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Early Views on Prophecy (Part 4)

  Justin Martyr on Christ’s
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I do not say this before you alone, I shall      of the dead, and a t...
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Justin Martyr On Christs Reigh Of A Thousand Years - Prophecy In The News Magazine


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Justin Martyr On Christs Reigh Of A Thousand Years - Prophecy In The News Magazine

  1. 1. Find us on the Internet - Early Views on Prophecy (Part 4) Justin Martyr on Christ’s Reign of a Thousand Years By J. R. Church Let’s return to ancient Corinth — to a garden near the local gymnasium where Justin Martyr is having a dialogue with Trypho. Justin is a Christian theologian who still wears the white garment of a Greek philosopher. Trypho is a Jew who escaped Israel’s Bar Kokhbah revolt and fled to Greece. Once again, the year is A.D. 135. As we look in on Justin Martyr, he and Trypho are discussing theology. Justin has just told him that someday Jesus will return to a rebuilt Jerusalem and a restored Jewish nation to reign over the Earth for a thousand years. Let’s listen as Trypho questions Justin’s sincerity: “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gath- ered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? Background: The ruins of ancient Corinth stand as a stark reminder that or have you given way, and admitted this generations come and go. Inset: A painting of Justin Martyr shows him in the white in order to have the appearance of worsting robe of a Greek philosopher. As his testimony goes, he became disenchanted with us in the controversies?” (Justin Martyr, the teachings of Socrates and Plato, but found peace through Jesus Christ. Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 80). another. I admitted to you formerly, that I hold to this view. With the gospel spreading As the skeptical Trypho speaks, Jerusa- and many others are of this opinion, and throughout the Gentile world, and tragedy lem lies in ruin. Hadrian’s Roman army has [believe] that such will take place, as you after tragedy happening to the Jews, within virtually destroyed the city. The Romans assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, 35 years after the turn of the second century, plowed the land and sprinkled salt in its I signified to you that many who belong the belief that God had forever forsaken the furrows. They changed Jerusalem’s name to the pure and pious faith, and are true Jews was growing in popularity. to Alia Capitolina, and the name of the Christians, think otherwise” (Ibid.). In A.D. 135, the Christian world was country to Palestine. At this point, there Justin assures Trypho that he and many groping for its identity. Without an ac- is no Israel and no Jerusalem. Yet, Justin other Christians hold to this opinion, which, cepted canon of Scripture (i.e., the New is telling Trypho that the nation will be by the way, turned out to be correct. Jeru- Testament) many heresies were appearing restored and the city rebuilt. salem was rebuilt, and the nation of Israel under the guise of Christian theology. In You would think that Trypho would be was restored to the Jewish people in 1948. fact, within 50-years time, Irenaeus would glad to hear such news, but he can hardly And though Christ has not yet returned, publish his volumes, “Against Heresies.” bring himself to believe it. This displaced Justin’s belief should soon be realized. So, Justin points out that not all who claim Jew thinks that Justin is playing a cruel joke Since the Jew is back in his land, there is to be Christians actually are. He says, on him. Essentially, he asks, “Are you tell- every reason to think that Jesus will soon “Moreover, I pointed out to you that some, ing me all this just to make matters worse come to establish the millennial kingdom. who are called Christians, are godless, for us Jews? Are you lying to me?” We should also note, however, that Justin impious heretics, and teach doctrines that Justin replies, “I am not so miserable a goes on to say that there are other “pure, are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think pious, and true” Christians who do not and foolish. But that you may know that 36 Prophecy in the News Find us on the Internet -
  2. 2. Find us on the Internet - I do not say this before you alone, I shall of the dead, and a thousand years in Jeru- different from the King James Bible, but draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all salem, which will then be built, adorned, valid for the second century. In verse 22, the arguments which have passed between and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and the KJV says, “as the days of a tree are the us; in which I shall record myself as admit- Isaiah and others declare” (Justin, ch. 80). days of my people.” But Justin’s version ting the very same things which I admit to Justin then quotes from Isaiah’s prophe- adds, “according to the days of the tree of you” (Ibid.). cies, and from John’s Apocalypse to prove life.” Justin uses the term “tree of life” as Justin wanted all future generations to that Jesus will reign for a thousand years. a prediction (albeit obscure) to prove that know that the doctrine of the pre-millenial He explained, “For Isaiah spake thus con- Christ will reign for a thousand years. He return of Christ was the prevailing view cerning this space of a thousand years: connected this implied prophecy to the in A.D. 135. Furthermore, he tells Trypho ‘For there shall be the new heaven and commonly accepted concept that the “day that he will publish this dialogue, so that the new earth, and the former shall not be of the Lord” is as a thousand years (Psalm all generations will know what he and oth- remembered, or come into their heart; 90:4 and II Peter 3:8). ers believe concerning the return of Jesus ‘But they shall find joy and gladness Then, Justin refers to John’s Apocalypse Christ to a restored Jerusalem; and that He in it, which things I create. For, Behold, I as an important resource for the