MILLENNIAL KINGDOM – Early Church Fathers

Many great historians and churchmen can be cited in affirming the early dominance of Premillennialism. Among them is the celebrated church historian Philip Schaff. He penned this oft-quoted passage:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius” Schaff, History of the Christian Church Vol 11, p. 614

Contained in Barnabas’ epistle is this common early church millennial belief:

“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. Ye perceive how He speaks . . . I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.The Epistle of Barnabus. Chapter 15, p. 146-147

Barnabus got it right both with the age of the earth and that Jesus will rule and reign on this earth for a thousand years and only then the White Throne Judgement followed by a new heaven and new earth.

Justin Martyr was an overtly premillennial ante-Nicene church father

Justin gave his most famous statement on the Millennium: “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 . . . 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.Dialogue with Trypho LXXX, p.239

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