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The apparent futurist eschatology of the Apostle John's disciples and its relevancy

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by kendemyer, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. kendemyer

    kendemyer New Member

    Dec 16, 2003
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    I started a thread called "It appears the earliest church fathers were premillienists and futurists plus..." at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35528

    The thread cited above was often guilty of going into tangents but I did not mind this because I wanted to learn more about various matters of eschatology and thought my readers would as well.


    Now in the thread: "It appears the earliest church fathers were premillienists and futurists plus..." I discovered that it appears as if the Apostle John had 3 personal disciples: Papias, Polycarp, and Ignatius. So far, at least two of them appear to be futurist in their eschatology. Namely, Papias is definitely premillenialist and futurist (see: Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History (III, 39) ). Also I infered that Polycarp appears to be futurist.

    I inferred that Polycarp was probably a futurist because Iranaeus was a disciple of Polycarp (Iranaeus lived AD. 120-202) and was definitely a premillenialist and futurist.

    Here is a quote of Irenaeus:

    Hippolytus (Hippolytus lived AD. 170-236)
    who was a disciple of Iranaeus also appears to be a futurist as can be seen from the quote below:

    Now I also said that I need to do more research to find out if Ignatius, a personal disciple of the Apostle John was a premillenialists and/or futurist.

    I said I would need to obtain this citation:

    Edward Fudge, "The Eschatology Of Ignatius Of Antioch: Christocentric And Historical," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 15.4 (1972): 231-237.

    Now based on my current research I may not find Chiliasm in the works of Ignatius. I may find futurism though.


    Now I view an analysis of history as being a fence which contains the "irrational exhuberance" of fallacious and poor Bible exegesis/theology that is based primarily on literary analysis.

    I cite the following from a pastor who quotes from C.S. Lewis regarding Liberal theology (I do recognize the fact that not all eschatological schools of thought are liberal but I do think C.S. Lewis makes some good points):


    Now here is something I wish to give to readers as some very useful guidelines:

    Here is a review of a book that I think is very pertinent to this debate:

    Here is a synopsis of something I read in a Christian apologist primer called "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell and found at a skeptic site (the most relevant point will be bolded):


    I also think the following information from a website will be useful to readers:


    I think most readers will see that C.S. Lewis makes some valid arguments against the "irrational exhuberance" of some theologians and that we need to carefully guard against it. I also think that Mr. Gee's rules above which clearly state we must "confirm the limits of the passage" and research the historical context create reasonable fences against the "irrational exuberance" of some theologians.


    I will do further research the eschatology of Ignatius using the theological journal above.

    Here is my question:

    How significant will it be if the evidence points to all three of the Apostle John's apostles being futurist in their eschatology?


    I tend to like to research things before I make final conclusions. First of all I believe that Fischer's rule of historical immediacy is reasonable and so far I have heard no real objections regarding this matter. I believe the evidence suggest that the Apostle John was the writer of Revelation and he was a Jewish disciple of Jesus who had prominence among the apostles. Thus, given their historical immediacy, I would be very interested in the Apostle John's disciples eschatology. Second, from a probabilistic view if Ignatius turns out not to be a futurist I would have to conclude that this argument still favors futurism because 2 out of 3 of the Apostles John's direct disciples appear to be futurist. Also the very early Church fathers appear to be futurist. Obviously though if Ignatius was not a futurist it would be problematic and greatly diminish this line of evidence. If Ignatius was silent on this issue I would not take this as being evidence of anything given Fischer's reasonable rule about arguments from historical silence.

    After all is said and done, I think we should give historical evidence a great deal of weight especially if there is no solid evidence it contradicts Scripture.

    Personally I have never found some solid historical evidence that contradicts Scripture and I fully expect I never will!


    I wrote more on the individuals who appear to be the personal disciples of the Apostle John (Polycarp, Papias, and Ignatius) in the thread titled:
    "It appears the earliest church fathers were premillienists and futurists plus..." at: http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35528 If readers wish to read more this might be a good start.


  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
    Site Supporter

    May 4, 2001
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    I don't think there is much doubt that the early church was premillennial. A mill and post mill were developments of the 4th and 5th century based on the current events of those days. They didn't understand how the coming of Christ in his kingdom had not happened yet, so they revised their understanding of the coming of Christ and his kingdom, with great disaster to theology.
  3. dean198

    dean198 New Member

    Jul 13, 2004
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    Some of the very early church fathers held a view of the millennium which was very different to the modern dispensational view. These same writers held views at variance with dispensationalism. However not all of the early Christians were pre-millennial, even in a modified sense, and we know that there were 'amillennialists' in the first and second centuries.
  4. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards <img src=/Ed.gif>

    Aug 20, 2002
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    2 Peter 3:3-4 (HCSB)

    First, be aware of this: scoffers will come in the last
    days to scoff, following their own lusts,
    4 saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?
    For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things
    continue as they have been since the beginning of creation."

    The 19th century dispensationalist had 1800 years of Church
    History to rebuke the scoffers the ECF (early Church Fathers
    only a few generations of scoffers to rebuke. I'd say
    the 19th century dispenstionalists should know more about
    the "promise of His coming" than the ECF.