In Part 1, we began to explore how Scriptures contain an implied prophecy that strongly suggests that we are the terminal generation — the one that will experience the Rapture of the Church! We will now comb through the Church’s historical writings as they relate to the prophecy of the Week of Millenniums.
Early Christian Writings
The Jewish Millennial Day Theory was picked up by the earliest fathers of the Christian faith and espoused by them. For example, Justin Martyr (100-165 AD), in his Dialogue with Trypho, asserted his belief that the earth will last for 6,000 years followed by a Sabbath of rest lasting 1,000 years.5
But even earlier than this, the concept was expressed in detail in The Epistle of Barnabas, the complete text of which is preserved in the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus, where it appears immediately after the New Testament and before the Shepherd of Hermas. Scholars estimate it was written between 70 and 132 AD. The author describes the Millennial Day Theory in these words:6
“God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:2). Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implies that the Lord will finish all things in 6,000 years, for a day is with Him a thousand years… Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in 6,000 years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This means: when His Son shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the 7th day.” (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 15).
Late in the 2nd Century, Irenaeus (130-202 AD), the Bishop of Lyons, France, wrote: “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded.” He then added that after the Antichrist has devastated the world, the Lord will return and provide the world rest on “the hallowed seventh day.”7
One of the most influential theologians of the 3rd Century, Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-235AD) asserted that “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.”8
The widespread belief in the Millennial Day Theory among early Christians is attested to by Edward Gibbon in his history of the Roman Empire. He wrote:9
The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy, it was inferred that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection.
But despite this early popularity of the concept, it fell out of acceptance after 400 AD when the Roman Catholic Church, under the influence of the spiritualizing interpretations of Origen and Augustine, adopted the Amillennial viewpoint which argued that Jesus was never going to return to reign over this earth for a thousand years.
The Millennial Day Theory experienced a renaissance following the Reformation as people began to obtain copies of the Bible in their own languages. The Premillennial viewpoint of end-time events was revived and with it, the idea that 6,000 years of history would be followed by the 1,000-year reign of Jesus.
The concept was strongly endorsed in the first best-selling Bible prophecy book in history — Jesus Is Coming by W. E. Blackstone, first published in 1898. He pointed out that the concept was first developed by the Jewish sages before the time of Christ and is frequently mentioned in the Talmud. He called it “the Sabbath of God’s weeks.”10
Many modern-day Bible prophecy teachers have also endorsed the theory. For example, in 2012, Dr. Jack Van Impe (1931-2020), one of the foremost proclaimers of Bible prophecy in the 20th Century, gave his support to the concept in an article printed in his newsletter.11 He endorsed it again in 2016, and concluded: “We are on the threshold of the final day!… One thing is certain: only a few minutes remain before midnight. Closing time is upon us. The Age of Grace is about to end, and believers are soon to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.”12
Distinguished Christian doctrinal expert, Mike Gendron, echoed the 7,000 year theory in an article he published in 2013 when he observed:13
The first 2,000 years of human history ended when the wrath of God was poured out on sin in the Flood. The second 2,000 years ended when the wrath of God was poured out on sin at the Cross. And the third 2,000 years will end with God pouring out His wrath on sin during the Tribulation.
In the third and final part of our look at the prophecy of the Week of Millenniums, we will gauge just how close humanity has come to the end of the 6,000 years that will inaugurate the Millennial reign of Jesus.
5) James Johnson, “The Prophets Foresee the End of the World After 6000 Years,” (http://allpowertothelamb.com/2010/01/the-prophets-foresee-the-end-of-the-world-after-6000-
years), page 1.
6) Dexter B. Wakefield, “The 7,000 Years Doctrine,” (www.lcg.org/lcn/2012/September-October/7000-years-doctrine), page 2.
7) Bob Thiel, “Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan?” (www.cogwriter.com/six_thousand_year_plan_6000.htm), pages 9-10).
8) Bob DeWaay, “Premillennialism and the Early Church Fathers, (http://cicministry.org/scholarly/sch008.him), page 5.
9) Wakefield, page 2.
10) William E. Blackstone, Jesus Is Coming (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1989 updated edition), page 40.
11) Jack Van Impe, “The Return of Jesus is Imminent,” Jack Van Impe Ministries International Newsletter, July 1, 2012, pages 3-5.
12) Jack Van Impe, “The 6,000 Year Theory,” Jack Van Impe Ministries International Newsletter, September 19, 2016, pages 1-2.
13) Mike Gendron.