101 Historical Kingdom Advocates (Kingdom of God 10)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Who has believed in the kingdom over the history of Christianity?  In this lecture, you’ll find out who defended the kingdom belief in the first four centuries, before it faded out of the mainstream and got replaced with going to heaven instead.  In order to put you in contact with the primary sources, we read through a bunch of quotes, so you can hear the unfiltered voices of these remarkable kingdom advocates.

This is lecture 10 of the Kingdom of God class, originally taught at the Atlanta Bible College.  To take this class for credit, please contact ABC so you can do the work necessary for a grade.


Notes:

1st Century

 

Author(s) of Didache (wrote/edited ad 60-150)

Didache 8.2  Nor should you pray like the hypocrites.  Instead, pray like this, just as the Lord commanded in his Gospel: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”

Didache 9.4 Just as this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and then was gathered together and became one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.

Didache 10.5-6 5 Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and from the four winds gather the church that has been sanctified into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the power and glory forever.  6 May grace come, and may this world pass away.  Hosanna to the God of David.  If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not, let him repent.  Maranatha! Amen.

Didache 16.6-8 6 And then there will appear the signs of the truth: first the sign of an opening in heaven, then the sign of the sound of a trumpet, and third, the resurrection of the dead—7 but not of all; rather, as it has been said, “The Lord will come, and all his saints with him.”  8 Then the world will see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

 

Clement of Rome (wrote ad 80-100)

1 Cl. 42:3  3 Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand.

1 Cl. 50:3 3 All the generations from Adam even unto this day have passed away; but those who, through the grace of God, have been made perfect in love, now possess a place among the godly, and shall be made manifest at the revelation of the kingdom of Christ.

 

Barnabas (wrote ad 70-132)

Epistle of Barnabas 1.7 For the Master has made known to us through the prophets things past and things present, and has given us a foretaste of things to come.

Epistle of Barnabas 6.13 Again, I will show thee how, in respect to us, He has accomplished a second fashioning in these last days. The Lord says, “Behold, I will make the last like the first.” In reference to this, then, the prophet proclaimed, “Enter ye into the land flowing with milk and honey, and have dominion over it.”

Epistle of Barnabas 10.11…Because the righteous person not only lives in this world but also looks forward to the holy age to come….

Epistle of Barnabas 15.4-5 Observe, children, what “he finished in six days” means.  It means this: that in six thousand years the Lord will bring everything to an end, for with him a day signifies a thousand years…”And he rested on the seventh day.”  This means: when his son comes, he will destroy the time of the lawless one and will judge the ungodly and will change the sun and the moon and the stars, and then he will truly rest on the seventh day.

Barnabas is the first one to look at all of history as a week of millenia

 

2nd Century

 

Ignatius of Antioch (wrote ad 100-117)

Ignatius to the Ephisians 16.1 Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Polycarp (wrote ad 100-150)

Polycarp to the Philippians 5.2-3  2 In like manner should the deacons be blameless before the face of His righteousness, as being the servants of God and Christ, and not of men. They must not be slanderers, doubletongued, or lovers of money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, industrious, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant of all. If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, “we shall also reign together with Him,” provided only we believe. 3 In like manner, let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since “every lust warreth against the spirit; ” and “neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

notice the terminology: “inherit the kingdom” “enter the kingdom” rather than “go to heaven” or “pass away”

Polycarp to the Philippians 11.2  2 For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness, he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen. But who of us are ignorant of the judgment of the Lord? “Do we not know that the saints shall judge the world?” as Paul teaches.

 

Hermas (wrote ad 100-150)

Herm. Sim. 9 15:2-3  2 The first is Faith, the second Continence, the third Power, the fourth Patience. And the others standing in the midst of these have the following names: Simplicity, Innocence, Purity, Cheerfulness, Truth, Understanding, Harmony, Love. He who bears these names and that of the Son of God will be able to enter into the kingdom of God. 3 Hear, also,” he continued, the names of the women who had the black garments; and of these four are stronger than the rest. The first is Unbelief, the second: Incontinence, the third Disobedience, the fourth Deceit. And their followers are called Sorrow, Wickedness, Wantonness, Anger, Falsehood, Folly, Backbiting, Hatred. The servant of God who bears these names shall see, indeed, the kingdom of God, but shall not enter into it.

Herm. Sim. 9 20:2-3  2 Those, |accordingly, who are entangled in many various kinds of business, do not¦ cleave to the servants of God, but wander away, being choked by their business transactions; and the rich cleave with difficulty to the servants of God, fearing lest these should ask something of them. Such persons, accordingly, shall have difficulty in entering the kingdom of God. 3 For as it is disagreeable to walk among thistles with naked feet, so also it is hard for such to enter the kingdom of God.

