Millennialism (Chiliasm)

EarthI’m teaching Revelation 20 tomorrow morning at synagogue. This is the 28th week in a series I have been teaching (with breaks for holiday seasons and topics).

The following are just a few notes on the history of millennialism. I thought you might enjoy or want to comment on them. You can see the whole outline here if you want to read more. I go on to explain what I think millennialism is an important view to hold.

Millennialism or Chiliasm

There will be a thousand-year interim period before the final age. (Millennium equals a thousand years.)

This was the view of the church fathers prior to Augustine.

It is a minority view today in Christendom. In Orthodox Judaism, a two-stage view of the final redemption of the world is common.

Roots in Second Temple Judaism

The idea of two future ages in final redemption is rare, but does exist, in Second Temple Judaism.

4 Ezra 7:26-33, Messiah will rule for 400 years, then die, and after that there will be a resurrection of the dead.

2 Apocalypse of Baruch 29-30, Messiah will destroy evil, after a while return to heaven, and then the time of resurrection will come.

Roots in Church History

The early church fathers believed in a millennium prior to the New Earth.

Papias, Justin, Irenaus, Tertullian, and Hippolytus expressed faith in a millennium.

Origen, in keeping with his love of Platonic ideals and flirtation with gnosticism, rejected millennialism.

Augustine made amillennialism the dominant view.

Rabbinic Literature

In post-New Testament rabbinic writings, a two-stage final redemption is strongly held.

The Babylonian Talmud records rabbinic opinions about how long Messiah’s reign would last (Akiba said 40 years and Eliezer ben Hyrcanus said 1000 years). See Sanhedrin 99a and Tanchuma Eikev.

Israelite Prophets

The prophets of Israel describe a glorious future when Israel is perfect in love and the land is blessed beyond any time in history.

Yet there is still birth and death (see Isa. 65:20).

Therefore, the belief arose in a golden age that was not yet final redemption.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Judaism, Life to Come, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Prophets and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Millennialism (Chiliasm)

  1. peterygwendyta says:

    The topic of the millenium is one of the most interesting topics for me in all of scripture and there are many passages on it especially in Isaiah and Revelations. But it surprises me that it is so rarely spoken of or taught on. Even among those who believe in premilleniumism (which I do)rarely teach on it. The reason they call themselves premilleniumists is because they believe the the tribulation will preceed it. For me the Millenium is the ting I look forward to the most. The day when this world will be ruled by Jesus (Yeshua) from Jerusalem. I would love to see more teaching on it and more books about it. Derek your book “the world to come” was a start in the right direction. Keep up the good teaching.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s