doctrine of will save the Jewish people and reign over make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and My people a thousand-year reign: “And further, there all nations for a thousand years. Indeed, a joy; was a certain man with us, whose name was we have the text of their conversation to ‘And I shall rejoice over Jerusalem, and John, one of the apostles of Christ, who this very day. be glad over my people. And the voice of prophesied, by a revelation that was made Justin continues, “For I choose to follow weeping shall be no more heard in her, or to him, that those who believed in our Christ not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the voice of crying. would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you ‘And there shall be no more there a and that thereafter the general, and, in short, have fallen in with some who are called person of immature years, or an old man the eternal resurrection and judgment of all Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], who shall not fulfill his days. For the young men would likewise take place. Just as our and venture to blaspheme the God of Abra- man shall be an hundred years old; but the Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry ham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of sinner who dies an hundred years old, he nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of shall be accursed. to the angels, the children of the God of the the dead, and that their souls, when they die, ‘And they shall build houses, and shall resurrection.’ (Ibid., ch. 81). are [simply] taken to heaven [with no hope themselves inhabit them; and they shall Justin assures Trypho that Christ will of a future resurrection]; do not imagine that plant vines, and shall themselves eat the come to rescue the Jewish people and fulfill they are Christians” (Ibid.). produce of them, and drink the wine. their dream of a messiah, even though He Justin admits that there were some Gen- ‘They shall not build, and others inhabit; had been ill-treated by them. Christ will tiles who carried the baggage of a heathen they shall not plant, and others eat. For ac- reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years, heritage, and were attempting to invade cording to the days of the tree of life shall after which the final judgment will occur. Christian doctrine with heretical views. In be the days of my people; the works of their Justin refers to this judgment as a “general his day, amillennialism and preterism were toil shall abound. resurrection,” even though he had just told not formally established. But the seeds of ‘Mine elect shall not toil fruitlessly, or Trypho that “those who believed in our them were apparent. Justin included the beget children to be cursed; for they shall Christ would dwell a thousand years in denial of a future resurrection with the idea be a seed righteous and blessed by the Lord, Jerusalem.” Obviously, Justin did not speak that there would be no thousand-year reign. and their offspring with them. of his “general resurrection” in the same It seemed to him that the two heresies would ‘And it shall come to pass, that before manner as the term is viewed by Augustin- compliment each other. Over the next three they call I will hear; while they are still ian theologians. Their view is that all of the centuries, however, the thousand-year reign speaking, I shall say, What is it? dead, both saints and sinners, will be raised would be dismissed and the doctrine of the ‘Then shall the wolves and the lambs feed at the same time, and that the Great White resurrection would be retained. together, and the lion shall eat straw like Throne Judgment will separate sinners Augustin, in his “City of God,” made the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as from saints. However, in order to reign with this the accepted dogma of the Catholic bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each Christ for a thousand years, believers would Church. There would be no thousand-year other on the holy mountain, saith the Lord.’ have to be raised from the dead in an earlier reign between two resurrections. Today, (Isa. 65:17-25). resurrection. In Revelation 20, John speaks the Catholics and other Augustinian theo- “Now we have understood that the ex- of a resurrection of the Tribulation saints at logians view the resurrection as simply a pression used among these words, ‘Accord- the beginning of the millennial kingdom, general resurrection, wherein the saints ing to the days of the tree [of life] shall be and a resurrection of the lost at the close would be separated from the sinners — the the days of my people; the works of their of the millennial kingdom. saints would go to heaven and the sinners toil shall abound’ obscurely predicts a It stands to reason that with Christ return- would be cast into hell. Such a view denies thousand years. For as Adam was told that ing to reign over the Earth, He will need a a restored Israel, or that they will face a in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we race of human beings over whom He will seven-year Tribulation Period. They teach know that he did not complete a thousand reign. Therefore, the Gospel should con- that John’s Apocalypse was fulfilled in A.D. years. We have perceived, moreover, that tinue to be preached and salvation offered 70, with the destruction of Herod’s Temple, the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as during the kingdom age. And though the and the deportation of the Jews to the slave a thousand years,’ is connected with this Bible is not specific, it is natural to think markets of the world. subject” (Justin, ch. 81). that another physical translation (rapture Justin concludes, “But I and others, who Note that I have included the version and resurrection) of the converted king- are right-minded Christians on all points, of Scripture that Justin published in his dom believers should occur at the close of are assured that there will be a resurrection dialogue with Trypho. It is somewhat Christ’s earthly kingdom. u Find us on the Internet - Prophecy in the News 37