 

Author of 2 Clement (wrote ad 100-150)

 2 Clement 5.5 And consider, brethren, that the sojourning in the flesh in this world is but brief and transient, but the promise of Christ is great and wonderful, even the rest of the kingdom to come, and of life everlasting.

2 Clement 9.6 Let us therefore love one another, that we may all attain to the kingdom of God.

2 Clement 11.5-12.6 5 Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be of a double mind, but let us hope and endure, that we also may obtain the reward. 6 For He is faithful who has promised that He will bestow on every one a reward according to his works. 7 If, therefore, we shall do righteousness in the sight of God, we shall enter into His kingdom, and shall receive the promises, “which ear hath not heard, nor eye seen, neither have entered into the heart of man.” 12.1 Let us expect, therefore, hour by hour, the kingdom of God in love and righteousness, since we know not the day of the appearing of God….12.5 And “the male with the female, neither male nor female,” this meaneth, that a brother seeing a sister should think nothing about her as of a female, nor she think anything about him as of a male. 6 If ye do these things, saith He, the kingdom of my Father shall come.

note the corporate mindset on the afterlife…rather than individuals flitting up, each w/ their individual instantaneous judgment and immediate award, all receive the kingdom together at the corporate resurrection

2 Clement 17.4-5  4 For the Lord said,” I come to gather together all the nations, tribes, and tongues.” This He speaketh of the day of His appearing, when He shall come and redeem us, each one according to his works. 5 And the unbelievers “shall see His glory,” and strength; and they shall think it strange when they see the sovereignty of the world in Jesus, saying, Woe unto us, Thou wast He, and we did not know and did not believe, and we did not obey the presbyters when they declared unto us concerning our salvation.

 

Papias (wrote ad 130)

Cited in Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.33.3-4  …just as the elders, who saw John the disciple of the Lord, recalled having heard from him how the Lord used to teach about those times and say: ‘The days will come when vines will grow, each having ten thousand shoots, and on each shoot ten thousand branches, and on each branch ten thousand twigs, and on each twig ten thousand clusters, and in each cluster ten thousand grapes, and each grape when crushed will yield twenty-five measures of wine.  And when one of the saints takes hold of a  cluster, another cluster will cry out, ‘I am better, take me, bless the Lord through me.’  Similarly a grain of wheat will produce ten thousand heads, and every head will have ten thousand grains, and every grain ten pounds of fine flour, white and clean.  And the other fruits, seeds, and grass will produce in similar proportions, and all the animals feeding on these fruits produced by the soil will in turn become peaceful and harmonious toward one another, and fully subject to humankind.”…And these things are borne witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book; for there were five books compiled by him. And he says in addition, “Now these things are credible to believers.” And he says that, “when the traitor Judas did not give credit to them, and put the question, ‘How then can things about to bring forth so abundantly be wrought by the Lord?’ the Lord declared, ‘They who shall come to these [times] shall see.’ ” When prophesying of these times, therefore, Esaias says: “The wolf also shall feed with the lamb, and the leopard shall take his rest with the kid; the calf also, and the bull, and the lion shall eat together; and a little boy shall lead them. The ox and the bear shall feed together, and their young ones shall agree together; and the lion shall eat straw as well as the ox. And the infant boy shall thrust his hand into the asp’s den, into the nest also of the adder’s brood; and they shall do no harm, nor have power to hurt anything in my holy mountain.”

Jerome’s Lives of Illustrious Men 18: Papias, the pupil of John, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, wrote only five volumes, which he entitled Exposition of the words of our Lord, in which, when he had asserted in his preface that he did not follow various opinions but had the apostles for authority…He is said to have published a Second coming of Our Lord or Millennium. Irenæus and Apollinaris and others who say that after the resurrection the Lord will reign in the flesh with the saints, follow him. Tertullian also in his work On the hope of the faithful, Victorinus of Petau and Lactantius follow this view.

