SATAN’S LOOSING IN POSTMILLENNIAL THOUGHT

PMT 2014-019 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Satan loosedI received this question from a reader. I think it might be helpful to other blog readers for me to answer it. Here is the question:

“As I’ve been reading your whole series on Revelation, I have come realize more and more how much we A-Mill Folks agree with you Post Mill Guys. But how does the loosing of Satan coincide with your postmillennial preterist hermeneutic? This seems to be the only area where I have a problem from the Preterist Viewpoint. Please advise where this fits.”

This is a good question that touches on an issue that seems to confront both preterism (Satan’s loosing occurs after 1000 years in a book set to transpire shortly) and to undermine the idea of the universal conquest of the gospel expected by postmillennialism. Postmillennialism is a theological construct whereas preterism is a methodology, rather than a theology. Both merge well in my understanding of postmillennialism. Let me explain.

First, regarding the loosing of Satan after the 1000 year reign of Christ and how it impacts the preterist hermeneutic:

I would point out that although the vast majority of Revelation focuses on events that will occur “soon” (Rev 1:1, 3), Rev 20 presents us with a period of a 1000 years which appears to begin shortly (thereby fitting into the preterist expectation). But it is not necessary for it to be completed shortly, i.e.,  before AD 70. By necessity, 1000 years extends into the distant future. Otherwise, if we could compact 1000 years into a short time frame (“shortly come to pass,” Rev 1:1), then why can we not just as legitimately declare that all the events that are to “shortly come to pass” speak of issues 1000 years or more years distant?


Amillennialism v. Postmillennialism Debate (DVD by Gentry and Gaffin)
Formal, public debate between Dr. Richard Gaffin (Westminster Theological Seminary)
and Kenneth Gentry at the Van Til Conference in Maryland.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Yet is seems very clear that Revelation insists that its judgments are approaching in the very near future (Rev 1:1, 3; 6:9–11; 10:6c; 22:6, 10). This is a continuing drumbeat in Revelation. It must be speaking of the near term. That is, the main body of Revelation focuses on the near term.

But preterism is a hermeneutic insight, not a theological observation. Hermeneutically, Revelation’s main point comes to pass “soon” because “the time is at hand” (Rev 1:1, 3). Nevertheless, while its judgment prophecies are largely approaching, the preterist hermeneutic does not prohibit a glance at the long term implications of the near term events. That is, the great majority of judgments in Revelation will occur in the context of AD 70. But history does not end with AD 70; there are consequences to those judgment events. And those consequences look into the distant future.

Second, regarding the loosing of Satan after the 1000 year reign of Christ and how it impacts the postmillennial eschatology:

The very idea of a final rebellion of Satan fits easily into the postmillennial outlook. For in the first place, the idea of his loosing to initiate a rebellion indicates that until then he has not been able to exercise such an influence. It presupposes that he has been constrained, which is exactly what postmillennialism expects. (See earlier study on the binding of Satan.)

During the time of his binding, the gospel will go forth and gradually gain a greater and growing influence. Postmillennialists expect that the world will come under the dominant influence of the gospel which will remain a dominant influence for a long period of time.

Yet, according to God’s revelation in Scripture, the Lord will release Satan toward the very end so that he can gather out those who are merely “culturally Christian” but not truly regenerate. He will prompt these to revolt against the Christian majority in an attempt to disestablish the Christian faith. But as Revelation 20 shows, Christ’s return will crush him and the eternal state will begin in earneste.

The fact that he has an army as large as “the sand of the seashore” (Rev 20:8b) should not make us believe that this is the vast majority of the human race. This is a hyperbolic statement in an enormously symbolic book. And this figure is a common ancient image used of large-scale armies in (Jos 11:4; Jdg 7:12; 1Sa 13:5; 2Sa 17:11), various local populations (1Ki 4:20; Isa 10:22; 48:19; Jer 15:8; 33:22; Hos 1:10), the patriarchs’ offspring (Ge 22:17; 32:12), and so forth. In fact, the 1 Sam 13:5 reference specifically mentions only 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen accompanying Philistia’s army. In 2 Sam 17:11 the writer is referring to early Israel’s own army, which could hardly approach this enormous number literally. In Jeremiah God speaks against Jerusalem warning that “their widows will be more numerous before Me / Than the sand of the seas” (Jer 15:8a). Sandy (2002: 41) notes that prophets often “express emotion rather than exactness . . . in order to shock listeners.”

Thus, the loosing of Satan after a 1000 year period does not undermine either the preterist hermeneutic or the postmillennial theology.


