Amillenialism vs Premillenialism

This was an email exchange I had with a friend of mine who is a PhD student at Dallas Theological seminary.  The debate centered around which view of the end times best explains the biblical passages and also the understanding of the early church fathers.

 

I read through your email on the premill position multiple times and thought about it a great deal. This is my response to your arguments. Some of them are lengthy, especially with regards to what the early Church believed, but I thought it absolutely necessary to give you a thorough and worthy response. You bring up many good points that deserve to be considered fully and responded to in such manner. I hope you will truly take the time to evaluate each response. Please do not simply write them off because you are convinced of your position.   I did not do this with your arguments.  Although I, started from a place of disagreement, I did in fact take the time to fully consider what you had to say. And I must admit that some of your points were very good…not so good to compel me to change my position, but definitely thought provoking.

 

In my responses, I have included the pertinent verses to each argument along with my response.  This was mainly done for my benefit.  When having theses types of debates it is easy for the person presenting the arguments to simply verse sling and give a few references without actually showing the verses (not that this was your intention of course).  I think it helps everyone involved though to actually see the verses in their entirety and not just a chapter and verse number.  I hope this is not too distracting.  My responses are in italicized blue while your original argument is in normal text and color.

 

 

1.) Κα εδον “And I saw…” appears 8 times in Rev 19-22 (Rev 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11, 12; 21:1).  Notice that it appears in Rev 20:1 and 21:1.  This is significant because the amil/postmil want to say that Revelation 20 is a recapitulation of Revelation 19.  However, they do believe that Rev 21:1 “the new heavens and the new earth” is something future and not a recapitulation of anything.  But the same phrase begins both Revelation 20 and 21!  Why would John use the exact same phrase to introduce both chapters 20 and 21 if he was recapitulating 20 with 19 but not with 21?  According to Premill, this makes perfect sense because the visions and events are continuing in a chronological sequence; And I saw (Rev 19)…And I saw (Rev 20)… And I saw… (Rev 21)



Actually the phrase "And I saw" appears 9 times. Does this change your theory? I don't necessarily believe that these are a recapitulation of one scene.  I think that they can be seen as details about one event happening over a period of time.  Whether they occur chronologically or not is beside the point.  John is clearly describing a single event, the End.  When he gets to 21 however he goes from describing this great battle and what has happened to all of its participants to telling us about something "new".  How does this do damage to the amill position?


Revelation

19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

19:17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God,

19:19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army.

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain

20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. 

21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;

 

 

2.) The word νάστασις “resurrection” in Rev 20:5 appears forty-two times in the NT and always refers to physical bodily resurrection (with one exception in Luke 2:34). However, amil/postmil say that this is a spiritual resurrection. If so then this is completely inconsistent with the way this word is used in the NT if it means a spiritual resurrection. In addition, if this is a spiritual resurrection then the physical resurrection of believers that is so important to the rest of the NT (1 Cor 15; Acts 24:15; Heb 6:2; Daniel 12:1-3) is left out of Revelation.  When do believers get physically resurrected in Revelation? Under the amil/post mil understanding they don’t or at least it is not recorded.  Also, it cannot be the “rest of the dead” in 20:5 because they are not “blessed and holy” (20:6) and the second death (Lake of Fire) has power over them (Rev 20:5-6). The second resurrection is the resurrection of the wicked. 

 

The resurrection of the body is implied by the phrase “second resurrection”.  We see this happening at the “Great White Throne Judgment” (Rev 20:12-13) when all the people that have ever lived are “standing” before the throne.  John uses the word “stand” to show that all have received their new bodies, some to glory and some to damnation.

 

In the book of revelation when John sees the saints in heaven, he only refers to them as souls.  He does not give them bodily characteristics because the resurrection has not happened yet.  In fact, in verse 4 he specifically says I saw the “souls” of those that had been beheaded.  Even after this when he says “they came to life” he does not mention any type of bodily or physical characteristics because at that point they have none.  “They came to life” in their soul.  Here are a few verses below that show a spiritual resurrection.  I grant you that νάστασις is not used in these verses but my point is that the concept of spiritual resurrection is a prominent one in the New Testament.  And as you pointed out there is at least one verse that does use νάστασις in this way.  If there is an exception to the rule then it ceases to be a rule.

 

Thus, by your standard, Luke could not have meant spiritual resurrection in 2:34, because that would have been “inconsistent.” Yet, he did mean that. We cannot hold John to a standard that Luke was not held to.

 

I have also included below the Haydock Bible Commentary on Rev 20.  It is rather lengthy but I wanted you to have access to a more developed understanding of St. Augustine’s argument from a reliable Catholic commentator.

 

 

Luke 2:34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

Luke 15:24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

Romans 11:15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

Ephesians 2:1 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

 

 

From the Haydock Bible Commentary

And bound him for a thousand years. I shall give the reader an abridgment of what St. Augustine has left us on this chapter, in his 20th book de Civ. Dei[The City of God]. From the 5th to the 16th chap., (t. vii. p. 578 et seq.) he treats upon these difficulties: What is meant by the first and second resurrection; by the binding and chaining up of the devil; by the thousand years that the saints reign with Christ; by the first and second death; by Gog and Magog, &c. As to the first resurrection, chap. vi., he takes notice on the 5th verse, that resurrection[1] in the Gospels, and in St. Paul, is applied not only to the body but also to the soul; and the second resurrection, which is to come, is that of the bodies: that there is also a death of the soul, which is by sin; and that the second death is that of soul and body by eternal damnation: that both bad and good shall rise again in their bodies. On those words, (ver. 6) Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection; in these the second death hath no power. Such, saith he, (chap. ix.) as have risen from sin, and have remained in that resurrection of the soul, shall never be liable to the second death, which is damnation. Cap. vii. p. 580, he says that some Catholics not understanding rightly the first resurrection, have been led into ridiculous fables,[2] and this by the interpretation which they put on the thousand years; as if the first resurrection implied a resurrection of the bodies of the martyrs and saints, who should live on the earth with Christ for a thousand years before the general resurrection, in all manner of delights. This was the opinion of those called Millenarians: this, saith he, might seem tolerable in some measure,[3] if taken for spiritual delights, (for we ourselves were once in these sentiments) but if for carnal pleasures, it can only be believed by carnal men. He then expounds what may be understood by the binding and chaining of the devil for a thousand years; (Cap. vii. & viii, p. 581) that the thousand years, meaning a long time, may signify all the time from Christ's first coming[4] to his second at the end of the world, and to the last short persecution under antichrist. The devil is said to be bound, that is, his power much lessened and restrained, in comparison of the great and extensive power he had over all nations before Christ's incarnation; not but that he still tempts many,[5] and raiseth persecutions, which always turn to their greater good; and that towards the end of the world he shall be let loose, as it were, for a short time, and permitted with his infernal spirits to exercise his malice against mankind, to try the patience of the elect, and to shew the power of God's grace, by which his faithful servants shall triumph over the devil. (N. B.[Nota Bene, Note Well?]) What St. Augustine adds divers times in these chapters: "Let no one," says he, "imagine[6] that even during that short time, there shall be no Church of Christ on the earth: God forbid: even when the devil shall be let loose, he shall not be able to seduce the Church." Cap. ix, p. 586, he expounds those words, (ver. 4-5) I saw the souls of them that were beheaded....and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years....This is the first resurrection: i.e. the first resurrection is while the devil is chained up for the space of a thousand years. He takes notice that the present state of the Church is many times called the kingdom of God, and that the Church of Christ reigns now with Christ, both in the living saints and in those who are dead, in the souls of the martyrs, and of others, who having lived and died piously, now reign with Christ, not yet in their bodies,[7] but their souls reign with him. On those words of the 4th verse: who had not adored the beast, nor his image, nor received his mark, he only gives this exposition, as agreeable to the Christian faith, that by the beast may be understood the multitude of wicked sinners in general, and the image of the beast[8] those who are of the Church in outward appearance and profession only, and not by their works. When it is said (ver. 5) that the rest of the dead lived not till the thousand years were finished: they lived not, says he, as to their souls, when they should have lived; and therefore not being happy in heaven, when their bodies shall rise, it shall not be to life, but to judgment and damnation, which is the second death. Cap. xi, he expounds the 7th and 8th verses, where it is said that Satan shall be loosed....and seduce the nations which are over the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog,[9] and shall gather them together to battle. This, says St. Augustine, will be the last persecution at the approach of the day of judgment, which the whole city, or the whole Church of Christ dispersed through the universe, will suffer from the whole city of the devil. Neither need Gog and Magog be taken for a particular[10] barbarous people, but such as are dispersed in a manner in every nation, and who shall then break out by the instigation of Satan into an open hatred and persecution against the faithful servants of God; as it is said, (ver. 8.) they ascended upon the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, where we cannot literally understand one camp, one city, or one place, but the Church every where dispersed. Cap. xii, he expounds the 9th verse, where he takes fire to signify, metaphorically, the firm resistance and constancy of the good, and the fire[11] of their zeal, which devoured as it were the wicked; or we may understand with others, the temporal fire of God's judgments in this world against the wicked, but not the last eternal fire; because the eternal fire comes not down from heaven but the wicked are cast into it below. Cap. xiii, he teacheth that the last persecution[12] of antichrist, here mentioned, shall  last but three years and six months; i.e. a little while. Cap. xiv and xv, he expounds the 10th and following verse, of the devil being cast into the lake of fire, after the last persecution of antichrist. By the beast he understands, as before, the city or multitude of all the wicked; and by the false prophet, either antichrist or the outward appearance of faith in them that have none. Then follows the last judgment, where it is said that the books are opened, and also that another book was opened. By the first book, may be understood men and their consciences; and by the other book, the book of life, that[13] of eternal predestination. Thus far S. Augustine, where we see that he delivers the common Catholic doctrine, that by the thousand years, so often mentioned in this chapter, he understands all that time in which the souls of the martyrs, and of all other saints, reign happy with Christ in heaven, till after the general resurrection they receive a full and complete happiness, both as to soul and body. A false exposition of these thousand years gave occasion to the mistake, the error, and heresy of those called the Millenarians, which Mede and Dr. W. have followed. Papias, who lived soon after, or perhaps with St. John, was the chief promoter of this mistake; a man, says Eusebius, of "little judgment and capacity,"[14] who misconstrued the discourses which he heard. He was followed by divers writers in the second, third, and fourth century, who did not hold with Cerinthus and his followers, that the saints should rise before the general resurrection, and reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years in all manner of sensual pleasures; but in spiritual delights, in the city of Jerusalem, built anew after that glorious manner described in the next chapter. Now though this opinion had several considerable abettors, of which I find these seven: Papias, St. Justin[St. Justin Martyr], St. Irenæus, Tertullian, Nepos, (a bishop, in Egypt; in Eusebius, lib. vii. chap. xxiv.) Victorinus Petabionensis, Lactantius, and Severus Sulpitius: yet were there always other learned Catholic writers who rejected it as a fable. Of this number was Caius, a priest, at Rome, about the end of the second age[century]; Origen, in his prologue on the Canticles; St. Denys, of Alexandria, who in the third age[century] wrote to confute Nepos; (see Eusebius, lib. vii. History of the Church, chap. xxiv., who treats it as a fable ) St. Basil,[15] who calls it an old wife's tale, and a Jewish fiction, Epist. 293; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. 52; St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, Philastrius, Theodoret, who place this opinion among the heresies and heretical fables: so that this could never be looked upon as the constant doctrine and tradition of the Church. The bishop of Meaux[Bossuet] takes notice, that Mede either mistook or falsified the text of St. Justin,[16] who, in his Dialogue with Tryphon, holds that opinion of a thousand years reign; but adds, "I also told you, that many who are Christians of pious and sound sentiments, do not own this to be true." Thus we read in the Greek, as well as in the Latin translation: but Mr. Mede quite changes the sense, by adding a negative in this manner; but many who are not of this pure and holy doctrine, &c. We may observe that St. Justin says in the next page, that they who own not the resurrection of the body, and say that souls go to heaven without any future resurrection, are not to be accounted Christians, but are to be looked upon as Sadducees and unbelievers. Which is very true. And he adds, that he, and others who think right with him, know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a rebuilding of Jerusalem for a thousand years, which St. Justin himself judged grounded on the prophets, Isaias, Ezechiel, &c. So that not to make St. Justin contradict himself, he mentions three opinions: the first is the heresy of those who absolutely denied the future resurrection of the dead: these were not Christians, but unbelievers, Sadducees, &c. The second was of those who held that the martyrs and saints should rise, and reign for a thousand years in their bodies on the earth; this, which was his own opinion, he calls the right and true doctrine. But thirdly, he does not condemn those pious Christians who, as he had said before, disowned this thousand years reign, for this would be to contradict himself. (Witham) --- In the above chapter, what man can reflect without trembling, that the devil has the rage of a dragon, the cunning of an old serpent, the malice of a calumniator, and that he is a most implacable enemy? On the other hand, what man is there that does not feel consolation in the reflection, that Jesus Christ has vanquished this savage fiend, and bound him in fetters, by limiting the exercise of his rage and malice? Some understand this chaining of the dragon of the reign of Constantine, and particularly after the defeat of Licinius; (see above, [Apocalypse] chap. xii. 18.) and the thousand years of the intermediate period between Constantine and antichrist, when the devil will again be let loose, but for a short time, only three years and a half. (Bible de Vence) --- Bound him, &c. The power of Satan has been very much abridged by the passion of Christ; for a thousand years; that is for the whole time of the New Testament, but especially from the time of the destruction of Babylon or pagan Rome, till the new efforts of Gog and Magog against the Church, towards the end of the world. During which time the souls of the martyrs and saints live and reign with Christ in heaven, in the first resurrection, which is that of the soul to the life of glory, as the second resurrection will be that of the body, at the day of general judgment. (Challoner)

I do however have two additional questions.

 

When is the battle of Gog and Magog?  If you interpret Revelation in chronological order then this battle must take place after the Millennium.  But Ezekiel (Ezek 38) sees this battle while “Israel is dwelling securely in the land” with no mention of a millennium beforehand.  In fact, Ezekiel is referring to the time when Israel will be re-gathered in its land, which of course is a major prophecy that is supposed to precede the millennium not come after it in premill theology.  So which one is it?  The only interpretation that makes since is to see one battle with Gog and Magog coming at the end of the millennium.

 

If the millennium is full of only those who participate in the first resurrection and are blessed and holy then who does Satan deceive after the millennium has ended?  The blessed and holy cannot be deceived because we know that they are not subject to final damnation.  Is it the “rest of the dead” who are deceived?  Does God resurrect the wicked just to have them be deceived one more time so there is another final battle between God and Satan?  This doesn’t make any sense, nor does the text support such an understanding.

 

 

3.) Ἔζησαν “they came to life” in Rev 20:4 is the same word used in Rev 1:18; 2:8 (in the singular instead of the plural) and it clearly means Christ’s physical resurrection from the dead in 1:18 and 2:8.  Should we not interpret Scripture with Scripture? Why would the same word used of Christ be used differently when applied to the saints in 20:4? In addition, the same word is used of the “rest of the dead” who come to life at the end of the thousand years (20:5). So if the amil/postmil positions are correct then the same word used in 20:4a to describe the spiritual resurrection of the saints, is then used in 20:5 to apply to the physically resurrection of the wicked. On the other hand, premill consistently interprets the same word in 1:18; 2:8; 20:4b, 5 to mean physical resurrection.



In the right column I included the Greek below the English translation because the actual grammar is obviously critical to this particular argument.  I am using the RSV-CE translation which I believe almost all scholars agree is a trustworthy and extremely literal translation.  As a further disclaimer this is coming from a Protestant website (studylight.org) With that being said, you claim that Rev 1:18 uses the same word as in Rev 20:4-5.  It appears however that Rev 1:18 uses a different word than the other two verses.  In actuality they are all the same root word with just different tenses.  The word “zwn” is used throughout the NT with many different verb tenses and meanings as I am sure you are aware.  One of those meanings happens to be “a spiritual coming to life.” Below are just a few of the many verses that demonstrate a spiritual coming to life.  Each of these verses uses the same root word as Rev 20:4-5 although admittedly the tense is different.

 

Matt 4:4

Mark 12:27

Luke 4:4

Luke 10:28

Luke 20:38

John 4:10

John 4:11

John 5:25

Romans 6:11

 

The verse below uses the exact Greek word that is used in Rev 2:8 that you cite to support your argument and it is clearly used in a way that does not mean physical resurrection from the dead.  This is definitely a spiritual resurrection.  I believe that this one verse alone refutes you argument for the Greek wordezhsen” only being used to mean physical resurrection.

 

Luke 15:32

'But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.' "

eufranqhnai de kai xarhnai edei, (5900) oti o adelfov sou outov nekrov hn (5713) kai ezhsen, kai apolwlwv kai eureqh. (5681)

The verse below is also an almost exact match for the word used in Rev 20 and it is merely mentioning the fact that he “lived”.  Again there is no reference to a resurrection in this verse.

 

Acts 26:5 

since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

proginwskontev (5723) me anwqen, ean qelwsi marturein, (5721) oti kata thn akribestathn airesin thv hmeterav qrhskeiav ezhsa (5656) Farisaiov.

I included the verse below because it uses a phrase that is remarkably similar to the phrase “they came to life”.  Here St. Paul says “alive from the dead”.  The Greek word here is the same root word as that used in Rev 20.  This verse is clearly depicting a spiritual resurrection.

Rom 6:13

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

mhde paristanete (5720) ta melh umwn opla      adikiav th amartia, alla parasthsate (5657) eautouv tw     qew wsei ek nekrwn zwntav (5723) kai ta melh umwn    opla dikaiosunhv tw qew;

This last verse again shows the same root word as Rev 20 and is also used in the past tense (although a slightly different type of past tense than is used in Rev 20).  It is clearly depicting a “way” in which “you were living” not a physical resurrection.

 Col 3:7

and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.

en oiv kai umeiv periepathsate (5656) pote ote ezhte (5707) en toutoiv.

 

Rev 1:18 

I am he that liveth (5723) , and was (5633) dead; and, behold (5628) , I am (5748) alive (5723) for evermore *, Amen; and have (5719) the keys of hell and of death.

kai o zwn, (5723) kai egenomhn (5633) nekrov kai idou (5628) zwn (5723) eimi (5748) eiv touv aiwnav twn aiwnwn, kai exw (5719) tav kleiv tou qanatou kai tou adou.

 

 Rev 2:8

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write (5657) ; These things saith (5719) the first and the last, which was (5633) dead, and is alive (5656) ;

Kai tw aggelw thv en Smurnh ekklhsiav grayon; (5657) Tade legei (5719) o prwtov kai o esxatov, ov egeneto (5633) nekrov kai ezhsen; (5656)

20:4

And I saw (5627) thrones, and they sat (5656) upon them, and judgment was given (5681) unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded (5772) for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped (5656) the beast, neither his image *, neither had received (5627) his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived (5656) and reigned (5656) with Christ a thousand years.

Kai eidon (5627) qronouv, kai ekaqisan (5656) ep' autouv, kai krima edoqh (5681) autoiv, kai tav yuxav twn pepelekismenwn (5772) dia thn marturian Ihsou kai dia ton logon tou qeou, kai oitinev ou prosekunhsan (5656) to qhrion oude thn eikona autou kai ouk elabon (5627) to xaragma epi to metwpon kai epi thn xeira autwn; kai ezhsan (5656) kai ebasileusan (5656) meta tou Xristou xilia eth.

 Rev 20:5 

But the rest of the dead lived not again (5656) until the thousand years were finished (5686) . This is the first resurrection.

oi loipoi twn nekrwn ouk ezhsan (5656) axri telesqh (5686) ta xilia eth. auth h anastasiv h prwth.

 

 

I am also going to include Strong’s definition of the word (along with the verse count).  Notice that definition 2, 3, and 4 all have a strong spiritual dimension to them.  In fact definition 1 could not be used exclusively to mean a “physical” coming to life. And in the verse count below it is used in every one of those ways.

 

 Strong's Number:  2198

za/w

 

Original Word

Word Origin

 

za/w

 

a primary verb

Transliterated Word

Phonetic Spelling

 

Zao

 

dzah'-o

Parts of Speech

TDNT

 

Verb

 

2:832,290

 Definition

 

  1. to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead)
  2. to enjoy real life
    1. to have true life and worthy of the name
    2. active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God
  3. to live i.e. pass life, in the manner of the living and acting
    1. of mortals or character
  4. living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul
  5. metaph. to be in full vigour
    1. to be fresh, strong, efficient,
    2. as adj. active, powerful, efficacious

 Translated Words

 

KJV (26) - alive, 6; be alive, 9; live, 1; lively, 3; misc, 2; not tr, 1; quick, 4;

NAS (137) - alive, 15; get their living, 1; holding, 1; life, 1; live, 53; lived, 3; lives, 19; living, 44;

 Verse Count

KJV

NAS

 

Matthew

6

Mark

3

Luke

7

John

14

Acts

12

Romans

18

1 Corinthians

3

2 Corinthians

7

Galatians

6

Philippians

2

Colossians

2

1 Thessalonians

5

1 Timothy

4

2 Timothy

2

Titus

1

Hebrews

12

James

1

1 Peter

7

1 John

1

Revelation

14

 

Matthew

6

Mark

3

Luke

8

John

13

Acts

12

Romans

18

1 Corinthians

3

2 Corinthians

7

Galatians

6

Philippians

2

Colossians

2

1 Thessalonians

5

1 Timothy

3

2 Timothy

2

Titus

1

Hebrews

12

James

1

1 Peter

7

1 John

1

Revelation

13

 


I am including below the interpretation of Rev 20:4-5 by Vern Sheridan Poythress.  I am also making his bio available because it is important to know that a non-catholic of his theological learning can come to a completely different understanding of Rev 20:4-5 than you.

He earned a B.S. in mathematics from California Institute of Technology (1966) and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University (1970). After teaching mathematics for a year at Fresno State College (now California State University at Fresno), he became a student at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he earned an M.Div. (1974) and a Th.M. in apologetics (1974). He received an M.Litt. in New Testament from University of Cambridge (1977) and a Th.D. in New Testament from the University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa (1981).

He has been teaching in New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia since 1976. In 1981 he was ordained as a teaching elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, which has now merged with the Presbyterian Church in America.

Dr. Poythress studied linguistics and Bible translation at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Norman Oklahoma in 1971 and 1972, and taught linguistics at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the summers of 1974, 1975, and 1977. He has published books on Christian philosophy of science, theological method, dispensationalism, biblical law, hermeneutics, Bible translation, and Revelation.

The excerpt below is taken from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36 (1993) 41-54.

