Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Amillennialism of Gregory Thaumaturgus [A.D. 240]

Gregory Thaumaturgus (213 – 270 AD) was a bishop in Asia Minor during the 3rd century. Regarding eschatology, Gregory clearly has one resurrection, to be immediately followed by the “judgment of all”. In fact, the purpose of Christ’s coming is “for the judgment of the living and the dead, and for the eternal life of the saints.” No mention of any millennium.

“Moreover, the capital clement of our salvation is the incarnation of the Word. We believe, therefore, that it was without any change in the Divinity that the incarnation of the Word took place with a view to the renewal of humanity. For there took place neither mutation nor transposition, nor any circumscription in will, as regards the holy energy of God; but while that remained in itself the same, it also effected the work of the incarnation with a view to the salvation of the world: and the Word of God, living on earth after man’s fashion, maintained likewise in all the divine presence, fulfilling all things, and being united properly and individually with flesh; and while the sensibilities proper to the flesh were there, the divine energy maintained the impassibility proper to itself. Impious, therefore, is the man who introduces the passibility into the energy. For the Lord of glory appeared in fashion as a man when He undertook the economy upon the earth; and He fulfilled the law for men by His deeds, and by His sufferings He did away with man’s sufferings, and by His death He abolished death, and by his resurrection He brought life to light; and now we look for His appearing from heaven in glory for the life and judgment of all, when the resurrection of the dead shall take place, to the end that recompense may be made to all according to their desert.” (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Sectional Confession of Faith VI)

“We therefore acknowledge one true God, the one First Cause, and one Son, very God of very God, possessing of nature the Father’s divinity, - that is to say, being the same in substance with the Father; and one Holy Spirit, who by nature and in truth sanctifies all, and makes divine, as being of the substance of God. Those who speak either of the Son or of the Holy Spirit as a creature we anathematize. All other things we hold to be objects made, and in subjection, created by God through the Son, (and) sanctified in the Holy Spirit. Further, we acknowledge that the Son of God was made a Son of man, having taken to Himself the flesh from the Virgin Mary, not in name, but in reality; and that He is both the perfect Son of God, and the (perfect) Son of man, - that the Person is but one, and that there is one worship for the Word and the flesh that He assumed. And we anathematize those who constitute different worships, one for the divine and another for the human, and who worship the man born of Mary as though He were another than the God of God. For we know that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) And we worship Him who was made man on account of our salvation, not indeed as made perfectly like in the like body, but as the Lord who has taken to Himself the form of the servant. We acknowledge the passion of the Lord in the flesh, the resurrection in the power of His divinity, the ascension to heaven, and His glorious appearing when He comes for the judgment of the living and the dead, and for the eternal life of the saints.” (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Sectional Confession of Faith XV)

Regarding the false cult of Judaism, Gregory, like nearly all of the church fathers, did not consider such a belief system to be a sign of being in covenant with God, but rather of unbelief.

“One therefore is God the Father, one the Word, one the Spirit, the life, the sanctification of all. And neither is there another God as Father, nor is there another Son as Word of God, nor is there another Spirit as quickening and sanctifying. Further, although the saints are called both gods, and sons, and spirits, they are neither filled with the Spirit, nor are made like the Son and God. And if, then, any one makes this affirmation, that the Son is God, simply as being Himself filled with divinity, and not as being generated of divinity, he has belied the Word, he has belied the Wisdom, he has lost the knowledge of God; he has fallen away into the worship of the creature, he has taken up the impiety of the Greeks, to that he has gone back; and he has become a follower of the unbelief of the Jews, who, supposing the Word of God to be but a human son, have refused to accept Him as God, and have declined to acknowledge Him as the Son of God.” (Gregory Thaumaturgus, Sectional Confession of Faith IV).

What we have from Gregory Thaumaturgus clearly shows him to be amillennial, holding to “Replacement Theology”.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Inconclusive Eschatology of Novatian [A.D. 250]

Novatian was a Roman Presbyter in the middle of the Third Century. Due to his disagreements with Cornelius, he is often referred to as the “anti-pope” or “the first Puritan”. After careful reading of his treatise on the Trinity, I have been unable to discover anything of significance in terms of Eschatology. Novatian did mention the resurrection of the righteous, and in another place the judgment of the wicked, but he does not give us any chronology concerning these events.

“And that He was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He showed the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us. For a law of resurrection is established, in that Christ is raised up in the substance of the body as an example for the rest; because, when it is written that “flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 15:50) it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned, which was built up by the divine hands that it should not perish, but only the guilt of the flesh is rightly rebuked, which by the voluntary daring of man rebelled against the claims of divine law. Because in baptism and in the dissolution of death the flesh is raised up and returns to salvation, by being recalled to the condition of innocency when the mortality of guilt is put away.” (Chap. X. Argument. — That Jesus Christ Is the Son of God and Truly Man, as Opposed to the Fancies of Heretics, Who Deny That He Took upon Him True Flesh.)

In his work, On Jewish Meats, we can see that Novatian separates true believers from “Jews and Heretics”, thus agreeing unanimously with the other church fathers that Judaists are outside any Covenant with God.

