In Judaism, Year 6000 (2239 AD) marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age so the Year 6000 will mark the beginning of Sabbath day for God.

2 Peter 3:8 says:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

By this calendar (calculator here):

  • Jesus died on 14 Nisan, 3793 (3 April 33 AD)
  • 1 Tishrei, 4001 was 5 September 240 AD
  • 1 Tishrei, 5001 was 25 September 1240 AD
  • 1 Tishrei, 6001 will be 17 September 2240 AD

I wonder whether:

  1. the Jewish calendar was in use by the time of the Apostles and the early church fathers.
  2. the early church fathers said anything about the end of the Jewish year 4000 (240 AD) or the medieval church about year 5000 (1240 AD).
  3. the Apostles / Augustine / the early church fathers linked this Year 6000 to the return of Jesus or to the millennial rule of Jesus on earth in any way.
  4. the New Testament concept of "The Last Days" has any connection to the duration between the Year 3793 (Christ died) to the Year 6000 (end of the 6th millennium).
  5. the early church fathers interpreted any symbols in the eschatological passages (such as those in Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Revelation, etc.) according to the Year 6000.

My question is more general: Quotations from the early church fathers who support the Jewish year 6000 as significant to eschatology, which could be used to answer any of the above questions.

  • almost certainly the answer is a negative. Early Church (Ephesus probably) discouraged strict Millenialism and being based upon the Jewish calendar would be unlikely past the Apostolic Era
    – eques
    Aug 30, 2021 at 19:25
  • 1
    The patristic references you mentioned, without exception, employ the Greek Septuagint's chronology, spanning five millennia between creation and the Ptolemaic dynasty, since it was translated in Hellenistic Egypt; as such, they expected Christ's kingdom some time around the middle of the first millennium; indeed, Byzantium, a Christian empire, lasted for about a whole millennium, between the fourth and mid-fifteenth century.
    – user46876
    Aug 30, 2021 at 20:23
  • @eques I found articles referencing patristic quotations in connection to Premillennialism. See also this article. But they may not referenced the Jewish calendar, but based on Jesus's birth. Aug 30, 2021 at 20:27
  • @Lucian The natural question is whether the Byzantine empire themselves saw that 1) they were the embodiment of the millennial rule spoken of in the Bible, 2) they ruled in the 7th millennium after the creation of the earth? Aug 30, 2021 at 20:54
  • @GratefulDisciple: See Byzantine calendar.
    – user46876
    Aug 30, 2021 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


Quotations from the early church fathers who support the Jewish year 6000 as significant to eschatology?

Before going, let us not forget the words of the Prince of the Apostle concerning Christ’s Second Coming:

Christ's Coming Judgment

1Behold this second epistle I write to you, my dearly beloved, in which I stir up by way of admonition your sincere mind: 2That you may be mindful of those words which I told you before from the holy prophets, and of your apostles, of the precepts of the Lord and Saviour.

3Knowing this first, that in the last days there shall come deceitful scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4Saying: Where is his promise or his coming? for since the time that the fathers slept, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they are wilfully ignorant of, that the heavens were before, and the earth out of water, and through water, consisting by the word of God. 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 7But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of the ungodly men.

8But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.

The Church Father St. Irenaeus associated the number of the beast (Rev 13:18) with the six days of creation as well as 6,000 years of Earth history. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John. Of course, Irenaeus got the number from the book of Revelation. According to this church father, the number was foreshadowed by the six days of creation, the flood, and the book of Daniel.

Surprisingly, the idea for 666 was preceded by the first-century Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria (25 BC-50 AD).

In his Against Heresies, Irenaeus argues that 666 is a particularly “fitting” number for the name of the beast in Rev 13:18:

Since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge, due to the apostasy of the angels. For Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge came upon the earth, sweeping away the rebellious world, for the sake of that most infamous generation which lived in the times of Noah. And [Antichrist] also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood, together with the slaying of the prophets and the cutting off of the just {cf. Matt 24:37–38/Luke 17:26–27}. For that image which was set up by Nebuchadnezzar had indeed a height of sixty cubits, while the breadth was six cubits; on account of which Ananias, Azarias, and Misaël, when they did not worship it, were cast into a furnace of fire, pointing out prophetically, by what happened to them, the wrath against the righteous which shall arise towards the [time of the] end {cf. Matt 24:15/Mark 13:14}. For that image, taken as a whole, was a prefiguring of this man’s coming, decreeing that he should undoubtedly himself alone be worshipped by all men {cf. Rev 13:15}. Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception; for which things’ sake a cataclysm of fire shall also come [upon the earth]. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.29.2) - Irenaeus on 666 and 616

Irenaeus is the first of the church fathers to consider the mystic number 666. While Irenaeus did propose some solutions of this numerical riddle, his interpretation was quite reserved. Thus, he cautiously states:

"But knowing the sure number declared by Scripture, that is six hundred sixty and six, let them await, in the first place, the division of the kingdom into ten; then, in the next place, when these kings are reigning, and beginning to set their affairs in order, and advance their kingdom, [let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking, have a name containing the aforesaid number, is truly the abomination of desolation." — Irenaeus 1885, Book V, Chapter 25, Section 2 Froom 1950, pp. 248–249

Irenaeus held to the old Jewish tradition that the first six days of creation week were typical of the first six thousand years of human history, with Antichrist manifesting himself in the sixth period. And he expected the millennial kingdom to begin with the second coming of Christ to destroy the wicked and inaugurate, for the righteous, the reign of the kingdom of God during the seventh thousand years, the millennial Sabbath, as signified by the Sabbath of creation week. See: Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 30)

Early Church Fathers were almost exclusively premillennialists.

