To conclude our studies on the number eight we shall turn to a letter written in the early days of Christianity, and which is known as “The Epistle of Barnabas”. It is by no means clear who actually wrote the letter, but the author wanted to use Barnabas’s name. And it is of no concern to us in respect of the authenticity of the letter, or the teaching contained within it. However, it is interesting to read, and helpful to those who wish to make a study of early Christian thought.
The 12th chapter of this letter is of interest to us because it shows that the understanding we have obtained from our studies thus far was certainly known and accepted in the first centuries.
Here is the portion that concerns us. “It is written concerning the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, which God spoke in Mount Sinai to Moses, face to face; sanctify the Sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and a clean heart. . . . . And even in the beginning of creation he makes mention of the Sabbath. And God made in six days the works of His hands; and He finished them on the seventh day, and He rested the seventh day, and sanctified it. Consider, my children, what that signifies. He finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this, that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with Him one day is a thousand years, as Himself testified, saying, behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore children, in six days, that is six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is it that He says, And He rested on the seventh day? He means this, that when His Son shall come and abolish the season of the wicked one, and judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun, the moon, and the stars; then shall He rest gloriously in that seventh day. . . . Consider what He means by it . . . when resting from all things I shall begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of another world, for which cause we observe the eighth day with gladness, in which Jesus rose from the dead, and having manifested Himself to His disciples, ascended into heaven.”
One thing is perfectly clear from this writing. The author believed in Millennialism. He was a Chiliast, to use the correct word, based on the Greek word for a thousand (Chilia). One finds many today who call themselves Amillennialists, who say that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 must be treated like most of the rest of John’s vision, as figurative language. In our estimation, Amillennialists have made a blunder because they have not observed the evidences shown in our chapters thus far, and indeed in all those that will follow, as we begin to look at the significance of Two, Three, Four, Six, and Seven days in the Scriptural record.