Early Church Fathers – Not all that Premillenial, it seems

Still discussing T.C.’s blog post this morning, I find an interesting chart on early Christian writers.

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.

Also check out Jerome on a literal understanding of the 1000 years – he wasn’t the friendliest to this disposition. You may also find this post interesting on overall views of some of the Church Fathers. This is an interesting history of modern dispensationalism, to be honest, I find abhorrent to good theology. I don’t want to say that Robert Darby was cult minded, but…. This is a good series on how to minister to those under the influence of dispensationalism. This article attempts to show that the Athanasian Creed was amillennialist.

I still maintain that these issues really arose when the cultural foundation of the genre was removed.

Post By Joel Watts (10,086 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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8 thoughts on Early Church Fathers – Not all that Premillenial, it seems

  1. Its also interesting how many of them were annihilationists :P

    btw, you're not the polycarp from theologyonline by any chance?

  2. No, Geoff, I am not!!!

    On the other hand, if they presents clear, concise arguments and edify others, then maybe… :)

  3. I would encourage you to actually read the fathers. That chart is just flat wrong in many places. For example, Irenaeus speaks at lenght about the seventh day, which he identifies at the thousand year reign of Christ. Be honest with what you present, as this is nothing more than deceit.

    Pastor Ervin

  4. For what are the hundred-fold [rewards] in this word, the entertainments given to the poor, and the suppers for which a return is made? 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, ed. Roberts and Donaldson, Kindle Electronic Edition Chapter 33, Location 32814-32821.)

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