“But I think that a reference to heavenly vindication of martyrs is the most sensible interpretation of Rev 20:1-6.27  The immediate reference to "the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God" (20:4) as well as the fact that the seven churches faced threats of persecution and martyrdom (2:10; 2:13) make such a theme more relevant than any of the others.  I also find weighty evidence in the observations of Meredith G. Kline and R. Fowler White concerning the thematic links with the immediate context and with the rest of Revelation.28  Briefly, Kline argues that the linkage between the first resurrection and the second death (verse 6) suggests the fundamentally spiritual character of both, and that the coming of the second death simultaneously with the new heaven and new earth (20:14-21:2) puts "first" things into the category of preliminary or nonfinal, again qualifying the character of the first resurrection.  Thus the first resurrection refers to vindication of the souls of the martyrs in heavenly reign, which is preliminary in relation to the final resurrection of the body.  The first resurrection involves entrance into spiritual life simultaneous with bodily death, just as the second death involves entrance into spiritual death simultaneous with bodily resurrection.  Both are paradoxical or tensive in character.29  White argues that a number of contextual evidences indicate that 20:1 begins a recapitulation rather than a depiction of events chronologically succeeding 19:11-21.  (1) The nations to be deceived in 20:3 have already been definitively destroyed in 19:11-21.  (2) The battle imagery of 20:7-10 like that of 19:11-21 alludes to Ezek 38, indicating that they are the same battle.  (3) The battle of 16:14 is the great battle: the definite article as well as other elements of the description press us not to multiply battles by splitting apart the visions of 19:11-21 and 20:7-10.  Thus there are significant contextual clues available for pointing us towards the superiority of one interpretation over another.”

 

29.  The standard premillennial concern over χρι and the two uses of ζησαν in verses 4 and 5 is defused in Kline's approach.  The two uses of ζησαν refer not to identical kinds of resurrection, but express a homologous relation between the first resurrection and the second death.

 

4.) βασίλευσαν “they begun to reign” in 20:4.  Notice the saints came to life and then it says in the past tense they begun to reign.  This is significant because in Revelation 5:10 it says that the saints “will reign” in the future tense.  Not to mention that 2 Tim 2:12 says of the believer, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him…” in the future tense.  If the amil/postmil were right then Paul in 2 Tim 2:12 and John in Rev 5:10 should say that we are reigning now in the present.  But both Paul and John say we will reign in the future and in Rev 20:4 we are reigning in the past tense because this is after Christ’s glorious return. Nowhere in the NT does it say Christians are reigning in the past/present tense except in Revelation 20:4.

 

The wording here does not necessarily imply a future tense. The way it is worded could just as easily imply that we are reigning now. He stated that we have been made a kingdom (past tense). We also know we are currently priests, prophets, and kings.  You acknowledge this of course.  What do kings do? They reign. 

 

Paul says that we are kings and do reign now in 1 Cor 4:8.  John says in Rev 22:5 that we shall reign sometime after the millennium. This verse is clearly depicting the eternal state which you separate from the millennium.  But as you pointed out the scriptures say that we shall reign in the millennium (Rev 20:4).  So we have 1 Cor 4:8 saying that we are currently reigning.  Rev 22:5 says we will reign in the eternal state. So which one is it?  They are both correct.  I think Rev 5:10 and 2 Tim 2:12 do nothing to discount our current reign that Paul spoke of, but rather speak of the eternal reign. Yes we are reigning imperfectly now but nonetheless we reign through Christ as kings in His kingdom. We will also ultimately reign in glory. It’s not an either/or here. The argument you made is a false dichotomy.

1 Cor 4:8 Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!

Rev 22:5 And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.

Rev 5:10 and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.
Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

 



 

5.) In Revelation 19:20 it says that the beast and the false prophet were seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire.  Then after the thousand years in Revelation 20:10 it says that the Devil is thrown into the lake of fire “where the beast and the false prophet are also…”  If the amil/postmil position was right then Rev 20 would be a recapitulation of Rev 19 and therefore the beast and the false prophet should not be thrown into the lake of fire until then end of the thousand years i.e. at the end of Rev 20. Not only is the beast and the false prophet not mentioned as being with the devil when he makes war with the saints in the beloved city (20:7-9), but the Greek indicates that the beast and the false prophet are already there in the past tense being tormented when Satan is thrown into the lake of fire (20:10).  Under the premill position this is consistent because at the end of Rev 19 the beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, they spend a thousand years there, then when Satan is released at the end, then he himself gets thrown there with them. 



These two instances that you refer to are showing us the same thing with different details mentioned in each scenario.  Rev 19 is describing the last battle and tells us what happens to the human agents of the devil (i.e. the beast, the false prophet, and all the army they had gathered).  The second recollection of the last battle (in premill theology you are forced to believe in two last battles) in Rev 20 tells us what happens to the ultimate perpetrator of all of the evil, i.e. Satan himself.  We believe that both accounts are describing what happens at the end of the millennium.  You are the one who assigns only Rev 20 to the millennium.  That is why the “lake of fire” difference doesn’t make sense in your theology.  But again you are presupposing what you are trying to prove and making Scripture fit your theology.  I believe you called this eisegesis.  There is no contradiction here.  As far as the verb being in the past tense to describe the beast and false prophet I can completely agree with that.  It only makes sense that God would deal with the evil humans first and Satan last.  You are trying to make this say more than it actually does.  It does not imply that there is a long time between each one being thrown into the lake of fire.  The text only gives us an order not a description of a specific duration.

Rev 19:20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur.

Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:7-9 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,

 

 


 

6.) βύσσου “Abyss” appears 9 times in the NT and 7 times in Revelation (Luke 8:31; Rom 10:7; Rev 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3). In every case (look them up) this refers to a place in the underworld where disobedient demons are being held in chains until the great judgment (see Gen 6:1-4; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6). Therefore, if the amil/postmil position is correct then in Rev 20:1, 3 “abyss” is used in a completely different (metaphorical and spiritual) way then the rest of the NT.  Under the premill position abyss is interpreted in Rev 20:1, 3 consistently with the rest of the NT. 



The “abyss” is a metaphor for a literal reality.  It is not a place as we know “places”.  Places for us refer to physical realities for physical bodies.  Places for spirits refer to “states of being” as of course they have no bodies.  So any language speaking about a place for spirits is going to be speaking metaphorically.  Every one of the verses you mentioned is a metaphor and so is Rev 20:1. With that being said we know that the first set of demons was bound in the abyss when they had intercourse with women.  Satan was bound there at the cross as the Fathers attest to.  Some demons are not in the abyss as Lk 8:31 shows.  How does this in any way damage the amill position?

 

Luke 8:31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
Rom 10:7 or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
Rev 9:1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit;
Rev 9:2
 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.
Rev 9:11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abad'don, and in Greek he is called Apol'lyon.
Rev 11:7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will make war upon them and conquer them and kill them,
Rev 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition; and the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.
Rev 20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain.
Rev 20:3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.
2 Pet 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment;
Jude 1:6 And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day;

 

7.) It is made clear that Satan is shut up in the Abyss (always a place in the underworld in the NT), seized by a great chain, locked up, sealed up, in order that he may not deceive the nations any longer until the 1,000 years are over (Rev 20:1-3). Compare this with Satan presently roaring around like a lion seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet 5:8), Paul is afraid of Satan “deceiving” the Corinthians in (2 Cor 11:3), Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of the air and is presently at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:1-2), and the whole world lies in his power (1 John 5:19).  John also says that many “deceivers” are presently going out into the world (2 John 1:7); who would John say is ultimately behind that deception?! 

 

I want to take this opportunity to examine Rev 20:1 in more detail.  I believe that you are committing a fundamental error in applying your hermeneutical construct to this one sentence.  To begin with, we see at the beginning of the verse an Angel holding a key.  Is this a literal, physical key? Of course not. And if so, where is this key? No, it is merely a symbol or metaphor.  In admitting the key is a metaphor, we have determined the rule as metaphor in order to establish a consistent hermeneutic. Continuing on we see an Angel carrying a chain.   Is this a literal physical chain? If so, where is this chain? No. It is another metaphor.  Next is mentioned a “pit”.  Is this a physical pit for a spiritual creature? If so, where is the pit? Physical matter is discernible to the senses. That means, if it is physical, we should be able to observe and measure its properties. But we can’t, because it is another metaphor. It then says that the Angel seized the Dragon. Is the Devil really a dragon like we see in movies? Of course not, it is another metaphor. I am fairly certain you would grant all this, so let’s move on. The 1000 years is mentioned. Does the author inexplicably switch to a physical, temporal understanding after using 4 different metaphors?  Looking at each part of the sentence it is clear that you switch from a metaphorical, interpretive framework to a literal one within the same sentence. This is definitely not consistent, and it seems the only explanation for doing so would be to fit the passage into your theological framework. The 1000 years symbolizes a “complete” amount of time (10^3).  The book of Revelation is full of symbolic numbers and the premill position accepts a lot of them as such, but when it comes to this one verse, things suddenly change, even when the very context of the sentence points in the opposite direction. I also want to give you a verse that uses this exact number in the same metaphorical way.

 

Ps 50:10

"For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.

 

Are not all the cattle His?  Of course they are.  The number “one thousand,” or any multiple of it (i.e 144,000), means “completeness”. You don’t believe only 144,000 are going to Heaven do you?

 

Revelation 20:1-10 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.

1 Pet 5:8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.
2 Cor 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Eph 2:1-3 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience

1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.



8.) In addition on Satan not deceiving the nations right now is pure fantasy.  To get around this they will say that Satan is now more limited than he once was or can’t deceive the Gentiles or the elect or… The simple question to ask is, if John wanted to say that Satan could not deceive the nations any more, I mean in a premill way where he really cannot deceive the nations anymore, how could John have said it better/clearer?  Maybe like this, “He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended” (Rev 20:3).  This is the simple/plain reading of this passage. Only when someone wants to make Scripture fit with their theological system (eisegesis) could they read this any other way then that Satan no longer can deceive the nations. 



Great argument in regards to “How more clearly could John have said it?”  I wonder how much more clearly John’s quote of Jesus could have told us that the bread is truly His flesh (Jn 6:51-59). OR that we must be baptized to enter the kingdom of God, or “be saved” (Jn 3:5, 1 Pet 3:21). OR that the Apostles have the authority to forgive or retain sin (Jn 20:21-23). You use one verse to prove your interpretation, yet when Jesus uses this most graphic language (in one of the longest recorded discourses from our Master- John 6) you look past the simplest and most straight forward interpretation of His words. You might want to reconsider using this argument unless you are willing to take it to its natural conclusion in every instance, and not just where you believe it supports your argument.

I think you actually touched on my theory of how Satan, being currently bound, continues to deceive the nations with a couple of verses you cited above. I grant you that Jude 6 and 2 Peter both refer to Genesis 6. Therefore, there are a portion of the fallen angels who currently reside in the Abyss. I also grant you, based on Luke 8:31 that some demons are not bound. You cited Eph 2:1-2, which said: “according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In this passage resides my argument. Though Satan is bound, he continues to “deceive the nations” by “working in the sons of disobedience.” These are the demons that remain unbound. This seems to be further bolstered by 2 Jn 1:7, which states, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” I believe this interpretation allows us to harmonize all of the texts on this topic, rather than having to deny “Satan is bound” or the opposite argument which says, “Satan is deceiving the nations.”

 

Finally, I must say, if anyone is guilty of eisegesis of both the Scriptures and Fathers on this, it is you. You have somehow claimed the Fathers on this issue, when they clearly did not agree with you (as we will see below). And with the Scriptures, you are clearly isolating one passage from another, ignoring the ones that don’t fit with your theological system, and adding unintended meaning to other passages in order to arrive at this Premill position. What impact would the collapse of this theological position have on you? Would you be willing to let it go, if it turned out the Fathers did not support your position? Are you willing to acknowledge there are some passages in the Scripture your position struggles to deal with?

Rev 20:3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while.

 

 

 

Moreover, the postmil position suffers here much more than the amil position.  The amil position agrees that Satan will be released after the figurative/spiritual thousand years are over and there will be tribulation like time with the antichrist and this is very similar to the premill. However, the postmil want to believe that all the nations on the earth will become obedient to Christ and this will usher in his coming and the new heavens and the new earth.  First of all, not only is Christ’s coming not recorded at the end of Rev 20 (because it was already recorded at the end of Rev 19), but after the thousand years are over Satan is released and then allowed to deceive the nations again and is successful (Rev 20:7-9)!  These same nations that the postmil say are then obedient to Christ! So under a postmil position never in Revelation is there a physical resurrection of believers, a return of Christ at the end of Rev 20, and never does it say that all nations are obedient to Christ before Rev 21:1 the new heavens and the new earth.  In fact, it says the exact opposite that the nations will be deceived by Satan and “they” will surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city and then God will destroy them once and for all (Rev 20:9). 


We agree on this one.

 

9.) The millennium in Paul according to 1 Corinthians 15:23-26.  This is nowhere near as strong an argument as the other 9 arguments here but it is important nevertheless.  Paul gives a quick snapshot of the end.  He says, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” Notice when it says Christ the first fruits then those who are at Christ’s coming. Paul uses “then” here and it covers 2,000 years as of now between Christ’s resurrection (as the first fruits) and his second coming.  Right after that Paul says “then” again; “then comes the end.” If the first “then” covered over 2,000 years why can’t the second “then” also be understood to be the millennium (1,000 years) between Christ’s 2nd coming and the end? In addition, at the “end” after the thousand year reign (same word as in Rev 20:4b) Christ will hand over the millennial kingdom to God the Father when finally all evil is destroyed (Satan in Rev 20:10?) and Paul says that death is the last enemy to be destroyed.  Interestingly, “Death” is the last enemy destroyed in Revelation 20:14!  Then Paul says God will be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28) which is beautifully illustrated in Rev 21-22. 

 

I think you are right to not make too much out of this argument.  The very claim that you say could be “possible” is very likely just as “improbable”.  You have no proof, just wishful thinking on this one.  Since you do not see the current time as the Kingdom Age where Christ the King rules in heaven, you therefore have to account for an additional kingdom age (the millennium) that Christ will hand over to the Father.  The whole idea of an earthly paradise harkens back to the original mistake made by the Jews and why they could never accept Christ as the messiah.  It is really interesting to see a whole branch of Christianity waiting and expecting the same things from the messiah that the Jews mistakenly awaited for.  Now is the Kingdom that Christ preached constantly about.  It is not perfected yet, but it will be at the end of time and then Christ will hand it over to the Father.

1 Cor 15:23-28 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.

Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire;

 

 

10.) As for external evidence, the burden of proof is definitely on the amil/postmil position.  Origen was the first to argue for spiritualizing the 1,000 years in the 3rd century and he became a heretic. Amil was championed by Augustine the greatest influencer in the West for a thousand years.  However, NOT ONE person saw postmil in the text of Revelation until the 13th century and was not even well known until the 16th through 18th centuries.  In contrast, historic/classic premill was the only position for the first 200 years of the church.  Not only that, but Justin Martyr, Papias, Polycarp, the Epistle of Barnabus, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, etc. all could boast that they either knew John the Apostle (who wrote Revelation) personally or knew and learned from someone who did hear him.  Most of them lived within the same generation as when John lived! 

 

I definitely agree with you about the postmil position being completely unhistorical and a novelty.  As you pointed out it has only been around since the 16th century…at the earliest.  With that in mind, how do you get past the fact that the first person to not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist occurred in the 9th century?  And as for Ignatius, Polycarp, and Irenaeus specifically, they all taught such Catholic doctrines as faith and works, the monarchial episcopate, the real presence, the primacy of Rome, and the necessity of baptism to name just a few; yet you reject all of these. I do not bring this up to sidetrack the conversation or to try to get out of answering your question (which I do below).  I am simply calling attention to the fact that you are being entirely inconsistent   If you are going to use the historical argument, and I do of course think you should, then you need to be consistent in its application. Yet, when the historical argument contradicts your “Biblical interpretation” you write it off. The point is if you argue the Fathers are wrong on the majority of these distinctively Catholic doctrines early on, the historical argument doesn’t serve you any purpose because you have completely undermined its credibility. You’re trying to have your cake AND eat it too.

 

Your claim that in the first two hundred years there was a unanimous acceptance of the modern Premill position is historically inaccurate and cannot be maintained when the writings themselves are scrutinized.  I will here provide a brief summary of points that disprove the historical claim.

 

1.      Not one single Father taught the modern Premill position.

2.      Many of the Fathers taught that the kingdom is now

3.      In an age when heresy was seen as the greatest of crimes and not tolerated in the least by the Church there were divergent views on this matter which Christians could maintain and still be “pious and holy”

4.      Even among those that were premill there was a wide range of ideas and no consistent theology.

 

The evidence for these points is below.  I have included two different sections on the Fathers.  The first section is my analysis of selected writings that disprove your claim.  The next section is taken from a website in which 31 different authors from the first three centuries are analyzed in depth to determine their understanding of the millennium.


Papias

 

Fragment VI

The same person, moreover, has set down other things as coming to him from unwritten tradition, amongst these some strange parables and instructions of the Saviour, and some other things of a more fabulous nature.1758 Amongst these he says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth

 

The main thing to point out here is that the author only sees one general resurrection.  In your theology you believe that there will be an initial resurrection of the righteous who will reign on earth with Christ and then a second resurrection of the wicked and then final judgment.  This author sees one resurrection and then the millennium.  This is not the modern Premill scenario.

 


Irenaeus

 

Against Heresies: Book III

Chapter XXIII

But inasmuch as God is invincible and long-suffering, He did indeed show Himself to be long-suffering in the matter of the correction of 456 man and the probation of all, as I have already observed; and by means of the second man did He bind the strong man, and spoiled his goods, 3757 and abolished death, vivifying that man who had been in a state of death.

 

First we see that Irenaeus clearly believes that Satan is currently bound.  This, of course, is in direct contradiction to your beliefs.  Secondly we see here that Irenaeus associates the cross with “vivifying the dead” or coming to life.  This sounds very similar to the Amill understanding of the first resurrection.  The most striking thing is that here the two concepts are associated together; that of Satan being bound and men coming to life.

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXI

For when Satan is bound, man is set free; since “none can enter a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, unless he first binds the strong man himself.”4639

 

This again shows that Irenaeus understood Satan to be currently bound.  He even uses the very verse that Amillennialist use today to prove it.

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXVIII

3. For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.”4695 This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years;4696 and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.

 

Irenaeus’ understanding of the timing of the millennium is completely different than the modern Premill position

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXIX

And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”4699 For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption. 2. And there is therefore in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit, in order that all apostate power, flowing into and being shut up in him, may be sent into the furnace of fire.

 

The righteous are only crowned with incorruption in the eternal state.  Irenaeus says that after the tribulation that this is the “last contest”.  We also know that he is talking about the battle after the tribulation because he makes reference to the beast.  In your theology the beast is not around in the second, final battle (after Satan is loosed from the abyss) he is already in the lake of fire.  In Premill theology you must account for a first, final battle, then the millennium, and then a second, final battle.  Irenaeus sees nothing of the sort. Nor should he, since it is non-sensical to have two “final” battles.  

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXX

4. But he indicates the number of the name now, that when this man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is: the name, however, is suppressed, because it is not worthy of being proclaimed by the Holy Spirit. For if it had been declared by Him, he (Antichrist) might perhaps continue for a long period. But now as “he was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the abyss, and goes into perdition,”4708

 

The Antichrist ascends out of the abyss when Satan is loosed from the Abyss.  The Antichrist becomes the Antichrist because he is possessed by Satan.  Irenaeus is showing us how closely the two are related and the fact that the Antichrist can’t exist unless Satan has been loosed from the abyss.  He can’t ascend from the abyss unless he is already there as Amillennialists believe.

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXXIII

These are [to take place] in the times of the kingdom, that is, upon the seventh day, which has been sanctified, in which God rested from all the works which He created, which is the true Sabbath of the righteous, which they shall not be engaged in any earthly occupation; but shall have a table at hand prepared for them by God, supplying them with all sorts of dishes.

 

Irenaeus does not base his understanding of the earthly paradise (your equivalent to the millennium) on Rev 20:4.  His understanding comes from Jewish tradition which sees the final Sabbath rest as being related to “A thousand years are to the Lord as a day is”.  Don’t you think that if he had the modern Premill understanding in mind he would cite the one text that you rely on for your entire theology?

 

Against Heresies: Book V

Chapter XXXVI

1. For since there are real men, so must there also be a real establishment (plantationem), that they vanish not away among non-existent things, but progress among those which have an actual existence. For neither is the substance nor the essence of the creation annihilated (for faithful and true is He who has established it), but “the fashion of the world passeth away;”4784 that is, those things among which transgression has occurred, since man has grown old in them. And therefore this [present] fashion has been formed temporary, God foreknowing all things; as I have pointed out in the preceding book,4785 and have also shown, as far as was possible, the cause of the creation of this world of temporal things. But when this [present] fashion [of things] passes away, and man has been renewed, and flourishes in an incorruptible state, so as to preclude the possibility of becoming old, [then] there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, in which the new man shall 567 remain [continually], always holding fresh converse with God. And since (or, that) these things shall ever continue without end, Isaiah declares, “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I do make, continue in my sight, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.”4786 And as the presbyters say, Then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour4787 shall be seen according as they who see Him shall be worthy. 2. [They say, moreover], that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold: for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and that was on this account the Lord declared, “In My Father’s house are

many mansions.”4788 For all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place; even as His Word says, that a share is allotted to all by the Father, according as each person is or shall be worthy. And this is the couch on which the guests shall recline, having been invited to the wedding.4789 The presbyters, the disciples of the apostles, affirm that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; also that they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father, and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the apostle, “For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”4790 For in the times of the kingdom, the righteous man who is upon the earth shall then forget to die. “But when He saith, All things shall be subdued unto Him, it is manifest that He is excepted who did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”4791 3. John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first “resurrection of the just,”4792 and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth; and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonize [with his vision]. For the Lord also taught these things, when He promised that He would have the mixed cup new with His disciples in the kingdom. The apostle, too, has confessed that the creation shall be free from the bondage of corruption, [so as to pass] into the liberty of the sons of God.4793 And in all these things, and by them all, the same God the Father is manifested, who fashioned man, and gave promise of the inheritance of the earth to the fathers, who brought it (the creature) forth [from bondage] at the resurrection of the just, and fulfils the promises for the kingdom of His Son; subsequently bestowing in a paternal manner those things which neither the eye has seen, nor the ear has heard, nor has [thought concerning them] arisen within the heart of man,4794 For there is the one Son, who accomplished His Father’s will; and one human race also in which the mysteries of

God are wrought, “which the angels desire to look into;”4795 and they are not able to search out the wisdom of God, by means of which His handiwork, confirmed and incorporated with His Son, is

brought to perfection; that His offspring, the First-begotten Word, should descend to the creature (facturam), that is, to what had been moulded (plasma), and that it should be contained by Him; and, on the other hand, the creature should contain the Word, and ascend to Him, passing beyond the angels, and be made after the image and likeness of God.4796

 

There are two main points to be made from this passage.  Both points demonstrate that modern Premill theology is completely different than Irenaeus’ understanding.  First Irenaeus sees three different places in the millennium; Heaven, paradise, and the earthly city.  I don’t think any modern Premillennialists hold this view.  Irenaeus sees them all occurring at the same time so it would be incorrect to say that he sees first the earthly millennium then we all go to heaven.  He goes on to say that we will advance through these stages until we end up in heaven.  Again I don’t think this resembles your understanding at all.  The next section that I highlighted is interesting because it is his justification for why there will be an earthly kingdom.  What stands out to me though is this particular phrase, “bondage of corruption, [so as to pass] into the liberty of the sons of God.”  Irenaeus consistently sees the earthly kingdom as the necessary prelude to heaven (the beatific vision) but what needs to be made clear is that at no point does he see Satan in the picture. When the millennium comes there is simply an earthly paradise followed by eternal bliss.  Nowhere is there mention of Satan being let loose to deceive the nations at the end of the millennium and then another final battle.  The reason Irenaeus never mentions this is because he based his understanding on the earthly paradise on the “true Sabbath” as I have already mentioned.  Irenaeus definitely sees an earthly paradise but to extrapolate from that, that he agrees completely, or even mostly, with the modern premillennial understanding is to do serious damage to the text.

