The Premillennialism of Barnabas

Apostle BarnabasThe Epistle of Barnabas was written around 100 A.D. and is attributed to one Barnabas.  Tradition identifies the writer as an Alexandrian Jew living during the time of Trajan and Hadrian.  His name may have actually been Barnabas, though it is just as likely that the epistle was named after an apostle to give it some authority.  Some believe that he actually was the apostle.


Contained in Barnabas’ epistle is this common early Church millennial belief:

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.”  Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.  Ye perceive how He speaks…I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.[1]    

This is a fine example of the doctrine known as the sexta-septamillennial construct.  The basic idea is that because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, there will be six thousand years of Earth’s existence before the Millennium.  This doctrine is derived from Psalm 90:4, Jubilees 4:29-30 and especially 2 Peter 3:8.  The days of creation from Genesis 1 are understood in light of Peter’s explanation of days being to God as millenniums, with the reversal also being true.  The seventh millennium is then looked to as the ultimate fulfillment of the Sabbath, for it is the seventh day.  Only after the seven days have been completed will the eighth day or the new heavens and the new earth begin.  Premillennialism is not at all dependent on the sexta-septamillennial construct.  If anything the construct relies on Premillennialism for support.  According to the solar calendar the construct has been proven false.  It is still possible according to the Hebrew calendar, which has not yet reached the year 5800.  Regardless of the doctrine’s veracity, its prevalence highlights the importance many in the early Church put on the literal thousand years of Revelation 20.

Barnabas believed that the Millennium would only begin after Jesus comes again to destroy the wicked man (i.e. the man of lawlessness (2 Th. 2:3), the Antichrist), judge non-believers and modify creation.  Barnabas identifies these events as taking place toward the end of the six-thousandth year of creation.

[1] Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and Arthur Cleveland Coxe, eds., the Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume I – the Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, 146-147.  Barnabas, the Epistle of Barnabas, ch. XV.


  1. […] developed the sexta-septamillennial construct further by dovetailing it in with the Feast of […]

  2. […] that they will come about after the six thousand years are over.  This is a reference to the sexta-septamillennial construct, which Lactantius covered previously.[5]  Thus, the prophecies will take place during the […]

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