicative to postmillennial expectations. But do Paul’s comments in 2 Tim 3 declare the normative expectation for Christianity throughout all of history? Continue reading