Papias Said Judas Was an Amillennialist

The Traitor JudasThe Ante-Nicene Church Father Irenaeus taught extensively on Chiliasm (the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus upon the Earth beginning after His Second Coming) in his fifth book of Against Heresies.  In chapter thirty-three, Irenaeus provides further proofs that mandate a Chiliastic or Premillennial realization of the Kingdom.  This includes the blessing made from Isaac to Jacob:

The blessing of Isaac with which he blessed his younger son Jacob has the same meaning, when he says, “Behold, the smell of my son is as the smell of a full field which the Lord has blessed.” [Genesis 27:27, etc.] “But the field is the world”. Matthew 13:38 And therefore he added, “God give to you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, plenty of grain and wine. And let the nations serve you, and kings bow down to you; and be lord over your brother, and your father’s sons shall bow down to you: cursed shall be he who shall curse you, and blessed shall be he who shall bless you.” [Genesis 27:28-29] If any one, then, does not accept these things as referring to the appointed kingdom, he must fall into much contradiction and contrariety…For not only did not the nations in this life serve this Jacob; but even after he had received the blessing, he himself going forth [from his home], served his uncle Laban the Syrian for twenty years; [Genesis 31:41] and not only was he not made lord of his brother, but he did himself bow down before his brother Esau, upon his return from Mesopotamia to his father, and offered many gifts to him. [Genesis 33:3] Moreover, in what way did he inherit much grain and wine here, he who emigrated to Egypt because of the famine which possessed the land in which he was dwelling, and became subject to Pharaoh, who was then ruling over Egypt? The predicted blessing, therefore, belongs unquestionably to the times of the kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule upon their rising from the dead; when also the creation, having been renovated and set free, shall fructify with an abundance of all kinds of food, from the dew of heaven, and from the fertility of the earth:[1]

Irenaeus’ point is rather simple.  Jacob died never having received the promises made to him in the blessing.  Therefore, the promises can only be realized once Jacob has been resurrected.  Irenaeus identifies the times of the kingdom as when the righteous shall rule after having been raised from the dead.  This is a solid example of the type of induction most Premillennial scholars use in defending the view.  Irenaeus then considers the teachings of Papias:

And these things are borne witness to in writing by Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book; for there were five books compiled (συντεταγμένα) by him. And he says in addition, “Now these things are credible to believers.” And he says that, “when the traitor Judas did not give credit to them, and put the question, ‘How then can things about to bring forth so abundantly be wrought by the Lord.’ The Lord declared, ‘They who shall come to these [times] shall see.'”[2] 

Papias being a student of one of the Apostles (the one who wrote Revelation no less) and a colleague of Polycarp speaks to how historically important he is in ascertaining what the early Church believed.  In saying Now these things are credible to believers, Papias is affirming that the blessings are to be demonstrated in the coming Kingdom after the resurrection.  Finally, Papias says something that is simply amazing; the traitor Judas did not give credit to them.  Then we are told that Jesus Himself declared to Judas that those who live in that age will see how such wonders will come to pass.

A preeminent Church father essentially taught that Judas was a sort of Amillennialist (in the sense that he denied a literal earthly Messianic Kingdom occurring after the resurrection).  Of course this does not mean that all Amillennialists are to be equated with Judas.  Nor would it be fair to use this device to imply guilt by association.  And ultimately, Scripture is our final authority in coming to the truth about God and His prophetic plan.  Nevertheless, the early teaching that Judas rejected a literal realization of key prophecies concerning the Kingdom is quite interesting.


[1] Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Against Heresies Book V, Chapter 33, accessed April 23, 2014,

[2] Ibid.

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