- Regnum Caelorum, Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity by Charles E. Hill
Professor Charles E. Hill has added much valuable research to the study of early chiliasm, but I disagree with some of the presumptions he works with.
Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, etc., were not premillennialasts. Irenaeus said -
2. If therefore the great God showed future things by Daniel, and confirmed them by His Son; and if Christ is the stone which is cut out without hands, who shall destroy temporal kingdoms, and introduce an eternal one, which is the resurrection of the just;
as he declares, "The God of heaven shall raise up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed,"let those thus confuted come to their senses, who reject the Creator (Demiurgum), and do not agree that the prophets were sent beforehand from the same Father from whom also the Lord came, but who assert that prophecies originated from diverse powers. V.26
He makes clear the resurrection of the just is the first resurrection. He uses it at these places in Book V.
V.32.1, V.32.2, V.33.2,V.33.4, V.34.1, V.35.1, V.36.3
A premillennial reign must be earthly and temporary. Irenaeus makes it clear that the kingdom he speaks of is neither. He makes other anti-premillennial statements in the following places: I.10.1, II.33.5, II.22.2, III.23.7, IV.4.2, IV.38.3, IV.28.2, V.8.1
Most people believe the early fathers like Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, etc, are premillennial because they don't understand how the early fathers looked at these things.
1. Sometimes they spoke of a Jerusalem that wasn't earthly (Heb 12:22, Gal 4:26, John 14:2), but didn't identify it. When they denied a soul went to heaven they were talking about the Gnostic heaven, not the New Jerusalem.
2. The church fathers did not believe that the millennium of Rev 20:1-7 was the seventh millennium. That millennium they actually counted as the fifth. The seventh millennium starts with the New Creation, although it is spiritually in progress now. Compare where the little season is found in Rev 6:11, 20:3.
3. Most today believe the antichrist is destroyed at the end of chapter 19. The early fathers, such as Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, believed the antichrist was destroyed at 20:10 with the dragon.
4. Irenaeus' literalism, lions that eat straw and some things can't be allegorized, is directed at the Gnostics who didn't believe in a bodily resurrection. All the church fathers believed in a bodily resurrection. That is the prediction in Revelation (5:10, 20:6), but it is eternal (11:15). It is in the New Creation (22:5).
Origen thought the 6 day 6,000 year idea was always interpreted literally (On Prayer 27:13). He is probably responsible for much of the criticism of chiliasm that came after his time.
I recommend the book Regnum Caelorum by Charles E. Hill. He doesn't agree with me on some of the fathers, but I guarantee you won't be premillennial anymore if you carefully read this book, or at least you'll have some doubts.