“I urge you on, — that, treading under foot and rejecting as welt the sacrilegious calumnies of heretics as also the idle fables of Jews, you may hold the sole word3 and teaching of Christ, so as worthily to claim for yourselves the authority of His name. But how perverse are the Jews, and remote from the understanding of their law, I have fully shown, as I believe, in two former letters,4 wherein it was absolutely proved that they are ignorant of what is the true circumcision, and what the true Sabbath; and their ever increasing blindness is confuted in this present epistle, wherein I have briefly discoursed concerning their meats, because that in them they consider that they only are holy, and that all others are defiled.” (On Jewish Meats, Chapter I)

“For of those creatures which divide the foot into two hoofs the walk is always vigorous; the tendency to slip of one part of the hoof being sustained by the firmness of the other, and so retained in the substantial footstep. Thus they who do neither are unclean, whose walk is neither firm in virtues; nor do they digest the food of the divine precepts after the manner of that chewing of the cud. And they, too, who do one of these things are not themselves clean either, inasmuch as they are maimed of the other, and not perfect in both. And these are they who do both, as believers, and are clean; or one of the two, as Jews and heretics, and are blemished; or neither, as the Gentiles, and are consequently unclean.” (On Jewish Meats, Chapter III)

Novatian makes no mention of a millennium, but his writings were mainly for the purpose of defending the doctrine of the Trinity against heretics such as the Sabellians. Therefore, it is impossible to draw any conclusion on the subject of eschatology from the writings of Novatian, other than Replacement Theology.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Amillennialism of Caius [A.D. 200]

Caius was a presbyter of Rome in the early Second Century. Though there aren’t many of his writings left for us today, we have enough to form a conclusion about his views on the millennium.
On the Millennium
“But Cerinthus, too, through revelations written, as he would have us believe, by a great apostle, brings before us marvelous 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.” (Caius Fragment from a Dialogue or Disputation Against Proclus)

Another interesting fragment from Caius deals with the dating of the Shepherd of Hermas, a subject of most importance concerning eschatology, but unfortunately difficult to arrive at a consensus on.

On the dating of the Shepherd of Hermas
“The Epistle of Jude, indeed, and two belonging to the above-named John - or bearing the name of John - are reckoned among the Catholic epistles. And the book of Wisdom, 604 written by the friends of Solomon in his honour. We receive also the Apocalypse of John and that of Peter, though some amongst us will not have this latter read in the Church. The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time. Of the writings of Arsinous, called also Valentinus, or of Miltiades, we receive nothing at all. Those are rejected too who wrote the new Book of Psalms for Marcion, together with Basilides and the founder of the Asian Cataphrygians.” (Caius Fragment from Canon Muratorianus)

Caius was clearly amillennial, and a staunch opponent of Montanism.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Historicism of Cyprian [A.D. 250]

Cyprian was a disciple of Tertullian and served as the Bishop of Carthage from A.D. 248 until his martyrdom ten years later. He is often touted as a premillennialist by those who erroneously make the connection between the “6,000 years = 6 days” theory. Thus, they conclude that the 7th “day” is the millennium, despite the fact that both Irenaeus and Barnabus held this theory, yet had the end of all things after the 6th day, leaving no room for a millennium. For both of these fathers, the 7th day was eternity, not an earthly millennium. This appears to be the position of Cyprian as well.

“Seven brethren were thus associating in martyrdom. As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years, [Irenaeus, vol. 1. p. 551, and Barnabas, ib., p. 146.] as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren hath borne seven. And in Isaiah seven women lay hold on one man, whose name they ask to be called upon them. And the Apostle Paul, who refers to this lawful and certain number, writes to the seven churches. And in the Apocalypse the Lord directs His divine and heavenly precepts to the seven churches and their angels, which number is now found in this case, in the seven brethren, that a lawful consummation may be completed. With the seven children is manifestly associated also the mother, their origin and root, who subsequently begat seven churches, she herself having been first, and alone founded upon a rock by the voice of the Lord. Nor is it of no account that in their sufferings the 504 mother alone is with her children. For martyrs who witness themselves as the sons of God in suffering are now no more counted as of any father but God, as in the Gospel the Lord teaches, saying, “Call no man your father upon earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9)” (Cyprian – Treatise 11:11. That it was before predicted that the world would hold us in abhorrence, and that it would stir up persecutions against us, and that no new thing is happening to the Christians, since from the beginning of the world the good have suffered, and the righteous have been oppressed and slain by the unrighteous.)

However, Cyprian clearly interpreted Matthhew 23 as the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

“In Isaiah: "Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers shall devour it in your sight; and the daughter of Zion shall be left deserted, and overthrown by foreign peoples, as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a keeper's lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a city which is besieged. And unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodoma, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah." Also in the Gospel the Lord says: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not! Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate." (Treatise XII - First Book Against the Jews, 6- That the Jews should lose Jerusalem, and should leave the land which they had received.)

In this same treatise 11:11, he strongly suggests a historicist view of both the Olivet Discourse and the Apocalypse, citing both in his treatment of the persecution of the righteous throughout history.

“And when He was interrogated by His disciples concerning the sign of His coming, and of the consummation of the world, He answered and said: “Take care lest any deceive you: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall begin to hear of wars, and rumours of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and earthquakes, and pestilences, in every place. But all these things are the beginnings of travailings. Then they shall deliver you up into affliction, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hateful to all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall seduce many; and because wickedness shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through all the world, for a testimony to all nations; and then shall come the end. When, therefore, ye shall see the abomination of desolation which is spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him who readeth understand), then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let him which is on 503 the house-roof not go down to take anything from the house; and let him who is in the field not return back to carry away his clothes. But woe to them that are pregnant, and to those that are giving suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, nor on the Sabbath-day: for there shall be great tribulation, such as has not arisen from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall arise. And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any one shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or, Lo, there; believe him not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, to cause error, if it be possible, even to the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. If, therefore, they shall say to you, Lo, he is in the desert; go not forth: lo, he is in the sleeping chambers; believe it not. For as the flashing of lightning goeth forth from the east, and appeareth even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. Wheresoever the carcase shall be, there shall the eagles be gathered together. But immediately after the affliction of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and all the tribes of the earth shall lament, and shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. And He shall send His angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the heights of heaven, even into the farthest bounds thereof.” (Matthew 24:4-31) And these are not new or sudden things which are now happening to Christians; since the good and righteous, and those who are devoted to God in the law of innocence and the fear of true religion, advance always through afflictions, and wrongs, and the severe and manifold penalties of troubles, in the hardship of a narrow path.” (Cyprian – Treatise 11:11. That it was before predicted that the world would hold us in abhorrence, and that it would stir up persecutions against us, and that no new thing is happening to the Christians, since from the beginning of the world the good have suffered, and the righteous have been oppressed and slain by the unrighteous.)