The Early Church Fathers were almost exclusively premillennialists and taught an Eschatological Gospel of Both Comings of Jesus. Consider the following testimony from the Fathers. The Epistle of Barnabus, written late first century/early second century and regarded as equal to Scripture by Origen, denotes the Creation Week as a pattern for human history—one day equals one thousand years—six thousand years of history and the Sabbath rest on the seventh day equates to the Millennium (The Epistle of Barnabus 15:4-5). Papias, an early second century Bishop and disciple of John the Apostle, was recorded by Eusebius (the Early Church historian) to have believed that “there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth” (Fragments of Papias VI). Justin Martyr also stated that he was taught his premillennial beliefs from John the Apostle and cited Isaiah 65:17-25, Luke 20:35-36 and Revelation 20:4-6 as references for the Millennium and Psalm 90:4 to support the one day as one thousand years belief (Falls 1965:277).

Theophilus, a second century Bishop of Antioch, spoke of a millennial state which is “intermediate between earth and heaven” (Daley Hope 2003:24). Both Melito, a second century Bishop of Sardis, and Hegesippus maintained a chiliastic position (Remains of the Second and Third Centuries: Melito the Philosopher, Hegesippus, 1 ANF 8:755, 763). The Didache: Teaching of the 12 Apostles addresses the Apostasy, the Rapture of the Saints, the antichrist, the Tribulation, and the Second Advent, drawing on scriptures from Matthew 24; John 5:25; Acts 1:2; 1 Corinthians 15:23, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8; and Revelation 1:7; 19:11 (The Fathers of the Church, The Didache: Teaching of the 12 Apostles:183-4). Irenaeus, disciple of Polycarp, disciple of John the Apostle, was a definite premillennarian. Irenaeus was also the first to detail prophetic events after the writing of the New Testament and gave the Church the first system of premillennial interpretation (Ladd 1956:25-26). Tertullian was an avid premillennialist in the late second and early third centuries and wrote much about the millennial kingdom, even as a defense against heresy (Tertullian Part First: The Apology 48). Early Church historian Sextus Julius Africanus and N. African Bishop Commodianus both wrote about six thousand years of history and the glorious Millennium following (much like The Epistle of Barnabus) around AD 240 (Julius Africanus 3:18:4; Commodianus ANF 4:209, 211-12, 218). Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus, also taught about six thousand years of history, the Second Coming and then a resurrection kingdom of saints (Ladd 1956:30-1). Nepos, a third century Egyptian Bishop, defended chiliasm against the allegorical interpretation of the Millennium (as recorded by Eusebius 7:24).

Third century Father Methodius wrote about the millennial rest after the Tribulation and equated the Millennium to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths). Methodius also vigorously defended the premillennial view against the allegorical view of Origen (Daley Hope 2003:61-3). Victorinus, Latin-speaking Bishop martyred under Diocletian, formed his premillennial beliefs under Papias, Irenaeus and Methodius. He used Revelation 20-21 as his main scriptural text (Daley Hope 2003:65-6). Lactantius, tutor in the courts of Diocletian and Constantine, believed and taught a six thousand year history followed by one thousand years of Christ reigning on earth (Lactantius 7:14, 25). Finally, and according to J. Dwight Pentecost, Cyprian, Severus and the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea (AD 325) are cited as advocates of premillennialism (1980:373-4) - (Hebert 2004b:3-5).

Out of curiosity, it is interest that many place the birth of Jesus close to the year 4000 or 5000 AM (Anno Mundi), including some Church Fathers.

Genesis creation narrative

Within the biblical framework and chronology, various dates have been proposed for the date of creation since ancient times, to more recent periods. The Bible begins with the Book of Genesis, in which God creates the Earth, the rest of the Universe, and the Earth's plants and animals, including the first humans, in six days. A second narrative begins with the first human pair, Adam and Eve, and goes on to list many of their descendants, in many cases giving the ages at which they had children and died. If these events and ages are interpreted literally throughout and the genealogies are considered closed, it is possible to build up a chronology in which many of the events of the Old Testament are dated to an estimated number of years after creation. Some biblical scholars have gone further, attempting to harmonise this biblical chronology with that of recorded history, thus establishing a date for creation in a modern calendar. Since the biblical story lacks chronology for some periods, the duration of events has been subject to interpretation in many different ways, resulting in a variety of estimates of the date of creation.

