Anti-chiliasm's triumph over Chiliasm: the expectation, then realization of the 1000 Year Millennium during the Middle Age

"Another important division of historical interpreters is into Post-Millennarians and Pre-Millennarians, according as the millennium predicted in Revelation 20 is regarded as part or future. Augustin committed the radical error of dating the millennium from the time of the Apocalypse or the beginning of the Christian era (although the seer mentioned it near the end of his book), and his view had great influence; hence the wide expectation of the end of the world at the close of the first millennium of the Christian church. Other post-millennarian interpreters date the millennium from the triumph of Christianity over paganism in Rome at the accession of Constantine the Great (311);"

(Excerpted from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

["Radical error" or not is open to debate. (Philip Schaff went on to embrace historical Preterism, noting his own change of doctrinal position in later editions of this work.) But without argument, St. Augustin dated Rev 20:1-10’s “1000 Years” from the time of the writing of Revelation ("The Apocalypse" in Latin) or the beginning of the Christian era to the end of the first millennium of the Christian church. This view was so widely held during the Middle Age that there was wide expectation of the end of the world at 1000AD, the close of the first millennium of the Christian church. I agree with St. Augustin, (354-430AD), that he was living during the 1000-year Millennium of Rev 20:1-10.~jwr

"Luther struck the key-note of this anti-popery exegesis. He had at first a very low opinion of the Apocalypse, and would not recognize it as apostolic or prophetic (1522), but afterward he utilized for polemic purposes (in a preface to his edition of the N. T. of 1530). He [Martin Luther] dated the one thousand years (Revelation 20:7) with Augustin from the composition of the book, and the six hundred and sixty-six years from Gregory VII., as the supposed founder of the papacy, and understood Gog and Magog to mean the unspeakable Turks and the Jews. As Gregory VII. was elected pope 1073, the anti-Christian era ought to have come to an end A.D. 1739; but that year passed off without any change in the history of the papacy."
(Excerpted from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Martin Luther, following Augustin, Rev 20:1-10’s “1000 Years” from “the composition of the book [of Revelation] to the year 1073AD, when Gregory VII was elected Pope. Luther then expected an anti-Christian era (Rev 20:3 & Rev 20:7-9 period of Satan’s release) to expend from 1073AD to 666 years later. I do not see how Luther got 666 years for the period of Satan's release, but I can see how he might calculate 1073AD to be the end of the 1000 Year Millennium - that makes Augustin and Luther's Millennium from that last great defeat at Masada in 73AD to a literal 1000 years later when Gregory VII became Pope, greatly extending papal claims, launching the Crusades, which in turn provoked foreign invaders, who brought Black Death Plague with them, etc., inaugurating the Dark Age that ended with the heavenly fires of the Reformation/Rennaissance/Discovery of the New World/Modern Era. I agree with Martin Luther, (1483-1546AD), that he was living in the period that followed Rev 20:1-10's "1000 years." ~jwr

MILLENNIUM : Latin MILLE, thousand + Latin ANNUS, year

§ 158. Chiliasm.

The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. 227 It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustin) opposed it.

[They opposed it because, by the time they came along, the time for expecting it had passed and they preached that it had already come, being presently enjoyed in their own times]~jwr