Another interesting tidbit from this same treatise, the identity of antichrist being Antiochus Epiphanes.

“But what utterances of confessions did they herald forth! how illustrious, how great proofs of faith did they afford! The king Antiochus, their enemy — yea, in Antiochus Antichrist was set forth — sought to pollute the mouths of martyrs, glorious and unconquered in the spirit of confession, with the contagion of swine’s flesh; and when he had severely beaten them with whips, and could prevail nothing, commanded iron plates to be heated, which being heated and made to glow, he commanded him who had first spoken, and had more provoked the king with the constancy of his virtue and faith, to be brought up and roasted, his tongue having first been pulled out and cut off, which had confessed God; and this happened the more gloriously to the martyr.” (Cyprian – Treatise 11:11. That it was before predicted that the world would hold us in abhorrence, and that it would stir up persecutions against us, and that no new thing is happening to the Christians, since from the beginning of the world the good have suffered, and the righteous have been oppressed and slain by the unrighteous.)

However, Cyprian also seemed to believe in a future antichrist, coming as a man.

"Also of Antichrist, that he will come as a man.
In Isaiah: “This is the man who arouseth the earth, who disturbeth kings, who maketh the whole earth a desert.” (Isaiah 14:16)" (Treatise 12.5.118)

Like other Church fathers, Cyprian clearly was a “Replacement Theology”.

That the Gentiles rather than the Jews attain to the kingdom of heaven.
In the Gospel the Lord says: “Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall lie down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom shall go out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12) (Treatise XII - First Book Against the Jews, 23)

That by this alone the Jews can receive pardon of their sins, if they wash away the blood of Christ slain, in His baptism, and, passing over into His Church, obey His precepts.
In Isaiah the Lord says: “Now I will not release your sins. When ye stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my face from you; and if ye multiply prayers, I will not hear you: for your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; take away the wickedness from your souls from the sight of mine eyes; cease from your wickedness; learn to do good; seek judgment; 515 keep him who suffers wrong; judge for the orphan, and justify the widow. And come, let us reason together, saith the Lord: and although your sins be as scarlet, I will whiten them as snow; and although they were as crimson, I will whiten them as wool. And if ye be willing and listen to me, ye shall eat of the good of the land; but if ye be unwilling, and will not hear me, the sword shall consume you; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.” (Isaiah 1:15-20) (Treatise XII - First Book Against the Jews, 24)

Cyprian seemed to hold to some sort of Historicism, viewing various passages of prophecies as having a continuous fulfillment throughout the church age. He did hold to a future human antichrist, but wrote little about the resurrection of the wicked, and wrote of Christ’s coming in Judgment, but said nothing of a millennium. If he indeed adopted the view of Irenaeus and Barnabus, then he was not a chiliast. Since he was a disciple of Tertullian, he very well may have been premillennial, but one cannot draw that conclusion through his writings.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Premillennialism of Hippolytus. [A.D. 200]

Little is known about Hippolytus, other than the fact that he lived during the late second and early third centuries. Some suggest he was a bishop at Rome, others at Porto, though it was possible that he was both at some time, or that there was more than one Hippolytus during this time. Hippolytus gives us the most complete eschatology of any church father during this time period, and has writings that support several different viewpoints.

Hippolytus seems to have been a premillennialist, expecting that Christ would set up an earthly reign in 530 AD (500 years after Christ’s First Advent, thus destroying the Roman Empire.

“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.” (Psalm 90:4) 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.” (Revelation 17:10)” (Fragments Part I:III, Section II - The interpretation by Hippolytus, (bishop) of Rome, of the visions of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, taken in conjunction Section 4)

Hippolytus also considered the ten toes of Daniel to be ten Roman kings, whose evil rule would usher in the kingdom of Christ.

“After this, then, what remains, beloved, but the toes of the feet of the image, in which “part shall be of iron and part of clay mixed together?” By the toes of the feet he meant, mystically, the ten kings that rise out of that kingdom. As Daniel says, “I considered the beast; and, lo, (there were) ten horns behind, among which shall come up another little horn springing from them;” by which none other is meant than the antichrist that is to rise; and he shall set up the kingdom of Judah. And in saying that “three horns” were “plucked up by the roots” by this one, he indicates the three kings of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia, whom this one will slay in the array of war. And when he has conquered all, he will prove himself a terrible and savage tyrant, and will cause tribulation and persecution to the saints, exalting himself against them. And after him, it remains that “the stone” shall come from heaven which “smote the image” and shivered it, and subverted all the kingdoms, and gave the kingdom to the saints of the Most High. This “became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Fragments Part I:III, Section II - The interpretation by Hippolytus, (bishop) of Rome, of the visions of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, taken in conjunction Section 2)

Yet while Hippolytus was premillennial, he seemed to hold to only one resurrection, and did not expect a future Jewish exaltation, but considered such belief a gross error.

