Article: Losing the Faith (6/22)
Irenaeus (AD 120-202) writes eloquently on the subject of the millennium and also of the Abrahamic promises. These expositions appear in Against Heresies, Book V. Space will allow us just brief excerpts.
“Thus, then, the promise of God, which he gave to Abraham, remains steadfast. 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’ … and yet he did not receive an inheritance in it, not even a footstep, but was always a stranger and a pilgrim therein … Thus, then, they who are of faith shall be blessed with faithful 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; and on this account He said, ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.’
“The predicted blessing, therefore, belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead … Then, too, Isaiah himself has plainly declared that there shall be joy of this nature at the resurrection of the just … But in the times of the kingdom, the earth has been called again by Christ to its pristine condition, and Jerusalem rebuilt after the pattern of the Jerusalem above … John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first ‘resurrection of the just,’ and the inheritance in the kingdom on the earth; and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonizes with his vision” (Against Heresies, Book V, chs. xxxii to xxxvi).
Truth is Lost
Origen (AD 185-254) was one of the first writers of prominence to disavow a future kingdom of God on earth. Educated in Greek philosophy, as well as the Scriptures, he represented a new vision of the Christian hope, one that was more acceptable to the intellectuals of his day.
There were some, Origen writes, who believed “that the earthly city of Jerusalem is to be rebuilt … they desire the fulfillment of all things looked for in the promises. 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 Principis, Book II, ch. xi).