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Irenaeus and Chiliasm

June 26, 2010

It is interesting to note that for Irenaeus Chiliasm had three parts. First it does move into the eternal state, however imperceptibly. And second for Irenaeus, the purpose of the earthy paradise is to be “the commencement of incorruption, by means of which . . . those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature.”  And the kingdom is not “the last piece of business in the old creation” but “the first piece of business in the renewed one.”  Third, in character Irenaeus’s millennium, according to C. Smith, “is not an intermediate kingdom between the present creation and a subsequent one.” Rather, the saints progress in their preparedness for incorruptibility until “the Irenean ‘millennium’ ends with a decided whimper” and passes over smoothly into eternity, without a climactic uprising of evil.  All three points are really aspects of the same phenomenon, that the millennium in Irenaeus’s theological development has become simply a phase in God’s grand, age-long plan of fitting humanity for the abiding in His presence. As such it resists any notion of a cataclysmic end and begins to lose its connection with Rev. 20:7-10. Here we can see that this moves along with the Salvation History of God.

For Irenaeus’s millennium has certain transitional qualities.

*”Chiliasm and Recapitulation in the Theology of Irenaeus, by C. Smith.

PS.. I do NOT follow Irenaeus here fully, since the Second Coming of Christ is surely Pre-Mill, and with the First Resurrection, and WILL be cataclysmic. But he is always worth reading, and is to degree premillennial, but now biblically and prophetically we know much more!

  1. The thoughts of the millennium in most of the Ante-Nicene Christian chiliasts, are very far removed from most of the modern, or today’s.

    • Btw, we have today in the 21st century, with help from the 19th and 20th century Judeo-Christians, a good Outline of the Prophetic nature before us. But, as the Day approaches even more we will have more spiritual and literal understanding, but perhaps always just an “Outline”, but surely with National Israel in the centre!

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