The Jewish chiliasm rested on a carnal misapprehension of the Messianic kingdom, a literal interpretation of prophetic figures, and an overestimate of the importance of the Jewish people and the holy city as the centre of that kingdom. It was developed shortly before and after Christ in the apocalyptic literature, as the Book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Baruch, 4th Esdras, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the Sibylline Books. It was adopted by the heretical sect of the Ebionites, and the Gnostic Cerinthus. 228
The Christian chiliasm is the Jewish chiliasm spiritualized and fixed upon the second, instead of the first, coming of Christ. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only a prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan. The millennium is expected to come not as the legitimate result of a historical process but as a sudden supernatural revelation.
The advocates of this theory appeal to the certain promises of the Lord, 229 but particularly to the hieroglyphic passage of the Apocalypse, which teaches a millennial reign of Christ upon this earth after the first resurrection and before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. 230
In connection with this the general expectation prevailed that the return of the Lord was near, though uncertain and unascertainable as to its day and hour, so that believers may be always ready for it. 231 This hope, through the whole age of persecution, was a copious fountain of encouragement and comfort under the pains of that martyrdom which sowed in blood the seed of a bountiful harvest for the church.
Among the Apostolic Fathers Barnabas is the first and the only one who expressly teaches a pre-millennial reign of Christ on earth. He considers the Mosaic history of the creation a type of six ages of labor for the world, each lasting a thousand years, and of a millennium of rest; since with God "one day is as a thousand years." The millennial Sabbath on earth will be followed by an eighth and eternal day in a new world, of which the Lord's Day (called by Barnabas "the eighth day") is the type. 232
Papias of Hierapolis, …
Justin Martyr represents the transition from the Jewish Christian to the Gentile Christian chiliasm. He speaks repeatedly of the second parousia of Christ in the clouds of heaven, surrounded by the holy angels. It will be preceded by the near manifestation of the man of sin (‎a&nqrwpo$ th=$ a)nomi/a$‎) who speaks blasphemies against the most high God, and will rule three and a half years. He is preceded by heresies and false prophets. 234 Christ will then raise the patriarchs, prophets, and pious Jews, establish the millennium, restore Jerusalem, and reign there in the midst of his saints; after which the second and general resurrection and judgment of the world will take place. He regarded this expectation of the earthly perfection of Christ's kingdom as the key-stone of pure doctrine, but adds that many pure and devout Christians of his day did not share this opinion. 235 After the millennium the world will be annihilated, or transformed. 236 In his two Apologies, Justin teaches the usual view of the general resurrection and judgment, and makes no mention of the millennium, but does not exclude it. 237 The other Greek Apologists are silent on the subject, and cannot be quoted either for or against chiliasm.
Irenaeus, …
Tertullian was an enthusiastic Chiliast, and pointed not only to the Apocalypse, but also to the predictions of the Montanist prophets. 239 But the Montanists substituted Pepuza in Phrygia for Jerusalem, as the centre of Christ's reign, and ran into fanatical excesses, which brought chiliasm into discredit, and resulted in its condemnation by several synods in Asia Minor. 240
After Tertullian, and independently of Montanism, chiliasm was taught by Commodian towards the close of the third century, 241 Lactantius, 242 and Victorinus of Petau, 243 at the beginning of the fourth. Its last distinguished advocates in the East were Methodius (d., a martyr, 311), the opponent of Origen, 244 and Apollinaris of Laodicea in Syria.

We now turn to the anti-Chiliasts. The opposition began during the Montanist movement in Asia Minor. Caius of Rome attacked both Chiliasm and Montanism, and traced the former to the hated heretic Cerinthus. 245 The Roman church seems never to have sympathized with either, and prepared itself for a comfortable settlement and normal development in this world. In Alexandria, Origen opposed chiliasm as a Jewish dream, and spiritualized the symbolical language of the prophets. 246 His distinguished pupil, Dionysius the Great (d. about 264), checked the chiliastic movement when it was revived by Nepos in Egypt, and wrote an elaborate work against it, which is lost. He denied the Apocalypse to the apostle John, and ascribed it to a presbyter of that name. Eusebius inclined to the same view.

But the crushing blow [to Chiliasm] came from the great change in the social condition and prospects of the church in the Nicene age. After Christianity, contrary to all expectation, triumphed in the Roman empire, and was embraced by the Caesars themselves, the millennial reign, instead of being anxiously waited and prayed for, began to be dated either from the first appearance of Christ, or from the conversion of Constantine and the downfall of paganism, and to be regarded as realized in the glory of the dominant imperial state-church. Augustin, who himself had formerly entertained chiliastic hopes, framed the new theory which reflected the social change, and was generally accepted. The apocalyptic millennium he understood to be the present reign of Christ in the Catholic church, and the first resurrection, the translation of the martyrs and saints to heaven, where they participate in Christ's reign. 248 It was consistent with this theory that towards the close of the first millennium of the Christian era there was a wide-spread expectation in Western Europe that the final judgment was at hand.

