LUKE 20 – HINTS OF A MILLENNIAL AGE

The Sadducees question Jesus concerning resurrection

Those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection (Lk20:35-36NRSV)

 Proceeding chapter by chapter through the New Testament I have come to perceive that one does not need to rely on Revelation alone to make a case for pre-millennialism. The apocalyptic passage (ch20:5-6) is explicit on the matter whereas Jesus’ statement in Luke 20 which was in response to the Sadducees’ attempt to trick Him concerning the resurrection of the dead at the least implies there will be two resurrections (as does Jn6:44+54). For, says He, those who are “found worthy” will be resurrected at the end of the current age  whereas the Bible is clear enough that everyone is to be resurrected at some stage, worthy or otherwise. Likewise, the righteous, says Jesus, will be “worthy of a place in that age” (Greek: kataxiothentes tou ainos ekeinou tuchein), which again would appear to support the case.

Premillennialism appears to have been the predominant view of the ante-Nicene Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus of Rome, Tertullian, Cyprian, Barnabas and Lactantius and by deduction others whom they had instructed or by whom they had been instructed. Such were supported initially by Augustine of Hippo together with a good number of his contemporaries inside as well as some breakaway groups outside the Church. It was initially Marcion who challenged the consensus in the second century; he was later clearly shown to be a heretic. But the key influencers were undoubtedly Augustine (who changed his mind) and Origen of Alexandria (who was inclined to a Platonic spiritualism); these colossi of the Western and Eastern Church ensuring that Millenarian views came to be rejected by the fourth century, reinforced one suspects by the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine which transformed the Church’s perspective with regard to its relationships with the political structures of the world. More background to why the churches largely came to reject premillennialism can be found HERE but although it is not the primary consideration I will continue to draw out evidence for such a concept as we proceed through the rest of the New Testament.   

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