Of Early Church Fathers...
The ideas about premillennialism of the Early Church Fathers(of those who taught it) was very different from modern premillennialism. In fact, they would be thrown out of church on their ear today; their ideas flatly rejected by these same modern premillennialists who use them to support their views. This is madness!
Here are these ideas...
- That human history would last 6,000 years.This does not match modern premillennialism at all; most premillennialists are young earth creationists and think Adam & Evewere created 10,000 B.C. or earlier.
- That the millennium would begin on a certain date(and it didn't).
- That 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).
Justin Martyr |
Aviricius Marcellus |
End Time Prophecy Leads to Rome | The Kingdom of Israel
6,000 Yearsof Human History
The notion of 6,000 years of human history based on each day of creation representing 1,000 years began to appear in the writings of the Early Church Fathersafter 130 A.D., about the same time the notion began appearing in Jewish writings.
The date of creation according to one rabbinic school is 3761 B.C. so there are still perhaps several hundred years left until the 6,000 years are over.
The scientific evidence testifies of the earth and the universe as very old;this contradicts the whole scheme.
This idea originated with the Jewswho interpreted the 6 days of creation as 1,000 year periods of time. The 7th "day of rest" therefore is the 1,000 yearmillennium.
The Early Church Fathers who used this idea as a basis for their belief in premillennialism are...
Aviricius Marcellus |
The End Would Come Soon
Several of the early church fathers declared 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 they were wrong about other aspects of their end-time viewpoint.
- That the world would end in 500 A.D. (which didn't happen)
- He wrote in about 258 A.D. and mistakenly thought the end of the 6,000 yearswould occur soon — but it has continued into the present.
What the Church Fathers Believed
- He distinguished between three distinct destinations for believers based on how much fruit they produce:
(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 he stated that the 6,000 yearsof 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.
- He clearly believed in a 1,000 yearmillennial 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 yearmillennium by applying it to the church age.
- 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 yearperiod which is a Sabbath in which Christ will reign with his elect.
- 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-yearperiod 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 yearmillennium 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 yearmillennial interspace. After the millennium unbelievers will be resurrected for judgment.
- The world would end in 500 A.D. (which didn't happen).
- Human history would last 6,000 years.
- Antichristcomes immediately before the end of the world.
- Implies a final 1,000 year period.This does not match modern premillennialism at all; most premillennialists are young earth creationists and think Adam & Evewere created 10,000 B.C. or earlier
- Hippolytus doesn't say much about the conditions in the millennium.
- 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.
- 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.
- There will be no wickedness in the 1,000 yearmillennium.
- 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 we 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.