From the time of Constantine and Augustin chiliasm took its place among the heresies and was rejected subsequently even by the Protestant reformers as a Jewish dream. But it was revived from time to time as an article of faith and hope by pious individuals and whole sects, often in connection with historic pessimism, with distrust in mission work, as carried on by human agencies, with literal interpretations of prophecy, and with peculiar notions about Antichrist, the conversion and restoration of the Jews, their return to the Holy Land, and also with abortive attempts to calculate "the times and seasons" of the Second Advent, which "the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:7), and did not choose to reveal to his own Son in the days of his flesh. ...

["From the time of Constantine and Augustin chiliasm took its place among the heresies..." Chiliasm was the expectation that the 1000 Year Millennium was still future rather than a present reality. And that expectation suddenly died when the reality of Constantine's victory took there breath away, compelling them to wake up to the fact that they were already living in the 1000 Year Millennium. And the continued expectation of a future millennium, chiliasm, "took its place among the heresies." Hallelujah!]

203. Victorinus of Petau.
Victorinus, …
1. The fragment on the Creation of the World is a series of notes on the account of creation, probably a part of the commentary on Genesis mentioned by Jerome. The days are taken liberally. The creation of angels and archangels preceded the creation of man, as light was made before the sky and the earth. The seven days typify seven millennia; the seventh is the millennial sabbath, when Christ will reign on earth with his elect. It is the same chiliastic notion which we found in the Epistle of Barnabas, with the same opposition to Jewish sabbatarianism. Victorinus compares the seven days with the seven eyes of the Lord (Zechariah 4:10), the seven heavens (comp. Psalms 33:6), the seven spirits that dwelt in Christ (Isaiah 11:2,3), and the seven stages of his humanity: his nativity, infancy, boyhood, youth, young-manhood, mature age, death. This is a fair specimen of these allegorical plays of a pious imagination.
2. The scholia on the Apocalypse of John are not without interest for the history of the interpretation of this mysterious book. 404 But they are not free from later interpolations of the fifth or sixth century. The author assigns the Apocalypse to the reign of Domitian (herein agreeing with Irenaeus), and combines the historical and allegorical methods of interpretation. He also regards the visions in part as synchronous rather than successive. He comments only on the more difficult passages. 405 We select the most striking points.
The woman in ch. 12 is the ancient church of the prophets and apostles; the dragon is the devil. The woman sitting on the seven hills (in ch. 17), is the city of Rome. The beast from the abyss is the Roman empire; Domitian is counted as the sixth, Nerva as the seventh, and Nero revived as the eighth Roman King. 406 The number 666 (13:18) means in Greek Teitan 407 (this is the explanation preferred by Irenaeus), in Latin Diclux. Both names signify Antichrist, according to the numerical value of the Greek and Roman letters. But Diclux has this meaning by contrast, for Antichrist, "although he is cut off from the supernal light, yet transforms himself into an angel of light, daring to call himself light." 408 To this curious explanation is added, evidently by a much later hand, an application of the mystic number to the Vandal king Genseric (‎gensh/riko$‎) who in the fifth century laid waste the Catholic church of North Africa and sacked the city of Rome.
The exposition of ch. 20:1-6 is not so strongly chiliastic, as the corresponding passage in the Commentary on Genesis, and hence some have denied the identity of authorship. The first resurrection is explained spiritually with reference to Colossians 3:1, and the author leaves it optional to understand the thousand years as endless or as limited. Then he goes on to allegorize about the numbers: ten signifies the decalogue, and hundred the crown of virginity; for he who keeps the vow of virginity completely, and fulfils the precepts of the decalogue, and destroys the impure thoughts within the retirement of his own heart, is the true priest of Christ, and reigns with him; and "truly in his case the devil is bound." At the close of the notes on ch. 22, the author rejects the crude and sensual chiliasm of the heretic Cerinthus. "For the kingdom of Christ," he says, "is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection." This looks like a later addition, and intimates the change which Constantine's reign produced in the mind of the church as regards the millennium. Henceforth it was dated from the incarnation of Christ.
(Excerpts from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)