 

Justin Martyr (wrote ad 155)

 Dialogue with Trypho 80: And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?”
Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly,1 that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware;2 but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you.3 For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth],4 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, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistae, Meristae,5 Galilaeans, Hellenists,6 Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. 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 years7 in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.
note three groups:

  1. those like Justin who believe in the restoration of Jerusalem and the resurrection
    1. “right-minded Christians on all points”
  2. those who don’t believe in the restoration of Jerusalem but do believe in the resurrection
    1. “belong to the pure and pious faith and are true Christians”
  3. those who disbelieve in the resurrection and teach that their souls go to heaven
    1. “godless, impious heretics”

 

Irenaeus of Lyons (wrote ad 175-185)

Against Heresies 5.31.1 Since, again, some who are reckoned among the orthodox go beyond the pre-arranged plan for the exaltation of the just, and are ignorant of the methods by which they are disciplined beforehand for incorruption, they thus entertain heretical opinions. For the heretics, despising the handiwork of God, and not admitting the salvation of their flesh, while they also treat the promise of God contemptuously, and pass beyond God altogether in the sentiments they form, affirm that immediately upon their death they shall pass above the heavens and the Demiurge, and go to the Mother (Achamoth) or to that Father whom they have feigned. Those persons, therefore, who disallow a resurrection affecting the whole man, and as far as in them lies remove it from the midst [of the Christian scheme], how can they be wondered at, if again they know nothing as to the plan of the resurrection? For they do not choose to understand, that if these things are as they say, the Lord Himself, in whom they profess to believe, did not rise again upon the third day; but immediately upon His expiring on the cross, undoubtedly departed on high, leaving His body to the earth. But the case was, that for three days He dwelt in the place where the dead were…

32.1. Inasmuch, therefore, as the opinions of certain [orthodox persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God’s dispensations, and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature; and it is necessary to tell them respecting those things, that it behoves the righteous first to receive the promise of the inheritance which God promised to the fathers, and to reign in it, when they rise again to behold God in this creation which is renovated, and that the judgment should take place afterwards. For it is just that in that very creation in which they toiled or were afflicted, being proved in every way by suffering, they should receive the reward of their suffering; and that in the creation in which they were slain because of their love to God, in that they should be revived again; and that in the creation in which they endured servitude, in that they should reign. For God is rich in all things, and all things are His. It is fitting, therefore, that the creation itself, being restored to its primeval condition, should without restraint be under the dominion of the righteous; and the apostle has made this plain in the Epistle to the Romans, when he thus speaks: “For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature has been subjected to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; since the creature itself shall also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”3
the only reason some Christians don’t believe in the kingdom is b/c the wacko Gnostics and other evil groups have influenced them (this is stricter than Justin)
32.2 Thus, then, the promise of God, which He gave to Abraham, remains stedfast. For thus He said: “Lift up thine eyes, and look from this place where now thou art, towards the north and south, and east and west. For all the earth which thou seest, I will give to thee and to thy seed, even for ever.”4 And again He says, “Arise, and go through the length and breadth of the land, since I will give it unto thee;”5 and [yet] he did not receive an inheritance in it, not even a footstep, but was always a stranger and a pilgrim therein.6 And upon the death of Sarah his wife, when the Hittites were willing to bestow upon him a place where he might bury her, he declined it as a gift, but bought the burying-place (giving for it four hundred talents of silver) from Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite.7 Thus did he await patiently the promise of God, and was unwilling to appear to receive from men, what God had promised to give him, when He said again to him as follows: “I will give this land to thy seed, from the river of Egypt even unto the great river Euphrates.”8 If, then, God promised him the inheritance of the land, yet he did not receive it during all the time of his sojourn there, it must be, that together with his seed, that is, those who fear God and believe in Him, he shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. For his seed is the Church, which receives the adoption to God through the Lord, as John the Baptist said: “For God is able from the stones to raise up children to Abraham.”9 Thus also the apostle says in the Epistle to the Galatians: “But ye, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.”10 And again, in the same Epistle, he plainly declares that they who have believed in Christ do receive Christ, the promise to Abraham thus saying, “The promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed. Now He does not say, And of seeds, as if [He spake] of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”11 And again, confirming his former words, he says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith are the children of Abraham. But the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, declared to Abraham beforehand, That in thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham.”12 Thus, then, they who are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham, and these are the children of Abraham. Now God made promise of the earth to Abraham and his seed; yet neither Abraham nor his seed, that is, those who are justified by faith, do now receive any inheritance in it; but they shall receive it at the resurrection of the just. For God is true and faithful; and on this account He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Irenaeus talks about the promise God made to Abraham to inherit the land

33.1 For this reason, when about to undergo His sufferings, that He might declare to Abraham and those with him the glad tidings of the inheritance being thrown open, [Christ], after He had given thanks while holding the cup, and had drunk of it, and given it to the disciples, said to them: “Drink ye all of it: this is My blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of this vine, until that day when I will drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”2 Thus, then, He will Himself renew the inheritance of the earth, and will re-organize the mystery of the glory of [His] sons; as David says, “He who hath renewed the face of the earth.”3 He promised to drink of the fruit of the vine with His disciples, thus indicating both these points: the inheritance of the earth in which the new fruit of the vine is drunk, and the resurrection of His disciples in the flesh. For the new flesh which rises again is the same which also received the new cup. And He cannot by any means be understood as drinking of the fruit of the vine when settled down with his [disciples] above in a super-celestial place; nor, again, are they who drink it devoid of flesh, for to drink of that which flows from the vine pertains to flesh, and not spirit.

33.2 And for this reason the Lord declared, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, do not call thy friends, nor thy neighbours, nor thy kinsfolk, lest they ask thee in return, and so repay thee. But call the lame, the blind, and the poor, and thou shall be blessed, since they cannot recompense thee, but a recompense shall be made thee at the resurrection of the just.”4 And again He says, “Whosoever shall have left lands, or houses, or parents, or brethren, or children because of Me, he shall receive in this world an hundred-fold, and in that to come he shall inherit eternal life.”5 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.

33.3 The blessing of Isaac with which he blessed his younger son Jacob has the same meaning, when he says, “Behold, the smell of my son is as the smell of a full field which the Lord has blessed.”6 But “the field is the world.”7 And therefore he added, “God give to thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, plenty of corn and wine. And let the nations serve thee, and kings bow down to thee; and be thou lord over thy brother, and thy father’s sons shall bow down to thee: cursed shall be he who shall curse thee, and blessed shall be he who shall bless thee.”8 If any one, then, does not accept these things as referring to the appointed kingdom, he must fall into much contradiction and contrariety, as is the case with the Jews, who are involved in absolute perplexity. For not only did not the nations in this life serve this Jacob; but even after he had received the blessing, he himself going forth [from his home], served his uncle Laban the Syrian for twenty years;9 and not only was he not made lord of his brother, but he did himself bow down before his brother Esau, upon his return from Mesopotamia to his father, and offered many gifts to him.10 Moreover, in what way did he inherit much corn and wine here, he who emigrated to Egypt because of the famine which possessed the land in which he was dwelling, and became subject to Pharaoh, who was then ruling over Egypt? The predicted blessing, therefore, belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead;11 when also the creation, having been renovated and set free, shall fructify with an abundance of all kinds of food, from the dew of heaven, and from the fertility of the earth…[he goes on to quote Papias]
33.4 … I am quite aware that some persons endeavour to refer these words [Isaiah 11.6-9] to the case of savage men, both of different nations and various habits, who come to believe, and when they have believed, act in harmony with the righteous. But although this is [true] now with regard to some men coming from various nations to the harmony of the faith, nevertheless in the resurrection of the just [the words shall also apply] to those animals mentioned. For God is rich in all things. And it is right that when the creation is restored, all the animals should obey and be in subjection to man, and revert to the food originally given by God (for they had been originally subjected in obedience to Adam), that is, the productions of the earth. But some other occasion, and not the present, is [to be sought] for showing that the lion shall [then] feed on straw. And this indicates the large size and rich quality of the fruits. For if that animal, the lion, feeds upon straw [at that period], of what a quality must the wheat itself be whose straw shall serve as suitable food for lions?…[This continues until chapter 36, the end of his book]

 

3rd Century

 

Hippolytus (ad 170-235)

Jerome, Epistle 36 ad Damasum (On Genesis Fragment 3 from The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus)  The word of God here is the promise anew of the blessing and the hope of a kingdom to come, in which the saints shall reign with Christ, and keep the true Sabbath.

On Daniel 2.4 (The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus) 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.”1 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.”2 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.”3

 

Commodian (fl. ad 250)

The Instructions of Commodianus 44  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.

 

Nepos (fl. ad 255)

Ecclesiastical History 7.24.1. Besides all these the two books on the Promises3 were prepared by him. The occasion of these was Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, who taught that the promises to the holy men in the Divine Scriptures should be understood in a more Jewish manner, and that there would be a certain millennium of bodily luxury upon this earth. …But since they bring forward a certain work of Nepos, on which they rely confidently, as if it proved beyond dispute that there will be a reign of Christ upon earth, I confess that5 in many other respects I approve and love Nepos, for his faith and industry and diligence in the Scriptures, and for his extensive psalmody,6 with which many of the brethren are still delighted; and I hold him in the more reverence because he has gone to rest before us. … as to the teaching of this work as if it were some great hidden mystery, and do not permit our simpler brethren to have any sublime and lofty thoughts concerning the glorious and truly divine appearing of our Lord, and our resurrection from the dead, and our being gathered together unto him, and made like him, but on the contrary lead them to hope for small and mortal things in the kingdom of God, and for things such as exist now,–since this is the case, it is necessary that we should dispute with our brother Nepos as if he were present

 

Victorinus (wrote ad 270-310)

 On the Creation of the World: Wherefore to those seven days the Lord attributed to each a thousand years; for thus went the warning: “In Thine eyes, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day.”9 Therefore in the eyes of the Lord each thousand of years is ordained, for I find that the Lord’s eyes are seven.10 Wherefore, as I have narrated, that true Sabbath will be in the seventh millenary of years, when Christ with His elect shall reign.