Numerous efforts have been made to determine the biblical date of creation, yielding varying results. Besides differences in interpretation, the use of different versions of the Bible can also affect the result. Two dominant dates for creation using such models exist, about 5500 BC and about 4000 BC. These were calculated from the genealogies in two versions of the Bible, with most of the difference arising from two versions of Genesis. The older dates stem from the Greek Septuagint. The later dates are based on the Hebrew Masoretic text. The patriarchs from Adam to Terah, the father of Abraham, were often 100 years older when they begat their named son in the Septuagint than they were in the Hebrew or the Vulgate (Genesis 5, 11). The net difference between the two genealogies of Genesis amounts to 1466 years (ignoring the "second year after the flood" ambiguity), which accounts for virtually all of the 1500-year difference between 5500 BC and 4000 BC. For example, the period from the creation to the Flood derives from the genealogical table of the ten patriarchs listed in Genesis 5, and 7:6, called the generations of Adam. According to the Masoretic Text, this period consists of 1,656 years, and Western Christian Bibles deriving from the Latin Vulgate also follow this dating. However, the Samaritan texts give an equivalent period of 1,307 years, and according to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus, Elizabeth Bible) it is 2,262 years. James Ussher agrees with the dating until the birth of Abraham, which he argues took place when Terah was 130, and not 70 as is the direct reading of Genesis 11:26, thus adding 60 years to his chronology for events postdating Abraham.

Early Jewish estimations

The earliest post-exilic Jewish chronicle preserved in the Hebrew language, the Seder Olam Rabbah, compiled by Jose ben Halafta in 160 AD, dates the creation of the world to 3761 BC while the later Seder Olam Zutta to 4339 BC. The Hebrew calendar has traditionally, since the 4th century AD by Hillel II, dated the creation to 3761 BC.


Many of the earliest Christians who used the Septuagint version of the Bible calculated creation as having occurred about 5500 BC, and Christians up to the Middle-Ages continued to use this rough estimate: Clement of Alexandria (5592 BC), Theophilus of Antioch (5529 BC), Sextus Julius Africanus (5501 BC), Hippolytus of Rome (5500 BC), Gregory of Tours (5500 BC), Panodorus of Alexandria (5493 BC), Maximus the Confessor (5493 BC), George Syncellus (5492 BC), Sulpicius Severus (5469 BC) and Isidore of Seville (5336 BC). The Byzantine calendar has traditionally dated the creation of the world to September 1, 5509 BC.

The Chronicon of Eusebius (early 4th century) dated creation to 5228 BC while Jerome (c. 380, Constantinople) dated creation to 5199 BC. In the Roman Martyrology, the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ formerly used this date, as did the Irish Annals of the Four Masters.

Bede was one of the first to break away from the standard Septuagint date for the creation and in his work De Temporibus ("On Time") (completed in 703 AD) dated the creation to 18 March 3952 BC but was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfrid, because his chronology was contrary to accepted calculations of around 5500 BC.


After the Masoretic Text was published, however, dating creation around 4000 BC became common, and was received with wide support. Proposed calculations of the date of creation using the Masoretic from the 10th century to the 18th century include: Marianus Scotus (4192 BC), Henry Fynes Clinton (4138 BC), Henri Spondanus (4051 BC), Benedict Pereira (4021 BC), Louis Cappel (4005 BC), James Ussher (4004 BC), Augustin Calmet (4002 BC), Isaac Newton (4000 BC), Petavius (3984 BC), Theodore Bibliander (3980 BC), Johannes Kepler (April 27, 3977 BC) [based on his book Mysterium Cosmographicum], Heinrich Bünting (3967 BC), Christen Sørensen Longomontanus (3966 BC), Melanchthon (3964 BC), Martin Luther (3961 BC), Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide (3961 BC), John Lightfoot (3960 BC), Joseph Justus Scaliger (3949 BC), Christoph Helvig (3947 BC), Gerardus Mercator (3928 BC), Matthieu Brouard (3927 BC), Benito Arias Montano (3849 BC), Andreas Helwig (3836 BC).

Among the Masoretic creation estimates or calculations for the date of creation only Archbishop Ussher's specific chronology dating the creation to 4004 BC became the most accepted and popular, mainly because this specific date was attached to the King James Bible. - Dating creation

The Septuagint was the most scholarly non-Hebrew version of the Old Testament available to early Christians. Many converts already spoke Greek, and it was readily adopted as the preferred vernacular-language rendering for the eastern Roman Empire. The later Latin translation called the Vulgate, an interpretative translation from the later Masoretic Text (a Jewish revision and consolidation of earlier Hebrew texts), replaced it in the west after its completion by St. Jerome c. 405, Latin being the most common vernacular language in those regions.

  • Do these quotations refer to Jewish calendar or Christian calendar (similar but pre-dating Byzantine Calendar or Ussher's chronology)? Aug 30, 2021 at 23:01
  • @GratefulDisciple These are Christian Calendar estimates.
    – Ken Graham
    Aug 30, 2021 at 23:05

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