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Bible Q

Are there any accounts of the beliefs of the ancient Christians about the millennial reign of Christ over the earth?

A significant number of early Christians believed in a literal millennial reign of Christ on the earth (numbers below are dates AD):

  • 115: Papias
  • 110-165: Justin Martyr
  • 185: Irenaeus
  • c. 163: Aviricius Marcellus
  • 190: Tertullian
  • c.194: Clement
  • 200: Hippolytus
  • 280: Methodius
  • 280: Nepos
  • 300: Victorinus
  • 305: Commodianus
  • 306: Lactantius
  • c. 347: Cyril
  • c. 350: Aphrahat
  • 315-386: Cyprian
  • 401: Severus
  • 407 (d.): John Chrysostom
  • c. 450: Theodoret

This can be found in standard scholarly works.

‘The idea of a messianic interregnum was adopted by Christians. In the NT we find an implicit reference to an interregnum in 1 Cor 15:23–28 where Christ will rule until the cosmic powers, including death, have been conquered and then he will hand over the kingdom of God (cf. Col 1:12–13).’

‘The millennial belief in the early church was a tradition that was both vigorous and persistent and one which obtains in many persuasions today.’

Article ‘Millennium’, David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996).

‘Those who regard millennialism as an alien import into the Christian faith have been much embarrassed by its early and widespread acceptance in the patristic Church. Salmond, for example, who considered millennial conceptions totally foreign to Christ’s teachings, had to admit that “the dogma of a Millennium … took possession of Christian thought at so early a date and with so strong a grasp that it has sometimes been reckoned an integral part of the primitive Christian faith” (p. 312).’

Article ‘Millennium;, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988; 2002).

The Bible teaches that the Kingdom of God will be on earth, and those accepted by Christ will reign with him on earth during the Millennium, which is 1000 years of peace on Earth: Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6-9; 11:1-9; 61:1-11; Psalm 72; Daniel 2:44; 7:14,27; Zechariah 9:10; Luke 1:30-33; Acts 3:21; Revelation 5:10; 20:6.

The return of Jesus Christ will be visible, and he will sit upon a literal throne, the throne of his ancestor King David, in Jerusalem: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89:19-37; Isaiah 33:17; Ezekiel 21:26-27; Daniel 7:27; Zechariah 12:10; 14:16; Matthew 16:28; 25:31-32; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 13:35; 21:27; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7; 2:27

This throne of David does not exist today, Christ will return to restore it: Psalm 89:39-44; Ezekiel 21:26-27; Amos 9:11; Luke 1:32-33; Acts 1:6; 15:15-16; 17:31; Romans 15:12; Revelation 11:15; 15:4.

Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world during the reign of Jesus Christ: Psalm 48:2; Isaiah 2:1-4; 33:20; 60:14; Jeremiah 3:17; Joel 3:16; Micah 4:2-8; Zechariah 1:17; 8:22; 14:16; Matthew 5:34-35; Luke 19:42.

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