I love reading Irenaeus on eschatology, specifically from his classic book ‘Against Heresies’ book 5, from chapter 25 to the end of the book.

It is common knowledge that Irenaeus (and essentially all early church fathers we know about) were premillennial in their eschatology. However, there’s one thing that I think isn’t emphasised as much as it should, relating to the debate around preterism. Notice first that Irenaeus is specifically writing against views held by others (heretics), and therefore would make sure his arguments cannot be easily refuted. At times he specifically mentions views held by other Christians (such as about 616 number of the beast) and why they are wrong. How does this relate to Preterism? Well, notice how Irenaeus doesn’t even entertain any kind of thought that someone within Christian circles would even claim or believe in any kind of preterism in relation to John’s Apocalypse, Matthew 24, or other prophecies in the NT (relating to 2nd coming, antichrist, tribulation, kingdom). The way Irenaeus writes against heresies around 180 A.D. gives the strong impression that the idea of preterism regarding NT prophecies simply didn’t exist in any form in any Christian circles (apart from full-preterist heresy that is already mentioned in 2 Tim 2). Certainly not a hint of preterism seems to be present in Smyrna (one of the original recipient churches of the book of Revelation!), where Irenaeus (born in Smyrna 130 A.D.) has had contact with Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John himself.

Some examples from Irenaus ‘Against Heresies’ book 5: