CHURCH FATHERS ON THE KINGDOM
St. Barnabas in the first century thus comments upon these words of Moses: "'And God made in six days the work of his hands, and he finished on the seventh day, and he rested in it, and sanctified it.' This it signifies, that the Lord God will finish all things in six thousand years. For a day with him is as a thousand years; as he himself testifieth, saying, 'Behold this day shall be as a thousand years.' Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be consummated. 'And he rested the seventh day': this signifies, that when the Son shall come, and shall abolish the season of the Wicked one, and shall judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars, then he shall rest gloriously in that seventh day" (Epist. cap. 15).
Justin Martyr, in the second century, declared the Millennium to be the Catholic doctrine of his time. "I, and as many as are orthodox Christians in all respects, do acknowledge that there shall be a resurrection of the flesh [meaning the First Resurrection] and a thousand years in Jerusalem, rebuilt, and adorned, and enlarged [referring to the New Jerusalem,] as the prophet Ezekiel and Isaiah, and others unanimously attest." Afterwards he subjoins : "A certain man among us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a revelation made to him did prophesy that the faithful believers in Christ should live a thousand years in the New Jerusalem, and after these, should be the general resurrection and judgement" (Dial. cum Tryph., pp. 313, 315); which is an early attestation of the genuineness and authenticity of the Book of Revelation; for Justin was converted to Christianity about thirty years after the death of John, at which time, probably, many were alive who had known and remembered the Apostle.
Tertullian, at the beginning of the third century, professeth his belief in the kingdom promised to the saints upon earth; in their resurrection for a thousand years; in their living in the New Jerusalem, and therein enjoying all spiritual delights; and in the destruction of the world and the general judgement after the thousand years.
Lactantius, at the beginning of the fourth century, is very copious upon this subject in the seventh book of his Divine Institutions. He says: "Because all the works of God were finished in six days, it is necessary that the world should remain in this state six ages; that is, six thousand years." And again: "Because, having finished the works, He rested on the seventh day, and blessed it, it is necessary that at the end of the six thousandth year all wickedness should be abolished out of the earth, and justice should reign for a thousand years." He also says: "When the Son of God shall have destroyed injustice, and shall have restored the just to life, He shall be conversant among men a thousand years, and shall rule them with most just government. At the same time the Prince of devils shall be bound in chains, and shall be in custody the thousand years of the heavenly kingdom, while justice shall reign in the world, lest he should attempt any evil against the people of God. When the thousand years of the kingdom, that is, seven thousand years, shall draw to a conclusion, Satan shall be loosed again; and when the thousand years shall be completed, then shall be the second and public resurrection of all. This is the doctrine of the holy prophets which we Christians follow, this is our wisdom."
Irenaeus, A.D. 178, in his fifth book against heresies (chap. 30) says: "When Anti-Christ, reigning three years and six months, shall have laid waste all things in this world, and have sat in the temple of Jerusalem, then shall the Lord come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of his Father, casting him and all that obey him into the lake of fire; but procuring, or bringing with him, unto the just, the times of the kingdom; that is, a rest, the seventh day, sanctified, and restoring to Abraham the promise of the inheritance; in which kingdom, says the Lord, 'many shall come from the east and from the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' "
Cyprian, A, D. 252, in his Exhortation to Martyrdom, Sec. 11, p. 179, says: "In the creation of the world seven days were spent, and in those seven days seven thousand years were figuratively included."