Antichrist Revealed (DVD by Jerry Johnson)
Exposes dispensational error regarding the Antichrist.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

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5 thoughts on “SATAN’S LOOSING IN POSTMILLENNIAL THOUGHT

  1. jebennett1689 February 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Very helpful, thanks. Have you heard Nigel Lee’s take on this? Very interesting. He believes that the enemies of the Kingdom that gather around the saints are the resurrected unbelievers. Then, Jesus brings the final judgment upon them with the fire from heaven. I’m not convinced, but it’s still interesting.

    Do you believe that the declining conditions described in the Olivet Discourse could be a ‘type’ of or an application to the loosing of Satan?

  2. Kenneth Gentry February 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Nigel always had something interesting to contribute to the discussion. But, like you, I am not convinced of his interpretation here.

    Regarding a possible type of Satan’s loosing in the Olivet Discourse: I do see the Discourse as typical of the second advent of Christ, to which Jesus links it in his message (I see a transition from AD 70 to the second advent at Matt 24:34-36). This is much like there being numerous “day of the Lord” events in the OT, each of which was a pointer to the great reality of the final day of the Lord at the conclusion of history.

    However, I do not see anything in the Discourse that makes me think of Satan’s loosing. In fact, the Lord does not even mention Satan. Yet, it could well be the case. I simply have not considered it in those terms.

    Keep studying and thinking! And thanks for reading the blog!

  3. David Stair February 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    “…the preterist hermeneutic does not prohibit a glance at the long term implications of the near term events. That is, the great majority of judgments in Revelation will occur in the context of AD 70. But history does not end with AD 70; there are consequences to those judgment events. And those consequences look into the distant future.”

    I found this particularly helpful…

  4. Patricia Watkins August 15, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Personally, I am convinced of a (technically) postmillennial loosing of Satan under the paradigm that follows: (This is a broad overview, where the segment representing all of human history on God’s timeline consists of 7 thousand years total – from Adam, to the last, third, bodily resurrection event at its close.)

    For the first 3 thousand years on this segment of human history, Satan and his demons had unhampered access to both heaven and earth’s realms, and were generally allowed to deceive the nations at large. It was called “the times of this ignorance” by Paul in Acts 17:30, when God “suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16).

    The 4th millennium, (the flashback presented in Rev. 20), lasted a literal thousand years from 968 BC – AD 33. Satan’s activities on earth were bound for this period, by his not being able to deceive the nations during this time. This binding started with the FOUNDATION of Solomon’s temple being laid, and continued by the ministry of the major and minor prophets, both spoken and written. If “the entrance of Thy words giveth light” (Ps. 119:130), then every time a prophet opened his mouth and said “Thus saith the Lord…”, the forces of darkness were beaten back, and ignorance of the God of Israel was further dispelled. This millennium culminated with Christ and the disciples overtly “binding the strong man and spoiling his goods” by the power demonstrated in their casting out demons. You could label this “the millennium of physical temple worship”, a precursor to the coming true temple, which would be made of “living stones”.

    The fulfillment of this true temple’s FOUNDATION STONE was then laid down by the finished atoning work of Christ (I Peter 2:6) at the close of this 4th, Rev. 20 millennium, after His AD 33 crucifixion, the First Resurrection event, and Christ’s ascension. At that point, Satan lost his access to heaven (Rev. 12:7-12), and was then cast out into the earth, along with his demons, to bring judgment to it (John 12:31). He was loosed on the earth so that he could deceive the nations once more for a “little season” (Rev. 20:13), and a “short time” (Rev. 12:12), until the AD 70 era. Included near the close of this “short time” was the tormenting 5-month period (Rev. 9) from May-Sept. of AD 66, when the demonic forces exercised their utmost efforts to deceive the nations and gather them for battle. It was at the end of this 5 months that every unclean spirit was imprisoned in Jerusalem (Rev. 18:2) for the duration of Jerusalem’s punishment. This combined imprisonment of both demonic spirits and the “kings of the earth” was prophesied in Isaiah 24:21-22. “After many days”, they were to be “found wanting”. This indicates not only the elimination of the Judaic leadership, but also that of Satanic evil from then on, as other references in scripture also describe.

    Subsequent to AD 70 (and the second, bodily resurrection event for the whole house of Israel – Isaiah 26:19-21), in the final 3 thousand years of the current age, all the evil that presently manifests itself in this world originates from the depraved heart of mankind alone. The spread of the kingdom’s influence is thereby relieved of at least one great enemy. It’s not “the world, the flesh, and the devil” with which we currently contend. We now have one down, and two to go at this point, since the unclean spirit has “passed out of the land” (Zech. 13:2). Leaven has become just that much freer to permeate the dough before the close of human history and its third, final resurrection event. It’s just another way to present “gradualism”, as Dr. Gentry has termed it.

  5. Kenneth Gentry August 19, 2015 at 8:05 am

    If you say so!

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