“..but they confess that another Messiah will come, who as yet has no existence; and that he will usher in some of the signs which the law and the prophets have shown beforehand, whereas, regarding the rest (of these indications), they suppose that they have fallen into error. For they say that his generation will be from the stock of David, but not from a virgin and the Holy Spirit, but from a woman and a man, according as it is a rule for all to be procreated from seed. And they allege that this Messiah will be King over them, - a warlike and powerful individual, who, after having gathered together the entire people of the Jews, and having done battle with all the nations, will restore for them Jerusalem the royal city. And into this city He will collect together the entire Hebrew race, and bring it back once more into the ancient customs, that it may fulfil the regal and sacerdotal functions, and dwell in confidence for periods of time of sufficient duration. After this repose, it is their opinion that war would next be waged against them after being thus congregated; that in this conflict Christ would fall by the edge of the sword; and that, after no long time, would next succeed the termination and conflagration of the universe; and that in this way their opinions concerning the resurrection would receive completion, and a recompense be rendered to each man according to his works.” (Refutations Book 9 - Chap. XXV. - The Jewish Religion)

The set date for Christ’s advent, as well as an absence of world kingdom between the Rome and Christ’s Advent, make the writings of Hippolytus to be incompatible with modern premillennialism. It could be said that Hippolytus held to some modified form of Historical Premillennialism. However, accepting Hippolytus as a pure historicist has its own difficulties. Historicism is based on the idea that the seven churches in Revelation refer to seven “spiritual ages” of church history, and that certainly was not the view of Hippolytus. Concerning of the Nicolaitan Heresy, he writes:

“But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols. (Revelation 2:6)” (Refutations Book 7 - Chap. XXIV. - The Melchisedecians; the Nicolaitans.)

So Hippolytus was a premillennialist with a preterist view of Revelation 2 and a Historicist view of Daniel 2. He also applied the Olivet Discourse, as well as the great tribulation, to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

“What then? Are not these things come to pass? Are not the things announced by thee fulfilled? Is not their country, Judea, desolate? Is not the holy place burned with fire? Are not their walls cast down? Are not their cities destroyed? Their land, do not strangers devour it? Do not the Romans rule the country? And indeed these impious people hated thee, and did saw thee asunder, and they crucified Christ. Thou art dead in the world, but thou livest in Christ." (Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 30)

“But why, O prophet, tell us, and for what reason, was the temple made desolate? Was it on account of that ancient fabrication of the calf? Was it on account of the idolatry of the people? Was it for the blood of the prophets? Was it for the adultery and fornication of Israel? By no means, he says; for in all these transgressions they always found pardon open to them, and benignity; but it was because they killed the Son of their Benefactor, for He is coeternal with the Father. Whence He saith, "Father, let their temple be made desolate; for they have persecuted Him whom Thou didst of Thine own will smite for the salvation of the world;" that is, they have persecuted me with a violent and unjust death, "and they have added to the pain of my wounds." In former time, as the Lover of man, I had pain on account of the straying of the Gentiles; but to this pain they have added another, by going also themselves astray. Wherefore "add iniquity to their iniquity, and tribulation to tribulation, and let them not enter into Thy righteousness," that is, into Thy kingdom; but "let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous," that is, with their holy fathers and patriarchs.” (Expository Treatise Against the Jews, 6-7)

As with all church fathers so far, Hippolytus was a replacement theologian.

“For this reason, even up to our day, though they see the boundaries (of their country), and go round about them, they stand afar off. And therefore have they no longer king or high priest or prophet, nor even scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees among them. He does not, however, say that they are to be cut off; wherefore their race still subsists, and the succession of their children is continued. For they have not been cut off nor consumed from among men--but they are and exist still--yet only as those who have been rejected and cast down from the honour of which of old they were deemed worthy by God. But again, "Scatter them," he says. "by Thy power;" which word has also come to pass. For they are scattered throughout the whole earth, in servitude everywhere, and engaging in the lowest and most servile occupations, and doing any unseemly work for hunger's sake.

For if they were destroyed from among men, and remained nowhere among the living, they could not see my people, he means, nor know my Church in its prosperity. Therefore "scatter" them everywhere on earth, where my Church is to be established, in order that when they see the Church rounded by me, they may be roused to emulate it in piety. And these things did the Saviour also ask on their behalf." (Doubtful Fragments - On Psalm lix. 11. Concerning the Jews.)

The works of Hippolytus show a mixed eschatological bag or Premillennialism, with a heavy dose of both Historicism and Preterism. However, he was clearly wrong is the timing of Christ’s return.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Inconclusive Eschatology of Minucius Felix [A.D. 200]

Minucius Felix was an early Latin apologist. He work Octavius was written sometime in the late Second or early Third century, and seems to have been heavily influenced by Tertullian. The eschatology of Octavius is quite sketchy. Felix defends the doctrine of the resurrection in Chap. XXXIV, as well as the destruction of the earth by fire and the eternal punishment of the wicked, yet makes no mention of a millennium. In fact, the purest reading of Minucius Felix suggests that the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked takes place at the same time, thus denying a literal millennium.
"See, therefore, how for our consolation all nature suggests a future resurrection. The sun sinks down and arises, the stars pass away and return, the flowers die and revive again, after their wintry decay the shrubs resume their leaves, seeds do not flourish again unless they are rotted: thus the body in the sepulchre is like the trees which in winter hide their verdure with a deceptive dryness. Why are you in haste for it to revive and return, while the winter is still raw? We must wait also for the spring-time of the body. And I am not ignorant that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, rather desire than believe that they shall be nothing after death; for they would prefer to be altogether extinguished, rather than to be restored for the purpose of punishment. And their error also is enhanced, both by the liberty granted them in this life, and by God’s very great patience, whose judgment, the more tardy it is, is so much the more just." (Octavius - Chap. XXXIV. - Argument: Moreover, it Is Not at All to Be Wondered at if this World Is to Be Consumed by Fire, Since Everything Which Has a Beginning Has Also an End. And the Ancient Philosophers Are Not Averse from the Opinion of the Probable Burning up of the World. Yet it Is Evident That God, Having Made Man from Nothing, Can Raise Him up from Death into Life. And All Nature Suggests a Future Resurrection)

Minucius Felix makes no mention of a tribulation, antichrist, or even a Second Advent. So while he leans slightly toward an amillennial view of the resurrection, there is simply not enough information in the writings of Minucius Felix to draw a conclusion concerning his eschatology.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Premillennialism of Commodianus [A.D. 240]

Commodianus was a third century Christian poet who was clearly premillennial, but with an interesting twist regarding antichrist. . He wrote that the Medes and Parthians would burn for 1,000 years before being delivered up to Gehenna (The Instructor - XLIII. - Of the End of this Age.) In addition, he clearly taught that the Heavenly Jerusalem would come down from heaven to earth, and strongly suggests that Christ will rule from there for a thousand years.

“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 martyrdom 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.” (The Instructor - XLIV. Of the First Resurrection)

Commodianus also taught two different resurrections and judgments, one before the millennium, and one after.

“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.” (The Instructor - LXXX. The Name of the Man of Gaza)

Unlike modern premillennialist, however, Commodianus held to Replacement Theology. He writes of Judaizers in the church, “…they blindly lead you with them into the ditch. There are deaths too well known by them to relate, or because the heaping up of the plough closes up the field. The Almighty would not have them understand their King. Why such a wickedness? He Himself took refuge from those bloody men. He gave Himself to us by a superadded law. Thence now they lie concealed with us, deserted by their King. But if you think that in them there is hope, you are altogether in error if you worship God and heathen temples.” (The Instructor - XXXVII. The Fanatics Who Judaize).

“Evil always, and recalcitrant, with a stiff neck ye wish not that ye should be overcome; thus ye will be heirs. Isaiah said that ye were of hardened heart. Ye look upon the law which Moses in wrath dashed to pieces; and the same Lord gave to him a second law. In that he placed his hope; but ye, half healed, reject it, and therefore ye shall not be worthy of the kingdom of heaven.” (The Instructor - XXXVIII. To the Jews.)

“Look upon Leah, that was a type of the synagogue, which Jacob received as a sign, with eyes so weak; and yet he served again for the younger one beloved: a true mystery, and a type of our Church. Consider what was abundantly said of Rebecca from heaven; whence, imitating the alien, ye may believe in Christ. Thence come to Tamar and the offspring of twins. Look to Cain, the first tiller of the earth, and Abel the shepherd, who was an unspotted offerer in the ruin of his brother, and was slain by his brother. Thus therefore perceive, that the younger are approved by Christ.” (The Instructor - XXXIX. Also to the Jews.)

“There is not an unbelieving people such as yours. O evil men! in so many places, and so often rebuked by the law of those who cry aloud. And the lofty One despises your Sabbaths, and altogether rejects your universal monthly feasts according to law, that ye should not make to Him the commanded sacrifices; who told you to throw a stone for your offence. If any should not believe that He had perished by an unjust death, and that those who were beloved were saved by other laws, thence that life was suspended on the tree, and believe not on Him. God Himself is the life; He Himself was suspended for us. But ye with indurated heart insult Him.” (The Instructor - XL. Again to the Same.)

Perhaps the most fascinating discovery in the eschatology of Commodianus was his identification of Nero as Antichrist. He held to the Nero Redivivus legend, the belief that Nero would rise again from the dead. Commodianus added the theological twist of Nero becoming antichrist. After Elijah would rise again and rule the world for 3 ½ years, Nero would do the same. In my studies of the eschatology of the church fathers so far, this is the first to have identified Nero as antichrist. The fact that he was premillennial makes it even more interesting.

“Isaiah said: This is the man who moveth the world and so many kings, and under whom 211 the land shall become desert. Hear ye how the prophet foretold concerning him. I have said nothing elaborately, but negligently. Then, doubtless, the world shall be finished when he shall appear. He himself shall divide the globe into three ruling powers, when, moreover, Nero shall be raised up from hell, Elias shall first come to seal the beloved ones; at which things the region of Africa and the northern nation, the whole earth on all sides, for seven years shall tremble. But Elias shall occupy the half of the time, Nero shall occupy half. Then the whore Babylon, being reduced to ashes, its embers shall thence advance to Jerusalem; and the Latin conqueror shall then say, I am Christ, whom ye always pray to; and, indeed, the original ones who were deceived combine to praise him. He does many wonders, since his is the false prophet. Especially that they may believe him, his image shall speak. The Almighty has given it power to appear such. The Jews, recapitulating Scriptures from him, exclaim at the same time to the Highest that they have been deceived.” (The Instructor - XLI. Of the Time of Antichrist.)

Commodianus gives us the most complete premillennial eschatology so far, yet he differs quite a bit from the modern view concerning Judaism, and actually lends support for the amillennial view of antichrist.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Amillennialism of Origen [A.D. 230]

Like Tertullian, Origen was no champion of sound Christian Doctrine. Origen was the first to bring was John Owen calls “The Idol of Free Will” into the church. Rejecting the absolute sovereignty of God, Origen concluded that "the devil controls the ultimate evil, death" (Against Celsus 4.92,93). Origen was also a universalist, rejecting the physical resurrection and believing in the ultimate salvation “apokatastasis” of everyone, including Satan.

“The end of the world, then, and the final consummation, will take place when every one shall be subjected to punishment for his sins; a time which God alone knows, when He will bestow on each one what he deserves. We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued.” (De Principiis, Book 1 Chapter VI, On the End or Consummation).

While chiliasm was implicitly denied among the majority of church fathers, Origen seemed to be the first to explicitly oppose it, at least among those whose writings still exist. In fact, Origen opposed the idea of any type of earthly kingdom.

“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 fulfilment of the promises of the future are to be looked for in bodily pleasure and luxury; and therefore they especially desire to have again, after the resurrection, such bodily structures as may never be without the power of eating, and drinking, and performing all the functions of flesh and blood, not following the opinion of the Apostle Paul regarding the resurrection of a spiritual body. 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, its foundations laid in precious stones, and its walls constructed of jasper, and its battlements of crystal; that it is to have a wall composed of many precious stones, as jasper, and sapphire, and chalcedony, and emerald, and sardonyx, and onyx, and chrysolite, and chrysoprase, and jacinth, and amethyst. Moreover, they think that the natives of other countries are to be given them as the ministers of their pleasures, whom they are to employ either as tillers of the field or builders of walls, and by whom their ruined and fallen city is again to be raised up; and they think that they are to receive the wealth of the nations to live on, and that they will have control over their riches; that even the camels of Midian and Kedar will come, and bring to them gold, and incense, and precious stones. And these views they think to establish on the authority of the prophets by those promises which are written regarding Jerusalem; and by those passages also where it is said, that they who serve the Lord shall eat and drink, but that sinners shall hunger and thirst; that the righteous shall be joyful, but that sorrow shall possess the wicked. And from the New Testament also they quote the saying of the Saviour, in which He makes a promise to His disciples concerning the joy of wine, saying, “Henceforth I shall not drink of this cup, until I drink it with you new in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29) They add, moreover, that declaration, in which the Saviour calls those blessed who now hunger and thirst, (Matthew 5:6) promising them that they shall be satisfied; and many other scriptural illustrations are adduced by them, the meaning of which they do not perceive is to be taken figuratively. Then, again, agreeably to the form of things in this life, and according to the gradations of the dignities or ranks in this world, or the greatness of their powers, they think they are to be kings and princes, like those earthly monarchs who now exist; chiefly, as it appears, on account of that expression in the Gospel: “Have thou power over five cities.” (Cf. Luke 19:19 and Luke 19:17) And to speak shortly, according to the manner of things in this life in all similar matters, do they desire the fulfilment of all things looked for in the promises, viz., that what now is should exist again. Such are the views of those who, while believing in Christ, understand the divine Scriptures in a sort of Jewish sense, drawing from them nothing worthy of the divine promises.” (De Principiis, Book 2 Chapter XI Section II, On Counter Promises)

Despite his universalism, Origen took the preterist view of both Daniel’s 70 weeks and the Olivet Discourse.

"The weeks of years, also, which the prophet Daniel had predicted, extending to the leadership of Christ, have been fulfilled." (De Principiis, Book 4 Chapter I Section V, On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture).

“And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place.” (Contra Celsus, Book 4, Chapter XXII).

Origen did hold to the belief in a future antichrist. The only prophecies left to be fulfilled, according to Origen, were the final judgment and temporal punishment of God’s enemies. And even this could be considered an ongoing process. Whatever one thinks of the value of Origen, he was definitely amillennial, and strongly preterist.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Premillennialism of Tertullian [A.D. 181]

Tertullian was a lawyer and Christian Apologist who is known as the Father of Latin Christianity. He later joined a heretical group known as the Montanists, who held to continuing revelation and viewed their own prophecies as superior to the Canon. Though most Montanists were Modalists, Tertullian and a few early Montanists were Trinitarian.

Tertullian was indeed a premillennialist, but his premillennialism has little in common with the modern version. He based his view of the millennium on the Montanist prophets, who held that the new Jerusalem would come to Phrygia in Asia Minor.

“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,” (Revelation 21:2) which the apostle also calls “our mother from above;” (Galatians 4:26) and, while declaring that our πολίτευμα, or citizenship, is in heaven, (Philippians 3:20) he predicates of it that it is really a city in heaven. This both Ezekiel had knowledge of (Ezekiel 48:30-35) and the Apostle John beheld. (Revelation 21:10-23) 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.” (Against Marcion – Book III - Chap. XXIV. - Christ’s Millennial and Heavenly Glory in Company with His Saints)

Tertullian held that Antichrist would come at the fall of the Roman Empire, and bring the end of all things.

“There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the emperors, nay, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock impending 43 over the whole earth — in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes — is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome’s duration.” (Apology, Chapter XXXII.)

“Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I used to tell you these things? And now ye know what detaineth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7) What obstacle is there but the Roman State, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? “And then shall be revealed the wicked one, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10) (Resurrection - Chap. XXIV. - Other Passages Quoted from St. Paul, Which Categorically Assert the Resurrection of the Flesh at the Final Judgment.)

Despite his strange views on the millennium, Tertullian held to a past fulfillment of both Daniel and the Olivet Discourse. He considered Daniel’s Seventy Week prophecy to have seen it’s fulfillment in the First Advent of Christ and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem.

“In such wise, therefore, did Daniel predict concerning Him, as to show both when and in what time He was to set the nations free; and how, after the passion of the Christ, that city had to be exterminated. For he says thus: “In the first year under Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldees, I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years.…And while I was yet speaking in my prayer, behold, the man Gabriel, whom I saw in the vision in the beginning, flying; and he touched me, as it were, at the hour of the evening sacrifice, and made me understand, and spake with me, and said, Daniel I am now come out to imbue thee with understanding; in the beginning of thy supplication went out a word. And I am come to announce to thee, because thou art a man of desires; and ponder thou on the word, and understand in the vision. Seventy hebdomads have been abridged upon thy commonalty, and upon the holy city, until delinquency be made inveterate, and sins sealed, and righteousness obtained by entreaty, and righteousness eternal introduced; and in order that vision and prophet may be sealed, and an holy one of holy ones anointed. And thou shalt know, and thoroughly see, and understand, from the going forth of a word for restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem unto the Christ, the Leader, hebdomads (seven and an half, and) 70 and an half: and it shall convert, and shall be built into height and entrenchment, and the times shall be renewed: and after these 70 hebdomads shall the anointing be exterminated, and shall not be; and the city and the holy place shall he exterminate together with the Leader, who is making His advent; and they shall be cut short as in a deluge, until (the) end of a war, which shall be cut short unto ruin. And he shall confirm a testament in many. In one hebdomad and the half of the hebdomad shall be taken away my sacrifice and libation, and in the holy place the execration of devastation, (and) until the end of (the) time consummation shall be given with regard to this devastation.” (An Answer To The Jews - Chap. VIII. - Of the Times of Christ’s Birth and Passion, and of Jerusalem’s Destruction)

Tertullian did have a futuristic view of Daniel 2, though it is clear that his view was influenced by his presuppositions concerning the end of all things at the destruction of Rome. Tertullian clearly held that Christ Advent in Daniel 2 would smite the Roman Empire. He knew nothing of a fifth world kingdom.

“Now these signs of degradation quite suit His first coming, just as the tokens of His majesty do His second advent, when He shall no longer remain “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence,” but after His rejection become “the chief corner-stone,” accepted and elevated to the top place of the temple, even His church, being that very stone in Daniel, cut out of the mountain, which was to smite and crush the image of the secular kingdom. (Daniel 2:34) Of this advent the same prophet says: “Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they brought Him before Him, and there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (see Daniel 7:13-14) (Against Marcion, Book III - Chap. VII. - Prophecy Sets Forth Two Different Conditions of Christ, One Lowly, the Other Majestic. This Fact Points to Two Advents of Christ.)

Tertullian wrote an entire treatise objecting to the Jewish rejection of the Messiah, though it isn’t clear whether or not he held to replacement theology. But while it is clear that Tertullian was a premillennialist, his views do not support modern premillennialism. Furthermore, Tertullian is certainly no champion of Christian Orthodoxy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

America The Beautiful - Judge Roy Moore

America the beautiful, or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims' pride; I'm glad they'll never see.

Babies piled in dumpsters, Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty; your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine
choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain.

From sea to shining sea, our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love and a need to always pray.

We've kept God in our temples, how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool and Heaven is His throne.

We've voted in a government that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges; who throw reason out the door,

Too soft to place a killer in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby before he leaves the womb.

You think that God's not angry, that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait before His judgment comes?

How are we to face our God, from Whom we cannot hide?
What then is left for us to do, but stem this evil tide?

If we who are His children, will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His holy face and mend our evil way:

Then God will hear from Heaven; and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land and those who live within.

But, America the Beautiful, If you don't - then you will see,
A sad but Holy God withdraw His hand from Thee.

Judge Roy Moore

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Amillennial Preterism of Clement of Alexandria [A.D. 162]

Clement of Alexandria was a second century Christian apologist. Even though his theology was greatly influenced by Greek philosophy, his work was valuable in addressing the growing Gnostic heresies of that time. He addresses the Daniel’s 70 week prophecy, the Olivet Discourse, and places the timing of John’s banishment under Emperor Nero.

Clement clearly places the fulfillment of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy in 70 AD.

“From the captivity at Babylon, which took place in the time of Jeremiah the prophet, was fulfilled what was spoken by Daniel the prophet as follows: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to seal sins, and to wipe out and make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal the vision and the prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies. Know therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the word commanding an answer to be given, and Jerusalem to be built, to Christ the Prince, are seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; and the street shall be again built, and the wall; and the times shall be expended. And after the sixty-two weeks the anointing shall be overthrown, and judgment shall not be in him; and he shall destroy the city and the sanctuary along with the coming Prince. And they shall be destroyed in a flood, and to the end of the war shall be cut off by: desolations. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the middle of the week the sacrifice and oblation shall be taken away; and in the holy place shall be the abomination of desolations, and until the consummation of time shall the consummation be assigned for desolation. And in the midst of the week shall he make the incense of sacrifice cease, and of the wing of destruction, even till the consummation, like the destruction of the oblation.” That the temple accordingly was built in seven weeks, is evident; for it is written in Esdras. And thus Christ became King of the Jews, reigning in Jerusalem in the fulfillment of the seven weeks. And in the sixty and two weeks the whole of Judaea was quiet, and without wars. And Christ our Lord, “the Holy of Holies,” having come and fulfilled the vision and the prophecy, was anointed in His flesh by the Holy Spirit of His Father. In those “sixty and two weeks,” as the prophet said, and “in the one week,” was He Lord. The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place. And that such are the facts of the case, is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said.” - (Stromata – Book I Chapter 21, The Jewish Institutions and Laws of Far Higher Antiquity Than the Philosophy of the Greeks).

This clarified even more by his description of the Abomination of Desolation in Matthew 24:15.

“We have still to add to our chronology the following, - I mean the days which Daniel indicates from the desolation of Jerusalem, the seven years and seven months of the reign of Vespasian. For the two years are added to the seventeen months and eighteen days of Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius; and the result is three years and six months, which is “the half of the week,” as Daniel the prophet said. For he said that there were two thousand three hundred days from the time that the abomination of Nero stood in the holy city, till its destruction. For thus the declaration, which is subjoined, shows: “How long shall be the vision, the sacrifice taken away, the abomination of desolation, which is given, and the power and the holy place shall be trodden under foot? And he said to him, Till the evening and morning, two thousand three hundred days, and the holy place shall be taken away.” (Daniel 8:13-14). These two thousand three hundred days, then, make six years four months, during the half of which Nero held sway, and it was half a week; and for a half, Vespasian with Otho, Galba, and Vitellius reigned. And on this account Daniel says, “Blessed is he that cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” (Daniel 12:12) For up to these days was war, and after them it ceased. And this number is demonstrated from a subsequent chapter, which is as follows: “And from the time of the change of continuation, and of the giving of the abomination of desolation, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” (Daniel 12:11-12)” - (Stromata – Book I Chapter 21, The Jewish Institutions and Laws of Far Higher Antiquity Than the Philosophy of the Greeks).

