Several weeks ago I gave some Brief Thoughts On Postmillennialism. In today’s post we will consider a text that pushed me over the edge into full embrace of Postmillennialism. The text is 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, which reads like this, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
The overarching context of 1 Corinthians 15 is the subject of the bodily resurrection of Christ, in which Paul then discusses the resurrection of the dead, in which, at the physical return of Christ, the dead will rise from the grave. Apparently some were saying there was no resurrection of the dead (v. 12). So Paul’s discussion of the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ, is a discussion of eschatology. Amazingly, Paul gives us some indicators of what must happen before the “end” comes, and it’s not what you might think.
Contrary to popular thought the “end” will not be directly preceded by the triumph of evil in the world. It is often thought that the worse the world gets (as if its actually getting worse), the closer we are to the end and the sooner we are to Christ’s return. However, 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 tells us something quite different, opposite even. Paul says the end comes after destroying every rule and every authority and power. He then quotes from Psalm 110:1 saying, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (This is another post for another time, but Christ is currently reigning, seated at the right hand of God, where He ascended after the resurrection. Recall that right before His ascension in Matthew 28, He told His disciples, “all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me”). The Postmillennialist takes this to mean that the enemies of Christ will be put into subjection to Christ in history before Christ returns. This means that Christ doesn’t just ultimately triumph, but He triumph’s in history over His enemies.
This makes sense with the context of 1 Corinthians 15, as it says that the last enemy to be defeated is death. I could summarize 1 Corinthians 15 by saying that it is of utmost and first importance that the gospel be preached – the physical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in history – in accordance with the Scripture. Since Christ, as a matter of fact, rose from the dead, our preaching of the gospel is not in vain. And since He rose from the dead, we also will rise from the dead at His return. He will come when all His enemies are put under His feet as Psalm 110:1 testifies. For He must reign until all His enemies are His footstool (which happens through gospel preaching). Then, Christ will return and defeat the last enemy that is death, when all the dead shall rise again.