Session 21: The Early Church Millennialists

To lend credibility to their particular eschatology, premillennialists often refer to the teachings of the early church fathers, some of whom developed a rather robust form of millennialism. Many of these early theologians either knew the apostle John or knew people who had contact with John when he wrote the book of Revelation. Therefore, their views have an inherent credibility.

These early millennialists may have taught that Christ returns to this earth at the beginning of the millennium to establish his kingdom (premillennial return), but they did not teach that the saints return to this earth in their raptured, immortal bodies, as modern premillennialists teach. Rather, they taught as I do, that the “first resurrection” at the beginning of the millennium will be of the natural bodies of the departed saints because they are destined to inherit the restored Genesis earth—a natural body for a restored natural earth. They linked this first resurrection to the kind of resurrection described by Ezekiel and Isaiah.

These early millennialists also taught that the final resurrection after the millennium will be of the raptured, eternal body not given in marriage because it is destined to inherit the Father’s eternal kingdom of heaven—an eternal body for an eternal kingdom. They linked this final resurrection to the kind of resurrection described by Jesus in his answer to the Sadducees whereby the sons of God will be immortal and will no longer experience marriage.

Of all the current views on the nature of the millennium, the modified millennialism presented in this lecture series, postrestorationalism, is the closest to that of the early church fathers. The remarkable similarity between postrestorationalism and their teachings gives this view of God’s endgame great credibility.