 

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, even these “premillennial fathers” were much closer to the “amill” interpretation of Scripture. The ONLY thing they share with you is that there will be a literal millennium. The way they arrive there has nothing to do with the thing that should ultimately matter most to you…their interpretation of the SCRIPTURES.

 

 


Justin Martyr

 

Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection

Chapter XVIII

But as our Lord is alone truly Master, so the Son of God is truly good and patient, the Word of God the Father having been made the Son of man. For He fought and conquered; for He was man contending for the 448 fathers,3659 and through obedience doing away with disobedience completely: for He bound the strong man,3660 and set free the weak, and endowed His own handiwork with salvation, by destroying sin. For He is a most holy and merciful Lord, and loves the human race.

 

Here we see Justin clearly stating that Satan is currently bound.  The declared champion of the Premill position doesn’t even use your pivotal verse the way you do.

 

Dialogue with Trypho

Chapter LXXX

And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?” Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly,2258 that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware;2259 but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.

 

During the early church age, heresy was treated with the greatest seriousness.  The slightest deviation from the apostolic faith was considered an attack upon Christ, the Church, the souls of all peoples, and the faith in general.  It was never tolerated. Perpetrators were considered heretics and thus, not Christian. In fact there was greater penance prescribed for repenting apostates than there was for repenting adulterers.  With that being said don’t you think it is extremely significant that Justin says that there are many who “belong to the pure and pious” faith who disagree with him?  There is no way he could make this statement unless he was well aware of differing views and was more than willing to accept them as wholly acceptable within the body of Christ.  This one statement by Justin completely undermines your argument that there was no other view held in the first two centuries of the church. There is no way around that.

 

Dialogue with Trypho

Chapter CX

and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the  whole earth changed our warlike weapons,— our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,

 

I have heard many Premill proponents argue, “How could we currently be in the millennium since the prophecy of “swords into ploughshares” has clearly not been fulfilled?”  According to Justin this prophecy has already been fulfilled.  Justin clearly believed in some type of earthly kingdom (paradise) but it is based on none of the texts that the modern premill theology is based on.  In fact Justin’s whole understanding of the millennium looks nothing like the modern premill theory.  Along these lines it is clear that none of the Fathers used the texts that form the foundation of modern premillnnialism.  They based their understanding on Jewish tradition.

 

 
 
 

 


Epistle of Barnabas

 

Chapter XV

 “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.”1657 Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is1658 with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth,1659 saying, “Behold, to-day1660 will be as a thousand years.”1661 Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man,1662 and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon,1663 and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.

 

This text again relies on the idea of a “Sabbath rest” to form its understanding of the earthly kingdom.  We see again no mention of Rev 20 or Satan being loosed for another battle.  It simply says that the wicked man (Antichrist) will be destroyed and then judgment comes.

Chiliasm in the Early Church Fathers

 

Taken from

http://www.northforest.org/Eschatology/ecfChiliasm.html

 

The purpose of this article is to show at a glance what the early church fathers believed regarding the end-times.

I have analyzed the end-time viewpoint of 31 Early Church Fathers up to and including Augustine. The results:

10 were premillennial and 5 (or more) were amillennial.

13 were NOT premillennial and 7 were NOT amillennial.

In conclusion, it is not correct to say (as many premillennialists do) that the early church fathers were premillennialists.


Overview

I analyzed the writings of each of the major early church fathers (or writings from others about their views) and categorized them according to their end-time viewpoint. This page list the results of this study.

 


Premillennial

  • Yes -- 10

Note: in the following, a writer may fall into more than one category


Based on 6,000 years of human history (which is wrong) -- 5

End didn't come when they said — 2

Different than modern ideas -- 10

Had amillennial ideas -- 1

Definite -- 7

Probable -- 3

  • No -- 13

Definite -- 9

Probable -- 4

  • Wrote nothing one way or the other -- 6
  • Other -- 2

------------

Total -- 31


Amillennial

Since this study was not to determine if a writer was amillennial there are more entries under "other" then there might be otherwise.

  • Yes -- 5
  • No -- 7
  • Wrote nothing one way or the other -- 6
  • Other -- 13

------------

Total -- 31

 

Chronological:

Mathetes — 90 A.D.

Not premillennial

Hermas — 99 A.D.

Not premillennial

Clement of Rome — 99 A.D.

Probably not premillennial

Didache — 100 A.D.

Not premillennial

Ignatius — 110 A.D.

Premillennialists claim that Ignatius was a premillennialist but he wrote nothing about it one way or the other.

Papias — 115 A.D.

He is premillennial (but it is unclear what his specific views were). In any case, his view is inconsistent with modern premillennialism.

Barnabas — 130 A.D.

Probably not premillennial. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong.

Justin Martyr — 150 A.D.

Clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennium. But his ideas about the conditions in the millennium would horrify modern premillennialists.

Irenaeus — 150 A.D.

Probably not premillennial. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong.

Polycarp — 155 A.D.

No end-time writings except to confirm the resurrection and eternal state.

Aviricius Marcellus — 163 A.D.

He is clearly premillennial. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. Has an allegorical style of interpretation which would horrify premillennialists (it horrifies me).

Tatian — 110-172 A.D.

Says nothing one way or the other.

Hegesippus — 170 A.D.

Not premillennial

Apollinaris — 175 A.D.

No end time writings.

Melito — 180 A.D.

No end time writings.

Theophilus — 181 A.D.

He teaches nothing about a 1,000 year millennium.

Tertullian — 206 A.D.

He is clearly premillennial but his concept of the 1,000 year millennium is nothing like modern premillennialists. And he asserts that the church = Israel which is an amillennial idea.

Clement of Alexandria — 215 A.D.

Probably believed in a 1,000 year millennium.

Origen — 232 A.D.

No one considers Origen to be a premillennialist. Origen himself refutes the idea of a physical millennium.

Hippolytus — 236 A.D.

Probably believed in a 1,000 year millennium. However, he made two serious mistakes: (1) refers to 6,000 years of human history and (2) stated that the end would come in 500 A.D.

Julius Africanus — 245 A.D.

Says nothing one way or the other.

Cyprian — 258 A.D.

Probably believed in a 1,000 year millennium. However, he made two serious mistakes: (1) refers to 6,000 years of human history and (2) believed that the end of the world would come soon (which it didn't).

Victorinus of Pettau — 270 A.D.

An amillennialist.

Nepos — 280 A.D.

He is premillennial.

Coracion — 280 A.D.

He was premillennial but changed his opinion after a debate with Dionysius.

Caius — 296 A.D.

Unclear what his view was.

Methodius, Bishop of Tyre — 300 A.D.

Although he uses the word "millennium" he uses it figuratively to mean "life after salvation." In my opinion he was an amillennialist.

Commodianus — 305 A.D.

Clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennium. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. His view is inconsistent with modern premillennialism and his ideas about the conditions in the millennium would horrify modern premillennialists.

Lactantius — 325 A.D.

Clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennium. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. Superficially his view sounds a lot like modern premillennialism but he has some serious inconsistencies (as do modern premillennialists).

Eusebius — 341 A.D.

Not premillennial.

Augustine — 386 A.D.

Augustine was clearly amillennial.

The purpose of this article is to show which early church fathers believed in which end-time viewpoint.

Ø      Who was Premillennial

Ø      Who was not Premillennial

Ø      The Church is Israel


Who was Premillennial

Ø      Papias

Ø      Justin Martyr

Ø      Aviricius Marcellus

Ø      Tertullian

Ø      Clement of Alexandria

Ø      Hippolytus

Ø      Cyprian

Ø      Nepos

Ø      Commodianus

Ø      Lactantius.

But note: ALL of these had one or more of the following problems with their thinking:

  • Their view was inconsistent with modern premillennialism. So how can they really be used to support modern premillennialism?
  • They referred to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. Some of these writers based their entire end-time scheme on this idea — if the foundation is bad the conclusions are also bad. This idea originated with the Jews and was borrowed by some early church fathers.
  • They believed that the world would end at a certain time and it didn't. Usually this error was in conjunction with the previous one.

Who was not premillennial

Ø      Mathetes

Ø      Hermas

Ø      Clement of Rome

Ø      Didache

Ø      Barnabas

Ø      Irenaeus

Ø      Hegesippus

Ø      Origen

Ø      Victorinus of Pettau

Ø      Coracion

Ø      Methodius

Ø      Eusebius

Ø      Augustine.

 


The Church is Israel

The formula "the church = Israel" is central to amillennialism. Dispensational premillennialists cannot accept this formula, and historical premillennialists must apply many of the end-time prophetic passages to Israel and not to the church (as amillennialists do).

If an early church father believed that "the church = Israel" then it would cast serious doubts on whether they were really premillennial in the modern understanding.

Dallas Seminary Dispensationalist Alan Patrick Boyd writes, "The Majority of the writers/writings in this period (70-165 A.D.) completely identify Israel with the church. He specifically cites Papias, I Clement, 2 Clement, Barnabus, Hermas, the Didache, and Justin Martyr. "

Boyd notes that in the case of Barnabus, . . . he has totally disassociated Israel from the precepts of the Old Testament. In fact he specifically designates the Church to be the heir of the covenantal promises made to Israel

Elsewhere he writes that Papias applied much of Old Testament to the Church.

Of Hermas he notes the "employment of the phraseology of late Judaism to make the Church the True Israel."

Of Justin Martyr he claims that the Church is the true Israelitic race, thereby blurring the distinction between Israel and the Church:

Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew "even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ are the true Israelitic race."

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the idea the premillennial early church fathers had was very different from modern premillennialists.

Some of the early church fathers had ideas about the millennium that would be flatly rejected by modern premillennialists. They are:

  • That human history would last 6,000 years (which is wrong).
  • That the millennium would begin on a certain date (and it didn't).
  • That "the church = Israel" (an amillennial idea)
  • They used an allegorical method of interpretation (amillennialists are usually accused of this, but it is also present in the premillennial early church fathers).

Nature of Millennium


6,000 Years of Human History

Many early church fathers assumed that human history would last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

(1) Starting at 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date, and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) and adding 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days, which is the year often used for prophetic calculations). Human history did not end, so this view is incorrect. Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

(2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this view, Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.

If they got this wrong then their entire end-time viewpoint collapses since the idea of 6,000 years of human history is foundational to their viewpoint.

This idea originated with the Jews who interpreted the six days of creation as 1,000 year periods of time. The seventh "day of rest" therefore is the millennium (read more).

The early church fathers who used this idea as a basis for their belief in premillennialism are:


The End Would Come Soon

Several of the early church fathers declared that the end would come at a certain time, but it didn't. This idea was foundational to their premillennial concept, so if they were wrong about that, then they were wrong about other aspects of their end-time viewpoint.

Hippolytus

  • That the world would end in 500 AD (which didn't happen)

Cyprian

  • He wrote in about 258 A.D. and mistakenly thought that the end of the 6,000 years would occur soon — but it has continued into the present, which has been 1,700 years.

Early Church Fathers | Table of Contents | End Time Prophecy | North Forest | Top of page

 


What the Church Fathers Believed


Papias

  • He distinguished between three distinct destinations for believers based on how much fruit they produce:

    (1) Heaven

    (2) Paradise

    (3) The City (presumably the New Jerusalem)

    Papias claimed that he ultimately got all his information accurately handed down from the apostles, but this doctrine of his is unheard of today amongst Bible scholars.
  • He claimed that in the earthly Kingdom people will forget to die.
  • I'm supposing that he stated that the 6,000 years of human history is really about Christ and the church. This might be a disguised version of the formula "the church = Israel" which is a cornerstone of amillennialism and is not compatible with premillennialism.

Justin Martyr

  • He clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennial period but its characteristics are radically different than premillennialism.

    (1) Habited only by martyred believers from the church age

    (2) No unbelievers present

    (3) A continuous worship service

    (4) The Great Tribulation is the persecution of believers under the leadership of the man of apostasy
  • He mixed up the New Heavens and New Earth with the 1,000 years
  • He equated the days of the Tree of Life with the 1,000 years (because Adam did not live to be 1,000 years old, and he would die in that same day)
  • Bad exegesis of the day of the Lord is as 1,000 years
  • He stated that the apostle John in the book of Revelation prophesied that believers would live 1,000 years in Jerusalem and after that be resurrected.
  • After the 1,000 millennium there will be an eternal resurrection and the final judgment
  • He denied much of what modern premillennialists say about conditions in the 1,000 year millennium by applying it to the church age.

Aviricius Marcellus

  • He assumed the creation occurred in six literal days.
  • He claimed that the world is composed of 4 elements — fire, water, heaven, earth.
  • He used a very allegorical style of interpretation. It is odd that premillennialists who pride themselves on their strict literalness would use someone like this for support of their position.
  • He claimed that there will be a 7th 1,000 year period which is a Sabbath in which Christ will reign with his elect.

Tertullian

  • He appears to be saying that the second coming brings in final judgment.
  • Note that the "dissolution of the elements" and the "conflict of nations" are the same event. In premillennialism the "conflict of nations" is usually considered part of the great tribulation (before the second coming of Christ) and the "dissolution of the elements" is considered to occur after the millennium and immediately before the great white throne judgment.
  • He wrote that God's kingdom is heavenly and eternal.
  • He asserted that the church = Israel
  • He refuted these ideas (implying that he believes them to be wrong):

    (1) That Christ doesn't have a physical body, only a spiritual one,

    (2) That there will be a restored earthly kingdom for Israel followed by eternity in Abraham's bosom

    (3) That believers will spend eternity in heaven, but there is no future heavenly kingdom.

    He, therefore, didn't believe in a restored earthly kingdom for Israel but instead, that there would be a future heavenly kingdom.
  • The chronological sequence for believers:

    (1) The earthly kingdom — During the 1,000-year period before the end of the world, believers are resurrected (some sooner, some later) into the New Jerusalem (a physical city in the sky).

    (2) The heavenly kingdom — the destruction of the world, final judgment, changed into substance of angels (incorruptible nature), enter heavenly kingdom.
  • Christ resides both on the earth and in heaven and has both a fleshly and a spiritual nature.
  • The 1,000 year millennium is for the purpose of refreshing of the believers without the suffering they experienced in this world.
  • God's blessing to Abraham was both a physical one and a heavenly one.

    (1) The church is first blessed with a heavenly blessing (the New Jerusalem, a heavenly city for 1,000 years) then a physical one (the eternal state).

    (2) Israel (through Esau) was first blessed with a physical blessing (the land of Canaan) then a heavenly one (membership in the church after Christ's 1st coming).
  • There are two phases to human life:

    (1) This current physical world which will end someday

    (2) The hereafter which is eternal

    The dividing line between these two is the 1,000 year millennial interspace. After the millennium unbelievers will be resurrected for judgment.

Hippolytus

  • That the world will end in 500 AD (which didn't happen)
  • That human history will last 6,000 years
  • Antichrist would come immediately before the end of the world
  • Implies a final 1,000 year period
  • He didn't say much about the conditions in the millennium.

Cyprian

  • He subscribed to the idea that the days of creation correspond to the total age of the creation.
  • He wrote in about 258 A.D. He mistakenly thought that the end of the 6,000 years would occur soon — but it has continued into the present which has been 1,700 years.

Commodianus

  • Immortality begins after the 6,000 years of human history.
  • That the judgment of the wicked occurs when the earth is burned up.
  • The righteous will not be touched by this fire of judgment.
  • This fire of judgment lasts 1,000 years. Then they are thrown into the Lake of Fire.
  • That there is a city in heaven which will descend to earth after the first resurrection (this implies that there is a second resurrection).
  • There will be an Antichrist who persecutes Christians.
  • There will be marriage and children born by the resurrected believers in the millennium.
  • The earth is burned up but avoids the believers.
  • That there are two judgments on the wicked.
  • That the wicked will serve the resurrected righteous in the millennium.
  • That the world lasts 6,000 years
  • That the Antichrist martyrs believers
  • At the end of the world unbelievers are burnt up for 1,000 years, then they are bodily resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire.
  • Those who are more worthy burn for 1,000 years but are judged some are discarded, some are saved.
  • But believers are bodily resurrected and occupy the New Jerusalem (the heavenly city that descends to earth and rests on the earth for 1,000 years, presumably unharmed by the earthly fires of judgment).
  • Martyrs occupy the New Jerusalem upon death and marry and have children.

Lactantius

  • There will be no wickedness in the 1,000 year millennium.
  • That the church age is a representation of the 1,000 year millennium.
  • The dead will rise (resurrection) before the millennium.
  • After this resurrection there will no longer be any unrighteousness.
  • That God returns to judge.
  • Inhabitants of the millennium will have children.
  • Deceased believers will rule over those who were alive at the time of the resurrection.
  • Nations will still remain in the millennium and the citizens will be slaves (but were are getting into contradictions since (1) there is no wickedness in the millennium and (2) the sun is seven times brighter, etc.).
  • Sounds somewhat like the modern premillennial viewpoint compete with internal contradictions.
  • That the millennium would begin within 200 years (about 500 A.D. — this did not happen). That the fall of the city of Rome would signal the end.
  • Hints at an Antichrist before the millennium.
  • At the end of the millennium Satan will be released to assemble the nations (but a contradiction since the millennium was a time of righteousness).
  • The righteous were hiding — but why would resurrected beings need to hide?
  • After the millennium the righteous will be changed to be like angels (but they are already resurrected so what is the point?).
  • After the millennium there will be a resurrection of the wicked (but this is a contradiction since there was no unrighteousness in the millennium).
  • The second coming of Christ occurs before the millennium.
  • At the second coming the righteous dead will be resurrected (not a pre-tribulational rapture, but a post-tribulational rapture). Although the second coming occurs before the millennium.
  • That the righteous in the eternal state have bodies like those of angels. Apparently the physical resurrected bodies only last 1,000 years and are then replaced by spirit bodies.
  • The kingdom of God = the eternal state.
  • The second resurrection (after the millennium) is for unbelievers only.

Mathetes

The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus

 

Chapter IX -- Why the Son Was Sent so Late

 

As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able.

 

  • The phrase "kingdom of God" appears to be a synonym for the blessings of salvation rather than referring specifically to a millennial kingdom.

Chapter X -- The Blessings That Will Flow From Faith

 

If you also desire [to possess] this faith, you likewise shall receive first of all the knowledge of the Father. For God has loved mankind, on whose account He made the world, to whom He rendered subject all the things that are in it, to whom He gave reason and understanding, to whom alone He imparted the privilege of looking upwards to Himself, whom He formed after His own image, to whom He sent His only-begotten Son, to whom He has promised a kingdom in heaven, and will give it to those who have loved Him.

 

  • Note that the kingdom is "in heaven" not "on earth." This "kingdom in heaven" is the kingdom he gives to believers.
  • Implies that the kingdom of heaven is the same as eternity in heaven (everlasting kingdom).
  • Thus, he does not teach premillennialism.

Hermas

The Shepherd

 

I Hermas - First Book: Visions

 

Vision II

 

After that thou hast made known unto them all these words, which the Master commanded me that they should be revealed unto thee, then all their sins which they sinned aforetime are forgiven to them; yea, and to all the saints that have sinned unto this day, if they repent with their whole heart, and remove double-mindedness from their heart.

 

For the Master sware by His own glory, as concerning His elect; that if, now that this day has been set as a limit, sin shall hereafter be committed, they shall not find salvation; for repentance for the righteous hath an end; the days of repentance are accomplished for all the saints; whereas for the Gentiles there is repentance until the last day.

 

Thou shalt therefore say unto the elders of the Church, that they direct their paths in righteousness, that they may receive in full the promises with abundant glory. Ye therefore that work righteousness be steadfast, and be not double-minded, that ye may have admission with the holy angels. Blessed are ye, as many as endure patiently the great tribulation that cometh, and as many as shall not deny their life.

 

For the Lord swear concerning His Son, that those who denied their Lord should be rejected from their life, even they that are now about to deny Him in the coming days; but to those who denied Him aforetime, to them mercy was given of His great loving kindness.

 

But do thou, Hermas, no longer bear a grudge against thy children, neither suffer thy sister to have her way, so that they may be purified from their former sins. For they shall be chastised with a righteous chastisement, unless thou bear a grudge against them thyself. The bearing of a grudge worketh death. But thou, Hermas, hast had great tribulations of thine own, by reason of the transgressions of thy family, because thou hadst no care for them. For thou wast neglectful of them, and wast mixed up with thine evil transactions.

 

But herein is thy salvation, in that thou didst not depart from the living God, and in thy simplicity and thy great continence. These have saved thee, if thou abidest therein; and they save all who do such things, and walk in guilelessness and simplicity. These men prevail over all wickedness, and continue unto life eternal.

 

Blessed are all they that work righteousness. They shall never be destroyed.

 

But thou shalt say to Maximus, "Behold tribulation cometh (upon thee), if thou think fit to deny a second time. The Lord is nigh unto them that turn unto him, as it is written in Eldad and Modat, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness."

 

  • In the great tribulation many will deny the Lord.
  • Hermas concept of the great tribulation is not the same as that of the premillennialists because he speaks of the transgressions of his family as being a great tribulation.
  • He also uses the term tribulation to speak of the trouble that comes to a person who denies God a second time. This is not the same idea of tribulation as the premillennialists.

Book I, Vision III

 

But thou lackest much that thou shouldest sit with them; but as thou abidest in thy simplicity, even so, and thou shalt sit with them, thou and as many as shall have done their deeds, and have suffered what they suffered." "What did they suffer?" say I. "Listen," saith she. "Stripes, imprisonments, great tribulations, crosses, wild beasts, for the Name's sake. Therefore to them belongs the right side of the Holiness--to them, and to all who shall suffer for the Name. But for the rest is the left side. Howbeit, to both, to them that sit on the right, and to them that sit on the left, are the same gifts, and the same promises, only they sit on the right and have a certain glory.

 

  • Great tribulations is used as merely another particular kind of trouble that a Christian must suffer along with stripes (whippings), imprisonments, crosses (crucifixion) and wild beasts. It is not used in the same sense as the great tribulation of the premillennialists.

Book I, Vision IV, Chapter ii

 

And the beast had on its head four colors; black then fire and blood color, then gold, then white.

 

Now after I had passed the beast, and had gone forward about thirty feet, behold, there meeteth me a virgin arrayed as if she were going forth from a bridal-chamber all in white and with white sandals, veiled up to her forehead, and her head-covering consisted of a turban, and her hair was white.

 

I knew from the former Visions that it was the Church, and I became more cheerful. She saluteth me, saying, "Good morrow, my good man;" and I saluted her in turn, "Lady, good morrow."

 

She answered and said unto me, Did nothing meet thee? I say unto her, Lady, such a huge beast, that could have destroyed whole peoples: but, by the power of the Lord and by His great mercy, I escaped it.

 

"Thou didst escape it well," saith she, "because thou didst cast thy care upon God, and didst open thy heart to the Lord, believing that thou canst be saved by nothing else but by His great and glorious Name. Therefore the Lord sent His angel, which is over the beasts, whose name is Segri, and shut his mouth that it might not hurt thee. Thou hast escaped a great tribulation by reason of thy faith, and because, though thou sawest so huge a beast, thou didst not doubt in thy mind."

 

Go therefore, and declare to the elect of the Lord His mighty works, and tell them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation which is to come. If therefore ye prepare yourselves beforehand, and repent (and turn) unto the Lord with your whole heart, ye shall be able to escape it, if your heart be made pure and without blemish, and if for the remaining days of your life ye serve the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will set them straight.

 

  • Proponents of the pretribulation rapture use this passage for support. But this "great tribulation" is the same as the event of the premillennialists.
  • This great tribulation will be experienced by the readers of Hermas — it is not an event in the far future.
  • The great tribulation that Hermas is talking about is probably the intense persecution of the church.

III Hermas - Third Book: Parables or Similitudes

 

Parable/Similitude IX

 

"It was necessary for them," saith he, "to rise up through water, that they might be made alive; for otherwise they could not enter into the kingdom of God, except they had put aside the deadness of their [former] life."

 

So these likewise that had fallen asleep received the seal of the Son of God and entered into the kingdom of God. For before a man, saith he, has borne the name of [the Son of] God, he is dead; but when he has received the seal, he layeth aside his deadness, and resumeth life.

 

The seal then is the water: so they go down into the water dead, and they come up alive. "thus to them also this seal was preached, and they availed themselves of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God."

 

"Wherefore, Sir," say I, "did the forty stones also come up with them from the deep, though they had already received the seal?" "Because," saith he, "these, the apostles and the teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after they had fallen asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached also to them that had fallen asleep before them, and themselves gave unto them the seal of the preaching."

 

Therefore they went down with them into the water, and came up again. But these went down alive [and again came up alive]; whereas the others that had fallen asleep before them went down dead and came up alive.

 

So by their means they were quickened into life, and came to the full knowledge of the name of the Son of God.

 

For this cause also they came up with them, and were fitted with them into the building of the tower and were builded with them, without being shaped; for they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity. Only they had not this seal. Thou hast then the interpretation of these things also. "I have, Sir," say I.

 

And as thou sawest the stones removed from the tower and delivered over to the evil spirits, they too shall be cast out; and there shall be one body of them that are purified, just as the tower, after it had been purified, became made as it were of one stone. Thus shall it be with the Church of God also, after she hath been purified, and the wicked and hypocrites and blasphemers and double-minded and they that commit various kinds of wickedness have been cast out.

 

When these have been cast out, the Church of God shall be one body, one understanding, one mind, one faith, one love. And then the Son of God shall rejoice and be glad in them, for that He hath received back His people pure." "Great and glorious, Sir," say I, "are all these things.

 

If the Gentiles punish their slaves, if any one deny his lord, what think ye the Lord will do unto you, He who has authority over all things? Away with these designs from your hearts, that ye may live forever unto God.

 

  • I include these passages from Hermes because certain premillennialists claim that he thought premillennialism. But as these passages show, there is no hint of it.
  • The reference to the kingdom of God appears to be merely a reference to the blessings of salvation — not a 1,000 year millennium.
  • The dead enter into the kingdom of God just as the living do. There is no reference to a rapture at all.
  • The word "quickening" appears to refer to salvation rather than resurrection or a rapture.

Clement of Rome

The First Epistle Of Clement To The Corinthians

 

From Chapter L -- Let Us Pray to be Thought Worthy of Love.

 

All the generations from Adam even unto this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation of the kingdom of Christ. For it is written, "Enter into thy secret chambers for a little time, until my wrath and fury pass away; and I will remember a propitious day, and will raise you up out of your graves."

 

  • Implies that the kingdom of Christ occurs after the resurrection.
  • Doesn't specify anything about this kingdom could be (1) a 1,000 millennium on earth or could be (2) the same as eternity in heaven.


Didache

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

 

16:1 Watch concerning your life; let not your lamps be quenched or your loins be loosed, but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour at which our Lord cometh.

 

  • Could refer to (1) the death of the believer or (2) the second coming of Christ.

 

16:2 But be ye gathered together frequently, seeking what is suitable for your souls; for the whole time of your faith shall profit you not, unless ye be found perfect in the last time.

 

  • The phrase "in the last time" could refer to (1) at the final judgment when God confirms the faith of the believer or (2) at the death of the believer.
  • In either case the emphasis is on the perseverance of the believer.

 

16:3 For in the last days false prophets and seducers shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate;

 

  • The phrase "last days" appears to refer to a time future to the writing of the Didache. But it appears to have direct relevance to the first readers (rather than being written for people thousands of years later) so it must refer to the general apostasy that will plague the church over the centuries.

 

16:4 and because iniquity aboundeth they shall hate each other, and persecute each other, and deliver each other up; and then shall the Deceiver of the world appear as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unlawful things, such as have never happened since the beginning of the world.

 

  • This is merely a continuation of the previous verse in which the deception gets worse and worse. It does not necessarily imply that these events follow one another chronologically — but rather, that the trend of apostasy is that it can get very bad. If we interpret this list of events as strictly chronological then we get a very weird result.

 

16:5 Then shall the creation of man come to the fiery trial of proof, and many shall be offended and shall perish; but they who remain in their faith shall be saved by the rock of offence itself.

 

  • Seems to refer to persecution and martyrdom. The ones who are offended are those who leave the faith under persecution.

 

16:6 And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first the sign of the appearance in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection of the dead

 

  • After this long period of time of persecution (lasting even until today) Christ will come in His second coming.

 

16:7 -- not of all, but as it has been said, The Lord shall come and all his saints with him;

 

  • Notice that only the deceased believers are resurrected to glory. The unbelievers are raised for judgment.

 

16:8 then shall the world behold the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven.

 

  • The chronological sequence of events:

    (1) appearance in heaven (to deceased believers)

    (2) sound of the trumpet (to believers yet living)

    (3) resurrection (of all believers)

    (4) second coming of Christ
  • There is no hint of the rapture or the 1,000 year millennium in these passages.

This is the end of the book.


Analysis of this passage and conclusions

Premillennialists generally believe that the Didache supports the premillennial viewpoint but I don't agree. Some key things to notice:

  • In verses 6 - 8 there is no mention of a 1,000 year millennium.
  • In verse 8 the Lord comes on the clouds. For premillennialists, the image of clouds in conjunction with the coming of Christ is usually associated with the rapture. But notice that in verses 4 - 5 there is a description of a "great tribulation." If this refers to the great tribulation of the premillennialists (and I don't think it does) then the rapture would occur after the great tribulation — thus the author of the Didache would support a post-tribulational rapture.
  • In verse 5 the phrase "they who remain in their faith shall be saved" appears to refer to the phrase "found perfect in the last time" (verse 2). It seems that the Lord coming in verse 8 refers to the final judgment and the end of the world, not a 1,000 year millennium.
  • Why does the Didache end with the second coming (rapture?) and not mention a 1,000 year millennium? The most obvious explanation is that the author had no concept of a 1,000 year millennium after the second coming.

Ignatius

He wrote nothing regarding the millennium.

apias (AD 80-163) was Bishop of Hierapolis (close to Laodicea and Colossae in the valley of the Lycus in Phrygia) and Apostolic Father. Of Papias's life nothing is known. The work of Papias was evidently written in his old age between the years 115 A.D and 140 A.D.

Premillennialists commonly cite that Papias (by his own testimony) stated that the apostles Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, and Mathew were premillennial. However, in examining the writings of Papias we see that this is not the case. He gathered his information from unwritten tradition. Also, he has three destinations for believers: (1) Heaven, (2) Paradise and (3) the City. Certainly this view doesn't match with the modern premillennial view and is not supported by the Bible.

His views remind me somewhat of those of Justin Martyr but with far less detail.

Papias was in a position to know early church thinking, for Irenaeus says of him that he was one of John's hearers and was intimate with Polycarp. He not only stated his own view clearly but added that his view was held also by the following apostles: Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John and Mathew.

The writings of Papias in common circulation are five in number, and these are called an "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord." Irenaeus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: "Now testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John, and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him." Thus wrote Irenaeus. Moreover, Papias himself, in the introduction to his books, makes it manifest that he was not himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles.


Papias

Fragments of Papias — from the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord.

(I am only including passages that have some bearing on the end-time viewpoint.)

Fragment I. But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings, — what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Mathew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.

  • But later, in fragment VI, he specifically states that he received the information from an unwritten tradition.

Fragment IV. [As the elders who saw John the disciple of the Lord remembered that they had heard from him how the Lord taught in regard to those times, and said]: "The days will come in which vines shall grow, having each ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five-and-twenty metretes of wine. And when any one of the saints shall lay hold of a cluster, another shall cry out, 'I am a better cluster, take me; bless the Lord through me.' In like manner, [He said] that a grain of wheat would produce ten thousand ears, and that every ear would have ten thousand grains, and every grain would yield ten pounds of clear, pure, fine flour; and that apples, and seeds, and grass would produce in similar proportions; and that all animals, feeding then only on the productions of the earth, would become peaceable and harmonious, and be in perfect subjection to man." [Testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him. And he added, saying, "Now these things are credible to believers. And Judas the traitor," says he, "not believing, and asking, 'How shall such growths be accomplished by the Lord?' the Lord said, 'They shall see who shall come to them.' These, then, are the times mentioned by the prophet Isaiah: 'And the wolf shall lie, down with the lamb,' etc. (Isa 11:6)."]

Notice the incredible physical conditions to animal and plant life. Certainly these descriptions would fit the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Fragment V. As the presbyters say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, and others shall possess the splendour of the city; for everywhere the Saviour will be seen, according as they shall be worthy who see Him.

But that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundredfold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold; for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second class will dwell in Paradise, and the last will inhabit the city; and that on this account the Lord said, "In my Father's house are many mansions": for all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place, even as His word says, that a share is given to all by the Father, according as each one is or shall be worthy.

And this is the couch in which they shall recline who feast, being invited to the wedding. The presbyters, the disciples of the apostles, say that this is the gradation and arrangement of those who are saved, and that they advance through steps of this nature; and that, moreover, they ascend through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father; and that in due time the Son will yield up His work to the Father, even as it is said by the apostle, "For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

For in the times of the kingdom the just man who is on the earth shall forget to die. "But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all."

  • He distinguishes between three distinct destinations for believers based on how much fruit they produce:

      (1) Heaven

      (2) Paradise

      (3) The City (presumably the New Jerusalem)

Papias claims that he ultimately got all his information accurately handed down from the apostles but this doctrine is unheard of today amongst Bible scholars.

  • He claims that in the earthly Kingdom people will forget to die.

Fragment VI. [Papias, who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he moreover asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions. Our notice of these circumstances may not be without its use.

It may also be worth while to add to the statements of Papias already given, other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition. The residence of the Apostle Philip with his daughters in Hierapolis has been mentioned above.

We must now point out how Papias, who lived at the same time, relates that he had received a wonderful narrative from the daughters of Philip. For he relates that a dead man was raised to life in his day.

He also mentions another miracle relating to Justus, surnamed Barsabas, how he swallowed a deadly poison, and received no harm, on account of the grace of the Lord. The same person, moreover, has set down other things as coming to him from unwritten tradition, amongst these some strange parables and instructions of the Saviour, and some other things of a more fabulous nature. Amongst these he says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth.

He moreover hands down, in his own writing, other narratives given by the previously mentioned Aristion of the Lord's sayings, and the traditions of the presbyter John.

For information on these points, we can merely refer our readers to the books themselves; but now, to the extracts already made, we shall add, as being a matter of primary importance, a tradition regarding Mark who wrote the Gospel, which he [Papias] has given in the following words]: And the presbyter said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him.

But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements. [This is what is related by Papias regarding Mark; but with regard to Mathew he has made the following statements]: Mathew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could. [The same person uses proofs from the First Epistle of John, and from the Epistle of Peter in like manner. And he also gives another story of a woman) who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is to be found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.]

  • Papias received the information about the millennium from unwritten tradition and assumes that this is what the apostles believed. However, we need to remember that the idea of the seventh day (the 1,000 year millennium) permeated the culture of the day. Also, it remarkable that the apostles never mention it (with the possible exception of Revelation 20:1-6 which has other plausible interpretations).
  • Because he uses the word millennium we must assume that he had in mind 1,000 years.
  • There is no mention of the second coming of Christ or the New Heavens and New Earth.
  • This is harmonious with the modern premillennial viewpoint (but it is far from certain whether Papias had that viewpoint in mind).

Fragment IX. Taking occasion from Papias of Hierapolis, the illustrious, a disciple of the apostle who leaned on the bosom of Christ, and Clemens, and Pantaenus the priest of [the Church] of the Alexandrians, and the wise Ammonius, the ancient and first expositors, who agreed with each other, who understood the work of the six days as referring to Christ and the whole Church.

  • I'm presuming that he is stating that the 6,000 years of human history is really about Christ and the church. This might be a disguised version of the formula "the church = Israel" which is a cornerstone of amillennialism and is not compatible with premillennialism.


Barnabas

Epistle of Barnabas

 

Chapter XV — The False and the True Sabbath

 

Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue [10 commandments] which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, "And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart." And He says in another place, "If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them."

 

The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: "And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it."

 

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, "He finished in six days." This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, "Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years."

 

Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished.

 

"And He rested on the seventh day." This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.

 

Moreover, He says, "Thou shalt sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart." If, therefore, any one can now sanctify the day which God hath sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things, we are deceived.

 

Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves.

 

Further, He says to them, "Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure." Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.

 

Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.

 

  • Implies 1,000 year millennium (but maybe not)
  • Conditions in millennium: (1) Judges the ungodly

    (2) Changes sun, moon, stars

    (3) All things made new
  • New heavens and new earth is the eighth day (but not a literal 1,000 years)
  • There are some things to observe which weaken the case that Barnabas is teaching about a 1,000 year millennium:

    (1) On the 7th day (the so-called millennium) wickedness no longer exists. Yet in the premillennial viewpoint there is still wickedness — but Satan is bound and can't deceive so the effects of sin are lessened. Yet at the end of the millennium there is a global rebellion against Christ.

    (2) He throws in the idea of the 8th day at the end but clearly does not intend to mean another 1,000 year period of time.

    (3) The reference to the 7th day does not include any reference to 1,000 years. Yet the reference to the first six days mentioned 1,000 years many times. It seems he abandons the "day = 1,000 year" formula after the discussion about the six days.

    (4) There is a hint that God skips the 7th day (because "your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me") and goes on instead directly to the eighth day. This eighth day is not 1,000 years but all eternity.
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.
  • It seems unlikely that Barnabas believed in a 1,000 year millennium (but it is possible that he did). However, if he did, it is based on the false Jewish idea that human history from the time of Adam would be 6,000 years.

Chapter XVI  — The Spiritual Temple of God.

 

Moreover, I will also tell you concerning the temple, how the wretched [Jews], wandering in error, trusted not in God Himself, but in the temple, as being the house of God. For almost after the manner of the Gentiles they worshipped Him in the temple.

 

But learn how the Lord speaks, when abolishing it: "Who hath meted out heaven with a span, and the earth with his palm? Have not I?" "Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is My throne, and the earth My footstool: what kind of house will ye build to Me, or what is the place of My rest?" Ye perceive that their hope is vain.

 

Moreover, He again says, "Behold, they who have cast down this temple, even they shall build it up again." It has so happened. For through their going to war, it was destroyed by their enemies; and now: they, as the servants of their enemies, shall rebuild it. Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were to be given up.

 

For the Scripture saith, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, and their sheep-fold and tower, to destruction." And it so happened as the Lord had spoken.

 

Let us inquire, then, if there still is a temple of God. There is--where He himself declared He would make and finish it. For it is written, "And it shall come to pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built in glory in the name of the Lord." I find, therefore, that a temple does exist.

 

Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to [the will of] God. But it shall be built, observe ye, in the name of the Lord, in order that the temple of the Lord may be built in glory.

 

How? Learn [as follows]. Having received the forgiveness of sins, and placed our trust in the name of the Lord, we have become new creatures, formed again from the beginning. Wherefore in our habitation God truly dwells in us. How? His word of faith; His calling of promise; the wisdom of the statutes; the commands of the doctrine; He himself prophesying in us; He himself dwelling in us; opening to us who were enslaved by death the doors of the temple, that is, the mouth; and by giving us repentance introduced us into the incorruptible temple.

 

He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwelleth in him, and speaketh in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord.

 

  • Strongly implies that Israel has been destroyed and that the church is the true Israel. This is not a premillennial theme but rather an amillennial one.


Justin Martyr

Christian apologist, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165.

He clearly believes in a 1,000 year millennial period but its characteristics are radically different than premillennialism.

(1) Habited only by martyred believers from the church age

(2) No unbelievers present

(3) A continuous worship service

(4) The Great Tribulation is the persecution of believers under the leadership of the man of apostasy

The Second Apology of Justin for the Christians

 

Addressed to the Roman Senate

 

Chapter LXXX — The Opinion of Justin with Regard to the Reign of a Thousand Years. Several Catholics Reject It

 

And Trypho to this replied, "I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?"

 

Then I answered, "I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise."

 

Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you. For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him.

 

For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genist, Meristae, Gelilaeans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him.

 

But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.

 

  • First, the resurrection of the dead (he doesn't mention the resurrection of those living at the time)
  • Then, 1,000 years in Jerusalem
  • He appears to believe that the temple of Ezekiel 40-48 will be part of the Millennium.

Chapter LXXXI — He Endeavours to Prove This Opinion From Isaiah and the Apocalypse

 

For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years:

 

Quotes Isa 65:17-25 (but substitutes the phrase "days of the tree of life" in verse 22 for "days of a tree").

 

Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, 'According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound' obscurely predicts a thousand years.

 

For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, 'The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,' is connected with this subject.

 

And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.

 

Just as our Lord also said, 'They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.'

So many bad assumptions:

  • He mixes up the New Heavens and New Earth with the 1,000 years
  • He equates the days of the Tree of Life with the 1,000 years (because Adam did not live to be 1,000 years old, and he would die in that same day)
  • Bad exegesis of the day of the Lord is as 1,000 years
  • He states that the apostle John in the book of Revelation prophesied that believers would live 1,000 years in Jerusalem and after that be resurrected.
  • After the 1,000 millennium there will be an eternal resurrection and the final judgment

Chapter CX — A Portion of the Prophecy Already Fulfilled in the Christians: The Rest Shall be Fulfilled at the Second Advent

 

And when I had finished these words, I continued: "Now I am aware that your teachers, sirs, admit the whole of the words of this passage [Micah 4:1-7] to refer to Christ; and I am likewise aware that they maintain He has not yet come; or if they say that He has come, they assert that it is not known who He is; but when He shall become manifest and glorious, then it shall be known who He is."

 

And then, they say, the events mentioned in this passage shall happen, just as if there was no fruit as yet from the words of the prophecy.

 

O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonoured, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,--our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,--and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife.

 

For you are aware that the prophetic word says, 'And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.' Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus.

 

For Just as if one should cut away the fruit-bearing parts of a vine, it grows up again, and yields other branches flourishing and fruitful; even so the same thing happens with us. For the vine planted by God and Christ the Saviour is His people.

 

But the rest of the prophecy shall be fulfilled at His second coming. For the expression, 'He that is afflicted [and driven out],' i.e., from the world, [implies] that, so far as you and all other men have it in your power, each Christian has been driven out not only from his own property, but even from the whole world; for you permit no Christian to live. But you say that the same fate has befallen your own nation.

 

Now, if you have been cast out after defeat in battle, you have suffered such treatment justly indeed, as all the Scriptures bear witness; but we, though we have done no such [evil acts] after we knew the truth of God, are testified to by God, that, together with the most righteous, and only spotless and sinless Christ, we are taken away out of the earth. For Isaiah cries, 'Behold how the righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart; and righteous men are taken away, and no man considers it.'

 

  • He says that many interpret Micah 4:1-7 as occurring after Christ's second coming but he believes this to be incorrect. He claims that verses 1-6 are fulfilled in the church and that only verse 7 is a future event to happen after Christ's second coming. The significance of this is that it removes from the 1,000 year millennium many of the details that make premillennialism what it is. We should therefore presume that Justin Martyr had the idea that the millennium was a sort of 1,000 year long continuous church worship service in Jerusalem attended only by the martyrs of the church age and without the presence of unbelievers.
  • The chronological sequence of events:

    (1) Christ's first coming to suffer

    (2) Man of apostasy appears

    (3) Great tribulation and persecution for Christians

    (4) Christ's second coming

    (5) Believers are "taken away out of the earth"
  • He denies much of what modern premillennialists say about conditions in the 1,000 year millennium by applying it to the church age.


Irenaeus

Information as to his life is scarce, and in some measure inexact. He was born in Proconsular Asia, or at least in some province bordering thereon, in the first half of the second century; the exact date is controverted, between the years 115 and 125, according to some, or, according to others, between 130 and 142.

Irenaeus claims the following:

(1) There will be an Antichrist before the end of the world.

(2) Believers will suffer intense persecution in this Great Tribulation (perhaps he was thinking that the persecution they were undergoing at the hands of the Romans was this Great Tribulation).

(3) After this, believers will be "caught up" (rise from the dead) into a renovated creation to enjoy the blessings which include tremendous crops of fruit.

He does not mention anything about a 1,000 year millennium (although he doesn't say anything to refute it either).

To use Irenaeus as a support for premillennialism is very weak since he doesn't specifically address it.

Irenaeus Against Heresies - Book V

 

Chapter XXIII -- The Devil is Well Practised in Falsehood, By Which Adam Having Been Led Astray, Sinned on the Sixth Day of the Creation, in Which Day Also he Has Been Renewed by Christ

 

Now in this same day that they did eat, in that also did they die. But according to the cycle and progress of the days, after which one is termed first, another second, and another third, if anybody seeks diligently to learn upon what day out of the seven it was that Adam died, he will find it by examining the dispensation of the Lord. For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has also summed up its death.

 

From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he did eat. For God said, "In that day on which ye shall eat of it, ye shall die by death."

 

The Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death. And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin.

 

Whether, therefore, with respect to disobedience, which is death; whether [we consider] that, on account of that, they were delivered over to death, and made debtors to it; whether with respect to [the fact that on] one and the same day on which they ate they also died (for it is one day of the creation); whether [we regard this point], that, with respect to this cycle of days, they died on the day in which they did also eat, that is, the day] of the preparation, which is termed "the pure supper," that is, the sixth day of the feast, which the Lord also exhibited when He suffered on that day; or whether [we reflect] that he (Adam) did not overstep the thousand years, but died within their limit,--it follows that, in regard to all these significations, God is indeed true.

 

For they died who tasted of the tree; and the serpent is proved a liar and a murderer, as the Lord said of him: "For he is a murderer from the beginning, and the truth is not in him."

 

  • He is trying to determine which day of the week Adam was born because he believes that this will have some typological significance.
  • He asserts that Christ died on the same day of the week that Adam sinned and declares this to be the day before the Sabbath — the 6th day.
  • Adam did not live to be 1,000 years because he would die in the same "day" that he sinned. But the implication of all this is that Adam lived 6,000 years before the "day" in which he sinned (since a day = 1,000 years).
  • This illustrates the inconsistent use of the day = 1,000 year formula.

Chapter XXVIII -- The Distinction to be Made Between the Righteous and the Wicked. The Future Apostasy in the Time of Anti-christ, and the End of the World

 

1. Inasmuch, then, as in this world some persons betake themselves to the light, and by faith unite themselves with God, but others shun the light, and separate themselves from God, the Word of God comes preparing a fit habitation for both. For those indeed who are in the light, that they may derive enjoyment from it, and from the good things contained in it; but for those in darkness, that they may partake in its calamities.

 

And on this account He says, that those upon the right hand are called into the kingdom of heaven, but that those on the left He will send into eternal fire for they have deprived themselves of all good

 

2. And for this reason the apostle says: "Because they received not the love of God, that they might be saved, therefore God shall also send them the operation of error, that they may believe a lie, that they all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but consented to unrighteousness."

 

For when he (Antichrist) is come, and of his own accord concentrates in his own person the apostasy, and accomplishes whatever he shall do according to his own will and choice, sitting also in the temple of God, so that his dupes may adore him as the Christ; wherefore also shall he deservedly "be cast into the lake of fire": [this will happen according to divine appointment], God by His prescience foreseeing all this, and at the proper time sending such a man, "that they may believe a lie, that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but consented to unrighteousness;" whose coming John has thus described in the Apocalypse:

 

He then quotes Rev 13:2-10

 

After this he likewise describes his armour-bearer, whom he also terms a false prophet:

 

He then quotes Rev 13:11-14

 

Let no one imagine that he performs these wonders by divine power, but by the working of magic. And we must not be surprised if, since the demons and apostate spirits are at his service, he through their means performs wonders, by which he leads the inhabitants of the earth astray.

 

John says further: "And he shall order an image of the beast to be made, and he shall give breath to the image, so that the image shall speak; and he shall cause those to be slain who will not adore it." He says also: "And he will cause a mark [to be put] in the forehead and in the fight hand, that no one may be able to buy or sell, unless he who has the mark of the name of the beast or the number of his name; and the number is six hundred and sixty-six," that is, six times a hundred, six times ten, and six units. [He gives this] as a summing up of the whole of that apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years.

 

3. For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works."

 

This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.

 

5. And therefore throughout all time, man, having been moulded at the beginning by the hands of God, that is, of the Son and of the Spirit, is made after the image and likeness of God: the chaff, indeed, which is the apostasy, being cast away; but the wheat, that is, those who bring forth fruit to God in faith, being gathered into the barn.

 

And for this cause tribulation is necessary for those who are saved, that having been after a manner broken up, and rendered fine, and sprinkled over by the patience of the Word of God, and set on fire [for purification], they may be fitted for the royal banquet. As a certain man of ours said, when he was condemned to the wild beasts because of his testimony with respect to God: "I am the wheat of Christ, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God."

 

  • Indicates that the Antichrist will come before the final judgment and that he will sit in the temple proclaiming himself to be God. At the time this was written the temple had already been destroyed so the implication is that there will be a new temple.
  • He claims that the number 666 represents the whole of that apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years, meaning the 6,000 years of human history from the time of Adam.
  • He says that tribulation is necessary even for the believers. The implication is that this tribulation is the same as the Great Tribulation which means that believers would go through the Great Tribulation.
  • Based on the context I think it is also possible that he is describing the amillennial position. We must remember that when he wrote this there was intense persecution by the Romans.

    (1) Kingdom of heaven = eternal state. He does not refer to a millennial kingdom at all.

    (2) Temple of God = the church. The Antichrist sets himself in this temple of God which in the context appears to be the church which is in apostasy.

    (3) Apostasy has been going on for 6,000 years.

    (4) He does imply that there is a Great Tribulation for believers before the second coming of Christ but that this time period is specifically for believers and has nothing to do with the unbelieving world.

Chapter XXIX -- All Things have been Created for the Service of Man. the Deceits, Wickedness, and Apostate Power of Antichrist. this was Prefigured at the Deluge, as Afterwards by the Persecution of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

 

1. In the previous books I have set forth the causes for which God permitted these things to be made, and have pointed out that all such have been created for the benefit of that human nature which is saved, ripening for immortality that which is [possessed] of its own free will and its own power, and preparing and rendering it more adapted for eternal subjection to God.

 

And therefore the creation is suited to [the wants of] man; for man was not made for its sake, but creation for the sake of man.

 

Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons "as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance--in fact, as nothing;"

 

(1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, "There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be."

 

(2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.

 

2. And there is therefore in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit, in order that all apostate power, flowing into and being shut up in him, may be sent into the furnace of fire. Fittingly, therefore, shall his name possess the number six hundred and sixty-six, since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge, due to the apostasy of the angels.

 

For Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge came upon the earth, sweeping away the rebellious world, for the sake of that most infamous generation which lived in the times of Noah. And [Antichrist] also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood, together with the slaying of the prophets and the cutting off of the just.

 

For that image which was set up by Nebuchadnezzar had indeed a height of sixty cubits, while the breadth was six cubits; on account of which Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, when they did not worship it, were cast into a furnace of fire, pointing out prophetically, by what happened to them, the wrath against the righteous which shall arise towards the [time of the] end.

 

For that image, taken as a whole, was a prefiguring of this man's coming, decreeing that he should undoubtedly himself alone be worshipped by all men. Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception; for which things' sake a cataclysm of fire shall also come [upon the earth].

 

  • Again the idea that before the end of the world there will be a time of great tribulation for the church in which the beast persecutes it. Following this the church will be "caught up" from this. But no hint of a millennium after this.
  • Premillennialists interpret this passage to refer to the pretribulational rapture — but a careful reading will show that whatever the phrase "caught up" might mean it is certainly not before the tribulation but after.

Chapter XXXIII -- Further proofs of the Same Proposition, Drawn From the Promises Made by Christ, When he Declared that he Would Drink of the Fruit of the Vine with his Disciples in his Father's Kingdom, While at the Same Time he Promised to Reward Them an Hundred-fold, and to Make Them Partake of Banquets. The Blessing Pronounced by Jacob had Pointed Out this Already, as Papias and the Elders have Interpreted it.

 

3. the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead; when also the creation, having been renovated and set free, shall fructify with an abundance of all kinds of food, from the dew of heaven, and from the fertility of the earth: as the elders who saw John, the disciple of the Lord, related that they had heard from him how the Lord used to teach in regard to these times, and say: The days will come, in which vines shall grow, each having ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in each one of the shoots ten thousand dusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five and twenty metretes of wine. And when any one of the saints shall lay hold of a cluster, another shall cry out, I am a better cluster, take me; bless the Lord through me. In like manner [the Lord declared] that ... all animals feeding [only] on the productions of the earth, should [in those days] become peaceful and harmonious among each other, and be in perfect subjection to man.

 

"For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed; it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand years."

 

  • It is interesting to note that he specifies that the time period of human history is 6,000 years but doesn't specify the duration of the time after this. Presumably, he must think of this time as eternal.
  • Doesn't specify the 1,000 year millennium. He could be referring to the New Heavens and New Earth.


Polycarp

Martyr (69-155 A.D). [ca 130?] Polycarp was a church leader (bishop) in Smyrna, Asia Minor.

I can find no writings from Polycarp which express any end-time viewpoint.

Robert Gundry notes, "It is inferred that Polycarp was premillenarian because Irenaeus, his pupil, was. . . ."


Aviricius Marcellus

Aviricius Marcellus did believe in a 1,000 year millennium. However, he based this on the formula "day = 1,000 years" which is wrong. Read more.

Analysis of this passage and conclusions.

Early Church Fathers | Table of Contents | End Time Prophecy | North Forest | Top of page

On the Creation of the World

 

To me, as I meditate and consider in my mind concerning the creation of this world in which we are kept enclosed, even such is the rapidity of that creation; as is contained in the book of Moses, which he wrote about its creation, and which is called Genesis. God produced that entire mass for the adornment of His majesty in six days; on the seventh to which He consecrated it ... with a blessing.

 

For this reason, therefore, because in the septenary number of days both heavenly and earthly things are ordered, in place of the beginning I will consider of this seventh day after the principle of all matters pertaining to the number of seven; and as far as I shall be able, I will endeavour to portray the day of the divine power to that consummation.

 

In the beginning God made the light, and divided it in the exact measure of twelve hours by day and by night, for this reason, doubtless, that day might bring over the night as an occasion of rest for men's labours; that, again, day might overcome, and thus that labour might be refreshed with this alternate change of rest, and that repose again might be tempered by the exercise of day.

 

"On the fourth day He made two lights in the heaven, the greater and the lesser, that the one might rule over the day, the other over the night," — the lights of the sun and moon and He placed the rest of the stars in heaven, that they might shine upon the earth, and by their positions distinguish the seasons, and years, and months, and days, and hours.

 

Now is manifested the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour, or even to the evening, or why there should be a passing over even to the next day. Therefore this world of ours is composed of four elements — fire, water, heaven, earth.

 

These four elements, therefore, form the quaternion of times or seasons. The sun, also, and the moon constitute throughout the space of the year four seasons — of spring, summer, autumn, winter; and these seasons make a quaternion.

 

And to proceed further still from that principle, lo, there are four living creatures before God's throne, four Gospels, four rivers flowing in paradise; four generations of people from Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ the Lord, the Son of God; and four living creatures, viz., a man, a calf, a lion, an eagle; and four rivers, the Pison, the Gihon. the Tigris, and the Euphrates.

 

The man Christ Jesus, the originator of these things whereof we have above spoken, was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion of soldiers. Therefore on account of His captivity by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works, — that the seasons also, wholesome to humanity, joyful for the harvests, tranquil for the tempests, may roll on, — therefore we make the fourth day a station or a supernumerary fast.

 

On the fifth day the land and water brought forth their progenies. On the sixth day the things that were wanting were created; and thus God raised up man from the soil, as lord of all the things which He created upon the earth and the water.

 

Yet He created angels and archangels before He created man, placing spiritual beings before earthly ones. For light was made before sky and the earth. This sixth day is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom. For He perfected Adam, whom He made after His image and likeness.

 

But for this reason He completed His works before He created angels and fashioned man, lest perchance they should falsely assert that they had been His helpers. On this day also. on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God, or a fast.

 

On the seventh day He rested from all His works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord's day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks.

 

And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews, which Christ Himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by His prophets that "His soul hateth;" which Sabbath He in His body abolished, although, nevertheless, He had formerly Himself commanded Moses that circumcision should not pass over the eighth day, which day very frequently happens on the Sabbath, as we read written in the Gospel.

 

Moses, foreseeing the hardness of that people, on the Sabbath raised up his hands, therefore, and thus figuratively fastened himself to a cross. And in the battle they were sought for by the foreigners on the Sabbath-day, that they might be taken captive, and, as if by the very strictness of the law, might be fashioned to the avoidance of its teaching.

 

And thus in the sixth Psalm for the eighth day, David asks the Lord that He would not rebuke him in His anger, nor judge him in His fury; for this is indeed the eighth day of that future judgment, which will pass beyond the order of the sevenfold arrangement.

 

Jesus also, the son of Nave, the successor of Moses, himSelf broke the Sabbath-day; for on the Sabbath-day he commanded the children of Israel to go round the walls of the city of Jericho with trumpets, and declare war against the aliens.

 

Matthias also, prince of Judah, broke the Sabbath; for he slew the prefect of Antiochus the king of Syria on the Sabbath, and subdued the foreigners by pursuing them. And in Mathew we read, that it is written Isaiah also and the rest of his colleagues broke the Sabbath — that that true and just Sabbath should be observed in the seventh millenary of years.

 

Wherefore to those seven days the Lord attributed to each a thousand years; for thus went the warning: "In Thine eyes, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day." Therefore in the eyes of the Lord each thousand of years is ordained, for I find that the Lord's eyes are seven.

 

Wherefore, as I have narrated, that true Sabbath will be in the seventh millenary of years, when Christ with His elect shall reign. Moreover, the seven heavens agree with those days; for thus we are warned: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the powers of them by the spirit of His mouth."

 

There are seven spirits. Their names are the spirits which abode on the Christ of God, as was intimated in Isaiah the prophet: "And there rests upon Him the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of wisdom and of piety, and the spirit of God's fear hath filled Him."

 

Therefore the highest heaven is the heaven of wisdom; the second, of understanding; the third, of counsel; the fourth, of might; the fifth, of knowledge; the sixth, of piety; the seventh, of God's fear. From this, therefore, the thunders bellow, the lightnings are kindled, the fires are heaped together; fiery darts appear, stars gleam, the anxiety caused by the dreadful comet is aroused.

 

Sometimes it happens that the sun and moon approach one another, and cause those more than frightful appearances, radiating with light in the field of their aspect. But the author of the whole creation is Jesus. His name is the Word; for thus His Father says: "My heart hath emitted a good word."

 

John the evangelist thus says: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made."

 

Therefore, first, was made the creation; secondly, man, the lord of the human race, as says the apostle. Therefore this Word, when it made light, is called Wisdom; when it made the sky, Understanding; when it made land and sea, Counsel; when it made sun and moon and other bright things, Power; when it calls forth land and sea, Knowledge; when it formed man, Piety; when it blesses and sanctifies man, it has the name of God's fear.

 

Behold the seven horns of the Lamb, the seven eyes of God — the seven eyes are the seven spirits of the Lamb; seven torches burning before the throne of God seven golden candlesticks, seven young sheep, the seven women in Isaiah, the seven churches in Paul, seven deacons, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven seals to the book, seven periods of seven days with which Pentecost is completed, the seven weeks in Daniel, also the forty-three weeks in Daniel; with Noah, seven of all clean things in the ark; seven revenges of Cain, seven years for a debt to be acquitted, the lamp with seven orifices, seven pillars of wisdom in the house of Solomon.

 

Now, therefore, you may see that it is being told you of the unerring glory of God in providence; yet, as far as my small capacity shall be able, I will endeavour to set it forth. That He might re-create that Adam by means of the week, and bring aid to His entire creation, was accomplished by the nativity of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Who, then, that is taught in the law of God, who that is filled with the Holy Spirit, does not see in his heart, that on the same day on which the dragon seduced Eve, the angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings to the Virgin Mary; that on the same day the Holy Spirit overflowed the Virgin Mary, on which He made light; that on that day He was incarnate in flesh, in which He made the land and water; that on the same day He was put to the breast, on which He made the stars; that on the same day He was circumcised, on which the land and water brought forth their offspring; that on the same day He was incarnated, on which He formed man out of the ground; that on the same day Christ was born, on which He formed man; that on that day He suffered, on which Adam fell; that on the same day He rose again from the dead, on which He created light? He, moreover, consummates His humanity in the number seven: of His nativity, His infancy, His boyhood, His youth, His young-manhood, His mature age, His death.

 

I have also set forth His humanity to the Jews in these manners: since He is hungry, is thirsty; since He gave food and drink; since He walks, and retired; since He slept upon a pillow; since, moreover, He walks upon the stormy seas with His feet, He commands the winds, He cures the sick and restores the lame, He raises the blind by His speech, — see ye that He declares Himself to them to be the Lord.

 

The day, as I have above related, is divided into two parts by the number twelve — by the twelve hours of day and night; and by these hours too, months, and years, and seasons, and ages are computed.

 

Therefore, doubtless, there are appointed also twelve angels of the day and twelve angels of the night, in accordance, to wit, with the number of hours. For these are the twenty-four witnesses of the days and nights which sit before the throne of God, having golden crowns on their heads, whom the Apocalypse of John the apostle and evangelist calls elders, for the reason that they are older both than the other angels and than men.

 

Analysis of this passage and conclusions.

  • He assumes the creation occurred in six literal days.
  • He claims that the world is composed of 4 elements — fire, water, heaven, earth.
  • He uses a very allegorical style of interpretation. It is odd that premillennialists who pride themselves on their strict literalness would use someone like this for support of their position.
  • He claims that there will be a 7th 1,000 year period which is a Sabbath in which Christ will reign with his elect.
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.

 


Tatian

It was my first intention to make this author a mere appendix to his master, Justin Martyr; for he stands in an equivocal position, as half Father and half heretic. His good seems to have been largely due to Justin's teaching and influence. 130-190

His works, which were very numerous, have perished, in consequence of his lapse from orthodoxy.

He says nothing one way or the other.

Address Of Tatian To The Greeks

Chapter VI -- Christians' Belief In The Resurrection

 

And on this account we believe that there will be a resurrection of bodies after the consummation of all things; not, as the Stoics affirm, according to the return of certain cycles, the same things being produced and destroyed for no useful purpose, but a resurrection once for all, when our periods of existence are completed, and in consequence solely of the constitution of things under which men alone live, for the purpose of passing judgment upon them.

 

Nor is sentence upon us passed by Minos or Rhadamanthus, before whose decease not a single soul, according to the mythic tales, was judged; but the Creator, God Himself, becomes the arbiter. And, although you regard us as mere triflers and babblers, it troubles us not, since we have faith in this doctrine.

 

For just as, not existing before I was born, I knew not who I was, and only existed in the potentiality of fleshly matter, but being born, after a former state of nothingness, I have obtained through my birth a certainty of my existence; in the same way, having been born, and through death existing no longer, and seen no longer, I shall exist again, just as before I was not, but was afterwards born.

 

Even though fire destroy all traces of my flesh, the world receives the vaporized matter; and though dispersed through rivers and seas, or torn in pieces by wild beasts, I am laid up in the storehouses of a wealthy Lord. And, although the poor and the godless know not what is stored up, yet God the Sovereign, when He pleases, will restore the substance that is visible to Him alone to its pristine condition.

 

Chapter XIII -- Theory Of The Soul's Immortality

 

The soul is not in itself immortal, O Greeks, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die. If, indeed, it knows not the truth, it dies, and is dissolved with the body, but rises again at last at the end of the world with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality. But, again, if it acquires the knowledge of God, it dies not, although for a time it be dissolved.

 

In itself it is darkness, and there is nothing luminous in it. And this is the meaning of the saying, "The darkness comprehendeth not the light." For the soul does not preserve the spirit, but is preserved by it, and the light comprehends the darkness.

 

The Logos, in truth, is the light of God, but the ignorant soul is darkness. On this account, if it continues solitary, it tends downward towards matter, and dies with the flesh; but, if it enters into union with the Divine Spirit, it is no longer helpless, but ascends to the regions whither the Spirit guides it: for the dwelling-place of the spirit is above, but the origin of the soul is from beneath.

 

Now, in the beginning the spirit was a constant companion of the soul, but the spirit forsook it because it was not willing to follow. Yet, retaining as it were a spark of its power, though unable by reason of the separation to discern the perfect, while seeking for God it fashioned to itself in its wandering many gods, following the sophistries of the demons.

 

But the Spirit of God is not with all, but, taking up its abode with those who live justly, and intimately combining with the soul, by prophecies it announced hidden things to other souls. And the souls that are obedient to wisdom have attracted to themselves the cognate spirit; but the disobedient, rejecting the minister of the suffering God, have shown themselves to be fighters against God, rather than His worshippers.

 

Chapter XIV -- The Demons Shall Be Punished More Severely Than Men

 

And such are you also, O Greeks,--profuse in words, but with minds strangely warped; and you acknowledge the dominion of many rather than the rule of one, accustoming yourselves to follow demons as if they were mighty. For, as the inhuman robber is wont to overpower those like himself by daring; so the demons, going to great lengths in wickedness, have utterly deceived the souls among you which are left to themselves by ignorance and false appearances.

 

These! beings do not indeed die easily, for they do not partake of flesh; but while living they practise the ways of death, and die themselves as often as they teach their followers to sin. Therefore, what is now their chief distinction, that they do not die like men, they will retain when about to suffer punishment: they will not partake of everlasting life, so as to receive this instead of death in a blessed immortality.

 

And as we, to whom it now easily happens to die, afterwards receive the immortal with enjoyment, or the painful with immortality, so the demons, who abuse the present life to purposes of wrong-doing, dying continually even while they live, will have hereafter the same immortality, like that which they had during the time they lived, but in its nature like that of men, who voluntarily performed what the demons prescribed to them during their lifetime. And do not fewer kinds of sin break out among men owing to the brevity of their lives, while on the part of these demons transgression is more abundant owing to their boundless existence?

 


Hegesippus

 [A.D. 170.] One of the sub-Apostolic age, a contemporary of Justin and of the martyrs of "the good Aurelius," we must yet distinguish Hegesippus from the apologists. He is the earliest of the Church's chroniclers--we can hardly call him a historian. His aims were noble and his character was pure; nor can we refuse him the credit due to a foresight of the Church's ultimate want of historical material, which he endeavored to supply.

Base on his writings he in not premillennial.

Fragments From His Five Books Of Commentaries On The Acts Of The Church

Concerning The Relatives Of Our Saviour

 

There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

 

So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labour. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labour, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

 

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.

 

  • This is not premillennialism. This passage fits amillennialism perfectly.


Apollinaris

He has no end-time writings.

 


Melito

Bishop of Sardis, prominent ecclesiastical writer in the latter half of the second century. Few details of his life are known.

I can find no writings concerning his end-time viewpoint.

 


Theophilus

Bishop of Antioch in Syria

He teaches nothing about a 1,000 year millennium.

Chapter XXIV -- The Beauty Of Paradise

God, then, caused to spring out of the earth every tree that is beautiful in appearance, or good for food. For at first there were only those things which were produced on the third day,--plants, and seeds, and herbs; but the things which were in Paradise were made of a superior loveliness and beauty, since in it the plants were said to have been planted by God.

 

As to the rest of the plants, indeed, the world contained plants like them; but the two trees,--the tree of life and the tree of knowledge,--the rest of the earth possessed not, but only Paradise. And that Paradise is earth, and is planted on the earth, the Scripture states, saying: "And the LORD God planted Paradise in Eden eastwards, and placed man there; and out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food."

 

By the expressions, therefore, "out of the ground," and "eastwards," the holy writing clearly teaches us that Paradise is under this heaven, under which the east and the earth are. And the Hebrew word Eden signifies "delight."

 

And it was signified that a river flowed out of Eden to water Paradise, and after that divides into four heads; of which the two called Pison and Gihon water the eastern parts, especially Gihon, which encompasses the whole land of Ethiopia, and which, they say, reappears in Egypt under the name of Nile. And the other two rivers are manifestly recognisable by us--those called Tigris and Euphrates--for these border on our own regions.

 

And God having placed man in Paradise, as has been said, to till and keep it, commanded him to eat of all the trees,--manifestly of the tree of life also; but only of the tree of knowledge He commanded him not to taste. And God transferred him from the earth, out of which he had been produced, into Paradise, giving him means of advancement, in order that, maturing and becoming perfect, and being even declared a god, he might thus ascend into heaven in possession of immortality.

 

For man had been made a middle nature, neither wholly mortal, nor altogether immortal, but capable of either; so also the place, Paradise, was made in respect of beauty intermediate between earth and heaven. And by the expression, "till it," no other kind of labour is implied than the observance of God's command, lest, disobeying, he should destroy himself, as indeed he did destroy himself, by sin.

 

  • That the Garden of Eden was Paradise. It was an intermediate state between earth and heaven.
  • Man would someday ascend into heaven in possession of immortality.

Chapter XXVI -- God's Goodness In Expelling Man From Paradise

And God showed great kindness to man in this, that He did not suffer him to remain in sin for ever; but, as it were, by a kind of banishment, cast him out of Paradise, in order that, having by punishment expiated, within an appointed time, the sin, and having been disciplined, he should afterwards be restored. Wherefore also, when man had been formed in this world, it is mystically written in Genesis, as if he had been twice placed in Paradise; so that the one was fulfilled when he was placed there, and the second will be fulfilled after the resurrection and judgment.

 

For just as a vessel, when on being fashioned it has some flaw, is remoulded or remade, that it may become new and entire; so also it happens to man by death. For somehow or other he is broken up, that he may rise in the resurrection whole; I mean spotless, and righteous, and immortal. And as to God's calling, and saying, Where art thou, Adam? God did this, not as if ignorant of this; but, being long-suffering, He gave him an opportunity of repentance and confession.

 

  • That man would someday again inhabit Paradise. But note: this is after the resurrection and judgment. But this doesn't match with the premillennial viewpoint in which man inhabits the millennium before the resurrection and judgment.

 


Tertullian

Ecclesiastical writer in the second and third centuries, born probably about 160 A.D. at Carthage. A pagan until middle life, he had shared the pagan prejudices against Christianity, and had indulged like others in shameful pleasures. His conversion was not later than the year 197 A.D., and may have been earlier. He became a priest, no doubt of the Church of Carthage. It was after the year 206 A.D. that he joined the Montanist sect, and he seems to have definitively separated from the Church about 211 A.D. (Harnack) or 213 A.D. (Monceaux).

Our earliest extensively preserved Latin Christian author [140-230 A.D.], who aligned himself around 207 A.D. with the "Montanist" Christian movement that was considered "heretical" by the representatives of emerging mainstream Christianity.

  • There will be a 1,000 year millennium but it is composed only of believers. For the entire duration believers will be raised to inhabit it.
  • The church = Israel

Toward the end of this world to the passing away thereof at the great day of the Lord --of His wrath and vengeance — the last day, which is hidden (from all), and known to none but the Father, although announced before hand by signs and wonders, and the dissolution of the elements, and the conflict of nations.

 

  • He appears to be saying that the second coming brings in final judgment.
  • Note that the "dissolution of the elements" and the "conflict of nations" are the same event. In premillennialism the "conflict of nations" is usually considered part of the great tribulation (before the second coming of Christ) and the "dissolution of the elements" is considered to occur after the millennium and immediately before the great white throne judgment.

The Five Books Against Marcion - Book III

Chapter XXV — Christ's Millennial and Heavenly Glory in Company with His Saints

 

Yes, certainly, you say, I do hope from Him that which amounts in itself to a proof of the diversity (of Christs), God's kingdom in an everlasting and heavenly possession. Besides, your Christ promises to the Jews their primitive condition, with the recovery of their country; and after this life's course is over, repose in Hades in Abraham's bosom.

 

Oh, most excellent God, when He restores in amnesty what He took away in wrath! Oh, what a God is yours, who both wounds and heals, creates evil and makes peace! Oh, what a God, that is merciful even down to Hades! I shall have something to say about Abraham's bosom in the proper place.

 

As for the restoration of Judaea, however, which even the Jews themselves, induced by the names of places and countries, hope for just as it is described, it would be tedious to state at length how the figurative interpretation is spiritually applicable to Christ and His church, and to the character and fruits thereof; besides, the subject has been regularly treated in another work, which we entitle De Spe Fidelium.

 

At present, too, it would be superfluous for this reason, that our inquiry relates to what is promised in heaven, not on earth. But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem, "let down from heaven," which the apostle also calls "our mother from above;" and, while declaring that our citizenship, is in heaven, he predicates of it that it is really a city in heaven.

 

This both Ezekiel had knowledge of and the Apostle John beheld. And the word of the new prophecy which is a part of our belief, attests how it foretold that there would be for a sign a picture of this very city exhibited. to view previous to its manifestation. This prophecy, indeed, has been very lately fulfilled in an expedition to the East. For it is evident from the testimony of even heathen witnesses, that in Judaea there was suspended in the sky a city early every morning for forty days. As the day advanced, the entire figure of its walls would wane gradually, and sometimes it would vanish instantly.

 

We say that this city has been provided by God for receiving the saints on their resurrection, and refreshing them with the abundance of all really spiritual blessings, as a recompense for those which in the world we have either despised or lost; since it is both just and God-worthy that His servants should have their joy in the place where they have also suffered affliction for His name's sake.

 

Of the heavenly kingdom this is the process. After its thousand years are over, within which period is completed the resurrection of the saints, who rise sooner or later according to their deserts there will ensue the destruction of the world and the conflagration of all things at the judgment: we shall then be changed in a moment into the substance of angels, even by the investiture of an incorruptible nature, and so be removed to that kingdom in heaven of which we have now been treating, just as if it had not been predicted by the Creator, and as if it were proving Christ to belong to the other god and as if he were the first and sole revealer of it.

 

But now learn that it has been, in fact, predicted by the Creator, and that even without prediction it has a claim upon our faith in respect of the Creator. What appears to be probable to you, when Abraham's seed, after the primal promise of being like the sand of the sea for multitude, is destined likewise to an equality with the stars of heaven — are not these the indications both of an earthly and a heavenly dispensation?

 

When Isaac, in blessing his son Jacob, says, "God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth," are there not in his words examples of both kinds of blessing? Indeed, the very form of the blessing is in this instance worthy of notice. For in relation to Jacob, who is the type of the later and more excellent people, that is to say ourselves, first comes the promise of the heaenly dew, and afterwards that about the fatness of the earth.

 

So are we first invited to heavenly blessings when we are separated from the world, and afterwards we thus find ourselves in the way of obtaining also earthly blessings. And your own gospel likewise has it in this wise: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and these things shall be added unto you." But to Esau the blessing promised is an earthly one, which he supplements with a heavenly, after the fatness of the earth, saying, "Thy dwelling shall be also of the dew of heaven."

 

For the dispensation of the Jews (who were in Esau, the prior of the sons in birth, but the later in affection) at first was imbued with earthly blessings through the law, and afterwards brought round to heavenly ones through the gospel by faith.

 

When Jacob sees in his dream the steps of a ladder set upon the earth, and reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending thereon, and the Lord standing above, we shall without hesitation venture to suppose, that by this ladder the Lord has in judgment appointed that the way to heaven is shown to men, whereby some may attain to it, and others fall therefrom.

 

For why, as soon as he awoke out of his sleep, and shook through a dread of the spot, does he fall to an interpretation of his dream? He exclaims, "How terrible is this place!" And then adds, "This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven!" For he had seen Christ the Lord, the temple of God, and also the gate by whom heaven is entered. Now surely he would not have mentioned the gate of heaven, if heaven is not entered in the dispensation of the Creator.

 

But there is now a gate provided by Christ, which admits and conducts to glory. Of this Amos says: "He buildeth His ascensions into heaven;" certainly not for Himself alone, but for His people also, who will be with Him. "And Thou shall bind them about Thee," says he, "like the adornment of a bride." Accordingly the Spirit, admiring such as soar up to the celestial realms by these ascensions, says, "They fly, as if they were kites; they fly as clouds, and as young doves, unto me" — that is, simply like a dove.

 

For we shall, according to the apostle, be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord (even the Son of man, who shall come in the clouds, according to Daniel) and so shall we ever be with the Lord, so long as He remains both on the earth and in heaven, who, against such as are thankless for both one promise and the other, calls the elements themselves to witness: "Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth."

 

Now, for my own part indeed, even though Scripture held out no hand of heavenly hope to me (as, in fact, it so often does), I should still possess a sufficient presumption of even this promise, in my present enjoyment of the earthly gift; and I should look out for something also of the heavenly, from Him who is the God of heaven as well as of earth.

 

I should thus believe that the Christ who promises the higher blessings is (the Son) of Him who had also promised the lower ones; who had, moreover, afforded proofs of greater gifts by smaller ones; who had reserved for His Christ alone this revelation of a (perhaps) unheard of kingdom, so that, while the earthly glory was announced by His servants, the heavenly might have God Himself for its messenger.

 

You, however, argue for another Christ, from the very circumstance that He proclaims a new kingdom. You ought first to bring forward some example of His beneficence, that I may have no good reason for doubting the credibility of the great promise, which you say ought to be hoped for; nay, it is before all things necessary that you should prove that a heaven belongs to Him, whom you declare to be a promiser of heavenly things.

 

As it is, you invite us to dinner, but do not point out your house; you assert a kingdom, but show us no royal state. Can it be that your Christ promises a kingdom of heaven, without having a heaven; as He displayed Himself man, without having flesh? O what a phantom from first to last! O hollow pretence of a mighty promise!

 

  • He is saying that God's kingdom is heavenly and eternal.
  • He asserts that the church = Israel
  • He is refuting these ideas:

    (1) That Christ doesn't have a physical body, only a spiritual one,

    (2) That there will be a restored earthly kingdom for Israel followed by eternity in Abraham's bosom

    (3) That believers will spend eternity in heaven, but there is no future heavenly kingdom.
  • The chronological sequence for believers:

    (1) The earthly kingdom — During the 1,000-year period before the end of the world, believers are resurrected (some sooner, some later) into the New Jerusalem (a physical city in the sky).

    (2) The heavenly kingdom — the destruction of the world, final judgment, changed into substance of angels (incorruptible nature), enter heavenly kingdom.
  • Christ resides both on the earth and in heaven and has both a fleshly and a spiritual nature.
  • The 1,000 year millennium is for the purpose of refreshing of the believers without the suffering they experienced in this world.
  • God's blessing to Abraham was both a physical one and a heavenly one.

    (1) The church is first blessed with a heavenly blessing (the New Jerusalem, a heavenly city for 1,000 years) then a physical one (the eternal state).

    (2) Israel (through Esau) was first blessed with a physical blessing (the land of Canaan) then a heavenly one (membership in the church after Christ's 1st coming).

Apology

Chapter XLVIII

 

The Reason which made the universe out of diverse elements, so that all things might be composed of opposite substances in unity — of void and solid, of animate and inanimate, of comprehensible and incomprehensible, of light and darkness, of life itself and death — has also disposed time into order, by fixing and distinguishing its mode, according to which this first portion of it, which we inhabit from the beginning of the world, flows down by a temporal course to a close; but the portion which succeeds, and to which we look forward continues forever.

 

When, therefore, the boundary and limit, that millennial interspace, has been passed, when even the outward fashion of the world itself — which has been spread like a veil over the eternal economy, equally a thing of time — passes away, then the whole human race shall be raised again, to have its dues meted out according as it has merited in the period of good or evil, and thereafter to have these paid out through the immeasurable ages of eternity.

 

Therefore after this there is neither death nor repeated resurrections, but we shall be the same that we are now, and still unchanged — the servants of God, ever with God, clothed upon with the proper substance of eternity; but the profane, and all who are not true worshippers of God, in like manner shall be consigned to the punishment of everlasting fire — that fire which, from its very nature indeed, directly ministers to their incorruptibility.

 

The philosophers are familiar as well as we with the distinction between a common and a secret fire. Thus that which is in common use is far different from that which we see in divine judgments, whether striking as thunderbolts from heaven, or bursting up out of the earth through mountain-tops; for it does not consume what it scorches, but while it burns it repairs.

 

So the mountains continue ever burning; and a person struck by lighting is even now kept safe from any destroying flame. A notable proof this of the fire eternal! a notable example of the endless judgment which still supplies punishment with fuel! The mountains burn, and last. How will it be with the wicked and the enemies of God?

 

  • There are two phases to human life:

    (1) This current physical world which will end someday

    (2) The hereafter which is eternal

    The dividing line between these two is the 1,000 year millennial interspace. After the millennium unbelievers will be resurrected for judgment.

Clement of Alexandria

Known in church history as Clement of Alexandria to distinguish him from Clement of Rome. Date of birth unknown; died about the year 215.

He appears to support a 1,000 year millennium but doesn't specify any details about it. It is even possible that he had the amillennial view in mind.

Elucidations III

It is important to observe that "the patriarchal dispensation," as we too carelessly speak, is pluralized by Clement. He clearly distinguishes the three patriarchal dispensations, as given in Adam, Noah, and Abraham; and then comes the Mosaic.

 

The editor begs to be pardoned for referring to his venerated and gifted father's division (sustained by Clement's authority), which he used to insist should be further enlarged so as to subdivide the first and the last, making seven complete, and thus honouring the system of sevens which runs through all Scripture. Thus Adam embraces Paradise, and the first covenant after the fall; and the Christian covenant embraces a millennial period.

 

So that we have:

(1) Paradise

(2) Adam

(3) Noah

(4) Abraham

(5) Moses

(6) Christ

(7) A millennial period, preluding the Judgment and the Everlasting Kingdom.

 

  • Just as he splits Adam's covenant into two, he also splits Christ's covenant into two.
  • The eternal state would be an eighth period of time after the millennial period.
  • But note that there is not a hint of dispensationalism. In fact after Christ comes there is no more reference to Israel as living covenant anymore — there is no overlap of covenants.

Exhortation to the Heathen

Chapter XI — How Great Are The Benefits Conferred On Man Through The Advent Of Christ

 

But it has been God's fixed and constant purpose to save the flock of men: for this end the good God sent the good Shepherd. And the Word, having unfolded the truth, showed to men the height of salvation, that either repenting they might be saved, or refusing to obey, they might be judged. This is the proclamation of righteousness: to those that obey, glad tidings; to those that disobey, judgment. The loud trumpet, when sounded, collects the soldiers, and proclaims war. And shall not Christ, breathing a strain of peace to the ends of the earth, gather together His own soldiers, the soldiers of peace? Well, by His blood, and by the word, He has gathered the bloodless host of peace, and assigned to them the kingdom of heaven. The trumpet of Christ is His Gospel. He hath blown it, and we have heard. "Let us array ourselves in the armour of peace, putting on the breastplate of righteousness, and taking the shield of faith, and binding our brows with the helmet, of salvation; and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,"

 

  • The trumpet is Christ and His gospel.

Elucidations XIII

The melancholy example of Tatian is next instanced, in his departures from orthodox encraty. Against poor Tatian's garrulity, he proves the sanctity of marriage, alike in the New and the Old Testaments. A curious argument he adduces against the ceremonial washing prescribed by the law (Lev 15:18), but not against the same as a dictate of natural instinct. He considers that particular ceremonial law a protest against the polygamy which God tolerated, but never authorized, under Moses; and its abrogation (i.e., by the Synod of Jerusalem), is a testimony that there is no uncleanness, whatever, in the chaste society of the married pair, in Christ. He rescues other texts from the profane uses of the heretics, proving that our duty to abstain from laying up treasures here, merely layouts the care of the poor and needy; and that the saying, that "the children of the kingdom neither marry nor are given in marriage," respects only their estate after the resurrection.

  • He confirms that after the resurrection there is no marriage (and in the context of his argument, that all are chaste).


Origen

Origen was at Alexandria (185-232)

Origen was at Caesarea (232)

Certain persons, then, refusing the labour of thinking, and adopting a superficial view of the letter of the law, and yielding rather in some measure to the indulgence of their own desires and lusts, being disciples of the letter alone, are of opinion that the fulfillment of the promises of the future are to be looked for in bodily pleasure and luxury . . . And consequently they say, that after the resurrection there will be marriages, and the begetting of children, imagining to themselves that the earthly city of Jerusalem is to be rebuilt . . . .

 

  • Origen addresses problems with the premillennial concepts of some.


Hippolytus

Martyr, presbyter and antipope; date of birth unknown; died about 236 A.D. Hippolytus was a presbyter of the Church of Rome at the beginning of the third century.

Hippolytus probably believed in a 1,000 year millennium after the Antichrist but he thought that it would begin in 500 A.D. (which didn't happen). He based is ideas on the formula "day = 1,000 years" which is wrong. Read more.

The interpretation by Hippolytus, (bishop) of Rome, of the visions of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, taken in conjunction.

 

4. But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals.

 

For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day "on which God rested from all His works."

 

For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they "shall reign with Christ," when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years." Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says: "five are fallen; one is," that is, the sixth; "the other is not yet come."

 

5. In mentioning the "other," moreover, he specifies the seventh, in which there is rest. But some one may be ready to say, How will you prove to me that the Saviour was born in the year 5500? Learn that easily, O man; for the things that took place of old in the wilderness, under Moses, in the case of the tabernacle, were constituted types and emblems of spiritual mysteries, in order that, when the truth came in Christ in these last days, you might be able to perceive that these things were fulfilled.

 

For He says to him, "And thou shalt make the ark of imperishable wood, and shalt overlay it with pure gold within and without; and thou shalt make the length of it two cubits and a half, and the breadth thereof one cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half the height;" which measures, when summed up together, make five cubits and a half, so that the 5500 years might be signified thereby.

 

6. At that time, then, the Saviour appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the "ark overlaid with pure gold," with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated, and the "ark" made manifest. From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be.

 

And that the Saviour appeared in the world, bearing the imperishable ark, His own body, at a time which was the fifth and half, John declares: "Now it was the sixth hour," he says, intimating by that, one-half of the day. But a day with the Lord is 10000 years; and the half of that, therefore, is 500 years.

 

For it was not meet that He should appear earlier, for the burden of the law still endured, nor yet when the sixth day was fulfilled (for the baptism is changed), but on the fifth and half, in order that in the remaining half time the gospel might be preached to the whole world, and that when the sixth day was completed He might end the present life.

 

7. Since, then, the Persians held the mastery for 330 years, and after them the Greeks, who were yet more glorious, held it for 300 years, of necessity the fourth beast, as being strong and mightier than all that were before it, will reign 500 years. When the times are fulfilled, and the ten horns spring from the beast in the last (times), then Antichrist will appear among them. When he makes war against the saints, and persecutes them, then may we expect the manifestation of the Lord from heaven.

 

40. "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days;" for when the abomination cometh and makes war upon the saints, whosoever shall survive his days, and reach the forty-five days, while the other period of fifty days advances, to him the kingdom of heaven comes. Antichrist, indeed, enters even into part of the fifty days, but the saints shall inherit the kingdom along with Christ.

 

  • That the world will end in 500 AD (which didn't happen)
  • That human history will last 6,000 years
  • Antichrist comes immediately before the end of the world
  • Implies a final 1,000 year period
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:
    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.
  • He doesn't say much about the conditions in the millennium.

 


Julius Africanus

A third century Egyptian bishop (230-280)

He wrote nothing about the millennium.

On the Seventy Weeks of Daniel

1. This passage, therefore, as it stands thus, touches on many marvellous things. At present, however, I shall speak only of those things in it which bear upon chronology, and matters connected therewith. That the passage speaks then of the advent of Christ, who was to manifest Himself after seventy weeks, is evident. For in the Saviour's time, or from Him, are transgressions abrogated, and sins brought to an end. And through remission, moreover, are iniquities, along with offences, blotted out by expiation; and an everlasting righteousness is preached, different from that which is by the law, and visions and prophecies (are) until John, and the Most Holy is anointed. For before the advent of the Saviour these things were not yet, and were therefore only looked for. And the beginning of the numbers, that is, of the seventy weeks which make up 490 years, the angel instructs us to take from the going forth of the commandment to answer and to build Jerusalem. And this happened in the twentieth year of the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia. For Nehemiah his cup-bearer besought him, and received the answer that Jerusalem should be built. And the word went forth commanding these things; for up to that time the city was desolate. For when Cyrus, after the seventy years' captivity, gave free permission to all to return who desired it, some of them under the leadership of Jesus she high priest and Zorobabel, and others after these under the leadership of Esdra, returned, but were prevented at first from building the temple, and from surrounding the city with a wall, on the plea that that had not been commanded.

 


Cyprian

Bishop and martyr. Of the date of the saint's birth and of his early life nothing is known. At the time of his conversion to Christianity he had, perhaps, passed middle life. His baptism probably took place about 246 A.D., presumably on Easter eve, 18 April.

Cyprian [200-258 A.D.] was the Overseer of the church in Carthage, North Africa, during a period of fierce persecution. After many years of persecution during which the church existed underground he was captured and executed by the Romans.

Probably believed in a 1,000 year millennium. However, he made two serious mistakes: (1) refers to 6,000 years of human history and (2) believed that the end of the world would come soon (which it didn't).

The Treatises of Cyprian

Treatise XI — Exhortation to Martyrdom, Addressed to Fortunatus.

 

Chapter 2

 

It is an ancient adversary and an old enemy with whom we wage our battle: six thousand years are now nearly completed since the devil first attacked man.

 

Chapter 10

 

. . . as the first seven days in the divine plan containing seven thousand years.

  • He subscribes to the idea that the days of creation correspond to the total age of the creation.
  • He mistakenly thinks that the end of the 6,000 years will occur soon it continues for at least 1,700 more years
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.


Victorinus

 (d. 304) An ecclesiastical writer who flourished about 270, and who suffered martyrdom probably in 303, under Diocletian. He was bishop of the City of Pettau (Petabium, Poetovio), on the Drave, in Styria (Austria).

He is clearly amillennial.

Commentary On The Apocalypse Of The Blessed John

From the Twentieth Chapter.

 

1-3 Those years wherein Satan is bound are in the first advent of Christ, even to the end of the age; and they are called a thousand, according to that mode of speaking, wherein a part is signified by the whole, just as is that passage, "the word which He commanded for a thousand generations," although they are not a thousand. Moreover that he says, "and he cast him into the abyss," he says this, because the devil, excluded from the hearts of believers, began to take possession of the wicked, in whose hearts, blinded day by day, he is shut up as if in a profound abyss. And he shut him up, says he, and put a seal upon him, that he should not deceive the nations until the thousand years should be finished. "He shut the door upon him," it is said, that is, he forbade and restrained his seducing those who belong to Christ. Moreover, he put a seal upon him, because it is hidden who belong to the side of the devil, and who to that of Christ. For we know not of those who seem to stand whether they shall not fall, and of those who are down it is uncertain whether they may rise. Moreover, that he says that he is bound and shut up, that he may not seduce the nations, the nations signify the Church, seeing that of them it itself is formed, and which being seduced, he previously held until, he says, the thousand years should be completed, that is, what is left of the sixth day, to wit, of the sixth age, which subsists for a thousand years; after this he must be loosed for a little season. The little season signifies three years and six months, in which with all his power the devil will avenge himself trader Anti-christ against the Church. Finally, he says, after that the devil shall be loosed, and will seduce the nations in the whole world, and will entice war against the Church, the number of whose foes shall be as the sand of the sea.

 

4, 5 There are two resurrections. But the first resurrection is now of the souls that are by the faith, which does not permit men to pass over to the second death. Of this resurrection the apostle says: "If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above."

 

6 I do not think the reign of a thousand years is eternal; or if it is thus to be thought of, they cease to reign when the thousand years are finished. But I will put forward what my capacity enables me to judge. The tenfold number signifies the decalogue, and the hundredfold sets forth the crown of virginity: for he who shall have kept the undertaking of virginity completely, and shall have faithfully fulfilled the precepts of the decalogue, and shall have destroyed the untrained nature or impure thoughts within the retirement of the heart, that they may not rule over him, this is the true priest of Christ, and accomplishing the millenary number thoroughly, is thought to reign with Christ; and truly in his case the devil is bound. But he who is entangled in the vices and the dogmas of heretics, in his case the devil is loosed. But that it says that when the thousand years are finished he is loosed, so the number of the perfect saints being completed, in whom there is the glory of virginity in body and mind, by the approaching advent of the kingdom of the hateful one, many, seduced by that love of earthly things, shall be overthrown, and together with him shall enter the lake of fire.

 

8-10 This belongs to the last judgment. And after a little time the earth was made holy, as being at least that wherein lately had reposed the bodies of the virgins, when they shall enter upon an eternal kingdom with an immortal King, as they who are not only virgins in body, but, moreover, with equal inviolability have protected themselves, both in tongue and thought, from wickedness; and these, it shows, shall dwell in rejoicing for ever with the Lamb.

 

  • This is pure amillennialism.

From the Twenty-fIrst and Twenty-Second Chapters.

 

Therefore they are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years; who think, that is to say, with the heretic Cerinthus. For the kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection.

 

  • An amillennial interpretation
  • He strongly refutes premillennialism

 


Nepos

Nepos evidently believed in a 1,000 year millennium in which Christ would rule on the earth.

Church historian Eusebius writes that Nepos "taught that the promise to the holy men in the Divine Scriptures should be understood in a more Jewish manner, and that there would be a certain millennium of bodily luxury upon this earth. As he thought that he could establish his private opinion by the Revelation of John, he wrote a book on this subject, entitled Refutation of Allegorist."

 

  • That there will someday be a millennium (presumably 1,000 years) of bodily luxury on the earth. That this idea is of Jewish origin.


Coracion

Coracion (230-280).

Chiliastic teacher in the district of Arsinoe in Egypt by the name of Coracion appears to have abandoned his millennial beliefs as the result of a debate by Dionysius

He was premillennial but changed his view to amillennial. He wrote against the crass materialistic concepts of the millennium.

The Works Of Dionysius

Extant Fragments

 

Part I  -- Containing Various Sections Of The Works

 

I  -- From The Two Books On The Promises

 

And at last the author and introducer of this doctrine, whose name was Coracion, in the hearing of all the brethren present, made acknowledgment of his position, and engaged to us that he would no longer hold by his opinion, nor discuss it, nor mention it, nor teach it, as he had been completely convinced by the arguments of those opposed to it. The rest of the brethren, also, who were present, were delighted with the conference, and with the conciliatory spirit and the harmony exhibited by all.

 

  • He changes his view from premillennialism to amillennialism.

3. Then, a little further on, he speaks of the Revelation of John as follows: --Now some before our time have set aside this book, and repudiated it entirely, criticising it chapter by chapter, and endeavouring to show it to be without either sense or reason. They have alleged also that its title is false; for they deny that John is the author. Nay, further, they hold that it can be no sort of revelation, because it is covered with so gross and dense a veil of ignorance. They affirm, therefore, that none of the apostles, nor indeed any of the saints, nor any person belonging to the Church, could be its author; but that Cerinthus, and the heretical sect founded by him, and named after him the Cerinthian sect, being desirous of attaching the authority of a great name to the fiction propounded by him, prefixed that title to the book. For the doctrine inculcated by Cerinthus is this: that there will be an earthly reign of Christ; and as he was himself a man devoted to the pleasures of the body, and altogether carnal l in his dispositions, he fancied that that kingdom would consist in those kinds of gratifications on which his own heart was set,  -- to wit, in the delights of the belly, and what comes beneath the belly, that is to say, in eating and drinking, and marrying, and in other things under the guise of which he thought he could indulge his appetites with a better grace, such as festivals, and sacrifices, and the slaying of victims. But I, for my part, could not venture to set this book aside, for there are many brethren who value it highly. Yet, having formed an idea of it as a composition exceeding my capacity of understanding, I regard it as containing a kind of hidden and wonderful intelligence on the several subjects which come under it. For though I cannot comprehend it, I still suspect that there is some deeper sense underlying the words. And I do not measure and judge its expressions by the standard of my own reason, but, making more allowance for faith, I have simply regarded them as too lofty for my comprehension; and I do not forthwith reject what I do not understand, but I am only the more filled with wonder at it, in that I have not been able to discern its import.

 

  • He is refuting the ideas of Cerinthus who believed that the earthly millennium would be a time of bodily pleasures.

4. After this, he examines the whole book of the Revelation; and having proved that it cannot possible be understood according to the bald, literal sense, he proceeds thus: --When the prophet now has completed, so to speak, the whole prophecy, he pronounces those blessed who should observe it, and names himself, too, in the number of the same: "For blessed," says he, "is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book; and I John who saw and heard these things." That this person was called John, therefore, and that this was the writing of a John, I do not deny. And I admit further, that it was also the work of some holy and inspired man. But I could not so easily admit that this was the apostle, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, and the same person with him who wrote the Gospel which bears the title according to John, and the catholic epistle. But from the character of both, and the forms of expression, and the whole disposition and execution of the book, I draw the conclusion that the authorship is not his. For the evangelist nowhere else subjoins his name, and he never proclaims himself either in the Gospel or in the epistle.

 

  • He interprets the book of Revelation allegorically and symbolically. This is a common amillennial approach.

 


Caius

Caius was pope for twelve years, four months, and seven days, from 17 December, 283, to 22 April, 296. Nothing whatever is known of his life. He lived in the time of peace before the last great persecution.

It is unclear what his view was.

 

Fragments of Caius

I -- From a Dialogue or Disputation Against Proclus

 

II

 

But Cerinthus, too, through revelations written, as he would have us believe, by a great apostle, brings before us marvellous things, which he pretends were shown him by angels; alleging that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ is to be on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem is again to be subject to desires and pleasures. And being an enemy to the Scriptures of God, wishing to deceive men, he says that there is to be a space of a thousand years for marriage festivals.

 

  • An earthly 1,000 kingdom after the resurrection
  • Marriage would be practiced
  • Caius seems to be against the view of Cerinthus but it is not clear whether he was (1) amillennial or (2) premillennial (but not of the crass materialistic variety).

 


Methodius

Bishop and ecclesiastical author, date of birth unknown; died a martyr, probably in 311. Methodius was Bishop of Olympus in Lycia and afterwards Bishop of Tyre.

Premillennialists claim that Methodius was a premillennialist and superficially it would seem that he is. But that is based on a modern premillennial interpretation of the terms he uses such as millennium, temple, city of God, 1,000 years, etc. But when his writings are examined in more detail it is clear that he is using these terms figuratively. To give them strict literal meanings leads to logical contradictions. In the final analysis it is my opinion that Methodius was an amillennialist.

Discourse on the Resurrection — Part I

VIII. But it is not satisfactory to say that the universe will be utterly destroyed, and sea and air and sky will be no longer. For the whole world will be deluged with fire from heaven, and burnt for the purpose of purification and renewal; it will not, however, come to complete ruin and corruption.

 

For if it were better for the world not to be than to be, why did God, in making the world, take the worse course? But God did not work in vain, or do that which was worst. God therefore ordered the creation with a view to its existence and continuance, as also the Book of Wisdom confirms, saying, "For God created all things that they might have their being; and the generations of the world were healthful, and there is no poison of destruction in them."

 

And Paul clearly testifies this, saying, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that subjected the same in hope: because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

 

For the creation was made subject to vanity, he says, and he expects that it will be set free from such servitude, as he intends to call this world by the name of creation. For it is not what is unseen but what is seen that is subject to corruption.

 

The creation, then, after being restored to a better and more seemly state, remains, rejoicing and exulting over the children of God at the resurrection; for whose sake it now groans and travails, waiting itself also for our redemption from the corruption of the body, that, when we have risen and shaken off the mortality of the flesh, according to that which is written, "Shake off the dust, and arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem," and have been set free from sin, it also shall be freed from corruption and be subject no longer to vanity, but to righteousness.

 

Isaiah says, too, "For as the new heaven and the new earth which I make, remaineth before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name be;" and again, "Thus saith the Lord that created the heaven, it is He who prepared the earth and created it, He determined it; He created it not in vain, but formed it to be inhabited."

 

For in reality God did not establish the universe in vain, or to no purpose but destruction, as those weak-minded men say, but to exist, and be inhabited, and continue. Wherefore the earth and the heaven must exist again after the conflagration and shaking of all things.

 

  • The resurrection leads to the new heaven and new earth. There is no mention of a millennium or a rapture.

Chapter V — The Mystery of the Tabernacles

Wherefore, above all other things, I say to those who love contests, and who are strong-minded, that without delay they should honour chastity, as a thing the most useful and glorious. For in the new and indissoluble creation, whoever shall not be found decorated with the boughs of chastity, shall neither obtain rest, because he has not fulfilled the command of God according to the law, nor shall he enter into the land of promise, because he has not previously celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles.

 

For they only who have celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles come to the Holy Land, setting out from those dwellings which are called tabernacles, until they come to enter into the temple and city of God, advancing to a greater and more glorious joy, as the Jewish types indicate. For like as the Israelites, having left the borders of Egypt, first came to the Tabernacles, and from hence, having again set forth, came into the land of promise, so also do we.

 

For I also, taking my journey, and going forth from the Egypt of this life, came first to the resurrection, which is the true Feast of the Tabernacles, and there having set up my tabernacle, adorned with the fruits of virtue, on the first day of the resurrection, which is the day of judgment, celebrate with Christ the millennium of rest, which is called the seventh day, even the true Sabbath.

 

Then again from thence I, a follower of Jesus, "who hath entered into the heavens," as they also, after the rest of the Feast of Tabernacles, came into the land of promise, come into the heavens, not continuing to remain in tabernacles--that is, my body not remaining as it was before, but, after the space of a thousand years, changed from a human and corruptible form into angelic size and beauty, where at last we virgins, when the festival of the resurrection is consummated, shall pass from the wonderful place of the tabernacle to greater and better things, ascending into the very house of God above the heavens, as, says the Psalmist, "in the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among such as keep holy day." I, O Arete, my mistress, offer as a gift to thee this robe, adorned according to my ability.

 

  • The symbols used:

    Land of promise = holy land = new and indissoluble creation = new heavens and new earth = temple = city of God

    Feast of tabernacles = life after salvation = (the age of the) resurrection = day of rest = 1,000 year millennium (only for believers — no unbelievers allowed)

    Tabernacle = a believer who is washed clean by Christ (living in a non-resurrected human body).

    Egypt = the time before a person is saved.

    Day of judgment = the day of salvation. The new believer is judged to be free from their sin. Or, our sin is judged and Christ pays the penalty.
  • For those who would interpret this passage in a strictly literal manner there is a serious problem. The body is physical but not resurrected in the millennium so the only people who could enter are those who are still living at the start of this period. The passage clearly refers to all believers. So the passage must be figurative and refer to the salvation of each believer. The chronological sequence:

    (1) Life before salvation = Egypt

    (2) Life after salvation = feast of tabernacles = (symbolic) 1,000 year millennium = resurrection (it is Christ's resurrection through which we receive newness of life). Believers are decorated with boughs of chastity as a reward for their pure (spiritually chaste) lives. Tabernacles = believers as the "new creation."

    (3) The new heavens and new earth = Land of promise = holy land = new and indissoluble creation = temple = city of God. Time of rest.


  • Only believers (those who have celebrated the feast of tabernacles — the 1,000 year millennium) enter into the new heavens and new earth.
  • The resurrection (of Christ = salvation for the believer) is followed by 1,000 years of rest with Christ, then the body is changed to incorruptible and we ascend to heaven.
  • Entering into the land of promise is used figuratively and is applied to believers. And they enter in to the temple and the city of God. Thus "the church = Israel" which is an amillennial idea.
  • The resurrection is that event which ushers believers into the temple and the city of God. This whole train of thought is amillennial in character.
  • After 1,000 years the body is resurrected.

Discourse VIII — Thekla

Chapter XI — The Woman With the Male Child in the Wilderness the Church; the Wilderness Belongs to Virgins and Saints; the Perfection of Numbers and Mysteries; the Equality and Perfection of the Number Six; the Number Six Related to Christ; From this Number, Too, the Creation and Harmony of the World Completed.

 

And the thousand two hundred and sixty days that we are staying here, O virgins, is the accurate and perfect understanding concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, in which our mother increases, and rejoices, and exults throughout this time, until the restitution of the new dispensation, when, coming into the assembly in the heavens, she will no longer contemplate the I AM through the means of human knowledge, but will clearly behold entering in together with Christ.

 

  • Note that the 1,260 days refers to Israel but here is applied to the church. This is an amillennial idea.
  • In new dispensation the church (Israel) enters into heaven. This is not a premillennial idea at all.

Discourse IX — Tusiane

Chapter I --Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven Days Appointed to the Jews for Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles: What They Signify; the Sum of this Septenary Uncertain; Not Clear to Any one When the Consummation of the World Will Be; Even Now the Fabric of the World Completed.

 

God, when He appointed to the true Israelites the legal rite of the true feast of the tabernacles, directed, in Leviticus, how they should keep and do honour to the feast; above all things, saying that each one should adorn his tabernacle with chastity.

 

I will add the words themselves of Scripture, from which, without any doubt, it will be shown how agreeable to God, and acceptable to Him, is this ordinance of virginity: In the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath.

 

And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year.

 

It shall be a statute for ever in your generations; ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

 

Here the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees, not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation.

 

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord, which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us.

 

For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water.

 

Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation, in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider the naked truth itself, for He saith, "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings."

 

Wherefore let it shame the Jews that they do not perceive the deep things of the Scriptures, thinking that nothing else than outward things are contained in the law and the prophets; for they, intent upon things earthly, have in greater esteem the riches of the world than the wealth which is of the soul.

 

For since the Scriptures are in this way divided that some of them give the likeness of past events, some of them a type of the future, the miserable men, going back, deal with the figures of the future as if they were already things of the past. As in the instance of the immolation of the Lamb, the mystery of which they regard as solely in remembrance of the deliverance of their fathers from Egypt, when, although the first-born of Egypt were smitten, they themselves were preserved by marking the door-posts of their houses with blood.

 

Nor do they understand that by it also the death of Christ is personified, by whose blood souls made safe and sealed shall be preserved from wrath in the burning of the world; whilst the first-born, the sons of Satan, shall be destroyed with an utter destruction by the avenging angels, who shall reverence the seal of the Blood impressed upon the former.

 

  • The resurrection happens after the 7,000 years of human history.
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.

    The 7,000 year millennium is called the "resurrection-day."

 


Commodianus

A Christian poet, the date of whose birth is uncertain, but generally placed at about the middle of the third century, or between the end of Diocletian's persecution and the issuing of the edict of Maxentius (305-11).

North-African bishop writing about A.D. 240

Clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennium. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. His view is inconsistent with modern premillennialism and his ideas about the conditions in the millennium would horrify modern premillennialists.

The Instructions of Commodianus In Favour of Christian Discipline. Against The Gods Of The Heathens

 

XXXV -- Of the Tree of Life and Death

 

We shall be immortal when six thousand years are accomplished.

 

  • Immortality begins after the 6,000 years of human history.
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 ands 60,000 B.C

XLIII -- Of the End of This Age

 

The trumpet gives the sign in heaven, the lion being taken away, and suddenly there is darkness with the din of heaven. The Lord casts down His eyes, so that the earth trembles. He cries out, so that all may hear throughout the world: Behold, long have I been silent while I bore your doings in such a time. They cry out together, complaining and groaning too late.

 

They howl, they bewail; nor is there room found for the wicked. What shall the mother do for the sucking child, when she herself is burnt up? In the flame of fire the Lord will judge the wicked. But the fire shall not touch the just, but shall by all means lick them up. In one place they delay, but a part has wept at the judgment. Such will be the heat, that the stones themselves shall melt.

 

The winds assemble into lightnings, the heavenly wrath rages; and wherever the wicked man fleeth, he is seized upon by this fire. There will be no succour nor ship of he sea. Amen flames on the nations, and the Medes and Parthians burn for a thousand years, as the hidden words of John declare. For then after a thousand years they are delivered over to Gehenna; and he whose work they were, with them are burnt up.

 

  • That the judgment of the wicked occurs when the earth is burned up.
  • The righteous will not be touched by this fire of judgment.
  • This fire of judgment lasts 1,000 years. Then they are thrown into the Lake of Fire.

XLIV -- Of the First Resurrection

 

From heaven will descend the city in the first resurrection; this is what we may tell of such a celestial fabric. We shall arise again to Him, who have been devoted to Him. And they shall be incorruptible, even already living without death. And neither will there be any grief nor any groaning in that city.

 

They shall come also who overcame cruel martydom under Antichrist, and they themselves live for the whole time, and receive blessings because they have suffered evil things; and they themselves marrying, beget for a thousand years. There are prepared all the revenues of the earth, because the earth renewed without end pours forth abundantly.

 

Therein are no rains; no cold comes into the golden camp. No sieges as now, nor rapines, nor does that city crave the light of a lamp. It shines from its Founder. Moreover, Him it obeys; in breadth 12,000 furlongs and length and depth. It levels its foundation in the earth, but it raises its head to heaven. In the city before the doors, moreover, sun and moon shall shine; he who is evil is hedged up in torment, for the sake of the nourishment of the righteous. But from the thousand years God will destroy all those evils.

 

  • That there is a city in heaven which will descend to earth after the first resurrection (this implies that there is a second resurrection).
  • There will be an Antichrist who persecutes Christians.
  • There will be marriage and children born by the resurrected believers in the millennium.

XLV -- Of the Day of Judgment

 

I add something, on account of unbelievers, of the day of judgment. Again, the fire of the Lord sent forth shall be appointed. The earth gives a true groan; then those who are making their journey in the last end, and then all unbelievers, groan. The whole of nature is converted in flame, which yet avoids the camp of His saints. The earth is burned up from its foundations, and the mountains melt. Of the sea nothing remains: it is overcome by the powerful fire. This sky perishes, and the stars and these things are changed. Another newness of sky and of everlasting earth is arranged. Thence they who deserve it are sent away in a second death, but the righteous are placed in inner dwelling-places.

 

  • The earth is burned up but avoids the believers.

LXXX -- The Name of the Man of Gaza

 

Ye who are to be inhabitants of the heavens with God-Christ, hold fast the beginning, look at all things from heaven. Let simplicity, let meekness dwell in your body. Be not angry with thy devout brother without a cause, for ye shall receive whatever ye may have done from him.

 

This has pleased Christ, that the dead should rise again, yea, with their bodies; and those, too, whom in this world the fire has burned, when six thousand years are completed, and the world has come to an end. The heaven in the meantime is changed with an altered course, for then the wicked are burnt up with divine fire. The creature with groaning burns with the anger of the highest God.

 

Those who are more worthy, and who are begotten of an illustrious stem, and the men of nobility under the conquered Antichrist, according to God's command living again in the world for a thousand years, indeed, that they may serve the saints, and the High One, under a servile yoke, that they may bear victuals on their neck. Moreover, that they may be judged again when the reign is finished.

 

They who make God of no account when the thousandth year is finished shall perish by fire, when they themselves shall speak to the mountains. All flesh in the monuments and tombs is restored according to its deed: they are plunged in hell; they bear their punishments in the world; they are shown to them, and they read the things transacted from heaven; the reward according to one's deeds in a perpetual tyranny. I cannot comprehend all things in a little treatise; the curiosity of the learned men shall find my name in this.

 

  • That there are two judgments on the wicked.
  • That the wicked will serve the resurrected righteous in the millennium.

Conclusions

  • That the world lasts 6,000 years
  • Antichrist martyrs believers
  • At the end of the world unbelievers are burnt up for 1,000 years, then they are bodily resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire.
  • Those who are more worthy burn for 1,000 years but are judged some are discarded, some are saved.
  • But believers are bodily resurrected and occupy the New Jerusalem (the heavenly city that descends to earth and rests on the earth for 1,000 years, presumably unharmed by the earthly fires of judgment).
  • Martyrs occupy the New Jerusalem upon death and marry and have children.


Lactantius

Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius. A Christian apologist of the fourth century (317 A.D.).

Clearly believed in a 1,000 year millennium. Refers to 6,000 years of human history which is wrong. Superficially his view sounds a lot like modern premillennialism but he has some serious inconsistencies (as do modern premillennialists).

The Divine Institutes -- Book VII

Of a Happy Life.

 

Chapter XIV -- Of the First and Last Times of the World

 

Since we have spoken of the immortality of the soul, it follows that we teach how and when it is given to man; that in this also they may see the errors of their perverseness and folly, who imagine that some mortals have become gods by the decrees and dogmas of mortals; either because they had invented arts, or because they had taught the use of certain productions of the earth, or because they had discovered things useful for the life of men, or because they had slain savage beasts.

 

How far these things were from deserving immortality we have both shown in the former books, and we will now show, that it may be evident that it is righteousness alone which procures for man eternal life, and that it is God alone who bestows the reward of eternal life.

 

For they who are said to have been immortalized by their merits, inasmuch as they possessed neither righteousness nor any true virtue, did not obtain for themselves immortality, but death by their sins and lusts; nor did they deserve the reward of heaven, but the punishment of hell, which impends over them, together with all their worshippers. And I show that the time of this judgment draws near, that the due reward may be given to the righteous, and the deserved punishment may be inflicted on the wicked.

 

Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; and in this they perhaps followed the Chaldeans, who, as Cicero has related in his first book respecting divination, foolishly say that they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter, because they thought that they could not be convicted, they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely.

 

But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book.

 

Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodeled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain.

 

God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath-day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number, whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number.

 

For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets, whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and times.

 

Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says "In Thy sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day."

 

And as God laboured during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labour during these six thousand years, while wickedness prevails and bears rule. And again, since God, having finished His works, rested the seventh day and blessed it, at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness must be abolished from the earth, and righteousness reign for a thousand years; and there must be tranquillity and rest from the labours which the world now has long endured.

