An Informal Intro to the Premillennialism of 1st – 2nd Centuries A.D.

Few early Christians wrote about this aspect of eschatology during the first century of Christianity, but most of the available writings from the period reflect a millenarianist perspective (sometimes referred to as chiliasm). Bishop Papias of Hierapolis (A.D. 70–155) speaks in favor of a pre-millennial position in volume three of his five volume work and Aristion [when?] and the elder John echoed his sentiments, as did other first-hand disciples and secondary followers.[3 (Eusebius, Ecc. History. 3.39.3-4)] —Amillennialism – Wikipedia

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Justin Martyr in the 2nd century was one of the first Christian writers to clearly describe himself as continuing in the “Jewish” belief of a temporary messianic kingdom prior to the eternal state. According to Johannes Quasten, “In his eschatological ideas Justin shares the views of the Chiliasts concerning the millennium.”[3] He maintains a premillennial distinctive, namely that there would be two resurrections, one of believers before Jesus‘ reign and then a general resurrection afterwards. Justin wrote in chapter 80 of his work Dialogue with Trypho, “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… For Isaiah spoke in that manner concerning this period of a thousand years.” Though he conceded earlier in the same chapter that his view was not universal by saying that he “and many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.” [4][5]

<img alt=”” src=”//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Saint_Irenaeus.jpg/170px-Saint_Irenaeus.jpg” width=”170″ height=”226″ class=”thumbimage” data-file-width=”245″ data-file-height=”325″>

St. Irenaeus (c. 130–202), an early Christian Premillennialist.

Irenaeus, the late 2nd century bishop of Lyon was an outspoken premillennialist. He is best known for his voluminous tome written against the 2nd century Gnostic threat, commonly called Against Heresies. In the fifth book of Against Heresies, Irenaeus concentrates primarily on eschatology. In one passage he defends premillennialism by arguing that a future earthly kingdom is necessary because of God’s promise to Abraham, he wrote “The promise remains steadfast… God promised him the inheritance of the land. Yet, Abraham did not receive it during all the time of his journey there. Accordingly, it must be that Abraham, together with his seed (that is, those who fear God and believe in Him), will receive it at the resurrection of the just.”[6] In another place Irenaeus also explained that the blessing to Jacob “belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom when the righteous will bear rule, after their rising from the dead. It is also the time when the creation will bear fruit with an abundance of all kinds of food, having been renovated and set free… And all of the animals will feed on the vegetation of the earth… and they will be in perfect submission to man. And these things are borne witness to in the fourth book of the writings of Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp.” (5.33.3) Apparently Irenaeus also held to the sexta-/septamillennial scheme writing that the end of human history will occur after the 6,000th year. (5.28.3)[7]

Other ante-Nicene premillennialists

Irenaeus and Justin represent two of the most outspoken premillennialists of the pre-Nicean church. Other early premillennialists included Pseudo-Barnabas,[8] Papias,[9] Methodius, Lactantius,[10] Commodianus[11] Theophilus, Tertullian,[12] Melito,[13] Hippolytus of Rome, Victorinus of Pettau [14][15] and various Gnostics groups and the Montanists. Many of these theologians and others in the early church expressed their belief in premillennialism through their acceptance of the sexta-septamillennial tradition. This belief claims that human history will continue for 6,000 years and then will enjoy Sabbath for 1,000 years (the millennial kingdom), thus all of human history will have a total of 7,000 years prior to the new creation. —Premillennialism – Wikipedia (bold mine, for emphasis on the stipulations which precede the future Jewish Kingdom, chiefly being the resurrection of believers, old covenant and new, Jew & Gentile)

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