 

4th Century

 

Lactantius (wrote ad 303-316)

Divine Institutes 4.12  How then do the Jews both confess and expect the Christ of God? who rejected Him on this account, because He was born of man. For since it is so arranged by God that the same Christ should twice come to the earth, once to announce to the nations the one God, then again to reign, why do they who did not believe in His first advent believe in the second?… Lastly, on account of the goodness and faithfulness which He displayed towards God on earth, there was given to Him a kingdom, and glory, and dominion; and all people, tribes, and languages shall serve Him; and His dominion is everlasting, and that which shall never pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed. And this is understood in two ways: that even now He has an everlasting dominion, when all nations and all languages adore His name, confess His majesty, follow His teaching, and imitate His goodness: He has power and glory, in that all tribes of the earth obey His precepts. And also, when He shall come again with majesty and glory to judge every soul, and to restore the righteous to life, then He shall truly have the government of the whole earth: then, every evil having been removed from the affairs of men, a golden age (as the poets call it), that is, a time of righteousness and peace, will arise.

 

Divine Institutes 5.24  But He, when He shall have destroyed unrighteousness, and executed His great judgment, and shall have recalled to life the righteous, who have lived from the beginning, will be engaged among men a thousand years, and will rule them with most just command. Which the Sibyl proclaims in another place, as she utters her inspired predictions:–

“Hear me, ye mortals; an everlasting King reigns.”

Then they who shall be alive in their bodies shall not die, but during those thousand years shall produce an infinite multitude, and their offspring shall be holy, and beloved by God; but they who shall be raised from the dead shall preside over the living as judges.1 But the nations shall not be entirely extinguished, but some shall be left as a victory for God, that they may be the occasion of triumph to the righteous, and may be subjected to perpetual slavery. About the same time also the prince of the devils, who is the contriver of all evils, shall be bound with chains, and shall be imprisoned during the thousand years of the heavenly rule in which righteousness shall reign in the world, so that he may contrive no evil against the people of God. After His coming the righteous shall be collected from all the earth, and the judgment being completed, the sacred city shall be planted in the middle of the earth, in which God Himself the builder may dwell together with the righteous, bearing rule in it. And the Sibyl marks out this city when she says:–

“And the city which God made, this He made more brilliant than the stars, and sun, and moon.”

Then that darkness will be taken away from the world with which the heaven will be overspread and darkened, and the moon will receive the brightness of the sun, nor will it be further diminished: but the sun will become seven times brighter than it now is; and the earth will open its fruitfulness, and bring forth most abundant fruits of its own accord; the rocky mountains shall drop with honey; streams of wine shall run down, and rivers flow with milk: in short, the world itself shall rejoice, and all nature exult, being rescued and set free from the dominion of evil and impiety, and guilt and error. Throughout this time beasts shall not be nourished by blood, nor birds by prey; but all things shall be peaceful and tranquil. Lions and calves shall stand together at the manger, the wolf shall not carry off the sheep, the hound shall not hunt for prey; hawks and eagles shall not injure; the infant shall play with serpents. In short, those things shall then come to pass which the poets spoke of as being done in the reign of Saturnus. Whose error arose from this source,–that the prophets bring forward and speak of many future events as already accomplished. For visions were brought before their eyes by the divine Spirit, and they saw these things, as it were, done and completed in their own sight. And when fame had gradually spread abroad their predictions, since those who were uninstructed in the mysteries2 of religion did not know why they were spoken, they thought that all those things were already fulfilled in the ancient ages, which evidently could not be accomplished and fulfilled under the reign of a man.3 But when, after the destruction of impious religions and the suppression of guilt, the earth shall be subject to God,– …Therefore men will live a most tranquil life, abounding with resources, and will reign together with God; and the kings of the nations shall come from the ends of the earth with gifts and offerings, to adore and honour the great King, whose name shall be renowned and venerated by all the nations which shall be under heaven, and by the kings who shall rule on earth.


Links:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *