Bishop Kouri has added a new resource to Lesson 5, The Apostles’ Revelation: The Jewish Age, Behind, Not Ahead of The Church.
Discover what the Post Apostolic Church fathers really believed about
the Seventy Weeks of Daniel and the End of the Jewish Age.
(Lesson 5 above is part of Brother Kouri’s insightful, provocative, and widely applauded ATS course, AD250 The Non-Negotiables of Apostolic Christianity.)
THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS AND THE LAST DAYS OF THE JEWISH AGE
Written anonymously around 100 AD, the “Epistle of Barnabas” is the earliest extra-Canonical source we
have. Although not included in the Canon of the New Testament, it is an
incredibly early documentation of the early Church’s beliefs about the
last days. The Apostle John was probably alive when it was written. And
although the authorship is disputed, we will refer to Barnabas as the
The Epistle of Barnabas sets forth the common view held by the early
Church that the seventieth week of Daniel ended with the destruction of
the Temple in 70 AD, as Messiah’s Day dawned and Christ’s Church was
born. Barnabas writes, "For it is written, ‘And it shall come to
pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built...in
the name of the Lord.’ I find...that a temple does exist. Having
received the forgiveness of sins…in our habitation God dwells in
us….This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord." (EOB, 16:6)
Barnabas uses the expression "the week," but does not mention Daniel. Yet
scholars agree from the context that this is definitely a reference to
Daniel’s 70th week. And it is assumed by many scholars that the
prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks was so well known and so widely
expounded in the early Church that it needed no further explanation. The early Church did not avoid Daniel’s prophecy.
This early Christian writer connects Daniel’s vision of seventy weeks with the prophecy of Haggai 2:7-9 and the building of a "spiritual temple,"
the Church. The author of the Epistle of Barnabas obviously believed
that Daniel’s 70th week was fulfilled with Christ’s first advent. This
was when the Old Temple was destroyed and the new “spiritual temple”
was initially established. Writing in 100 AD he clearly believed the
70th week of Daniel was already completed.
It seems clear from this passage in the Epistle of Barnabas that
less than a century after Christ’s passion (remember that according to
Daniel the Messiah would be cut off in the middle of the 70th week), it
was the widespread belief of the Church that the 70th week of Daniel
was completed. It is certain that Barnabas placed the end of the
70th week no later than 70 AD. His mention of the building of the
Church (which was able to grow largely unimpeded after 70AD) makes it
probable that Barnabas saw 67 to 70 AD and the destruction of Herod’s
Temple as the end of the Jewish or Old Covenant Age and the dawning of
Messiah’s Day. As David B. Currie writes in his book, Rapture, The
End-Times Error That Leaves The Bible Behind, "He (Barnabas) assumes his readers will agree that the events of ‘the week’ led to the building of the Church.” (Page 422)
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDREA
Within a century of Barnabas, Clement became bishop of Alexandria until his death in 215 AD. Clement taught that the blessings of the New Covenant required the end of biblical Judaism within the 70 weeks of Daniel. Clement writes of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD in the prophetic language of Daniel’s seventy weeks, "Vespasian rose to the supreme power (Emperor of Rome) and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place” (STO, XXI, 142-143).
Clement of Alexandrea believed the Jewish Age, the abomination of
desolation spoken of by Daniel and the great tribulation were behind,
not ahead of the Church.
ORIGEN (185-254 AD)
A student of Clement of Alexandrea, Origen agreed that the destruction
of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD marked the end of the Jewish Age
and the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy regarding the 70 weeks. Origen
writes, "The weeks of years up to the time of Christ the leader that Daniel the prophet predicted were fulfilled" (TPR, IV:1:5).
Like Clement, Origen also believed the Jewish Age, the abomination
of desolation spoken of by Daniel and the great tribulation were behind
the Church, not ahead of it.
In 203 AD Tertullian wrote his famous treatise Against The Jews. This
early Church father also taught that Daniel’s 70th week had been
fulfilled in 70 AD: "Vespasian
vanquished the Jews…and so by the date of his storming Jerusalem, the
Jews had completed the seventy weeks foretold by Daniel” (AAJ, VII; CID).
Contrary to modern postponement preachers and teachers, Tertullian
believed the Jewish age, the abomination of desolation, and the great
tribulation was behind, not ahead of the Church.
Athanasius was bishop of Alexandria from 326 to 373 AD. Like the early
Church fathers before him, he also taught that the 70 weeks of Daniel
culminated and the Jewish Age ended in 70 AD: "Jerusalem
is to stand till His coming (Daniel’s reference to Messiah’s appearing
in His First Advent), and thenceforth, prophet and vision cease in
Israel (the end of the Old Covenant or Jewish Age). This is why
Jerusalem stood till then…that they might be exercised in the types as
a preparation for the reality…but from that time forth all prophecy is
sealed and the city and Temple taken" (INC, XXXIX:3-XV:8).
Athanasius clearly reflects the view of the entire early Church:
once the Messiah had come, the role of the Temple in Jerusalem would be
ended. “Things to be done which belonged to Jerusalem beneath…were
fulfilled, and those which belonged to the shadows had passed away”
This important early Church father clearly believed that the Jewish age
ended in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
IRENAEUS AND HIPPOLYTUS
Irenaeus was a contemporary of Clement of Alexandrea whose widely held view we dealt with above. Irenaeus
and his pupil Hippolytus are the only two writers from the early Church
period who believed in a still-future fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th week.
They both placed the 70th week at the end of the gospel age and so are
the first interpreters to postulate a gap between the 69th and 70th
weeks (AG, V). Both predicted a specific date for the second coming that has long since come and gone.
But their belief in a future 70th week was never widely accepted!
St. Jerome specifically pointed out that the number of years in their
system did not coincide with the historical events they purported to
cover. He wrote, "If by any chance those of future generations
should not see these predictions of his (Irenaeus) fulfilled at the
time he (Irenaeus) set, then they will be forced to seek for some other
solution and to convict the teacher himself (Irenaeus) of erroneous
David B. Currie points out in his scholarly work, "As a point of
history, the views of Irenaeus did give seed to premillennialism. But
the early fathers of the Church strongly and universally denounced this
concept. The early Church understood the presumptuous-parenthesis
theory that rapturists employ…but they resoundingly rejected it.” (David B. Currie, Rapture, page 425)
The prevailing view of the early Church fathers was that Daniel’s
vision of the 70 weeks was fulfilled in 70 AD. The final or 70th week
began with the baptism of Jesus and his presentation to Israel by John
the Baptist. The Messiah was cut off in the middle of the 70th week
when Jesus was crucified. The abomination of desolation and the great
tribulation spoken of by Daniel were fulfilled in the destruction of
Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD.
These events marked the end of the Jewish age and the dawning of Messiah’s Day.