Clearly, Clement sees the main prophecies of Daniel as having been fulfilled in the first century. He also ties the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15 to the same event. Regarding the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse, Clement gives the following exposition.

“But our Master did not prophesy after this fashion; but, as I have already said, being a prophet by an inborn and every-flowing Spirit, and knowing all things at all times, He confidently set forth, plainly as I said before, sufferings, places, appointed times, manners, limits. Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the temple, He said: "See ye these buildings? Verily I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be taken away [Matt. 24:3]; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin [Matt. 24:34]. . . ." And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straightway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken.” (Clementine Homilia, 3:15. See Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:241.)

Clement tells us that the events Jesus prophesied of were to happen within that generation, and that they could see the accomplishment of those things with their own eyes. While Clement doesn’t expound much on John’s Apocalypse, he does support the preterist view of both Daniel and the Olivet Discourse, all without mentioning a millennium.Clement was also the first church father to give a clue to the time frame in which John wrote the Book of Revelation.

“And to give you confidence, when you have thus truly repented, that there remains for you a trustworthy hope of salvation, hear a story that is no mere story, but a true account of John the apostle that has been handed down and preserved in memory. When after the death of the tyrant he removed from the island of’ Patmos to Ephesus, he used to journey by request to the neighboring districts of the Gentiles, in some places to appoint bishops, in others to regulate whole churches, in others to set among the clergy some one man, it may be, of those indicated by the Spirit.” (Clement - Quis Salvus Dives? - Section 42)

The “tyrant” is never identified by name. However, the universal fear and hatred of Nero makes him the most likely candidate. While many Roman emperors, including Domitian, were cruel tyrants, Nero was far and away the worst and most infamous. In the line of Roman tyrants, Domitian would have been mostly an afterthought, and would have likely been mentioned by name.

Clement did hold to a future advent of Christ, and like many throughout history, supposed that it would be within his own lifetime. Thus, while Dispensationalists like Thomas Ice use the “immanence” argument to support a “pre-trib” rapture, the only real conclusion that we can draw from this statement is that Clement was wrong. Clement’s eschatology is clearly not premillennial. He makes no mention of a millennium, holds that most, if not all, prophecies in Daniel and the gospels have been fulfilled. Therefore we must conclude that Clement’s eschatology is aligned with either amillennial or postmillennial preterism.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Amillennialism of Athenogoras [A.D. 177]

Athenogoras was a Christian Apologist who defended the Trinity (while not yet called such), as well as the Doctrine of the Resurrection. He wrote an entire thesis on the resurrection and the final judgment, yet makes no mention of a millennium. Like most church fathers, Athenogoras has the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked occurring at the same time, for the purpose of being judged.

“Now, if the righteous judgment awards to both together its retribution for the deeds wrought; and if it is not proper that either the soul alone should receive the wages of the deeds wrought in union with the body (for this of itself has no inclination to the faults which are committed in connection with the pleasure or food and culture of the body), or that the body alone should (for this of itself is incapable of distinguishing law and justice), but man, composed of these, is subjected to trial for each of the deeds wrought by him; and if reason does not find this happening either in this life (for the award according to merit finds no place in the present existence, since many atheists and persons who practise every iniquity and wickedness live on to the last, unvisited by calamity, whilst, on the contrary, those who have manifestly lived an exemplary life in respect of every Virtue, live in pain, in insult, in calumny and outrage, and suffering of all kinds) or after death (for both together no longer exist, the soul being separated from the body, and the body itself being resolved again into the materials out of which it was composed, and no longer retaining anything of its former structure or form, much less the remembrance of its actions): the result of all this is very plain to every one, — namely, that, in the language of the apostle, “this corruptible (and dissoluble) must put on incorruption,” (1 Corinthians 15:54) in order that those who were dead, having been made alive by the resurrection, and the parts that were separated and entirely dissolved having been again united, each one may, in accordance with justice, receive what he has done by the body, whether it be good or bad.” (Resurrection - Chap. XVIII. — Judgment Must Have Reference Both to Soul and Body: There Will Therefore Be a Resurrection.)

Like many church fathers, he is not clear on the timing of the Second Advent in relation to the above events. He could very well be postmillennial, though the lack of a millennium in his writing more than likely makes him amillennial.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Amillennialism of Theophilus [A.D. 115-180]

The eschatology of Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, can be best gleaned from his writings concerning the resurrection and the final judgment (Apologia ad Autolycum). It is clear that he believed in one resurrection consisting of both believers and unbelievers.

“But you do not believe that the dead are raised. When the resurrection shall take place, then you will believe, whether you will or no; and your faith shall be reckoned for unbelief, unless you believe now. And why do you not believe? Do you not know that faith is the leading principle in all matters?” (To Autolycus. Book I, Chapter VIII, Faith Required in All Matters.)

Theophilus places the judgment directly after the resurrection, while making no mention of a millennium in between.

“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” (To Autolycus. Book II, Chap. XXVI. — God’s Goodness in Expelling Man from Paradise).

He goes to great efforts in his letter to defend the resurrection by using examples from the creation account, yet makes no mention of a millennium.