 

But how that will come to pass I will explain in its order. We have often said that lesser things and things of small importance are figures and previous shadowings forth of great things; as this day of ours, which is bounded by the rising and the setting of the sun, is a representation of that great clay to which the circuit of a thousand years affixes its limits.

 

In the same manner also the fashioning of the earthly man held forth to the future the formation of the heavenly people. For as, when all things were completed which were contrived for the use of man, last of all, on the sixth day, He made man also, and introduced him into this world as into a home now carefully prepared; so now on the great sixth day the true man is being formed by the word of God, that is, a holy people is fashioned for righteousness by the doctrine and precepts of God.

 

And as then a mortal and imperfect man was formed from the earth, that he might live a thousand years in this world; so now from this earthly age is formed a perfect man, that being quickened by God, he may bear rule in this same world through a thousand years. But in what manner the consummation will take place, and what end awaits the affairs of men, if any one shall examine the divine writings he will ascertain.

 

But the voices also of prophets of the world, agreeing with the heavenly, announce the end and overthrow of all things after a short time, describing as it were the last old age of the wearied and wasting world. But the things which are said by prophets and seers to be about to happen before that last ending comes upon the world, I will subjoin, being collected and accumulated from all quarters.

 

Early Church Fathers | Table of Contents | End Time Prophecy | North Forest | Top of page

  • There will be no wickedness in the 1,000 year millennium.
  • This passage assumes that human history will last exactly 6,000 years. This is false for two reasons:

    (1) 6,000 years from 4,004 B.C. (Bishop Ussher's date and the earliest date anyone has ever proposed for the creation of Adam) plus 6,000 years results in the date 1997 A.D (using the solar year) or the early 1900's (using the lunar year of 360 days which is the year usually used for prophetic analysis). Most young-earth proponents usually allow for a date of 10,000 to 15,000 B.C. for the creation of Adam which makes the problem even worse.

    (2) The scientific evidence testifies that the earth and the universe are very old. In this case Adam was created somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 B.C.
  • That the church age is a representation of the 1,000 year millennium.

Chapter XXII — Of The Error Of The Poets, And The Return Of The Soul From The Lower Regions

 

Some imagine that these things are figments of the poets, not knowing whence the poets received them, and they say that these things are impossible; and it is no wonder that it so appears to them.

 

For the matter is related by the poets in a manner which is different from the truth; for although they are much more ancient than the historians and orators, and other kinds of writers, yet because they were ignorant of the secret of the divine mystery, and mention of a future resurrection had reached them by an obscure rumour, yet they handed it down, when carelessly and lightly heard, after the manner of a feigned story. And yet they also testified that they did not follow a sure authority, but mere opinion, as Maro, who says, "What ear has beard let tongue make known."

 

Although, therefore, they have partly corrupted the secrets of the truth, yet the matter itself is found to be more true, because it partly agrees with the prophets: which is sufficient for us as a proof of the matter. Yet some reason is contained in their error.

 

For when the prophets proclaimed with continual announcements that the Son of God was about to judge the dead, and this announcement did not escape their notice; inasmuch as they supposed that there was no other ruler of heaven but Jupiter, they reported that the son of Jupiter was king in the lower regions, but not Apollo, or Liber, or Mercurius, who are supposed to be gods of heaven, but one who was both mortal and just, either Minos, or AEacus, or Rhadamanthus.

 

Therefore with poetic licence they corrupted that which they had received; or, the opinion being scattered through different mouths and various discourses, changed the truth. For inasmuch as they foretold that, when a thousand years had been passed in the lower regions, they should again be restored to life, as Maro said:

 

All these, when centuries ten times told

The wheel of destiny have rolled,

The voice divine from far and wide

Calls up to Lethe's river side,

That earthward they may pass once more,

Remembering not the things before,

And with a blind propension yearn

To fleshly bodies to return:

this matter escaped their notice, that the dead will rise again, not after a thousand years from their death, but that, when again restored to life, they may reign with God a thousand years. For God will come, that, having cleansed the world from all defilement, He may restore the souls of the righteous to their renewed bodies, and raise them to everlasting blessedness.

 

Therefore the other things are true, except the water of oblivion, which they feigned on this account, that no one might make this objection: why, therefore, did they not remember that they were at one time alive, or who they were, or what things they accomplished? But nevertheless it is not thought probable, and the whole matter is rejected, as though licentiously and fabulously invented.

 

But when we affirm the doctrine of the resurrection, and teach that souls will return to another life, not forgetful of themselves, but possessed of the same perception and figure, we are met with this objection: So many ages have now passed; what individual ever arose from the dead, that through. his example we may believe it to be possible? But the resurrection cannot take place while unrighteousness still prevails.

 

For in this world men are slain by violence, by the sword, by ambush, by poisons, and are visited with injuries, with want, with imprisonment, with tortures, and with proscriptions. Add to this that righteousness is hated, that all who wish to follow God are not only held in hatred, but are harassed with all reproaches, and are tormented by manifold kinds of punishments, and are driven to the impious worship of gods made with hands, not by reason or truth, but by dreadful laceration of their bodies.

 

Ought men therefore to rise again to these same things, or to return to a life in which it is impossible for them to be safe? Since the right-eous, then, are so lightly esteemed, and so easily taken away, what can we suppose would have happened if any one returning from the dead had recovered life by a recovery of his former condition? He would assuredly be taken away from the eyes of men, lest, if he were seen or heard, all men with one accord should leave the gods and betake themselves to the worship and religion of the one God.

 

Therefore it is necessary that the resurrection should take place once only when evil shall have been taken away, since it is befitting that those who have risen again should neither die any more, nor be injured in any way, that they may be able to pass a happy life whose death has been annulled. But the poets, knowing that this life abounds with all evils, introduced the river of oblivion, lest the souls, remembering their labours and evils, should refuse to return to the upper regions; whence Virgil says:--

 

O Father l and can thought conceive

That happy souls this realm would leave,

And seek the upper sky,

With sluggish clay to reunite?

This dreadful longing for the light,

Whence comes it, say, and why?

For they did not know how or when it must take place; and therefore they supposed that souls were born again, and that they returned afresh to the womb, and went back to infancy. Whence also Plato, while discussing the nature of the soul, says that it may be known from this that souls are immortal and divine, because in boys minds are pliant, and easy of perception, and because they so quickly comprehend the subjects which they learn, that they appear not then to be learning for the first time, but to be recalling them to mind and recollecting them: in which matter the wise man most foolishly believed the poets.

 

  • The dead will rise (resurrection) before the millennium.
  • After this resurrection there will no longer be any unrighteousness.

Chapter XXIV — Of The Renewed World

 

Now I will subjoin the rest. Therefore the Son of the most high and mighty God shall come to judge the quick and the dead, as the Sibyl testifies and says:--

 

"For then there shall be confusion of mortals throughout the whole earth, when the Almighty Himself shall come on His judgment-seat to judge the souls of the quick and dead, and all the world."

 

But He, when He shall have destroyed unrighteousness, and executed His great judgment, and shall have recalled to life the righteous, who have lived from the beginning, will be engaged among men a thousand years, and will rule them with most just command. Which the Sibyl proclaims in another place, as she utters her inspired predictions:

 

"Hear me, ye mortals; an everlasting King reigns."

 

Then they who shall be alive in their bodies shall not die, but during those thousand years shall produce an infinite multitude, and their offspring shall be holy, and beloved by God; but they who shall be raised from the dead shall preside over the living as judges.

 

But the nations shall not be entirely extinguished, but some shall be left as a victory for God, that they may be the occasion of triumph to the righteous, and may be subjected to perpetual slavery. About the same time also the prince of the devils, who is the contriver of all evils, shall be bound with chains, and shall be imprisoned during the thousand years of the heavenly rule in which righteousness shall reign in the world, so that he may contrive no evil against the people of God.

 

After His coming the righteous shall be collected from all the earth, and the judgment being completed, the sacred city shall be planted in the middle of the earth, in which God Himself the builder may dwell together with the righteous, bearing rule in it. And the Sibyl marks out this city when she says:

 

"And the city which God made this He made more brilliant than the stars, and sun, and moon."

Then that darkness will be taken away from the world with which the heaven will be overspread and darkened, and the moon will receive the brightness of the sun, nor will it be further diminished: but the sun will become seven times brighter than it now is; and the earth will open its fruitfulness, and bring forth most abundant fruits of its own accord; the rocky mountains shall drop with honey; streams of wine shall run down, and rivers flow with milk: in short, the world itself shall rejoice, and all nature exult, being rescued and set free from the dominion of evil and impiety, and guilt and error.

 

Throughout this time beasts shall not be nourished by blood, nor birds by prey; but all things shall be peaceful and tranquil. Lions and calves shall stand together at the manger, the wolf shall not carry off the sheep, the hound shall not hunt for prey; hawks and eagles shall not injure; the infant shall play with serpents. In short, those things shall then come to pass which the poets spoke of as being done in the reign of Saturnus.

 

Whose error arose from this source, — that the prophets bring forward and speak of many future events as already accomplished. For visions were brought before their eyes by the divine Spirit, and they saw these things, as it were, done and completed in their own sight.

 

And when fame had gradually spread abroad their predictions, since those who were uninstructed in the mysteries of religion did not know why they were spoken, they thought that all those things were already fulfilled in the ancient ages, which evidently could not be accomplished and fulfilled under the reign of a man. But when, after the destruction of impious religions and the suppression of guilt, the earth shall be subject to God:

 

The sailor himself also shall renounce the sea,

nor shall the naval pine Barter merchandise; all lands shall produce all things.

The ground shall not endure the harrow, nor the vineyard the pruning hook;

The sturdy ploughman also shall loose the bulls from the yoke.

The plain shall by degrees grow yellow with soft ears of corn,

The blushing grape shall hang on the uncultivated brambles,

And hard oaks shall distil the dewy honey.

Nor shall the wool learn to counterfeit various colours;

But the ram himself in the meadows shall change his fleece,

Now for a sweetly blushing purple, now for saffron dye;

Scarlet of its own accord shall cover the lambs as they feed.

The goats of themselves shall bring back home their udders distended with milk; Nor shall the herds dread huge lions.

Which things the poet foretold according to the verses of the Cumaean Sibyl. But the Erythraean thus speaks:

 

"But wolves shall not contend with lambs on the mountains, and lynxes shall eat grass with kids; boars shall feed with calves, and with all flocks; and the carnivorous lion shall eat chaff at the manger, and serpents shall sleep with infants deprived of their mothers."

And in another place, speaking of the fruitfulness of all things:

 

"And then shall God give great joy to men; for the earth, and the trees, and the numberless flocks of the earth shall give to men the true fruit of the vine, and sweet honey, and white milk, and corn, which is the best of all things to mortals."

And another in the same manner:

 

"The sacred land of the pious only will produce all these things, the stream of honey from the rock and from the fountain, and the milk of ambrosia will flow for all the just."

Therefore men will live a most tranquil life, abounding with resources, and will reign together with God; and the kings of the nations shall come from the ends of the earth with gifts and offerings, to adore and honour the great King, whose name shall be renowned and venerated by all the nations which shall be trader heaven, and by the kings who shall rule on earth.

 

  • That God returns to judge.
  • Inhabitants of the millennium will have children.
  • Deceased believers will rule over those who were alive at the time of the resurrection.
  • Nations will still remain in the millennium and the citizens will be slaves (but were are getting into contradictions since (1) there is no wickedness in the millennium and (2) the sun is seven times brighter, etc.).
  • Sounds somewhat like the modern premillennial viewpoint compete with internal contradictions

XXV — Of the Last Times, and of the City of Rome

 

These are the things which are spoken of by the prophets as about to happen hereafter: but I have not considered it necessary to bring forward their testimonies and words, since it would be an endless task; nor would the limits of my book receive so great a multitude of subjects, since so many with one breath speak similar things; and at the same time, lest weariness should be occasioned to the readers if I should heap together things collected and transferred froth all; moreover, that I might confirm those very things which I said, not by my own writings, but in an especial manner by the writings of others, and might show that not only among us, but even with those very persons who revile us, the truth is preserved, which they refuse to acknowledge.

 

But he who wishes to know these things more accurately may draw from the fountain itself, and he will know more things worthy of admiration than we have comprised in these books. Perhaps some one may now ask when these things of which we have spoken are about to come to pass? I have already shown above, that when six thousand years shall be completed this change must take place, and that the last day of the extreme conclusion is now drawing near.

 

It is permitted us to know respecting the signs, which are spoken by the prophets, for they foretold signs by which the consummation of the times is to be expected by us from day to day, and to be feared. When, however, this amount will be completed, those teach, who have written respecting the times, collecting them from the sacred writings and from various histories, how great is the number of years from the beginning of the world.

 

And although they vary, and the amount of the number as reckoned by them differs considerably, yet all expectation does not exceed the limit of two hundred years. The subject itself declares that the fall and ruin of the world will shortly take place; except that while the city of Rome remains it appears that nothing of this kind is to be feared.

 

But when that capital of the world shall have fallen, and shall have begun to be a street, which the Sibyls say shall come to pass, who can doubt that the end has now arrived to the affairs of men and the whole world? It is that city, that only, which still sustains all things; and the God of heaven is to be entreated by us and implored--if, indeed, His arrangements and decrees can be delayed--lest, sooner than we think for, that detestable tyrant should come who will trader-take so great a deed, and dig out that eye, by the destruction of which the world itself is about to fall. Now let us return, to set forth the other things which are then about to follow.

 

  • That the millennium would begin within 200 years (about 500 A.D. — this did not happen). That the fall of the city of Rome would signal the end.
  • Hints at an Antichrist before the millennium.

Chapter XXVI — Of the Loosing of the Devil, and of the Second and Greatest judgment

We have said, a little before, that it will come to pass at the commencement of the sacred reign, that the prince of the devils will be bound by God. But he also, when the thousand years of the kingdom, that is, seven thousand of the world, shall begin to be ended, will be loosed afresh, and being sent forth from prison, will go forth and assemble all the nations, which shall then be trader the dominion of the righteous, that they may make war against the holy city; and there shall be collected together from all the world an innumerable company of the nations, and shall besiege and surround the city.

 

Then the last anger of God shall come upon the nations, and shall utterly destroy them; and first He shall shake the earth most violently, and by its motion the mountains of Syria shall be rent, and the hills shall sink down precipitously, and the walls of all cities shall fall, and God shall cause the sun to stand, so that he set not for three days, and shall set it on fire; and excessive heat and great burning shall descend upon the hostile and impious people, and showers of brim-stone, and hailstones, and drops of fire; and their spirits shall melt through the heat, and their bodies shall be bruised by the hail, and they shall smite one another with the sword.

 

The mountains shall be filled with carcases, and the plains shall be covered with bones; but the people of God during those three days shall be concealed under caves of the earth, until the anger of God against the nations and the last judgment shall be ended.

 

Then the righteous shall go forth from their hiding-places, and shall find all things covered with carcases and bones. But the whole race of the wicked shall utterly perish; and there shall no longer be any nation in this world, but the nation of God alone. Then for seven continuous years the woods shall be untouched, nor shall timber be cut from the mountains, but the arms of the nations shall be burnt; and now there shall be no war, but peace and everlasting rest.

 

But when the thousand years shall be completed, the world shall be renewed by God, and the heavens shall be folded together, and the earth shall be changed, and God shall transform men into the similitude of angels, and they shall be white as snow; and they shall always be employed in the sight of the Almighty, and shall make offerings to their Lord, and serve Him for ever. At the same time shall take place that second and public resurrection of all, in which the unrighteous shall be raised to everlasting punishments.

 

These are they who have worshipped the works of their own hands, who have either been ignorant of, or have denied the Lord and Parent of the world. But their lord with his servants shall be seized and condemned to punishment, together with whom all the band of the wicked, in accordance with their deeds, shall be burnt for ever with perpetual fire in the sight of angels and the righteous.

 

  • At the end of the millennium Satan will be released to assemble the nations (but a contradiction since the millennium was a time of righteousness).
  • The righteous were hiding — but why would resurrected beings need to hide?
  • After the millennium the righteous will be changed to be like angels (but they are already resurrected so what is the point?)
  • After the millennium there will be a resurrection of the wicked (but this is a contradiction since there was no unrighteousness in the millennium).

Chapter LXXII -- Of Christ Descending from Heaven to the General Judgment, and of the Millenarian Reign

Then the heaven shall be opened in a tempest, and Christ shall descend with great power, and there shall go before Him a fiery brightness and a countless host of angels, and all that multitude of the wicked shall be destroyed, and torrents of blood shall flow, and the leader himself shall escape, and having often renewed his army, shall for the fourth time engage in battle, in which, being taken, with all the other tyrants, he shall be delivered up to be burnt.

 

But the prince also of the demons himself, the author and contriver of evils, being bound with fiery chains, shall be imprisoned, that the world may receive peace, and the earth, harassed through so many years, may rest. Therefore peace being made, and every evil suppressed, that righteous King and Conqueror will institute a great judgment on the earth respecting the living and the dead, and will deliver all the nations into subjection to the righteous who are alive, and will raise the righteous dead to eternal life, and will Himself reign with them on the earth, and will build the holy city, and this kingdom of the righteous shall be for a thousand years.

 

Throughout that time the stars shall be more brilliant, and the brightness of the sun shall be increased, and the moon shall not be subject to decrease. Then the rain of blessing shall descend from God at morning and evening, and the earth shall bring forth all her fruit without the labour of men. Honey shall drop from rocks, fountains of milk and wine shall abound.

 

The beasts shall lay aside their ferocity and become mild, the wolf shall roam among the flocks without doing harm, the calf shall feed with the lion, the dove shall be united with the hawk, the serpent shall have no poison; no animal shall live by bloodshed. For God shall supply to all abundant and harmless food. But when the thousand years shall be fulfilled, and the prince of the demons loosed, the nations will rebel against the righteous, and an innumerable multitude will come to storm the city of the saints.

 

Then the last judgment of God will come to pass against the nations. For He will shake the earth froth its foundations, and the cities shall be overthrown, and He Shall rain upon the wicked fire with brimstone and hail, and they shall be on fire, and slay each other. But the righteous shall for a little space be concealed under the earth, until the destruction of the nations is accomplished, and after the third day they shall come forth, and see the plains covered with carcases.

 

Then there shall be an earthquake, and the mountains shall be rent, and valleys shall sink down to a profound depth, and into this the bodies of the dead shall be heaped together, and its name shall be called Polyandrion. After these things God will renew the world, and transform the righteous into the forms of angels, that, being presented with the garment of immortality, they may serve God for ever; and this will be the kingdom of God, which shall have no end.

 

Then also the wicked shall rise again, not to life but to punishment; for God shall raise these also, when the second resurrection takes place, that, being condemned to eternal torments and delivered to eternal fires, they may suffer the punishments which they deserve for their crimes.

 

  • This passage is not chronologically after the previous one.
  • The second coming of Christ occurs before the millennium.
  • At the second coming the righteous dead will be resurrected (not a pre-tribulational rapture, but a post-tribulational rapture). Although the second coming occurs before the millennium.
  • That the righteous in the eternal state have bodies like those of angels. apparently the physical resurrected bodies only last 1,000 years and are then replaced by spirit bodies.
  • The kingdom of God = the eternal state.
  • The second resurrection (after the millennium) is for unbelievers only.


Eusebius

Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of Csarea in Palestine, the "Father of Church History;" b. about 260; d. before 341.

He was not premillennial. But it is uncertain whether he was amillennial.

Eusebius of Csarea

Eusebius Pamphili, Bishop of Csarea in Palestine, the "Father of Church History;" b. about 260; d. before 341.

 

Eusebius seems to have leaned toward chiliasm in his earlier days, "but after Constantine's acceptance of Christianity, Eusebius revised his attitude."

 

Eusebius is here a special pleader. He opposes the millennium. Wrongly fancying that the Apocalypse favours the Chiliasts, he assigns it to this John the Elder and tries to rob the work of its Apostolic authority,


Augustine

Augustine was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. From His Birth To His Conversion (354-386) — From His Conversion To His Episcopate (386-395) — As Bishop Of Hippo (396-430)

Augustine was clearly amillennial. He was not postmillennial (although postmillennialists use him to support their viewpoint).

The following passages are merely excerpts of a few key points.

The City of God — Book 20

Book 20 -- Concerning The Last Judgment, And The Declarations Regarding It In The Old And New Testaments.

 

Chapter 7 -- What Is Written In The Revelation Of John Regarding The Two Resurrections, And The Thousand Years, And What May Reasonably Be Held On These Points.

 

The evangelist John has spoken of these two resurrections in the book which is called the Apocalypse, but in such a way that some Christians do not understand the first of the two, and so construe the passage into ridiculous fancies. For the Apostle John says in the foresaid book, "And I saw an angel come down from heaven. . .  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."

 

Those who, on the strength of this passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath-rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessedness of paradise into the woes of this mortal life, so that thus, as it is written, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," there should follow on the completion of six thousand years, as of six days, a kind of seventh-day Sabbath in the succeeding thousand years; and that it is for this purpose the saints rise, viz., to celebrate this Sabbath.

 

And. this opinion would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual, and consequent on the presence of God; for I myself, too, once held this opinion. But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate, but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal.

 

They who do believe them are called by the spiritual Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians. It were a tedious process to refute these opinions point by point: we prefer proceeding to show how that passage of Scripture should be understood.

 

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and Spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man" -- meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in divers sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself.

 

It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse "an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold," he says, "on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years," -- that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed.

 

Now the thousand years may be understood in two ways, so far as occurs to me: either because these things happen in the sixth thousand of years or sixth millennium (the latter part of which is now passing), as if during the sixth day, which is to be followed by a Sabbath which has no evening, the endless rest of the saints, so that, speaking of a part under the name of the whole, he calls the last part of the millennium -- the part, that is, which had yet to expire before the end of the world -- a thousand years; or he used the thousand years as an equivalent for the whole duration of this world, employing the number of perfection to mark the fullness of time.

 

  • He rejects the idea that the 1st resurrection (the rapture) of Rev 20:4 is future and bodily.
  • He acknowledges the premillennial idea of a 1,000 year millennium. He says it would not be objectionable except that this millennium is usually thought of in terms of crass materialistic pleasures.
  • Augustine was once a premillennialist. This view must have been popular.
  • The 1,000 years is either:

    (1) The final 1,000 years of the 6,000 years of human history (the assumption is that at the time of Augustine they were in this final 1,000 years before the second coming of Christ), or

    (2) The entire period of human history from Adam until the second coming of Christ But note that the first option is false since this time period is now over.

Chapter 9 -- What The Reign Of The Saints With Christ For A Thousand Years Is, And How It Differs From The Eternal Kingdom.

 

But while the devil is bound, the saints reign with Christ during the same thousand years, understood in the same way, that is, of the time of His first coming. For, leaving out of account that kingdom concerning which He shall say in the end, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you," the Church could not now be called His kingdom or the kingdom of heaven unless His saints were even now reigning with Him, though in another and far different way; for to His saints He says, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."

 

  • Believers reign with Christ during the "millennial" period which began at the 1st coming of Christ.